Museum working party 30th May 2024

The skies were grey and threatening this morning over Wharf Yard but the train was loaded with happy and excited kids, lots of kids, all here for Children’s Day on the railway.

There was slightly less excitement on the far side of the tracks where Max Birchenough, Pete Thomas, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen prepared to reveal more rot and rust on wagon no. 164, the ex TR two bar braked slate wagon. Max got the show rolling by painting the red oxide top coat on the final side of the Corris Mail Waggon end door, while Charles finished marking out the cuts on the second replacement cross bar for no. 164 and Pete began the painstaking business of cutting and fitting a new piece of wood to replace the rotted end of one of the long bars from no. 164.

John made modifications to the aluminium discs that marked the underside and corner locations of the first set of bars that we dis-assembled from no. 164, by cutting them into different geometric shapes, so that over painting them wouldn’t hide their identity (as has happened in the past…..). He then knocked out the heavily corroded fixing bolts of the corner brackets to reveal the very poor state of the wood in the mortice and tenon joints.

We had waved away two full trains by the time Ann McCanna came over to see us, with a limping Andy Sheffield in tow, ‘on the sick’ this week. We were joined for coffee by David Broadbent, who had completed his railway stamp/mail duties, and also Keith Theobald, taking time out from general museum duties and assisting the Tracksiders.

Post coffee John and, new engineering manager, Graeme Wigglesworth discussed welding door brackets on the floor of the Corris Waggon where the old ones had come adrift; a straightforward job made more problematic by either working in Wharf Yard or conveying the body to Pendre for the welding. Back across the tracks, and another train waved away, Max got down and dirty with the corner brackets that John had removed from the second set of bars, first with a welders hammer to knock off the larger lumps of rust and then an angle grinder fitted with a wire wheel. Charles continued his cutting and shaping the second cross bar while Pete planed his replacement wood to a precision fit for gluing into place.

David and John took flapwheel fitted angle grinders to the two long bars to remove the loose paint and totally strip the undersides; this will allow water that penetrates the wood in the future an escape route. John scraped and chiselled out the obvious areas of soft rotted wood before David liberally doused the timber with wood preservative. The de-rusted corner brackets were treated with anti rust fluid that should penetrate the deeper rust spots that even the wire wheel could not quite reach. The second set of cross bars are in need of replacement timber as the end tenons have largely rotted away, but we shall use the sound timber from the condemned set of cross bars for this purpose. Pete clamped up the replacement piece and will add strengthening screws next week once the glue has fully cured.

The grey skies still threatened rain but thankfully it hadn’t dropped any as we cleared the site and put the covers back over the Corris Mail Waggon and the frame of no. 164.

Photos by John Olsen