Museum working party 17th Feb 2022

The Tywyn weather mojo must have worked overtime to deliver a bright and breezy morning for us here in Tywyn with all the stormy weather around; most welcome. The team of Max Birchenough, Andy Sheffield, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen were in the yard and ready to make the most of another dry start.

Wagon no. 146 was wheeled out of the Gunpowder Store and turned on the turntable to make working on it easier, with the first task being to put the new longer stainless steel bolts through the roof beam and zinc sheets so that they remained in register while we worked on the lower straps. With the bolts in place we removed the bolts and coach screws holding the roof to the body work over the doorway and offered up the newly fabricated (by Rob Frost) doorway roof strap, which fits under the zinc sheet. Aligning it with the zinc sheet edge we clamped it in place so that the positions for the fixing holes could be marked with indelible marker and a scribe, which could reach through the body side planks where the marker could not. With the positions marked the strap was un-clamped and put to one side ready to be sent to Pendre for drilling.

Deeming it a good time to break for coffee we went into the cafe out of the keen wind and were joined by Malcolm Phillips, Keith Theobald, and David and Mandy Broadbent plus dog. As the caffeine and biscuits circulated so too our diverse chatter that covered the disappointment of some that they would not be in receipt of the cost of living boost from the Welsh government due to their homes being in the higher rate bands. Max’s internet woes have finally come to an end as he received a replacement router that worked; though it was perhaps less than helpful of the company to inform him, over the phone, that he could track the delivery of the new router by visiting the website….. while he was still offline! Still on matters of the internet we discussed the benefits, and potential hazards, of smart connected devices; a boon to be able to tell the heating to switch on in a sudden cold snap, but beware hackers gaining control of the same devices. Keith’s adventures in tiling and the damage to the trees on NT estates by previous storms rounded out the break before we returned across the tracks.

We spun no. 146 through 1800 so that Charles and Andy could fit the modified lower roof strap (Andy had drilled two new holes to avoid the old ones that were blocked with snapped off screws). While they were engaged in this activity Max and John turned their attention to the bolts holding the lower halves of the axleboxes on one of the FR steel bodied slate wagons. The intention is to swap out the incorrect pattern wheels that are currently in place for a correct set from the Bala Lake Railway, who have a job requiring the wheels we have; so everyone’s a winner.

John had been applying penetrating oil over the past couple of weeks but the nuts were still resisting attempts to shift them so the newly acquired blowtorch got its first outing. Immediately after John had heated up the nut Max moved in with a spanner and hammer to start turning the nuts until they were free to move all the way to the end of the thread. Meanwhile John moved onto another nut to start the freeing up process again, the pair working like a well oiled machine to shift four nuts even as the sky darkened and it began to rain. Andy and Charles had completed their drilling and fixing operations and had sensibly retired into the dry of the Gunpowder Store in the company of Luke Ryan who was on hand to take some video of us working and progress on no. 146. Once the shower had passed over we performed a wagon pirouette for the camera to get the wagon facing the right way to be put away and pushed it back into the store. With the tools all put away John did a piece to camera about the historic wagon fleet and our role in keeping it in working order for use in special charter trains.

By close of play four roof bolts had been inserted, two axlebox lower halves freed off, one roof strap finally tied down, one roof strap marked up for drilling and a pirouette performed.

Photos by John Olsen