Museum working party 23rd Sept 2021

The Tywyn weather mojo was late out of bed this morning so the sun didn’t arrive until after work had started under grey skies. Charles Benedetto and John Olsen came upon a scene of rampant destruction around the Gunpowder Store; no not vandals, but essential tree surgery. One tree that was overhanging the Store has been felled, but a second that is threatening both the Gunpowder Store and Weighbridge is still to be brought down in a controlled manner. So the first job of the morning was to clear away the debris of the tree felling and then move the yellow plastic barriers so that we could shunt the wagons to where we could comfortably work on them, which meant clearing out the excess stone from the two foot where it mysteriously seems to build up in blatant disregard of the laws of physics. The first train of the day was waved away with a good loading of happy passengers and coffee time was declared as Ann McCanna had just arrived. This morning we staked out one of the platform tables as Dave McKeever brewed up our coffees in the Guards mess room.

The sun was out and the rustle of chocolate biscuits quickly summoned Marshall, Andy ‘Two Sheds’ Sheffield, from his duty rounding up stray passengers and herding them onto the train. We mused on such delights as taking the Canadian Pacific train across Canada, where one unfortunate passenger got trapped in the upper bunk of their compartment that had folded up on them unbidden! Di Drummond and Mike Green then joined the fray, the former seeking volunteers for a half term activity in the museum, ‘See an engine, build an engine’, that would give children a tour of the museum before constructing engines, Blue Peter style, from printed cut out shapes and rubber band wind up cotton reel drive units. Both having a background in adult education we were then treated to some tales of the educationally resistant youth whose exploits could only be described as stupid.

Refreshed, and grateful to be out of the world of current education, we returned to the main item on our agenda, freeing off the seized brake parts of wagon no. 146. Having ascertained that the copious WD40 treatment had not effected a release we considered our options, hit them with a big hammer or heat them and then hit them with a big hammer. Having tried the former we cadged a lighter from the crew of the ‘Quarryman’ and lit up the little gas burner, that was once used in stripping off the old paint from the wagons, and played its gentle flame over the first seized joint. After a while the penetrating oil started to bubble out of the rust so we knew something was happening and then Charles gave it a few whacks with the club hammer using the rail head as an anvil. It moved! More hammering and the rust layer crumbled so that the two parts could be separated. Hoorah! On to joint number two while the gas supply held out and more heat was applied for longer this time in the hope that less hammering would be necessary. This was a more stubborn joint and required much more hammering, but movement was seen so it was flipped over and hammered back the other way, but it was still not free as the broken off split pins remnants stopped us knocking the brake ‘pad’ off the pivot. A swift bit of filing reduced that obstacle to iron fillings and one last hammering broke the rusty seal. Success! We now had separated the parts so that we could file off the worst of the rust and use a coarse abrasive paper to put a bit of a shine on the surfaces. As a final little job the two fixing bolts were given a clean up with a rag soaked in white spirit before anointing with oil and running a nut up and down the threads to clear them of the mixture of rust and old grease.

By the close of play four wagons had been shunted, two seized brake arms freed off and no fires started.

Photos by John Olsen