News Archive Page
V4.4 updated 29/12/04
Newly archived sections are placed at the start of this page and have red titles. This page contains archived news from 2004.
Details have been released about the 2005 Winteractive event due to be held on the weekend of 19-20/2/2005, at the end of the Half Term holiday week opening. In addition to the 1100 and 1400 Garratt No.138 hauled service trains from Caernarfon, there will be an 0900, 1225 and 1525 (SO) freight service hauled by Funkey Castell Caernarfon, which might feature the ex-SAR brakevan. There will be guided tours of K1 in the Goods Shed, but the loco will not be in steam. Its official launch and naming are planned for the Spring!
The extra trains will only run if bookings are received by 24/1/05. The charges are £180 driving and £60 for cab ride for a round trip starting at Dinas. For steam fans, a round trip firing will cost £90 or £60 for the cab ride (max. 2 persons per round trip).
Weekend Rover tickets are available covering both WHR and FR events and are free for WHRS members (WHR visits only - 25% discount on FR standard fare). Otherwise WHR/FR Rovers cost £24 (£19.20 concessions). Those wanting to book events must also purchase a Rover ticket. For full timetable details see Ben Fisher's website:-
To enquire or book contact:-
Latest phase 3 work
Upnor Castle and the ballast plough Daffodil were noted stabled at the north end of Glan-yr-Afon yard on 12/12/04. This was presumably in connection with the ongoing work to make a smooth reverse curve from the south end of Glan-yr-Afon viaduct into the site of the exchange yard. The North Wales Track Gang was also in action on the long straight next to the waterworks at Bryn Gloch, sweeping sleepers and tidying ballast. They are having a well earned break over Xmas and their next working party is set for 8-9/1/04 (they probably won't get a break for the next few years!).
Road access improves
The Bontnewydd roadworks have now been completed. These had been causing huge jams and delays for those driving to Dinas. A55 works have also been largely completed though on 12/12/04 there remained a single lane section between Bangor and Llanfairfechan.
Ex-Northampton water tower plan dropped
The considerable expense of removing the Northampton parachute style water tower has seen a cooling in plans to take it to the WHR. The water tower is in the red zone close to the Castle Yard headshunt and would be difficult to remove. It is anticipated that the tower will be saved for preservation at another railway.
Tuesday gang PW report
On Tuesday 7/12/04 the permanent track gang and Fred Howes, assisted by the 'Tuesday Gang', lifted two lengths of rail immediately south of Glan-yr-Afon viaduct. As this is a tight bend it was felt that a better curve would be attained if the rail was bent into shape using a Jim Crow prior to clipping down. This is a very time consuming exercise and at the onset of dusk around 3:30 only half a rail had been shaped to the correct radius. Hopefully the permanent staff will have finished the job by now!
Whilst there are no weekday trains running it is the intention of the Tuesday gang to spend every Tuesday on PW work assisting the 3 regular lads. If you would like to help, contact either Tony Baker or Pete Roughley on
GCC will be upgrading the Llanfaglan road bridge after Xmas. This is the one a few hundred metres south of Hendy crossing that is currently un propped. Work is due to start on 4th January 2005 with diversions of both the road and cycle track for 10 weeks from 10/1/05. This will close the back route to Dinas from Caernarfon. Hopefully, the work will be completed by Easter.
GCC has responsibility for road over-bridges and they seem to renewing one every two years or so, having completed Dinas 2 years ago. Coed Helen bridge could be next on the list. If Llanfaglan road bridge is 'upgraded' to the same pattern as Dinas it will have high parapets and V shaped capstones to prevent access onto the parapets. Sadly these improvements have the effect of spoiling views of the railway, as at Dinas.
'25mph railway' campaign
Paul Bradshaw's track volunteer group has been making progress at Glan-yr-Afon Viaduct, utilising the closed period prior to Xmas. On 29/11/04, it was reported that work had started on improving the final approach curves to Glan-yr-Afon Viaduct from both directions. It is hoped that the long standing 5mph temporary speed restriction here can be lifted, possibly by Christmas. The alignment was the problem on the northern approaches. Upnor Castle was in action with RRM's to remedy the situation. A pair of short rails on the curve, possibly cut to length to fill a gap, were moved to the short straight on the bridge itself and replaced by full-length rails from the bridge. This has made a much smoother curve.
On the south side, there was a problem with levels, with a low point on leaving the bridge immediately followed by a noticeable rise over a several metres. The original plan was to remove the rail and ballast and re-grade the formation to the required depth. However, a simpler solution was adopted that involved jacking the track up over the dip and inserting ballast. Shims were placed under the base-plates over several wooden sleepers at the southern end of the viaduct to ramp the track slightly, forming a more uniform gradient over this section.
The Glan-yr-Afon task was completed in 3 days, below the budgeted time, and volunteers moved on to Ffridd Isaf curve, where the old walled embankment has subsided as it is built on boggy ground. In 2003, the deficiency was made up with deep ballast. However, ballast is being lost down the inside of the curve, increasing the cant unacceptably. Volunteers shovelled ballast up from the bottom while the tamper vibrated it back again. As with the bridges, ballast retention boards are planned to prevent ballast loss.
The North Wales Track Gang (NWTG) continues to make steady progress in improving the ballast on the existing railway. They have been quietly and diligently working their way south from Waunfawr clearing excess ballast from the tops of steel sleepers and the foot of the rails. This ballast is the residue from ploughing and tamping. It has been found that the small amount of ballast on the sleeper tops results in rainwater accumulation, which is causing the sleepers to rust faster than would normally happen, despite their carbonised oil coating.
The railway is looking far neater with the ballast tidied. The NWTG has also taken the opportunity to check clips, fish plate bolts etc. Volunteers have also carried out minor jobs such as cleaning the deck of the footbridge at Waunfawr and clearing wagons of tree branches and brush that had been previously cut and removed from the lineside.
New Rail Atlas missed cross town link!
The new tenth edition of the Stuart Baker 'Rail Atlas of Great Britain and Northern Ireland' (OPC), a standard work for rail enthusiasts, shows the WHR under construction from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog. However, it shows the line terminating at the WHR(P) terminus with no mention of the Cross Town link. No doubt letters have already been sent and the missing section will be included in the 11th edition!
Several members of the WHR(P) spent last weekend (20/21 November) dealing with snags on the Traeth Mawr Extension. Work was focussed on fencing and stone walling. A pipe for the farmer's mitigation field access bridge near Cynfal l/c has been ordered, allowing the bridge to be programmed for construction between Christmas and New Year.
The WHR(P)'s Xmas Holiday Extension campaign might also see the completion of fencing and Stage I ballasting (excepting the two level crossings), following the anticipated completion of the field access bridge. The WHR(P) Board has now approved buying almost 1 km of rail for the Extension, though they are waiting on final agreement from the Ffestiniog Railway concerning the technical standards of the rail and operational issues before making the order.
The rail for the WHR(P) Traeth Mawr Extension has to be of the same specification as the rest of the line, basically 30 kg/m (60 lb/yd) and the same height above the sleepers. A common standard of rail will enable easier maintenance of the whole route when the FfR takes over. The rail will be shipped over from South Africa as that is currently the cheapest source. It will be newly rolled and purchased by the WHR(P) from the same source as the FfR purchased WHR rail.
A discussion is currently underway with FfR management concerning final details of Rights of Access to the WHR by WHR(P) Heritage trains. The WHR(P) is awaiting confirmation from the FfR that the WHR(P) can definitely use coal-fired steam engines beyond Pen-y-Mount on the extension to Traeth Mawr, and on the rest of the line when completed. WHR(P) management are not happy to convert Russell (or the Baldwin) to oil firing in order to allow regular use of these locos.
On the FfR, coal-fired trains are banned from the wooded sections in dry weather to avoid forest fires, set off by sparks. It is likely a similar arrangement will apply to the WHR for both FfR and WHR(P) coal-fired locos.
Cedric Lodge retires
Cedric Lodge has retired as volunteer coordinator following his recent illness. He will continue to help with technical matters. Tony Baker will now be the Volunteer Coordinator and contact for the Tuesday gang. One of his first actions is to place a notice board in Dinas Waiting Room with contact information for volunteer groups. Contact
Theft of station sign
One of the Rhyd Ddu station signs was stolen around the end of September. Sadly, this was the one that faced the car park at the south end of the station and provided good advertising. Police have been informed. As the sign was removed carefully, it is possible it might be the work of an 'enthusiast collector' rather than local vandals.
WHR(P) ballasting reaches Pen-y-Mount
On 27/10/04 ballasting reached south to within 30m of Pen-y-Mount l/c (LC121 at Ch.33560 approx.) and on the following day it reached the level crossing. A section of some 60m approx. has been left unballasted north of Cynfal l/c (LC120 at Ch.33410 approx.) as the local farmer is using the trackbed to access his field at Ch.33340 approx. until a mitigating stream bridge is constructed in the adjacent field. Click on the link below to see images of progress at Pen-y-Mount (bottom of page Oct 04, ballasting).
Having completed all the ballasting that could be done for the time being, the WHR(P) team cleared the area around the 'Harbour Siding' on the line of the future Cross-Town Link from Pen-y-Mount. This area will see the rail stacks for the WHR(P) rail due to be ordered for laying in early 2005.
Wrong sort of leaves!
The WHR was beset with leaf fall problems on 27/10/04 when No.138 ran out of sand and slipped to a halt on the steep gradient approaching Dinas from the north (Plas Dinas cutting). The loco was hauling the 1620 Caernarfon-Dinas at the end of the day and took 50 minutes to make the 2.75 mile journey!
Clip shed progress
Team Wylfa have made more progress by 28/10/04 with the Clip Shed in preparation for No.134's frames to be moved in soon. Two of the fluorescent tubes, ex-Caernarfon station building, did not work but the team have been promised replacements. The walls will be painted white to improve lighting by reflection. A large engineering vice is to be fitted to the work bench. All that is now needed is a free lift into the shed for the frames!
WHR 2004 Santa Specials!
Booking is now taking place for the 2004 WHR Santa Specials running on two weekends in December (11-12th, 18-19th.). The 1.5 hour round trip repeats last year's successful formula, although passengers will not be allowed to join at Waunfawr. The trains run from Caernarfon to Waunfawr only. Trains depart Caernarfon at 1030, 1230 and 1430 and tickets cost £9 adults/child with a £3 supplement for First Class and a £2 basic fare for children under 2. There are privilege reductions for card holders. Click on the booking form below but allow three days to book.
WHR(P) continue ballasting
WHR(P) volunteers are continuing their 'Autumn Bash' with ballasting and trackbed preparation north of Pen-y-Mount in Porthmadog. On 23/10/04 some 40m of ballasting was completed working south towards Cynfal l/c (LC120). However, work cannot proceed past a farmer's gate as he uses the trackbed for access until a field bridge is constructed in mitigation.
On Sunday 24/10/04 work switched to levelling the trackbed immediately south of LC120 at Cynfal. The sand was dug out and slate waste tipped in and rolled level. This allowed ballasting to proceed on the 150m from LC120 south towards LC121 on 25/10/04, without affecting the farmer north of LC120. Some 50m of bottom ballast was laid on 25/10 and another 25m on 26/10 covering half the length between the two level crossings. For the latest information, click on the link below.
Autumn bad weather!!
Thunderstorms and heavy rain affected loadings and services in the first week of the school half term holiday. A huge downpour on 22/10/04 saw the second train of the day cancelled with fears of the rake being cut off the wrong side of the well known Castell Cidwm flooding location. It is perhaps surprising given the poor weather that four people turned up at Caernarfon for this service! It seems to have rained on the WHR every day since mid-August and another Autumn storm hit on 27/10!!
Poor Autumn road access again!
With memories of the disruption caused by the Penmaenbach Tunnel blockage only now fading, the road authority has decided to hit the A55 in no less than three locations between Bangor and Chester until mid-December! Single lane working with 40mph restrictions is causing massive peak time queues at Bangor for 2 miles towards Llanfairfechan, east of Colwyn Bay and at Ewloe near the Welsh border, the junction with the A494. Road travellers to the WHR need to be aware of the delays this will cause to their journeys.
Minor derailment curtails trains
A minor derailment in South Yard curtailed trains on 16/10/04 when No.143 came to grief at low speed propelling the rake into the Carriage Shed at the end of the day. Apparently a suspension hanger broke which led to No.143 distorting the track. The result was that the bike wagon, B493, also derailed and twisted onto a 45 degree angle. Its coupling had to be gas axed and a bogie may be damaged. All was cleared by17/10/04 and No.143 was noted in light steam in the afternoon, presumably under test. No one was hurt in the incident and the coaches were not damaged.
Fortunately the last train of the day was still out of the shed and was stabled in the platform until 18/10/04. Only two of the planned four services could run on the 17/10/04 as the Carriage Shed was blocked. If the cancelled Carriage Shed north end access points project had been completed in June, as originally planned, it might have been possible to haul out the unaffected coaches with Castell Caernarfon. However, two extension sidings have been laid outside the north end of the shed to stable little used rolling stock.
TrainSim for WHR
The Group producing the WHR MS Train Simulation add-on, Spooners TS, have launched their new website,
to bring those interested up to date with latest news from the Spooners TS Team. Screenshots, team information and even FREE downloads can also be found on the site. The group are offering their work free to the WHR and all profits will therefore help Phase 4.
More on the Llanwnda signal
More has emerged on the history of the Llanwnda signal generously donated to the WHR recently. Photo evidence from Dave Plimmer shows this signal has not after all been behind the Goat Hotel for 40 years. It remained in position adjacent to the road bridge at Llanwnda until the late 1970's.
This image (28/02/76) shows the signal and station buildings at Llanwnda and Dave Plimmer recalls it was still there after the road was diverted away from the bridge and across the trackbed possibly in 1978. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright Dave Plimmer. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
For more pictures of North Wales main line railways covering diesel loco operations from 1975-83 visit Dave Plimmer's website
WHR(P) Gala 30-31/10/04
The Welsh Highland Railway (P) Gala takes place on 30th & 31st October 2004. "Drive an Engine in the yard" is just one of the things happening during the weekend. There will also be an intensive train service, demonstration freight trains on the main line, with many of the WHR(P)'s extensive fleet of industrial diesels in action, and an appearance from the huge Polish LyD2 locos. For full details click on this website.
Autumn traffic still buoyant
Traffic appears to continue to be improving on last year's levels and on 2/10/04, trains were full with coach parties turning up for some of the journey. The Santa trains in December will run from Caernarfon to Waunfawr only as in previous seasons. No.138 is behaving well and has improved its overall fuel consumption by 40% since the start of the programme to redesign the burners three years ago. Its performance now matches that of No.143. The latter loco is in good mechanical order except for its 'little end' clanking. It will receive major maintenance this Winter similar to that given to No.138 last Winter.
The North Wales Track Gang is appealing for volunteers, especially those who have worked in the past with the North Wales Gang (alias The Black Hand Gang), to turn up on the weekend 30/31 October at Dinas. They need a gang of at least 10 as they intend to do a sweep up the line from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu, or as much as they can over the two days, clearing the surplus ballast from the tops of the sleepers and rail feet!
The ballast plough does not quite get all the ballast and the small amount of that remains is causing water to accumulate on the sleeper tops. The more volunteers they get the more they can clear. Excess ballast also looks untidy and it would be an opportunity to get back into the swing of things ready for Phase 4. If anybody wants any further details they can contact Dafydd Thomas via e-mail
or telephone - 01248 681019.
Some volunteers have apparently been contacted about clearing gorse at Croesor Junction (the first works on Phase 4!) with a view to allowing a full survey of this location. The aim is to ease the right angled curve here within the limits of deviation and preferably on the existing embankments to allow 20-25mph running.
Winter trackwork plans
As has been mentioned elsewhere on this site previously, Autumn and Winter 2004/5 will see a big push planned to remove or increase speed limits at various places on the WHR. One major job is to improve the vertical and horizontal alignment of the approaches to the Glan-yr-afon bridge at KP37.17. It is intended to start the work, which involves lifting the track, removing the ballast and lowering the formation before replacing the ballast and relaying the track, in the three weeks from 29th November when the weekend train service has a short break and the PW Department can have an unbroken possession.
While it is planned to have a machine to do the really heavy digging, a lot of volunteer muscle and brain power is needed to do the parts of the job a machine cannot. Volunteers are needed throughout the three weeks but to start the job off Paul Bradshaw is organising a working party from Monday 29th November.
To give those who cannot be available during the working week a chance to get involved, the working party will continue through into the weekend of December 4th/5th. Volunteers are not expected to commit themselves for the whole of the period but it would be very helpful if you can join the PW gang for some of it.
