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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, May 24th, 2019 at 11:03pm
Museum working party 23rd May

With the Bank Holiday weekend fast approaching the Tywyn weather mojo held its nerve and delivered a beautiful warm morning for our mornings activities.

This mornings team of Allan Black, Lisa Brian, David Broadbent, Winston McCanna, Charles Benedetto, Max Birchenough and John Olsen were given moral support and general banter by Andy Sheffield, fresh back from his travels but on the sick with a back problem.

Allan and Lisa settled in for their syncopation on wagon 101 as they tackled the hard to reach regions on the floor plate under the wooden slats; as this is not a full fettling of the wagon the slats have been left in situ.

David applied wood preservative to the exposed frame timbers of wagon 146, working around Charles as he wielded a hacksaw to cut off the seized nuts on three fixing bolts that were slack. Normally we would angle grind these off but due to the constrained working zone of the fully assembled frame this was not possible. Having run out of bare timber to apply preservative to David got out the hot airgun to remove more of the old paint from the frame; this paint took a bit more shifting than last week as evidently it had been more effectively applied.

Winston took up a paint brush and anointed still unpainted planks from no. 146 with grey primer, paying careful attention to the edges where water is most likely to collect and penetrate.

Max was tasked with dis-assembling one of the wagon doors so that he could sand down the planks ready for treatment with wood preservative. John got to work on the second door and quickly ran up against the last recalcitrant seized on nut; time to get out the angle grinder!

The 10:30 service was waved off from the station and a strange quiet descended on Wharf yard as the gang crossed the tracks for the morning coffee break, which was brewed up for us by Winston this morning. We sat down in the company of Ray Brooks, Francesc Sabate Villaret our duty attendant for the morning, Mary Sheffield and another museum volunteer, to munch on a French biscuit confection courtesy of Andy and Mary and our regular fix of chocolate biscuits. Our morning chatter encompassed the European Parliamentary elections and the aggressive behaviour of a small section of the populous towards our elected MPs/MEPs, something to be deplored in a country of free speech. We also were disgusted by the vandals who wrecked a model railway exhibition the night before it was to open. Thousands of man hours thoughtlessly destroyed; an online fund raiser has shown the depth of others concern but money alone cannot undo such wanton vandalism. John flagged up the forthcoming museum volunteers feedback session on Saturday, which forms a part of the trustees Strategic Review process for the museum. This news had not reached everyone at the table, despite prior efforts to disseminate it.

Back across the tracks the banging and sawing and painting and chatting continued as Mike Green put in an appearance on site.

Two of the bolts that had been removed thanks to Charles excellent surgery were replaced with new ones but when John went to insert the third bolt we discovered that the hole in the axlebox and the hole in the frame didn't line up. This had been gotten around in the past by using an undersized bolt, which had subsequently worked loose before rusting up in the slack position. We may have to resort to using a similar 'fix' if we cannot open up the hole through the frame without damaging the axlebox.

We wrapped up the morning by stowing the freshly painted planks in the Gunpowder Store and putting the protective cover back on the frame of no. 146 and placing the rain cover over wagon 101. The door planks had been sanded down and preservative applied before they too were stowed safely inside.

By the close of play that rust pile under wagon no. 101 had grown again, the pile of removed paint under wagon no. 146 shadowed it. The bare wood of no. 146 had soaked up the preservative like a thirsty man so another round may be applied next week. The pile of primed timber grew and the pile of unpainted timber shrank, all in accord with the laws of the conservation of piles.

Photos by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, May 19th, 2019 at 8:30am
Museum working party 16th May 2019

The stuttering Tywyn weather mojo finally fired on all cylinders and delivered a bright sunny morning; okay we could have done without the wind kicking up dust in the yard but we're not complaining.

As keen as mustard, the gang assembled to get down and dirty with wagons 101 and 146; Winston McCanna, Allan Black, Charles Benedetto, Neal Chapman and John Olsen were ready to shift some rust, and old paint.

