News Archive Page
V4.12 updated 1/5/06
Newly archived sections are placed at the start of this page and have red titles. This page contains archived news from 2005.
Click here for archived news from 2004
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Click here for archived news from 2002 and earlier
Xmas freeze leads to water tanks problems
Both Waunfawr and Caernarfon water tank valves were found to be frozen on 29/12/05 after several days of very cold weather. No.138 was running the services and had to be watered by an alternative method. With a tank soon to be installed at the even colder location of Rhyd Ddu, there were suggestions that the valves could be fitted with a heater from the outset as electrical supplies were to be provided to the platform shelter and lamps.
Coach No.100 to be retained for WHRCL use
Guard/Observation Coach No.100, currently languishing in the open at Dinas, has been stripped of its first class seats and other operational equipment. It is to be kept on the WHR for a few more years for use by the WHRCL on Phase 4, rather than be broken up as previously understood. The body will be fitted on ex-SAR bogies and the FR bogies returned to Boston Lodge. Eventually, the body will be removed and the underframe returned to Boston Lodge for re-use. The coach will run on the WHR with a new number in the meantime (No.1000). Coach No.101 will replace No.100. Elsewhere, coach No.2090 will be moving to the Caernarfon end of the E-set.
This view (10/12/05) at Dinas shows Coach No.100 left outside for stripping. Second thoughts have seen this coach retained for WHRCL use with SAR bogies and a new number to be applied. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 track laid at Rhyd Ddu
Volunteers were in action between Xmas and New Year at Rhyd Ddu. The first track was laid back towards the platform leaving a gap of just 5 metres for the closure rail. Attention then shifted to Phase 4, south of the yard point (Ch.14997). On 30/12/05, the first rail was pulled south of the point and the first clip inserted. A change of heart has seen the new sleepers and pandrol clips used south of Rhyd Ddu, rather than ex-SAR sleepers.
This view (30/12/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows the first rail pulled onto the new Phase 4 sleepers just south of Ch.15000. There is a slight bend in the formation south of the point, not shown on the TWO plans. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (30/12/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows the area by the yard point. The yellow rods next to the stacks of sleepers are the pandrol clip levers that use a 10:1 mechanical advantage to pull the clip into the slot on the baseplates welded to the sleepers. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The first rail used was from the South African stock to make the transition from the point easier. Subsequent rails were of Polish origin using a transitional fishplate. By 31/12/05 four panels of track had been laid south of the yard point despite appalling weather. The Pandrol clips certainly make a difference, as once the rails are fish plated and the sleepers put in the right place, it takes just 10 minutes to clip them in place, compared to about half an hour with the bolts and clips on the ex-SAR sleepers. Volunteers are still of course perfecting the technique with the clips and new sleepers but hopefully will get better with experience. The next North Wales/Black Hand Track Gang weekend is 7/8 January.
This view (31/12/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows the trackbed with sleepers laid out south from the start of Phase 4 at Ch.15000. A further panel was laid south of the viewpoint by the end of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Marcus Ingram and his team finished the work on the brakevan by 31/12/05. The high visibility yellow paint stripes have been applied to both ends, grab handles and steps. The brake setter, vacuum gauge, grab handles and doors have all been fixed in place. Marcus would like to thank all those that have helped over the last year. There are some small items to tidy up, e.g. fit door handles, but it is ready for use on Phase 4 once Tony Williams has approved it for use on the main line.
This view (30/12/05) in Dinas Carriage Shed show Marcus Ingram (left) and his team with the brakevan as work nears completion. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Rhyd Ddu platform shelter changes
The Rhyd Ddu platform shelter was designed with a small operations room. This will now be fitted with a stable door that can be used as a ticket sales outlet at galas etc. when the top half is open.
Xmas Crossword competition results
The winner of the Xmas Crossword competition was Roger Hornsby who receives a K1 mug.
K1 in Santa action
This northerly view (17/12/05) at Caernarfon shows K1 piloting No.138 on the Santa Special. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright/courtesy Pete Hugman and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (17/12/05) at Dinas shows the K1 piloting No.138 on the Santa Special. K1 was taken off the train after a reoccurrence of the hot bearing problem that was thought to have been cured. The loco sadly may not reappear on Xmas/New Year workings. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright/courtesy Cliff Garnett and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 report 23/12/05
Both contractors, Phasey and Jones Cyf., stood down over Xmas/New Year and Phasey released the station and Pitt's Head straight section for tracklayers by 23/12/05. Phasey has finally dug the deep drainage ditch at the north end of Pitt's Head Cutting that is doing a good job of keeping the cutting dry even during the heavy rain at Xmas. It is a metre below the trackbed and runs along the west side of the line. The south end is already piped and supplies of pipe are in hand to pipe most of the remainder. Some landscaping is still required for the spoil piles left on site. Slabs have been used on the base and sides of the east side drain at the north end of Pitt's Head Cutting, just north of the retaining wall.
This view (23/12/05) at Summit Cutting shows the trackbed with two side drains and sub base rolled level. The cutting finally looks dry and will receive ballast early in January. Track will be laid here soon after. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
James Cyf. has completed the ballasting of their section through the Beddgelert Forest Halt from Ch.19600 (UB148), at the forest boundary, through to a point 20m north of the new LC79 Ty'n-y-coed vehicular access at Ch.20500. There are two gaps in the ballast bed at LC76/7 but UB150 has been ballasted between the two. The halt platform has been built up in hard core on the east side of the alignment for 40m north from UB152.
This southerly view (23/12/05) at UB150 shows the ballast laid across the bridge. Two gaps have been left in the ballast either side of the bridge for LC76/7. Otherwise the ballast bed is complete for almost a kilometre through the Beddgelert Forest. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Some of the sleepers at the south end of Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting have been removed. Down in Caernarfon, the water tank pipe extension has not yet been fitted. Phasey's site offices have made their final move, over to the roadside, just south of the temporary coach bay. The track gang hopes that they might have use of the mess when they are tracklaying over Xmas/New Year as the weather can be very inclement up at Rhyd Ddu.
This northerly view (17/12/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows the new track layout. The sleepers have been laid out between the points and the platform track. There will clearly be a bend in the platform. Phasey have removed their offices to the roadside since this view. Strangely, both piles of rails block progress with the yard and loop! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright/courtesy Pete Hugman and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa report 19/12/05
Four of the team turned up at Dinas on 15/12/05 and continued work on No.140's con rods and the last of the RRMs for now. They applied the top yellow coat of paint on the one previously primed and then decided that the remaining RRM, used on the Caernarfon loop extension, did not really have a good enough paint finish to last Phase 4. So they ran the power wire brush over it and primed it. The volunteers put new bearings on the wheels prepared on 13/12/05 and also fitted new bearings to the set of wheels that are off the other RRM. So, after Christmas, Team Wylfa just has to refit the wheels to these two RRM's (a quick job) and top coat the remaining one then it is all go on No.140 again.
Regular Team Wylfa volunteer Bruce Brayne and his friend Martyn How (who was working with Team Wylfa the previous week) volunteered at Boston Lodge over the weekend of 17-18/12/05. They were expecting to be on a carriage working party but, as that did not happen, they found themselves unexpectedly working on NGG16 No.140! The driving wheelsets have at last been turned on the lathe and the two volunteers cleaned up, painted the wheelsets and preserved the bearing surfaces. Two of these wheelsets are ready for their return to Dinas in the not too distant future. The final wheelset from the top end bogie is also nearly completed.
This view (18/12/05) in Boston Lodge shows one of No.140's wheelsets ready for return to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright/courtesy Bruce Brayne and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 progress 18/12/05
Ballasting is now complete through Beddgelert Forest Halt from Ty'n-y-coed to LC 77 after a fast track weekend effort by the contractor James Cyf. The contractor will vacate the site on 22/12/05, leaving the completion of a few minor fencing closures and LC76/7 until January, after the campsite's Xmas holiday bookings. The platform itself may be left to a later date as it is not on the critical path.
This southerly view (18/12/05) at Ch.20100, just south of Beddgelert Forest Halt, shows the trackbed ballasted past the campsite (left). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright/courtesy Mike Hart and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
James Cyf. has also completed work on the landslip and the section north from Hafod Ruffydd to UB133. They will start in the New Year on the bridge reconstruction UB131/3 and progress back to Pont Cae'r Gors. Phasey is almost finished but will leave ballasting from Pont Cae'r Gors through Summit Cutting and Pitt's Head Cutting until the New Year. They seem to have completed the sub base and drainage though Summit Cutting and Pitt's Head Cutting.
This northerly view (18/12/05) at Summit Cutting shows the sub base laid with Pitt's Head bridge in the distance. Surveyor's 10m posts have been added to show the levels. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright/courtesy Mike Hart and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 trackwork programme
During the weekend of 10-11/12/05 five volunteers made good progress at Rhyd Ddu. The southernmost point for the Rhyd Ddu yard was fettled for mainline running. It had previously been used as a turnout for the Rhyd Ddu siding off the run-round loop. Track was also laid between the two sets of points (P/Way-Phase 4 Construction sidings and Rhyd Ddu loop points). Available sleepers were laid out to meet up with the present platform line.
After Christmas the plan is to get as much track down as possible at Rhyd Ddu so that a connection can be made with the running line. In order to achieve this volunteers will need clips to be prepared. This will be the last lot as after Pitt's Head, the new pandrol clipped rail and sleepers will be used. It is also hoped to sort out the Construction Workshop at Dinas so that it will be a suitable base for Phase 4 tracklaying. This will involve considerable tidying up, sorting out a suitable stores area for all the consumables that will be needed and getting rid of the rubbish.
The dates for the Xmas Track Bash are 27-31/12/05. Volunteers who wish to work off any seasonal over indulgence please contact Paul Bradshaw -
or Dafydd Thomas
The fortnightly work parties will continue in the New Year from 7-8/1/06 until Porthmadog is reached.
Finishing Caernarfon station
Tony Baker is looking for help to finish off Caernarfon station. Volunteers are needed on 3/1/06 to remove the fencing alongside the Lon Eifion cycle track and put up temporary fencing etc. prior to the contractors moving in to extend the platform week commencing 9/1/06. Contact Tony Baker to offer help.
Good progress is being made with the tamper and it is hoped it will be available for use tamping new track laid south from Rhyd Ddu early in the New Year. The tamping bank, which was removed with a suspected seized vibrating shaft, has been sent to a specialist company in Bradford for investigation. Axles and axle boxes have been sent to Alan Keef's works for new bearings and smaller diameter wheels to be fitted. These are needed as the existing wheels would not clear the chassis when the wheelsets are re-gauged. The lifting/lining beam has also been removed for rebuilding for two foot gauge. Considerable simplification of the hydraulic system has been carried out, including the removal of the adjustable tines provided for switch and crossing work, which are not required on the WHR/FR. Likewise, the electrical system has been simplified by the removal of the 600V DC overhead supply system and pantograph.
This view (11/12/05) at Boston Lodge shows work in progress on the tamper. The machine has been moved to the back of the Erecting Shop and is only allowed in 2/3/4 roads due to clearance. Small steel segments are being welded in to support some components that experience high torsion forces during vibration. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Tryfan Junction agreement
The FR has endorsed a £50,000 plan to rebuild Tryfan Junction Halt. The location will eventually become an unstaffed halt. The WH Heritage Group hopes to raise the money and work on plans has already started following initial clearance of the site a few years ago. It is also the intention to rebuild the signal box on the original stone foundation which was uncovered during Phase 2. An unconnected siding with typical slate wagon stock has also been considered. GCC may extend the Slate Trail footpath on the former Bryngwyn Branch trackbed, currently open between Bryngwyn and Rhostryfan, down to the halt to make a long distance footpath, connecting with trains for walkers and cyclists.
Bits & Pieces December
The former Caernarfon ticket office 'container' building is due to leave Dinas for use at Blaenau Ffestiniog platform if the FR pulls out of the Queen's Hotel site.
With the FR moving towards coal firing on all locos except Linda and Blanche, it is possible the use of coal fired locos will be permitted on the WHR too. No.140 could appear with a gas producer system. There is also the issue of Russell from the WHR(P), provided spark arrestor technology can be agreed.
Boston Lodge machine shop is currently working on the valve gear for Lyd. The loco is due to be completed for use on the WHR ready for the opening of Phase 4, hopefully.
Further progress on ex-SAR brake van
On 13-14/12/05, the West Midlands Group applied more red oxide paint to the south end and west sides of the ex-SAR brake van. More progress will be made at Xmas when Marcus Ingram hopes to complete most outstanding jobs. The small bodyside holes visible in the image below are for windows and vents as on the original panels. The tinwork duckets have been removed for safe keeping as they are fragile. The large gap above the white panel is there because the replacement panel was not the correct size. As both panels have to be fitted simultaneously, there was no point in painting the lower one until they are both in position primed, sealed and undercoated. Marcus is looking for help during the Xmas holidays 26-31/12/05.
This southerly view (20/11/05) at Dinas Carriage Shed shows the repainted ex- SAR brake van. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Hine and was taken on a Canon A95 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (14/12/05) at Dinas Carriage Shed shows the gloss finish to the interior of the van as repainted by the West Midlands Group (left to right: John Hine, Maurice Castle, Rob Darby). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy John Hine and was taken on a Canon A95 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Santa Specials 2005
Volunteers helped out with the operation of the Santa Specials again this year. Clive Briscoe and his wife, Helen, were amongst the helpers on Sunday 11/12/05. The weather was brilliant, the trains reasonably well filled and a good time was had by all. The first Up train slipped to a halt on the grade before Hendy level crossing with a wet rail and damp sand. After a few tries, No.138 found its footing again and made up time.
This northerly view (11/12/05) at Caernarfon shows the No.138 on the afternoon working of the Santa Special. The weather was fine and bright unlike the previous day and Snowdon was snowclad! The realigned loop track can be seen in this view. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (11/12/05) at Caernarfon shows the No.138 backing onto the late afternoon working. The complete realignment of the loop and points can be seen in this image. The water tower pipe has not yet been extended. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa report 13/12/05
Team Wylfa had an improved turnout for 13/12/05 with 5 volunteers in attendance. No.140's con rods were attacked by Team Wylfa's 'apprentice', Bruce who had brought a friend along to help him too. The rest of the volunteers attacked the remaining RRM, got the old paint off and started to prime it. As an extra, the two RRM's used in the recent Caernarfon loop extension works were looked at. They are in reasonable working order, apart from the wheel bearings. Volunteers got one into the workshop, removed the old wheels and fitted a replacement set of wheels with new bearings.
Clive Briscoe intends to re-wheel the other ex-Caernarfon RRM, if he can attend on 15/12/05. Meanwhile, the rest of the team will hopefully complete No.140's con rods and get the other RRM back together. After Christmas, volunteers will be back to 100% No.140 work again and should have a full team again too. New faces will be gladly accepted as there is lots to do.
CC is still up in the air in the running shed awaiting the new pins and bushes that are being prepared in the workshop. Also, the K1 group were working on the said beast in the carriage shed as well. It's reported that they've found the problem with the injectors - worn cones. An easy job to fix and may well have been done by now.
SAR brakevan painted
More progress with the ex-SAR brakevan saw the exterior vehicle painted in red oxide undercoat by 11/12/05 with doors fitted. The West Midlands Group were painting the interior over the following week.
This southerly view (11/12/05) at Dinas Carriage Shed shows the ex-SAR brakevan receiving red oxide undercoat. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Marcus Ingram, copyright N. Clarke and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 fencing progress
Intermittent Phase 4 fencing has reached the foot of the Nantmor Incline at LC94 where a sign states that the WHRCL and National Trust have closed the former permitted path north from there on the trackbed. There is no fencing yet in the Aberglaslyn Pass but north from Bryn-y-felin to the Goat Tunnel the fencing is complete. The route is also fenced north from Ty'n-y-coed through the Beddgelert Forest Campsite and continuing north from there through the upper S bend to the site of Hafod Ruffydd Halt.
