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News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumMonday, August 19th, 2019 at 9:21am
Museum working party 15th Aug 2019

Having drenched Tywyn the previous day our friendly weather mojo seemed in half a mind to do something similar this morning as the team assembled under cloudy skies. Hedging their bets Winston McCanna, Charles Benedetto, Neal Chapman, David Broadbent and John Olsen left the paint brushes in the Gunpowder Store in favour of angle grinders, drill and hot air gun, that could be quickly taken indoors should the rains begin to fall.

Neal and Charles started their morning working on two of the steel ribs from wagon no. 146, continuing the process of removing the old paint and rust with wire wheels spinning at several thousand revs, much quicker than elbow grease and wire brush alone.

Winston took a screwdriver, hammer and then the drill to the stubborn rusted in screws holding the dumb buffers in place on wagon no. 101 as a part of our 'stitch in time' limited restoration of the wagon. David worked at the opposite end of the same wagon with the heat gun to remove the old paint from the frame.

John started searching for a set of stainless steel coach bolts that he had used a few weeks before, in readiness for work on putting no. 146 back together again, before giving up when they were not to be found in all the usual places.
The gang paused to wave off the first train of the day before cracking on. John took a turn at trying to remove the rusty screws and succeeded in shearing off the heads of several by the scientific application of violence, hitting the screwdriver against the screw with a large hammer, and breaking one screwdriver in the process, ooops.

Another train came and went, cue more waving, and Ann McCanna arrived on site only to find that our duty attendants Alan and Diane Chetwynd had matters well in hand. We all settled down at a platform table as the weather had come up sunny, and tucked into assorted chocolate covered biscuits whilst exchanging air accident or near miss tales None of us could 'top' the experience of being in a jet Provost when its single engine blew up, fortunately close enough to the base for an emergency landing. A large part of the extended McCanna clan descended upon Tywyn Wharf during our coffee break, so we lost Winston for a time when we returned across the tracks.

Neal and David swapped power tools while John located an M16 bolt to replace a one missing on the brake gear of no. 146. Having greased the bolt well with the disgusting green grease he then attempted to lubricate the brake mechanism with the same, in the hope of fending off the worst of the rust in the future, but discovered a seized joint instead. WD 40 was liberally applied to the offending joint and left to work its magic.

Winston returned to the fray to knock off the dumb buffer ends, which were labelled up with numbered tags to aid reassembly.

By the close of play four dumb buffers had been successfully removed, two ribs had been cleaned up, one bolt replaced and a good time had by all.

Pictures by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, August 10th, 2019 at 8:35am
Museum working party 8th August 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo was in a particularly beneficent mood this morning with light breezes and warm sunshine for our endeavours. This mornings team of Winston McCanna, Andy Sheffield, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen thought that painting would be an excellent use of the warm dry conditions. But before he could attend to such matters there was a small matter for John to resolve in the museum, this turned out to be an unfounded concern but whilst inside he did discover that half of the power sockets on the ground floor were not working. There was no obvious cause and a message was left for Steve Thorpe to invite him to investigate the matter at his earliest convenience.

Back out in the sun the trestles were placed a shady spot for Max to continue his work on painting the planks from wagon no. 146 with the second gloss coat. We adopted the Andy Sheffield patent tape system to identify planks that needed painting from those that had already received two coats – if its taped its done.

Charles was ever eager to work on the floor plate of wagon no. 101 by applying the second coat of black bitumenous paint and was not amused when Winston was invited to scrape off loose bits of paint from the frame of the same. 'Don't blow on it!' became an oft heard cry.

Andy put all those years of experience crafting Jaguar cars to good use in the 'repair shop' filling the crack left by the gluing together of another badly split door plank and smoothing down another plank that had been filled previously, before passing it on to be painted. He then moved onto removing flaking paint and sanding down the timber that hold the lower door hinges (of no. 146).
John finally got to get his hands 'dirty', well the gloves anyway, by applying a liberal dose of wood preservative to the frame of no. 146, paying particular attention to the joints where rot often starts.

