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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, February 10th, 2019 at 10:57pm
Museum Working Party 7th Feb 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo was in fine form this morning clearing away the overnight rains to leave a cool clear sky with plenty of sunshine. The happy volunteers assembled within the museum to tackle the jobs remaining before our next opening to the public at half term. On the roster this morning Andy Sheffield (released from Llechfan duties), Winston McCanna, Neal Chapman, Charles Benedetto, Ray Brooks and John Olsen were joined by trustee Malcolm Phillips.

Neal returned to the car gwyllt display stand to add four more corner reinforcements and trim the back to obtain a looser fit in the space available in order to allow the front panel to be clear of the side of the cabinet.

Winston and Andy set to work re-assembling the Eastwell somersault signal, as John had completed the repainting the post on Monday (while waiting for a film crew to take footage of the Awdry Study – which did not happen in the end as they were running so late!).

Ray, Charles, John and Malcolm went upstairs to sort out cabinet C11 as John had also had enough time on Monday to give both of the new plinths, fabricated last week, their second coat of grey paint too. A minor re-arrangement of the candle lamp and model of No 1, plus the addition of stands for the various small items, greatly improved the ease of viewing of all the items on the upper shelf. The ticket punch migrated to the right hand side on the bottom, the brass plaque was raised up on its new plinth by the rear of No 4 and the section of wooden post re-oriented to improve viewing of the bottom shelf.

Malcolm recorded the movement of a couple of items between C11 and C12 to keep abreast of the changes and Ray proceeded to cleaning and tidying up the contents of C12.

John and Charles moved on to hanging the backing board for the A3 flip mounts, as John had even had time on Monday to finish securing the two stand off battens to the wall, and priming them, while waiting for the tardy film crew!

Ann McCanna called us all to coffee in the cafe where we were joined by another volunteer and a retired volunteer for our morning dose of the three 'Cs', coffee, chat and chocolate. Ailments, ale and holidays featured in our discussions whilst supping in the sunshine.

Returning to the museum John and Malcolm discussed the possible enhancement of the car gwyllt display to include at least one additional length of rail to help tell the story of how the car gwyllt ran on the two innermost rails of both the incline tracks; something that is not really seen clearly in the old display photos. Neal was then allowed to continue his work on it.

Andy and Winston returned to the deceptively straightforward re-assembly of the ironmongery of the Eastwell signal, which needed easing of one rebate and a bolt hole to allow the process to proceed.

Charles and John retrieved the framed line drawings of the Listowel and Ballybunion Railway from cabinet C08 to attach hanging brackets and then mount the two pictures between the previously re-positioned 'Pigs, Parcels and People' and 'The Irish Way' display panels. An additional perspex display mount was put up for text, which Malcolm supplied, to introduce the two pictures.

After the pictures had been removed for hanging Ray was let loose on the Recent Acquisitions cabinet, C08, to tidy up the items and lay them out neatly.

By the end of play three cabinets had been cleaned and prepared ready for viewing, two pictures had been hung, one display back board had been mounted and numerous other tasks progressed.

Report by John Olsen

On Sunday Ian Evans and Malcolm partly populated the A3 flip mounts as shown in Ian's photograph.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, February 2nd, 2019 at 5:47pm
Museum working party Jan 31st 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo may have successfully kept the snow away but it could do nothing to stop the steel slicing wind on an otherwise perfect dry morning.

Wrapped in all manner of protective layers, the hardiest volunteers still turned out to continue our efforts in the museum. Ray Brooks, Neal Chapman, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen started their morning with a bit of loco covering with dust sheets. A visit by a Brazilian family on Monday afternoon had led to the protective covers being taken off to show them around.
Max joined Neal on the car gwyllt display frame construction team, this week securing the base battens and cross bracings to the prepared sides.

Charles continued to fabricate a new plinth for the commemorative coal shovel in cabinet C11, which will allow it to be freestanding, thus permitting other items to be better positioned. Ray returned to the cabinets and commenced cleaning and re-ordering the items in C11. That left John to drill and countersink fixing holes in the new A3 flipmount back board and prepare the two stand-off battens.

