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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 MuseumMonday, June 18th, 2018 at 3:06pm
Museum working party 14th June 2018

Storm Hector took a left turn thanks to the Tywyn weather mojo and we awoke to grey skies and blustery winds but no gale force winds or lashing rain. This mornings team was big enough to shift wagon no. 146; Winston McCanna, David Broadbent, Neal Chapman, Andy Sheffield and John Olsen gave it a gentle heave and out it rolled. This allowed two jobs to proceed, the first was to move the platform scales that had been in store for a number of years but now needed to come out to free up valuable floor space. With permission from our General Manager it was moved across the yard and onto Wharf Station platform, where it was given a wash and scrub up by Winston and Andy. The second job was to complete the inspection of the woodwork of no. 146 and with trusty screwdriver in hand John poked its darker corners before announcing that there were no signs of rot in the frame or superstructure, just lots of rust.

Neal got tooled up to mount a new donations box beside the platform entrance door on a specially fabricated shelf that John had made off site. David and John got to work on clearing out the fouled flangeways and track of our newly connected siding so that four of the restored wagons could take up their summer station alongside the Llechfan hedge. This took a bit of effort in the absence of a pick or mattock as many vehicles parking across the tracks had compacted the ballast, and somewhat excessive slate dressing, such that the wagons could easily derail.

Ann McCanna called us all to coffee after we had waved off the 10:30 service and we were joined by Mary Sheffield and duty attendant Ray Brooks as we munched on cookies and chocolate biscuits, drank reviving coffee and got a progress report on the Sheffield Garden Railway Project; possibly the largest railway project in Tywyn since the Talyllyn was constructed.....maybe.

Once refreshed, Winston and Andy completed their cleaning so that the scales brasswork now glowed as brasswork should and parked it in position. David and John completed their excavations and shuffled various sets of wagon wheels up beside wagon no. 146, which allowed them to roll the four wagons into position, ready to invite inspection by our summer visitors.

Neal had to halt the shelf hanging project as his screwdriver was not long enough to allow him to tighten the top screw home so he joined the rest of the team as we considered our first dismantling exercise on wagon no. 146; six coach screws that were holding the base of the roof to the wagon body. These succumbed to a bit of hammering to knock off the rust and a good hoik with a spanner, sadly the two final fixings were coach bolts and the nuts were totally immovable. John got out his angle grinder and fitted a metal cutting disk to deal out a bit of fiery destruction that allowed the remnants of the bolts to be knocked through. These are the first two of many coach bolts that will need to be cut off in order that we can dismantle the superstructure and repaint both timber and steel components appropriately.

The final task of the day was to push no. 146 back into the Gunpowder Store and lock it safely away until next week. By the end of play our historic wagon fleet were in their correct position on the siding, the platform scales were on the platform, a very minor amount of dismantling had been undertaken and the donations box shelf support was semi fixed in position. Not wishing to leave the job half done John and Neal sneaked back later to finish the job off and get the donations box secure ready for the passengers coming off the first train back in the afternoon.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, June 9th, 2018 at 9:23am
Working Party 7th June 2018

The Twyn weather mojo pulled out all the stops this morning, bright sunshine, light breeze and set fair for the day, perfect weather for wagon maintenance. Alas we were too few in number to manhandle wagon no. 146 out of its snug new home in the Gunpowder Store; Phil Sayers, Winston McCanna, Pat and Mark Gibson and John Olsen.

But there were plenty of small jobs to be done, Pat and Mark moved the all too visible wooden nameplate patterns off the top of the boxes in the Oakley wagon and carefully secreted them on the wagon floor under wraps. Winston fired up the laminating machine to encapsulate a series of notices that John had printed up on A4 paper that will hopefully encourage more of our visitors to part with their cash as donations than the current teeny-weeny A6 notices do.

Out in the yard Phil donned his overalls and got stuck into painting the bobbins from the dismantled wagon no. 136 while John started poking wagon no. 146 with a screwdriver! No not a case of too much sunshine, but a trusted method to detect rotten wood, sound wood makes a nice thock sound and the screwdriver doesn't go in, rotten wood makes no sound and swallows the screwdriver. Well there were a lot of thocks coming out from the Store as John went round all the accessible timbers, very encouraging.

Having hidden the patterns away Pat and Mark took up the sticky finger challenge as they went round our acres of glass balustrading and removed the fingerprints that our smaller visitors had left behind.

Ann McCanna called us all in for coffee and chocolate biscuits on the platform, the latter having to be moved into the shade as the sun melted the chocolate. We were joined by David Broadbent our duty attendant for the morning and speculation as to what rolling stock the new Welsh Rail franchise holders would bring in was high on the chat list. The fact that the railway system seems to lurch from one problem to another and passengers were still not universally getting the level of service that had been promised did not inspire much confidence that it would be all new and wonderful despite rumours to the contrary.

