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News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, October 12th, 2019 at 8:02am
Museum working party 10th Oct 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo must have been running on empty this morning as it barely kept the looming rain clouds at bay. The team assembled a bit earlier than usual at John's request as he had an appointment at the medical centre at 10am. Andy Sheffield, Neal Chapman, David Broadbent and Charles Benedetto set to on continuing the repaint of the bits of wagon no. 101 and the ribs from wagon no. 146. John met Max Birchenough as he left the site and put him onto cleaning the vertical rising door of the museum as it was getting very grimy again.

John returned as the fumes ran out and the rain began to fall. So as it was near enough 10:30 he went to brew the coffees, and one black tea, while the team put the cover back on no. 101 and brought the ribs into the Gunpowder Store.

The team were joined by Mary Sheffield and John Alderslade, the duty attendant who was still awaiting his first visitor. As the coffee and biscuits worked their restorative magic the talk turned to the Great Model Railway Challenge once again as it seems to be drifting well away from railway modelling and into fantasy railway modelling. Other topics were the colour of TR engines and what was the correct term for the colours that number 1 and 2 are currently finished in, your scribe will say no more as he knows this can be a contentious subject. Future rail developments also came in for scrutiny, how do you achieve electrification of the Cambrian Coast railway? Batteries obviously but you also need charging points at the stations and new lightweight trains with solar panels on their roofs to allow the trains to have the range necessary without hauling excessive batteries around; and while you are at it redesign the trains to carry freight as well.

We looked outside, still raining, so we kept on talking. Eventually midday came round and the rain had relented but there wasn't time enough to do more than lock up, give the vertical rising door glazing a polish up with a chammy leather and call it a day.

By the close of play four dumb buffer caps had been fully painted, two ribs had been touched up, one big door had been cleaned and one half of a wagon had received its first top coat.

There will not be a working party next week as John will be out of Tywyn and the current wild weather makes any forward planning almost impossible.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, October 6th, 2019 at 8:21am
Museum working party Oct 3rd 2019

First apologies from your scribe for omitting David Broadbent from the roll of honour last week and for similarly failing to recognise Neal's generosity in donating two steel tape measures to our work chest; I was feeling very poorly last week so the memory lapses were not picked up, sorry gents.

This morning there was a sigh of relief as the Tywyn weather mojo held back the oncoming ex hurricane Lorenzo for a completely dry morning in the yard. Andy Sheffield, David Broadbent, Neal Chapman, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen made the most of this dry window by first sweeping out the leaves and water from wagons no. 117 and 213, the incline and splayside respectively, before reclaiming one of our wandering Sterling board covers, from amongst TR timbers, to cover no. 213. Then we transported a second Sterling board from its summer home against the Gunpowder Store to cover no. 117, to provide a measure of rain protection as autumn sets in.

Having covered two wagons we were obliged to uncover two others, first no. 101 so that David could begin to apply primer to all the bare wood, while Neal carried on his work on the west end dumb buffers, preparing the two restored pieces of packing timber to be screwed back in place.

Andy set up the last unpainted rib from wagon no. 146, first cleaning off the dust with white spirit and then applying the first coat of black Hammerite paint.

Charles wielded the 'firms' wire wheel fitted angle grinder on the metal end caps of the dumb buffers from no. 101, so these too could be re-painted.

John got his angle grinder out to clean some more rust and old paint from the waste slate tipper wagon for its eventual re-paint in the future, and reveal the true extent of the rampant metalworm attack.

Ann McCanna arrived to bring Winston's apologies, he was at the dentist poor chap, and to brew up our morning coffee. The 10:30 service train departed to a formation wave from the team that was enthusiastically responded to by the patrons aboard.

Coffee was in the cafe as the air temperature outside was hovering around a cool 10 Celsius, and we were joined by the duty attendant of the day and by Winston fresh from the dentist. Inevitably our deliberations kicked off with the Great Model Railway Challenge TV programme, featuring our very own modelling superstar Charles, and the very hardnosed judging that was dished out. Suffice to say Charles does not regret not having to return to the environs of Reading for a further round of the competition as the Cambrian Coasters came a creditable second in their round. Further chat moved onto matters meteorological after a week that saw flooding in many parts of the UK, most notably Laxey on the Isle of Man. Our own 'modest' soaking in Tywyn had penetrated the woven cover over the slate waste tipper wagon to permeate the sterling board underneath.