With the departure of the second train, to excellent formation waving from the working party, Ann McCanna arrived to brew up the morning coffees and tempt us with her latest culinary exploits that utilised those little biscuits they give you with fancy cups of coffee, and a left over bag of marshmallows, to make a tasty treat. This was added to the bounteous offering from 'Maison Benedetto' of syrup rich flapjacks, celebrating Charles' belated birthday of Tuesday last. We were joined in the hot sunshine by Mary Sheffield, John Alderslade, our duty attendant, and another museum volunteer who sadly was not able to partake of the many cakes on offer. Our morning ramblings took in the names of the 'luxury' marques of cars, such as Vanden Plas, Pinifarina and Alpina, though we couldn't recall the one Ford used. We also were perturbed by the news that the Llechfan Garden railway had suffered vandalism and theft over the weekend; one of our number opining that Community Service was not a fit punishment for such a crime. This was countered by the TR experience with the Onley young offenders who came to work on the railway in years gone by, who were uncomplaining hard workers, some of whom went on to volunteer on the railway. Nigel Adams filled us in on his latest attempts to restart this programme in the face of more the restrictive Government regulations that now exist for young offenders.

Back on the 'wrong side of the tracks' Charles and Max put the finishing touches to their painting efforts, Winston did not blow any loose paint onto the wet paint but nor could he shift the rusty screws holding the dumb buffers on no. 101. Andy completed his sanding exercise and the timber parts were duly primed whilst John continued his morning with a bit of loose paint removal on the slate waste tipper wagon as a part of the ongoing examination of the condition of its bodywork. He discovered that at some point in its recent past it had been painted a light blue colour, intriguing.

By the close of play one floor had received its regulation two coats of bitumenous black, more planks than you could shake a paint stirring stick at were gleaming grey, one brown frame was still brown and little piles of loose paint were growing under two wagons....

Pictures by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, August 2nd, 2019 at 10:29am
Museum working party 1st August 2019

After a turbulent period in Tywyn with the weather, the day dawned bright and clear for the weekly session. In the absence of our regular leader John Olsen, who was taking a vacation, all the regulars presented themselves for action with the exception of Andy Sheffield, who was also away on holiday. Present were Neal Chapman; Charles Benedetto; Max Burchinall; David Broadbent; Alan Black and Winston McCanna. We were also pleased to welcome Trustee Ian Evans, who was having a week of mixed duties on the Talyllyn.

John had left behind a comprehensive list of jobs to be progressed and this list had subsequently been
supplemented with a further list by email, and working in the sunshine the gang got stuck in.

Max carried on applying top coat to the side planks for wagon 164, putting a second coat on those that had already received a first coat. The limit on this job was the amount of suitable space to lay the planks in the shade while the paint dried. Charles put a first coat of black bitumen paint onto the deck of wagon 101. This will require a second coat to complete. Neal applied a coat of black Hammerite to the raw hooks and other items for Wagon 164.

Ian undertook repairs to the short side plank from wagon 164 which had a serious "shake" along its length while David rubbed down filler on two similar planks previously repaired. Alan got out the electric wire brush and started to de-rust the door from slate waste tipper wagon. This requires a lot of work.

Coffee was prepared as usual by Ann McCanna and was enjoyed on the platform and we were joined by this morning attendant, Ray Brooks. Just as the break was finishing the TR GM and its Chairman arrived and so we treated them to a dip into the biscuit tin also.

After coffee David went into the Museum and cleaned the glass on the Staircase and the upper floor. Ian weeded the area around the Weigh Bridge platform, and then it was time to put all the bits away under cover.

The working party next week will once again be on Thursday morning at 0930.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, July 28th, 2019 at 5:41pm
Museum working party 25th July 2019

With more witches and wizards at Wharf Station than you could shake a broomstick at, there was definitely magic in the air as the Tywyn weather mojo waved its wand and conjured up a perfect day for working in the yard.

Todays team of restoration wizards, Winston McCanna, Charles Benedetto, Neal Chapman, David Broadbent, Andy Sheffield and John Olsen could see nothing but blue skies ahead. But strangely the first moves of the morning took place within the museum to relocate any potentially flammable materials (four sleepers, the little set of wooden steps and a donation box stand) from under the stairs to other locations.

Then the yellow cover came off the frame of wagon no. 146 so that the axleboxes and external nuts could be touched up with black Hammerite, a job for a steady hand, a keen eye and knees of iron, so Neal got the call.

The black cover was levitated off wagon no. 101 with a spell of 'wingardium leviohhh me back!' so that Charles could follow up his priming last week with a coat of grey gloss metal paint this morning.

Winston was given a spot in the shade to give the few last short planks* their first coat of grey gloss, all except three* that were in need of some repairs as they had almost split in half longitudinally. Master woodworker Andy got to complete the repair of last weeks job by filling the gaps with two part wood filler and then prepare one of the next pair for gluing by first breaking it in two!

