Museum working party 11th Nov 2021

The Tywyn weather mojo was most definitely stuck in grey mode as the team assembled in Wharf Yard for the morning fun and frolics, but at least it was dry. This overcast morning Charles Benedetto, Max Birchenough and John Olsen were joined by Tony Baker and, in a non working capacity, by Andy Sheffield (no wonder his boots were so clean!).

Our mission was to shunt the wagons down the heritage siding alongside Llechfan hedge to allow scaffolding to be erected for the roof repairs of the Gunpowder Store. The biggest obstacle, a pile of 2 foot gauge track panels, had been shifted across the yard the previous day, but there still remained the issue of fouled flangeways. John and Max shifted the mud, muck and plants out of the way so that we had a chance of moving wagons without generating hernias. The first moves were to roll the wagon wheelsets to the end of the hedge, re-railing two wheelsets that had been parked on the wagon turntable. The cover was removed from the incline wagon so that it wouldn’t be damaged by being dragged along the hedge, which has been allowed to grow a bit too much laterally. This was swiftly followed by the chassis of no. 146 after it had been de-cloaked, but it was reversed onto the wagon turntable and left there out of the way. The incline wagon was rolled down to the wheelsets, followed by wagon no. 101 and the Corris mail waggon; but even as eager hands were laid upon wagon no. 164 John called a halt to proceedings. Wagon no. 164 has a brake on it and the handle was on the hedge side so it would have become horribly snarled up in the hedgerow; it needed to be turned but to do that the chassis of no. 146 had to go into the Gunpowder Store.

We had our coffee break a little earlier than usual in order to observe the two minute silence marking the ending of the First World War and settled around one of the tables on the platform. Ann McCanna arrived not long afterwards, expecting to take our coffee orders, but finding us already supping and chatting. This mornings discussion forum re-visited dental matters as Andy had just had a filling done and had been charged a princely sum for it; he then discovered that there are different grades of ‘Denplan’ (much umbrage). We also needed to explain to him what ganja was:- marijuana, weed, wacky baccy; he has led such a sheltered life. Finally we delved into history in response to one of his questions, but a contentious part of history that will not be revisited in this missive. Mike Green arrived clutching his hot chocolate and little sponge cake but he had barely enough time for a couple of mouthfuls before 11 o’clock and Ann marshalled us along the platform edge to observe the two minutes silence, reflecting on all those killed and wounded in war.

Refreshed by our repast we returned across the tracks to move the tools and other clutter that was blocking the way of wagon no. 146 chassis into the Gunpowder Store. In short order we were ready to heave the wagon over the threshold off the rails and onto the concrete, only to be thwarted by the wagons brake lever that protrudes a long way and was about to crash into some of the wagons metal ribs. A bit of adjustment of the ribs and other bits of wagon metal work allowed a second attempt; success, sort of. The wagon needed to be slewed over somewhat so John demonstrated what was possible with the aid of a long lever, swinging the leading end across by 6 inches allowing the wagon to be rolled into place clear of the doors. Now the way was clear for no. 164 to be brought onto the wagon turntable and rotated, or not. For a still unknown reason the turntable is ever so slightly off centre and when rotated clockwise it fouls the rails at one end, bizarrely rotating it anti clockwise does not lead to fouling; so it was all the way back again and then a further 180o to complete the turn. Now the wagon passed along the hedge with minimal contact and we had but one more to shift, the splayside wagon, and it was going to go ‘through’ the hedge no matter which way it faced. But with plenty of hands and momentum on our side it too reached its allotted position on the siding.

We had one more task to achieve and that was to clear up all the stuff we had ejected from the Gunpowder Store. The tools were transferred into the museum, as we will require them for some winter work therein, but the other bits and pieces were fitted around, or laid upon, the chassis of no. 146.

By the close of play five wagons had been moved along the heritage siding, one wagon had been taken for a spin on the turntable and one wagon chassis had been parked in the Gunpowder Store.

Photos by John Olsen.