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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 MuseumSunday, April 22nd, 2018 at 7:58am
Museum working party 19th April 2018

The Tywyn weather mojo had pulled out all the stops, bright warm spring sunshine greeted the gang as they assembled in Wharf Station yard for this mornings fun in the sun. Our suntanned crew were Allan Black, Max Birchenough, Neal Chapman and John Olsen; Andy Sheffield brought his sick note and his moral support.

Today we assembled the big frame that will hold the Dinorwic quarry backdrop. The first screws went in quickly and we set up the frame to get it square before clamping a diagonal piece of timber to it to keep it square. At this point the last of a string of concerned persons from Control came over the line to warn us that we would have to clear away ready for a star arrival at Wharf, we nodded sagely and agreed that as soon as the limo arrived we would be out of the way. We upended the frame against our wagon cover frame and then took time out for coffee that was very generously brewed for us by Alan and Diane Chetwynd, our duty attendants this morning. Out came the chocolate biscuits, but also the soft fruit cookies that Neal had brought in as a treat for us all, for an al fresco break beside the Gunpowder Store, so nice. Refreshed we returned to the frame and had just fitted the corner braces to it when the shout went up, “She's here!”.

Long low, and semi shiny, the stars transport proceeded to block the road at the top of the drive; yes star of stage and steam 'Sir Hadyn' had just arrived back from its long rebuild at the Vale of Rheidol. No. 3 looked as though it had only just been built, green paintwork gleaming, brass as bright as the sun and buffers so silver you could have eaten your lunch off them, if they weren't vertical! We all downed tools and picked up cameras and phones to record this welcome homecoming.

After a lengthy hiatus No. 3 was back on TR tracks and we were allowed back over the line to finish up our mornings work. Unfortunately we now only had enough time to manoeuvre this unwieldy construction into the museum and secure it temporarily in front of the Oakeley wagon ready for fitting behind 'Rough Pup' next week as our team had other engagements to go to.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, April 13th, 2018 at 9:58am
Museum working party 12th April 2018

The sun was shining, the birds singing in the trees, a perfect morning for a working party courtesy of the Tywyn weather mojo.... but where are all the people? Due to holidays and other commitments the 'party' had shrunk to a duo, Neal Chapman and John Olsen. With insufficient hands to put together the big frame and mount it in the museum, Neal and John opted for a bit of banner hanging to advertise William Finlay's footplate experience to our visitors as they come over the railway bridge from the car park. Using two long battens as top and bottom supports they then clamped the timbers to the palings of the balcony overlooking the Cambrian Coast Line using short lengths of batten and long screws, thus not damaging the paling rails. With extra support washers along both top and bottom edges the banner is now as secure as it can be in the face of Tywyn's winds; if the banner goes it will be with the palings still attached!

Having warmed up with the banner hanging they then repaired to the cafe with duty attendant Ray Brooks for coffee and chocolate biscuits; the number of biscuits consumed remains a closely guarded secret, but if you weren't there then your biscuit had no one to defend it!

Post coffee, the second identical banner was hung inside from the balustrade above the stairs, swapping the William Finlay appeal banner round to the other side, so that our visitors get a reminder of the footplate experience inside and out. Next came two snap frames to securely, and very elegantly, hold our opening hours notices on the two internal doors, upstairs from the lift and downstairs from the cafe. Both now hold the opening hours sheets which can be swapped over in a few moments by flipping back the four sides to release the old sheet and snapping them shut on the new one; very smart. Unlike the old sign, the new arrangement does not obstruct the view through the glass panel in the door for those exiting the museum.

Downstairs our dynamic duo lowered cabinet CO3 off the rollers, as John had been in on Wednesday to complete the grouting of the floor tiles, and checked it was stable ready for the display items to be restored. In the same corner of the museum they then rehung the door to the North Wall storage area thus closing off this Aladdin's cave from small inquisitive fingers. They had wanted to fit a shoot bolt to the door but found this was frustrated by the mesh panel being too close to allow fixing holes to be drilled; a problem to be fixed on another day with the right tools.

After clearing away all the tools and oddments they went across to the wagons in the yard to put the repair cover over the L&NWR all metal slate wagon to allow it to dry out ready for a spot of remedial work to the paint on the floor before it deteriorates too far.

