Thursday, 7 April 2011

Royal Coaches and Gallopers (what no trackwork?)

Camera setup for shooting VR
Today's objective was very well-defined: to photograph inside the rooms of both royal coaches in order to create a virtual reality (VR) tour. I have been trying to squeeze the odd room in for the past few weeks but always seemed to run out of time, especially since the locomotive sheds are locked when the workshop finishes for the day.

Of course, I also managed to catch up with the latest on the horse repairs, and a couple of other things.

Royal coaches

Bressingham is fortunate in having two royal coaches in its collection — Royal Saloon No.396 built for Queen Alexandra and Carriage No.2901 used over the years by the Queen's Private Secretary and Lady in Waiting as well as Prince Charles. Despite such carrying such important passengers, the interior space in some rooms is somewhat less than modest positively cramped and it was very hard to find space for my tripod so that I could capture the angles necessary for creating a 360 degree spherical panoramic image.

One of the bathrooms in Royal Saloon No.396

End of Royal Saloon No.396

For each room in the carriage I had to shoot nine frames, that's six around, one towards the ceiling and two towards the floor. It's important to ensure that the tripod is level before starting otherwise horizontal lines like the tops of door frames and coving will be at an angle and the whole perspective will look odd. As the carriages are in the locomotive shed and aren't brightly lit (especially the entrance lobbies) my exposure times are sometimes in excess of one minute. With nine frames required and having to adjust the camera angle between each it took between ten and twenty minutes to photograph each room. Multiply that by sixteen rooms and you can see why I wanted to set aside a whole day.

One of the bedrooms in No.2901

Office in No.2901

The four images shown above are simply frames taken from the sequences I shot, and a lens correction applied to help overcome the distortion inherent with using a fisheye lens. It will probably be some time before I manage to stitch each sequence of nine frames together to make a single equirectangular image for viewing as a virtual reality tour. I am fairly certain that I will need to go back and re-shoot some of the rooms as there will be some glitch, or something not quite right — and then there are the rooms that have mirrors in — I'm dreading processing these as I would like to be able to mask out any reflections of the tripod and camera. I tried to position the tripod to avoid reflections where possible, but in at least one of the bedrooms (as you can see above if you look closely) it was impossible as the bed was in the way. I sense many hours of Photoshop coming up.

Horse repairs

Albert is back on the Gallopers
Back in February Brian started taking a horse apart (the name of which he couldn't remember when I asked him!) but because of repainting the platforms it was sidelined. Now with the season under way and the Gallopers back, work has restarted on this one, and another one (Les) has been swapped over with the Orton & Spooner double (Albert) so Brian now has two on the go.

Where there is considerable rot or damage, such as here on the one Brian started in February, fairly large chunks of wood are cut away and new pieces of hardwood are glued back and then shaped to follow the original lines and curves. Here two of the legs have needed this treatment, and Brian explains that when the tail section is put back a wooden peg will be inserted all the way through to tie everything together and give it additional strength.

Block of hardwood being glued

It will then be sanded to shape like this one

Head, shoulders and back — the horses are hollow inside

As Les has only just come off the Gallopers, the first task is to strip away all of the old layers of paint. Nothing more elaborate than a hot air gun, a scraper and plenty of elbow grease. Once back to bare wood the amount of repair can be assessed. Often the horses have been previously repaired with nails, screws and metal brackets — all of which have rusted as they were never stainless steel.

Les being stripped

Removing the old paint

Classic Anderson mane
When all of the carpentry and repairs have been done this horse will be painted black giving a second black horse on the ride. As it is an Anderson horse, it has a large, ornate mane which should look fantastic once gilded, particularly against the black paintwork.

As well as a new colour, it will also have a new name — Jet. I'm quite chuffed as I suggested Jet last week when Brian told me that it would be renamed, and that he had to find a name that was short (ideally three letters as there is only a small space to fit it in) and in keeping with its new colour. After thinking about it for a few days he decided that my suggestion was a good idea. I also know a little boy who will have a new favourite when it's back on the Gallopers.

Waveney Valley

Waveney platform access path construction
With the Waveney Valley Line not being operational for a little while, Chris has been busy making a new access path from the arrivals platform. The current access means that passengers have to walk along the track and under the barrier to exit, so as part of the improvements to this whole area a new path and fencing will run alongside the proposed 5″ & 7.25″ line.

With St Christopher due to arrive the week before Easter for re-gauging it shouldn't be too long before the Waveney is back up and running, just don't remind Chris that it's about 8″ wider than Rosenkavalier which will involve altering either the track or the platform so that it clears the platform edge.

Gallopers fencing

Chris bores the last post hole
Thanks to the sterling efforts of Chris, the Gallopers now have a nice new fence around them. The old chain link one really had seen better days and desperately needed replacing.

Not only has Chris erected the new fence, he actually made it as well!

Gallopers fencing all finished

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