The Tywyn weather mojo was on top form this morning, to atone for its ‘sins’ last weekend, and the team assembled early(!) in Wharf Yard to continue the 3D jigsaw puzzle that is wagon no. 146. Charles Benedetto, Andy Sheffield, Max Birchenough and John Olsen pulled the wagon out of the Gunpowder Store and reviewed our progress – two sides on. That was the good news, the less good news was that to fit the West end long angle plates, that had been painted many moons ago, many of the bolts had to come out again to be turned around, including the ones that helped join the top of the metal ribs to the vertical part, which were absolute swines to get all three holes aligned. Now as we all know square pegs do not make for a good fit in round holes and the metal ribs all have round holes, unfortunately the stainless steel coach bolts have square shafts…. The answer was to grind away the unwanted metal with an angle grinder so that the bolts could be turned round, and so began the game of musical bolts; John modified them and the rest of the team manhandled ribs and planks to re-insert them, with the assistance of the rubber headed mallet on occasion.
We were getting into our stride when Ann McCanna turned up to start decorating the Christmas tree and dragooned Charles and Andy to shift one of the red boxes for her to stand it upon. Shortly thereafter they returned and Ann was not happy, she had been rushed to get here this morning to do the honours, and someone had already assembled and decorated the tree. As none of the gang were responsible for usurping Ann she went away to get our coffees for us. Mr Green cast his expert eye over our endeavours and pronounced the coupling hook to be on upside down, a matter attended to with a Coventry precision hammer applied to the split pin by our resident Daimler engineer Andy; sorted.
We sat out on the platform in the bright sun and were joined by Keith Theobald and Mike Green. Before starting in on our coffee chat and chocolate we stood in quiet reflection for a minute as a mark of respect for Don Newing, a longtime museum volunteer and trustee who had just passed away. As Andy had cancelled his German Christmas Market holiday he was in need of an extra boost and was allowed to break into the dark chocolate Hobnobs; that put a smile back on his face. Subjects for discussion included arrangements for the Carol Train and past winters that were exceptionally cold; we all admitted to remembering the big freeze of 1962/3 but there was a general shaking of heads for the one in 1947….. For the benefit of youngsters out there we would routinely wake up in the morning and have to scrape the fantastical shapes of ice crystals off the insides of our single glazed windows before getting the coal fires going; domestic central heating was still only available for the well heeled!
Refreshed by our calories we returned to our re-assembling and succeeded in getting most of the West end planking in place and locating the brackets that secure the roof beam to the ends but we will need a supply of longer bolts to complete the work around the door as the bottom half of the ribs was much thicker than remembered..…
By the close of play four men had re-attached five planks and two end angle plates and rolled one semi complete wagon back into the Gunpowder Store.