Weekly Exhibit

A booklet issued 100 years ago by the Great Western Railway describing the narrow gauge railways of North Wales.

Museum working party 6th June 2024

The sun was shining on Wharf Yard this morning and after last weeks busy holiday operating schedule things were a lot quieter. Andy Sheffield and John Olsen were on site early and shunted the incline wagon and splayside wagon down the siding to join the two slate wagons on display outside Llechfan. This freed up siding space for the Corris Mail Waggon partial re-assembly that will take place in the near future.

When Charles Benedetto and Pete Thomas had joined us the cover was removed from the frame of no. 164, the ex TR two bar braked slate wagon and the salient timbers located for restoration work. Andy and Charles took on the task of scarfing in a new section of timber to replace a rotted off end, using a section of sound wood that John had cut from the scrapped short bars and trimmed to size off site. Pete completed his work securing the new end piece of wood he had scarfed in last week by adding two no. 12 brass screws for added strength. John got to work on the wagon frame with an angle grinder fitted with an abrasive flap wheel, removing old paint and glue where the dumb buffer had ‘failed’ at one end in preparation for a new piece to be fabricated to fit, and generally removing old flaking paint.

Max Birchenough came over to chat with us before he left on the first train to take up duties as Brynglas blockman for the day. We then joined Ann McCanna and our other guests this morning, Neal Chapman and David Broadbent, for our morning coffee chocolate biscuits and chat on the platform in the bright sunshine.

With the Quarryman Train waved away we migrated back to our tasks. Andy and Charles used the oscillating saw to trim the rotten timber out of the bar and then chiselled the last few millimetres to get a precise fit of the replacement timber section. Pete completed his scarfing in with a jack plane so that the new and old wood were smooth and level. He then moved on to giving the wagon frame of no. 164 a good sousing with wood preservative over all the bare timber that John had removed the paint from, the headstocks and dumb buffers and the top surfaces of the frame. John went round the vertical holes with the patent bottle brush to ensure that plenty of preservative reached those dark pits of potential rot.

With the morning drawing to a close the tools were packed away and the site cleared of wood offcuts before the cover was put back over the frame of no. 164 for another week.

Photos John Olsen

Talyllyn Tracksiders Week – May 2024

Talyllyn Tracksiders, an award winning group that enables families to work on the railway, completed a successful week of half term activities. This included undertaking some tasks for the museum. We rubbed down and gave a coat of paint to the De Winton lamppost; the FR signal post and two wagon doors. We also applied a coat of conservation wax to the wagon on the Wharf drive. The weighbridge was used to weigh the younger members of the gang, giving a combined total of 1,000 lbs.

Museum working party 30th May 2024

The skies were grey and threatening this morning over Wharf Yard but the train was loaded with happy and excited kids, lots of kids, all here for Children’s Day on the railway.

There was slightly less excitement on the far side of the tracks where Max Birchenough, Pete Thomas, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen prepared to reveal more rot and rust on wagon no. 164, the ex TR two bar braked slate wagon. Max got the show rolling by painting the red oxide top coat on the final side of the Corris Mail Waggon end door, while Charles finished marking out the cuts on the second replacement cross bar for no. 164 and Pete began the painstaking business of cutting and fitting a new piece of wood to replace the rotted end of one of the long bars from no. 164.

John made modifications to the aluminium discs that marked the underside and corner locations of the first set of bars that we dis-assembled from no. 164, by cutting them into different geometric shapes, so that over painting them wouldn’t hide their identity (as has happened in the past…..). He then knocked out the heavily corroded fixing bolts of the corner brackets to reveal the very poor state of the wood in the mortice and tenon joints.

We had waved away two full trains by the time Ann McCanna came over to see us, with a limping Andy Sheffield in tow, ‘on the sick’ this week. We were joined for coffee by David Broadbent, who had completed his railway stamp/mail duties, and also Keith Theobald, taking time out from general museum duties and assisting the Tracksiders.

