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News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, September 22nd, 2019 at 8:37am
Museum working party Sept 19th 2019

The Tywyn weather mojo really got its act together this morning with clear blue skies and warm sunshine, the perfect recipe for working in the Yard. This mornings 'Yardies' Neal Chapman, Charles Benedetto, Max Birchenough, David Broadbent, John Olsen and newcomer Peter White prepared to make dust while the sun shone.

Charles and Peter were on the double angle grinders this morning, tackling the last of the ribs of wagon no.146 with considerable gusto.

David meanwhile was applying fresh black Hammerite paint to another rib, doing the underside that Winston couldn't paint last week.

Neal declared the wood hardener had done its job on the two dumb buffer timbers, of wagon no. 101, and mixed up wood filler to occupy the void.

Max started to sand down the slats of no. 101, paying particular attention to any areas that showed signs of the paint cracking and lifting; this quickly led to him uncovering a substantive crack running some 30+ cms along the lower part of one slat. John joined him to investigate this and they discovered that someone had covered the crack over with filler in the past but had not glued the wood back together successfully so that water had penetrated and was opening the crack up again. At first it seemed possible that fresh glue could be applied but the crack was irregular in so many orientations that this idea was abandoned in favour of a liberal application of wood preservative and 'pinning' as well as re-profiling the lower edge to shed water rather than collect it.

The first train of the day was waved off by the gang, a goodly number of happy travellers going up the valley to enjoy the Indian Summer weather.

With Ann and Winston McCanna not joining us this morning it fell to John to brew up the selection of teas and coffees; they're a picky bunch this lot, one black coffee, one black tea, one white tea with two sugars, one white coffee with sugar....But we all enjoy a good biscuit and we eagerly fell upon David’s offering from last week of shortbread biscuits, yum. We were joined in this biscuit demolition derby by duty attendant John Alderslade and Mike Green, who had popped in to see what all the noise and dust were about. Our wide ranging discussions took in such oddities as a dance troupe performing formation zimmer frame dancing and other zimmer frame centred humour, the latest news from the Vale of Rheidol and the darker mysteries of turnbuckle technology, coming to not only brake gear, but also valve gear near you!

Post coffee, and tea for those who dare to drink differently, we returned across the tracks to continue cleaning, sanding and painting, all except John who bunked off to open two display cases for the purposes of reflection free photography. He did return to the fold to help in removing loose paint from the slats of no. 101, honest guv.

By the end of play the last rib had been tickled with the wire wheels, two dumb buffer pieces were whole, and three ribs were in fresh black livery.

Pictures by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, September 15th, 2019 at 7:52am
Museum working party 12th Sept 2019

Oh misery! The Tywyn weather mojo was not giving of its best this morning as grey skies shed the occasional pattering of fine rain on Wharf Yard and the question on the teams lips was 'Shall we risk it?'. Winston McCanna, David Broadbent, Neal Chapman, Charles Benedetto, Andy Sheffield and John Olsen said 'Go for it' and did.

The covers came off wagon nos 146 and 101 so that Andy could screw down the newly painted floor boards on the former and John and Neal could work on the latter, John with the abrasive disc sander, and Neal with wood hardener on the pieces of dumb buffer he had previously cleaned of all rotten wood. Leaving the hardener to get to work Neal then wielded the detail sander on the slats of no. 101 but before long it was making deeply unhappy noises and getting very hot, sadly this veteran power tool has had its day.

David and Charles got going on one of no. 146's ribs with dual angle grinders filling the air with a gentle grey cloud and blackboard scratching soundtrack! Oh how they love us in control!

Winston set up a paint station upwind of the dusty duo to first clean with white spirits and then paint one rib with its first coat of Hammerite black paint.

The first train was well loaded despite the gloomy weather and was royally waved off by the massed ranks of the working party.

Ann McCanna brewed our morning coffee and announced that it would be accompanied by bara brith as a senior moment had meant that the cakes had not been taken to the intended event; we weren't about to criticise. David had also brought in a feast of shortbread biscuits but as these were wrapped up we opted to eat the items with the shorter shelf life and duly scoffed the bara brith, delicious. Our coffee and chat was taken with the welcome company of Mary Sheffield and duty attendant Ray Brooks. Such topics as unexpected meetings and the possibility of the new covered wagon shed at Wharf were aired, as John had bumped into Winston, Andy and Charles at the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway on Wednesday as he returned to Tywyn. The W&L Rly were running their newest arrival from the Zillertalbahn on the day, which made for some nice photos of all continental stock in the warm Welsh sunshine.

