Museum working party 23rd Nov 2023

Andy Sheffield, Max Birchenough, Pete Thomas and John Olsen were once again inside the museum to continue with the winter maintenance programme. Ian Evans was on the site early, ensconced inside the Host wagon guards van, to conduct a count of the number of photographic slides that we still need to scan, record and archive in preparation for a grant submission.

This morning Max joined John up on the scaffold tower as safely taking down the largest and heaviest nameplates required two pairs of hands. The plates were cleaned and polished by Pete and Andy and then restored to their positions on the wall. The plates on the left hand side were tackled first, and once all of them were back up the scaffold tower was moved to the right to reach the remainder.

The change of side was a convenient moment to take our morning coffee break in the warmth of the cafe, where we were joined by Ann McCanna and Mike Green for our topical chat, chocolate biscuits and coffee. Post coffee Ian returned to join the outdoor gang as they continued their Herculean relaying of Ty Mawr.

Back inside the museum the tower team took up their position on high and took down the remaining nameplates for cleaning and polishing. With the last nameplate back on the wall the scaffold tower was dismantled and carried down the stairs and the cleaning and polishing gear cleared away before we hung the Christmas coloured lights up in the Neptune Road window, utilising the hooks we installed for this very purpose last year.

Photos by John Olsen

Museum working party 16th Nov 2023

Even though the weather was remarkably clement this morning the team convened inside the museum to commence our winter works. Allan Black, Andy Sheffield, Pete Thomas and John Olsen were joined by Andrea Sutherland as we tackled the cleaning of our, many, brass name and works plates displayed on the wall above the stairs.

Allan, Andrea and Andy set up a cleaning station on the first floor armed with white spirit, Brasso wadding and conservation wax, and applied toothbrushes, rags and elbow grease to the plates that John carefully removed from the display board, from atop the scaffold tower. Pete got the slightly scruffier end of the cleaning ‘market’ out on the platform rubbing down the bobbins from wagon no. 164, the braked 3 bar slate wagon, in preparation for a fresh coat of black Hammerite. The first three works plates had been cleaned, polished, protected and re-mounted on the wall by the time the coffee ‘bell’ was sounded.

We adjourned to the cafe where we were joined by Ann McCanna, Tom Place and Charles Benedetto for our usual chocolate biscuits, coffee and chat.

Much refreshed we took up our tasks again so that by the mornings end nearly all the works plates and several nameplates had been returned to their former glory back up on the wall. The larger nameplates remain to be done as it is a two man job to safely de-mount them, such is their weight. Pete completed his clean up job by wiping the sanded bobbins with white spirits, they are now ready to paint.

Photos by John Olsen

Weekly Exhibit

This open wagon is based on a Festiniog Railway design of about 1850. It was owned by the Oakeley Quarries Company and used to carry coal to the quarries for firing the boilers of steam pumps and winding engines. The wagon has double doors at one end only for loading and unloading. Its heavy wooden framing is reinforced with metal plates and strips and the wheels are carried on inside bearings attached to the wooden frames.

Museum working party 10th Nov 2023

It looked like the teams luck with the autumn weather had run out this morning as strong squalls washed over Wharf yard. But Allan Black, Max Birchenough, Pete Thomas, Andy Sheffield and John Olsen got lucky one more time as they assembled, the rain blew inland and a dry, if windy, period allowed them to get the bars of wagon no. 164, the two bar braked slate wagon, out of the Gunpowder Store to place atop the frame and then lay the new frame for the Corris Mail Waggon on the top of them.

Wagon no’s 117 (incline wagon) and 113 (splayside wagon) were shunted from beside the Llechfan hedge onto the Weighbridge road and then no. 164’s frame was shunted up behind them, to allow wagon no. 146, the covered wagon to be moved onto the wagon turntable outside the Gunpowder Store in preparation for its eventual storage inside the shed for the winter. But before then three of the giant yellow Hippo bags, that had been placed in no. 164, were retrieved to cover over the wagons on top of the plastic wrapped sterling boards, to help protect the wagons from the worst of the winter weather to come. With ropes in place to hold the covers against the wind the team took an early coffee break just before the next squall hit Tywyn.

The warmth of the cafe, coffee chocolate biscuits and chat were just what the team needed to thaw out and then brave the elements again.

Fortunately the rain had ceased and a second dry spell allowed the transfer of tools, trestles and assorted wagon ironmongery to the museum to take place without getting a soaking. As the rain returned the team set up temporary work benches inside to continue with the painting of the wagon parts and also erected the portable scaffold tower on the landing of the museum stairs to enable the brass name and works plates to be taken down safely for cleaning and polishing over the next couple of weeks.

Proceedings were closed after John had outlined the other jobs to be covered during the winter shutdown period; painting of areas were there was scuffing or wear, swapping out the light rope on the Guinness loco, mounting castors on the second interactive to allow it to be moved aside for easy access to the space under the stairs and castors also to be fitted to the grey display plinths to make their movement easier and safer than the present need to physically lift them to avoid scratching the slate floor tiles.

Photos by John Olsen

Weekly Exhibit

Another book with a slate theme recently added to our collection is “Llechwedd and other Ffestiniog Railways” by Ivor Wynne Jones and Gordon Hatherill.

