Museum working party 22nd June 2023

Another bright sunny morning in Wharf yard greeted the working party team, Max Birchenough, Pete Thomas, Charles Benedetto, Andy Sheffield, Ian Evans and John Olsen. Despite distractions in the yard taking place just feet from the work site, the main business of the day got underway after a quick shunt of the Corris Mail Waggon frame and the new no. 136 frame.

Pete went to work on the remaining rusted nuts that held the last pair of angle plates inside the Corris frame and Max painted a set of washers with black Hammerite in readiness for the re-assembly of wagon no. 136, the three slat wagon. The floorplate of no. 136 was lowered onto the frame after the remaining horizontal axlebox fixing bolts had been annointed with Evil Green Grease (EGG) by Andy and loosely screwed in place. Then the bobbins and wooden slats were retrieved from the Gunpowder Store and loose assembled in place like some large scale Jenga game. With the four long corner bolts, suitably greased with EGG, inserted through all the bobbins and slats it was time to wave away the first train and go for our coffee break so that the distraction could carry on without the sounds of the working party interfering.

There were no guests to join us for coffee chocolate biscuits and chat this morning on the platform, under the canopy for a smidgen of shade.

We returned across the tracks in time to wave away the Slate Trail Train and then get stuck into the reverse ‘Jenga’ puzzle. It was whilst trying to get the end central long bolts to thread through that John noticed that, despite his labelling the slats and pointing the labelling out to the team, some of the parts were in the wrong place. Cue dis-assembly of the slats to free the misplaced ones and insert them in their correct positions; with an additional twirl of 180o for good measure, we now had the ends all loose bolted.

Just four more long bolts to fit and while three went in with a bit of pushing and pulling, screwing and finally driving home with the rubber mallet, one bolt would not cooperate as the lowest slat had twisted just enough to thwart the bolts entry into the hole through the floorplate. Not to be defeated John used one of the sash clamps that we recently acquired from the estate of Winston McCanna, a long time gang organiser, to press the twisted slat enough for the bolt to be pushed home. Nuts and washers were then tightened up by hand before an early halt to proceedings was called as John had an appointment with our MS Mabon ap Gwynfor.

The long overdue return of wagon no. 136 to running condition is almost over, while the restoration ‘journey’ of the Corris Mail Waggon is just beginning.

Photos by John Olsen