Allan was on rhythm again with his trusty hammer, whacking the old paint and concealed rust on wagon no. 101; the cries of joy from the control office knew no bounds.

Winston and Neal had a scraper and an hot air gun to remove the old flaking paint from the frame of wagon no. 146. They were joined by Charles who was knocking rust off the tie bars, drawbar and brake gear with a hammer and a chisel for the difficult to reach bits.

John resumed his efforts to dismantle one of the doors from no. 146 without having to resort to the angle grinder. Happily the long interval between the last attempt and this morning meant that the penetrating oil had done its job and with some well directed blows with hammer and chisel the last nut came off. This allowed him to get on with cleaning the metalwork up with a wire wheel attachment.

Mike Green appeared like a genial genie to measure up the engineering jobs that we can't handle in the yard and first applied his tape measure to the two corner angled plates from the NE and SE corners of no. 146, which were too corroded to be of further use. Having established their sizes, not identical, and thickness, he moved onto the roof strap. This is very badly wasted in the centre section but the ends can still be used so Mike proposes to cut out the middle and weld in a new section of appropriate sized steel bar. That took him onto the brake lever for wagon no. 164 that needs the key building up by welding and then shaping to fit; followed by drilling through the brake lever and brake shaft to insert a split pin to ensure nothing can fall apart whilst running up the line.

The 10:30 service announced its departure in the time honoured fashion and was duly waved away by the gang before we were summoned to our coffee break by Ann McCanna. We took coffee and biscuits on the platform in the warm sunshine in the company of Max Birchenough, Ray Brooks, duty attendant and another volunteer. Max had scored several pictures in a railway magazine including one from the Central Wales line foray and of a double headed photo charter train on the TR, well done Max. Jovial banter and caffeine refreshed we returned across the yard to make a bit more noise and move the restorations forward.

The removal of the loose paint, and dumb buffer ends of no. 146 did reveal a small amount of rot in one of the dumb buffers, but it is not serious enough to warrant attacking with saws and chisels; it will be treated with wood preservative and wood hardener but otherwise left as is.

Allan pretty much reached the limits of the floor plate that can be cleaned up with the hammer but will bring a sharpened bolster to reach the parts under the slats next week to complete the initial clean up before the whole is wire wheeled.

Three bolts were found to be loose on no. 146 and it seems likely they will have to be cut off if the nuts are too rusted to tighten up; but we doused them with WD40 and left it to penetrate the rusty interface if it could.

By the close of play one wagon frame had been scrapped back to wood, one wagon floor was chipped back to metal and sundry pieces of old iron had lost their rusty sheaths ready for a final wire wheel clean and Hammerite black paint to protect the in the future.

No pictures this week, as in his keenness to get to Wharf, your correspondent forgot to take his camera.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, May 11th, 2019 at 10:35am
Museum working party 9th May 2019

Another day, another low pressure weather system not fended off by the Twywn weather mojo; the team were most disappointed that intermittent rain postphoned work on wagon no. 146 again. But Allan Black, Neal Chapman, Winston McCanna, David, Broadbent, Charles Bennedetto and John Olsen were ready to turn their hands to other tasks inside the museum.

In the semi-dry, ie spitting rain, Allan took up the trusty hammer to remove some more of the rust on the floor of wagon no. 101, much to the 'joy' of the volunteers manning the control office just across the yard!

Charles and David followed up last weeks removal of the perspex Lottery funding sign by its restoration today, using brass screws and new non corroding rubber and plastic fittings. This will make it easier in future to take the sign down for washing of its rear face, or so we hope.

Neal was over the moon to hear that the stair riser signs were actually meant to be behind the stair risers, not in front where he had painstakingly installed them last week. As usual it was a lack of communication down the chain of command, but now we've got it right....well almost as the lower case Y's, G's etc. have lost their bottoms. We plan to add small bits of packing to resolve the issue in the near future.