Coffee was brewed by John, assisted by Andy Sheffield who was taking a break from his Llechfan labours, and served up in the warmth of the cafe. Our discussions took in such diverse topics as routing and driving arrangements of heavy goods trains such as the coal 'merry-go-round' trains, which saved significant amounts of fuel by never stopping. Mr Portillo's travels around Canada also came under scrutiny as clearly some of the trains he rode upon were composed of European stock, quite distinct from the larger all stainless steel Canadian/American produced VIA stock.

Back in the museum Max and Neal turned the frame over and started to cut and fit the upper battens and look at the fit of the newly assembled unit with respect to the space available, a snug fit that needed just a bit of easing.

Charles completed his shovel plinth and anointed it with its first coat of 'museum grey' paint. Ray was now also in the plinth production business as his re-ordering indicated that a taller plinth, than was available, would display the brass plaque to much better effect. His was a much simpler rectangular affair cut from our stock of reclaimed plywood, sanded down and given its first coat of 'museum grey' paint too.

John continued his work on the A3 flip mounts, marking out its location above the new map drawer unit, on the first floor, and discovering that the apparently solid wall was in fact dry lined with plasterboard with an approximately 3/4” gap before the wall proper. This meant that a pilot hole, through both plasterboard and wall, had to be drilled, which was then opened up with a 7mm drill for the plastic plug into the wall and a 10mm drill through the plasterboard to allow the plastic plug to be inserted through it and into the hole beyond.

By the close of play the car gwyllt frame was ready for cladding, the two plinths were drying nicely and the first two fixing points for the flip mounts had been prepared.

Report by John Olsen No pictures as he is still without a little pocket camera - blame the winter weather.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, January 26th, 2019 at 6:58pm
Working Party 24th January 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo gave up its attempts to lure us out into the yard to work and settled into a sullen cold grey morning funk. Not so our merry band of volunteers Neal Chapman, David Broadbent, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto, Ray Brooks and John Olsen, who with a spring in their step took up their tools in the museum.

Neal and David returned to the construction of a plinth for the car gwyllt, adding screws to the glued joints and measuring up for the cross members and corner reinforcement sections. Max and Charles received an elevating task; raising two of the green baize covered display boards in the temporary exhibition area by some twelve inches so that our visitors no longer have to get down on their knees to read the text on the lowest panels. Their work started with moving the Giesl ejector stand out of the nook so that they could access all the fixing screws. John opted for a little relaxing paint job, putting the white topcoat on the Eastwell signal post, well three sides of it!

Without our regular coffee supremo Ann McCanna the brew up was conducted by Ray and John, their efforts being served up in the cafe where we were joined by Andy Sheffield who had stopped by to check on our labours and report on his recovery from minor surgery. Black engines, green engines and even red engines featured in our wide ranging discussions over our brew and chocolate biscuits. Remember to join us if you are in Tywyn on Thursday mornings, we always have a spare seat available.

Back in the museum, post caffeine fix, Max and Charles assisted Ray in cleaning the contents of cabinet CO12, removing the relief map of the line and wrapping it in bubble wrap as it is going into store to make way for more 'people' of the Talyllyn Railway exhibits. Some of these 'people' items are proposed to come from cabinet CO11, which will de-congest this cabinet and allow a better display of its Talyllyn artefacts. Neal and David patiently measured and sawed to produce the corner reinforcement pieces while John finished his painting job.

By close of play the Colonel Stevens display was restored at a slightly higher level in the temporary exhibits area, the Giesl ejector was back in its nook beside the board, cabinets CO11 and CO12 were partly cleaned and re-organised and three more sides of the Eastwell signal were painted.

Report by John Olsen, who took some photos butthe dropped his camera and it stopped working!
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, January 19th, 2019 at 7:58am
Museum working party 17th Jan 2019

A sparkling crisp blue morning courtesy of the Twywn weather mojo saw members of the working party assemble inside, as the temperature outside was only just above 0oC, and crack on with a number of tasks. Today Winston McCanna, David Broadbent, Neal Chapman, Max Birchenough and John Olsen had a choice of painting, carpentry and musical display boards.