Back to glass, paint and timber after coffee with Winston picking up a paint brush to put the first top coat of Russian Red (seriously, that was its name) on a notice board that John had fabricated off site, alongside Phil who was still very much in Henry Ford mode (any colour you want so long as it is black). After a bit more timber prodding even John got out a paint brush and proceeded to paint a series of identifying numbers on the insides of all the planks of wagon no. 146 to help keep track of them as they get selectively demounted, stripped, painted and then re-attached. At least that's the plan.

By the close of play Mark was in his attendants clean white shirt and tie, the glass was gleaming all around the museum, the bobbins were shiny new black, the noticeboard a brilliant red, notices encouraging donations had been strategically placed around the museum and wagon no. 146 was still in the Gunpowder Store.....

Photos and Text by John Olsen. Working parties continue every Thursday Morning. New volunteers always welcome.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumMonday, June 4th, 2018 at 10:54am
Museum Working Party 31st May 2018

Having given us a summer-like early Spring Bank Holiday and glorious sunshine ever since, the Tywyn weather mojo was in an undecided mood this morning, 'shall I rain, or not?'.......wait a minute, haven't we been here before? Yes indeed we have, last Thursday, Tywyn seems to be experiencing the meterological equivalent of Groundhog Day, warm humid and threatening heavy rain. But the teams mission was clear, Neal Chapman, Allan Black, David Broadbent, Max Birchenough, Winston McCanna, Andy Sheffield, Charles Benedetto, John Olsen and even his brother Peter knew exactly what they were doing and it had only a little to do with wagon restoration!

As the railway is about to celebrate 100 years service of both loco No. 6 and the RAF, the order of the day was to get our little corner spick and span ready for kit inspection. This commenced with early arrivals Pete and John doing a bit of wheel and wagon shunting to allow the Corris mail waggon to be centred on the weighbridge ready for demonstration sessions over the weekend. From there they moved onto making a safe path through the various wagons to the Weighbridge House by moving the bits of rusty metal, viz rails wagons and cylinder block, that had accumulated into neat and safe positions.

Reinforcements arrived at the front in time to commence the clean up of the Weighbridge House interior with Neal, Winston and Andy wielding brooms and window cleaning cloths, operating on the military maxim of 'if it moves salute it, if it doesn't move, clean it!'

The Royal Welsh Ferrous Brigade, Allan and Max took up position equipped with angle grinders fitted with wire wheels to drive back the encroaching rust on the L&NWR slate wagon and the iron work of wagon no. 136. Further reinforcements made it to the front line in the shape of fusilier Broadbent and gunner Benedetto who joined Pete and John in spring cleaning the area in front of the Gunpowder Store of all the odd bits of timber that had accumulated over the winter, and last week.

The small stuff was carried over to the flat wagon on the centre road to join the wood and small branches already on it, the big old sleepers were carted away to the sleeper pile in front of the water tower, much to the delight of a small passenger who called out ' Hello' on each return trip, we of course called or waved back. Then it was time to stand to and present arms (with hands prominent) to wave off the service train, which was nice and full of happy passengers.

With the train’s departure we had the welcome arrival of the Tywyn Naafi, in the shape of our forces sweetheart Ann McCanna, who did the head count for coffee. Refreshments were taken al fresco as it was more than warm enough, despite the gathering clouds, where we were joined by Ray Brooks our duty attendant and Phil Sayers, who was invalided out of the mornings work party after a visit to the docs; happily his condition was neither contagious or life threatening. Post coffee the Royal Welsh started a second push on the ferrous front but the bulk of the working party were route marched to the museum to give it a clean up in preparation for the centenary celebrations.

It was at this point that John got distracted by Rays' announcement that our 'mystery shopper' had just made his presence known. This gentleman inspects museums on behalf of the Welsh Government to ensure we are up to scratch on a raft of metrics so that we retain our Visit Wales accredited status. He was most complimentary on all aspects of the attendants welcome and interaction and the bright welcoming condition of the museum and its displays and he and John spent some time talking about the 'William Finlay' display as well as the lighting and other changes since the last inspection two years previously. As the working party was in full flow John took the opportunity to show him the wagon restoration work in progress and explain this less well known side of the museums activities.

By the close of play another pile of old timber was safely off our premises, the Weighbridge House had passed kit inspection, the museum glazing in particular was fit to eat your breakfast off (though this is not recommended as, the glazing being vertical, your food will invariably end up on the floor) and more rust had surrendered to our boys, hip-hip hoorah!

Photos and text by John Olsen. Working parties continue on Thursday mornings, whatever the weather. New volunteers always welcome.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumThursday, May 31st, 2018 at 12:00pm
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumMonday, May 28th, 2018 at 4:59pm
Museum Working Party 24th May 2018

Having given us a summer-like early Spring Bank Holiday and glorious sunshine ever since, the Tywyn weather mojo was in an undecided mood this morning, shall I rain, or not'. This was most unhelpful to the gang who wanted to get their 'new' toy out and give it the once over. Winston McCanna, Allan Black, Max Birchenough, Neal Chapman, Phil Sayers and John Olsen were ready to examine the covered van no. 146, but the weather was not! No. 146 had been brought down to Wharf by Chris Palmer the previous day and safely stored away in the Gunpowder Store with the assistance of John Olsen, Lawrence Garvey and Nigel Adams, narrowly passing the Llechfan lamp post by dint of a shove to the north. So, what to do? First get Phil set up under cover in the doorway of the Store to paint the bobbins from wagon no. 136 that Allan had been cleaning up.