This northerly view (11/12/05) at Ch.18900 shows the recently fenced trackbed past Weirglodd Isaf small holding in the middle straight of the upper S curve. The section south from here has also seen some primary clearance by the contractors James Cyf. similar to that south from Hafod Ruffydd Halt. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (11/12/05) at Ch.19600 shows the recently fenced trackbed emerging from the Weirglodd Isaf pastures at the southern end of the upper S curve. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (11/12/05) at the Beddgelert Cemetery level crossing (Ch.22800 at LC88) shows the recently fenced trackbed towards Bryn-y-felin bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (11/12/05) at Ch.25800 shows the recently fenced trackbed at LC95 (Ch.25800), the foot of the Nantmor Incline. This is as far as fencing extends southwards for the moment. The sign indicates the permissive path on the trackbed has been closed by order of the WHRCL and the National Trust. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 level crossings ready for tracklaying
Work has been completed on LC66/7 on the Pitt's Head straight. Ballast has been laid through the location and ramps built up for farm vehicles to cross the line from the main road to the fields.
This southerly roadside view (11/12/05) at LC67 shows the completed level crossing. Temporary wood has been fitted where the track will go. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Electricity supplies have been routed into the Rhyd Ddu station distribution box. At Summit Cutting the drainage appears complete and functioning.
This southerly view (11/12/05) at Summit Cutting shows Phasey's staff working on a Sunday to complete the cutting. Geotextile and sub base have being trucked in. It appears that parallel drains either side of the cutting will cope with the run-off from the peat as the cutting was finally looking to be drying out. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
With all the sleepers now arrived, some bundles at Dinas have been opened to check specs.
This westerly view (11/12/05) at Dinas shows the bundles of sleepers, some opened for checking. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Down at Pen-y-Mount, sleepers have been placed under the rails, ready for fitting the clips. When this is done, the temporary wooden sleepers will be removed.
This northerly view (11/12/05) at Pen-y-Mount shows the new sleepers placed under the rails between the temporary wooden sleepers. When they are clipped up with the new pandrol style clips, the temporary wooden sleepers will be removed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Bryn-y-felin bridge preparations
More preparations have been made for the start of work to install the Bryn-y-felin bridge girders early in the New Year. By 10/12/05, the WHRCL had moved a site office to the area just north of the bridge used as a car park. Trees have been chopped down that might impede the crane's access both adjacent to the road bridge and the river bridge.
This southerly view (11/12/05) at Bryn-y-felin shows the repainted site office recently placed in the unofficial car park. This office will be the WHRCL's base during the installation of the bridge girders in coming months. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (10/12/05) at Bryn-y-felin shows the recast cap fitted to the north pier of the river bridge. One possibility for the appearance of a pier and an abutment so close together is that during the building of the bridge a source of shorter bridge girders was identified for the three identical river bridges, so requiring the new pier. A 2 m link span will bridge the gap. In the background is evidence that trees have been removed which might have caused problems for the crane. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
First Tracklaying on Phase 4
The weekend of the 10-11/12/05 saw the first tracklaying on Phase 4 by the North Wales track gang following the delivery of the points a week previously. They laid two lengths to join the two points together. The southern point, the toe of which lies at Ch.14990, gives access to the yard.
This northerly view (11/12/05) at Ch.15000 shows the two points and rail stacks and the track laid between them the previous day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 Works 11/12/05
There was frenetic activity on Phase 4 over the weekend of 10-11/12/05. Both Phasey and James Cyf. were working on Saturday and Sunday. Phasey was contouring the sides of Summit Cutting, installing drainage, geotextile and sub base. James was working hard stripping out the tarmac roadway on the trackbed at the site of Beddgelert Forest Halt. The campsite reopens on 22/12/05 and it is hoped James will be completed by then. The drainage appears complete and the trackbed hardened right through to the north end of the forest at Ch.19600.
This southerly view (11/12/05) at UB152 shows the trackbed completed across UB152, which has not been rebuilt. The level crossing of the forest track has been repositioned to give a diagonal crossing. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
EAGle Works report 3/12/05
East Anglian Group volunteers have been busy during December at their so-called EAGle works at Horseheath, Cambridge! The two ex-RNAD flats have now been stripped to bare underframes with horn guides, though some of the modification steelwork remains to be trimmed to conform with the deck level. General cleaning of the steelwork has started, together with painting such surfaces that have been cleaned back to bare metal. The wheelsets are at the Tal-y-llyn’s Pendre workshops for regauging and flange thickening. This work is expected to be completed early in the New Year. Their recovery to Horseheath is under discussion.
Brake parts and axleboxes are scattered across East Anglia for refurbishment as literally “homework” projects, the idea being to re-wheel the wagons as soon as possible. This will let volunteers run them under cover should the weather be inclement, progress can then continue to reset the brake gear to suit 1’11½” gauge and continue painting. Decisions on re-decking, couplings and vacuum brakes are likely to be afflicted more by cash flow than design and procurement constraints, so any contributions to the cause are more than welcome. With volunteer help the wagons could look like this (all four of them!).
Computer generated image courtesy Richard Watson.
As previously reported, all four of the Hudson “mini flats” are now at Dinas. Volunteers hope they find good use on Phase 4 (users, please mind your shins on the parking brakes!). They were very convenient work benches whilst they were at Horseheath and their removal will hasten the re-decking of at least one of the ex-RNAD flats!
Work on the station name boards (running-in boards) can now continue as Basil Seymour has sourced and delivered the hardwood mouldings for the casings and cornices. Fitting the mouldings and the rear support channels will protect the vinyl covering to their faces, lessening the risk of damage to the vinyl and disturbance to letters as they are moved in and out of EAG's limited weatherproof storage.
Santa trains are due to start from this Saturday morning 10/12/05. As previously reported on this website, it had been hoped that K1 might have double headed trains in the Winter with an NG16 and the first could have been this weekend. Unfortunately, due to a problem with the injector, the first weekend of double heading has been cancelled. The Caernarfon watertank pipe has not yet been extended to water locos on the loop at this end of the line. A K1 working party is scheduled for the coming weekend, so there may be the opportunity of running the loco on the weekend of 17-18/12/05 if the problem is cured and the watertank pipe at Caernarfon extended.
Team Wylfa report 6/12/05
Team Wylfa has had a relatively quiet week again with work continuing on RRM No.9 and No. 140's con rods. John Peduzzi also applied the final coat of floor paint to the works office.
Bits & Pieces
Castell Caernarfon continued to receive attention during December, whilst up on jacks in the Loco Shed. New pins are being machined for the bogies on the workshop lathe.
In a change to the recently advertised
timetable for 2006, services to Rhyd Ddu recommence on Sunday 9/4/06 not 8/4/06.
April 8th is deemed a 'Supporter's Day' when a special service will be run for
Phase 4 Appeal sponsors.
The WHRCL is gradually constructing a workshop in the former K1 shed. There have been teams of volunteers at work preparing track clips for several weeks now for the initial laying of the re-rolled South African rail to be laid south from Rhyd Ddu. Initially the volunteers were working in the Clip Shed but have now vacated, complete with a bench, to the shed next door.
Points laid at Rhyd Ddu
Tracklaying started at Rhyd Ddu on 1/12/05 on schedule with the south loop points being placed in position by a crane, which was present to unload South African rail. This rail will be used in the whole of Rhyd Ddu station and sidings, and along the first section south towards Pitt's Head. The point for Rhyd Ddu yard was also placed in position further to the south. A stack of rail was made near each point, one to complete the loop and the other to develop the sidings.
This southerly view (1/12/05) at Rhyd Ddu south shows the south end loop point placed on the ballast bed prepared by Phasey. The crane has unloaded the remaining South African rail for the push to Pitt's Head as is seen unloading the turnout for Rhyd Ddu Yard, which is further south than the loop point. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy WHRCL and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 progress 3/12/05
Phasey has made further progress at Pitt's Head Cutting and Summit Cutting. The retaining wall on the east side of Pitt's Head Cutting has been completed up to the road bridge and drainage completed through the bridge in the form of a French drain buried in ballast. On the south side of the bridge, the use of small tracked vehicles has prevented the sort of deterioration of the trackbed through the wet boulder clay of Summit Cutting that was seen to be caused by heavier vehicles on Phase 2. The installation of slotted drains is progressing towards the short summit level.
This southerly view (11/12/05) at Pitt's Head bridge shows the recently completed retaining wall, now extended right up to the bridge portal. Also in view are the strengthening bolts added by GCC in 2000 when they improved the overbridge as part of their WHR bridges programme. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (3/12/05) shows Summit Cutting with drainage being installed on the east side of the formation in the form of a slotted drain on geotextile. The purpose of the geotextile is to prevent peat pumping up into the drain and blocking it. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Rob Bradley and was taken on a Sony K750i phonecam. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The road on the trackbed across UB152 at Beddgelert Forest Campsite had been closed by 4/12/05 and traffic was diverted to allow completion of this section of the trackbed as part of the Beddgelert Forest Halt section.
Caernarfon Progress 3/12/05
The weekend working party scheduled for completing the work at Caernarfon eventually did so despite rumours they would be reassigned to Rhyd Ddu! The main job was tidying up the ballast.
This northerly view (3/12/05) shows the completed loop at Caernarfon. The platform will be extended towards the point of view with a retaining wall between the platform and the Lon Eifion cycle track. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Rob Bradley and was taken on a Sony K750i phonecam. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (3/12/05) shows the completed loop at Caernarfon with the Lon Eifion cycle track to the left. The point mechanism has been completed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Rob Bradley and was taken on a Sony K750i phonecam. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (3/12/05) shows the completed loop at Caernarfon. The run round track is further towards the water tower than it needs be for clearance. This is to reduce the extension needed to the water delivery tube so that less strain is put on the supporting strap. No work has been done on the extension tube although it is needed for the Santa Services from 10/12/05. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Rob Bradley and was taken on a Sony K750i phonecam. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
SAR van progress
A major step forward was made late last week as the wooden panels for the ex-SAR brake van were delivered to the Carriage Shed for the planned 5 day working week. Unfortunately, the West Midlands Group was not aware of the van project week as help had been hoped for but, luckily, Dave Kent was able to step in on the Sunday to provide the required second pair of hands and volunteers set about priming and fitting a couple of panels. Monday saw the arrival of John Dalgleish for work on the Caernarfon extension but, as this was already finished, he was press ganged to work in the Carriage Shed. Without his help through Monday to Thursday, the van could not of progressed as far as it did!!
This late November view shows the interior of the van with the brake column the only surviving original feature. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
All panels were primed and fitted into position and the thankless task of drilling and bolt tightening followed. The original double doors were refitted. The top part of the guard's doors were fitted. The lower parts are being remade off-site by a volunteer joiner. All panels were sealed at the edges with car sealant. All panels were then given one coat of undercoat externally. Volunteers are required for painting the internal walls with undercoat and gloss!!
The next planned working week is from 26/12/05 through to 30/12/05 and help is required for painting, fitting of locks and other necessities. It is hoped to have the van ready to run by the end of January, weather permitting.
Team Wylfa report 1/12/05
It has been another quiet week for Team Wylfa with just two volunteers on both Tuesday and Thursday. This week's project has been RRM No.9 and on Tuesday it was stripped down. The final axle would not even succumb to a 14lb sledge hammer so it had to be cut out! Volunteers have new axle material to hand and one was prepared. Team Wylfa also attacked one of No. 140's con rods again. By 1/12/05 it was gleaming again and coated in oil for protection, a far cry from the rusted mass that was rescued from the loco's coal bunker. Meanwhile, John Peduzzi painted the workshop mess room/office floor in the continuing upgrade of facilities there.
Future Team Wylfa evening working parties over Christmas and into the New Year are as follows: 6/12/05 but not 8/12/05, then 13/12/05 and 15/12/05 as normal, followed by a break over Xmas until Tuesday 3/1/06.
Nantmor Road bridge progress
The same contractors who are working on Bryn-y-felin abutments (see below) are also about to modify the top of the abutments of Nantmor road bridge ready for new structure to be installed in due course. The current plan is for the complete 9.6 m structure, weighing some 18 tonnes comprising beams and concrete slab with walkways and handrails already attached, to be lifted into place during a road closure. New ballast retaining walls will be constructed each side on the immediate approaches to the deck.
This image shows the plan of the replacement Nantmor Road bridge (UB182). Click on the image to view the pdf file. Click here to download the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader. This file is courtesy John Sreeves. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi. Plan courtesy WHRCL.
This westerly image (6/11/05) taken at the Nantmor road bridge shows the Bob Francis crane removing the bridge during the road closure. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy WHRCL and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The Nantmor Incline has been fenced off south of the recently removed road bridge (UB182) over the A4085.
This westerly view (20/11/05) at Nantmor road bridge shows the bridge removed. The new fencing to the left appears to extend down the full length of the Nantmor incline. The concrete wing wall to the left seems to have parted from the main part of the abutment at the expansion joint. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Caernarfon progress 1/12/05
The permanent staff have been at work on Caernarfon's newly extended loop. Part of the Caernarfon extension was tamped on 1/12/05 and it was anticipated to be fully tamped by 2/12/05, well in time for the start of the Santa services on 10/11/05. With the project completed a week ahead of schedule, two lorry loads of rails were moved to Rhyd Ddu so that the planned final working party for Caernarfon (scheduled for 3-4/12/05) can work at Rhyd Ddu instead, extending the loop to the south up to the start of Phase 4.
Final sleepers arrive at Pen-y-Mount
The final batch of sleepers and clips have arrived at Pen-y-Mount from Dinas. They were unloaded on the afternoon of 30/11/05. This means that the WHR(P) now has all the rail, sleepers and pandrol clips it needs to complete the rebuilding of the 900m of trackbed from Pen-y-Mount northwards to the temporary loop at Traeth Mawr. Volunteers hope to fit the new sleepers to the new rails, which were laid north from Pen-y-Mount in October, during their weekend working party on 10-11/12/05.
This northerly view (27/11/05?) shows the sidings just south of Pen-y-Mount on the WHR(P). Two trains are ready for the next PW party in December. They are loaded with top ballast and sleepers ready for the extension northwards from Pen-y-Mount. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Andrew Goodwin and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed with I Photo Plus 4 and displayed at 96 dpi.
SAR Van progress
Starting with a metal skeleton on Sunday 27/11/05, Marcus Ingram and John Dalgleish had completely transformed ex-SAR brake van No.3172 by 30/11/05. It is once again a proper vehicle with an inside and an outside, both of which now need to be painted. While Marcus and John worked at the north end of the Carriage Shed fitting the wooden panels, John Hine and Maurice Castle were helping Tony Williams, Alf Williams and others to re-decorate the Staff Mess room in the South Yard workshop.
This image (30/11/05) of the brake van shows the completed van ready to be painted. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Hine and was taken with Canon A95 digital camera. Image post-processed using Photoshop Elements and displayed at 96dpi.
The East Anglian Group are at it again this Saturday at Horseheath, Cambridge. The two pairs of wheelsets and the three "Hudson" mini flats are expected to be in North Wales by this weekend. Mark Neilson is going up to Dinas via Tywyn on 1/12/05 to drop off some wheel sets for regauging, and dropping off the EAG's Hudson PW wagons at Dinas. Transport is being provided by EDF Energy, the employers of EAG member Rob Blackmore. The EAG are most grateful for this very generous gesture.
Two pairs of ex-RNAD 2' -6" gauge wheelsets are to go to the Tal-y-llyn's Pendre workshops to be re-gauged to 1' -11 1/2" and have the flanges thickened. These will then conform to the RhE wheel profile. This will help in the rapid turnaround of two of the four flats bought by the EAG that have to be vacuum brake fitted and have "chopper" couplings to conform to the RhE Safety Case for general line use. The three ex-MoD flats will join the one seen at the Super Power weekend. To be precise there are two flats and two with low sides and ends, lettered EAG 1 to EAG 4. They are intended as "runners" for use with Dolgarrog or a similar diesel loco, carrying tools and construction materials for Phase 4. They are small with a 2100 x 1200 deck, three link loose coupled, central dumb buffered and fitted with a form of parking brake.
