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News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumMonday, December 2nd, 2019 at 9:42am
Museum working party 28th Nov 2019

Wouldn't you just know it! As soon as the team vacates the yard the Tywyn weather mojo gives us a bright sunny calm morning, but although we were in the museum this dry spell wasn't wasted. This morning Ray Brooks, Max Birchenough, Neal Chapman, David Broadbent, Charles Benedetto, Andy Sheffield and John Olsen were up for some painting. Ray and Max took on the Plateway display shelves, first carefully demounting the display items before giving the shelving a good wash down to remove the grime. Neal and Andy got the plan for a new display board to go behind 'Rough Pup' as the museum had recently acquired a Dinorwic Quarry enamel sign to join the two already on show. David and Charles got the grubby job of removing the items stored behind the Oakeley coal wagon, then raking back the ballast stones, cleaning the dust off the wall and laying down newspaper in preparation for painting the wall behind the wagon.

John got the paint out of the Gunpowder Store and dispensed the first glops with the aid of an old plastic mug as the tub of white paint was much too big to tip the thick goo out of. David and Charles progressed onto removing the contents of the Oakeley wagon as they would need to stand in it during the painting operations; then with no obstacles they applied masking tape to the display boards and mesh frame prior to painting. Neal and Andy retrieved the necessary tools from the Gunpowder Store along with two lengths of battening and set up operations out on the platform to cut the new panel and battens without making a mess indoors; good thinking lads.

Although bright and sunny the team had their coffee break inside the cafe, but the natural air conditioning, as local builder Barry replaced the two old doors from the cafe to the platform, did make even the cafe rather cool. Our break was shared with Mike Green and Mary Sheffield and the chocolate Hobnobs disappeared with amazing speed, no surprises there then! Our chatting took in Mikes report that his order for the angle metal plates to replace the rusted versions from wagon no. 146 had disappeared into Pendre and not gone any further, so he had to measure the plates again. However he was hopeful that progress on the roof strap would begin shortly as the necessary steel bar was already in stock. With so many of the team having attended the Warley Show there was a goodly amount of talk about inspiring layouts and models to lust after; they were not so impressed by the £16 parking charge, which even advanced booking did not bring down to single digits. There was also talk of the Memorial Train for Sara Eade that will run in conjunction with her interment on Monday as Mike had been requested as one of the train crew.

Refreshed the team drifted back into the museum to continue their labours. Max and Ray quickly finished off their painting job and after cleaning their rollers and brush joined John in wrapping up the unprotected wooden casting patterns, that had been stored in the Oakeley Wagon, with copious amounts of bubblewrap (salvaged from various deliveries of the interactives). The sound of drilling came from the other side of the museum as Andy and Neal attached the battens to the wall for the new display panel. The sound of paint being applied behind the Oakeley wagon was almost entirely drowned out, but with the extending arm, borrowed from the duster, Charles was able to paint where David had not been able to reach.

By the close of play numerous wooden patterns had been bubble wrapped, two walls had had their first coat of sparkling white paint, two battens were firmly attached to the wall and one panel had been cut to size.

Photos by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, November 23rd, 2019 at 3:27pm
Museum working party 21st Nov 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo seems to have gotten stuck in a cycle that brings howling winds through Wharf yard every Thursday morning as the team assembled in hi-vis waterproofs, that doubled as wind blocks. This mornings double insulated crew of Ray Brooks, Max Birchenough, Andy Sheffield, Charles Benedetto, Neal Chapman and John Olsen contemplated their first move, that's first wagon move. John had been in the previous day to place obstacles in front of the siding and a large notice warning of imminent wagon movements to stop the usual rash of vehicles parked across the heritage siding that had hampered our winterising efforts last week. This tactic had kept the line clear for us.

The base of wagon no. 146, the covered wagon, was moved off the turntable up to the Gunpowder Store so that the splayside wagon, no. 117, could be rolled onto the turntable and, with a bit of shuffling to and fro, successfully rotated 180 degrees so that the door end would be on the downhill side of its winter position on the siding; this allows any water that does get through the layers of protection to drain away. No. 117 was then moved up onto the siding to be followed shortly thereafter by wagon no. 213, the incline wagon, which was already in the correct orientation to allow water drainage.

