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News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum

A museum covering all aspects of the narrow gauge railways of the British Isles, and of the Talyllyn Railway in Particular.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, October 19th, 2018 at 1:57pm

On a beautiful autumn morning with a clear blue sky and no breeze, a much smaller than usual gang reported for duty. While we were gathering up, an articulated lorry came down the drive at Wharf bringing locomotive No 6 "DOUGLAS" back from its stay on the North York Moors Railway. The lorry was manoeuvred into position over the middle road and then there was a pause while loco No 4 "EDWARD THOMAS" propelled it's empty stock into the platform. Once the 1030 train had departed the No 6 was soon off the lorry and was whisked away to Pendre by diesel locomotive "TRECWYN".

Meanwhile the gang comprising Charles Benedetto, Andy Sheffield, and Winston McCanna continued where work had left off the previous week and Andy carried on rubbing down the side planks for the van and Andy and Winston commenced applying paint to those already prepared, putting a coat of flexible wood primer onto one face and the edges.

A break was called for coffee which was thoroughly enjoyed in the sunshine on the platform and was accompanied as ever by chocolate biscuits, and here we were joined by today's attendant Ray Brooks. Ann McCanna was accompanied this morning by her daughter Wendy, granddaughter Hattie and the dog Alfie.

Later in the morning Barbara Tinsley appeared and reported an improvement in her health.

By the close of play Andy had prepared more planks for painting and Charles and Winston had painted a total of eight planks, the limiting factor being somewhere to lay the planks to dry.

Work will resume next Thursday 25th at 0930, and we look forward to seeing you there.

The photo, from the TR Wharf Webcam, shows No.6 basking in the sunshine, and the gang enjoying their coffee on the platform.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, October 13th, 2018 at 10:17am
A new display in the Museum, and Working Party progress.

On Thursday, the day started brightly and pleasant after the hottest October day for years on the previous day, but it didn't last, and by the time that the regular gang had assembled cloud was rolling in from the west. As well as regulars, Neal Chapman; Charles Benedetto; David Broadbent; Andy Sheffield and Winston McCanna, a welcome return was made by Richard Evans from South Wales who had travelled north to take part in the long outdoor weekend and had come a day early to be part of the Museum gang today.

As work was being planned, the first spots of rain fell, and this curtailed the range of activity possible. Consequently Richard worked at the back of the Gunpowder Shed painting the two corner sections of the Van and by the end of the session had put a second coat on the outside faces and two coats on the inside, allowing for the requisite two hour pause between coats. Andy and David carried on sanding the outer faces and edges of side planks off the van, identifying those sanded by fixing a square of tape after sanding. Once again by the close of play a good pile had been prepared for the next stage and painting in accordance with the strict schedule already prepared can commence next week.

Meanwhile Neal; Charles and Winston took themselves into the Museum and gave it a good clean. The glass was polished, and the artefacts dusted and shone . By lunchtime everything looked very presentable.

Ann McCanna did her genii out of the bottle trick and appeared at coffee time. It transpired that the Guards room facility was temporarily out of coffee so the gang accepted an offer from the catering staff to provide and we all sat down to enjoy this with chocolate biscuits as is now customary. For this we were joined by today’s duty attendant, Richard Stoner. The locomotive on the service train No 4 "Edward Thomas", was manned by Chris Parrot and Engineering supremo Chris Smith. By the end of the morning the rain was falling steadily.

Yesterday, Ian Evans erected our new temporary exhibition celebrating the 150th of the railway pioneer Colonel Stephens.

Why not join in for next weeks working party, Thursday 18th at 0930?
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumThursday, October 4th, 2018 at 8:25pm

During the past year we have been working hard to renew our Museum Accreditation. Accreditation is the UK standard for museums and galleries. It defines good practice and identifies agreed standards, thereby encouraging development. It is a baseline quality standard that helps guide museums to be the best they can be, for current and future users. These standards apply to all museums in the UK, from professionally run museums such as the National Museum of Wales and the Slate Museum at Llanberis to small volunteer museums such as us. The standards are scalable to the nature of the museum, but the basic principles apply to all.

The NGRM was first accredited under the present scheme following the completion of the new museum, and renewed once since then. We were due to be re-assessed this year, and we are delighted to confirm that it has today been confirmed that our accreditation has been renewed until 2022. Special thanks are due to all who have helped us to achieve this.

