Museum working party 23rd May 2024

The grey skies over Wharf Yard did not bode well for the working party as Charles Benedetto, Ian Evans, Pete Thomas and John Olsen huddled in the shelter of the Gunpowder Store doors, where a cauldron of conservation wax was gently melting in preparation for Tracksiders next week. But the rain held off so that Charles could begin cutting and shaping the first of two new cross bars for wagon no. 164, the braked two bar ex TR slate wagon, and Pete painted the first set of corner brackets in between stirring the cauldron.

Ian and John clamped the end strapping of the Aberllefenni counter balance wagon to our trusty old stands for Ian to cut off the last two cross tie remnants. That left the two very large securing nuts to be undone using an old imperial spanner and club hammer. Despite Ian’s best hammering the nuts remained fast and John brought out reinforcements in the shape of the blow torch; it still took two heating sessions but then the first nut gave up the fight and was released.

The first train of hardy souls was waved away and the tools put in the dry as a shower came over and we sought refuge in the cafe where Ann McCanna had ordered our coffees, abetted by Andy Sheffield who was still on holiday, in Tywyn. We were joined by Malcolm Phillips, Max Birchenough and Tom Place to enjoy Ann’s latest baking, melt in the mouth delicious macaroons.

The rain showers persisted, but so did we, as Ian and John took the hammer and heat to the other rusted on nut, Pete completed his painting and stirring of the cauldron and Charles finished fashioning the first cross bar. Ian and John then set about preparations for the jobs the Tracksiders will be undertaking for the museum, assembling painting gear, wire brushes and recycled conservation wax, in addition to the two fresh pots that Pete had ladled out. The final pieces of the preparations were two old, and very heavy, wagon doors that were moved under cover of the gazebos where they can be cleaned and painted with primer no matter the weather next week.

The disassembled end strapping was put away in the Gunpowder Store along with all the tools and work benches and the parts of wagon no. 164 were once more covered over against the elements that were again drizzling on us.

Photos by John Olsen