Winston took possession of freshly printed QR code patches from Bob Cambridge to mount them behind the protective perspex of the displays so that they will not become all dog eared or be removed by little fingers.

John got the portable scaffold tower out to assist in putting up two new lighting tracks, one to the north of the big glazed entrance panel and the other in the centre of the glazed partition between the cafe and the museum. These have been placed so that extra lights can be directed onto the two new display areas, which are currently not adequately covered by our existing lighting arrangements. These will be wired in by Steve Thorpe when his busy schedule of electrical work permits.

Coffee was served up by Ann McCanna, who had baked a batch of Bakewell tarts as a delayed birthday (hers) treat for us, which we took in the company of Lisa Brian our duty attendant in the warmth of the cafe. This mornings discussions owed much to the handsome illustrated volume on railway pubs and refreshment rooms that John had returned to Winston; engendering such comments as “I've been there” “Does it have the one on...?”

Post coffee we returned to hammering, clipping, screwing (the final L shaped cuphook on the new wooden nameplate templates display) and mopping; Neal was on the trail of sticky stains on the floor where someone had clearly transgressed the ban of consuming food in the museum, probably a child during the hectic Easter holiday openings.

By the close of play it was still spitting with rain, multiple signs had been re-secured in their correct positions, two lighting tracks had been put up, one perspex sign had been re-hung and QR patches adorned our displays for the tech savvy visitors to enjoy online extras. Oh, and that pile of rust around wagon no. 101 was even bigger.

Pictures by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, May 4th, 2019 at 10:30am
Museum working party 2nd May 2019

Only 4/10 for the Tywyn weather mojo this morning; grey, gloomy with intermittent drizzle that prevented us from doing any wagon painting. But the team were as enthusiastic as ever, Lisa Brian, Allan Black, Neal Chapman, Andy Sheffield, Charles Benedetto, David Broadbent and John Olsen divvied up the jobs in the museum.

Bravely Lisa and Allan volunteered to continue the chipping off the rust on the floor of wagon no. 101, even at the risk of getting drizzled on, out by the Gunpowder Store.

Neal was tasked with installing a centre clip to hold the stair riser signs more securely and also pinching up the existing clips to stop the signs rattling should a visitor clonk them with their feet. Whilst finding the clips in the north wall store area John noticed that his rain ingress interception system had caught over six inches of water in the bucket, a result of storm Hannah pounding Tywyn from the NW over the previous weekend. This despite Micks efforts in replacing the failed pointing above the lead flashing on the NW corner of the museum; it all points to a fundamental flaw in the design and construction of the building that may never be adequately resolved.

David took Henry the hoover for a long and involved walk around the museum on a seek and suck mission to remove dirt, spiders webs and anything else loose on the floor.

Charles and Andy got very enthusiastic about washing down the glazing facing the platform, wielding the big long handled brush and the super chammy to wash away the salt and grime that had accumulated since the last washing session before Easter.

John made it his mission to remove all the little sticky finger marks on the glass balustrades and the big glazed panel, and that's a lot of finger marks.

Coffee was brewed up by John after the 10:30 train had been waved off by Allan, Lisa and Neal and was taken in the warmth of the cafe with two other volunteers, one on a morning taster session with our duty attendant. After discussing the merits of the small, but very moreish, ginger biscuits from sunny foreign realms our chat moved onto the case for not building the M4 relief road around Newport; the ongoing congestion would encourage less car use and aid in de-carbonising transport in South Wales. The money saved could then be used elsewhere in Wales, notably between Pwllheli and Aberystwyth, to improve the rail service. The announcement by one of our number that he was off to the south of France next week by air, a means of transport he found rather scary, sent us off in a totally different direction. Cue stories of plane crashes, wings wobbling, aerofoils dropping off; oh we are a naughty bunch!

Coffee time over we returned to our cleaning and hammering; Lisa and Allan's syncopation was a wonder to hear, from the safe distance of the museum.