By the close of play two new banners and two opening hours noticeboards were in place, the North Wall storage facility closed off from prying eyes and cabinet CO3 ready to return to 'active' duty, not bad for just the two pairs of hands.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumTuesday, April 3rd, 2018 at 11:56am
Museum working party 29th March 2018

The Tywyn weather mojo was making a pretty good effort at sunshine to encourage the working party to forsake its winter quarters in the museum and come back outside to play, some did, some didn't. Neal Chapman, Allan Black, Andy Sheffield and Charles Benedetto got to wave the trains off whilst Jim Godbold and John Olsen carried on indoors along with Barbara Tinsley, the duty attendant.

This morning the outdoor gang were not engaged in wagon repair but rather picture frame construction, but this was no ordinary frame or picture. The picture is a 2.4x1.2m view of Dinorwic quarry incline number 4, with incline tracks and wagons digitally re-inserted, to provide a scenic backdrop for Rough Pup. The frame sits atop 1.8m 'legs' so that the picture can be clearly seen over the loco; this all ads up to a whopping 2.4x3m frame. They got down to some serious timber measuring and cutting.

Inside the museum Jim and John had wheeled the Duffield Bank Railway tipper wagon back out from the wall and got cabinet CO3 back up onto the moving wheels in order to get the mobile scaffolding tower into position for mounting a big security mirror on the wall. Even with the modifications to the internal dividing wall, where there was still a blind spot on the ramp leading up to William Finlay's cab; the mirror was meant to eliminate this. The first job was to attach the heavy angle iron bracket to the wall between mesh panels MO1 and MO2, carefully avoiding damaging the security motion sensor, then secure the mirror to the bracket and adjust the angle to provide the missing line of sight down the ramp - or so we thought. Unfortunately the bracket location was far from ideal when viewed from the attendants station, the stairs being in the direct line of sight, and even coming a little way down the stairs we found the view obstructed by the lights. Jim got to earn his high steel wings by going up the scaffold tower and swapping six lights from the existing lighting rack and transferring them onto the newly hung lighting strip behind 'William Finlay', guided by John down below. This improved the view but it was still not ideal as the mirror is designed to give a very wide angle of view and this distorted image made identifying the ramp less straightforward. On the plus side the mirror provides a view down the ramp from pretty much everywhere else on the ground floor so we'll leave it there for the moment and wait for feedback from the attendants.

Ann McCanna made a welcome arrival during this frustrating moment and brewed up the morning coffee for us. To make things a bit more interesting, John had arranged an Easter Egg hunt for the gang, but to make it easy on the weary gang members he left the eggs in a clearly marked box on the table! The spare eggs were disseminated amongst the lucky volunteers and staff who happened to be in the vicinity at the time.

The outdoor gang returned to their assembly activities outside while Jim and John got down on their knees, no not praying, but grouting. The newly laid slate tiles still needed their joints grouting and between them Jim and John got on with this slightly messy activity squeezing the grout into the joints, scraping off the excess, then sponging off the residue before it set hard. They didn't quite complete the job but did enough to cover the area where our visitors will be walking throughout the season so it looks less like a work in progress.

By close of play the big frame was ready for its assembly and was carefully stored away in the Gunpowder store while the corner behind William Finlay was tidied up, the tipper wagon and cabinet CO3 restored to their correct positions and the scaffold tower stowed away safely.
The gang will be enjoying a break for Easter next week to scoff their eggs and then return on Thursday April 12th.

Words and Photos by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, March 24th, 2018 at 8:10am
Museum Working Party 22nd March 2018

After a series of sparkling mornings, the Tywyn weather mojo put in a rather poor performance this morning with a cold overcast start to the days so what better way to warm up than the task of turning the ground floor of the museum back from a building site to a fully functioning museum. The task was given added urgency as over one hundred local accommodation providers were due at eleven for a tour of Wharf Station.