Back across the tracks more old paint and rust bit the proverbial whilst fresh black paint gleamed elsewhere and Andy disappeared into the Gunpowder Store on a bolt fact finding mission; just how many bolts, and what sizes, did we need to re-assemble wagon no. 146?

By the end of play two ribs had been painted, a further rib and a bit de-rusted, half the remaining frame of no. 101 sanded, along with half the dumb buffers treated for their wood rot.

Picture by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumFriday, September 6th, 2019 at 5:19pm
Museum working party 5th Sept 2019

Five volunteers turned out for a shortened working party under sunny skies. The last body planks of wagon no.146 were given a second gloss coat before all the floor boards were painted with a second undercoat to correct earlier deficiencies and get them all the same colour.

A further frame rib from no. 146 was cleaned of rust and old paint with a 'double header' working with wire wheels in angle grinders.

Wagon no. 101 had the last two sides of the frame treated with the hot air gun to remove old loose paint, this was followed by sanding with a coarse sanding disc on two sides to expose most of the timber for later treatment with wood preservative. Two of the dumb buffers showed signs of rot and the removable pieces were taken off for assessment and action.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, August 31st, 2019 at 7:06pm
Museum working party 29th Aug 2019

Having delivered a perfect Bank Holiday Weekends worth of weather the Tywyn weather mojo was having a slack day today with strong winds blowing lots of dark clouds over at a rate of knots.

The team chanced their arm and started work in the yard; as Winston McCanna, David Broadbent, Neal Chapman, Andy Sheffield, Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen got down to business.

Charles, Andy and Neal attempted to get the seized brake gear on wagon no. 146 to move but only managed to get the pivot bolt to turn, the arm remained rusted solid to it. More WD 40 was applied in the hope that time would deliver the freedom of movement that brute strength had not.
Winston was having more success in polishing off the painting of the remaining planks for no. 146, a steady stream of timbers were coming out of the Gunpowder Store and then swiftly returning in case it rained.

Neal turned his hand to stripping more paint off the frame of wagon no. 101 with the hot air gun, followed by Max with the detail sander to smooth off the remnants and prepare it for painting.

David and Charles double teamed one rib of no. 146, working on opposite sides with angle grinders fitted with wire wheel, see that rust fly.

Andy and John returned to no. 146 to lay out the floor planks. It took a few experimental fittings as John had left the all important diagram at home, but they got the planks in the right order so that Andy could go round them opening out the screw holes to accept decking screws, a hybrid coach screw format that we are using to replace the rather battered brass screws.

John retrieved the first dumb buffer cap from no. 101 and began to patiently peck off the old paint and rust with the welders hammer and then a wire brush.

The first train of the day was duly waved away enthusiastically by the gang before returning to our tasks. The second train of the day effectively ended the first shift as by the time we had waved it off Ann McCanna had brewed the coffees and summoned us to a seat on the windy platform. She had also brought in a batch of cakes that hadn't been eaten at the cake-fest that was Andy's birthday over the weekend, and her delicious offering was joined by more of Mary’s cakes. To say we were spoiled would be an understatement. We were joined by duty attendant Ray Brooks plus another museum volunteer and Mary Sheffield for our caffeine and chat session. Our discussions took in the progress on wagon no. 146, which for the first time in months was actually being re-assembled on a modest scale, and the challenges that lay ahead as we still need several new pieces fabricating in the workshop. We also debated the merits of using stainless steel fittings and the perils of using the same grade of stainless for bolts and nuts, they seize irretrievably! We couldn't pass over our PM's latest actions without some comment, nor the generally deplorable lack of any coherent actions by most of our elected MPs. Having put the world to rights we migrated back across the tracks to continue our 'surge' on no. 146.

By the end of play eight floor planks had been secured to the frame, four planks and two other pieces had been painted, two more sides of 101's frame had been stripped, one rib and one dumb buffer cap had come up shiny, well almost.