WHR(P) progress to 27/11/05
The Extension Gang spent most of 26/11/05 putting the newly delivered Pandrol clips in safe storage before moving on to laying out the new metal sleepers ready for replacing the temporary wooden ones on the section just north of Pen-y-Mount Halt. There was also extension work at Gelert's Farm where a volunteer has been modifying some rollers so the rails can be slid into place as they are laid.
Caernarfon progress to 29/11/05
On 29/11/05 the Tuesday Gang completed the final bit of volunteer input to the Caernarfon loop extension, spending a damp day tightening all the clips. The scene was then set for the permanent staff to move in on 30/11/05 and get it all tamped up. A large party had been booked in to work on the loop extension this coming weekend 3-4/12/05 under Colin Burt's leadership but as it has been completed ahead of schedule, plans are being rapidly made to switch this group to Rhyd Ddu to make an earlier than planned start to Phase 4, if possible.
Extending the Caernarfon loop is only the first step of Project Caernarfon. Volunteers now have to extend the platform itself. Whilst a large part of this is going to be done by a contractor in January, there is still work for volunteers. Commencing on Tuesday 3/1/06 and on every Tuesday and weekend in January, volunteers are urgently needed to lay in the platform edges, recover the existing fence to Dinas, replace it with a temporary fence and finally complete the permanent fence on top of the retaining wall built by contractors alongside the cycle track. This work will be led by Paul Board and/or Pete Hugman. If you can help with this and at the same time work off the excesses of Christmas feasting please email Tony Baker email@example.com or phone 01492 874579.
The North Wales Gang (aka The Black Hand Gang) completed the track work at Caernarfon Station last weekend (27/11/05) by putting the final closure rails in the loop. They also aligned the loop, packed the points with Kangos, shovelled ballast into the rest of the new track and moved the ground frame to its final position. All that remained to be done on the track was for the full time gang to complete the levelling and tamping.
Phase 4 progress to 27/11/05
Phasey has moved its site office/containers from the bank on the east side of the trackbed at Rhyd Ddu South to the site of the recently lifted siding. This has cleared the trackbed for completion of landscaping and ballasting. The ballast bed leading south had been laid by w/e 27/11/05 and was expected to be completed by the end of November. The cutting side to the east has also been regraded to a suitable angle of rest. Tracklaying is anticipated for March, starting with the south end points then extending onwards along the completed ballast bed towards Pitt's Head.
At Pitt's Head Cutting, the two remaining gaps in the eastern retaining wall required for culverts were filled by 27/11/05. The retaining wall has also been extended as far as the culvert close to the road bridge and the wall is to be extended right up to the bridge. A walled pit for drainage inspection has been made right next to the bridge on the west side of the alignment as the Summit Cutting contributes peat detritus that might require regular clearing. This was the cause of the original bog at Pitt's Head cutting. It is expected that Pitt's Head Cutting as far as the road bridge will be ballasted by the end of November.
Special events 2006
Details of special events on the WHR for 2006 have been announced.
8th April - Supporters' Day
12th-14th May - WHR Beer Festival
9th & 10th September - Superpower Weekend
30th September - To Be Announced
Plus there will be the usual Santa trains in December 2006! Winter-Active (a February event) seems to be missing this year. The successful Halloween trains are also missing but may be added later.
WHR coach building plan V4.0!
Boston Lodge has produced an initial assessment of its coach building strategy for the WHR (as it will be in 2009) that might see a standard 7 coach formation. In the short term, FR coach No.111 with a toilet compartment will replace No.101. A toilet fitted coach is considered essential for the longer journey times implied by a 25 mile railway, though this change will require the construction of a toilet emptying point at Dinas. FR buffet No.114 would also be transferred to the WHR for a period until new WHR standard profile coaches arrive. All FR sized stock will then be returned to the FR.
Two new build saloons, Nos. 2070/1, would be constructed with disabled access. Another new build would be Pullman/Observation coach No. 2100. A second Guard's coach would be constructed as No.2091 with buffet store and toilet compartment. Coach No.2090 would also be fitted with a toilet. Three new saloons would also be constructed, Nos.2043/4/5, making the new 'standard profile' WHR build seven coaches in all. Finance for the rebuilding comes from a bequest and a grant from the Welsh Tourist Board but additional funds might have to be raised.
All new construction will be fitted with air pipes as part of the strategy of long term consideration of air braking. The new seven coach rakes leaves one Open coach and the two heritage coaches free to add to summer trains as traffic requires. The third rake required for operation of the peak Summer service will run through from the FR and will normally be diagrammed for the C set. The F set will accommodate 20 in First class, 144 in Second class and 36 in the Open coach.
The two new standard WHR formation rakes would be (new coaches in bold, altered coaches in italic) : -
Pullman or Pullman Obs/Guards with toilet and buffet store/Saloon/Disabled Saloon/Saloon/Saloon/Open.
E Set: 2115/2090/2040/2041/2070/2043/2020
F Set: 2100/2091/2042/2071/2044/2045/2021
Spare WHR coaches: 23/24/2022
First Phase 4 track to be laid 26/11/05!
Despite the sleety weather, some new Phase 4 sleepers have arrived at Pen-y-Mount, five wagon loads in fact. This is somewhere between two thirds and three quarters of what is needed to complete the 900m to the temporary loop at Traeth Mawr. The remainder is due to be delivered to Pen-y-Mount on 28/11/05. The sleepers arrived late on the afternoon of 24/11/05 as the light was beginning to fade. The fixing clips to hold the rails to the new sleepers arrived the same day.
Volunteers spent the end of the day battling the weather to get them unloaded and into wagons that can be shunted forwards along the track laid in October northwards along Phase 4. These wagons were placed in the loop at Pen-y-Mount waiting for the weekend's extension working party. The working party will remove the wooden sleepers while the rails are jacked up. Volunteers will then slide in the new steel sleepers at the correct spacing and clip the rails to the sleepers. Ballast will then be added and the tracked tamped to the correct line and level. This will be the first permanent track laid on Phase 4 to the new design.
Team Wylfa Report 22/11/05
There are piles of new sleepers stacked around the yard at Dinas and an articulated trailer with a HIAB on the back by the Goods Shed had some on. These might have been the ones going to the WHR(P). Team Wylfa is still struggling with lack of personnel with only three volunteers on 22/11/05 and probably only two on Thursday.
There was a Garratt working party last weekend with Peter Lawson. The volunteers have now got the back off No.140's cab. Team Wylfa volunteers will try and get remainder of the lower cab off in next few weeks if full time staff have not done the job. Once that is off, the boiler is about ready to be lifted out of the cradle quite promptly.
Castell Caernarfon repair
The repairs to Castell Caernarfon's power bogie pivots appear complete. There were cracks in the welds, which have been ground out and re-welded. A non destructive test was made using the dye penetrant method. The bogies have been repainted with black frames, yellow ends to the revolving axle box covers and green springs. The loco body was still up on jacks on 22/11/05.
Phase 4 News
A couple of fairly dry weeks has made a huge difference to progress - and spirits at the WHRCL office!
1) Track Material: The first shipment of 3000 steel sleepers
is being unloaded at Dinas South Yard 21-23/11/05. One lorry-load from this
delivery will be loaded onto another lorry for onward transport to WHR(P).
Volunteers at the WHR(P) say that if they are delivered to Pen-y-Mount by this
weekend, they will be used during the weekend working party to replace the
temporary wooden sleepers laid on the extension during October's track laying
'bash'. The second shipment of 8000 sleepers has arrived in the UK and delivery
to Dinas will commence week beginning 28/11/05. The two remaining shipments
are due in December.
2) Rhyd Ddu: Given their prompt work on the Beddgelert Forest Campsite (see below), Posford Datrys Consultants have also been appointed to manage the Rhyd Ddu station completion project, excluding track. All civils etc. are to be finished by the end of February 2006, allowing a month or so to lay the remaining track and tidy up ready for opening of the new season for Easter on 8/4/06. Tenders for works are out and the construction contractor will be announced in December.
3) Rhyd - Pont Cae'r Gors: Phasey is currently completing the earthworks extension at the station south end site, including the future yard. By the end of November, there will be a run ballast ready for tracklaying all the way from the end of the existing platform to Pitt's Head bridge curve. The section from there to Pont Cae'r Gors will be completed and ballasted by early December, it is hoped.
4) Pont Cae'r Gors (level crossing) - Hafod Ruffydd Halt: G.H.James Cyf. (contractor) is hard at work on this section. The two 'big' jobs are the landslip and the old McAlpine bridge UB131, which must be rebuilt as the original concrete box is not up to modern standards. The rest is fairly straightforward as preparatory work on the big cutting at Pont Cae'r Gors has speeded things up considerably.
5) Hafod Ruffydd Halt - UB152 (Top of Beddgelert Forest campsite): It is anticipated that the contractor will start work on this section at the beginning of December.
6) Beddgelert Forest Campsite: This contract is a fast-track contract, currently going nicely, with a constant eye on completion by 21/12/05 (when the campsite reopens for Xmas).
When all the above is completed, there will be a contiguous finished trackbed from Rhyd Ddu to Ty'n-y-coed by around end February. The aim is to increase the length of trackbed by about 1 km per month from mid-December to allow track layers a free run. Track laying starts with repositioning the two existing points at Rhyd Ddu to complete the south end of the loop and the siding connection. The next job will be to lay the single track from the end of the existing platform face southwards to Pont Cae'r Gors and beyond. When Phasey finishes Rhyd Ddu Yard (south of the station) and gets off site, the track gang will return to Rhyd Ddu to complete the loop and sidings.
Caernarfon Progress 22/11/05
An enhanced Tuesday Gang continued the work at Caernarfon on 22/11/05 in warm sunshine. The first job was to finish screwing down the points which required the drilling of some new holes in the wooden sleepers. Next, sleepers were laid out up to the points on the loop road and the penultimate pair of rails was positioned using the RRMs. Finally, a session of screwing down took volunteers up to dusk. An offer of lighting from the two permanent staff present (who were constructing the platform for the point levers) was politely declined! There remains one final pair of rails to fill the gap. This honour will fall to the Black Hand Gang next weekend, leaving just enough time to get it all ballasted and tamped ready for the Santa services that begin on 10/12/05.
This southerly view (22/11/05) shows the sleepers positioned for the loop leading off the newly installed southern point. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Tony Baker and was taken on a Concord 5062 AF digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The south point was placed in position on 19/11/05 and connected from the south end. Volunteers connected the track from the platform road on 20/11/05 and the run round track might be completed by the Tuesday Gang later this week. Deliveries of the new steel sleepers are due from Monday 21/11/05. These will be stored in the South Yard.
This southerly view (19/11/05) at Caernarfon Station shows the installation of the south end point. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Rob Bradley and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (20/11/05) at Caernarfon Station shows the track being reorganised. The loop will pass under the extended watering pipe and join in at the point. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (20/11/05) from the footbridge shows the platform will be extended around the curve alongside the Lon Eifion cycleway, where a retaining wall be required almost up to the wooden arch. The run round track has been kinked to the left so it passes closer to the water tower, thereby requiring a shorter extension piece to the water tube. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 progress to 20/11/05
There was activity at Rhyd Ddu on Sunday 20/11/05 with surveyors checking the alignment under Pitt's Head bridge. Stone is being stockpiled to extend the new slate block retaining wall on the east side right up to the bridge. A team using light trackbed vehicles has been working to extend the drainage south from Pont Cae'r Gors to Summit Cutting. Work was in evidence at the landslip just north of Hafod Ruffydd Halt.
At Beddgelert Forest Halt, the platform edge kerbs have been delivered and drainage is reaching completion in the area of the platform.
This northerly view (20/11/05) at Beddgelert Forest Halt (Ch.20000 approx) shows the drainage on the east side nearing completion and the platform edge kerbs stockpiled. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
At Bryn-y-felin bridge there was evidence of work on the isolated pier next to the abutment on the north bank. Voids have been filled under the shallow foundation and the pier has been covered with straw to protect it against frost whilst the concrete cures.
This northerly view (20/11/05) at Bryn-y-felin shows the isolated pier on the north bank receiving attention. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Work on the roadside section north of Pont Croesor has reached a conclusion with the trackbed now revealed and fenced off from the field side.
This northerly view (20/11/05) at UB209, just north of Pont Croesor, shows the cleared formation with Cnicht in the background. The gorse bushes have been mulched to clad the embankment, which appears to have a rock core, at least in places. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Work on the KMX tamper is well underway at Boston Lodge. The tamping mechanism has been disassembled. Some heavy duty welding has been applied to the frame. The heavy duty steel members of the slewing frame have received some attention from the cutters torch but it has apparently been decided to purchase a second hand two foot gauge slewing frame.
This view (20/11/05) at Boston Lodge shows the tamping bank removed. The tines are scrap. The tamper operator's window is now apparent. A new reinforcing weld can be seen centre top. The tamper is still on accommodation bogies. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
WHR timetable 2006
The FR has just released the WHR on-line timetable for 2006. Following the February Half Term service already notified that terminates at Waunfawr, full services to Rhyd Ddu resume on 8/4/06 for Easter. April's timetable is a riot of colour with no less than seven different service levels (some diesel/steam variants) across the month as the yield management strategy bites deep. These range from the full RED timetable with 5 return steam services (and the early Dinas-Rhyd Ddu turn) to the two train diesel service.
There are 23 days of peak operation RED timetable, none in July and 16 in August (Tuesday-Thursday plus the August Bank Holiday). This year there is a daily service until October, when there are no trains on Mondays and Fridays (except the school holiday week). The last trains shown operate on 29/10/06.
Click here for full details
Phase 4 progress 19/11/05
Clearance of the trackbed has started north of Pont Croesor alongside the B4410 to Garreg. It makes sense to progress this section while the ospreys have flown south for Winter. The work covers the roadside embankment from LC112 at Ch.30120 to Pont Croesor at Ch.30960. This section of railway is on a sand embankment originally constructed for the Croesor Tramway and was overgrown with gorse and small bushes. There has also been some erosion by the cows that graze the adjacent marshland. No further work is planned at this site in the near future.
While the flood channel bridge at UB209 retains its slate slab deck, UB210 was removed many years ago and only the concrete abutments provided during the 1922 reconstruction remain. The clearance has been done by Wright's Landscapes. The boundary between the railway and field had to be fenced first since the gorse was the only thing preventing the livestock from wandering off! Other than the recent clearance work at Porthmadog, this is believed to be the first work south of the Nantmor Incline. By the end of the week, the site was cleared down to ballast level.
Contractors have also been working week/ending 20/11/05 on the Bryn-y-felin bridge abutments. They have been modifying the top of the abutments ready to take the new bridge in 2006 and, whenever water levels allow, working on the water scour of the eastern abutment.
Contractors also move in on 21/11/05 to start the rebuild of the section from Pont Cae'r Gors, through the site of Hafod Ruffydd Halt at LC71, to LC77 at north end of Beddgelert Forest camp site (contract sections 3 & 4). This will mean that work is in progress over 6 km of trackbed from Rhyd Ddu to Ty'n-y-coed. In total there are 20 km of trackbed to be reconstructed between Rhyd Ddu and Porthmadog.
Team Wylfa report 17/11/05
Team Wylfa progress is limited by numbers at the moment as only three volunteers were present on the evening of 15/11/05 and two on 17/11/05. RRM overhauls are continuing. RRM No 11 is almost ready for out-shopping, once the brake has been adjusted. Volunteers also restarted work on No.140 on 15/11/05 with the final cleaning up of the con rods. One is not far off completion and the other three just want the final going over with power polishing disc in the angle grinder. Team Wylfa hopes for a larger team next week with shift changes allowing regular volunteers to return and possibly a new member too, who called in at Dinas on Tuesday evening to drop off a large vice that was surplus to his requirements.