Museum working party 2nd Nov 2023

Museum working party 2nd Nov 2023

The working party convened inside the dry of the museum this morning as the rain band of storm Ciaran was still soaking the yard. Andy Sheffield, Allan Black, Pete Thomas and John Olsen carried out a number of jobs that had been on the indoors ‘to do’ list for a while.

Allan began by carefully extricating the defective light rope, that has not been illuminating the darker depths of Baguley no. 774 for a large part of the season, in preparation for replacement. Andy and Pete removed three of the sand filled weights from our set of tensa barriers, which were not 100% sound, to swap them with salvaged metal weights. The swap over necessitated finding some longer M8 bolts , but thanks to a surfeit of these left over from the rebuilding of wagon no. 146, these were sourced from our stock in the Gunpowder Store. They also cleaned off the accumulated grime from the chromed posts and base covers so that they once more gleamed like new.

John got to remove four of the long bolts holding William Finlays dumb buffer metal ends caps from the rear buffers so that they can be machined to the correct profile round countersunk heads. By removing only two bolts from each buffer the end caps and wooden blocks can remain safely in place. Reaching the securing nuts was a far from easy task and the over long bolt shanks meant that a ratchet driver could not be used to speed up the removal either; John spent a long and rather uncomfortable time on his back. By the time Charles showed up for morning coffee John had only succeeded in releasing two bolts and even this pair had resisted being withdrawn after the nuts had finally been fully unscrewed as the shafts had rusted inside the timber of the blocks and buffer beam.

We retired to the comfort of the cafe to join up with Max Birchenough, who was on traffic duty, Keith Theobald, Ann McCanna, Tom Place and duty attendant John Alderslade for our morning coffee chocolate biscuits and chat.

With the rain showers still coming and going the team remained inside post coffee with Andy and Pete assisting Allan in installing the new light rope, securing it with cable ties and spring clips so as not to damage the fabric of the loco. John tackled the second, and more inaccessible, pair of bolts on William Finlay with assistance from Allan.

Henry the hoover was deployed to clear up the rust from the bolt removal job and the tools were returned to the Gunpowder Store for safe keeping, leaving the museum in a safe condition for our visitors.

Photos by John Olsen

Weekly Exhibit

On loan to the museum is the headboard carried on Beyer, Peacock and Company Garratt No.138 hauling the first passenger train over the full length of the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway. The train was for Gold & Silver Project Sponsors. The public service started in February 2011.

Museum working party 26th Oct 2023

The weather forecast wasn’t too optimistic but thanks to Tywyn’s unique micro-climate it was dry in Wharf Yard this morning as Max Birchenough, Andy Sheffield, Pete Thomas and John Olsen took the yellow cover off the frame of wagon no. 164, and then all went over to the museum. To explain; this morning John Bate received his much deserved MBE from the Lord Lieutenant of Gwynedd in a ceremony on the platform at Wharf Station and the bright yellow cover was not invited to be in the photos so it was duly removed and stored out of sight.

Before the ceremony took place we busied ourselves on a housekeeping task that Keith Theobald had requested; namely to move some of the COVID PPE and allied stock to the Gunpowder Store loft to make space in the museum storeroom for our growing collection of photos and slides of British narrow gauge railways. So we bagged and tagged and carried the stock away, or rather Max, Andy and Pete did as John took the opportunity to wash down the vertical rising door and platform access door of the museum, both of which were quite filthy, before Malcolm Phillips opened up for the day.

Across at the Gunpowder Store John evicted the wagon winterising paraphernalia from the loft space (Yellow Hippo bags and blue tarpaulins) and then replaced them with the COVID stock. The winter kit was all safely stashed in wagon no. 146, the covered wagon, as we will be needing it in a little over a weeks time as the railway ceases to run trains and we can cover the historic wagon fleet to protect it from the winter storms.

As the Lord Lieutenant arrived we crossed the tracks to take our coffee break in the cafe as Ann McCanna had arrived bearing a fresh baked load of cakes. We settled down to our extended coffee, cake, chocolate biscuits and chat with Charles Benedetto, Tom Place, Malcolm Phillips and Fiona Covington.

As the investiture guests migrated from the platform to the Slater Room we migrated back across the tracks to continue our investigation of the state of the frame of no. 164. As the loose paint and dirt were scraped and wire brushed away it became apparent that many small areas of the frame were soft around the vertical and horizontal bolt holes. Two of the packing pieces of the dumb buffers fell off when the iron end straps were removed as they had begun to rot and the glue no longer held fast. What had initially seemed like a sound frame is now looking somewhat suspect, but a final decision will only be made once we have turned the frame over to examine the already known areas of rot, and no doubt discover as yet unknown rot.

The sterling board and yellow Hippo bag were put back over the frame and fastened down after the tools had been put away, leaving the site tidy and safe for the final visitors of the season.

Photos by John Olsen

Weekly Exhibit

A hanging card timetable from 120 years ago for the Jersey Railways and Tramways service from St Helier’s to Corbière. The line to La Corbière opened in 1884, when the original standard gauge line was extended and re-gauged to 3ft 6in. The line closed in 1936.