At a more mundane level, weekly working parties have continued, but with our working party leader away on an extended holiday, the scope of the work has been reduced.

On the 27th September, it was a sunny day here in Tywyn to greet the very much reduced working party. Those present were Neil Chapman, Phil Sayers and transatlantic member Gerry Lapointe (Canadian). David Broadbent was museum attendant, until relieved by Noel Williams when the Victorian train returned. Phil was on painting duties, Gerry wire brushing duties. Neil made coffee, and the items which had been taken down for down for the insertion of how a diesel works interactive display were replaced. The large Narrow Gauge at Work information board was also secured in its new position.

On the 3rd October, the weather at Wharf was dry but rain was about which curtailed our activities a little. Present this week were David Broadbent, Neal Chapman. Charles Benedetto, Andy Sheffield and Winston McCanna. Museum Attendant was Sue Whitehouse. We had been left a list of jobs to do while our leader was away and we tackled some of those. David and found the correct paint and applied a coat to the two good corner pieces of folded steel for the Van, working inside the Gunpowder Shed. Alongside David in the dry was Andy, who wielded the paint stripper to good effect, and removed paint from more of the wall panels from the Van. Inside the Museum Neil and Charles returned to the challenge of tailoring the kick board around the Baguley locomotive to fit it around the newly re-installed Diesel engine display. By the end of the morning they could report that the task was complete and the area is now ready top receive ballast. At the magic hour Ann McCanna arrived to brew coffee, which was taken in the cafe with the customary supply of chocolate biscuits, and very yummy too!

The next working party will be held on Thursday 11th October. Why not come along, there is always plenty of worthwhile tasks to be undertaken.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, September 23rd, 2018 at 4:19pm
Museum working party 20th September

The Tywyn weather mojo was clearly exhausted after shifting storm Ali away to the north and when storm Bronagh came howling in, the rains were only fended off for a short time. But our ever ready team toughed it out, Neal Chapman, David Broadbent, Andy Sheffield, Charles Benedetto, Phil Sayers and John Olsen got the remnants of wagon no. 146 out of the Gunpowder Store and promptly removed the last bits of its superstructure leaving just the frames on the rails. Phil continued his exploration of painting without colour, anointing some of the floor boards with wood preservative whilst Andy set to work stripping more of the old gloss paint off the body planks. David got down to sanding the already stripped boards and Neal got to work on two metal straps removed from no. 146 last week. Charles gave the old sound gloss paint on the corner pieces, that had been primed last week, a light sand down to give the new paint a good key. John took a couple of photos of the forlorn remnant of the superstructure, as it lay on its side looking rather like a long beached whale carcass, before turning his angle grinder on the few remaining rusty nuts holding it precariously all together.

By 10:30 the train had departed and the rain had most definitely arrived; time to put the power tools indoors and cross the tracks to the warmth of the cafe for coffee and biscuits brewed up by Ann McCanna in the company of, briefly, duty attendant Malcolm Philips and longer by Mary Sheffield, Keith Theobald and Ann. Winston was playing hooky up the line with a friend.

Post coffee it was clear that working outside was not really an option but luckily we had a plan B which involved preparing the site of the long absent Diesel Interactive for its return this very day! Neal, Charles and John set about demounting two display panels and sundry other pieces of obstructive timber so that the interactive could slotted in front of Baguley 774. David and Andy set up their sanding and stripping operation inside the Gunpowder Store, which didn't really leave much room for Phil to continue so he got the rest of the morning off. John briefly went out into the rain, he had sensibly brought his waterproof orange jacket, to remove the nuts and knock out the rusty bolts, so reducing the superstructure of no. 146 to a pile of timber and steel.

Just as the gang were winding up for the morning the interactive arrived in the back of a van and we helped Keith safely offload it and bring it into the museum, where with a little bit of 'to you, to me' it slipped neatly into its allotted position. The power was turned on and an anxious wait ensued while various things came and went on screen before a set of pistons and speech bubbles came on. It worked just as promised, no dodgy remote controls or monitors going to sleep; turn the power on and it starts automatically.