Volunteers may not be able to make a firm commitment this far ahead but it would be helpful to know if you are a "yes", a "probable", a "possible" or, sadly, a "not this time". That way the pw gang can plan the work schedule. Paul Bradshaw will be glad to hear from you. He can be contacted by email at
If you can help at other times this Autumn and Winter the North Wales Track Gang will be continuing its regular fortnightly weekend working parties. Contact Dafydd Thomas,
The big push continues through from the end of October until March 2005 so contact Dafydd or Paul if you can help at any time with this important work. Alternatively phone Pete Gray at the Dinas office on 01286 830200. The Track Gang need your assistance.
Waunfawr watertank extra
On 27/9/04 a group of volunteers added strapping to the wooden lids on the water tank. This work is designed to prevent the Winter gales dislodging them.
On Saturday, 25th September, three of the North Wales Track Gang - Elwyn Jones, Alf Williams and Dafydd Thomas aided by Maldwyn Evans with his six wheeler flatbed lorry with Hiab crane, moved the original Dinas Up Distant signal post from the rear of the Goat Hotel, Llanwnda to Dinas North yard. The post is approximately 34 feet long and caused a few heads to turn on its short journey.
This northerly view (2/10/04) at Dinas shows the Dinas Distant signal that formerly stood at Llanwnda. Also visible are a siding point lever and loading gauge frame believed to be from Llanwnda siding. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The signal is complete with its arm, the yellow enamel is remarkably undamaged apart from some slight rusting around the attachment bolts. It still has its counterweights, ladder (slightly bent at the bottom) and stays. The signal post had been at the rear of the Goat Hotel since 1965/66 when it was rescued from the scrap man by Mr. Griffith, the coal merchant who used Llanwnda station yard as his base.
Although the signal was actually located within the environs of Llanwnda station, it was operated from Dinas Signal Box. Llanwnda itself had no signalling; it was in the token section Dinas to Groeslon and access to the single siding was by means of a key on the token. The Llanwnda siding point lever and loading gauge are also included in the donation.
The signal post lay at the rear of the Goat, forgotten by most, for almost 40 years. However Miss Ann Griffith, daughter of previously mentioned Mr. Griffith and owner of the Goat Hotel, had not forgotten it and with all the local interest in the Welsh Highland Railway nearby she decided to donate the signal post to the Society for possible use on the Railway.
Now that the WHR have the signal post at Dinas, it needs to be restored. The NWTG is looking for volunteers who would like to do a bit of wire brushing and painting. There is also need of some heat and persuasion on the base of the ladder to get it back into shape. If anybody can locate the appropriate lenses for the arm the NWTG would be most grateful. The signal also needs a signal lamp but this will probably have to be a reproduction one.
Once restored, the signal post will be erected at Dinas as an item of local history and a relevant railway feature. It will not of course be operational. At the moment it is positioned in the laydown area next to No.134.
Ashbury Coach company reformed
A consortium of FR and WHR(P) members has bought the name of the defunct Ashbury Railway Carriage and Iron company that provided coaches for the NWNGR. The original project is to restore/build three heritage coaches to original Ashbury's designs as part of a £133,000 appeal to the Heritage Lottery fund that will also cover the refurbishment of Russell.
Restoration of the WHR buffet car and VoR brakevan are included in the project. Other coaches planned are replicas of sister coach No.25 and No.21. The three coach set will form the core of a Heritage Set to be used with the Gladstone car on the WHR.
Click here for full details
The WHR winter timetables have been released. Sadly, again it has not been possible to run trains at weekends throughout the Winter due to pw requirements. Further intensive pw work will be taking place to provide improved speeds and low maintenance costs. HMRI has given the WHR permission to increase its operating speed to 25mph when it wishes on lengths where this is appropriate. It remains the long term aspiration of the WHR to run trains at weekends throughout the Winter.
The Xmas holiday period 'Pink' timetable shows two diesel services operating from 26/12/04 to 3/1/05, though in previous years these were converted to steam operation. The same diesel service runs from 12/2/05 to 20/2/05 covering local school's Half Term holiday. However, other schools in the UK may have a Half Term holiday later in February and this may need to be addressed. The Spring service restarts on 19/3/05 but the timetable has not yet been published.
Click here for timetables
WHR Heritage Group calls for retention of historic structures
The WHR Heritage Group has asked the FR to consider retaining specific historic features of Phase 4 and adding them to Phase 3 at its own expense. In Phase 4 they have reminded the FR of their commitment to provide replica bridges for the three removed over the Afon Glaslyn, Nanmor and Dylif. The also wish to see the retention of the Beddgelert water tower and pit road (in common with your webmaster!).
On Phase 3, the Group wishes to add unconnected tramways with two or three slate wagons at Tryfan Junction, Tan-y-ffordd and Betws Garmon to illustrate the mineral history of the route. Working parties have already cleared Tryfan Junction station building. The water tower at Snowdon Ranger should also be reconstructed and Glan-yr-afon Quarry sidings office rebuilt in the Group's view. The Group is prepared to help towards the cost of giving Waunfawr station building a similar appearance to the original in granite block facing.
Hectic day (14/9/04)
The WHR was guest to a considerable number of elderly passengers on 14/9/04 despite there being just one train in steam. An un-booked party of 23 with several wheelchairs and electric powered buggies descended on the railway. The enclosed coaches ran full and there were even people in the Open coach, despite the heavy showers. The party detrained at Waunfawr on the return for lunch.
The platform at Caernarfon was full again for the second trip and a second elderly party joined at Waunfawr. These were very slow disembarking on the return to Waunfawr and so the train ran very late. No. 138 was not performing well so it was replaced at Dinas South by Castell Caernarfon which has re-appeared after replacement of its supercharger.
The further problems of No.138 are a disappointment after all the work that has been done on it this year. It had been announced at the AGM that No.138 had recently received another new burner that has contributed a welcome 15% reduction in fuel burn for the same mileage.
It is due to the volunteers that such unexpected loadings can be accommodated and that passengers keep spreading the good word. The WHR has achieved its challenging budget for 2004 to date with £5,000 to spare. Some 48,000 people used the trains until the end of August, about half those using the FR in the same period. The WHR will need an increasing number of volunteers in years to come to man a third and fourth set and operate throughout the year (at least at weekends!).
To volunteer for train staff training just contact Sean Britton on 01766 516037 (or email email@example.com).
Wet weekend for Super Power
It was a very wet weekend for Super Power after a series of good years. There were good crowds on Saturday but these thinned out on Sunday with poor weather again in the afternoon. A brief spell of sunshine on Sunday morning was the best weather. Trains ran to time despite some appalling conditions.
This view (12/9/04) of Prince at Hendy shows the loco hauling the £1 shuttle with coaches Nos.1001 and 26 in tow. This was one of the few bright scenes of the weekend! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
However, Castell Caernarfon failed with a turbocharger problem on Saturday. This led to the inability to run the double headed Garratt train on Sunday. Also, due to the increasingly stormy weather, Prince was sent home early on Sunday. This gave a chance for a rare outing behind Conway Castle on the final Dinas-Caernarfon-Waunfawr working. The same loco had been used on Saturday on the first shuttle and in push-pull operation with Prince on the Sunday trip to Waunfawr.
This view (12/9/04) of Conway Castle at Dinas shows the loco hauling the £1 shuttle with coaches Nos.1001 and 26 in tow. This was a rare passenger working for Conway Castle. The loco substituted for Prince on the last train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
K1 was steamed at Boston Lodge on the Sunday with frequent trips between the erecting shop and the headshunt. Some 198 visitors came to see the loco is steam. The loco behaved well. Gelert was returned to the WHR(P) reversed with the nose facing the Porthmadog buffer stops offering new photo opportunities.
This view (12/9/04) of No.143 northbound at Plas-y-nant shows the ex-GM Pete Randall in the cab. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This atmospheric view (11/9/04) of Prince arriving at Dinas with the shuttle shows just how wet Saturday was. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (12/9/04) shows Conway Castle arriving at Dinas on the last shuttle of the day, substituting for Prince which was being loaded to make an early departure. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (12/9/04) shows Prince being loaded at Dinas for its return to Minffordd after a wet visit to the WHR. Haulage company 'Locomotion' provided the traction. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 Updates
The final Phase 3 Update, (V3.400!) was produced on 8/9/04, with 400 editions being over 2 a week since 2000! Sometimes, news has come in so fast there have been changes every day!! I am grateful to all the volunteers that have helped make this website a success and apologise for the occasional errors. I hope to provide the same fast news service for Phase 4. Due to press embargoes, I have had to keep silent about this announcement for a few weeks but there has been plenty of other news to report about!
The WHR(P) having kindly stepped into the breach to provide Gelert for footplate rides at Dinas at Super Power this weekend are now offering cab rides in their powerful Polish LYd2 diesel Eryri at Porthmadog this weekend for a donation. The loco will shunt between the yard and the wharf.
** SPECIAL OFFER ** Visit the WHR(P) stand at Dinas on the WHR(C) and get a pound off travel at the Porthmadog end.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Sorry, but insurance restrictions mean WHR(P) can only let passengers holding tickets into Gelert's Farm Works. Please use the train if you wish to photograph or ride on the LYd2.
Tuesday gang tidy Caernarfon
Volunteers of the Tuesday gang have had a final tidy up of Caernarfon station in preparation for this weekends Super Power event. The lineside has been cleared as far south as the water tank of the spreading buddleia. Additional shelving was erected in the station shop and notice boards hung inside and outside of the building.
There was no further progress with ballasting over August Bank Holiday. The farmers access is at the 230m mark leaving about 70m available to ballast before the field access bridge must be built.
WHR(P) LyD2 fired up
The WHR(P) Polish diesel LyD2 No.60 Eryri was successfully started on 30/8/04 after the fitting of new batteries. The loco is reported to have made quite an impression shunting up and down the sidings at Gelert's Farm. The WHR(P) have three of these impressive blue 350 hp locos which are a similar size and power to the WHR(C)'s 335 hp diesel Castell Caernarfon. The other two, Nos. 58 and 69, remain un-named. Nos. 60 and 69 were operational on the WHR(P) in 1995 and hauled passenger trains.
This view (29/7/04) shows Lyd2 No.60 Eryri outside the WHR(P) Gelert's Farm Loco Shed. This 21 tonne 0-6-0 diesel hydraulic is one of three purchased by WHR(P) consortium in 1993-5. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
It is intended that Eryri will be used on pw trains during the October 'Dirty Chappies' pw bash. It may appear on passenger services before then. The loco will be very useful on heavy pw trains during the extension of the WHR(P) along the WHR route to Traeth Mawr loop, due to be completed early next year and beyond to Pont Croesor.
If turbocharged, the loco is said to be able to produce 650hp, which, combined with high tractive effort, would prove very useful on trains on the steeply graded section of the WHR through Beddgelert. These locos were built in Romania to a German design and operated on the Jarocin Railway until it closed in 1990. For full details of the Lyd2 locos click on the WHR(P) Lyd2 website.
Super Power details
Six trains leave Caernarfon for Rhyd Ddu at 90 minute intervals from 0900 until 1630 to cover the full length of the route. Because of the short length of Caernarfon platform, freight stock is attached/removed at Dinas, though shunting also occurs at Waunfawr. Prince is booked to do Caernarfon-Dinas shuttles for the day but makes it to Waunfawr twice with the 0940 and 1710 from Caernarfon, the former with freight attached from Dinas (assisted by Castell Caernarfon)!
The 1500 from Caernarfon becomes the famous 'Maximum Mixed' double headed Garratt mixed train to Rhyd Ddu from Dinas, when No.143 is added to the rake on both days. The Sunday timetable is very similar to Saturday's. On both days, Prince's arrival at Waunfawr southbound at 1740 with the two coach shuttle rake results in an ecs moved back to Dinas. This will be a unique low speed propelling move as the section to Rhyd Ddu is occupied and so Prince cannot run round. There will be strictly NO passengers or volunteers.
The event is being presented as a family affair and children's entertainments feature extensively. Mr. Balloons will be present doing balloon sculpture, there will be face painting at Caernarfon and a Treasure Hunt. There will also be a Kiddies funfair, traction engine, Morris Dancers etc. At Dinas there will be a Cadwalader's Ice Cream stall, WHRS stall (featuring your Webmaster's new Phase III construction video) and live 16mm live steam layout in the Goods Shed run by the Garratt Owners & Operators Association.
As well as footplate rides on the WHR(P)'s Gelert and a hoped for steaming of K1, there will be a tamping demonstration by the tamping machine and much shunting. On Saturday, John Stretton will be signing his new book WHR 'Half way to Paradise'. Artist David Perrin will be selling his WHR paintings, including a new Super Power print. Light refreshments will be offered inside Dinas waiting room.
Parking is available at Dinas and Caernarfon Castle car park, with limited parking available at Waunfawr. Limited parking for disabled only is available at Caernarfon station car park. Parking is discouraged at Snowdon Ranger and Rhyd Ddu as these car parks are used by mountain walkers. Visitors are reminded to respect private property. There are plenty of public footpaths adjacent to the line.
Click here for the WHR Super Power website for full timetable details
Cloudburst closes line for a day
Heavy rainfall caused flooding on 25/8/04 at Castell Cidwm. The 1200 ex-Caernarfon ran into several inches of water above the rails and as there were concerns about the oil in the axles boxes becoming contaminated. The train was stopped at Castell Cidwm and propelled back to Waunfawr, running round and pausing there for the time it would have taken to travel to Rhyd Ddu and back. The 1500 ex-Caernarfon was subsequently terminated at Waunfawr and waited time to return. Arrangements were made to get passengers back to Rhyd Ddu by coach. Services to Rhyd Ddu were restored the following day.
On 26/8/04, the axles boxes were drained and refilled with fresh oil, with FfR staff assisted by Team Wylfa until 2200. There was still a little work to do on the second set on the morning of 27/8/04.
Winter PW plans require volunteers
Detailed pw plans have emerged about upgrading the railway to provide a low maintenance, higher speed operation. This will include attacking Phase I, which has not received any attention from the tamper as yet. The plans envisage a higher volunteer input to supplement the small four man permanent pw gang.
Speeds will generally be raised by 5mph including a new 20mph sections from Caernarfon to Hendy, Dinas to Cae'r Moel and Tryfan Junction to Tan-yr-allt. From Salem onwards, new 15mph sections will be made from Tros-y-gol l/c to the new Bryn-afon road access l/c, from the south end of Plas-y-nant loop to Castell Cidwm bridge and a section of curves around Clogwyn-y-gwin. The latter requires cutting back a rock just north of Clogwyn-y-gwin incline to allow clearance for the tamper.
The approach curves to Glan-yr-afon Viaduct are also being relaid, reducing the level of ballast and improving speeds from 5mph to 10mph. All these improvements should shave several minutes off the timetable. This will be important when the line is extended to Beddgelert and beyond to reduce end to end journey times. Volunteers should contact Fred Howes on
Caernarfon station popular
The new Caernarfon booking office/sales area has proved popular with passengers. The newly fenced off area outside the Booking Office has now acquired some plastic seats that are frequently used.
This northerly view (22/8/04) shows the newly fenced off and tarmaced area that has proved popular with passengers. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Prince Super Power conundrum
The FR's Super Power leaflet claims Prince will be coming to Super Power on Sept.11/12th and it now seems more likely that this will be the case. Elsewhere on the same website Linda is mentioned as the extra loco! However, Linda may be required by the FfR as there is a bit of a motive power crisis there with Earl of Merioneth out of action.
Trains operate between 0830 and 1915. The freight consists of four B wagons, a DZ and a flat (presumably the recently completed DZ 1403 and DZ 863). WHR(P) loco Gelert (1953 Bagnall 0-4-2) has been confirmed for giving footplate rides in Dinas Yard.
This westerly view (23/8/04) at the WHR(P) Porthmadog terminus shows Gelert on its regular passenger turn. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The Caernarfon-Dinas shuttle consists of coach No.26 and 1001. Interestingly, some ECS movements are implied, e.g. the return working of Prince with the shuttle from Waunfawr to Dinas at the end of the day. Fares are £20 for the Day Rover, £16 concession and £10 child (one child free per adult). Members free travel is suspended but reduced fares are available to members and other 'Priv' card holders at £6/£5/£3. Normal fares are also available for standard journeys. Click the link below for final timetable details.
Wagon progress for Super Power
The DZ wagon recently without a number (stacked with sleepers outside the Goods Shed) has now been roughly painted DZ 863 on the deck. Team Wylfa completed the brake work for this wagon on the evening of 17/8 and No.143 was shunted up to it for a satisfactory vacuum test (after fuelling).
