Museum working party 3rd Feb 2022

The Tywyn weather mojo was a bit tardy this morning, not driving the rain threatening clouds up the valley until mid morning, but it did keep us dry. Andy Sheffield, Charles Benedetto and John Olsen were on site to continue our re-assembly of wagon no. 146, the covered wagon.

Having rolled it out of the Gunpowder Store, the law of levers was applied to help lift the end metal straps just enough to thread the coach screws through into the frames and then tighten them up; all except one! That screw just kept on turning so clearly the internal timber had rotted a bit too much. Our first thought of using a longer screw was quickly discarded as there was barely 1/2” of wood left to screw into. The longest bolts we have are 100 mm but this isn’t long enough to go through the strap the frame and still have enough thread to put a nut and washer on; a longer bolt will have to be sourced during the week. Having gotten the straps more firmly attached to the frame we tightened up the bolts into the planks prior to adjusting the height of the longitudinal roof beam so that its top was near flush with the top of the curved plank. This adjustment was necessary before attempting to put on the zinc roof plates. To assist the lifting operation we employed a long wooden beam and a chunky screw clamp; lifting the east end first as it had the smallest distance to rise and tightening the angle bracket bolts to hold it in alignment.

By this time Max Birchenough had joined us, bringing tales of loss of broadband and a morning spent trying to get it back with the aid of the Helpline staff. We decided the poor chap needed coffee, chat and chocolate biscuits, so downed tools for our break. We were joined in the warm sunshine on the platform by Di Drummond, Frank Nolan and Keith Theobald who had been busy tidying up the museum after the mammoth sorting operation that has sifted through Sarah Eade’s bequest. Our idle chatter encompassed such delights as fellow passengers with laptops hogging the communal table top, or worse, precipitating drinks into laps by carelessly shoving it across the table. The all pervasive nature of these mobile devices is unfortunately accompanied by their downsides, such as satnav errors and unwanted ‘noise’ in the Quiet railway carriages. David and Mandy Broadbent joined the happy group at a socially safe distance, the next table, and David reported on his examination of Sarah Eade’s stamp and stamp related collection; some items will enter the museums collection others should go to the county archives or indeed the Welsh National archives, such is their rarity.

Refreshed, and with the clock ticking on Andy, as he had a cat feeding mission to fulfil at lunchtime, we returned across the tracks to attempt to raise the west end of the longitudinal beam, which went surprisingly well despite the larger gap to be made up. With everything ‘within tolerance’, well very generous tolerance, we retrieved the first zinc roof panel from the Gunpowder Store and lifted it up into position; a bit of “to you, to me” and four bolts went through the correct holes. The zinc sheet was then capped with the roof strap, in the correct orientation first time, and loosely secured as this operation had revealed another short bolt problem for the four bolts that secured the angle bracket to the roof beam and up through the zinc, ho hum; but the good news was that the holes all lined up. The lower roof strap required a flip over to get the two central bolts threaded through the body timbers, zinc sheet and the end holes to align with the existing screw holes; the ends were then secured by coach screws. Nothing was tightened too much as we are still missing the second lower roof strap for the doorside of the wagon, currently in Pendre works for replacement of wasted metal, but enough progress for photographic purposes as the TR’s resident movie maker Luke Ryan was on hand to record our efforts for posterity. We attempted a pirouette on the turntable for the camera but were foiled by the turntable locking mechanism that had seized in the locked position and as time had run out we rolled no. 146 back into the Gunpowder Store for another week.

By the close of play three men had adjusted and secured four end straps, tweaked two roof brackets and attached half a roof to the wagon body.

Photos by John Olsen