The weather forecast wasn’t too optimistic but thanks to Tywyn’s unique micro-climate it was dry in Wharf Yard this morning as Max Birchenough, Andy Sheffield, Pete Thomas and John Olsen took the yellow cover off the frame of wagon no. 164, and then all went over to the museum. To explain; this morning John Bate received his much deserved MBE from the Lord Lieutenant of Gwynedd in a ceremony on the platform at Wharf Station and the bright yellow cover was not invited to be in the photos so it was duly removed and stored out of sight.
Before the ceremony took place we busied ourselves on a housekeeping task that Keith Theobald had requested; namely to move some of the COVID PPE and allied stock to the Gunpowder Store loft to make space in the museum storeroom for our growing collection of photos and slides of British narrow gauge railways. So we bagged and tagged and carried the stock away, or rather Max, Andy and Pete did as John took the opportunity to wash down the vertical rising door and platform access door of the museum, both of which were quite filthy, before Malcolm Phillips opened up for the day.
Across at the Gunpowder Store John evicted the wagon winterising paraphernalia from the loft space (Yellow Hippo bags and blue tarpaulins) and then replaced them with the COVID stock. The winter kit was all safely stashed in wagon no. 146, the covered wagon, as we will be needing it in a little over a weeks time as the railway ceases to run trains and we can cover the historic wagon fleet to protect it from the winter storms.
As the Lord Lieutenant arrived we crossed the tracks to take our coffee break in the cafe as Ann McCanna had arrived bearing a fresh baked load of cakes. We settled down to our extended coffee, cake, chocolate biscuits and chat with Charles Benedetto, Tom Place, Malcolm Phillips and Fiona Covington.
As the investiture guests migrated from the platform to the Slater Room we migrated back across the tracks to continue our investigation of the state of the frame of no. 164. As the loose paint and dirt were scraped and wire brushed away it became apparent that many small areas of the frame were soft around the vertical and horizontal bolt holes. Two of the packing pieces of the dumb buffers fell off when the iron end straps were removed as they had begun to rot and the glue no longer held fast. What had initially seemed like a sound frame is now looking somewhat suspect, but a final decision will only be made once we have turned the frame over to examine the already known areas of rot, and no doubt discover as yet unknown rot.
The sterling board and yellow Hippo bag were put back over the frame and fastened down after the tools had been put away, leaving the site tidy and safe for the final visitors of the season.
Photos by John Olsen