With multiple hands available one group started work on finishing the tent erection, first removing the Hippo bag and sterling board from wagon no. 101, which was under the frame with no. 164, getting the two sheets of marine ply out of the Gunpowder Store and securing them on top of the frame. It was at this time that Andy blotted his copybook, or more accurately his immaculate hi-vis jacket, on both arms, the horror! The sterling board was trimmed to 2m in length in order to be able to fit under our biggest Hippo bags and then a layer of heavy duty polythene sheet stapled to it to provide a much needed waterproof layer. This modified board was then set atop the splayside wagon and a Hippo bag secured over the top. The Sterling board on top of the Corris mail waggon was looking very sodden after the recent rains so it got a doubled over sheet of blue tarpaulin and then a Hippo bag on top to keep it drier through the winter.

Alan and Diane Chetwynd arrived in the yard and, seeing us labouring away, immediately took charge of the coffee brewing, muchos gratias.

Coffee was served in the warmth of the cafe where Neal produced two packs of Baklava, fresh from Cyprus, for our culinary delectation. They were so good that we gave Neal permission to go back to Cyprus and get more! Having lured some of the team across the tracks with chocolate covered hobnobs, John opened the pack for the choco fiends to feast upon. During our verbal ramblings we learnt that we had a veritable Baden Powell in our ranks, the Peewit Troop leader no less, so he'll be on knots from now on! Mike Green joined us and a strand of black 'coffin' humour developed amongst those who had attended a recent funeral, as some 'Laurel and Hardy' burial events were aired. We even strayed onto the dangerously thin ice that is Brexit when the use of the term 'majority' was challenged on strictly mathematical grounds; the point scored the rest of the mess was politely sidelined so that nobody fell through the metaphorical ice, or fell out with each other.

Back in the yard more rope was needed after we covered the ply boards with heavy duty polythene sheet and a doubled up old tarpaulin then topped the whole off with a blue tarpaulin; very colourful beside the yellow Hippo bags. John wove a web of rope around and over the tent to hopefully secure the tarpaulin against the expected storms and various items of heavy iron were placed on the tarpaulin where it reached the ground to hopefully prevent the wind getting under the tent and lifting it bodily. A second sterling board cover was wrapped in the last of the polythene and used to cover the incline wagon, with the final giant Hippo bag secured on top. All the Hippo bags were tied down through the wagon wheels so they should remain fast in any storm and finally the site was tidied up. Just at this conclusion Ann and Winston McCanna entered the yard on their way to have lunch, so stopped to admire our winter wrapped fleet.

By the close of play three giant Hippo bags had been deployed, two wagons moved and one big tent finished to protect our heritage wagons from the ravages of the salt laden rains to come.

Pictures by John Olsen.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, November 17th, 2019 at 3:36pm
Museum working party 14th Nov 2019

Chris Smith has flagged up that David Jones carried out the running safety test on our heritage wagons prior to the photo charter; diolch yn fawr David.

In its enthusiasm to drive away the rain clouds the Tywyn weather mojo rather overdid it this morning with the strong gusting wind from the east playing havoc with the winterising of our wagons. The hardy souls braving the cold Andy Sheffield, David Broadbent, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen began by transferring the wagon repair cover from wagon no. 101, now looking very chipper, to the L&NWR metal slate wagon. Then the 'tent' frame components were brought round from behind the Weighbridge House and the poles from the attic space of the Gunpowder Store and the game of 'where does this go?' began. The poles and sockets were colour coded but as the holes were hand drilled it was still possible to have the right pole in the right socket and the bolt still not going through both holes. 'Try it the other way up' our works convener suggested, and lo the bolt went through! When it came time to tighten up the nuts he proffered the spanner, 'Have you used one of these before?'. The grammar school old boys were getting a bit of back banter this morning.