Post coffee we returned across the tracks to complete the touch up of two more ribs, the priming of no. 101, complete with all four dumb buffers, a first coat on the metal end caps and to add to the pile of dust and rust underneath the tipper wagon. The covers went back on well before the advancing weather front, and this time an additional waterproof layer of blue plastic sheeting was put under the yellow Hippo bag to keep this weeks waterworks off the tipper wagon.

By the close of play four end caps had been de-rusted and given a first coat of hammerite, three ribs had been painted black, two wagons had been given extra cover, one wagon had been primed and we were all well pleased with our efforts.

As icing on the cake the Wirral Wobblers motorcycle club turned up on the wonderful assortment of bikes to enjoy a refreshment stop and visit to the museum.

Photos by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, September 28th, 2019 at 8:17am
Museum working party 26th Sept 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo had temporarily taken leave of its senses with strong gale force winds and vicious squalls of monsoon intensity rain. The team assembled in the soggy yard with one eye firmly fixed on the next squall crossing the Irish Sea, Winston McCanna, Andy Sheffield, Charles Benedetto, Neal Chapman and John Olsen kept their waterproofs close at hand.

The cover came off wagon no. 101 so that the bare wood of the frame and those areas of the slats that the paint had flaked off could be liberally soused with wood preservative, especially the big crack in one slat.

While this application was in hand the slate waste wagon was moved from beside the tracks to outside the Gunpowder Store and hoisted up onto one end to allow examination of the frame and underside. Not a happy story; the frame had rot taking hold in the upper surfaces and the bodywork was even more corroded underneath than on top as there hadn't been any paint on it for a long time.

But then the rain began to fall and the cover was quickly restored over no. 101 before early coffee was called.

Our duty attendant Ann McCanna brewed up for us as the rain became more intense and we were joined in the dry comfort of the cafe by Ray Brooks, who stopped by to sign up for attendant duties, and Mary Sheffield. Andy and Mary were fresh back from a foreign jaunt and had smuggled a large slab of Croatian chocolate through customs to enrich the selection of shortbread and chocolate biscuits already on offer. Our deliberations naturally took in their holiday and how we would spend a Euromillions jackpot of £167 million, which Andy was sure to win..... actually it would be quite hard to spend such a vast amount of money. Charles shared his thoughts on his 'fifteen minutes of fame' on the Great Model Railway Challenge programme, perhaps it is not the universal panacea that some seem to think it is. Just as we were putting our empty coffee mugs on the tray the heavens once again turned into a horizontal waterfall, so we sat back down and chatted on.

Eventually the rain storm passed over and we went out to paint the second half of one of the ribs from wagon no. 146 and put the slate waste wagon back down on its wheels and cover it over with its bright yellow cover before the darkening sky tipped another deluge over Tywyn.

By the end of play one frame had been treated with wood preservative and half a rib painted, which considering the appalling weather was pretty remarkable progress!

Photos by John Olsen.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, September 22nd, 2019 at 8:37am
Museum working party Sept 19th 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo really got its act together this morning with clear blue skies and warm sunshine, the perfect recipe for working in the Yard. This mornings 'Yardies' Neal Chapman, Charles Benedetto, Max Birchenough, David Broadbent, John Olsen and newcomer Peter White prepared to make dust while the sun shone.

Charles and Peter were on the double angle grinders this morning, tackling the last of the ribs of wagon no.146 with considerable gusto.

David meanwhile was applying fresh black Hammerite paint to another rib, doing the underside that Winston couldn't paint last week.

Neal declared the wood hardener had done its job on the two dumb buffer timbers, of wagon no. 101, and mixed up wood filler to occupy the void.

Max started to sand down the slats of no. 101, paying particular attention to any areas that showed signs of the paint cracking and lifting; this quickly led to him uncovering a substantive crack running some 30+ cms along the lower part of one slat. John joined him to investigate this and they discovered that someone had covered the crack over with filler in the past but had not glued the wood back together successfully so that water had penetrated and was opening the crack up again. At first it seemed possible that fresh glue could be applied but the crack was irregular in so many orientations that this idea was abandoned in favour of a liberal application of wood preservative and 'pinning' as well as re-profiling the lower edge to shed water rather than collect it.