This northerly view (23/8/04) at Dinas shows DZ863 outside the Goods Shed after acquiring a temporary green number. As wagons are completed, they are finished with white stencilled letters in prototypical SAR style. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
On the evening of 19/8, Team Wylfa freed off and lubricated all the brake rigging links and the wagon is expected to take part in Super Power. The brake standards on DZ 1403 are too high at the moment, which means the 'bags' are far too long. These should be made shorter on 24/8 but it should not preclude the wagon's use in Super Power if Team Wylfa do not have time to finish the job.
No.134's tender received attention on 19/8/04. Team Wylfa refitted the drag box. All that is left is to do is fit whatever spare coupler is available - by preference a FfR chopper type. One big nut is all that holds the drawbar in so hopefully there will be a new spare chopper available to fit on 24/8/04. It will make shunting the tender that much easier with a coupling fitted.
This northerly view (23/8/04) at Dinas shows No.133 with No.134's boiler now stored alongside on a flat wagon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa cleared off the top of No.134's chassis and unrolled a large tarpaulin (ex backlit advert hoarding), which will protect it from the elements. It is now ready to be shunted out of the Goods Shed to allow K1 to be stored there in early September. Shunting will require great care as there are no brakes and 'wood block' springs on rear bogie!
Water tower for Rhyd Ddu?
Rhyd Ddu may be location for an ex-LNWR water tower had been generously donated to the Railway by Network Rail. Locos will need to replenish water supplies at Rhyd Ddu or Beddgelert, particularly in the northbound direction, after climbing several miles of 1 in 40 from Nantmor.
It is a "parachute" water tower that consists of a circular drum on a column. It is in excellent condition and comes complete with its wooden roof. Arrangements are being made to remove it from its previous location at Northampton (Spencer Bridge) and move it to Dinas.
This northerly view (15/8/04) shows the disused water tower at Northampton. The tower still has its wooden top adorned by the more recent addition of a traffic cone! The tower is alongside the headshunt for the pw yard adjacent to Northampton station and removal may therefore be tricky! The tank appears to have the capacity to fill up a Garratt! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
No.138 back in action
Having missed nearly half the August peak 'red' timetable, the locoshed team breathed a collective sigh of relief when No.138 successfully hauled trains on 12/8/04, being noted on the 1805 from Rhyd Ddu, following a successful trial run that morning.
The loco was subject to a static steam test on 11/8/04 following checking and welding as necessary of all its super-heater elements during the previous several days. The forward water tank had to be drained and the back plate removed to allow the tubes to be pulled forwards and lifted out. The blast pipe was found to be out of line with the chimney so making inadequate vacuum to draw the fire.
This southerly view (12/8/04) shows No.138 back in action after major attention to its super-heater tubes and blast pipe. The GM is in charge of the train, the 1805 from Rhyd Ddu seen at Waunfawr. The refurbished lower profile fuel tank is prominent. This gives better visibility to drivers when running in reverse. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
There are rumours that K1's burner may need alterations. Such modifications are not unusual as the burners for the NG16s needed several improvements to optimise them before the current satisfactory operation was achieved.
Further progress has been made with K1 during mid-August. On 9/8/04, the pipes that carry the simple steam to the front engine inlet manifold were started and soon all the steam piping will be completed. On 10/8/04, a trial fit was made of the four pistons without piston rings to check clearances. The K1 team had to replace a Wakefield 4-way lubrication splitter to replace the one found damaged.
Given completion of these tasks and other minor work, there is a chance the loco will appear on ecs duties on The Cob before the end of August. It is still planned to move it to Dinas by lorry during the first week of September (possibly 5/9/04 with Linda and coach 26 also moving to Dinas at the same time). To that end, Team Wylfa has been cleaning out the Goods Shed this week to allow K1 will be stabled and getting displays ready for Super Power weekend. Only the footplating of No.134 can be left in the shed, propped against the wall.
WHR(P) to send loco to Super Power
The WHR(P) is to send Bagnall 0-4-2T Gelert to the Super Power event at Dinas in September, following the visit of Russell a few years ago. It will provide footplate rides at Dinas. There is always the chance that the loco could appear double headed with Linda at Rhyd Ddu on an evening train as with previous visitors! Air braking precludes a single handed effort as WHR(C) stock is vacuum braked.
No.134 has been shunted to the siding parallel to the bay platform to allow Team Wylfa access to its horn guides. It is up against the buffer stops. The intention is to lift the frames off the wheelsets soon. Supports and tarpaulin has been obtained so that work can continue in wet weather. A wasp nest in the firebox has been removed.
In preparation for September's Super Power event, Team Wylfa have also been making progress on wagons with the unnumbered flat wagon with wooden sleepers receiving a train pipe on 12/8/04, ready for a brake test. DZ1403 is next. Members of the West Midlands Group have also been in action on the Brake Van, removing rust from the steelwork. Other cosmetic attention has made the yellow warning stripes on the ends of the van stand out much more clearly.
Seats at Rhyd Ddu
Following the improved signage at Rhyd Ddu, the North Wales track gang fitted two WHR logo seats to the platforms. These are the first seats provided at Rhyd Ddu (for almost a year after opening!) and are chained to the posts.
This southerly view (27/7/04) shows the new Rhyd Ddu platform seats with WHR dragon on the supports. Seats of the same pattern are also available for sale from the WHRS. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Tuesday Gang tidy Dinas
With the diesel tank now complete in grey undercoat, some thought was given to painting it black and writing 'Welcome to Dinas' on it! On 3/8/04 the gang was asked to tidy up the South Yard workshop area, on the site of the former WHR locoshed.
Carriage Shed points plans dropped
With a length laid outside the north end of the Carriage Shed on the pit road, points in place on a flat wagon on that track and two DZ wagons full of ballast ready in the headshunt, the plan to lay the two points at the north end of the shed was killed off at the end of July.
This southerly view (2/8/04) shows the extension of the pit road out of the north end of the Carriage Shed. A wagon carrying the points for the proposed link into the headshunt (foreground) is visible. Unfortunately, after a year's planning and the work almost completed, this project has now been scrapped. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The two points earmarked will instead be used for a run-round in the North Yard, possibly with new track parallel to the Goods Shed road. The thinking was that with the successful operation of the Dinas shunt token, there was no need for trains to have the loco at the north end when exiting the yard as trains can now run round in the station whatever is in section either side of Dinas.
Progress down south
The WHR(P) Civils Week came to an end on 2/8/04 with ballast now reaching 299m from Pen-y-Mount. Work will now pause until the Bank Holiday Weekend at the end of August. Fencing has now been completed on the footpath side.
This northerly view (3/8/04) shows the ballasting completed to a point 299m from Pen-y-Mount level crossing. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The paperwork for Pen-y-Mount level crossing was not completed in time and this will now be left for later. A farmer is still using the trackbed to access Talar Wen field and a mitigation field culvert must be designed and installed to provide him with alternative access so that ballasting can be completed to Pen-y-Mount.
This southerly view (3/8/04) shows the head of ballast on the WHR(P) extension. The local farmer is using the trackbed to gain access to the field to the right until the WHR(P) design and construct a ditch crossing for him in mitigation. Until then ballast can only advance a further 100m approx. as far as the trees during the August Bank Holiday bash! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Funds are being raised for rail for the 900m extension costing some tens of thousand of pounds, possibly in a joint order with the FR this Winter. Progress is being made at Beddgelert Farm Works with the points for the temporary loop at Traeth Mawr. These will later move to Pont Croesor loop. In the works, the point to form the bottom (Porthmadog) end of Traeth Mawr loop is progressing. A hydraulic rail bender was pressed into service to make the wing rails.
This southerly view (3/8/04) shows the ballast completed south of the temporary Traeth Mawr loop. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
On 23/7/04, No.138 ran a test train with No.143 (the train engine of the day) as back-up. A super-heater flue and blast pipe leak had been identified and the test run was to see if the problem had been cured. No.138 was placed on the north end of the 1620 from Caernarfon after it had arrived at Dinas and top and tailed with No.143 back to Caernarfon. Then No.138 double headed back to Dinas.
All seemed well but the loco struggled through the weekend of 24/5 July and the blast-pipe repair was found to have failed. This required lifting the loco off its front bogie for a more permanent repair, as to undo the flange joint requires access to the bottom of the smokebox, which is only possible when the front engine is out. The engine was tested on Friday and was due back in action on 30/7/04.
Early morning pw train
The early morning pw shift sees regular use of Upnor Castle on the line. The train has to be returned to Plas-y-nant siding or Dinas depending on the location of work.
This northerly view (27/7/04) shows the early morning pw working at Castell Cidwm at 10am. Work had just been completed on sandbagging the spring at this location which someone keeps diverting onto the trackbed. The next day the sandbags had been interfered with again! Sandbags were also used the other side of the bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Work on the diesel fuel tank was proceeding on 27/7/04. A crane had placed the tank on the plinth earlier in the day after moving the former red Booking Office from Caernarfon to a position next to the Goods Shed at Dinas to be used as a Catering Store. Some former bridge railings from Phase 2 that were deemed not suitable have been used alongside the access steps to the diesel tank.
This easterly view (27/7/04) shows the new diesel tank positioned on the plinth at Dinas that day. The Tuesday gang are completing access steps and hand rails. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (27/7/04) shows Castell Caernarfon taking diesel fuel from the red bowser wagon at Dinas for possibly the last time as the new Dinas diesel fuel tank is now nearly ready for use. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (27/7/04) shows the former Caernarfon Booking Office, which was placed alongside the Goods Shed earlier that day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Possibly the final steps in the long drawn out Bryn-y-felin footbridge saga appeared to be made on 27/7/04 when landscaping works took place on the east bank approaches to the bridge. The new path, suitable for wheelchair users, makes use of the former PBSSR alignment. The undermining of the east abutment had not been repaired. The bridge was opened over a year ago.
This easterly view (27/7/04) shows the final works underway to complete the landscaping of the eastern approach path of the Bryn-y-felin footbridge (top left). The railway bridge abutments can be seen to the right. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
New station building success
The new station building at Caernarfon opened on 14/7/04 in time for the peak traffic of the school Summer Holidays from 17/7/04. The increase in retail space will, it is hoped, lead to an increase in sales and already a second till has been installed to cope with increased sales volume. Sales can now be made while the other till is issuing tickets.
This easterly view (27/7/04) shows the sales counter in the new Caernarfon Booking Office. There is a staff toilet (not in use) in the corner to the right. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The interior has been fitted out with 'pine effect' flooring tiles and the ticket/sales counter is to the left (the road side) on entering. There has been some concern about damage to the new flooring as people trudge in off the slate fines. Tarmac was applied to the approaches by the start of August and a couple of plastic seats positioned in the fenced off area.
There is a storage/lockup cupboard behind the tills and a disabled toilet at the opposite corner to the door. A very heavy safe was being installed on 27/7/04. The rear door is an emergency exit, though often kept open for ventilation in hot weather! The new 'Booking Office' has been very popular with passengers, not least those who previously had to queue in the rain for their tickets!
The WHR(P) has made a display of the remains of the NRM Baldwin loco visible during their 'shed tour', which comes as part of the return ticket price. The loco is in several pieces but the distinctive 'hooded' spectacle glasses are obvious.
This view (29/7/04) shows the remains of the NRM Baldwin in the WHR(P) Gelert's Farm shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Rhyd Ddu enhancements
A number of improvements have been made at Rhyd Ddu thanks to the West Midland Group (who have adopted the station) over the weekend of 24/5 July, despite the foul weather! Two notice-boards have been attached to the platform fence, four planting troughs placed on the platform and a station sign erected that faces the main car park. These additions were provided out the WM Group funds.
This northerly view (25/7/04) shows the new notice-boards and plant troughs at Rhyd Ddu station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Dave Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (25/7/04) shows the new station sign facing the main car park at Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Dave Waldren and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Progress 'down south'
The WHR(P) Civils Week made good progress ballasting their northwards extension to the temporary Traeth Mawr loop over the week 29/7/04. Over half the 900m trackbed had been ballasted and the 25cm bottom ballast layer had reached Ch.430 measured from Pen-y-Mount level crossing. This represents Ch.33550 - 430 = Ch.33120 on the official T&WO plans. The same technique is being used as was used by the contractor Jones at Salem, with a dumper bringing ballast to a 360 degree spreader and two men with ballast rakes to tidy the pile, plus a vibrator/roller to compact the ballast.
This north-easterly view (29/7/04) shows the limit of ballast laying at the end of that day with Cnicht in the background. Ballast is now within sight of Pen-y-Mount. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (29/7/04) shows another length of temporary track laid in the 'Harbour Branch' siding at Pen-y-Mount. The track now comes up to the Pen-y-Mount waiting shelter. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The WHR(P) team did not attempt to lay the Pen-y-Mount level crossing as the essential paperwork was not completed in time, though they believe that if funds can be raised for rail, the line could be open at Whitsun next year. Access to the roadway at the crossing is now limited by a locked barrier meaning that a former circular route from Snowdon Street to Tremadog is no longer passable by car.
K1 passes steam test 23/7/04
K1 was warmed up on 22/7/04 in preparation for the Insurer's Boiler Inspector to make the official boiler test on 23/7/04 and satisfied Boston Lodge with 220 psi on the gauge. One aspect of the test was to see if the safety valves lift at the required pressure and that they can bleed off steam with the boiler making steam at the maximum firing rate without the boiler pressure rising. The loco was shunted by diesel as it cannot move because its pistons are not yet fitted.
The Boiler Inspector confirmed K1 passed its test so after 75 years, the loco is now fit for service again. It will, however, take a few weeks to finish the job before the loco can be tried out on The Cob.
This view in Boston Lodge (29/7/04) shows the completed rear end detail of K1. The loco had not had its pistons fitted at this time. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (29/7/04) shows the new Boston Lodge depot shunter 0-4-0DM, Castell Arglwydd (Hunslet No.6659 of 1965). The loco arrived on 21/6/04 and was used to shunt K1. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Joint effort completes Caernarfon station Booking Office
The 'Tuesday Gang' had been working on the building, putting in on average 5 man days per week since the building arrived. They have done painting, joinery work, finished off the decking started by Rolls Royce apprentices, erected all the hand rails and fencing, dug numerous holes, laid floor etc.
Team Wylfa were diverted from No. 134 work on Tuesday evening (13/7/04) to Caernarfon Station where they disassembled what was left of the interior of the old station building (container) and assembled it into the new station building.
Along with an assortment of permanent staff from Harbour Station, they humped filing cabinets, desks, fridges etc. from the old into the new. On looking up at the station name-board and ticket office signage, they realised that with a bit of ingenuity, they could get them down and relocate them. The new station finally looked very smart, ready to open its doors to the public first thing 14/7/04.
Team Wylfa were lucky in having 3 volunteers turn up for Mon/Tues & part of Wednesday (19-21/7/04) who were assigned to them. They cleaned up parts of No.134's chassis and even got a part of the LH cylinder block clean enough to apply some heat resist aluminium paint. They also cleaned up various components that Team Wylfa had brought out of the container in the south yard and left out for them in the Goods Shed. On Thursday night 22/7/04, Team Wylfa continued cleaning and painting the chassis.
Team Wylfa are now about to move onto another phase, preparing the loco chassis for lifting the frames off the wheelsets. If all goes well, this may have been done by Superpower Weekend. The kit of parts would then be available in the bay platform for people to look at more closely along with a display of pictures and other information about the NG15s.
It was noted that the modified steel fuel tank had been refitted back into the bunker space by 22/7/04. For the last few weeks, the steel fuel tank has been out due to it developing yet more bad leaks. The loco has been running with a temporary 2000 litre plastic fuel tank in its place.
The original steel tank (made in Port Shepstone) was found to be of poor design and has been causing concern for some time due to constantly developing leaks. The tank has now been modified with cross stays and the corners strengthened. It has also been cut down height wise so it is flush with the original top of the coal bunker. This gives much better rearward visibility for the driver and fireman.
K1 launch plans revealed
The plans for the public launch of K1 were revealed on July 20th. It had been hoped that engineering on K1 would be complete at Boston Lodge by the end of June but, despite the best efforts of Boston Lodge staff and volunteers, this is now expected at the end of August. The original plan would have enabled basic line trials to take place on The Cob between Boston Lodge Works and the Festiniog Railway's Harbour Station during early July. The loco would then have been moved by road from Porthmadog to the Welsh Highland Railway's Dinas Depot in mid-July.