Pictures by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSunday, August 25th, 2019 at 8:25am
Museum working party 22nd Aug 2019

Maybe it was building itself up for the Bank Holiday Weekend or maybe the Tywyn weather mojo was just plain lazy, but the grey rainy skies this morning did not permit the gang to work on any of the wagons. Instead Winston McCanna, Neal Chapman, David Broadbent, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen got out the cleaning gear and started on the layers of grime coating the museum glazing and exhibits.

Having smoke belching steam locos is something of a given on a working steam railway but in combination with the recent salt laden storms it left a thick greasy grey layer on the museum platform entry doors. John and Charles attacked this with soft brush, hot water and then a follow up with the chammie leather allowing light to filter through to the interior, where another thinner layer of grime awaited.

David, Neal and Winston armed themselves with clothes and glass cleaning solution to work their magic on the many sticky finger marks that adorned our extensive array of glass balustrades and display cabinets.

Our morning coffee was served by Ann McCanna in the warmth and dry of the cafe. We had been joined by Andy Sheffield, still on 'leave' after a health issue over the weekend, but more than ready for a bit of chat in the company of our duty attendant John Alderslade. John A had brought home baked biscuits with him, he wasn't sure what they were, but they were light, fluffy and delicious! Our morning discussions covered the nature of these wonderful biscuits, Andy's and other's experience of the local health care professionals (all very complimentary) and the organising and running of music festivals. This latter involved an anecdote or two of 'Saint' Bob Geldorf, indeed a wonderfully down to earth gent with a vocabulary rich in Anglo Saxon swear words.

Refreshed we returned to the museum to remove the grime from William Finlay, Rough Pup, Guinness No. 13, George Henry and Baguley No. 774, returning the smut suspension to its previous owners, the TR, by way of the permanent way....

By the end of the morning the rain had eased off and the museum was a brighter and more wholesome place to be for our visitors.

Photo by John Olsen
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumMonday, August 19th, 2019 at 9:21am
Museum working party 15th Aug 2019

Having drenched Tywyn the previous day our friendly weather mojo seemed in half a mind to do something similar this morning as the team assembled under cloudy skies. Hedging their bets Winston McCanna, Charles Benedetto, Neal Chapman, David Broadbent and John Olsen left the paint brushes in the Gunpowder Store in favour of angle grinders, drill and hot air gun, that could be quickly taken indoors should the rains begin to fall.

Neal and Charles started their morning working on two of the steel ribs from wagon no. 146, continuing the process of removing the old paint and rust with wire wheels spinning at several thousand revs, much quicker than elbow grease and wire brush alone.

Winston took a screwdriver, hammer and then the drill to the stubborn rusted in screws holding the dumb buffers in place on wagon no. 101 as a part of our 'stitch in time' limited restoration of the wagon. David worked at the opposite end of the same wagon with the heat gun to remove the old paint from the frame.

John started searching for a set of stainless steel coach bolts that he had used a few weeks before, in readiness for work on putting no. 146 back together again, before giving up when they were not to be found in all the usual places.
The gang paused to wave off the first train of the day before cracking on. John took a turn at trying to remove the rusty screws and succeeded in shearing off the heads of several by the scientific application of violence, hitting the screwdriver against the screw with a large hammer, and breaking one screwdriver in the process, ooops.

Another train came and went, cue more waving, and Ann McCanna arrived on site only to find that our duty attendants Alan and Diane Chetwynd had matters well in hand. We all settled down at a platform table as the weather had come up sunny, and tucked into assorted chocolate covered biscuits whilst exchanging air accident or near miss tales None of us could 'top' the experience of being in a jet Provost when its single engine blew up, fortunately close enough to the base for an emergency landing. A large part of the extended McCanna clan descended upon Tywyn Wharf during our coffee break, so we lost Winston for a time when we returned across the tracks.

Neal and David swapped power tools while John located an M16 bolt to replace a one missing on the brake gear of no. 146. Having greased the bolt well with the disgusting green grease he then attempted to lubricate the brake mechanism with the same, in the hope of fending off the worst of the rust in the future, but discovered a seized joint instead. WD 40 was liberally applied to the offending joint and left to work its magic.

Winston returned to the fray to knock off the dumb buffer ends, which were labelled up with numbered tags to aid reassembly.

By the close of play four dumb buffers had been successfully removed, two ribs had been cleaned up, one bolt replaced and a good time had by all.

Pictures by John Olsen