The Eastwell signal post still needed three of its sides sanding down and re-painting so Winston got out the abrasives and began the job. John described the construction of the frame of a new display stand for the car gwyllt to David and Neal with the help of a few bits of timber and a drawing with the necessary dimensions inscribed on it. The stand will feature a sloping top, set at 1in 6, which was the ruling grade of the inclines at Craig Ddu, so that our visitors will see the 'wild car' in the correct orientation for the first time in many years.

John and Max then migrated upstairs to play musical display boards, the object of the exercise being to open up the gap between the 'People, parcels and pigs' panel and 'The Irish way' adjacent to it, to allow the two framed line drawings of the rolling stock of the Listowel and Ballybunion monorail (currently in the Recent Acquisitions cabinet CO8) to be hung between them. This involved de-mounting each board in turn and moving each 3cm, in the appropriate direction, before re-securing them to the backing board. Sounds easy but as each panel weighs a not inconsiderable amount the second part of the job raised a bit of a sweat.

Coffee time was called partway through these tasks as Ann McCanna had generously brewed up for us and served it in the cafe. Here we were joined by other volunteers, Andy Sheffield and Phil Sayers, to sup in the sun and eat the delicious selection of biscuits on offer.

Refreshed we returned to the museum to apply, paint, glue and effort to our various jobs. We were discussing the new car gwyllt display and how we might utilise the existing display board or perhaps replace it, as it now has a number of holes in it that will no longer serve any purpose and would look rather tatty, when we were joined by Keith Theobald. He helpfully pointed out places where we might find suitable sections of rail for the display (the existing rails are welded to heavy steel mounts that will not fit the new stand) but it was agreed that a mock up of the stand in situ should be viewed by the trustees for approval before completion is undertaken. This decision didn't interfere with the current job of building the frame, which is continuing.

With the two display panels back up, John and Max turned their attention to the environs of the new Polstore plan drawer unit. The first little job was to insert shims under two corners to stop the drawer unit rocking slightly. With the shims in place fabricating a board to mount the two new A3 flip mounts on above the Polstore plan drawer unit was the next item to tackle. The concept is to stand the board off the wall by ~ 3 inches so that our visitors do not have to lean over the drawer unit too much to view the paper items in the flip mounts. Delving into the north wall store (created during the installation of William Finlay out of a previously inaccessible space behind the gasworks engine, now where Baguley 774 stands) we extracted suitable pieces of recycled MDF (saved during the demolition of part of the wall beside the platform entrance) and found a suitable sized piece to cut the mounting board out of. After the new sawn edges had been sanded smooth the two flip mounts were secured to it so that both can be fully opened without clashing in the middle.

By the close of play new frame parts of the car gwyllt display were clamped up to allow the glue to set, a space had been created for the Listowel and Ballybunion line drawings, the signal post had been sanded and primed and the fabrication of the new flip mounts board was well underway.

Photos by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, January 13th, 2019 at 8:14pm
Museum working party 10th Jan 2019

For the first working party of the New Year the Tywyn weather mojo put in a rather lacklustre performance with a cool overcast morning greeting the happy workers. This morning David Broadbent, Max Birchenough, Winston and Ann McCanna, Phil Sayers and John Olsen assembled in the museum to contemplate a session of musical cabinets.

While Ann got on with packing away the baubles and tinsel of the Christmas tree the team cleared the contents of cabinet CO8, (the recent acquisitions cabinet beside Dot) and put packing around the shelf to stop it banging into the glass during the move. The station bench was moved out of the way to provide as much working space as possible. The Giesl display was manhandled up onto rollers and pulled clear of the route that CO8 was due to take, then the route was surveyed with a tape measure to see how best to make the move as pain free as possible.

It was concluded that once CO8 was on the rollers it would be best moved out beyond the Manx Railway signal post and then turned through ninety degrees to move it level with the south end of the 'Signal Box' where it would turn through ninety degrees again to push it into its new position. Easy to plan, now came the execution. To lift such a heavy cabinet which was already only inches from the wall seemed a Herculean task but fortunately the use of a long lever made it possible. With a piece of timber to take the brunt of the lifting moment and a stack of timbers as a fulcrum, the south end of the cabinet was carefully lifted high enough for a set of rollers to be inserted. Then the whole lifting circus moved to the north end, where at least we had more room to gather around the cabinet, and the process repeated to get the cabinet in a mobile state.