WHR(P) 2006 working party dates
It is expected some sleepers and clips will be delivered to the WHR(P) from the deliveries reaching Dinas at the end of November. They are being delivered to Dinas in containers and a long reach fork lift will be needed to unload the pallets. The WHR(P) has working parties on the following dates:-
27/12/05 to 2/1/06
11-17/3/06 (Spring Bash)
14- 17/4/06 (Easter)
29/7/06 - 6/8/06 (Civils Week)
Anyone intending to come for the first time should contact Mark Holden - mark@firstname.lastname@example.org. To remove the spam trap change the first @ sign to a full stop.
Volunteers will be installing the sleepers on the length they recently laid on temporary sleepers from Pen-y-Mount to Cynfal level crossing. Each panel will be re-sleepered separately then top ballast will be added and the track ballasted and tamped into correct line and top. The WHR(P) fortnightly working parties from January and February 2006 will focus on completing the majority of the tracklaying to Traeth Mawr loop, given the speed of assembly of pandrol clipped track.
This northerly view (12/11/05) at Cynfal level crossing shows the track laid on temporary wooden sleepers with pandrol clips for one length north of the level crossing. The temporary sleepers may be replaced by Xmas and the track extended further north towards Traeth Mawr loop. The tube to the right is a plastic slotted French drain pipe. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Caernarfon Progress 15/11/05
On 15/11/05, the strengthened Tuesday Gang laid out sleepers on the new loop alignment as far as the water tank, 3 lengths worth. The volunteers then put rails in position and screwed down the first two panels. There was glorious sunshine today.
This northerly image (15/11/05) shows track being laid in the spot where the water siding point used to be. Rail was cut to length to join the 2nd and 3rd panels because of the bend. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright Tony Baker and was taken on a digital camera. Image taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Work proceeded over the weekend of 12-3/11/05 at Caernarfon Station. The platform road has been slewed over onto its new alignment. The completion of the loop and points is required in time for the Santa Trains in December. The contract to extend the platform to the south will see contractors on site in January. Work is scheduled to be finished by the start of the mid-February half term service.
This northerly view (12/11/05) at Caernarfon Station shows volunteers slewing the track to the east to create space for the southerly extension of the platform alongside the railings of the cycle track. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Dave Waldren and was taken on Canon G2 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (12/11/05) at Caernarfon Station shows the loop point in its new more southerly location with the repositioned ground frame (right). A new ballast bed has been laid out where the loop line diverges. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Dave Waldren and was taken on Canon G2 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (12/11/05) at Castell Cidwm shows No.143 and K1 hauling the photo-charter special with the photographers in two coaches to the rear, behind the wagons. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Bruce Brayne and was taken on Sony DSC-W5 (5 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
K1 was trialled on its own on a train to Waunfawr on 11/11/05 ready for a freight run-past photo-charter on 12/11/05, previously reported on this website. Having run in well, the charter went ahead, departing ecs from Dinas with No.143 and K1 on the front and picking up the party in two coaches attached to the rear of the freight at Waunfawr. Although your webmaster was videoing for the next WHRS charity video, a few digital images were taken and fortunately, the few independent photographers 'in the know' were good enough to send images.
This northerly view (12/11/05) at Pont Betws shows No.143 and K1 hauling the photo-charter special with the photographers in two coaches to the rear, behind the wagons. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Bruce Brayne and was taken on Sony DSC-W5 (5 Mega pixel) digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The train departed Waunfawr around 9 am and ran to Glan-yr-afon and Clogwyn-y-gwin where run pasts were performed in the morning and afternoon. Sadly the party was unlucky with the sunshine (both Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu were well lit at times) as a band of orogenic cloud from Elephant Mountain ran across their viewpoints most of the day. Upnor Castle detached the coaches and pulled them back north of the run-past area while No.143 detached and ran forwards clear of the run-past area. On one occasion No.143 ran right up to the Rhyd Ddu stop block that was protecting the station alterations. At lunchtime the train reassembled and was led back to Waunfawr for a pub lunch by Upnor Castle.
This northerly view (12/11/05) at Plas-y-nant shows No.143 leading K1 through the sharp curves approaching the halt. Apologies for the speed blur-it was dark! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Due to HMRI stipulations, K1 is not allowed to haul passenger workings on its own until it has proved reliable. The loco was clearly steaming a lot better, with few leaks. The bearings ran well, though one is said to be still bedding in. The K1 Supporters Group must now be looking forwards keenly to the announcement of their first haulage by the loco on its own.
This northerly view (28/10/05) at Clogwyn-y-gwyn shows K1 hauling its short freight through the curves for the run-past. The shrill whistle echoed evocatively around the cliffs. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (28/10/05) at Rhyd Ddu north shows No.143 at the stop block protecting the station works. The loco had detached from K1 and run forwards to clear a length of line for run-pasts. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 progress to 12/11/05
There has been no further progress with ballasting but the south end of Rhyd Ddu station has now been cleared to formation level and slate waste sub-base has been laid down over most of the future sidings area. Spoil has been moved to Pitt's Head Cutting for stockpiling against the road embankment. The roadside wall is almost complete to Pitt's Head. Gaps have been left in the ballast bed at LC66/7.
This northerly roadside view (12/11/05) from the site of Pitt's Head Halt shows the paver has laid a ballast bed to LC68. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Work in Pitt's Head Cutting has controlled the drainage but the retaining walling is still not complete. The northern end appears finished but some water ducts and the southern end remain to be finished. Work is underway in Summit Cutting taking back the peat to a stable angle.
This southerly view (12/11/05) of Summit Cutting shows an excavator working its way south, paring back the peat. Sidelong French drains are to be installed to ensure the cutting remains dry. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
There has been no visible further progress on the Pont Cae'r Gors to Hafod Ruffydd section or between Hafod Ruffydd and the Beddgelert Forest Campsite. The small diversion (1-2m) of the forest track on the upper S curve at Ch.18700 has been marked out. Work is well advanced by contractor James, clearing the trackbed between LC77 at the campsite and Ty'n-y-coed cottage. The new Afon Meillionen bridge is complete alongside UB150 and the parallel forest road between LC77 and Ty'n-y-coed, west of the line, is passable with care by motor vehicles. The footpath leading to the planned footbridge OB151 has been abolished and the level crossing just south of there, where the platform is planned, has been closed off.
This southerly view (12/11/05) at UB150 shows the newly completed bridge with railings installed to the east (left) for the forest track. This leaves the trackbed to the right clear for the contractor to re-instate. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (12/11/05) from LC77 shows the fencing through the campsite has been completed. This is the site of the future Beddgelert Forest Halt. The sign on the post indicates the former permissive path on the trackbed has been closed by order of the Forestry Commission and the WHRCL. However, on this date, the tarmac had still not been removed from the trackbed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (12/11/05) at LC79 (Ch.20500) shows the clearance and ditching of the trackbed has reached Ty'n-y-coed. The new forest track access is seen crossing the trackbed and a new car park has been built to the left for the cottage. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Sleepers and clips arrive
Some 3000 steel sleepers and clips arrive at Felixstowe Docks on 13/11/05 and will be moved by lorry to Dinas week commencing 21/11/05. The next shipment will be 6000 sleepers arriving about 3 weeks after that. The final two shipments follow at roughly 2 week intervals.
Team Wylfa report
Volunteers are steadily working through the RRM refurbishment programme. No. 11 was taken in hand on 8/11/05. Wheels were removed, old bearings taken out, new bearings installed and axles cleaned and checked. The frame is not too bad, only needing spot priming then an all over repaint in yellow. Hopefully, it should have been primed on 9/11/05 so Team Wylfa (just 2 on 10/11/05!) should be able to re-wheel it and get the frame repainted. It should be completed on 15/11/05 and the next one started.
Bryn-y-felin bridge details
The detail design of the Bryn-y-felin bridge was partly determined by the design of the two identical bridges further south. Because of site location and access difficulties at the Afon Nanmor and Dylif bridges, the original all-welded common design was changed so that construction could, if necessary, be carried out in-situ over the rivers by having temporary supports and bolting together the individual elements Meccano style. Bolted nodes give maximum flexibility on site. On-site welding is not favoured generally due to the very onerous quality control needed. Caernarfon based fabricator D J Williams supported by structural engineer Mike Barnard put in a strong bid based entirely on all bolted joints and this was accepted by the WHRCL. All three bridges will be identical to give economy of scale.
This image shows the plan of the replacement Bryn-y-Felin bridge (UB174). Click on the image to view the pdf file. Click here to download the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader. This file is courtesy John Sreeves. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi. Plan courtesy WHRCL.
The end result is that having bolts rather than welds gives an appearance more similar to the original Douglas Fox design. Furthermore, the WHRCL has requested that the fabricator assembles the bridge using tension control bolts (TCBs), which have the appearance of rivets, as well as being about 30% stronger than ordinary HSFG bolts. The end result is that there will be one splice in the bottom chord at 40% of the distance from one end, i.e. breaking it down into nominally 2 and 3 bays length, plus the bits at the end. By coincidence this also replicates Douglas Fox’s design. Each bay is exactly 4.572m long (or 15’ for the purists!). The top chord is 13.716m long and will be in one piece. Connections are made through 25mm thick gusset plates.
This image (8/11/05) taken at the Caernarfon fabrication shop of D. J. Williams shows the bridge beams clamped together for welding. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy WHRCL and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Between the side frames there is a grillage of cross members and rail bearers supporting the roadway and these all have bolted connections. The rail bearers are connected to the cross beams through angle cleats as in the original bridge. The cross beams are connected to the side frames through end plates and much thought was given to the stiffening in this critical zone as there will not be any internal diagonals across the corner. Finally, lightweight diagonal angles are slung underneath to keep everything nicely square and rigid against wind and locomotive nosing loads.
Fabrication of the Bryn-y-felin bridge started in early November (see below) for installation early in the New Year.
Caernarfon track removal
On 8/11/05, the southern loop point was moved a little towards Dinas where it will be repositioned to make the loop longer. Volunteers removed more track from Caernarfon on 9/11/05. Trackwork is on schedule. The watering siding point was removed to Dinas Yard by 9/11/05. It was originally laid during September 1997.
Phase 4 progress 8/11/05
The headshunt and link line at Rhyd Ddu were removed during 7-8/11/05 in very wet conditions. The rails being placed in the 2 foot of the remaining platform line and loop roads. All other materials have been returned to Dinas for safe keeping. The points have been disconnected but left in position until they can be lifted clear to a safe place whilst work on the platform takes place. The latter part of 8/11/05 was spent removing the platform name boards and fencing, leaving only those fence posts set in concrete. The platform benches and flower boxes hopefully will be removed later this week, clearing the site ready for work to start.
This southerly view (8/11/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows the removal of the headshunt and crossover to allow the southern extension of the platform. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tim Evans and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Bryn-y-felin bridge steelwork started
The side truss structures for the new Bryn-y-felin bridge are currently being fabricated in the Caernarfon workshops of D. J. Williams. On 8/11/05, the H beam sections had been cut to length and were tack welded in position lying on their sides, before the gusset plates were added.
Although, the Bryn-y-felin bridge was designed originally as an all-welded design (the road from Porthmadog would allow delivery of a complete side frame), the Nanmor and Dylif bridges could not be constructed as such due to restrictions on site access along the trackbed. As a consequence, economy of scale dictated that the three bridges should be constructed to a common bolted design. More on this in the next update.
Phase 4 progress
Phasey's ballasting had reached the site of Pitt's Head Halt by 5/11/05, meanwhile the drainage in Pitt's Head Cutting dealt well with the recent downpours and no longer floods. With the completion (by Forestry Commission contractors) of the new Afon Meillionen bridge in the Beddgelert Forest campsite, the WHRCL contractor James moved on site on 7/11/05.
This northerly view (7/11/05) at the site of the future Beddgelert Forest Halt shows contractor James on site ditching. The tarmac roadway on this section must also be excavated. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Roger Dick and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The Nantmor road bridge was removed on the morning of 6/11/05 as planned and taken away as a whole unit on the back of an articulated lorry, courtesy Bob Francis Cranes. The railings on one side had to be cut off to ensure that the bridge was within 'gauge'. The bridge will be replaced in 2006.
EAG report 5/11/05
Wagon EAG 5 (5001) has been stripped down to a bare underframe, the wheels, brake gear and decking having now been removed. The one remaining centre coupling has also been removed. The frame has been de-rusted and partially painted with primer. Some of the brake gear had already been refurbished at the home of one of the volunteers, and two of the axleboxes have been cleaned up. Some of the timbers can be re-used but quite a little will need to be replaced.
Wagon EAG 6 (5002) still retains its decking at the time of writing, though
it, too, no longer has wheels or brake rigging. The latter has now relocated to Norfolk for refurbishment!
The decking on this wagon is now useless and will require complete replacement. The 4 "buffing plates"
added by the MoD have been ground off. Volunteers are expecting to transport the wheelsets to Pendre Works,
Tywyn, for re-gauging during December. Future work is expected to include the following:
1. Complete refurbishment of frames, horns, axleboxes
3. Modifying the brake gear to suit the revised wheel back-to-back measurements
4. Making provision for vacuum brake fitment, including further modifications to the existing brake cross shaft.
5. Procuring and fitting through vacuum through pipe including provision for vacuum cylinders.
6. Procuring and fitting chopper couplings and springing arrangements. The choppers may require a deeper "joggle" than the SAR wagons, due to the MoD coupling height exceeding that of the latter.
7. Re-decking the two wagons (as flats). Repainting as required.
Team Wylfa report 3/11/05
The RRM work continues but Team Wylfa has been seriously under-resourced these last two weeks because of sickness and shift patterns. It has been a struggle to get a second RRM completed in time for the weekend work at Rhyd Ddu. The first set that volunteers just serviced/oiled up is on duty at Caernarfon for the layout alterations and, despite some poor wheel bearings on one, they are serviceable on the level as long as they are transported to site by road.
RRM No. 8 is complete and No. 4 was nearing completion on 1/11/05 with the wheels complete and new bearings fitted. All that remained was to tack weld the axles into the frame and touch up the paint. The Rhyd Ddu crew have helped with final assembly because Team Wylfa does not have sufficient manpower to lift it off its perch. All they will have left to do is lift it down then slot in the lifting arms and their 'axle', secure the 'axle' with two bolts then screw up two shackles to secure the rail lifting tongs. It should take them just a few minutes.
Team Wylfa is looking for more team members to make up for absences due to various problems. There is the rest of the RRMs to overhaul and No.140's boiler has arrived back outside the Loco Shed and that needs to be progressed urgently too. There is certainly no fear of anyone being bored through lack of work! Contact Clive Briscoe if you are interested in helping on Tuesday or Thursday evening at Dinas.
In the best FfR tradition, midnight oil was burned on the evening of 3/11/05 by John Peduzzi and Clive Briscoe and, as a result, two newly painted, fully overhauled RRMs are now awaiting collection for Rhyd Ddu clearance work on 5-6/11/05. Another 10 RRMs are due to be completed in due course. Volunteers have already stripped two more and they are being tackled with some components already painted. When these are complete, Team Wylfa will exchange them with the two at Caernarfon, then the other two in the construction shed.
The continuing pw campaign to raise the speed limits to 25 mph on Phases 1-3 has required a major works programme for 2006. In the first instance 20mph is being set as the limit and TSRs are being dealt with to increase the length of 20mph passed line available. This is essential if an acceptable the an acceptable overall time for the 25 mile railway is to be achieved by 2008/9.
1) Caernarfon Lon Parc footbridge (just south of station) to Hendy (20mph)
2) Dinas Loco Depot to A487 (20mph)
3) A487 to Cae'r Moel. This work has to be redone as it was distorted by the heat shortly after last year's major effort.
4) Cae'r Moel to Morgan's Hump (20 mph)
5) Morgan's Hump to Tryfan Junction (remove guard rails through bridge and associated wooden sleepers, re-sleeper with steel) (20mph)
6) Tryfan Junction to Tan-yr-allt (20mph)
Alcohol on trains ban?