This move would have had to take place before the commencement of the Festiniog Railway's high season timetable in order to leave sufficient time for the removal operation which must take place after the last train of one day and the first train of the next in order to avoid disruptions to the FR's service trains. This is because K1 has to be removed from the running line onto a lorry. It cannot reach the Minffordd loading dock due to its size precluding passage through Rhiw Plas bridge. The exact method is still subject to negotiation.
However, by the end of June it was obvious that a number of factors would prevent achievement of that plan. There was still a significant list of jobs and tests that would not be complete before mid-July but stood a good chance of being completed by the end of July or early August. Missing the mid-July window for transfer to Dinas meant the next window would be in the first week of September, when the FR's timetable changes to a less intensive service.
The K1 Group and the Festiniog Railway Company have now agreed the following revised plan. K1 will remain at Boston Lodge Works until the first week of September. Engineering work will continue at Boston Lodge for as long as Roland Doyle and supporting funds are available with the aim of having K1 operational in time for adequate line trials before removal in the first week of September. Roland Doyle's contract will be extended by a further month which will principally cover his employment on K1 during August.
In late July or early August K1 is expected to move under its own power for the first time since 1929. Line trials will be performed on the Cob whenever opportunity permits using whatever loads become available e.g. ecs workings. Strenuous efforts will be made to have K1 on display at the WHR "Super Power" event on 11-12/9/04. If it is possible K1 will be in steam at that event but it will not haul passenger trains.
Line trials on the WHR will continue throughout September and into October for the purposes of crew training, assessment of load-hauling capabilities and running-in. The K1 Supporter's Special (private) train will run on a date in October (date to be confirmed). Public Service trains will be hauled by K1 immediately after the Supporter's Special in October, maybe in time for the School Half Term holidays weeks 16-31/10/04.
Funds for the completion of K1 continue to be "just adequate" to support engineering to the end of August but there is little surplus and further financial support will always be welcome. Ian McKenzie eagerly awaits further donations at the following address:
Ian McKenzie, Mayfield, Butt Lane, Harbury, Leamington Spa, Warks CV33 9JL Tel: 01926 613591
Details of options for donations can be found on the project website at: www.k1-whr.demon.co.uk
K1 firing trial 20/7firing trial 20/7
With both steam and oil piping to the burner now complete and ready for a firing trial, this occurred on 20/7/04 and all went well. Work proceeded until 8 o'clock Monday 19th July and the following report shows the K1 team progress following the excellent working party over the weekend.
Click here for latest K1 progress
The Boiler Inspector is due to visit on 23/7/04 for formal Steam Test acceptance, though the 10 year boiler lifetime clock has been ticking since his examination of the boiler cold last week. All work has been aimed at readying the engine for that test and currently progress appears on target with only a few remaining jobs to be done. The boiler is now steam tight and has been filled with water and pressurised with compressed air to check for leaks.
All tanks have now been fitted and all water connections were completed on 18/7. The water system and oil tank systems are now complete. A trial steaming will be performed before Friday in preparation for Friday's official steam test so fitters have a chance to rectify any remaining snags that might prevent the loco passing the steam test.
A few jobs remain to be done in readiness for line
Pistons are still out and will be fitted once the steam test is complete.
Main steam pipe flanges tightened, pipe lagged.
Whistle operating mechanism to be completed.
Cab floor needs to be built.
Cab side footplate extension pieces (for improved safety of the cab access) have been designed, approved by Boston Lodge and Colin Hill, and the pieces of steel have been cut to shape; now ready for fitting.
The ex-SAR brakevan has received some attention from Team Wylfa. The vehicle had a vacuum cylinder fitted in a difficult 3.5 hour bash on 15/7/04. It is hoped the brakevan will be able to run at the Superpower event in September. B1835 and one other B wagon remain to be completed but bike wagons B934/1899 continue to provide daily service with no problems.
Team Wylfa have continued to work on the brakevan's brake gear. The vacuum brake cylinder is now firmly back in place with all the nuts and bolts on the trunnion bearings now fully tightened and split pins fitted to prevent the nuts dropping off. The rubber vacuum hoses are back on and the link between the piston rod and brake actuating lever was cleaned and painted last night ready to go back on next week. Next week, the team will be split between cleaning No.134's chassis and scraping/wire brushing and painting the brakevan's brake rigging.
The A55 improvement works at Penmaenbach (railway tunnel abutment safety works) have now been completed and the cones removed. This should improve the return journey along the A55 for those visiting the railway over the summer holidays as huge queues used to develop here over the last 12 months at peak times.
K1 nears completion
The rear tank was fitted by July 17th and several people were hard at work on the loco on that date with the aim of getting the loco ready for at least an appearance at Dinas for the Superpower event in September. It can only be a few days now until the loco is tested out on the line between Boston Lodge and Porthmadog Harbour station, across The Cob. The loading gauge from Rhiw Plas bridge to Blaenau precludes the loco being tried out on a gradient with a load.
No.138 runs with temporary fuel tank
No.138 is running with a temporary plastic fuel oil tank inserted in the space occupied by the existing fuel tank. The oil tank has gone to Boston Lodge to be fully re-welded to strengthen the seams. The loco is still not steaming as well as it should and opinion seems to be settling on another super-heater tube leak.
'Race the train' special
Wednesday 21/7/04 sees the annual 'Race the Train' event between Caernarfon and Dinas. The extra working will depart Caernarfon at 1900, running to Dinas and returning later. Cyclists will be racing the train and open coaches will allow supporters to encourage their friends and relatives! No.143 is booked to haul the working.
Help wanted for Super Power 2004
WHR volunteer coordinator Pete Hugman is looking for volunteers to help in all aspects of the annual September Gala on 11-12/9/04. Volunteers are wanted to help make the WHR's major event of the year go smoothly. The WHR is looking for volunteers over the period Friday to Monday inclusive 10-13/9/04. As usual people will be rostered to do several different jobs each day to prevent boredom! "Reasonable requests" are acceptable. Please note that in previous years there has been some difficulty getting sufficient volunteers for the Sunday. All help is gratefully accepted. Contact Pete Hugman, phone 07880 792065.
Superpower 2004 provisional programme
An early indication of the Superpower programme shows a range of interesting activities, however, the timetable is not yet fixed. As well as the hoped for appearance of K1 at Dinas, it is anticipated that Linda will appear on Caernarfon-Dinas shuttles. It seems unlikely that K1 will be quite ready to haul trains and it may be on display, shunting in yard or providing cab rides. There is also a rumour of an interesting ECS working from Waunfawr to Dinas propelling coaches Nos. 26 and 1001, probably due to a train occupying the section to Rhyd Ddu.
The WHR want people to see (and use) the new Caernarfon station building and to see what the new Dinas shunt token makes possible. So there will be six trains over the whole line, three passenger and three mixed trains. Some 14 departures from Caernarfon and 22 from Dinas will make for an interesting day!
It is planned to have shunting operations at both Dinas and Waunfawr. The tamper will perform demonstrations in the Bay platform at Dinas. In addition to the three mainline Garratts in steam at Dinas, there will be 3 model Garratts provided by the SM32 scale live steam layout by the 16mm Garratt Owners and Operators Association.
Other attractions at Dinas include a traction engine in steam, fairground organ, Morris dancers, cafe and ice cream stall, displays and sales stands, with a new Superpower print available from David Perrin. Your webmaster's new charity Phase 3 Construction video will also be available from the WHRS stand (all funds raised will be used to help Phase 4 construction!).
As usual there will be lots of activities for children to do. The limited parking space at Caernarfon Station will be for disabled only but unlimited parking will be available next to Dinas Station.
Plinth and points progress
There has been no further progress with the diesel tank to be mounted on the newly constructed plinth at Dinas. Likewise, the completed points assembled in the lay-down area at Dinas remain to be fitted into the headshunt north of the carriage shed.
The reason that work stopped on the new diesel tank at Dinas is that the 'Tuesday Gang', who are doing the job, were asked to divert all effort to getting the new Caernarfon station building ready for the peak season.
This easterly view (16/5/04) shows the newly constructed plinth for the diesel tank in the refuelling road at Dinas North Yard. The tank lies alongside it ready for lifting. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (16/5/04) shows the completed left hand point in the lay-down area just north of Dinas Goods shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Beddgelert footpath loop complete
The Beddgelert loop path that runs from the Afon Glaslyn footbridge in Beddgelert to the new Bryn-y-felin footbridge is now complete. The final concrete surface was laid on the approaches to the footbridge in time for the Spring Bank Holiday week. The path is now suitable for disabled access for the complete circuit.
It was noted however, that the east bank abutment had been badly undermined by the heavy floods during the Spring and that neither abutment was stone-clad in the section that joins to the WHR abutments. Plant was on hand possibly to effect a repair.
Linda for Gala?
Rumours abound that Linda will again visit the WHR for the Super Power Gala in September. The loco is currently at Boston Lodge receiving attention alongside K1, which is also nearing completion for the Gala.
This view (3/7/04) inside Boston Lodge shows Linda receiving attention up on jacks presumably prior to a visit to the WHR! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This front view (3/7/04) in Boston Lodge shows K1 nearing completion. Boiler cladding has now been fitted and is matt black. The chimney was removed as it will not fit through the door! The dome cover remains to be fitted along with the rear tank. Some parts of the motion remain to be connected. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This rear view (3/7/04) in Boston Lodge shows K1 nearing completion. Most of the complex piping appears complete but the tank needs fitting. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (3/7/04) at Boston Lodge shows K1's rear tank nearing completion. The oil tank can be seen within with curly overflow protruding. Merddin Emrys' cab can be seen in front. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (3/7/04) in Boston Lodge shows K1 nearing completion. Most of the cab detail appeared fitted, with pressure gauges labelled WHR! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Porthmadog Model Railway Exhibition
The annual Porthmadog Model Railway Exhibition takes place in the Canolfan Hamdden Glaslyn next to the BR station at Porthmadog. Entry is £4 adult, £3 child/Senior Citizen and £12 for a family of 4. There are two-day tickets available. The exhibition is open 31/7 from 11am until 1/8 at 4pm.
Caernarfon Station progress
Good progress has been made with the new Caernarfon station building. A new floor was fitted recently. Apprentices from Rolls Royce at Derby have made a very neat job of access ramps and steps at both front and rear. It is anticipated that the new building may open on 13/7/04, in time for the peak season. The last job will be to transfer the sign from the roof of the old station as this is being moved to Dinas as a dry store, to free up car parking space at Caernarfon. The water supply awaited connection on 3/7/04.
This northerly view (3/7/04) at Caernarfon shows the new station building nearing completion. Slate fines will be used to complete the disabled access ramp on the left. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This westerly view (3/7/04) at Caernarfon shows the rear access to new station building nearing completion. Slate fines will be used to complete the disabled access ramp. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Weed-killer train visit
The WHR received a visit from the weed-killing train in April. The contractor's equipment was loaded onto WHR wagons and the 12 miles of line given a good dousing. The FR was also done in the same month. PW staff are doing an 0600 shift to consolidate the work done in improving line speeds over the Winter.
Extra steam services
The July weekend timetable has been changed to offer two steam services, when steam drivers can be rostered. This was noted on 3/7/04 when No. 143 hauled the final train of the day instead of the advertised Castell Caernarfon. Castell Conwy is currently out of action with a problem. Extra steam also ran on 4/7/04.
It is hoped these additional steam services will bring extra custom to build on the successful Easter when passenger numbers were 70% up on 2003. Traffic at Easter 2003 was suppressed by the late opening to Rhyd Ddu. Traffic has been quiet mid-week but with growing numbers of coach parties.
Progress 'down south'
Good progress has been made extending the WHR(P) w/e 27/7/04. Track recovered from Rhyd Ddu has been laid north from the point donated by the WHR(C), reaching Pen-y-Mount level crossing.
This southerly view (3/7/04) at Pen-y-Mount, taken from the level crossing, shows the head of steel adjacent to Pen-y-Mount level crossing. This brings the track back to where the WHR(P) headshunt was in 2001! However, this time it is laid in 60lb material that is the new standard for the whole WHR new construction. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
While this track is standard WHR 60lb rail, a siding laid back towards Porthmadog Harbour station, along the future route of the Cross Town link, is built of temporary materials. Jokingly known as 'Harbour Siding', this 40 m approx. siding will be used to keep construction trains clear of WHR(P) passenger operations during the tracklaying phase due later this year. The WHR(P) hope to borrow two RRMs for the job and open the line next July!
Pointwork for the Traeth Mawr temporary loop was under construction at Gelert's Farm in the Spring. Two 60lb rail crossing noses were purchased from Scotland. This loop will be moved later to Pont Croesor and replaced with plain line.
This southerly view (3/7/04) at Pen-y-Mount shows the new construction siding completed in the foreground with Pen-y-Mount Halt visible in the distance to the left. Two large rail stacks of over 50 rails each will be built either side to feed rail up to the head of steel for the 900m extension. This image was taken from a public footpath. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The junction point between the WHR(P) and the main line was tested with Glaslyn, the Vale of Rheidol brake van etc. The first train has also been run over the construction siding (the future line to Harbour Station) when Taxi 2 and two vans made it along the short length of siding which follows the line of the Cross Town Link. The same loco was used last Summer to haul construction trains to Rhyd Ddu, as the WHR(P) kindly lent the loco to the WHR(C) to help speed up the opening of the WHR extension to Rhyd Ddu.
The next major task will be from 24/7/04 when the WHR(P) holds its Civils Week. They intend to finish the level crossing at Pen-y-Mount or complete the first stage ballasting all the way from Traeth Mawr back to Pen-y-Mount. All volunteers are welcome to help - contact Nigel Hanwell for more information (01243 528859).
This southerly view (3/7/04) at Pen-y-Mount shows the crossover, headshunt and completed construction siding. The headshunt in the slate waste in front of the loco is currently protected by a sleeper but will in future provide an unloading point for visiting locomotives. The future Cross-Town link will follow the line of the siding to the left of the loco and through the gate in the distance. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
'Y Mount' changes hands
Regulars at 'Y Mount' pub will regret the passing of their favourite watering hole at Dinas. It changed hands recently and is currently closed for refurbishing, fitting of double glazing etc. It will reopen as an Indian Restaurant.
Dave Allan steps down at WHR(P)
Dave Allan is stepping down as the Chairman of the WHR(P) at their AGM later this year. Mr. Allan helped cement good relationships between the two railways and identified the future role of the WHR(P) as the Heritage arm of the WHR with a major heritage base at Gelert's Farm, to which the FR has already contributed. He sees the WHR(P) role as running Heritage trains to Beddgelert or Rhyd Ddu. He hopes future relationships should be 'active collaboration, perhaps mixed with a little friendly rivalry!'
No. 138 fuel saving
During the Spring Bank Holiday Week and subsequently, the refurbished No.138 ran well and fuel savings of up to 25% were noted!
This northerly view (31/5/04) at Dinas shows No.138 blasting out smoke as it enters Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
North Wales Group news
The North Wales Track Gang have been busy away from the public gaze aligning and levelling the two roads in the carriage shed in preparation for tacking on the track at the north end of the shed.
Sunday morning saw them moving a pile of slate waste from Plas-y-Nant, before the site is restored to field. The slate waste will be used to level the area between the Goods Shed and the Waiting room/Stationmaster's Office at Dinas station. To move the slate waste they had the use of a 1978 S reg. Commer Karrier from Williams, the Groeslon coal merchant. This caused a lot of excitement for some passengers on the train. The Karrier also looked good at Dinas station, just the part - a coal merchant's lorry at the station. When was that last seen, especially a nearly vintage one at that?
Waunfawr water tank
May 10th saw Cedric Lodge and his Tuesday gang fitting the lids to the Waunfawr water tank. This prevents the accumulation of detritus in the tank which can contaminate the boiler feeds. These had been constructed in four parts in the Dinas clip store.
After the last train, the water tank was drained and two people climbed in. The lids were hauled up using a tall 'Sampson Pole' whilst four others manned a guy rope each, holding the Sampson Pole in place.
This northerly view (10/5/04) shows the lifting of one of four new covers onto the Waunfawr water tank. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Peter Roughley and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
FR exercises Compulsory Purchase for Phase 4 trackbed land
The FR issued a statement on 26/5/04 concerning the purchase of land for Phase 4, the extension to Porthmadog. This matter had been referred to in the WHR AGM last September.
This northerly view (3/7/04) at Porthmadog shows an example of building onto the trackbed. The newly tarmaced area in front of the cafe intrudes onto the future line of the Cross-Town link which curves from the Snowdon Street level crossing (point of view) to the right of the car into the green area. This cafe in the old Flour Mill will be quite a good spot to watch the passing trains if it survives! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
'The WHR Transport & Works Act Order that authorises the reconstruction of the line time limits the period during which we must commence the process of acquiring land compulsorily to five years from the date of making of the Order. The Order does not time limit the period during which the line is to be reconstructed.