So by the close of play the disassembly of wagon no. 146 had reached its conclusion with all the bits safely in the dry of the Gunpowder Store and the frame outside under cover ready for the next stages of wood preservation, priming and painting and metal work de-rusting and painting. The Diesel Interactive was in place and correctly displaying suck, squeeze, bang, wheeze, sorry expel.

Photos by John Olsen and Keith Theobald.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, September 16th, 2018 at 10:59am
Museum working party 13th Sept 2018

After a week away from wagon restoration the team assembled on yet another fine sunny morning in Tywyn. Phil Sayers, David Broadbent, Winston McCanna, Neal Chapman, Andy Sheffield and John Olsen split into two teams for the start of play; Winston and Neal went into the museum to restore the display area behind the Royal Arsenal Woolwich, wagon, which had been temporarily taken down to attend an RAF ceremony on Anglesey, the rest divvied up the jobs relating to wagon no. 146. Andy was getting very nifty with the hot air paint stripping gun so he got to remove the old paint from the demounted planks.

David took those stripped planks and sanded them to remove residual stubborn paint and smooth the surface down for eventual painting. Phil entered his most existential painting phase to date; instead of applying coloured paint he applied colourless preservative to the freshly sanded planks, letting the underlying wood show through and more pragmatically killing off any hidden rot in the making. John, well you know the score by now, more rusty nuts needed to be removed to complete the removal of all the remaining planks and there was only one tool for that job – the angle grinder!
Even though the school holidays are now over the first train of the day left with a full complement of happy passengers, including an Australian group travelling through Wales on their way to Marrakesh, as you do.... They all received the obligatory happy wave off.

Coffee was a little later this morning allowing us to work up that bit more of a thirst for Ann McCanna's finest brew together with chocolate biscuits and Trail bars to keep up our energy levels. We were joined out in the sunshine by duty attendant Ray Brooks and another museum attendant on a day off, Richard Stoner. Cue much varied discussion on the woes of modern rail travel in a region where the franchise is about to change and the relative merits of changing trains at Birmingham New Street vs. Birmingham International when heading for the 'Smoke'.

Refreshed and agreeing on the merit of a single railway company responsible for all aspects of operation, maintenance, ticketing etc, we went back across the tracks to continue our rendering down and preliminary restoration. Neal found more paint in the bottom of the tin than anticipated as he primed the bare metal on the two corner pieces of wagon no. 146 that still had enough metal left to warrant cleaning up and re-use. Winston wielded the big screwdriver to remove the, thankfully brass, screws holding the majority of the floor planks to the frames, allowing our first really good view of the frames. It was interesting to note that despite the top and inner surfaces of the frame having no paint at all on them there was no sign of any rot at all, confirming our preliminary screwdriver inspection of the frame sides.

This leads us to consider leaving at least one face of all future new wagon frames either unpainted or only grey primer painted in order to allow any water ingress to easily evaporate again. Fully gloss painted frames might simply be sealing in too much water that inevitably seeps into joints as the frames undergo expansion and contraction throughout the year. By the close of play an unspecified number of planks had been stripped, sanded and treated with preservative; the two remaining corner pieces were fully primed. All the brass screws in the floor had been removed, along with four of the floor planks, all the remaining rusty nuts were cut away and two of the internal metal frames released from the wagon completely.

Wagon no. 146 is getting close to being reduced to just the frame and running gear, but the good news is that after all the dismantling we have only found a couple of the metal straps and corner pieces to be rusted beyond further use. All the timbers, including the frames, are perfectly fit for re-use after the old paint is removed and the wood given appropriate treatment prior to repainting. Justifying this early intervention before the wagon deteriorated to a point when extensive new wood and metal fittings would have been required. This stitch in time is paying dividends but highlights the pressing need for covered accommodation to protect the all the historic wagon fleet during the winter months.

Photos courtesy of John Olsen.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, September 2nd, 2018 at 4:09pm

We need some more museum attendants, particularly for those dates in the run up to Christmas which need two-shift working, such as when the Vintage Train is running in September. This involves a visit to the museum after the train returns. Also during the Orange Service, when we open from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00p.m. Several of out regulars are travelling abroad, and we need more help. Full training will be given, and we have an Attendants' Manual which answers most of the questions you are likely to be asked.

If you feel you can help, please email