Clare Britton, the FR's commercial manager, has stated the company will be writing to the Heritage Railways Association about Government plans to ban alcohol sales on trains. Alcohol sales account for 20% of the turnover in the buffet car on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.
"There are many preserved railways who serve alcohol from their buffet cars and for whom the income received is a very valuable part of their total revenue. I would ask the government to carefully consider their actions before it moves further with this proposal," Ms Britton said. The FR said fuel price rises had hit profits and the money spent on board trains had become more significant recently.
The Home Office states that no decision had been taken on this issue after reports that a drinks ban on public transport was proposed as part of a crackdown on binge drinking. It is claimed that the proposal is designed to stop passengers being terrorised by drunken yobs on trains and buses but it could also have the effect of stopping passengers having a drink with meals. Some see the proposal as further evidence of what they call Labour's 'nanny knows best' attitude.
Coach No.100, currently standing in Dinas North Yard may be scrapped on the spot to save transport costs. While the body is rotten, some fittings, the frame and bogies will be retained for rebuilding at Boston Lodge. In particular the bogies will be donated to coach No.105. The first class seats from No.113 are due to be donated to No.101 before it comes to the WHR around Easter 2006.
WHR train plan
The current plan is for a basic service of two sets that can be made up to 10 coaches, each making 1.5 round trips a day. This gives 3 round trips from Caernarfon or Porthmadog passing at Rhyd Ddu (or Beddgelert) with two hour gaps e.g. 1030, 1230 and 1430. This allows for a 2 hour running time for the 25 miles plus run round and watering. A plan to build additional standard WHR coaches at Boston Lodge has recently been agreed and 5 are to be started in 2006.
A diesel shuttle could be added to fill the gaps, possibly operating in push-pull mode. A five carriage diesel hauled 'half-set' could be hauled from Porthmadog to Caernarfon and be strengthened there by an additional 5 carriages to form a normal length service train. The railway prefers hauled stock to diesel multiple units as the carriage fleet can then be of one type, thus simplifying maintenance.
On the catering side, buffet trolley operation would continue as present but there are designs for a buffet car that could support a dining operation. A 'steam and cuisine' type dining train could be developed later. Through running from the FR using FR narrow bodied stock, would be possible for a limited number of 'Snowdonian' Express trains. These could be marketed as a World Class heritage operation to attract foreign tourists.
Loco Bits & Pieces 4/11/05
The Garratts have performed very reliably this year. No.143 has not missed a turn and No.138 only missed three days with a leaking high pressure steam feed to the rear bogie. A cheaper type of fuel oil is being used but it does not burn as cleanly.
K1 to run?
The FR is anxious to get K1 into traffic as soon as possible and it may appear in the near future paired with a diesel in passenger service or on test trains. The loco cannot currently run alone except on ecs test due to H&SE requirements. If K1 proves to be a success, it may be a candidate for an early conversion to the gas producer system as the FR is finding the increasing oil prices a burden.
Progress map updates
Laurence Armstrong has kindly undertaken the task of updating trackbed/tracklaying progress maps for Phase 4 from John Sreeves. The latest two North and South maps are available from the links above. The Middle map remains unchanged as no work has been done on this section yet.
Phase 4 News
The contractor (James) has now finished stage one of the trackbed works between Hafod Ruffydd and the upper S bend (Ch.17950 to Ch.18750). This was to clear the trackbed, identify the old centreline (the old sleepers found were most helpful), and (importantly) to try and get the water off the trackbed so it became at least a bit firmer. The WHRCL are negotiating the rest of the work with contractors at this moment. James has also won the Datry's managed contract to build railway for the 1 km approx. through the Beddgelert Forest campsite from Ch.19600 to Ch.20560 at Ty'n-y-coed. Work starts week commencing 7/11/05.
Team Wylfa report 1/11/05
The second RRM (No. 4) to be overhauled by Team Wylfa is now approaching completion. RRM No. 8 was completed last week. The RRMs carry their numbers as welded metal beading on the chassis and there are 12 in all, two based with the WHR(P) at Pen-y-Mount. As No. 4 was one of the first RRMs built, it was in a particularly poor condition, requiring complete stripping, re-priming and repainting. Volunteers are giving some thought to lengthening the props that support the rails as the WHR(P) reported that the rails were so flexible they sometimes sagged in the middle and dragged on points, l/c timbers etc.
This image (1/11/05) shows RRM4 in the Clip Shed nearing completion of its refurbishment. The number is shown on the chassis. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Bruce Brayne and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Loco and coach news
With the main train services now at an end for the year, FR coach No.100 was placed outside by 1/11/05 awaiting a low loader for its final trip back to the FR for scrapping. It will be replaced by either coach No. 101 or 111 in the New Year. Castell Caernarfon is up on the blocks in the Engine Shed receiving bogie attention, while K1 is in the Carriage Shed having vacated its place in the Goods Shed in favour of No. 143. K1 was having attention to leaking drain plugs last week.
Caernarfon water siding lifted
This northerly view (1/11/05) shows the Tuesday Gang lifting the Caernarfon Station watering siding in preparation for the extension of the station platform and run round loop to allow longer trains. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on a Concord 5062AF digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Nantmor road bridge removal
The deck of Nantmor road bridge, UB182, will be removed during a road closure on 6/11/05. The work is expected to be completed within one working day and notices have been placed to that effect locally. The new steel deck has been designed by John Sreeves and will be ordered soon for placement on the original concrete abutments in 2006.
Caernarfon Slate Quays Development Plan
The latest draft of the Caernarfon Slate Quay Development Plan has been published following a public consultation exercise. One of four options has been identified as the preferred option for further study. This option sees the railway extended to the tunnel mouth (to allow future extension to Bangor?) with a new permanent station building nearer the roundabout and a new link to Segontium Terrace, above the railway. The new roundabout outside the tunnel entrance will be short-lived as it is to change to a T junction with the currently private road to the slate wharf, making St. Helens Road lead directly into the tunnel. The current road to the castle, Allt-y-Castell, will be closed.
Car parking will be an issue. The extension of the station and a permanent station building will take up most of the car parking available on the station site and the nearest will be for only 40 cars, some 100m away in an area currently used for boats and buoys. As it is proposed to remove car parking on the slate wharf, a new 415 space car park will appear on the opposite side of the river with footbridge access to the west end of the castle leaving a walk of some hundreds of metres, not best if you are late for a train!
Other features involve a circular walk along the quayside and far side of the harbour with a new road bridge near the builders' merchants. The castle swing bridge will be removed and a plan to impound the harbour to keep it flooded at all tides is being considered. The buildings opposite the WHR are to be refurbished and mixed development is to be allowed in various plots. The regeneration depends on the availability of resources and the private sector.
Click on the image to enlarge. (2.5Meg file!)
SAR rails re-rolled
The remaining South African rails spare from Phase 3 have been sent away to be re-rolled. They were bent during mishandling on the dockside in South Africa. These will be delivered directly to Rhyd Ddu for use on the section to Pitt's Head currently planned to be laid in January/February.
Marcus Ingram reports that all steel work to be replaced has now been fitted and the associated welding of the floor completed. Wooden steps have been removed so new ones can be made. The floor has received its first coat of cream gloss paint. An order has been placed with local joinery firm A. J. Joinery of Caernarfon for replacement 32 mm thick ply panels. These being machined off site to the correct size and all rebates and windows cut out ready for fixing. New lower doors are being built by a volunteer joiner.
Timetable changes for Winter Service
This year's services ended early on 30/10/05 with the need to change the layout at both Caernarfon Station and Rhyd Ddu. At Caernarfon, the watering siding is going and the platform being extended to the south as this station is the pinch point that limits train lengths. The watering siding will be removed to allow space for the extended run round loop. At Rhyd Ddu, the station is being extended to the south the make a full length 200m platform with a yard with two sidings and a headshunt.
The Caernarfon work is due to be completed by December to allow the popular Santa Trains to run. However, the Rhyd Ddu work is scheduled to take until Easter so the Santa, Xmas and February Half Term trains will only operate to Waunfawr.
There will be three daily steam hauled round trips between Caernarfon and Waunfawr from 26/12/05 until 2/1/06, and again in the February half-term week from 11-19/2/06. There are no public trains in November or March. The 2006 season proper starts on Sunday 8/4/06, when trains will run to the newly extended Rhyd Ddu station.
Click here for WHR Santa Details
Click here for February trains
Phase 4 tracklaying - a step back to go forwards
This is a message for all who want to see the WHR running through to Porthmadog. Before Phase 4 track laying can go into full forward gear volunteers have to undo parts of Phase 3. To be specific, the south end of Rhyd Ddu has to be cleared of its existing track to allow the contractor for Stage 2 of the station works access to the platform area. The siding has already been removed. Once the passenger service has finished at the end of October, the points at the south end of the station, the head shunt and the link line must be lifted.
For those who have not worked at Rhyd Ddu previously, it will be a good opportunity for getting to know the site where Phase 4 tracklaying will be happening shortly. And those who already know it will have the chance to find out how we are going to tackle the start of Phase 4 track work. Nothing too arduous is involved. Paul Bradshaw needs volunteers to assist with this work starting Monday 7th November. With a team of half a dozen or so we should be able to finish it in two to three days. The job is important as delaying the contractors start date is out of the question. Can you spare a day or two or three?
Please get in touch with Paul Bradshaw if you can help. You can email him on email@example.com or phone on 0151 427 2880.
Phase 4 progress to 28/10/05
On 27-28/10/05, Phasey was shifting spoil from the south end of Rhyd Ddu station to form the permanent trackbed (excepting the ramp up to their compound).
This southerly view (22/10/05) at Rhyd Ddu south from the temporary bus bay shows the alterations in the trackbed alignment to include Rhyd Ddu sidings. The main line will go through the bank to the left which was being excavated during the following week. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price and was taken on a Fuji Finepix F601Z digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Ballast deliveries were made on 28/10/05. Some experiments on 27/10/05 with a small paving machine, similar to an asphalt paver, allowed a short 20 m section of ballast to be laid immediately from Ch.15000 to UB117. In previous phases, dumper trucks have tipped ballast and a 360 degree tracked vehicle has spread it while a vibrator roller has levelled it. The paver may prove to be a more economical method.
This northerly view (28/10/05) at UB117 shows the paver having laid about 20m of ballast. The thickness of the ballast bed seems to be less than that used on Phase 3. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Spoil from the Rhyd Ddu excavations was being dumped in Pitt's Head Cutting on 28/10/05. There seemed to be little further progress with the retaining wall on the east side of the cutting but the main drainage was being completed on the west side of the cutting. Completion of the first contract from Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors is now anticipated for the end of November (a month late).
This southerly view (28/10/05) at Summit Cutting shows scraping of both sides has continued south from the incomplete occupation bridge. Despite worries about the peat foundation, this end of the cutting at least has been cut through rock. The drainage through the cutting must be an early priority. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (27/10/05) from Pont Cae'r Gors l/c shows slate waste piled ready to complete the hardening of the formation at LC69 on the only sunny day that week. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
No further work appears to have taken place at Pont Cae'r Gors or to Hafod Ruffydd as work is focussed on completing the late running contract to the north. The Pont Cae'r Gors cutting works are due to be completed by mid-December. However, the whole trackbed south to Ch.18700 at the top of the Upper S curve now appears to be firmed up for vehicle access and some of the culverts have received attention. Work on this section is due for completion by the end of November. The contractor did not appear to be on site during the week to 28/10/05 but is scheduled to finish the whole job, including the section from the top of the S curve at Ch.18700 to the forest campsite boundary at Ch.19600 by the middle of January.
This northerly view (27/10/05) from the public footpath at Hafod Ruffydd Ganol farm l/c (LC72) shows the hardened formation towards the site of Hafod Ruffydd Halt. This section will provide passengers with one of the best views of Snowdon to the right. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The Forestry Commission works alongside the Afon Meillionen bridge (UB150) are nearing completion. On 27-28/10/05 contractors poured the two blocks that lock in the beams. They were due to finish the bridge by 31/10/05. The road level on the bridge will be about 1m below the railway bridge alongside.
This southerly view (27/10/05) of the Afon Meillionen road bridge shows the 7 bridge girders in place and shuttering for the retaining block at the south end. The matching north end block was completed the next day. Shuttering and another concrete pour with surface mesh, will form the deck into a complete unit, hopefully by 31/10 when the road on the adjacent railway bridge is to be handed over to WHRCL contractors. It will be interesting to see if the new railway bridge has equally massive foundations! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
West of the campsite, new vehicle tracks are being excavated in the forest from LC77 to provide access to farms and fields that have used the trackbed until now. This includes Ty'n-y-coed, which will be reached via a new level crossing apparently at LC80.
WHR(P) tracklaying progress to 28/10/05
Volunteer tracklayers reached Cynfal l/c (LC120) by 27/10/05 and rushed to complete the l/c in that day. The following day they tidied the job up and laid an extra temporary panel to the north to Ch.33380 approx. having previously completed the ballast bed to join with that laid earlier in the year south from Traeth Mawr loop. The gates are to be provided later by the WHRCL.
This northerly view (28/10/05) at Cynfal l/c shows track completed across the l/c. A further temporary 18m panel was laid to the north the following day. The completed ballast bed can be seen where the ballast colour changes. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Clearance of the CTRL trackbed around the site of the original Porthmadog New station, presumably at the end of September at the same time as the Gasworks clearance, has revealed more of this area.
This northerly view (22/10/05) at Porthmadog New shows the cleared trackbed and water tower. This short length of trackbed is surrounded by fencing on both sides enclosing industrial premises, though the fencing on the right seems to have intruded onto railway land. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price and was taken on a Fuji Finepix F601Z digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa progress
Team Wylfa is continuing to work through the refurbishment programme for the 12 RRMs.
This view (20/10/05) in the Clip Shed at Dinas shows the repainting of one of the RRMs. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Jim Comerford and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
WHR(P) tracklaying progress to 25/10/05
WHR(P) volunteers made good progress working north from Pen-y-Mount by 25/10/05. With Pen-y-Mount l/c completed over the weekend they were able to advance north towards Cynfal l/c despite the windy wet weather. By 25/10/05 they were 4 lengths north of the l/c, more than half way to Cynfal. The rails are being cut to length and volunteers are finding them more flexible than the heavier rail they are used to. This makes them easier to curve. The rails are being fixed down with temporary wooden sleepers at wider than normal spacing north of Pen-y-Mount level crossing and the track is unballasted.
This northerly view (25/10/05) at Pen-y-Mount l/c shows Cnicht (No.36 Yorkshire Water Authority Division) propelling RRMs carrying rail across Pen-y-Mount l/c. In the distance the volunteers can be seen laying rails towards Cynfal l/c. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
It is anticipated that Cynfal l/c will be completed by the weekend with the rail lengths correct so that they do not have a joint in the crossing. When the new pandrol clipped steel sleepers arrive in November, volunteers will be able to advance north of Cynfal l/c and ballast the track as they go. They will then re-sleeper the section from Cynfal l/c to Pen-y-Mount Junction and ballast that section.
Phase 4 progress
Phasey is now at work contouring the land at the south end of Rhyd Ddu station. The trackbed appears complete except for ballast as far as Pitt's Head. The undulating gradients can now be seen to have been retained. Walling alongside the main road was continuing near Pitt's Head on 25/10/05 and the drainage in Pitt's Head Cutting appeared to be coping with the very heavy rainfall over the past few days. The retaining wall is almost complete and at least one stream slot has been completed. Earth clearance from the mounds in Pitt's Head Cutting was underway on 25/10/05.
South of Pitt's Head, some scraping of the northern side of the cutting has progressed a little way south of the future occupation bridge. Work was underway at the Pont Cae'r Gors end of the contract excavating for sidelong drainage of the trackbed on the incline south of Summit Cutting.
At Pont Cae'r Gors l/c the cutting and associated forest track re-grading is now complete but the fencing is incomplete. It does not appear that the power lines have been diverted as yet. Sleepers have been found right up to the site of the new l/c. The heavy rain has caused some slumping of the recently excavated cutting sides of Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting.