This morning we welcomed Andy Sheffield back after a period of ill health and a brand new volunteer to swell our ranks, Jim Godbold, who took his place alongside Winston McCanna, Allan Black, Neal Chapman, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto, Malcolm Philips and John Olsen. We were to have been joined by Lisa Brian but she was called away to help with a job at Abergynolwyn, but Ray Brooks was at Wharf to help shepherd our visitors through the museum.
Malcolm made use of the quiet interlude before most of the working party had turned up to investigate the mystery of the frozen cab cams. After much poking around in the various set up menus he succeeded in restoring the auto function that cycles through each camera in turn.

Max started his morning by taking up the masking tape and newspapers that had stopped the ramp area behind George Henry and the Guinness loco from turning the same shade of light yellow as the edging strip and wainscotting; then helped Neal re-erect the post carrying the selection buttons for the Welsh railways video screen. It took the team of Neal, Charles, Allan and Malcolm to reconstruct the Car Gwyllt display, a process that was not helped by initial confusion over which way round the spacing MDF pieces went; John translated his scribbles to inform them that the pieces needed to be swapped over, after which the holes all matched up.

TR staff electrician Steve Thorpe made use of the scaffold tower to connect the new length of lighting track behind Willaim Finlay into the existing track, though he did need to make some adjustments to it before the lights came on and he could declare it 'job done', many thanks Steve.

Jim took the dust sheets off various locos and began to dust and clean before being involved in putting the Duffield Bank Railway tipper wagon and associated display cabinet back in place behind William Finlay. However this process was made somewhat more complex by the need to lay down two pieces of MDF board to spread the weight of these two heavy items over the freshly laid slate tiles, the last row of which Keith Theobald had laid the previous day. Tweaking involved rolling the tipper wagon on and off the rail section and moving said rail section until the tipper wagon was correctly engaging the anti tipping device, not a lightweight task. With the correct location established the tipper had to come out once more and the cast iron rail section lifted out, after marking its correct position, to allow the cabinet to be rolled into place.

Meanwhile, Winston had been patiently sanding down and painting the beading strips of the new glazing that John had cut to shape earlier in the week, the poor chap had to brave the cold wind out on the platform as there was no place for him to paint indoors. But he wasn't alone, as Andy was outside too wielding an extending brush which was connected up to the tap to wash the dusty encrustation left by Storm Emma and the Beast from the East on the vertical rising door and all the other museum panels and windows. The transformation from grey green to holly green again was very dramatic and his trusty chamois leathers left the glazing pristine, ready to invite our visitors inside on Saturday as the running season commences for Easter.

Ann McCanna's appearance to do a headcount and brew up the coffee for us was a relief to all parties indoor or out and we decamped to the cafe for our brew and victoria sponge cake, delicious. Alas we could not tarry, as the first of the 110 visiting guests were arriving for their cups of tea and coffee and we had to make way for them.

Back in the museum various bits of MDF that were no longer needed as floor protection were dispatched over to the Gunpowder store along with sundry pots of paint, paint brushes and support equipment. All the clean timber and the screws, floor adhesive, grout was found a home in the newly fitted out North Wall store. John had installed two more shelves and utilised one of a new set of LED light strips to provide plenty of storage space and lighting to see by. The door to this Aladdin's Cave needed trimming at its base to allow it to open over the newly laid tiles so now it was Neal and Charles turn to brave the chill of the platform with the saw to make the cut.

The big video monitor had been brought down from safe storage and with John and Max up on the mobile scaffold tower and Jim and Allan and Malcolm down below providing lift and tools, the monitor was safely raised onto its bracket and secured. All of this occurred under the scrutiny of our visiting guests being shown through the museum by Dan, Stuart, Lorraine and Robin. There were no embarrassing H&S breaches and a clean up of the screen to remove greasy finger marks and a tweak of its orientation, guided by Ray up in the cab of William Finlay, completed the task. The final tasks were to go round all the video screens and lights and make sure they were all turned on and working, clearing away the tools and ensuring that any trip hazards were marked with yellow and black warning tape.

It was a non stop morning of activity, at times with a lot of 'discussion' on just how a job should proceed, but with typical team banter and a bit of guidance from John we completed the transformation and are now ready to open fully at the weekend.......phew!

Thursday morning working parties will continue, and our attention will return to the museum wagon fleet.