We have therefore started issuing CPO notices for the remaining section of line from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog and will complete that exercise before the end of June. This will ensure we do not loose the option of securing any of the railway land over which there might be any doubt as to ownership through any adverse possession issues, etc. The notices also cover a few small additional areas of land within the Orders 'Limits of Deviation' that we will need that are outside the old railway's boundary.
Doing this now will ensure there will be no doubt that all the land will be available for the reconstruction of the line onward from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog in the future.'
The deadline for such notices was 29/6/04 and all have been served. Since the completion of Phase 3, friends/donors have provided funds to go forwards with the cost of the CPO notices. To avoid doubt, the CPO notices refer to the whole trackbed in case there are any issues of adverse possession claimed as spoiling tactics. However, start of work appears to be at least a year away awaiting resolution of how the £12million project will be funded.
An interesting feature of the new timetable is the change to the Dinas shunt. The first train of the day is hauled by Castell Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu and returns to Dinas where the loco is swapped for a steam engine. This now takes place in Dinas cutting adjacent to the loco shed with the diesel loco going on shed and permitting the steam loco to couple up. This system saves time compared to the previous operation which took place in the platform.
Baldwin arrives at WHR(P)
The WHR(P) took delivery of Baldwin No.794 at 0800 on 4/6/04. There is some doubt as to the loco's identity as it carries the name Lion (No.44656 of 1916) on its tanks. The loco was reputed to be Tiger (No.44699 of 1917). These names were acquired during use in India after disposal from WW1 duties. Lion is currently being restored at the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway.
The WHR loco is to be rebuilt in a £100,000 project to recreate No.590 (No.45172 of 1917) which operated on the WHR until closure (cut up 1941). No.590 struggled with three coaches up the 1 in 40 through Beddgelert and was unpopular with loco crews. However, the rebuild of the loco will allow two prototypical heritage trains to pass at Beddgelert, recreating famous postcard scenes of the past. The loco has seen some restoration but requires a new boiler. It remains the property of the National Railway Museum but is on permanent loan to the WHR(P). Donations towards restoring the loco will be gratefully received - see http://www.whr.co.uk/donation/baldwin.html
On the evening of 27/5/04, Team Wylfa were asked if they could help with repair of the tamper. So, Jim Comerford, Big John P and Clive Briscoe accompanied Pete Gray to Plas-y-Nant and set to fault finding. There are no drawings or manuals to work to, which complicates matters of course! After pulling out the control panels and tracing wires from switches around the affected areas, they found a dud limit switch (full of water) on the vertical tine lift system. Hopefully that's what's caused the failure. Pete ordering a complete set (of 4) to replace all in this system and when fitted, the cable neck seals will be tight this time!
The rear frame stretcher/Bissel truck pivot is very badly wasted to the point of penetration. Luckily, the drawings and parts catalogue reveal that it is made of cast steel (and not cast iron) so this will allow Team Wylfa to crop out the worst and weld in new plate. This piece is normally below the front end of the firebox so it is an area where trouble was to be expected, caused by heat, moisture, corrosive ashes from the firebox etc.
The team pushed (by hand!) the tender chassis up to the buffer stops in the Goods Shed before finishing on 27/5/04 to allow Marcus Ingram to shunt the ex-SAR brakevan in as work started the following weekend to start smartening it up ready for Superpower Weekend.
Following success with NG15 No.134's records, Humewood Road have now found No.133's mechanical and boiler records too. This is excellent news for the loco's future restoration. It looks as though No.133 was simply retired with 3 years left on its boiler ticket because its duties had been taken over by the Class 91 diesel-electrics. The final entry in the driver's repair book is that he wanted some minor work done on the rear pony truck. This was done and the entries simply cease after that.
Although No.133 is currently fitted with the oldest NG15 boiler (off pioneer NG15, No.17 of 1933) the records show that it too received some fairly substantial repairs/renewals at its last major overhaul in 1979 so when Team Wylfa eventually come to rebuild No.133, they should hopefully find no major problems.
K1 steam test in July?
Over the weekend of May 15-16th, major progress was effected on K1. Several items required simultaneous fitting including the oil feeds, the oil bunker fitted into the coal bunker and also the brake staff at the rear of the cab, which had to be fitted permanently. K1 was moved outside Boston Lodge by Moelwyn to pressure clean all the cylinders ready for the valve and piston covers, which were subsequently fitted along with the valves and pistons themselves. Cylinder drain valves were also being fitted up. Final cladding of the boiler was also started and the water tank painted, both inside and out.
June 19th saw the refractory brick arch built in the firebox. Over the same weekend brake tests were carried out and lagging extended to the dome, following completion of the boiler cladding. Once the brick arch is cured, a live steam test is planned. This could proceed in mid July given completion of all outstanding tasks without a hitch. The loco will then be tested across The Cob, maybe in August, before delivery to Dinas for the September Super Power weekend if all goes well.
No. 134 progress 17/5/04
On the evening of 17/5, Team Wylfa were thin on the ground, just John P and Clive Briscoe. However, they set to on the loco and removed most of the RH side footplating to the Goods Shed for treatment. This consists of power wire brush to bare metal, prime, undercoat and topcoat. They also removed the remaining expansion link The nuts had been soaking in easing oil for last couple of months and came off easily! It will need new bearing bushes as a minimum and fettling of the radiused surfaces. Team Wylfa have the die block and no doubt will find it too a tight fit.
There are rumours that coach No.23 is to go back to the FR for a while for the FR150 events and be substituted by another bogie coach, possibly No.26. Heritage Railways magazine claims the FR is to build another Pullman coach to match Bodysgallen due to the success of the latter. Maybe the two could run Steam & Cuisine services on the WHR?
This southerly view (24/5/04) at Dinas shows the carriage No.24 with replacement acetylene light holders, this time to an appropriate scale. This work was completed pre-season. The bike wagons (B934/1899) were also back in action on most trains with an appropriate warning notice about the weight of the drop down door. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Rain stopped outside work on the evening of 22/6/04 so Team Wylfa took the opportunity to tidy up the Goods Shed and sort through / clean several boxes of spanners and small tools that have been donated to their cause.
There was method in their madness in cleaning up the Goods Shed as on 29/6/04 they are running a steam hauled special to celebrate their first year of volunteering. There will be a small display of their work in the Goods Shed with a 30min stop-over on the Up journey allowed for passengers to view progress. So many people at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd nuclear power stations have asked what they have been up to that Team Wylfa decided to charter a train and charge them for the privilege of actually seeing it for real!
Carriage shed points progress
The North Wales Track Gang has completed the two left hand points as well as levelling and aligning the two roads in the Carriage shed ready to take the bits of rail stuck on the North end. They still have some ballasting in the Carriage Shed to complete and its then down to waiting for the go-ahead to put the points in.
WHR(P) plans Civils Week on Pont Croesor Extension
Construction at the southern end of the line hit a funding problem earlier in the year and it was decided to wait until next year to open the section. There was no progress with ballasting by early June though the remaining components for the crossover point at Pen-y-Mount were brought down from Dinas at the end of May. The intention is to push the ballasting on as far as possible and to complete the Bridge/Culvert on Pugh's land. The two Junction points will be completed and if a few 60lb rails are brought down from Dinas, it is the intention to build the Pen-y-Mount Level Crossing as soon as the ballasting is completed. If anybody would like to assist the WHR(P) over Civil's Week (Sat 24th Jul to Sat 31st Jul) please contact Nigel Hanwell (01243 528859).
WHR concord at Railfest
Mike Hart visited the Railfest event at York and said, 'The WHR stand was by far one of the best on site and was a great credit to the whole WHR project. It was a delight to see WHR(P) & WHRS volunteers working hand in hand looking after the stand. Excellent, and well done to all who worked so hard during the week at York promoting WHR.'
Lyd 2005 target
Lyd was present at Railfest in its partially complete form. The loco is a new build Manning Wardle project that will recreate some of the atmosphere of the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, closed in 1935. This loco is within one year of completion given adequate donations. The loco will not pass Garnedd Tunnel, so it will be used almost exclusively on the WHR, hauling lighter off peak trains.
FR General Manager Paul Lewin gave some details to Steam Railway magazine as follows:- The 11 year old project will eventually cost £180,000. The work was begun almost single handed by James Evans who donated the frames, wheels and drawings etc to the FR in 1995. Another £40,000 should see it completed and with £20,000 coming from this year's footplate courses, the Lyd Team is looking for donations. Please contact Paul Lewin for further details/donations.
No.138 back in action
No. 138 failed during the Interactive Weekend and was still not available on 16/5/04. Castell Caernarfon deputised for the second steam service. The good weather that weekend caused poor loadings.
However, the loco's intermittent appearances appeared to have been cured by 21/5/04 when it went out double headed with Castell Caernarfon and showed no leaks. Some firing problems were reported. The loco was passed fit and operated alone on 22-23/5/04.
This northerly view (23/5/04) shows the No.138 in service at Waunfawr with the new water tank lid in place. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The Monday evening freight train on 3/5/04, with guest drivers from the USA, was to have been hauled by No.138 Millennium, but the loco was failed with teething troubles in the main steam feed to the front power unit just two days after being passed fit from overhaul, so No. 143 deputised.
Caernarfon station to arrive 17/5/04
Following agreement with the Millennium Commission, the new Caernarfon station building arrived on 17/5/04 and was craned onto the bases constructed in the car park earlier in May. The 12m x 6m building resembles a mobile classroom and has already been vandal proofed before moving to Caernarfon e.g. the windows made secure. The WHR acquired it at a generously low price from Flintshire Crane Hire (who will obviously be installing the building!).
The building will provide a greatly increased retail area. It will arrive in two 10m sections and be craned into position from a lorry. Although the building will include a disabled toilet, a new 6m x 3m toilet male and female toilet block will be added at the far end, plumbed into the existing sewer.
It is hoped to open the facility in mid-July. However, the new station building has already required a substantial reduction in on-site car parking and associated revenues.
There will be many jobs for volunteers, including joinery, plumbing, painting, general labouring, etc. To get involved please contact Dafydd Thomas, 01248 681019, or Cedric Lodge, 01286 650681.
This northerly view (16/5/04) shows preparation for the arrival of the new station building due the following day. The area has been fenced off with orange and foundation slabs have been placed in position. The new internally connected toilet block will be at the far end of the new facility. The existing container and 'site loos' will be removed when the station building is opened. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (23/5/04) shows the new station building now in place in Caernarfon. The roller shutters that cover the door/windows have locks each side and are pulled down by a hook. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (23/5/04) shows the new toilet block at the north end of the new building. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Shunt signal installed
The new Dinas shunt signals and signage were brought into use on 22/5/04. They consist of a red disc similar to the stop signals on the platform ends. However, the top and bottom aspects are fitted with yellow LED clusters and are on when the line is clear.
This westerly view (23/5/04) shows the driver's eye view of the new shunt signal on the southerly approach to Dinas. The upper and lower lights are illuminated. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (23/5/04) shows the new shunt signal at Dinas north with the two aspects illuminated. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (23/5/04) shows the 'Shunt Limit' board adjacent to the Carriage Shed headshunt at the north end of Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
As well as allowing locos to enter or exit the North and South Yards, locos will be able to run-round a train in Dinas station, while there is a train in section on one or both sides, under the protection of two new 'Home' signals.
Normally the LEDs will be lit, allowing trains to pass the Stop Board, but the lights will be extinguished to give the 'stop' indication while the shunt token is being used. This is also fail-safe should the electrical supply fail.
New diesel tank at Dinas
A new diesel tank/plinth is in the process of construction at Dinas. The diesel tanks will be gravity fed from the newly constructed plinth on the loading dock. The plinth is built of breeze blocks but faced with cement render. The new grey painted tank is positioned by the plinth.
Couplers and a brake pipe were being fitted to the SAR brakevan on 16/5/04. This will allow it to be shunted around the site with ease. A thorough examination of the vehicle has shown wastage of the metal sheet floors due to water ingress from the sides. The design did not allow a proper seal to the floor. All the floor plates will now have to be replaced.
No.138 in action for Interactive Weekend
No. 138 was passed for service at 0100 on 1/5/04 and will operate trains during the three day Interactive event this weekend. In addition to the normal four-train timetable (Caernarfon departures at 10.30, 12.00, 13.30 and 15.00), there will be guest-driver freight trains from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu and return - i.e. NOT going to Caernarfon - at 17.30 on each of the three days: also, on the Saturday morning only, at 08.30. These will be Funkey-hauled - except the Monday teatime departure, which will be in No.138ís hands. In addition, No.143 will be taking a guest-driver to Rhyd Ddu and back with empty coaching stock on the Sunday morning, leaving Dinas at 09.15. None of these trains carries fare-paying passengers, but the WHR can offer FRS/WHRS members and volunteers rides in the brake van of the freights (by special arrangement) at £25 each.
Click here for timetable
No. 134 boiler in good condition
Boiler records have recently turned up from Humewood Road (South Africa), the old depot for the NG15s. Team Wylfa now has confirmation of which boiler is fitted to No.134 (originally on one of the 1958 batch of NG15's). They show that the boiler is in even better condition than previously thought. At its last overhaul in 1981, the firebox tube-plate and inner wrapper sides, and most stays were RENEWED. They have only seen 10 years of service - the loco having come out of service in Sept 1991.
On the other hand, No.133 came out of service in 1986 and has the oldest NG15 boiler left. So far, the boiler records for this loco have not turned up but the WHR's friends in South Africa have not given up hope.
Meanwhile progress on No.134 has been limited by illness recently. However, some rust removal from the loco chassis and minor painting of the tender chassis has continued.
Odds and ends
Flood: It seems a 'friendly' neighbour contributed to the flood at Castell Cidwm bridge earlier this year by diverting spring water from the drain.
Traffic: After a good first week of February half term, the second week of half term was poorly patronised due to bad weather. There were fewer coach parties too.
Coaches: Coach No. 2090 was found to have a bent axle on return from refurbishing at Boston Lodge and the bogie had to be changed after just one trip. The grey carpet panels on Coach No.113 were removed during its refurbishment. The first class compartment has been converted into a buffet store.
WHR(P): Two spare rails from Rhyd Ddu have been donated to lay a level crossing at the WHR(P). A 3 hour trundle up the line and back with RRMs took these to Dinas for craning onto a lorry.
Infrastructure problems: Problems have been identified with the Dinas Tunnel on the Nantlle Tramway alongside the railway a little north of Dinas station. The tunnel mouth at the south end has collapsed. This forms a drain for the railway. There are also concerns about the underpass at Tan-yr-allt (just east of Tryfan Junc.).
After the recent trackwork, several sections of route are now available for 20mph operation (raised from 15mph). These include Bontnewydd to Dinas Farm Crossing and some 2km from Cae'r Moel to just short of Tryfan Junction. Intriguingly, Down (that is northbound) trains ONLY are allowed 20mph along the Llwyn-y-Bedw straight south of Waunfawr. Together with other minor changes, up to 4 minutes can now be saved between Caernarfon and Waunfawr. This allows a southbound service to get to Waunfawr and water without delaying the northbound service. However, drivers are being cautioned not to use the extra speed except to regain time so as to maintain the hard won track condition.
No.138 in steam
No.138 Millennium was noted in steam on 21/4/04 for a stationary test. The loco had been completed and swapped over roads with No.143 in the loco shed by the previous day. It was over the pit for final adjustments including connecting the steam pipes and fettling up the valve linkages. The loco may appear in passenger duty for the May Bank Holiday, after running in. Due to being incomplete at Easter, Castell Caernarfon substituted for No.138 on the two steam loco service.
Work continues scraping, emerying and painting the tender chassis. Volunteers are hoping to have the white metal to rejig the bogie axleboxes very soon and 2 of the original No.134 team have promised to do this at Dinas. A 3-phase electrical supply may be put in very shortly. The WHRS has agreed to fund the RCD protected socket outlet. Sufficient armoured cable was found to reach from the incomer distribution board to the general location of the work area. Some armoured flexi cable has kindly been donated to make up flying leads. Team Wylfa have lots of work to do removing rust with the compressed air driven needle gun. An airline filter and lubricator have also been donated to go with the needle gun.
North Wales Track Gang progress
Over the weekend 17/18 April the North Wales gang were engaged in a number of tasks. They fenced off the gap in the road boundary at Rhyd Ddu , which had allowed access for large vehicles into the site. It had been used lately as an unofficial car park and rubbish had been dumped there. While at Rhyd Ddu, the gang also dug a trench for the Telecoms Dept to put the Rhyd Ddu telephone cable out of harms way.