This northerly view (27/10/05) at Pont Cae'r Gors l/c shows the realignment of the parallel forest track and the completed excavation of the level crossing. Original WHR sleepers are visible right through the level crossing. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Down in the Hafod Ruffydd to Beddgelert Forest section, progress appears slow but sidelong drainage is evident south of Hafod Ruffydd. At the Upper S curve it appears that it will not now be necessary to divert the parallel forest track.
This easterly view (25/10/05) at the top of the upper S bend shows the trackbed being formed. No work was visible south of this point. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The Forestry Commission has made good progress with its Afon Meillionen bridge which parallels the railway on the approaches to Beddgelert Forest Halt. The foundations have been constructed and the bridge beams were placed on them by 24/10/05. The bridge is at a lower level than the adjacent railway bridge for some reason. It looks like the bridge will be brought into use just before the Beddgelert Forest Halt contract requires the trackbed on the old bridge in early November.
Down at Bryn-y-Felin bridge sandbags were being stockpiled by 25/10/05 for the works due in November to repair the scouring of the abutments before the bridge arrives early in 2006.
Progress at Pen-y-Mount 22/10/05
Saturday 22/10/05 saw a start on the WHR(P)'s Autumn Bash working north from Pen-y-Mount level crossing to Cynfal level crossing. The panel of track immediately south of the level crossing was lifted and the crossing excavated. Rail has been stored on the future alignment of the Cross Town Rail Link, known as the Harbour Branch in these parts!
This southerly view (22/10/05) at Pen-y-Mount shows Gelert in the headshunt alongside rail delivered just days before. The rail can be seen to have been pre-drilled with two holes for the fishplate. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (22/10/05) at Pen-y-Mount shows the length just south of Pen-y-Mount level crossing has been lifted so that temporary wooden sleepers with pandrol clip base plates can be applied. RRMs are visible in the background carrying the rail. The rail stack can been seen alongside the footpath towards Pen-y-Mount Halt. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (22/10/05) at Pen-y-Mount shows excavation of the level crossing starting using the small 360 degree excavator. The original bolted steel sleepers used on this isolated first length of Phase 4 can be seen stacked on a pallet to the left for removal to Dinas. It is the intention that all track south of Pitt's Head will use Pandrol clipped sleepers. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (22/10/05) at Pen-y-Mount shows excavation of the level crossing nearing completion. In the background a ballast pile is available once the trackbed has been consolidated with sub base. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Chris Price and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Caernarfon station trackworks
Dafydd Thomas (North Wales Track Gang leader) has not been able to receive or send emails for the past three weeks or so as his home computer has been faulty. He apologises for not contacting people but hopefully lots of volunteers will come for the Caernarfon Station track and platform extension during weekends in November/December. Please telephone him on 01248 681019.
Phase 4 Rail delivery complete
The delivery of Phase 4 rails from Flixborough Wharf to Dinas was completed on 21/10/05 and two deliveries were also made to the WHR(P), see below. There are three stacks of rail, 40 bundles wide in six layers. Each bundle contains three 18m rails. That makes enough rail for 19km of track. Together with the rail at Pen-y-Mount and spare rail from Phase 2 (sufficient for the length to Pitt's Head), there is sufficient to cover the 20 km of Phase 4 (Ch.15000 at Rhyd Ddu to Ch.35000 at Porthmadog Harbour Station Junction) and loops and sidings with a little spare.
This southerly view at Dinas North Yard shows the completed rail stack. Packs of fishplates can be seen wrapped in cellophane. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright John Hine and was captured using a Canon A95 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
WHR(P) rail delivery
Some 96 rails have now arrived at the WHR(P)'s head of steel at Pen-y-Mount. The first lorry load actually arrived on Thursday evening (20/10/05) and the driver spent the night in the car park at Porthmadog WHR(P) station after doing some impressive manoeuvring to turn his lorry round in a confined space. Unloading began around 0900 on Friday morning (21/10/05) with the first 48 rails. The second lorry arrived not long after, but thanks to some clever timing, James Hewett (WHR(P) Chairman) managed to squeeze in taking delivery of a dumper, 360 degree excavator and vibrating roller in between the two consignments of rail. By the end of the second rail delivery, everyone was extremely tired and wet, but certainly satisfied.
Tracklaying is due to start this weekend (22/10/05). Before volunteers take the first step forward over the level crossing, they actually have to take a step back and remove the last panel of the existing line at Pen-y-Mount. This is partly because it needs to be shortened by 3m so that a joint does not occur in the middle of the level crossing. The length also needs to relaid with new sleepers. Then comes Pen-y-Mount level crossing (Ch.33550). This needs to be excavated, a base made up with slate waste, then ballast and rails put on top, before the road surface is put back. Track laying will then carry on towards the next level crossing at Cynfal (Ch.33410), which is only 150m away. The seven panels in between will be laid using wooden sleepers as a temporary measure as the metal sleepers will not arrive in the UK until November. The wooden sleepers will later be reused in the Traeth Mawr loop.
If volunteers make good progress and do not hit any snags, they may get as far as putting Cynfal level crossing in at the end of the week (30/10/05). This will allow smaller groups to continue to lay plain line north from there on an ad hoc basis through the Autumn and Winter, bringing forwards the likelihood of a reopening of this first section of Phase 4 in 2006. There is still some planning to be done on Saturday morning (22/10/05) but volunteers are hoping that they will have broken the back of the Pen-y-Mount level crossing job by Sunday night. Pictures of the rail at the WHR(P) are now online at
Good progress has been made with the new Framafer KMX 95CM tamper in Boston Lodge with the aim of getting it ready for tamping immediately behind the freshly laid track on Phase 4 in January/February. Although the pantograph has been removed, in mines usage it was used to draw power for certain functions such as driving the alternator. This has now been bypassed and will take power from the tamper's own engine. The engine itself has been run on a number of occasions, and on 11/10/05 was run successfully for the first time using its own fuel system. The hydraulic system was also filled and pressurised for testing and found to be mostly in working order.
This drawing of the KMX tamper was provided courtesy Mike Hart.
However, on the down side, the main vibration shaft was found to have seized with what appeared to be a long standing lubrication failure. Consequently, the tamping bank will have to be stripped out for assessment and it may require external repair. The pick arms which move the tines have already been stripped out as they need replacement. It has been found that these parts are interchangeable with those from standard gauge Plasser 07 tampers so it will not be difficult to obtain replacement parts. Useful contacts have been made with experts in Plasser tampers, including the manufacturer's UK operation, and this should help Boston Lodge complete the machine to full working order more quickly.
A hundred or so high quality Jarrah wood sleepers have now arrived at the WHR(P)'s Beddgelert Siding base. These are destined for Pen-y-Mount and Cynfal level crossings, as well as for a few other projects around the railway. The base plates and fixings for Pen-y-Mount level crossing have arrived from Dinas and were unloaded during the evening of 20/10/05. Pen-y-Mount and Cynfal level crossings will be laid in wooden sleepers and these baseplates and screws are for those sections. Separate fixings will be used for the metal sleepers, when they arrive in November.
WHR(P) volunteers are well advanced with preparations for the new rail delivery, which is scheduled for Friday 21/10/05. A crane was organised for unloading at extremely short notice. Volunteers in the extension gang have been pulling out all the stops to make sure that plant has been ordered and method statements written in time for Autumn Bash, starting this weekend.
Team Wylfa Report 19/10/05
Team Wylfa is plodding on working their way through the RRM refurbishment programme. At least one will be completely finished this week with new wheel bearings fitted and a new paint job. Volunteers have all the wheels off 3 of the RRMs at the moment and all now have new bearings pressed in. There is much wire brushing and rubbing down going on as they remove the rust from the frames prior to repainting.
On the evening of 19/10/05 about 2115 Team Wylfa members were suddenly startled by a great roaring noise and obviously air brakes working. They were surprised to find a 25m long, 38 Tonner artic parked outside the Clip Shed! The driver having seen the station gates open, had driven in and the outside lamp had attracted him down to the Clip Shed. It was the latest load of rails of the day from Flixborough Wharf on the River Trent. This was the driver's second load that day. He had off-loaded in the morning, driven back and picked up the another load and wanted to be first off-loaded on Wednesday so he could get away on another job. Volunteers backed him up into position by the crane and he settled himself down in his cab for the night. Team Wylfa left him the new toilet block open BUT locked him into the station yard!
'Old Deviationists' track gang
The 'Old Deviationists' Gang, led by Paul Bradshaw demolished the siding at Rhyd Ddu into its component parts on 17/10/05. The rails were laid in the 'two foot' on the platform road. The track bolts were sorted into different tins, which, together with the fishplates and sleepers, were neatly piled into a DZ and taken down to Dinas. Apart from the dints in the ballast, visitors would not know there had been a siding there. The civil engineers can now have that part of the site to extend the station. The gang has been summoned for dry stone walling over the next few days and were working just south of Tryfan Junction on 19/10/05. On the 20/10/05 they were completing the remaining part of the 60m length of wall towards the asymmetric overbridge.
Joint statement by the FR/WHR(P)
"Aware that some problems of understanding have arisen in recent days between the Welsh Highland Railway Ltd. and the Festiniog Railway Company, and following meetings between Board members of the Welsh Highland Railway Ltd. and the Festiniog Railway, it is agreed that the delivery of rails and other materials to Pen-y-Mount will go ahead as previously agreed between the two companies to enable work as planned to go ahead at the site."
This will allow tracklaying to take place north of Pen-y-Mount Junction from 22/10/05. Some 88 lengths are due to be delivered direct to Pen-y-Mount from the shipload currently on the quayside at Flixborough Wharf (see below). The initial target will see the volunteers building north from Pen-y-Mount Junction through Pen-y-Mount and Cynfal l/cs (LC121 and LC120) using temporary sleepers in their Autumn Bash.
Having completed the most difficult section, the rest of the 900m extension to the temporary Traeth Mawr loop will be developed when volunteers and money for ballast are available over Xmas and Easter. The Traeth Mawr loop is at a lower level than the final formation and must be removed when the railway is extended towards Pont Croesor. There is still a chance this original section of the WHR, the first the WHR(P) has had access to, might open in 2006. Beddgelert Siding itself is a former BR exchange yard.
Phase 4 progress
The buried culvert immediately north of OB123 at Pitt's Head was broken out by 9/10/05 and drainage along the line of the new retaining wall seems to be coping with the Autumn deluges common at this location. The retaining wall is almost complete except for a drain at the north end.
In mid October Phasey finally made a start south from Pitt's Head Cutting towards Summit Cutting. Initial work included scraping the west side of the cutting between the road bridge and the never completed farm accommodation bridge. Completion of this contract is anticipated by the end of November rather than October as initially planned, due to Phasey diverting resources to the Pont Cae'r Gors contract. Peat from the excavation in Summit Cutting has been placed as mounds in Pitt's Head Cutting which have consequently grown even higher. Hopefully they will not obscure photographic viewpoints at Pitt's Head Cutting.
At Pont Cae'r Gors l/c, the cutting across the forest track is now fully excavated and has drained the recently excavated flooded section to the north. The roads around the l/c need re-grading and the parallel forest road was closed on 15/10/05 as a result. This contract is due to be completed in mid-December.
James' contract from Hafod Ruffydd Halt to the northern approaches of the campsite will be completed in two sections. Already they have constructed sidelong drainage ditches over the full length between Hafod Ruffydd Halt and the public footpath crossing at Hafod Ruffydd Ganol smallholding. The lower section south from the upper end of the S curve will see work start later in the Autumn. Work to the north of this point is due for completion by the end of November, to be followed by completion of the southern section during by mid January.
The Forestry Commission has continued its work on the Afon Meillionen bridge at the north end of the campsite. This takes the form of an embankment with the stream in a culvert through its base (as do the railway bridges in this section), and the roadway is being diverted onto this new crossing immediately to the east of the railway. Already rock has been tipped to provide access for the culvert construction. When the new bridge is complete, the railway alignment at UB152 will be handed over to the WHRCL contractors. The Beddgelert Forest Halt section has a planned completion date of 21/12/05, when the campsite reopens for Xmas. The contract for the section between the southern boundary of the campsite, Ch.20600 (LC80 at Ty'n-y-coed), and Beddgelert Station approaches (Ch.22000 approx.) is expected to be let in December. Further south, the old bridge deck across the main road at Nantmor (UB182) will be removed during November 2005 and the replacement installed some time in 2006.
The last lorry loads from the first ship from the Polish port of Szczecin arrived on 4/10/05. All the rails from the second ship were stacked on the quay at Flixborough Wharf by the 11/10/05. The first lorry load arrived at Dinas during the evening of 16/10/05, with deliveries due to be completed by 22/10/05.
As of 10/10/05, East Anglian Group sign making (construction of signs for the railway) has slowed down until a supplier for cornices and casings (the “picture framing” around the signs) can be finalised. Volunteers now have the necessary cutting tool, and one EAG member has approached the owners of a boat yard on the Norfolk Broads for help. Volunteers are confident of success, so await developments (and price confirmation!)
On the wagon restoration front, Mark Neilson recently took completed Hudson flat wagon EAG 2 to Dinas, where it acted as gate guardian at the Superpower weekend. It is intended that EAG 2 and its three companions will be used for transporting materials during Phase IV construction. Work is now well under way on the refurbishment of the first two (of four) ex-RNAD flat wagons for use on the railway. The other two will be tackled as funds permit.
This view (8/9/050 at Mill Green, near Horseheath, Cambs shows EAG volunteers (left to right), Roger Hornsby, Roger Thacker and Nobby Clark working on ex-RNAD Beith wagon EAG 6 (a future WHR No. 5002?). The wheelsets and hand brake gear have been removed. Click on the image to enlarge. Image copyright Richard Watson, taken on a Sony DSC-P73 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The brake assemblies have been dismantled for cleaning and painting, and all four sets of wheel run out from beneath the wagons. A provisional booking has been made with the Talyllyn's Pendre Works for re-gauging of the wheels from 2’6” to 1’11½”. This operation is expected to take place during mid-December.
Although most of the timbers will have to be replaced, volunteers will remove and store any re-usable material. The frames will then be accessible from above, allowing refurbishment of the frames and repositioning of the brake gear to suit the new gauge of the wheel sets. Provision will be made for future vacuum braking.
Finance continues to be at the forefront of the EAG's thoughts, as they are almost entirely self-funding. Volunteers need more money to help pay for the work they are carrying out, so any financial assistance would be very welcome indeed. If you can help us, either practically or financially, please contact either Mark Neilson or Richard Watson for further details. These are exciting times for the East Anglian Group – new faces are always welcome at our sessions at Mill Green, near Horseheath, Cambs. Why not join them? The next session at Mill Green will be held on Saturday 5th November, at the usual times – from 08.30 onwards.
K1 nearing completion
K1 is nearing completion and will soon be ready for commissioning trials. Some thought has been given to how the loco might help with duties in the Winter timetable when the railway is only running to Waunfawr and traffic might otherwise be depressed. The loco's small water and fuel tanks imply it cannot operate to Rhyd Ddu until the water tanks are installed for next Easter's services and it would also need a refuelling stop at midday if operated for a full day. If it was to be used for these Winter trains, there could be two supporters 'First Trains', one to Waunfawr and a second to Rhyd Ddu.
Rhyd Ddu works begin
The weekend of 15-6/10/05 saw the siding at Rhyd Ddu removed. Paul Bradshaw's track gang are dismantling it in preparation for the greater Rhyd Ddu Station remodelling that is due to get underway in the first weekend of November. The removed rails will be stored 'in the two foot' down the west side platform road ready for lengthening this side to the relocated loop points further south.