Very gently, with frequent pauses to check we were clearing the various obstacles, the cabinet was moved along the chosen route and with a bit of shimmying at the end, snuggled up to the wall. Now we had to get it back down on its feet, but as luck would have it, it was coffee time and we all decanted to the cafe to join Andy and Mary Sheffield who were busy doing maintenance jobs in Llechfan while no one was staying there. Biscuits, coffee and good company worked their magic and we returned to the game of musical cabinets.

Out came the long lever and bits of timber to raise first the north and then the south ends so the rollers could be extracted and with a huge sigh of relief the team could step back from a job done. Well almost. Having moved the Giesl out of the way we now had to move it to a position just inside the 'Signal Box' so that it was not obstructing the opening of cabinet CO8, and then demount it from its rollers. Fortunately the Giesl is nowhere near as heavy as the cabinet, but it is very top heavy so care had to be exercised not to tip it too far. With the moves successfully achieved the display items that we had removed from CO8 were replaced in it, but not in display order as the items are due for updating. As a final tweak we re-oriented some of the lights to alleviate the worst of the shadows caused by the new arrangements, but we will likely fine tune these more before we re-open for half term.

With some time still on the clock we went downstairs to lay out dust sheets over William Finlay, Baguley No 774, the Guinness loco and George Henry and also cover part of the floor area so that we can use it for construction of new display boards and a stand for the Car Gwyllt, as well as paint the timbers from wagon no. 146, which have been languishing in the cold of the Gunpowder Store.

So by the end of play four locos had been sheeted over, one Christmas tree had been packed away, one cabinet had been wafted across the museum and one Giesl had had a little light shunt and the way was clear for the delivery of the new museum grade drawer unit the following day.

On Friday, the smart new drawer unit, made by Polstore and in part funded by a grant from the Welsh Museums Federation, was delivered to the museum, and carefully moved into the place formerly occupied by the Giesl. This will provide valuable additional storage for the small objects in our collection which are not currently on display, and enable them to be examined my museum visitors under supervision.

Pictures by John Olsen and Ian Evans
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, December 21st, 2018 at 10:01am
Museum working party Dec 20th 2018

Our hard working weather mojo pulled another dry interlude out of its hat this morning as the team assembled for the final working party of 2018. Max Birchenough, Neal Chapman, Ray Brooks, Charles Benedetto, Ann and Winston McCanna, David Broadbent and John Olsen were on a mission to get the museum ready for Christmas opening. Many hands turned to putting the big display boards back up on the walls and reattach the smaller information signs while others got busy with the dusters to clean off the inevitable accumulations of previous industry.

John had been in during the preceding week to paint the temporary banister and touch up the yellow edging where feet had scuffed the paint so that the steps leading to the cafe were looking bright and fresh. All the dust sheets and bits of timber were rounded up and stashed away so that by coffee time only the tools were left to be packed up after a last few signs were secured in position.

Coffee, or more accurately coffee, mulled wine, Christmas cake, mince pies and biscuit selection were served in the cafe. John had brought in the wine, the cake came from Neal, the biscuits from Max and the mince pies from Mary and Andy Sheffield who joined us for our festive feast of chat and frivolity. Sue Benedetto helped us out with the mountain of food on the table, which we made a very respectable dent in during our extended break, before taking doggy-bags away with us.

A final bit of work and cleaning after the break was carried out in high spirits, as we rolled the Host wagon back into place, returned the tools to their safe storage then went round the museum checking that all the lights and displays were operating, ready for Saturday morning.

There will now be a well deserved two week Christmas break, with working parties re-starting on Thursday 10th January 2019, when we will be indulging in a little musical cabinets up on the first floor....

From all the team here in Tywyn a very Happy Christmas and New Year to you all, and please come and admire our handiwork in 2019.