Post coffee John and, new engineering manager, Graeme Wigglesworth discussed welding door brackets on the floor of the Corris Waggon where the old ones had come adrift; a straightforward job made more problematic by either working in Wharf Yard or conveying the body to Pendre for the welding. Back across the tracks, and another train waved away, Max got down and dirty with the corner brackets that John had removed from the second set of bars, first with a welders hammer to knock off the larger lumps of rust and then an angle grinder fitted with a wire wheel. Charles continued his cutting and shaping the second cross bar while Pete planed his replacement wood to a precision fit for gluing into place.

David and John took flapwheel fitted angle grinders to the two long bars to remove the loose paint and totally strip the undersides; this will allow water that penetrates the wood in the future an escape route. John scraped and chiselled out the obvious areas of soft rotted wood before David liberally doused the timber with wood preservative. The de-rusted corner brackets were treated with anti rust fluid that should penetrate the deeper rust spots that even the wire wheel could not quite reach. The second set of cross bars are in need of replacement timber as the end tenons have largely rotted away, but we shall use the sound timber from the condemned set of cross bars for this purpose. Pete clamped up the replacement piece and will add strengthening screws next week once the glue has fully cured.

The grey skies still threatened rain but thankfully it hadn’t dropped any as we cleared the site and put the covers back over the Corris Mail Waggon and the frame of no. 164.

Photos by John Olsen

Weekly Exhibit

With the Vale of Rheidol Railway now in its second year of British Railways ownership, the summer timetable issued May 1949.

Museum working party 23rd May 2024

The grey skies over Wharf Yard did not bode well for the working party as Charles Benedetto, Ian Evans, Pete Thomas and John Olsen huddled in the shelter of the Gunpowder Store doors, where a cauldron of conservation wax was gently melting in preparation for Tracksiders next week. But the rain held off so that Charles could begin cutting and shaping the first of two new cross bars for wagon no. 164, the braked two bar ex TR slate wagon, and Pete painted the first set of corner brackets in between stirring the cauldron.

Ian and John clamped the end strapping of the Aberllefenni counter balance wagon to our trusty old stands for Ian to cut off the last two cross tie remnants. That left the two very large securing nuts to be undone using an old imperial spanner and club hammer. Despite Ian’s best hammering the nuts remained fast and John brought out reinforcements in the shape of the blow torch; it still took two heating sessions but then the first nut gave up the fight and was released.

The first train of hardy souls was waved away and the tools put in the dry as a shower came over and we sought refuge in the cafe where Ann McCanna had ordered our coffees, abetted by Andy Sheffield who was still on holiday, in Tywyn. We were joined by Malcolm Phillips, Max Birchenough and Tom Place to enjoy Ann’s latest baking, melt in the mouth delicious macaroons.

The rain showers persisted, but so did we, as Ian and John took the hammer and heat to the other rusted on nut, Pete completed his painting and stirring of the cauldron and Charles finished fashioning the first cross bar. Ian and John then set about preparations for the jobs the Tracksiders will be undertaking for the museum, assembling painting gear, wire brushes and recycled conservation wax, in addition to the two fresh pots that Pete had ladled out. The final pieces of the preparations were two old, and very heavy, wagon doors that were moved under cover of the gazebos where they can be cleaned and painted with primer no matter the weather next week.

The disassembled end strapping was put away in the Gunpowder Store along with all the tools and work benches and the parts of wagon no. 164 were once more covered over against the elements that were again drizzling on us.

Photos by John Olsen

Weekly Exhibit

To celebrate 50 years of the North British Locomotive Company, the company issued a book outlining the history of the company and its earlier constituent companies.