Sunday saw continued progress on the second pair of points for the north end of the Carriage Shed as well as further clearance of brush and unwanted bits and pieces where the points will be installed. Some sleepers have been moved to this area in preparation for tracklaying. The points may be laid in the headshunt during May.
DZ1403 was completed at Easter with white lettering in SAR style and is available for service in the mixed train formations. This is the first of the ex-Donnybrook wagons to receive the full treatment from Marcus Ingram and his wagon team. However, the wagon is incorrectly numbered as the tracklaying wagon is No.1403. A renumbering is likely!
Easter bike wagon launch
The bike wagons (B934/1899) were in use from 10/4/04, though were withdrawn a few days later. The plasticard decals were added on one side after 12/4/04. Both rakes had a wagon added to the south end and carried a nominal bicycle. Several bicycles were carried during the course of the week.
The intention is to operate them on every train especially in the holiday periods. It is hoped to be use them complete with the new signs for May bank holiday. An arrangement with Beics Menai (01286676804) allows bikes to be hired from their shop at 1, Slate Wharf, close to Caernarfon station and be carried to Rhyd Ddu allowing people to cycle back or explore the area.
This northerly view (12/4/04) was taken at Dinas showing the bike wagon tucked in behind No.143. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
No.138 did not make it into service for Easter and Castell Caernarfon stood in for it on the two train service. The tanks and boiler are now back on the power bogies and staff are confident it will be steam tested by the end of April. Traffic was good over Easter with many trains operating with good loadings. A revised timetable leaflet has been issued, not showing the photo-montage hooded bike carrying wagons. The wagons will not in fact carry hoods.
New Guide Book
A new WHR Traveller's Guide has been issued with the extension to Rhyd Ddu featured. The hand drawn map featured is the Lewis Esposito 'heritage' map also available in the WHR shop. The map suggests a tramway connection to the Bryn Manllyn quarry at the south end of Plas-y-nant loop for which there is little evidence on the ground. The booklet was written by the Snowdon Ranger editor Roy Woods and is more lyrical in style (e.g. referring to Turner's Llyn Cwellyn landscape paintings) than previous editions which covered the engineering in more detail. There is a good general aerial view of Beddgelert which shows the station in the distance.
All change on buffet duties
With the recent departure of John Wooden, a variety of buffet staff is appearing on the trains. Volunteers appeared regularly on duties over Easter. The FR's policy of recruiting local youngsters has paid off. James Sutherland (15) is a regular on the trolley!
This view (12/4/04) shows James Sutherland on trolley duty in the buffet car. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (12/4/04) was taken at Dinas showing the boiler prior to being shored up on 13/4/04. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Progress at WHR(P)
A visit on 12/4/04 showed no further progress with the WHR(P)'s extension since February.
Bike wagon progress
The decals have been ordered and may be applied over the Easter weekend. One is a standard bike logo and the other a suitcase logo, the international sign for luggage. Each side of both wagons will carry the large stick on signs in black with white symbols. Pete Hugman has completed the doors and these have been attached. These wooden structures hinge down to give a step against the platform edge and form an inclined ramp to roll bicycles up.
No.138's forward power bogie is now back on its wheels and was run out of the loco shed on 6/4/04 in order to bring the boiler module back inside. This is now lifted high above the power bogies on the ex-Channel Tunnel power jacks. It is starting to look like a loco again instead of a kit of parts.
Over the weekend of 3/4 April, the North Wales Track Gang cleared Rhyd Ddu construction yard and Waunfawr station yard. All surplus material has now gone from both sites and both locations are much tidier, especially Waunfawr. Even Dinas has seen a major tidy up of the points lay-down area north of the Goods shed. Work is also progressing slowly on the second set of Left Hand points for the north end of the Carriage Shed. Huw Parry (known as Huw Fawr), who comes every Tuesday, rain or shine has recently been giving the sheds at Dinas a much needed coat of paint, all part of the gang's grand plan to smarten the place up!
Boiler lifted off No.134
Good progress has been made with NG15 No.134. The boiler was lifted off the loco on the afternoon of 5/4/04 using the same crane that returned the construction cabins from Rhyd Ddu. The loco was towed out of the bay platform road and shunted up the fuel road - adjacent to the construction site office for the lift, as the roadway there was stable and had no shallow drains or ducts into which the crane could sink. It is reported that it ran free despite having been stationary for upwards of two years. Clive Briscoe oiled around the previous Friday in preparation.
On Tuesday evening 6/4/04, Team Wylfa had an initial look at the frames, axleboxes, wheelsets, forward Krauss Helmholtz truck and rear Bissel truck. The examination revealed no unpleasant surprises. Loose rust was removed and by the onset of darkness, volunteers had swept two buckets full out. There is still some more loose rust to shift before volunteers need to resort to the needle gun that has been kindly donated by Martin Page.
The rest of Team Wylfa swapped the tender bogie frames around so they are now back in their original positions. A large portion of the exterior frame was top coated and other bare metal areas primed. Team Wylfa has received an offer to re-metal the bogie wheel bearings from two members of the original 134 team. Clive Briscoe intends to acquire the whitemetal ingots shortly so the volunteers can do it, as the tender chassis needs to be removed from the Goods Shed soon to allow for stabling and preparation of the second steam loco.
This northerly view (6/4/04) shows No.134 with boiler removed and placed on a flat wagon in Dinas bay. Work is now expected to get underway or the boiler and the rolling chassis. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Clive Briscoe and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Before the crane for the lift was ordered, Team Wylfa had to prove that the boiler was free. After a heroic 11hr struggle through the day on 2/4/04 by 2 of Team Wylfa and a further 2Ĺhrs by Clive Briscoe on his way home from work, the final bolts were removed from the smokebox - saddle connection. At 19:20hrs precisely, the smokebox was jacked off the saddle to prove it was free.
On the evening of 30/4/04 Team Wylfa removed the lower footplate side sheets and side footplates so as to give clearance for the boiler to lift straight up from the sliding feet on the firebox. After a big struggle to bring the 'gas axe' equipment down from the loco shed (one wheel of the gas trolley had a flat tyre!) they blew the nuts off the mid barrel support and started blowing the bolt heads off the smokebox. Team Wylfa has been welding up the hinges for the replacement, lightweight side doors on the two 'B' wagons being converted to cycle carriers by Pete Hugman.
Team Wylfa has asked for the following statement to be carried on the websites after some comment from other volunteers.
No.134 is still a non-funded, non-core activity. It is NOT the rebuild yet but a strip, clean and assess exercise which should give an idea of how much work / money will be required to be budgeted for, when its place in the queue reaches the top. Any minor works such as painting to preserve what is there comes as a bonus. The boiler lift will come as a freebee when another job takes place - clearing the construction containers from Rhyd Ddu to Dinas. You pay for a crane by the day / half day so it is up to you how much use you get out of it.
Team Wylfa (apart from 3 locals, who do core work in addition) are not doing, and cannot do other core work for the WHR/FfR as their time is limited to Tuesday and Thursday evenings after work. As they all work away from home during the week, at weekends, they all go home to their families. They do this as fill in work which is useful to the railway. If core work comes along that they can do on Tuesday or Thursday evenings, then work on No.134 stops.
Caernarfon Station progress
WHR officials have been to the Wirral to see a Portacabin style building that might be suitable for the intermediate Caernarfon Station building. If purchased, the building would be sited on the road side of the car park north of the current entrance. A new internally connected toilet block would be sited next to it, immediately next to the road access.
As well as providing more retail space and decent toilets, the movement of the building would clear the way for an eventual extension of the platform to the north. Caernarfon station is currently limited to seven coaches. While current summer loadings can exceed this capacity, the business plan sees a need for 12 coach trains in the future and Dinas and Waunfawr have been constructed with this in mind. However, if the Caernarfon buffer stop is moved as far as the road tunnel there would be a substantial reduction in car parking space.
WHR(P) Extension delayed
The opening of the 1km extension of the WHR(P) to Traeth Mawr loop looks like being put off to Easter 2005. This is because volunteers are having difficulty raising funds for the ballast and rails required for the extension. By agreement with the WHR(C), the WHR(P) is not allowed to compete for public grant aid.
John Wooden steps down
John Wooden, the WHR's Buffet Car steward has stepped down. John's association with the railway will not cease however as he is remaining in Caernarfon in another job and will look in on the railway from time to time. John's last shift was on the 21/3/04. His sterling service has seen the service grow to be a major earner for the WHR, not least the brandy-flavoured chocolate drink! John has also trained young volunteer assistants such as James Sutherland.
This view (21/3/04) was taken on John Wooden's final pull of the trolley. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Carriage shed points progress
The North Wales Track Gang was making progress with the two new left hand points for the north end of the Carriage Shed on 21/3/04. Some initial ground clearance work and excavation has taken place but the rusting pile of sets of 4 lockers was still present. In the same area, the shunt signal head has still not been fitted.
This southerly view (21/3/04) shows the north end of Dinas Carriage Shed. Some land clearance has taken place on the left. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Landslip repair nears completion
Contractors to GCC had almost finished the new section of retaining wall at the south end of Caernarfon by the end of March. The wall was being clad in local stone prior to site clearance on 19/3/04. The new structure intrudes slightly into the space reserved for a second track but will not preclude this possibility.
This northerly view (21/3/04) at Caernarfon shows the new reinforced concrete wall clad in local stone. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
There is to be an official launch of the two bike wagons at Easter. One will be added to each train to form into 7 coach rakes. The bike racks will carry up to 5 bikes at each end of the wagon. Marcus Ingram was hoping to paint the floor black to finish the wagons on 21/3/04. The new timetable leaflet shows the bike wagons with a roof. This will not now be the case. However, it seems the wagons are going to have bicycle and suitcase logos applied. Some attention was being given to making the brake van weather proof on 21/3/04.
This view (21/3/04) was taken on one of the bike carrying wagons, just before the floor was painted black. The doors have been removed to be replaced with lighter wooden doors with an integral step. One bicycle rack will be fitted each end of the wagon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
No. 143 emerged on 20/3/04 to haul the first steam trains of the season. No. 143 carries the unofficial name Afanc on its buffer beam. 'Afanc' refers to a legendary Welsh lake monster! Services were operated on 23/3/04 despite there being no advertised service on this day. On 21/3/04, numbers were boosted by a visit from the WHR(P).
Trains run every day from 30/3/04 until 31/10/04. Surprisingly, drivers are still observing a 'Stop and Proceed' caution at Snowdon Ranger l/c despite removal of the restriction by the HSE some weeks ago. No. 138 must be got ready for Easter as two steam locos are required for the Bank Holiday weekend 11-12/4/04. The loco was noted still in pieces with the tanks in Dinas North Yard on 21/3/04.
This northerly view (21/3/04) shows No.143 carrying the name 'Afanc' on its buffer beam. The loco was operating the first diagrammed weekend of steam services of the season. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
In early April, volunteers intend to remove No.134's boiler and have it mounted on a flat wagon in Dinas yard. A drawing of the smokebox saddle connection has been obtained so it should be a relatively easy job to remove. Team Wylfa has decided to 'blow' (gas axe) the 18 bolts as they are only standard 3/4" BSW and are rusted in solid. The mid barrel panting plate / support bolts are easy to access and again, if found to be rusted solid, they will be blown. Fortunately, the sliding feet bolts are already free.
The lift is courtesy of the same crane that is clearing the containers from Rhyd Ddu construction site. When it off loads them at Dinas, it will undertake the boiler lift. It is starting to look unlikely that the tender wheels will be re-profiled before the space occupied by the tender in the Goods Shed is required for servicing locos at Easter. It will be possible to run them out again with the tender chassis outside but this means doing the job twice..... Not uncommon on the WHR.....!
Snow scenes courtesy Ben Fisher
The heavy snowfalls in Snowdonia from 25/2/04 caused widespread disruption and there was even snow on the beach at Llandudno! Traffic during the half term holiday week was sparse as a result and trains were suspended on 26/2/04 as conditions were so severe. There was a bigger turnout for the weekend though with the weather clearing and blue skies everywhere illuminating a snowbound landscape.
It is a pity the WHR was unable to turn out a steam loco as No.143 has recently been steam tested. The diagrammed loco Caernarfon Castle hauled the trains on 28/2/04 and was photographed extensively by Ben Fisher. The six coach rake included the Pullman and the Open coach, which was visited by some hardy photographers who were well wrapped up!
This northerly view (28/2/04) shows Castell Caernarfon approaching Snowdon Ranger on the second train of the day. It is rare for snow to persist for long at the railway's altitude even though the peaks are often covered. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (28/2/04) shows Castell Caernarfon approaching Cae Hywel l/c on the first train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (28/2/04) shows an impressive snowscape from the platform at Snowdon Ranger with the Snowdon massif to the left and the Glan-yr-afon slate tips all covered in snow. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Garratt work weekend
Work has been progressing well on both the Garratts (Nos. 138 &143) over the winter and volunteers had a super test run with No.143 on 22/2/04. However, there are still lots of jobs that need doing. While some jobs need fitting skills, many do not. A loco Volunteers' Weekend is planned for 3-4/4/04. The team would be really grateful of any support and can promise a hard day's work (or two for the gluttons) for anyone who comes along. All you need is 12lbs elbow grease, some old clothes and proper safety boots. Just report to the Locomotive Works Complex (Engine Shed!) in the South Yard at Dinas any time after 0800 either day. The reward will be the sight of both engines in steam!!
A good turnout by the members of the North Wales Group of the Welsh Highland Railway Society on 16/3/04, 11 in total, assisting the permanent staff, enabled a long length of track near the Rhostryfan Road to be slewed to the correct alignment. This has always been a problem patch. During the rest of the week the permanent gang will be able to level and tamp this section of track, thus adding to the amount of track that can eventually have an increased speed limit.
This forthcoming weekend (20-21/3/04) the North Wales Track Gang (aka The Black Hand Gang) will be continuing with the tidying up process that started at Dinas on 6/7 March by tackling Waunfawr yard. It is also hoped that they can start to assemble the second set of Left Hand points for the North end of the Carriage shed. The WHRS has purchased some new long sleepers for LH point construction. Two left hand points are to be installed in the headshunt at the north end of the Carriage Shed. These will give access for the loco from the north end and make easier starts in the morning.
During previous work at Dinas w/e 6-7/3, NWTG volunteers were also cleaning up the yard and cataloguing what is left over from Phase 3 with a view to preparations for Phase 4. Contact Dafydd Thomas for details of how to join the pw gang.
Home:-01248 681019 Mobile:-07800 846103
Gauge widening progress
Up to 10 volunteers have been in action during the week ending 5/3/04. On 2/3/04 about 400m of gauge widening was done at Clogwyn-y-gwin. On 4/3/04 the team was back in action in the same area and had completed their gauge-widening task for the week by lunchtime. All curves with a radius less than 75m have now had their gauge widened, which should reduce rail wear. Snow persisted at Rhyd Ddu only until the middle of the week, being washed away by the rain.
This northerly view (2/3/04) at Clogwyn-y-gwin cliffs shows the gauge widening team with their pw trolley replacing rail clips. The snow was still present up to six inches deep in places. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on a Minolta X-300 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
As a result of the efforts of the permanent gang's work on alignment and tamping at Aspinall's Curves, and gauge widening by the volunteer gang, the TSR at Aspinall's has now been lifted to a 15mph line speed which should benefit time keeping on the Dinas to Waunfawr section.
100m posts installed
The midweek track gang volunteers have also been in action elsewhere. Coloured posts have been planted at 100m intervals between km22 and km26 so that the PW staff can tell where to report problems. Presumably the posts will acquire labels in due course. Train timers could use them to time trains, but take care if you lean out as the posts are just at the edge of the ballast. They are in the most conspicuous places to a person walking the track - generally on the outside of curves.
The team had a problem with the officially marked-out yellow sleepers indicating 1 km intervals as these are not always exactly 1km apart! One 1km gap turned out to be 988m and another was 1013m, though they do add up to almost exactly 2km between them! Volunteers had to fiddle the posts in between. In the morning Paul Bradshaw walked his measuring wheel along the rail to measure the kilometre in question. Having made a second pass to check the positions, volunteers drilled holes, sometimes finding mud or rock! Altogether 3km of marker posts were completed.
The team had to work around Pete Hugman who had a gang rebuilding two level crossings with a couple of bogie wagons in attendance. In the afternoon, the team went to Rhostryfan Road bridge to do another km of poles there. This area has seen a great improvement in the alignment brought about by the Matisa tamper, which has been busy on Phase 2 since the New Year.