We had a bit of a problem with various vehicles parked across our work area and the siding and suggested to the owner of the 'classic' car that maybe he'd like to move it before we moved it with a thump from one of our wagons. 'There's only 71 of these left on the roads.' quoth he, 'It might soon be just 70.' replied the team before the motor left the yard. That left just the works van to shift, which John achieved once he had worked out what the funny little stick with the numbers on top was for, 'Manual gearbox, haven't used one of those since I last drove No. 9', such fun.

At this point in our morning figures appeared out of the howling gale, Ann and Winston McCanna were up for a spot of coffee and chat and the team gratefully joined them in the warmth of the cafe. We were joined by Diane and Alan Chetwynd and Mary Sheffield for our weekly setting the world to rights session. We were treated to a demonstration of multilingual skills, well Latin anyway, and the longterm locals attempted to impart the correct pronunciation of Uchaf Corris and Dduallt to Andy, but Coventry and Cardigan seem destined never to share the same tongue. Perhaps it would have been easier if the rampaging Romans, acquisitive Anglo Saxons and vanquishing Vikings hadn't messed things up by invading, as we would all still be speaking Welsh! We delved to the oceans bottom to ponder the damage undersea cobalt mining, for the electric cars we should all be driving, would do, and reminisced about the 'joys' of driving powerful rear wheel drive cars in wet snow.....ooops.

Post coffee we decorated the dull and gloomy yard with festive yellow wagon covers, just the thing to bring some much needed colour in the dead of winter. Sadly not all the Hippo bags were deployed as the wind prevented any attempt to put the covers on the tent frame and two of our wagons were marooned down the siding by a Jag parked foul of the line; our time was running out as Charles had to leave early and a three man team wasn't enough muscle power for the remaining jobs so we wrapped up early.

By the close of play four yellow covers, two sterling boards, and one wagon cover had been deployed against the winter weather.

Photos by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumWednesday, November 13th, 2019 at 4:29pm
Ticket Collection

Our narrow gauge railway ticket collection continues to be catalogued. We have now added 350 Isle of Man and Manx Northern Railway tickets to the collection, and these can be viewed at

There are many more to be catalogued from other railways, and these will be added when available.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, November 10th, 2019 at 8:41am
Museum working party 7th Nov 2019

The best laid plans of mice and men; substitute working party organisers and you have the situation facing the team this morning. The 'plan' had been to cover over all our wagons and then start the winter work in the museum, but first a request last week from Stuart to remove our bright yellow wagon covers for a Photo Charter Train on Friday 8th Nov and then a phone call from Keith concerning the two wagons that were likely to be used for that same Photo Charter Train on Friday, scotched the first part of the plan. Then the Tywyn weather mojo pulled a 'rabbit' out of its hat and delivered a bone dry morning, which meant we could finish the touching up of the black Hammerite paint on the metalwork of wagon no. 101, and that kicked the rest of the plan down the road. So this mornings happy troupe of David Broadbent, Andy Sheffield, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen, later joined by stalwart Ray Brooks, got the covers off everything!

David and Charles got work with the masking tape to finish the rain stalled masking of last week and they were hotly pursued around the wagon by Andy and then Max applying Hammerite to the bobbins and other metalwork respectively. John folded up the yellow bags and then began a near constant search for bits to address the shortcomings, identified by Chris Smith, of the two museum wagons, no. 117 the incline wagon and no. 213 the splayside wagon. No. 117 needed attention to its draw gear, involving the complete replacement of one draw hook set and new split pins and washers for the other, plus it needed a 'new' cotter pin and length of security chain to replace the missing pin on the door. The latter was 'sourced' from one of the collection of wagons by the water column, and although not in the best condition was deemed adequate for the job under the circumstances. No. 213 also needed a replacement draw hook set and the other drawhook needed lubricating with the evil green grease. Fortunately Chris and a volunteer carried out all the heavy work of shifting the old bolts and pins, which had been badly bent at some time in the past, see photo, and used the replacement parts to bring the wagons up to an acceptable standard for use. Chris did mention other matters that he would like to see improved but these could not be dealt within the timeframe available, and were not safety concerns but rather mechanical improvements for continued safe usage in the future.

