This Sunday marked the anniversary of the opening of the Nant Gwernol Extension on the Talyllyn Railway on 22nd May 1976. One of the issues that needed to be addressed was the fact that the original 1865 Act, only covered the line to a point just East of Abergynolwyn Station. To cover the line from the end of the Statutory Railway to Nant Gwernol, an application was made for a light railway order which was granted fifty years ago in 1972. The Light Railway Order is shown below, and our post from last year, the 45th anniversary, shows other items connected with the opening.
Another fine dry morning in Tywyn, but wagon no. 146 was absent from Wharf yard. Having been taken to Pendre for an inspection over the pit, and given a conditional clearance to be used on the line, it was parked on the ash road and did not return to Wharf. In consequence Charles Benedetto and John Olsen turned their attention to the Corris Mail wagon, which had a report of rot in the south west corner dumb buffer. On removing the iron reinforcing strap it was discovered that the rot had penetrated both the headstock and the solebar at the joint. A third opinion from museum Trustee Malcolm Phillips was sought and the wagon frame unanimously condemned as unfit; therefore the Corris Mail wagon will not be allowed to be used for any photo charters or other events until it has been overhauled and the frame completely replaced.
Our attention then turned to the FR steel bodied slate wagon that had been shot blasted and primed some weeks ago, then partially painted with black bitumenous paint and covered over while we worked on no. 146. To make painting the undersides of the steelwork easier the frame was lifted onto additional packing timbers with the kind assistance of Chris Parrott. We took our coffee break out on the platform in the company of Malcolm, Chris and Mike Green.
Post coffee, painting commenced in earnest and continued until the frame was painted all over; there are still unpainted areas lurking in the darker corners which will be attended to in due course when there are sufficient hands to safely turn the frame onto its side. To allow the paint to fully cure the frame has been left uncovered for the moment.
Photos by John Olsen
Continuing the theme of timetables, the Talyllyn Railway started the world’s first preserved railway passenger service on 14th May 1951. The date chosen was Whit Monday, a public bank holiday at the time. Whit Monday falls seven weeks after Easter, so 70 years ago services started on 2nd June. The timetable shows the service of two trains a day, with an evening train on Wednesdays and weekdays in high summer.
By 1964, Easter train services were operated, continuing with a Friday only service until Whit weekend.
A timetable from 90 years ago this week for train services on the Isle of Man Railway.
A dry morning allowed further progress on the finishing touches on wagon no. 146. Max Birchenough, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen worked on cutting off the excess threads on the door bolts before painting them with black Hammerite.
Max began by wire brushing the two chains that secure the lower door and then painting them with black Hammerite paint. Charles and John needed to perform some restoration work on one of our (ex wagon 134 frame) stands before it could be used as a painting stand, as some unkind soul had handled it very roughly and caused one timber to split and the diagonal bracing to come adrift.
While Charles finished replacing the fixings crews with heavier duty versions John used an angle grinder with metal cutting disc to shorten the overlong bolts on the individual doors. As each was completed the door was handed on to Max who masked around the metalwork and then painted the nuts and bolts and touched up the hinges.
Coffee was out on the platform in the sun with Mike Green before we returned to angle grinding and painting. Charles used the second angle grinder, with a wire brush head fitted, to clean the rust off two of the FR wagon axleboxes ready for priming.
With all three doors completed and additional nuts and bolts on the wagon painted black, no. 146 was sheeted over and left outside the Gunpowder Store so that John could work on it during the week and it could also be inspected to ensure it was mechanically safe to be run on the line.
Photos by John Olsen
A leather-bound pass issued to J.J.O’Sullivan in 1914 for free travel on the Talyllyn Railway.
After our Easter break the team assembled on a sunny dry morning to re-assemble the modified and re-painted upper doors of wagon no. 146 and hang them in place.
Charles Benedetto, Max Birchenough and John Olsen were joined by Andy Sheffield later in the proceedings. The upper pair of doors has a similar design problem to the bodywork of the wagon, i.e. no diagonal crossbracing, so they can easily ‘droop’ on the hinges, fouling the lower door. The hinges themselves needed packing washers to carry the weight and adjust the vertical position so that the upper doors did not foul the lower door when being closed. With some gentle persuasion, followed by physically holding the doors in the correct position, the many bolts could be tightened to retain the correct attitude.
This was when we found that one of the short odd shaped metal straps that hold the doors ‘rainstrip’ in place, could not be moved sufficiently far to allow the door to be properly closed. In the past this had been ‘solved’ by carving part of the upper edge of the door away with a chisel but with time marching on we had no desire to expose fresh wood and then have to re-paint it with primer, undercoat and two topcoats. The offending metal strap was reduced in width with an angle grinder and the cut edges filed smooth to achieve the desired fit; this now only requires touching up with black Hammerite.
We took our morning refreshments in the cafe in the company of Ann McCanna and Mike Green before returning to attend to further minor issues. One of the roof straps had required new holes to be drilled in it and rather than leave the old holes as potential rust pits we filled them with black Milliput. A second more pressing issue was to substitute a bolt for the coach screw that secured one of the end metal straps to the wagon frame, as the screw was no longer holding tight. Andy drilled the hole through the frame in short order but unfortunately the 130mm stainless steel coach bolts we had were just too short to go all the way through the wagon frame and thick metal strap; and would have fouled the transverse frame rod to boot. John opted to buy a length of 12mm studding rod to use instead.
The structural work is thus pretty much complete with just cosmetic work, such as shortening the protruding bolts and painting them to match the bodywork, to complete.
Photos by John Olsen
One of our larger exhibits, currently out on loan, is metre gauge locomotive L. Corpet and Cie. of Paris No. 493 of 1888, “Cambrai”. The locomotive worked at Waltham Ironstone Quarry in Leicestershire, which unusually had a metre gauge railway, whilst others in the area were 3ft gauge. The railway was used from 1885 to 1958.
The photograph shows “Cambrai” outside the original museum, shortly after repainting in the early 1960s. The locomotive is currently on display at Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum.
An advertising handbill for the Manx Electric Railway, unfortunately undated. Frank Edmondson was the manager from 1908 to 1936.
Those of you following the weekly working party news will have seen that we have updated the display of our fish-belly rails. We currently have two on display. One from the private Belvoir Castle Tramway, and a replica shown here from the Mansfield and Pinxton Railway.
The Mansfield and Pinxton Railway was built in 1819 to a gauge of 4ft 4½in and connected Mansfield with the Cromford Canal at Pinxton. The line was purchased by the Midland Railway in 1847, and converted to standard gauge, and is still in use.
The rail was cast to celebrate the bi-centenary of the railway and exhibited at an exhibition in Mansfield to mark the event.