Brake van news
It has now been confirmed that the brakevan No.3172 is to have a light, mostly cosmetic, overhaul this year with a more substantial strip down and replace roof and floor hopefully next winter if space can be found. The brake linkages have been freed up and it now parked under its own brakes.
There has also been progress with the bike wagons. At the end of February, Pete Hugman had welded one of the bike racks in place and was well on the way to completing one of the new lighter wooden doors with integral step.
This interior view of the brakevan shows the holes in the roof and the torn guards' seating. Winter weather requires that urgent steps need to be taken to prevent any further deterioration in the brake van with its leaking tongue and groove board. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Tender progress 4/3/04
Progress continues to be made on No.134's tender. The wheelsets for the forward bogie have at last received a coat of primer and were due to be undercoated on 4/3/04. A machinist has been lined up to re-profile the wheels at Boston Lodge. About 3-4mm needs to be taken off each flange in order to set them up for running on FfR/WHR's 600mm gauge as opposed to SAR 2' / 610mm gauge. Jim Comerford is going to transport them to Boston Lodge towards the end of March. The work on the wheelsets will take place between 2nd & 5th April. Meanwhile, scraping, cleaning and painting the tender chassis still plods along.
Team Wylfa members are starting to think about the boiler lift now. They are waiting for the drawings of the smokebox connection to appear so they can work out which nuts and bolts to free off. The firebox end sliding feet undo easily and the mid barrel support is also easy to undo. Once the boiler is lifted, with the light nights, they expect to make rapid progress.
It is expected that the tender chassis will be rolled out of the Goods Shed at the end of the first week of April if the wheelsets are delivered back as planned. The tender will then probably be parked in the second bay platform track alongside the loco itself. It will then be possible for two or three of the team to work on each simultaneously. If the weather gets a bit inclement, they will be able to stretch a tarpaulin across and continue in shelter.
If you wish to volunteer, please contact Clive Briscoe by e-mail or leave a message on his mobile (07974 927027) or try his daytime office number 01407 733613.
Traeth Mawr Loop ballast completed
By mid February, the ballasting of Traeth Mawr loop at Porthmadog was completed. All fencing is now complete as well. Ballast will be laid back to Pen-y-Mount and track will then be laid north from Pen-y-Mount to the loop, possibly later this year.
Click here for latest progress map of WHR(P).
This northerly view (21/2/04) at Traeth Mawr loop shows the freshly laid ballast. On this section the line aims straight at Cnicht, seen in the clear winter sunshine. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
More progress was made with the forward bogie frame from No. 134's tender last Thursday (19/2/04). The wheelsets have been wire brushed and were due a coat of primer 24/2/04. The wheelset was originally on No. 148's tender. The other wheelset from this bogie (the one with new tyres) was found marked up for No. 133 when cleaned up last Thursday. Talk of mix and match!
This view (19/2/04) at Dinas Goods Shed shows the painted forward bogie for No.134. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Bike wagon progress
The future bike wagons have had the bike racks loaded but they still need to be cut to fit and placed at the ends of the wagons. The chosen wagons are B934/1899.
This northerly view (21/2/04) at Dinas North Yard shows the two bike wagons with bike frames loaded. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
North Wales track gang start on headshunt points
February saw a start on the two headshunt points that will enable easier operation of the carriage shed. The North Wales volunteer track gang was cutting down trees and disposing them in two wagons hauled by Conway Castle. It was essential this work was done before the nesting season!
With the trees cut down over the weekend 21-2/2/04, a JCB will pull up the roots and the two concrete posts that remain from the former GCC council depot boundary. The ground will be levelled and a ballast bed made. Orange marker pegs in the trackbed indicate the planned positions of the two left hand points.
With only one train operation, there was plenty of time to fell the trees with a chain saw, cut up the trunks and clear the branches before the service train returned from Rhyd Ddu. The North Wales Group still meets every fortnight and continues to benefit from several regular volunteers. They have done clearance work on Phase 1 and repaired fences on Phase 3.
This northerly view (21/2/04) at Dinas North Yard shows a tree being felled just north of the Carriage Shed. Boards protected the running line while the felling took place. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Landslip repair nears completion
The Caernarfon landslip works were nearing completion at the end of February. A cast reinforced concrete retaining wall has been erected and local stone cladding has been completed at the top. Enough room has been left for a possible second track to the proposed Caernarfon carriage shed at the site of the former junction.
This northerly view (21/2/04) at Caernarfon shows the repair works to the retaining wall nearing completion. Contractors vehicles are gaining access along the trackbed from the disused St. Helens Road underbridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Progress has been made with signalling at Dinas. A cable has been laid out between the two new Shunt signals during early February. The cable is clipped to the rail next to the northbound platform through Dinas station. One signal is positioned just east of the main road bridge and the other just north of the level crossing north of the carriage shed.
This northerly view (21/2/04) at Dinas North level crossing shows the new shunt signal. Neither signal has yet received its lighting head. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
FR style signals have been placed at both ends of Dinas and Waunfawr loops. The WHR had no signalling even though it was operated by the FR for much of its life. The NWNGR that preceded it had semaphore signalling so this change may not be 'prototypical'!
Another signalling change is the receipt of authorisation from HMRI on 13/2/04 to run non-stop across Snowdon Ranger level crossing. Previously this location was a stop & proceed location like Hendy level crossing. Snowdon Ranger l/c has seen some difficult restarts on a greasy rail by the light footed Garratt locos and the drivers will welcome the change.
This northerly view (21/2/04) at Dinas North Yard shows the new FR stop signals. The ex-SAR brakevan is also visible on the right. Notice the yellow warning bands on the end of the wagon. The following day the wagon was moved to the buffer end of the adjacent siding. Some assessment work had been done and broken glass had been cleared. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
New coach livery
The WHR brake coach has been painted with cream doors to help the visually impaired. This copies the style of recent FR alterations to coach liveries. The coach disgraced itself on its first trip and had to be replaced by the FR brake. It was back in action by 21/2/04.
This northerly view (21/2/04) at Dinas shows the livery alteration to WHR Brake No.2090. The cream doors will eventually be added to all coaching stock it seems. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Loco strategy set out
After a meeting between Team Wylfa (restoring NG15 No.134) and the FR General Manager Paul Lewin, a loco strategy for the WHR has been set out for the next 5 years or so. The strategy aims to complete and restore locos so that the WHR has five locos available. Following completion of No.138's upgrade at Easter, attention switches to the completion of K1 by late summer, followed by the completion of the new build Lyd. The restoration of No.143 to top quality could happen over winter in the next few years if No.138 proves reliable. After these tasks have been completed, the GM will look towards funding the completion of No.134.
Ideally the line needs three steam locos at the moment, two working and one spare. With the arrival of K1, at the end of August hopefully, the WHR will have two heavy haul locos and one medium duty loco. Some K1 adherents maintain this loco will be able to haul the existing heavy trains, especially with its simple-compound 'gear' change. The arrival of Lyd, possibly in 2005, will add another medium powered loco to the fleet, capable of hauling lighter off-peak trains.
As far as No.134 goes, the GM is prepared to allow a small spend on repairing the tender, to make best use of work currently underway, rather than the current disassemble, clean up, assess and refit job. While the bogies are out, it makes sense to get the bearings re-metalled.
However, the team needs to be out of the Goods Shed by Easter. Unless the Dinas Shunt Token is authorised, the Goods Shed will be used from Easter for loco shedding to help the two train operation. One loco can be prepared there while the other is occupying the Dinas-Waunfawr section.
Team Wylfa made a further urgent appeal for machinists who can work the whitemetal to size. However, the axle journals are pitted so transport has been arranged to Boston Lodge where hopefully some time can be arranged on the wheel lathe. The wheels could then be reprofiled and the axle journals dressed up if a slot can be grabbed on the wheel lathe.
Once back on its bogies, the tender can be moved to the bay platform where painting, fitting and brake rigging can proceed, if necessary under a tent. The tender needs to be completed, including the modifications and new tank, before work commences on the loco itself.
Team Wylfa is looking for a machinist who is not involved with other projects (ME/Blanche/K1/Lyd etc) who would be willing to spend a weekend before Easter re-profiling NG15 No. 134's tender wheelsets at Boston Lodge. Mike Bradshaw will make the wheel-turning lathe available to the team given a few days notice.
There will also be a smaller job, which could be carried out in the Dinas machine shop, machining the whitemetal bearings to size after they are re-metalled. The team probably have that capability within the regular volunteer Tuesday and Thursday evening working parties.
SAR Brakevan arrives
The ex-SAR brakevan No. 3172 arrived at Dinas about midday on 16/2/04. It was unloaded and touched WHR metals at 1351. While most of it is in fair to good condition, sadly some parts are not and will require some considerable work.
This northerly view (16/2/04) shows No. 3172 being craned onto the track at Dinas outside the Goods Shed after its epic journey from South Africa via Antwerp! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Marcus Ingram taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The roof has a couple of holes in it where the T&G boards have rotted and allowed ingress of water. This has caused the floorboards to warp and rusted any metal in close proximity. Neither of the Guard's doors would open due the warped floor. Some of the external ply panels have bowed outwards due to water again. Thinner tinplate items like lamps have corroded badly.
On the positive side, all of the steel frame/angle iron and generally the rest of the interior is in good condition. The main van area is in very good condition except for the roof. The toilet cubicle is missing its pan but the high level cistern and plumbing is all in place and in good condition.
In the main Guard's area the stove has been removed but the coal scuttle is there and was found to be half full! Both Guard's seats are present but one has the cover ripped off. The vacuum brake column is intact although the handle was found lying on the floor. The hand brake is seized as expected.
Three of the four wheelsets had plenty of tyre on them but the fourth was well worn. The bogies appear to have been fitted with dampers at one stage. All of the brake gear appeared to be present but the chrome rod for the vacuum cylinder was in poor condition as the wagon has been stored in the open for a long time.
EAG Wagon progress
By 7/2/04 all four wagons (EAG 1-4) had been de-rusted and repainted. Two of them are now in black, and the remainder in "Colonel Stephens Green". The axleboxes and bearings have been refurbished, and three of the wagons temporarily re-fitted with their wheels. Because of a discrepancy in buffing height between the existing WHR construction rolling stock and the EAG wagons, it has been decided to increase the effective height of the EAG stock by approximately 100 mm. This has now been achieved successfully on one wagon, which received steel channel inserted between its existing solebars and the axlebox irons.
This view of ex-War Dept. wagons at Horseheath (7/2/04) shows the difference in height now the wagon solebars have been raised to WHR coupling height. An original height wagon is seen to the left. The EAG volunteers from left to right are Nobby Clark, Bob Turner, Richard Watson and Rob Blackmore. This image is copyright Roger Hornsby. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Work will now be extended to the other three vehicles. The Talyllyn-style side buffers have been removed after much sweat was expended in the removal of intransigent rivets, and central buffing gear is now being prepared in readiness for fitting. The biggest challenge the volunteers face is in the manufacture and fitting of parking brakes to these wagons, a very necessary feature in view of the 1 in 40 gradients they will encounter when Phase 4 construction begins towards Beddgelert.
Designs have been drawn up and the EAG team is now looking for the most cost efficient means of achieving this aim, given the slender financial resources of the Group. If anyone reading these notes is prepared to help, either in the making of brake parts, donating to the wagon fund, or in helping us at our Horseheath restoration base, the EAG would be very pleased to hear from you! The final works will entail the fitting of new timber work to the wagons, but this will have to wait until the other tasks have been carried out.
It is likely that the wagons will finally emerge once again as flat vehicles, although fitment of corner bolsters could be easily achieved should this be required. The next "Paint Your Wagon" session will be held at Horseheath on Saturday, March 6th. If you are able to come along, please contact Richard Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mark Neilson at Mark1cwneilson@tiscali.co.uk.
More progress with gauge widening
The team made good progress towards completing the gauge widening despite the dramatic floods, with a gang which varied in size between 2 and 7 people. Thanks to all of you who came to help. Volunteers spent two days working on the reverse curves at Aspinall's which with the tamping and canting done by the permanent gang should enable the TSR to be lifted prior to the start of daily services. The rest of the gang's time was spent at various locations on Phase 3 curves between Plas-y-Nant and Ffridd Isaf.
The next gauge widening session will take place over the five days from Monday 1st to Friday 5th March. Volunteers will be working on the reverse curves above Clogwyn-y-Gwin. There remain about 400 metres to be dealt with so a good sized gang is needed to get the job completed before the daily train service starts later in the month. The work is not particularly arduous but it does produce a valuable dividend by helping the operating department to run their trains to the timetable and reducing wear and tear to the track and rolling stock.
So please come and volunteer for a day or two or, better still, all week. For further information or if you would definitely like to join the working party contact Paul Bradshaw by email at email@example.com or you can phone him on 0151 427 2880.
Castell Caernarfon's Autumn failure
On 8/11/03 Castell Caernarfon failed in service on the final train of the day, returning from Caernarfon to Dinas. Dirty fuel was the problem. In these circumstances any passengers for Dinas are conveyed by car/taxi as has happened to your web editor.
Unfortunately, the rescue loco Upnor Castle could not restart the train (Castell Caernarfon and six coaches) in Coed Helen cutting given the severe gradient and leaf mulch, even when the train was divided. The train was left in the cutting overnight. The next day saw the remaining diesel Conway Castle driven by the GM running from Plas-y-nant pw duties to haul the assemblage back to Dinas. The train finally arrived 16 hours 45 minutes late, presumably just in time for the Sunday morning service from Dinas!
Castell Caernarfon was soon back in action and Conway Castle was back at Plas-y-nant by 1/1/04. was soon back in action and Conway Castle was back at Plas-y-nant by 1/1/04.
Castell Caernarfon repairs
Preparations by 12/2/04 for the restart of the WHR passenger service saw Castell Caernarfon's broken exhaust pipe having a new section welded in. This loco will bear the brunt of services over the school Half Term holiday fortnight commencing with Valentine's Day specials on 14/2/04. No. 143 was steam tested on 5/2/04 so may be called into action for weekend services if required.
Brakevan arriving Monday
The ex-SAR brakevan is arriving 16/2/04. Leaving Durban around 14/1/04, it has taken a somewhat roundabout route via Antwerp Docks, where it was noted standing on the quayside in early February. It had reached the UK by 10/2/04 and progress has been made in obtaining HMRI type approval.
The first DZ 's Body is complete with the addition of black painted bed. However, the bogies still need to be painted and one or two brackets fitting. Progress has also been made on repainting the first of the flat wagons at Dinas. By 7/2/04, the first appeared complete outside Dinas goods shed with one coat of paint and vacuum pipe removed for repair. The two B wagons that are to be used for the bike wagons have had their doors removed and the preliminary work has been done to the bike racks i.e. cut in half and placed on wagons.
Phase 3 survives floods!
Despite 25% of Snowdonia's annual rainfall having coming down in just two days, Phase 3 survived the test. On 4/2/04 Conwy Castle took the track widening volunteers up the line to Glan-yr-Afon. They progressed slowly across the subsidence dip at Plas y Nant after the flooding there but neither there nor elsewhere were there signs of any significant damage. Bridges and culverts seem to have performed well. There was also some water accumulation under Castell Cidwm road bridge but the new road bridge at Betws Garmon drained well.
No.134 tender news
More bits of the tender chassis have been pulled apart for cleaning, painting and assessment. The forward end axleboxes are now nice and shiny in gloss paint and the exterior of the bogie frame likewise. Volunteers ran out of gloss paint (12/2/04) so could not paint the interior.
The compressor trolley is nearly finished. Volunteers are expecting the wheels to have arrived by 13/2/04. All that is needed now is a 3-phase socket in the goods shed and fortunately there is a spare way in the fuse box. Needle gunning could commence by the end of February.
Summer announcement for next phase?
Further slippage has occurred in the plans to raise funds for Phase 4 and beyond. Even if all goes well, nothing is likely to be announced until Summer 2004. That could still allow the project to go ahead in late 2004, if the Environmental Survey is completed this Spring.
Open Access let down
The final plans for Open Access around the route of the WHR have been a let down for photographers. Your webmaster led a campaign to appeal for land east of the railway at Rhyd Ddu to be included for amenity reasons. This land includes the famous rocks overlooking Ffridd Isaf curve. Not only has this not been allowed, but land originally included west of the line from Rhyd Ddu to Clogwyn-y-gwin has been removed from the original plan. Another patch of land on the west side of the line at Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd has also been removed, effectively leading to no new lineside access!