Text and Photos by John Olsen. No action photos, he was too busy, but some of the end result.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumMonday, March 19th, 2018 at 11:38am
The museum is open daily until 3 November 2018. The museum opens at 10 am daily.
Closing times vary according to the service in operation on the Talyllyn Railway, as follows:

3 April to 15 April (green service): 3.30 p.m.
Weekends 21 April to 26 May (green service): 3.30 p.m.
Weekdays 16 April to 4 May (orange timetable): 2.30 p.m.
5 to 7 May (blue service): 4.30 p.m.
8 May to 25 May(orange service): 2.30 p.m.
27 May to 1 June (pink service): 5.30. pm
1-3 June (special service): 3.30 pm.
4 June to 15 July (green service): 3.30 p.m. (later on Thursdays)
16 July to 2 September (pink service): 5.30 p.m.
3 September to 29 September green service): 3.30 p.m. (later on Thursdays)
30 September to 26 October (orange service): 2.30 p.m.
27 October to 3 November (green service) 3.30 p.m.

For special opening outside the times above, please contact in advance, and we will do our best to accommodate you.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, March 16th, 2018 at 1:49pm
Museum Working Party 15th Mar 2018

The benign influence of the Tywyn weather mojo brought a welcome boost to our working party numbers on a fine warm morning as Phil Sayers and Ray Brooks turned out alongside Allan Black, Neal Chapman, Charles Benedetto, Max Birchenough, Winston McCanna and John Olsen, with a brief appearance of Barbara Tinsley checking on the attendants bookings. The museum will be fully open from Saturday 24th March so why not plan a spring trip down to Tywyn and sign up. You'll make Barbara very happy.

With the main running season bearing down upon us like a train we got down to business, or in Rays case got up(stairs) to take Henry on a cleaning blitz of the upper gallery ready for the weekend when it will be open for visitors. Down below Max and Phil formed the painting squad, first masking off around the yellow edging and then applying the first of two coats of 'Lemon Citron' paint; yes, Phil has entered his Yellow period.

Neal and Charles were busy putting the displaced display boards back behind Baguley 774 now that the fresh coat of white paint had dried and re-hanging the picture of the Kettering Furnaces loco before peeling off the copious amounts of masking tape around the Kettering Furnaces nameplate backboard and mesh wall panels. The fresh white paint has certainly improved the look of the North wall and covered some of the damage done by the chronic moisture penetration in the NW corner (now a thing of the past thanks to Mick the Brick), although the plaster beside the pillar does still need a skim to restore it fully.

Allan and Winston got serious with the timber framing for the new glazing, first drilling the holes in the wood of the bottom section and fixing it in place before securing the vertical timber in place. This latter job was delayed by the length of time it took John to go up the line to Pendre and back to trade in the 40 mm 8mm bolts he had sourced, which were too short, for 50 mm bolts that did the trick.

Ann McCanna breezed in to brew up for us thirsty workers and we took our refreshments in the cafe, sadly we had no guests this week.

Post coffee and chocolate the painting squad continued their refresh of the edging; the lighter tone of the paint making a pleasant change complimenting the lighter feel of the ground floor due to the much reduced dividing wall allowing more daylight into the interior. Allan and Winston got the timbers all secured and applied a coat of primer to the first upright as the morning drew to a close; the wood will be painted white to contrast with the slate wall.

Painting seemed to be catching among the gang as Neal ascended the step ladders to carefully apply a coat of grey to the tops of the two panels on the West wall, smartening up the view from the end of William Finlay's approach ramp. All the tops along the north wall will be similarly painted grey, which will not only smarten them up but also not show the dust so easily!

John and Charles took the central 'spacer' (a very heavy lump of 30 mm thick MDF) from between the Car Gwyllt display board and the 'Slate from the shadow of Snowdon' board and cut off 6 cm strips, with all the fixing holes in, from each side. This will make replacing the display boards a lot easier having reduced the weight considerably! In keeping with our recycle and upcycle manifesto the left over section of MDF will find its way into a future display.

By the end of play the edging immediately surrounding the lift lobby door had received two coats of paint, the glazing timbers were all secured in position ready for measuring up of the glass, the displays behind Baguley 774 had been restored and a bit of tidying up achieved downstairs with a lot of muck hoovered up upstairs.

Text and Photos by John. New volunteers always welcome on Thursday mornings.