With a second look at the sky, it was spitting rain and could pour at anytime according to the weather boffins so we left the wagon in the store and proceeded to empty out all the strange and, sometimes, wonderful contents that did not need to be there.Many lumps of wood, pre-cut to fit the Weighbridge fireplace, were evicted, along with two much abused wooden trestles, assorted other more useful bits of lumber, a rather tired tarpaulin, two sheets of blue plastic sheeting, old fishplate bolts, well used dog spikes, a drinks bottle crate, a plaster mixing tub, two wooden boxes containing interesting bits of metal, a cuddly toy (no actually that's a porky), but it was getting a bit like the Generation Game conveyor belt. Two piles were assembled, the useful or possibly useful, and the rejects. Then with the wagon floor swept out and an inspection light clipped in place we could start examining the state of the internal woodwork and the metal strapping, not bad. We had to pause our efforts at this moment to wave to the passengers on the train as it departed, a very important part of our role as Ambassadors for the railway, and then decided to have coffee as Winston had an appointment with the local doctor a little after eleven o'clock.

We were joined for our refreshments, served with impeccable timing by Ann McCanna out on the platform, by Charles Benedetto, and his four legged friend Scott, David Broadbent and Ray Brooks, our duty attendant. Charles pleaded his case to be let out of school to meet a friend, well we're generous folk and there will be plenty of rust for him next week, he-he. David was catching up on his duties as Postmaster General for the TR letter service, despatching the latest batch of railway stamped letters. Post coffee Ray gave his opinion of two blocks of a white substance found in a big tub in wagon 146, no not a class A drug, but in fact a bulk purchase of conservation wax. This was duly put on the useful pile.

The rain was sort of pending at this point so Allan and Neal got out the angle grinders and wire wheel attachments to clean more bobbins to keep Phil gainfully employed. Max and John disassembled the dog-eared trestles and removed all the screws so that the wood could be donated to the Pendre wood pile for firing the locos. John went in search of a saw in the museum and ended up fetching one of the door wedges out of the hole beside the door to the platform, into which it had been dropped, and then getting a rag and white spirits out as some unkind person had come into the museum with heavy oil/grease on their hands and left a trail of it up the stairs on both bannisters.

After these distractions he made it back to the Gunpowder Store in time to help Max with the final tidy up that saw the useful pile transferred inside and the not wanted pile left outside.
So by close of play we had decided that wagon no. 146 is going to be a difficult beast to work on but until we get it outside for a thorough inspection from roof to frames we won't know just how much work will be needed to bring it back up to scratch. Bobbins were cleaned and painted. Rubbish was disposed of and useful items put safely away for later use.

Photos and Text By John Olsen
Sorry for the delay in publication; the museum office computer was busy in use for other purposes, so your publisher could not do this until he got home.
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
News from The Narrow Gauge Railway MuseumSaturday, May 19th, 2018 at 3:23pm

On a very pleasant May morning, a smaller than customary gang assembled at Wharf to continue where we left off last week. Present were David Broadbent; Alan Black; Phil Sayers and Winston McCanna, who had been left in charge of the keys in John Olsen's absence away with his family.

Alan continued scrubbing the bobbins from Slate Wagon 136 using his angle grinder with a wire brush, and by the end of the session all the bobbins were scoured clean of old paint and rust. David swept through the Museum and then carried out his customary task of dealing with donation boxes. Phil cleaned the glass on the staircase and some of the show cases, and Winston gave a rub and polish to the Prince of Wales brass plate of on the platform before giving it a wipe with conservation wax.

On the service train at 1030 Loco No 3 Sir Haydn was having its first turn on a timetabled train since its major overhaul.

At the right moment Ann McCanna appeared to brew coffee which was taken on the platform in the sunshine. For this we were joined by today's duty Attendant, Richard Stoner, by Barbara Tinsley, who is shortly to disappear on holiday, and by Sue and Charles Benedetto on their way way to a hospital appointment. After the recent excitement with cake with our coffee, this week it was back to the very welcome customary chocolate biscuits.

Advice was received that the Museum Gunpowder Wagon is to be brought down to Wharf during the following week. It has been stored in the Guest House at Quarry Siding all winter drying out in readiness for a repaint and other repairs, and will be inserted straight into the Gunpowder Shed on its arrival. So this wagon is likely to figure in forthcoming reports. If you fancy helping with this project, or any other of the regular museum challenges you will be made welcome. working sessions held every Thursday morning.

Report by Winston McCanna. Sorry no pictures this week.