David took a wire brush and welders hammer to the drawhooks of no. 146 to remove loose paint and rust so that they could be painted with black Hammerite.

Having organised the team to mutterings of 'Worse than herding wizards...', John got to apply some controlled violence to a piece of the door furniture of no. 146, namely the hinges and supporting angle iron for the bottom section of the doors, with the wire wheel.

The first train of the day was waved off enthusiastically, if you didn't wave you were likely to get hexed or worse from the massed ranks of young witches and wizards, and the team cracked on with the jobs. As it is now high season we had to down tools not long later to wave off the second train, similarly packed with magical folk at which point Ann McCanna magically appeared and brewed up our morning coffee in the Guards Room cauldron; never were so many thirsty muggles in need of a good 'pick me up' potion.

We settled down on platform 1 and a bit with duty attendant Mark Gibson and another museum volunteer for some Black Forest Gateau chocolates, all the way from Bavaria, courtesy of Andy and Mary, truly delicious confectionary. The last of Kes' thank you biscuits were also on offer to keep our sugar levels up for part two of the mornings tasks. But before then we briefly reflected upon recent news events, 'Boris the PM', it sounds like a line from a song...., before moving onto the American electoral college system and the latest news from the shakedown trials of the newest railway line in the UK, no not Crossrail, but Bird Rock Railway. Apparently the large inspector found fault with the railway lights, 'Wrong scale.' Oh calamity!

Refreshed we returned to our tasks, except David who went into the museum and emerged sometime later clinking suspiciously, as the sun continued to shine upon our efforts and Winston got his hands on the really big planks.

By the close of play grey planks were emerging from the Gunpowder Store only to return there a little later still painted grey..., one plank had been broken in two and magically glued back together again while a crack mysteriously disappeared in another plank. The floor of no. 101 went from grey to shiny grey in the blink of an eye, admittedly of a lesser sloth eye, and no. 146 frame was looking something like its youthful self with freshly painted black metalwork. Two drawhooks were clean and ready for painting as was the door furniture metalwork, and the covers had wafted back over the wagons to protect them from any rogue thunder storms rumoured to be in the offing. Magic!

Photographs by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, July 20th, 2019 at 10:16am
Museum working party 18th July 2019

Warm and cloudy, the Tywyn weather mojo must have been thinking about a pint of scrumpy before tackling this mornings weather, but this was all good news for the team.

This Thursday morning Neal Chapman, Winston McCanna, Charles Benedetto, Andy Sheffield and John Olsen were on station to make the most of the dry spell. The yellow cover came off the frame of wagon no. 146 and after rolling it a short distance down the siding Neal set to work applying the second coat of gloss paint. The metal skeleton ribs of no. 146 that had been lying on the siding to the west of the frame were moved out of the way and one set up on our big wooden stands ready for a further cleaning session with the wire wheel. Then with four 'able' bodies around the big wagon cover, it was lifted off wagon no. 101 and set down out of the way; the wagon was then moved east a short distance to allow hazard free access around it for the next operation in the restoration of its floor plate. Charles got the brush and rags out to remove the dust and then clean the plate down with white spirits so that it would be ready for the acid etch primer.

Winston set up a painting station beside no. 146 so that he could share the paint tin with Neal as he applied the first topcoat to more of the body planks of no. 146.

Andy and John took advantage of the lull between the arrival of the ECS and its departure as the first train of the day to put the Weighbridge House display panel back up; this had been re-glazed last week. They took a few moments to shuffle the sign back and forth before settling on a position to the eastern end of the fence by the loos which was both visible to visitors on the platform and did not significantly impinge upon visitors wishing to take photos/videos of the train as it leaves the station. New holes needed to be drilled in the posts before the sign could be secured with stainless steel coach bolts, which should make it easier to take down for any future maintenance.

Andy then brushed up his woodworking skills to shape a piece of wood to complete the repair of one of the planks from no. 146 that had split apart and John had glued back together last week and left it to set.

John got to remove some more of the old paint and rust from one of the ribs from no. 146; a job that was proving to be slower than anticipated due to the extreme pitting of the metal, which required the wire wheel to be applied in multiple orientations to ensure as much surface was cleaned as possible.

The 10:30 train was duly waved away before Ann McCanna issued the welcome summons to coffee and cakes; yes gentle reader we, the hard toiling members of the museum working party, were treated to cakes to belatedly celebrate Winston's birthday. We were joined on the platform in the sunshine, that had broken through the clouds, by duty attendant Noel Williams and another museum volunteer fresh back from foreign parts out in the cold North Atlantic, the Faroe Islands. Mary Sheffield made up the happy numbers as we traded holiday tales that took in quite a few reminiscences of Canada from our globetrotting team members.