New timetables out
The new timetables for 2004 are available on the FR website. The frequent changes of service may be confusing to many travellers and the signs of a 'yield management' accountant's work seem to be evident. Naturally FR management will expect a year of consolidation after the intense peak following the opening to Rhyd Ddu and they have drawn up a slightly reduced peak service to last year.
Two steam engines are needed from 3/4/04 and it is hoped to have No. 138 available to join No. 143 at that time. The four steam service with two steam locos operates every weekend from 3/4/04 to 24/10/04 (excepting10/4/04). Schedules have been eased with uphill trains being allowed 1 hour 10 minutes to Rhyd Ddu and downhill trains 1 hour 15 minutes. The standard time as operated by the diesel service is 1 hour 5 minutes both ways.
All trains will now pass at Waunfawr and 20-25 minutes have been allowed at Rhyd Ddu for use of the limited toilet facilities at this location. The daily service operates from 30/3 to 31/10/04. There are no fewer than seven different timetables (excluding Special Events)! One positive feature is the establishment of clockface departures from Caernarfon at 90 minutes intervals from 1030 am.
The peak (red) service consists of the addition of a 1630 round trip giving 5 round trip departures from Caernarfon. This compares with six last year. The service appears at Easter for 2 days and at Spring Bank Holiday (School Half Term) week for 5 days. Surprisingly, there is no peak service in July but the five round trip service resumes Tuesdays to Thursdays in August plus the August Bank Holiday week from 29/8 to 2/9/04.
The former sixth service consisted of an early departure from Caernarfon and usually ran very lightly loaded from there. This service picked up good loadings for Caernarfon at Rhyd Ddu and Waunfawr from local campsites. The train still operates in the peak timetable as the 0915 from Dinas but no longer calls at Caernarfon, running south to Rhyd Ddu instead. Interestingly, in the near-peak purple timetable, this service runs as a 1015 from Dinas turning back at Waunfawr. Campers in the Beddgelert area will have to wait until 1200 for the first northbound service! Surprisingly, this includes all weekends in August.
September sees an unusual service pattern with the mid-week service alternating between steam (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and diesel (Mon/Wed/Fri). Midweek in October there is a 2 train diesel service but during the October School Half Term Holiday this is reinforced to a 2 steam/2 diesel operation (26-28/10/04). As in previous years, the November/December service reverts to weekends only with two diesel services. While the New Year Services (26/12/04 to 2/1/05) are currently shown as diesel hauled, these are in fact likely to be steam hauled as in previous years.
WHRS Society report
Membership has not grown as much as hoped so membership fees are to rise to £25 this year to help fund projects. Over £250,000 has been raised over the 10 years of the project to date. Last year the Society was able to pay for the purchase of Betws Garmon bridge, including the alterations, painting and installation. The earthworks, concreting and asphalting on Snowdon Ranger Halt were also paid for by the WHRS. This year's projects are the installation of an automatic point at Rhyd Ddu north, the bike wagon conversions and of course, completing K1.
The FR Board approached the Millennium Commission in January with a view to varying the stations part of the project so as only to fund the construction of a temporary building at Caernarfon. All funds raised for stations will be channelled to this project as there are insufficient funds for station works elsewhere. It is important to expand retail opportunities at Caernarfon and a larger portacabin type structure is envisaged for Easter 2004. The FR Chairman has asked the WHRS to switch funding from the completion of the Snowdon Ranger waiting shelter to Caernarfon station.
More progress with No.134's tender
Team Wylfa made more progress on Tuesday evening (3/2/04), re-wheeling the rear bogie. It is now all greased up and free running although the wheelsets will have to come off again at a later date for re-profiling and axlebox/horn guide work when money is raised to complete the loco for service.
Whilst both bogies are out, the volunteers intend finishing cleaning the main tender frames and repainting where necessary. Both drag boxes require needle gunning to bare metal internally as they are heavily scaled with rust. Team Wylfa has an air compressor available to do this in the K1 shed - the air receiver has recently been passed by the insurance inspector for use. It needs to be made mobile so construction of a trolley was started during the latter half of Tuesday evening's working party.
Hopefully, Thursday evening (5/2/04) should see it welded together and by next week, hopefully it will be on wheels. Once the compressor is up in the Goods Shed, a good night will probably see all the needle gunning done and Team Wylfa can get back to painting. The compressor, being trolley mounted, will help in future needle gunning work on the loco itself and any other work requiring compressed air around the yard.
As the loco is required for testing by mid-March, reassembly should be starting soon. The main steam pipe under the smokebox is being replaced as it is life expired. The bottom end has previously received some repairs. The cylinders are being re-bored as are the piston valves, new valves being fitted both ends.
By 22/1/04 Boston Lodge had completed the reprofiling of the driving wheels and these awaited transport back to Dinas, where the rebuild of the pony trucks was complete. The vacuum brake cylinder rods have been sent to an engineering company in Birkenhead for re-chroming. It is the intention to fit them to No. 143 when they return as this loco is currently in service and would benefit most. The same parts removed from No. 143 would then go for re-chroming and be fitted to No. 138. It is hoped to have No.138 ready for the two train steam service at Easter.
Reports from the WHR/RE show that the Santa Specials did very well and are up on last year. Loadings are said to have beaten the FR's. Three trains a day were offered over 2 weekends, providing a 50% increase in seats. While there were some seats spare the first weekend, the second weekend was fully booked with the Pullman car filling up first. Trains only ran to Waunfawr. The WHR has helped pull the FR finances around and has lead to an estimated profit of around £100,000 for 2003.
Floods scour Beddgelert Footpath works
Heavy floods in North Wales led to scouring of the new footpath works on the east bank on the approaches to Bryn-y-felin footbridge during the first week of February. These may well require remedial works, maybe in the form of rock armour. Work was completed in January after a three month stint finishing off the footpaths near Bryn-y-felin bridge. Work took place last summer to improve some sections of the Fisherman's Path in the Aberglaslyn Pass itself.
This northerly view (1/1/04) shows the extension of the wheelchair path along the old PBSSR formation advancing towards the new footbridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax230 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (10/1/04) shows the hard standing footpath embankment linked up to Bryn-y-felin bridge. Work had also been completed on the west bank of the river and all plant was stabled there ready for removal. The concrete path remains to be laid. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Pete Hugman and John Wooden have been working at Boston Lodge in January on coach No.2090. Much progress has been made with paint sanded off and new mouldings added and much filling and sanding on the outside body work. The roof has been resealed and some routine work has been carried out inside. The coach is off its bogies and the wheels are being reprofiled to remove flats. The braking system will receive attention too.
On the afternoon of 16/1/04 the both staff transferred their attentions to No.113 and have removed all the seats prior to the flooring being replaced and general tidying up. This involves removing the 'carpet' material on the walls and ceiling and converting one of the 1st class compartments into a store for the buffet as using the Guard's van on the F set was not very successful last year.
K1 spent the week outside the works but was put into the sheds for a weekend working party. Both staff planned be back to Boston Lodge next week w/e 24/1/04 but are also spending one day a week working on the WHR.
K1 for Super Power weekend?
It is possible that K1 might be completed in time to appear and run at the Super Power Weekend in September following news that the FR is looking for a fully qualified steam loco engineer (applications close 28/2/04). The five month contract is renewable. The work to complete the loco for service on the WHR will see the engineer working alongside volunteers.
Click here for details
The WHLR (the organisation that managed the building of the WHR) is to be wound down as an economy measure while the WHR waits for funds to be raised for the next stages. FR chairman Michael Whitehouse made the following statement.
Now that the WHR Millennium Commission Project is up and running, we have been attending to the various snagging works which will be ongoing during the winter. However, apart from constructing a station at Caernarfon, the project is now complete as far as the Millennium Commission is concerned and the team at the Dinas office are putting together a completion record at the request of the Millennium Commission. We are seeking the Millennium Commission's formal agreement to construct a "portacabin style" station at Caernarfon for the 2004 season so that we can have a better commercial presence there.
As the Millennium Commission part of the project is now complete, it is necessary to wind down Welsh Highland Light Railway Limited's operation and so three of the track team have transferred to the Festiniog Railway Company for ongoing work on the WHR track. Pete Gray is also transferring to the FR as the Senior Permanent Way Supervisor (WHR). Jan Woods will soon be leaving us and the Board would like to record their grateful thanks for her hard work. We hope that if and when Phase 4 is able to start, we will be able to welcome her back to continue her good work.
Roland Doyle has kindly offered to stay on for one day a week from the beginning of February in order to provide continuity pending a decision on Phase 4. We are very grateful to him for his extremely hard work throughout the Millennium Commission project and for agreeing to stay on to provide this continuity which is very valuable whilst we work out a funding and commercial package for Phase 4.
Brakevan arriving soon
The ex-SAR Brakevan donated by the Sandstone Trust is due to arrive in the UK at Purfleet on 7/2/04. It is to be delivered to Dinas on 11/2/04. Marcus Ingram is looking for help at Dinas from this 25/1/04 with the completion of the bike carrying wagons, due for service from Easter.
Funkey freights planned for Interactive III
This year, the Welsh Highland will be included for the first time in the Interactive event from 1-3/5/04. There will be a particularly-appealing option of a morning spent in the driverís seat of the Funkey diesel (and where better to see this new and spectacularly beautiful mountain railway?) with a rake of loaded South African vacuum-braked bogie wagons in tow, followed by a footplate ride in the spacious cab of one of the NG-G16 Garratts on an afternoon passenger train.
E. WHR GUEST DRIVER: an early-morning or early-evening trip from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu, driving Caernarfon Castle with empty coaching stock or (evening only) vacuum-fitted freight wagons [am, starts 8.00am, finishes 11.30am; pm, starts 4.30pm, finishes 8.00pm] - £200
F. WHR GUEST DRIVER: an early-morning or early-evening trip from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu, driving NGG16 Garratt 138 or 143 with empty coaching stock or (evening only) vacuum-fitted freight wagons [am, starts 8.00am, finishes 11.30am; pm, starts 4.30pm, finishes 8.00pm] - £250
N. WHR GUEST FIREMAN: a full day firing NGG16 Garratt 138 or 143 [start & finish times - around 3 hours - vary according to trips chosen/available] - £150
For more information contact the FR Co. Events Co-ordinator, Peter Lawson, on 07733 324 023; or ring Roger Dimmick on 07092 262 262 - the Guest Driver Hotline. If you get your call in early, it may even be possible to accommodate your individually-tailored interactive option!
Regrettably, privilege travel arrangements for members of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway Societies are suspended for the duration of this event. The basic level of involvement is to buy a three-day Rover Ticket for £30 (£15 for FRS/WHRS members) and ride in the trains - both railways, as much or as little as you want. However, once you have purchased a ticket, you can sign up for any number of additional Interactive Options or activities - again, as much or as little as you want, depending only on how much you can afford and whether the timetable will allow it!
Simply list your preferred activities on the Booking Form, downloadable (in a day or two) from the FR and WHR websites. As those interested can see, some of these preclude being involved in others. It is best not to book overlapping activities! But rest assured that the FR will check every application, and call you if there are going to be any problems.
Activities are open to any able-bodied applicant aged 18 and over. Please note that all participants - i.e. anyone who signs up for one or more of the listed activities, including FRS/WHRS members - must additionally:-
(a) be in possession of a valid three-day Rover Ticket, and
(b) attend a compulsory Safety Briefing at a time to be agreed, as a precondition of participation.
Good progress was made in early January. Primer was applied to the forward bogie, probably the first paint for 30 years or so.
All four axleboxes have been cleaned and primed. Despite initially needing a jack to push the axleboxes out of the horn guides, now the scale/rust has been removed from the horn guide slippers and the axleboxes, there is now between 3 and 5mm play fore and aft, so these parts are clearly well worn.
This view 15/1/04 shows one of the wheelsets from the tender of No.134 following removal in the Goods Shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Jim Comerford and is was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
There is some 10-15 mm axial play which, combined with the axial play in the axleboxes / horn guides, has resulted in the wheels hitting the frame and wearing shallow grooves in the plate. Work required:-
1. the axleboxes are to be given a light skim on the milling machine to true them up
2. the horn guide slippers need removing, the faces built up (by hard facing with a MIG welder) and then re-machined to suit.
This falls in the 'costs money' camp so they will probably be well greased and put back together as a 'to do when funds allow' job. It is a simple enough job to drop them out at a later date. Likewise the bearings themselves all need re-metalling. Team Wylfa has fettled them up for now to allow the chassis to be shunted on short journeys around the yard. Painting with undercoat and top coat is planned during January.
In the meantime, the team opened up the rear, recently overhauled, bogie axleboxes as some drips of water were seen coming out. They were ALL found to be full of water, so the team planned to lift the bogie to drop the wheelsets to see if any damage has been caused and take whatever action is necessary.
On 21/1/04 Team Wylfa made excellent progress. One of the team undercoated the forward bogie frame whilst the rest jacked the chassis off the rear bogie, ran it out and stripped it down. Damage to the axle journals was confirmed where they have been sitting in the water filled axleboxes.
However, the pitting is not too deep and they can easily be reclaimed using a toolpost grinder whilst the wheelsets are in the wheel turning lathe for re-profiling. On 23/1/04, the team hoped to dress them up and make the bogie fit to shunt around the yard until the money for the major rebuild is raised.
The axleboxes and horn guides are badly worn and the actual bearings will need re-metalling as per the forward bogie. Team Wylfa are building up a full picture of exactly what needs doing to bring No.134 into A1 condition - which is what this exercise is mainly about - a holding exercise to prevent further deterioration and assessment ready for the future rebuild.
Team Wylfa are at Dinas (usually in the Goods Shed) working on No.134 every Tuesday & Thursday evening from about 7pm. Intending participants should call Clive Briscoe at work on 01704-733613 or on his mobile 07974-927027 (leaving message if not answered as it is switched off during working hours) to confirm Team Wylfa are going to be there.
PW update/volunteer appeal
Paul Bradshaw's team made further progress in gauge widening the tighter curves on Phase 3 over the week from January 6th. The work was concentrated on curves north of Pont Plas y Nant and those on either side of Glan yr Afon Viaduct. The next session will take place over the five days from Monday 2/2/04 to Friday 6/2/04. The team expect to be working on Phase 2 at Aspinall's Curves to enable the temporary speed restriction there to be lifted.
To give those who cannot manage weekday volunteering an opportunity to get involved and provided there is sufficient interest we might make a start on Saturday 31st January and work over the weekend as well. As Paul has said previously, the work is not particularly arduous but it does produce a valuable dividend by helping the operating department to run their trains to the timetable.
For further information or if you would definitely like to join the working party contact Paul Bradshaw by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can phone him on 0151 427 2880.
A team of four volunteers has made good progress from 5/1/04. They have been widening the gauge on curves at Plas-y-nant in order to raise speeds on the railway. It is reported that locos can now roll through this section down the northbound gradient without applying power!
On the same day the tamper moved from Plas-y-nant to Dinas and back to Waunfawr. Some judicious stone trimming was required at Waunfawr over-bridge as the tamper is way outside the loading gauge. It is intended to use the tamper on Phase 2 once Phase 3 is complete.
Later in the week work on 7-8/1/04 was concentrated on gauge widening at Glan-yr-afon and Clogwyn-y-Gwin curves.
This easterly view (10/1/04) shows Castell Caernarfon standing with the weekend pw train immediately south of Snowdon Ranger Halt (as seen from the main road). Unusually, the loco is sandwiched between two B wagons and the Tool Van and Mess Vans. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Ballasting begins 'down south'
The latest images from the WHR(P) extension show that the formation is now complete to Traeth Mawr loop headshunt. The loop area has not had slate waste added as the loop is temporary. Geotextile has been laid and a 25cm ballast layer is being laid on top of this, working from the north back towards Pen-y-Mount. Progress had reached 80m by 5/1/04.
This north-easterly view (10/1/04) shows the south end of Traeth Mawr Loop from the stile at LC119 (Ch.32850). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This south-westerly view (10/1/04) shows the headshunt at Ch.900 (T&W Ch.32650 approx.) as seen form UB217. A cattle underpass is planned here and the temporary loop will be regraded to slope up at 1 in 100 towards the viewpoint when the line is extended towards Pont Croesor. The geotextile prevents the ballast mixing with the vibro-rolled sand. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This north-easterly view (10/1/04) from the public footpath shows the 80 m extent of the ballasting over the New Year. The nearer part is double width as this is the area of the loop. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B W Hughes and was taken on a Samsung Digimax 200 camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
The intrepid band of volunteers was working in the pouring rain on 1/1/04! Including the loop, the total length of works is 912m. The links provided below offer access the WHR(P) websites which includes photos updated to 5/1/04 and 6/12/03.
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