By the close of play the pile of rust around wagon no. 101 had grown considerably, whilst the piles of dust etc in the museum had vanished, the stair riser signs no longer rattled, and the glazing inside and out was crystal clear and welcoming our visitors inside.

Pictures by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, April 26th, 2019 at 11:49am
On Thursday 25th, the museum hosted an event funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities Development Programme. 'Pop-Yp Y Bobl', 'The People's Pop-Up' was part of the Gwynedd Fusion Network scheme to encourage communities to become involved in arts, culture and heritage, and took place in Deiniolen, Y Rhiw, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Tywyn.

Mair Tomos Ifans performed Bilingual Welsh stories and legends some accompanied on the harp. The picture shows the event in progress.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, April 12th, 2019 at 12:04pm
Museum working party 11th April 2019

To make amends for its shambolic performance last week the Tywyn weather mojo put on a sparkling display of blue sky and bright sunshine to greet the team this morning. David Broadbent, Max Birchenough, Neal Chapman, Allan Black, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen were ready for action: Andy Sheffield wasn't, he turned up to explain he couldn't stay as he had a builder on the way, sometime in the morning....

Nonetheless to celebrate the completion of the Car Gwyllt display (John had put in many hours during the week to add the sleepers and texture the surface), Andy stayed on long enough for a group photo around the stand before it was shifted into the museum. There was a bit of a shunt of the Padarn Railway Host wagon to allow easier access to the tight space beside the cafe glazed wall, but with safe hands guiding it down under Neal's direction it was shimmied into its slot. The three lengths of rail were then slotted into position and the dog spikes tapped home to complete the track laying! The car gwyllt sat perfectly in position atop the rails but the locking bolts required a bit of surgery to shorten them before they could be tightened up; Charles performed the surgery, without the aid of anaesthetic, using the company hacksaw.

A test fitting of the mounting board for a new flipmount containing more details of Baguley 774 revealed that the rebates were too shallow so that the cut lengths of threaded rod were too short. The rebates required a bit more drilling out by John before the assemblage would fit snugly around the pillar.

While these operations were going on the 10:30 service departed, fully laden, and the team could take their coffee break out on the platform in the strong sunshine. Neal had to leave before coffee was served but those remaining had a choice of chocolate biscuits, some imported ginger biscuits or Easter Eggs in John's minimum effort Easter Egg hunt, ie the box was open on the table! We were joined in our feasting by duty attendant Ray Brooks and the conversation turned to the matter of how the original builders had constructed the road bridge across the Dovey by Machynlleth; had they diverted the river or just gotten wet? Our discussions over we returned to our tasks and even started some wagon restoration work too as Allan and John went across the yard to wagon no. 101, a two slat slate wagon, and the kit of parts that is the covered wagon, no. 146. Allan took up the welders chipping hammer to investigate the state of the floor of wagon no. 101, which was peeling back in places, while John wielded the angle grinder fitted with a wire wheel on the metal door fittings of no. 146. Allan's syncopated chipping soon revealed that the surface under even apparently sound bitumenous paint was in fact rusting quite badly and we shall have to strip the floor back to bare metal this season or it will deteriorate beyond salvaging.

The flipmount was successfully attached to the pillar beside the Baguley and the red stand moved underneath it to fend off small fast moving children, who might not be looking where they are going and crash into the flipmount.

With a group of us around the Host Wagon it was gently shunted back into position and the wheels chocked, thus completing the car gwyllt installation process. Then it was out into the yard to move the wagon repair cover from atop the Ffestiniog slate wagon to cover wagon no. 101 to protect it from the elements for the next two weeks while we take an Easter break.

By the end of play, three tracks had been laid, two wagons had been worked upon and one car gwyllt was in place to wow the visitors over the Easter holidays.

The next museum working party will be on Thursday 2nd May, until then we wish our readers a very happy Easter.

Pictures by John Olsen.