Refreshed and replete we returned across the tracks, except Neal who had to leave early, but only after he had completed painting the frame. Charles took up the paint brush and began to apply the acid etch primer to the uneven surface of the floor plate. Andy and John provided periodic quality control, helpfully pointing out all the little bits that Charles had missed.... we are such a caring team!

We had another brush with bubbling paintwork as some of the freshly painted planks were heated by the resurgent sun, but some quick shifting of the affected timbers into the Gunpowder Store stopped any small bubble becoming a big blister. In between quality control and musical planks, John got back to wielding the wire wheel.

By the close of play multiple planks had been painted, a second coat of gloss paint had been applied to the frame of no. 146, one plank had a repair performed on it and one coat of acid etch primer had been applied to the floor plate of no. 101, and the Weighbridge House sign was back up, complete with see through glazing, such a novelty. Oh, and a bit of a metal rib was de-rusted.

Pictures by John Olsen.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, July 19th, 2019 at 3:26pm
Museum working party 11th July 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo was in what might best be described as a bistable condition this morning, flip flopping back and forth between dry and damp, not the best of conditions for working in the yard on the wagons. However the this mornings team of Allan Black, David Broadbent, Neal Chapman, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen are nothing if not flexible in their working arrangements and had a wet weather list to hand.

Item 1 on the list was to complete the overhaul of the ticket machine for which duty Allan and Neal volunteered. The machine was placed on one of the tables on the platform and the basics of dis-assembly pointed out by John who then left them to it.

Item 2 was changing the cloudy perspex sheet that had protected the weighbridge house external display for a new sparkling clear one. John got the new sheet from the museum store and opened the weighbridge house to retrieve the display unit so that Charles could remove the security fittings with a special Allen key; inevitably one fitting refused to turn and required WD40 and application of the molegrips to free off. Charles was able to remove the old perspex while John worked on the last recalcitrant fixing. The display sheet inside was in very good condition but a fair amount of dirt and grime had accumulated on the inside of the display unit, which needed hot water and elbow grease to remove before it could be put back together again.

David had been busy in the museum collecting the donations and joined John and Charles for the re-assembly process; each fitting receiving a coating of evil green grease on its threads to prevent future seizures.

The whistle blew on the 10:30 train and we waved it away up the valley in one of the dry interludes. Before the departure of the Victorian Train our favourite Welsh Lady, suitably attired in the National Costume, approached us bearing edible gifts as a thank you for the use of the Gunpowder Store for last weekends Garden Railway Gala. Thank you Kes.

With biscuits in hand we wrapped up the weighbridge sign job and crossed the tracks to find that our duty attendants Alan and Diane Chetwynde had kindly started brewing up the morning coffee. We sat down at the table where a freshly overhauled ticket machine was being put through its paces, flawlessly dispensing tickets no matter what the handle pulling technique. Our engineering genii had discovered another adjustment parameter that put an end to two tickets sliding forward upon pulling the handle and quickly finished the job.

With coffee and biscuits in hand, our chat somehow went via farms the size of counties, Australian farms of course to the size of Western Australia, how many people there were (mainly in Perth), vs how many kangaroos and how 'samey' the scenery became after the first ten kilometres....

Post coffee we moved down our tick list and noting that the weather had flipped back to dry Allan had a go at chipping more rust of the waste slate tipper in the yard that David had worked on last week. David got to work in the Gunpowder Store 'paintshop' on three more planks from no. 146, applying the first topcoat to them. As it was still very bistable weather John ran his finger down the wet weather list to item 3.

Item 3 was to move the Corris milepost from its location in the middle of the Irish display boards to the pillar opposite the attendants cupboard, which is a much more suitable position adjacent to the Welsh Railways section. Charles and Neal made themselves handy with that job.

John shuffled the already top-coated and yet to be top-coated planks, from wagon no. 146, so that the next batch were available for painting and not stuck behind sundry other bits of wood.

By the close of play, it was raining steadily as the Tywyn weather mojo flopped for the last time that morning, three planks had been painted, one perspex sheet exchanged, one ticket machine restored to working order, one milepost moved a couple of yards, and the pile of rust at the back of the waste slate tipper wagon grew that bit bigger.

Pictures by John Olsen.