The first train of the day was waved off by the gang, a goodly number of happy travellers going up the valley to enjoy the Indian Summer weather.

With Ann and Winston McCanna not joining us this morning it fell to John to brew up the selection of teas and coffees; they're a picky bunch this lot, one black coffee, one black tea, one white tea with two sugars, one white coffee with sugar....But we all enjoy a good biscuit and we eagerly fell upon David’s offering from last week of shortbread biscuits, yum. We were joined in this biscuit demolition derby by duty attendant John Alderslade and Mike Green, who had popped in to see what all the noise and dust were about. Our wide ranging discussions took in such oddities as a dance troupe performing formation zimmer frame dancing and other zimmer frame centred humour, the latest news from the Vale of Rheidol and the darker mysteries of turnbuckle technology, coming to not only brake gear, but also valve gear near you!

Post coffee, and tea for those who dare to drink differently, we returned across the tracks to continue cleaning, sanding and painting, all except John who bunked off to open two display cases for the purposes of reflection free photography. He did return to the fold to help in removing loose paint from the slats of no. 101, honest guv.

By the end of play the last rib had been tickled with the wire wheels, two dumb buffer pieces were whole, and three ribs were in fresh black livery.

Pictures by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, September 15th, 2019 at 7:52am
Museum working party 12th Sept 2019

Oh misery! The Tywyn weather mojo was not giving of its best this morning as grey skies shed the occasional pattering of fine rain on Wharf Yard and the question on the teams lips was 'Shall we risk it?'. Winston McCanna, David Broadbent, Neal Chapman, Charles Benedetto, Andy Sheffield and John Olsen said 'Go for it' and did.

The covers came off wagon nos 146 and 101 so that Andy could screw down the newly painted floor boards on the former and John and Neal could work on the latter, John with the abrasive disc sander, and Neal with wood hardener on the pieces of dumb buffer he had previously cleaned of all rotten wood. Leaving the hardener to get to work Neal then wielded the detail sander on the slats of no. 101 but before long it was making deeply unhappy noises and getting very hot, sadly this veteran power tool has had its day.

David and Charles got going on one of no. 146's ribs with dual angle grinders filling the air with a gentle grey cloud and blackboard scratching soundtrack! Oh how they love us in control!

Winston set up a paint station upwind of the dusty duo to first clean with white spirits and then paint one rib with its first coat of Hammerite black paint.

The first train was well loaded despite the gloomy weather and was royally waved off by the massed ranks of the working party.

Ann McCanna brewed our morning coffee and announced that it would be accompanied by bara brith as a senior moment had meant that the cakes had not been taken to the intended event; we weren't about to criticise. David had also brought in a feast of shortbread biscuits but as these were wrapped up we opted to eat the items with the shorter shelf life and duly scoffed the bara brith, delicious. Our coffee and chat was taken with the welcome company of Mary Sheffield and duty attendant Ray Brooks. Such topics as unexpected meetings and the possibility of the new covered wagon shed at Wharf were aired, as John had bumped into Winston, Andy and Charles at the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway on Wednesday as he returned to Tywyn. The W&L Rly were running their newest arrival from the Zillertalbahn on the day, which made for some nice photos of all continental stock in the warm Welsh sunshine.

Back across the tracks more old paint and rust bit the proverbial whilst fresh black paint gleamed elsewhere and Andy disappeared into the Gunpowder Store on a bolt fact finding mission; just how many bolts, and what sizes, did we need to re-assemble wagon no. 146?

By the end of play two ribs had been painted, a further rib and a bit de-rusted, half the remaining frame of no. 101 sanded, along with half the dumb buffers treated for their wood rot.

Picture by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, September 6th, 2019 at 5:19pm
Museum working party 5th Sept 2019

Five volunteers turned out for a shortened working party under sunny skies. The last body planks of wagon no.146 were given a second gloss coat before all the floor boards were painted with a second undercoat to correct earlier deficiencies and get them all the same colour.

A further frame rib from no. 146 was cleaned of rust and old paint with a 'double header' working with wire wheels in angle grinders.

Wagon no. 101 had the last two sides of the frame treated with the hot air gun to remove old loose paint, this was followed by sanding with a coarse sanding disc on two sides to expose most of the timber for later treatment with wood preservative. Two of the dumb buffers showed signs of rot and the removable pieces were taken off for assessment and action.