This view (17/9/05) at Dinas WHRCL Construction Office shows the 1:500 plan of the proposed track layout for Rhyd Ddu Station. New tracks are shown including the two siding yard and headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa report
Team Wylfa has a part in the tracklaying works as they have been stripping and overhauling the RRMs as previously reported. They have had to 'fast-track' two RRMs into working order for the Rhyd Ddu trackwork job mentioned above. Unfortunately the volunteers have not been able to change the wheel bearings on them yet but have sorted two out with the least damaged ones, fixed the brakes and oiled / greased them up. They will be transported to Rhyd Ddu by road as they are not fit for long distance rail travel until new bearings fitted. These RRMs will be returned in due course to be replaced by fully overhauled ones for track laying. Team Wylfa has now identified all the RRMs and knows where they are.
The new bearings have arrived and volunteers are making progress with pressing them into the wheels they have removed and the rest of the overhaul kit will be arriving in the next day or two. Over the next month, all 12 RRMs should have been through Team Wylfa's hands and then be in shiny tip-top order ready for the coming Phase 4 onslaught. Work on No.140's boiler has had to be placed on the back burner as it is too dark and wet when Team Wylfa arrives in the evenings to work on it in the Loco Shed headshunt. Volunteers are waiting for the end of steam loco working when the boiler will be shunted down outside the Loco Shed and preferably inside.
Bryn-y-felin bridge contract
The Welsh Highland Railway Construction Ltd has now placed a contract for the manufacture and installation of the major steel railway bridge spans required for the completion of the WHR between Rhyd Ddu and Porthmadog. These three 75 feet span bridges are for the river crossing in Aberglaslyn Pass Beddgelert as well as the Afon Dylif and Nanmor and will be very similar in appearance to the ‘truss’ type bridges originally installed at these locations. Detailed design of these bridges is thanks to Welsh Highland volunteer chartered engineer John Sreeves, with the final construction drawings approved by specialist bridge consultants Halcrow.
The construction contract, worth in total over £300,000, has been awarded to local engineer company D J Williams and Son of Caernarfon. Williams will first manufacture and install the Aberglaslyn Pass bridge in early 2006, and then look to progress the other two bridges that are required by the railway in 2007. Manufacturer D J Williams are a long established engineering company set up in Caernarfon nearly 100 years ago as Brunswick Iron Works.
The company has been involved with the construction of both Wylfa and Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power stations and Ford’s car production plant at Halewood. D J Williams has already been involved in the reconstruction of Welsh Highland including the major refurbishment of Glan-yr-afon Viaduct and other bridges on the section of line from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu, the installation and completion of a 60 foot span replacement bridge at Betws Garmon and building Waunfawr footbridge.
Roland Doyle, General Manager WHRCL, said “I am delighted that we have been able to award this major contract to a local company in support of our policy to maximise benefits to the local economy from spend in the reconstruction of the Welsh Highland Railway”.
The preparation of the abutments is being completed by another WHRCL contractor, including the scouring repair (not a significant job).
Click here for a detailed plan of the bridge courtesy John Sreeves
It will be necessary to rotate this image using pdf controls once the pdf has opened.
Phase 4 news
Phasey has now built up the sub base over the full length between Rhyd Ddu south and the site of Pitt's Head Halt. Ballasting will follow in late October. The contractors have also opened an access onto the trackbed at the south end of this contract near Pont Cae'r Gors and excavated the trackbed north from here towards the boundary with the original contract.
This northerly view (9/10/05) at Pitt's Head north shows the trackbed now completed with sub base. Ballasting will follow in the weeks to come. 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 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (9/10/05) at Pont Cae'r Gors north shows the trackbed now excavated on the northern approach to LC70 at Ch.16570. The gradient is towards the camera and water will collect here until the cutting is dug through the level crossing. 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 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phasey has made a new opening onto the trackbed close to the south end of their Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors contract. This will allow them to tackle Summit Cutting from both ends as well as access the northern approach to Pont Cae'r Gors l/c. They are also working on the small stream bridge UB125 at the boundary between the two contracts.
This southerly view (9/10/05) at Pont Cae'r Gors north (Ch.16450) shows the trackbed now with hardened with a quarry fines topping. Click on this image to enlarge. This image is copyright Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The latest Beddgelert plan, shown at the WHR Super Power event, features some changes on previous information. The 200m loop extends to the north of UB166 with the north end point between UB165, Pont Alyn bridleway and UB166, the bridge over the Afon Cwmcloch. The narrow northern extension to the platform will be constructed over UB167, which will carry the diverted footpath that crosses the station. The access to the platform will be via the station building area and a level crossing at the south end of the platform. The station building is planned to be a larger version of Dinas station building with local stone walls, yellow brick surrounds to the windows, and a similar slate roof. It will offer, ticket office, shop and toilets as befits the major intermediate station on the route.
Five Victorian style lamp posts will carry 'Windsor' style lamp heads with no upwards light pollution. There will be two waiting shelters on the platforms but the original intention to use the concrete base of the former station building has been abandoned. The access to the station via Oberon Wood housing estate will remain as is and a new electricity cabinet will be established at the gate similar to that at Rhyd Ddu. A new public path from the Beddgelert Central car park will be a sloping tarmac path with a crossing zigzag incline for wheelchair users, to ease the gradient.
This view (17/9/05) at Dinas WHRCL Construction Office shows the 1:500 plan of the proposed track layout for Beddgelert Station. New tracks are shown and construction details for the island platform and access. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
If agreement can be reached on delivering rail to Pen-y-Mount the WHR(P)'s plans for the Track Bash at the end of October are as follows. The volunteers can lay the crossings in before the sleepers arrive. First the WHR(P) team will lay Pen-y-Mount crossing (LC121), which will be on Jarrah sleepers. The next step is to lay the seven panels between the crossings with temporary sleepers (with Pandrol clips). Finally, they will build Cynfal Crossing (LC120). Volunteers will have to change the sleepers as soon as the WHRCL sleepers are delivered but they will not have to hire the plant twice, thus saving a lot of money! The WHR(P) team intend to complete the Traeth Mawr loop at the other end of the line at Xmas but all these dates will be delayed if the FR and WHR(P) cannot reach agreement promptly, putting at risk the WHR(P)'s planned opening of their extension in 2006.
Sleepers on their way
The manufacture of the steel sleepers and clips for WHR Phase 4 is now well underway. The total quantity is just over 21,000 sleepers with 4 clips per sleeper and covers all that is required for the WHR Phase 4 (timber sleepers and baseplates being used in stations and tunnels). The first lots have been released for shipment following inspection by Pete Gray (WHR PW). He also went there with Mike Hart earlier this year to undertake a supplier audit and finalise the contract. So there are now 8000+ steel sleepers and 32,000+ clips in transit in two shipping lots. The first ship is expected to arrive in UK docks at the beginning November and the second about two weeks after. The remainder are due to arrive during December.
Phase 4 plans
The WHRCL civil engineers' bottom line is to add to the length of ready finished formation southward from Rhyd Ddu at a minimum rate of 1km per month from 1st December to keep ahead of the volunteer track layers who are anticipated on site in January/February. It is anticipated the plan outlined below might even slightly exceed that rate of progress.
Preparations for the completion of Rhyd Ddu station trackworks are nearing a conclusion. Phasey is doing all the south end ground levels grading works as part of their current contract. The WHRCL is going to tender now for the completion jobs, including the platform. The new water tower tanks have already been ordered. This contract can be started as soon the volunteers lift the track that is in the way, planned for the first weekend of November.
Phasey's contract from Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors is making good progress. The section alongside the road is almost complete and will soon be ballasted in good time for the track layers. When they have completed the revised layout at Caernarfon Station they will start work on Rhyd Ddu south trackwork at the end November/start December. Work is also now underway rebuilding the dry stone wall alongside the road. The road has chainage markings in the absence of surveyor's chainage posts on the trackbed itself.
The new retaining wall at Pitt's Head Cutting is finished, except for a small gap left for a drain pipe. On 4/10/05, Phasey was about to start building a further under track pipe bridge connected with that. Phasey is also about to start work on the section across of Pitt's Head bog, Summit Cutting, aiming at finishing by the end October, but this could take a little longer (beyond the original contract date). This is because the WHRCL asked for a prompt start on the next section south from Pont Cae'r Gors and Phasey's manual resources are now split between the two contracts.
This southerly roadside view (1/10/05) at Pitt's Head Cutting, shows the sawn slate retaining wall nearing completion. There is a small gap where a stream pipe and culvert is to be installed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Phasey is currently working on part of the formation from the end of the original contract at Ch.16500 to the south end of the Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting. The main part of the cutting is now 'rough' excavated to track level. By the evening of 3/10/05 they were about 1/2 way through digging the cutting across the forest road crossing (LC70). The work constitutes a first rough dig to approximate the original cutting / formation in that area. If all goes well by 8/9/05, or early next week, Phasey hopes to have rough formed the cutting in this area and the roadway slope ready for finish grading, surfacing the track, doing side drains and the stream bridge at UB125, at the north end of the site.
This northerly view (1/10/05) at Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting shows the cutting retains its sleepers for the full excavated length. The area to the right was probably the loading area for the target wagons used in the WWII tank firing exercises. The cutting narrows to the north. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Once the Pont Cae'r Gors area is completed, Phasey will then progress on to the rest of that section towards Hafod Ruffydd. This is fairly easy going work except the old McAlpine's bridges at UB131/3 (embankments on dubious reinforced concrete culverts), which need to be rebuilt. There is also the landslip of the embankment to repair just north of the site of Hafod Ruffydd Halt.
A new contractor (James) won the contract for the section from Hafod Ruffydd to Ch.19600, some 400m short of the new Beddgelert Forest Halt. They have achieved a lot over last two weeks or so rebuilding the formation from the old halt level crossing down to the upper end of the first S curve at Ch.18700, where the alignment meets the forest track again. Lots of debris has been shifted, particularly in the cutting where the former 'Beddgelert Canal' was to be found. These contractors will then attack the 'S' curve to meet the Campsite contract.
This southerly view (1/10/05) at Hafod Ruffydd l/c shows the trackbed scraped to ballast by the new contractors, James. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The Campsite contract consists of almost 1km of trackbed from Ch.19600 to Ch.20600 (LC80 at Ty'n-y-coed). Posford Datry's consultancy of Caernarfon (formerly Posford Duvivier who advised on previous phases) are running that construction job for the WHRCL, including the halt platform. Work starts at the end of October time (following closure of the campsite) with completion planned for just before Christmas. The Forestry Commission started with their new roadway works both associated with the railway and their own campsite reorganisation works w/e 2/10/05.
It had been hoped that the rail unloading crane could do the job of shifting No.134's chassis into the Clip Shed but it was not powerful enough so a lucky deal was struck with the crane supplier, Bob Francis. They had a 100 tonner crane working in Pwllheli and it was finishing early. So, on its way home, it was parked in the Dinas North Yard overnight on 3/10/05. Team Wylfa took the covers off the chassis and moved the last obstacles to it coming in the Clip Shed on Tuesday night helped by new recruit Bruce Brayne. On 4/10/05 the temporary track was connected to the track panel inside the Clip Shed and No.134 was swung through 90 degrees and placed on the temporary track. The JCB acted as shunter to push it inside.
This view (6/10/05) in Dinas Clip Shed shows NG15 No.134's chassis now stored in the dry. Only minor work will be undertaken on this loco until the existing fleet of four Garratts is fully operational. 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 and displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa and the WHRS want to emphasise that this DOES NOT MEAN that work on No.134 is going to resume in earnest. The loco is simply under cover from the elements awaiting funding. Some VERY minor cleaning and preservation of the chassis may happen, but only if there is surplus labour from overhauling No.140 and Phase 4 work.
Phase 4 progress
Phasey has won the contract for the next 1 km section of Phase 4 in mid-September. The contract runs from Pont Cae'r Gors to Hafod Ruffydd. Phasey started work almost immediately and had completed the excavation of Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting (excepting the level crossing at the north end) as the men clocked off at 1pm on Saturday 1/10/05. An extended area of hard standing has also been built up at the site of Hafod Ruffydd Halt for site offices.
This southerly view (1/10/05) at Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting shows the excavation of the cutting completed at 1pm that day as the workers clocked off. The cutting narrows to the north end and had been filled in by forestry work as it approached the level crossing. The sleepers have been left in place for now. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
South of Hafod Ruffydd, the third 1.5 km contract section has been let to a different contractor. This covers Hafod Ruffydd Halt (Ch.17950) to Ch.19600, where the line re-enters the Beddgelert Forest after the Weirglodd Isaf pastures. Already the trackbed has been scraped south from Hafod Ruffydd and site offices have been established at the upper end of the horseshoe curve at Ch.18650.
Another contractor has been allocated the 1km section through the Beddgelert Forest Campsite (including the halt platform) due to be completed by Xmas from Ch.19600 to Ch.20550, the north side of the stream bridge at Ty'n-y-coed. Work was apparent on the Afon Meillionen bridge at Ch.19750 on 1/10/05. The newly diverted road bridge will now be on the east side of the railway.
This northerly view (1/10/05) in the Beddgelert Forest shows the clearance of land alongside UB152 for the diverted forest track, currently on the trackbed. The road track is being diverted to the east of the current alignment. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The North Wales Track Gang was in action in the Beddgelert Forest on 1/10/05 placing surveyor's reference pins in the bridge abutments. A contract is to be let shortly for the repair of the scoured Bryn-y-felin bridge abutments. This has to be done outside the fish spawning season. The main bridge placement contract will also follow on for placement early in the New Year before GCC takes possession of the site for its Bryn-y-felin road bridge improvement scheme.
Meanwhile, with just four weeks left of its contract, Phasey has moved up a gear at Pitt's Head Cutting now that it has finished the station access contract and can concentrate its workforce on the new job. The retaining wall on the east side of Pitt's Head Cutting was nearing completion on 1/10/05, though there was still no improvement in drainage. Hughes' concrete pipes are present. As Scottish Power has not yet completed the power line diversion at Pont Cae'r Gors, there is still no progress on the Summit Cutting length between Pitt's Head and Pont Cae'r Gors.
This northerly view (1/10/05) at Pitt's Head Cutting shows the retaining wall nearing completion. The position of the wall has reclaimed vital space for a smoother curve into the road overbridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Rail delivery report 1/10/05
The last rail lorries from first ship (of two) will be at Dinas on 4/10/05. There will be a few days' gap until lorries from second ship that docks 6/10/05 start rolling into Dinas again starting on Monday 10th October. That will then compete rail delivery. A total of about 60 lorries worth of rail will have been delivered. The WHRCL crew have worked well handling the arrivals of these rails and the fishplates.
This northerly view (1/10/05) in Dinas North Yard shows the bundles of rail being stacked on the bank between the fuelling road and the release road, ready to load onto rail carrying wagons. The first stack was complete with 40 bundles of three rails layered six high. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The haulage contractor required the WHRCL to guarantee unloading and turn round of not less than 4 lorries per day, and be able to handle 5, to keep the wagon train rolling. This is why the WHRCL has not dropped off loads here and there in various corners along WHR as was previously planned as that proved to be simply neither practical nor economic on what has been a major haulage logistics contract. The first shipment of new steel sleepers departs in the next few days and will arrive UK at the end of October. They will come in about 4 equal size shipments at about 4 week intervals. The pre-drilled rails have been delivered with pallets of fishplates to fit. The rail and sleepers order has cost the WHRCL in the region of £1million!
On 27/9/05 Nigel Hanwell of the WHR(P) ordered approx £4000 worth of sleepers for use during the WHR(P)'s Autumn Bash and the Christmas work party. Ballast, slate waste and plant has also been ordered. People are coming from all over the country to help lay the track. The WHR(P) rail allocation is going to Pen-y-Mount and an area has been cleared and marked out for the rail. Agreement has been reached with the farmer at Pen-y-Mount for the lorries to use the farm yard to shunt back into the WHR(P) yard. Ian Hartill (WHRC) visited the WHR(P) on 28/9/05 and saw and approved the pegged-out sites, not only for the WHR(P)'s 88 rails (Extension to Traeth Mawr), but also for the approximately 300 tonnes of rail for the Traeth Mawr to Hafod-y-Llyn section of the WHR (as agreed by Mike Hart).