Museum working party 16th May 2024

Another bright sunny morning in Wharf Yard as the cover came off, the largely dismantled, wagon no. 164. Charles Benedetto and John Olsen carried on with last weeks work on the wagon bars; cleaning off the loose paint from the long bars and removing the old paint and rust from the corner brackets. They were joined by Rob Langham for the morning, who volunteered his services in his down time before his next turn on the locos; thank you Rob, you are a true gent. The Corris door was fetched out of the Gunpowder Store and Rob set to work painting its outer face with red oxide; the first of two top coats. Charles used wood hardener on all the suspect areas of timber of the bars, ie any cavity, and left it to soak in so that filler can be applied next week.

With the first train of the day waved away we stopped for our coffee break together with David Broadbent, duty museum attendant, Max Birchenough, platform inspector, Keith Theobald, jobbing cashless paypoint installer, and old hands Ann McCanna and Tom Place. Rob nobly opted to get the painting job done.

Back across the tracks John and Charles cut two new pieces of wood to replace the rotted end bars, using the circular saw to cut 98% of the way through the plank with Charles finishing off with the handsaw. Before leaving Charles marked out the cuts to form the tenons on the ends of the new bars. John opted to keep going with de-rusting the last two corner brackets and then treating them with anti rust liquid so that they would be ready for painting next week.

While waiting for the anti rust treatment to cure John made a good start on removing the remnants of the old fixing bolts of the end strapping of the Aberllefenni incline counterbalance wagon. A combination of hammer and cold chisel dislodged all but two of the small bolts but the two large nuts holding the cross bar and sides together will require further ‘softening up’ with more WD40, and the blow torch. Max kindly assisted in covering no. 164 over and John completed the tidy up of the site and stowing of the tools.

Photos by John Olsen.

Weekly Exhibit

On 14th May 2011, a shovel commemorating the return of Talyllyn Railway locomotive Dolgoch to service with a new boiler was presented by the Severn Valley Railway, who had built the boiler. The shovel is engraved “Dolgoch SVR”

Sixty years earlier, Dolgoch had been the only serviceable locomotive on the railway and was used to haul the first train of the railway preservation era.

Museum working party 9th May 2024

The sun was shining on Wharf yard this morning, glinting on the pristine grey paint of the new bogie ballast wagon, parked in the centre road after its delivery earlier this week.

Andy Sheffield, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen were on site to take the yellow protective cover off the slightly less than pristine wagon no 164, now partly dismantled for renewal of the paint. The first task was to roll the wagon partway into the Gunpowder Store so that we could slide the new Corris wagon frame off the top and into the Store. This accomplished we took apart the upper set of bars, that we removed the bolts and brackets from last week, and discarded the two shorter end pieces as the rot had gone too far in the ends to be salvaged.

Andy and Charles set to with chisels to clean out the rotted timber of the two long bars and clean up the wood filler that had been used in the last re-paint a few years back. John set to work on two of the corner brackets, knocking off flaking paint and rust with a welders hammer and then cleaning back to bare metal with a wire brush in one of the angle grinders. The first train entered Wharf Station somewhat late, was rapidly turned around, and duly waved off .

We joined David Broadbent and Max Birchenough on the platform to have our morning coffee chat and chocolate biscuits, welcoming Tom Place when he arrived. Tom showed us an interesting newspaper cutting from a Canadian paper detailing a monumental steam train trip that is crossing Canada, the USA and terminating in Mexico. The loco heading the train is a Canadian Pacific Hudson (4-6-4) N0. 2186 that has been specially prepared for the promotional event marking the merger of Canadian Pacific and the Kansas City Southern railroads.

Back on the narrow gauge we returned to our labours with Andy and Charles using a flap wheel fitted angle grinder to remove any loose paint and provide a key in the sound surface. The bare timber, especially the fixing holes were treated with wood preservative, to keep the bars in good condition for a few more years exposure to Tywyn weather. John finished his cleaning of the two corner brackets and applied an anti rust treatment to the inner faces as these had suffered the most corrosion pitting that even the wire brush could not clean off 100%. The bars and brackets were then stacked on top of the wagon frame and covered over once more before all the tools and trestles were packed away in the Gunpowder Store for another week.

Photos by John Olsen