Coffee was brewed up a bit late as John was tied up with Chris and the two wagons but it coincided pretty much with Ray Brooks arrival at Wharf. We sat down with Don Newing and Mary Sheffield to fight over the last chocolate Hobnobs, which are definitely top chocs for some of the team! John brought Ray up to date with the winter works programme, which should start next week assuming it doesn't take too long to get all the wagons covered over (or its tipping it down with rain!). The grammar vs secondary modern school debate got another light hearted airing with a regular cafe couple; there is a rather large preponderance of grammar school educated old boys in the team....

Post caffeine, and three different types of chocolate biscuit, we headed back out into the yard where Chris pronounced the two wagons fit for duty and moved on to the two TR wagons; not long later he requested a replacement pin for the drawgear of one of them and John handed over the last one in the bag.

The painting squad was now three strong and Max helped John tidy up the covers into the loft of the Gunpowder Store and remove stray bits of timber that might detract from any photos taken in the direction of the Store on Friday. Just as the protective cover went back onto no. 101 the first rain drops began to fall, talk about timing!

By the close of play three of our wagons had been deprived of their attractive yellow protective covers, two of our wagons had been brought up to running condition, and one wagon had its painting completed.

Photos by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, November 3rd, 2019 at 8:30am
Museum working party 31st Oct 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo is getting pretty worn out after a long season and the cold east winds of change were blowing down the yard as the team assembled. David Broadbent, Andy Sheffield, John Olsen and his brother Peter cracked on with getting the cover off wagon no. 101 while it was still dry. With the cover off Andy started touching in the black paint on the bobbins while Peter began to mask off around the metal strapping to speed the job along. David and John brought out the pieces of the two ribs from wagon no. 146 that had been painted last week and laid them out to re-assemble, a deceptively easy looking job that involved more than a little taking apart when holes didn't line up!

John took the opportunity of the dry interlude to transfer the two pieces of the Giesl ejector wooden template into the museum; this should be a much better environment in which to store them long term and possibly display them.

Charles Benedetto turned up a little later and joined the masking and painting gang.

With the ribs correctly assembled and stowed away in the Gunpowder Store David and John lugged the freshly scrubbed wheelsets off the siding to allow a shunting of the wagons to take place. But before the moves could happen the slate waste tipper wagon was removed from the wagon turntable and pushed over to the lineside where its protective layers of polythene sheeting and yellow Hippo bag were re-instated.

There was a pause in proceedings to join other volunteers on the other side of the track as Stuart presented Tony Baker with a gold long service badge before he took his final turn up the line on the footplate; well done Tony. That was when the mojo ran out of puff and the rain started in earnest; we hurried back over the line to put the cover over no. 101 and then lined up to wave the train off.

John brewed up the morning coffees and we assembled in the cafe to enjoy caffeine, chocolate and chat in the company of duty platform inspector Max Birchenough. Andy was necking water from a very posh re-usable bottle (it had a lanyard sticking out of its cap) that only cost him £2000, the river cruise was thrown in for free! Talk turned to excellent railway museums that various people had visited; there's a very good one in St. Petersburg, but Andy didn't rate the railtour in Russia travelling 'comrade' class, ie no food or drink provided. Now you may have thought that we did little trade with the USSR during the Cold War years but apparently not so, our automotive industry was happily selling heavy duty combine harvester clutches to them; the tank production facility next door was purely a coincidence...

Back outside the rain had become drizzle but the team shunted the wagons around so that the frame of no. 146 is now on the turntable and the other two slat slate wagon, no. 117, is on the siding with no. 101, as neither are available for photo charter work at this time. It too disappeared under a yellow Hippo bag cover against the inclement weather.

By the close of play three wagons had been shunted, two ribs assembled, one wagon de-railed (on purpose guv) and two halves of a Giesl template relocated.

Pictures by John Olsen