Work on the new WHR/FR tamper, nicknamed Cockomatiqué, is now underway in Boston Lodge following translation of the instruction book. Two new WHR gauge bogies are under construction. It is intended that the tamper be available for action around Xmas, when the first of the new WHR track will be available to tamp.
This view (1/10/05) in Boston Lodge shows work underway on the new tamper. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This view (1/10/05) in Boston Lodge shows one of the two the new bogie under construction. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Caernarfon volunteer appeal
There is a strong commercial case for altering the layout of Caernarfon Station this year to enable it to take longer trains. The business is there but the longer trains to handle it cannot be until the platform line is extended. This autumn, there is a small window of opportunity to complete the track work needed to achieve the longer platform. The work must start as soon as the train service finishes on October 30th and must be complete before the Father Christmas trains start on Saturday December 10th. Once started, the job has to be finished on time. If the work is not done now, it could be a long time before another opportunity arises.
Fred Howes needs to know not later than 16th October if he can safely put the operation into full forward gear. A team of at least 8 people is needed each weekend starting November 5th/6th right up until December 3rd/4th. Unless he is confident that there is the man/woman power to get the job done on time, he cannot decide to do so. You can make Fred confident by volunteering your services to join the Caernarfon operation on one of those weekends. Even if you cannot manage a full weekend your help for a day is useful. Alternatively, you can help during the week as the work will continue between weekends as well.
Paul Bradshaw asks you to contact Tony Baker, who is coordinating the volunteer effort for this operation, as soon as possible to let him know when you can help. There have been earlier calls for help on this project but it is important so no apologies for reminding you.
Also in the first half of November volunteers are needed to lift the track at the south end of Rhyd Ddu Station (first weekend of November) preparatory to the contractor starting on the completion of the platform and other station facilities there. So if you are available to help there but not at Caernarfon get in touch with Paul Bradshaw.
Tony Baker's contact details are:
Tony Baker Phone 01492 874579 Email SPUDDY43@aol.com
Dafydd Thomas Phone 01248 681019 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
for the weekends 12th/13th and 26th/27th November
Mark Neilson Phone 01223 894058 Email email@example.com
for the weekends 5th/6th and 19th/20th November
Or you can contact Paul Bradshaw by phone on 0151 427 2880 or by
CTRL Porthmadog Gasworks site clearance
It is not now expected that any rail storage will take place at the former Gasworks site in Porthmadog, which came into the FR's hands by early September, as it has been decided to convert this directly to car park to minimise impact on car spaces in the Porthmadog Central Car Park and significantly expand the car parking space available. Work started on site clearance of the overgrown Gasworks site in the last week of September to allow surveyors to plan out the car park extension. A contract was let in the third week of September for these works. Another contract will be let in October for the CTRL works between Britannia Bridge and Snowdon Street. Once the car park is extended, the line of the railway across the car park can be fenced off and work can commence on turning this section into a railway. It is hoped to finish the works by Easter 2006 to minimise disruption to tourists.
This southerly view (1/10/05) in Porthmadog shows the secure enclosure of Porthmadog's former Gasworks. The remains of the valves can be seen on the left now the site has been cleared for surveyors. The site is lower than the main car park and has contaminated ground methane ventilators. Substantial amounts of fill may be required to build up the railway formation and level the Gasworks for the car park extension. A loop is planned in this area. The roof of the now closed Leo's Co-op supermarket is visible in the background. The railway makes a straight line route from the point of view to pass to the left of Leo's. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The current plans are for the Winter of 2006/7 are the Britannia Bridge Crossing (excluding alterations to Harbour Station) and Snowdon Street Crossing to Pen-y-Mount, including the Network Rail crossing. Agreement has been reached with NR for the crossing to be dropped in as a complete fabricated unit during a Network Rail pw closure of the Cambrian Coast Line, planned for the school Autumn Half Term Holiday in 2006. Again work will cease during the tourist season to minimise disruption.
The completion of the CTRL is planned for Winter 2007/8, when major alterations will be made to Harbour Station. The Cob must be widened for a considerable length and the FR tracks slewed, with the platform road curving into the third road as it leaves the canopy area in order to leave a wide island platform between the FR and WHR tracks. The platform will extend beyond the current king point.
Team Wylfa report 29/9/05
Team Wylfa continued RRM overhaul work this week as No.140's boiler has been shunted out of the Loco Shed and up to the end of the headshunt again. It is now nearly dark when they arrive for work so it is out of the question to work up there. Consideration of getting it under cover and lit needs to be made if volunteers are to continue this work, otherwise it will be over to a daytime squad of volunteers (if any) or the stretched resources of the permanent staff. The clock is ticking with regard to No.138's boiler ticket.
No.140's power bogie overhaul is progressing slowly - Brian Woodward is on site again and is machining an aluminium blank piston head for a pattern, which will be used to get new piston heads cast. The two piston valve rods have successfully machined up by taking a light skim so are now ready.
The new rail for Phase 4 started arriving at Dinas 0800 on 26/9/05. Four lorry loads are due to be delivered per day with about 30 lorry loads expected off this first shipment. The second shipload from Poland carrying all the rest of the rails is due to dock at Flixborough Wharf in about 10 days. A proportion of these rails was due to go to Pen-y-Mount for storage and use this Autumn on the WHR(P) Traeth Mawr Extension, expected to open in 2006.
This westerly view (10/9/05) in Dinas North Yard shows the rail delivered to Dinas this week. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Peduzzi and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The Phase 4 new rail is arriving at a rate of 100 Tonnes per day and the rail stacks are looking impressive. There was a sudden panic to clear the bank between the bay platform release road and the fuel road as a problem seems to have arisen with regard to deliveries to Gelert's Farm. Apparently, the lorries cannot get there. The rail crossing over the Cambrian is too steep either side and these extra long lorries would ground so extra space is having to be made to accommodate the rest of the rail delivery at Dinas with a way forward sought to get the rails to WHR(P) in due course.
The FR has resolved that all new-build rolling stock will make provision for air braking. In particular, the new carriages planned for the WHR will include dual braking arrangements. Although it is acknowledged that wholesale conversion to air braking is a complex challenge, the financial benefits are significant. The additional cost of equipping carriages with air braking systems whilst they are constructed is minimal when compared with potential savings. The WHR will initially require 3 nine car sets with a fourth rake working through from the FR.
A display of provisional track plans and construction maps was available in Dinas offices for the public to inspect at Super Power. As these are provisional plans, they are subject to change. The Porthmadog plan reveals some interesting alterations compared to those on the original T&WO plans (see above). There will no longer be a footbridge near the Harbour Station Junction point. Instead, the footpath will continue as before on the north side of The Cob all the way to a point opposite to Cob Records. The WHR tracks will move over into the area of Spooner's patio and clip a little off the modern extension to the original Goods Shed. There will also be a need to clip a little off the storage building opposite Cob Records.
The island platform will extend out onto The Cob beyond the existing king point. The Cob will require widening to allow for the 200m long 4m wide platform between the WHR and the FR tracks. The FR tracks will need to curve more sharply to access the original Harbour Station platform and awning. There will be five full length tracks in the FR station (platform road, run round and 3 carriage sidings) and a shorter storage siding along the sea wall. These sidings must also allow for WHR stock to be stabled to strengthen trains as required.
This view (17/9/05) at Dinas WHRCL Construction Office shows the 1:500 plan of the proposed track layout for Porthmadog Harbour Station. New tracks are shown in green and original track in red. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (18/9/05) at Harbour Station shows the original FR trackbed that crossed Britannia Bridge to the harbour slate wharves and was latterly used by WHR trains when Porthmadoc New fell out of use. An original sleeper is visible in the foreground. The WHR track is to be moved to the right through the position of the red car to allow the existing Cob footpath to reach the roadside. This will involve clipping a little off the modern Goods Shed extension where the Spooner's sign is located and also a little off the Cob Records store to the right of the red car. Spooner's bar would lose its paved patio under this version of the plan but gains a wider patio on the FR side. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
More Caernarfon Station volunteers needed!
Tony Baker (WHR Volunteer coordinator) and Fred Howes are quite concerned about the poor response they have had to appeals for volunteers to help with the lengthening of Caernarfon Station planned for November and December. Volunteers are especially needed for Nov 5/6, Nov 19/20 and Dec 3/4. These are the 3 weekends that the Black hand gang will not be present and the work must be finished before the Santa Trains begin.
Contact Tony Baker on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01492874579.
South Yard clearance
The clearance of some parts of South Yard was visible during Super Power with two sets of points being revealed and the tank off NG15 No.134 emerging from the undergrowth, up on wooden blocks. The area was used for staff parking and, with public access for the first time, offered some new photographic locations. A mulcher was employed in the yard to chop up the saplings.
This southerly view (17/9/05) in Dinas South Yard shows the points emerging from the saplings that have grown here. The remains of the stock siding that was used for delivery of the Winson coaches also appeared near the southern boundary fence. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
More on the Dinas Gardens
Although many of them do not show up on the image below, Peter Tweedale and Dave Waldren planted some 90 plants in the new garden at the south end of Dinas platform. It will take some time for the plants to mature, and some of them will have to be moved later on as the volunteers ran out of space! They should give a welcome splash of colour in a few years time. The majority of the plants were provided by Richard Watson, others were from Peter Tweedale, Margaret Castle, Roy West and Dave Waldren. The garden is a true multi-regional project, with contributions from Wales, Cornwall, East Anglia, Birmingham and Worcestershire!
Wood chip mulch from the South Yard was used in an attempt to suppress weeds and hold-in moisture. More will be added later. There is a small drainage ditch from the road running through the border at present. This will be dug out and a proper drain installed in due course. An anonymous donor provided a bag of bluebells which were planted under the trees by the bridge, and half a dozen trees were planted in gaps around Dinas yards. Trains were reasonably busy on 24/9/05, with much use of first class accommodation.
This previously neglected corner of Dinas station is the former ramp that led from the main road bridge down to the platform between the WHR and BR bridges. The West Midland Group tackled this area on 27/8/05. Volunteers cut down the remains of the GCC perimeter fencing and removed the concrete pillars of the former council highways depot. After several hours work with a pick axe and the removal of a great deal of rubble, a garden has been formed at the south end of Dinas platform. Planting will begin in the Autumn.
This southerly view (27/8/05) shows the area leading to the former access ramp from the bridge, now cleared thanks to a working party from the West Midlands Group. Click on the images to enlarge. These images are copyright Dave Waldren and were taken on a digital camera. Images post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Progress with Phase 4 points
Roger Behn (from Canada) helped Howard Stuckey to complete one set of points on 20/9/05. These were in the way of the rail stack due for delivery next week but have now been moved. The Dammgen family (from Germany) plus Roger assisted Howard on Friday in completing a further set. This leaves 2 sets remaining in the south yard which need to be stripped down and modified. Howard hopes to start on these next week.
Team Wylfa report 22/9/05
The reduced Team Wylfa beavered away in Clive Briscoe's absence finding and checking the Roland's Rail Movers (RRMs) ready for Phase 4 tracklaying (two have been loaned to WHR(P) at Pen-y-Mount Junction and have been there since June 2003). This continued on Tuesday evening (20/9/05) by moving one found marooned in the bushes at the far end of the South Yard up to the Clip Shed. Two more were discovered on the bank between the fuel and bay platform roads and another (with no wheels!) was rescued from the top of the bank next to the new diesel tank. Volunteers continued working on the RRMs on the evening of 22/9/05 and have now actually stripped some down for overhaul. Most of the wheels are seized (or partially so) but volunteers have found the answer. Suffice to say that it required brute force - the immoveable object giving way to the irresistible force - a 14lb sledge hammer to knock the 1" diameter axles out of the wheels!
Team Wylfa was ably assisted by some volunteers from Germany on 22/9/05, Ulrich and his son Jost Dammgen who have been working all week, with Ulrich's wife Gabi, around Dinas. Volunteers also had with them this week, one of their part time helpers, Andy Keene who was up for a week's volunteering. So on 22/9/05 Team Wylfa was up to 7 - one of the finest turnouts for a long time and the Clip Shed resounded to the sound of a 14lb hammer striking steel, sparks and noise from angle grinders, people drilling and generally moving things around a production line as RRM's came in fully equipped, were stripped down and sent out again as a bare frames!
In the hope of finally getting No.134's chassis under cover, volunteers cleared the track panel in the Clip Shed and brought in 2 lengths of rail and some sleepers at the end of the evening which will be connected to the end of the track panel and out of the doors into the yard, at 90deg to the fuel road. The hope is that it will be a large enough crane on site to offload the rail next week, so that, if the crane driver finishes a bit early and has 30mins to spare, No.134's chassis could be lifted off the fuel road, swung onto temporary track and pushed inside the Clip Shed for Team Wylfa. Clive Briscoe is in discussions with WHRC and Tony Williams to see if this is feasible. The added benefit would be about another 30' of siding space in the release/bay platform road and stop the chassis from rusting any further out in the rain. It would be good to finally get it under cover out of the weather so if Team Wylfa has any surplus labour (some hope at the moment!) it will be possible to transfer them to the restoration of the loco chassis.
Cambrian Coast success
Arriva Trains Wales is very pleased with its initial Cambrian Coast steam excursions that operated in the last week of August. These were overbooked on some days despite indifferent advertising and difficulties with the phone booking at Shrewsbury station! The company is looking to extend its operations throughout August next year and maybe for the full six weeks of the school holidays for up to 5 days a week. It is possible that a Manor will be brought in additionally, if it can be gauged, as these locos were common on the route in the 1950s/60s!
The worry for the FR/WHR is that these main line steam excursions might abstract traffic from the narrow gauge operations. Others believe that the success of these operations will bring people to stay for extended periods and benefit the railway. In future years the operation will be extended to Pwllheli once track repairs are done.
Phase 4 progress
With six weeks to go on site, Phasey has begun to tackle drainage and culverts along the Pitt's Head straight. There seems to be no progress south of Pitt's Head but this may be waiting on Scottish Power which has now threaded the red 'three phase' power cable diversion through the buried pipes at Pont Cae'r Gors. The diversion has not yet been connected. There seemed to be a little more progress with the retaining wall at Pitt's Head Cutting on 17/9/05. The car park at Rhyd Ddu and new station access is in use.
Phasey's contract does not cover the never completed accommodation bridge for cows immediately south of Pitt's Head road bridge. The design is now complete and they will be offered the tender in due course.
The Polish rails are due for delivery at Dinas 26/9/05 but the WHRCL asks that people keep their distance as, if the unloading contractor considers that it is dangerous, they might abandon the lift, resulting in increased costs.
This easterly roadside view (17/9/05) just south of Rhyd Ddu shows the completed culvert with local stone walling. Slate rubble has also been used to strengthen the trackbed over a length of about 100m south from Phasey's base at Rhyd Ddu South. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
For more images like this check out the Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert page.
Super Power 2005
Super Power 2005 proved a success, especially on the weather front compared with last year! Saturday was cold at Rhyd Ddu with sunny periods and Sunday a little warmer. The railway coped with comfortable crowds on Saturday but Sunday was a little thinner with more locals than enthusiasts. On Saturday, an 18 vehicle train was handled at Rhyd Ddu, with freight wagons at the front and rear. This was the longest train ever. On Sunday, a small ceremony was held at Rhyd Ddu with champagne to launch the volunteer effort.
This northerly view (17/9/05) at Dinas shows K1 shunting on the Goods Shed road with its new oil burner working well. A repainted Upnor Castle and LLR Elidir on 'Drive a Train' duties are seen in the background. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
FR/WHR online shop opens for business
The FR/WHR online shop is now open for business. Click on FR/WHR online shop
Driver's eye DVD offer!
John Wooden ran a WHR/FR shop in the Goods Shed as usual. He brought a few new items with a WHR flavour. The Rheilffordd Eryri ties are available in Maroon, Black and Grey. There are also some really nice fleece hats with the RhE crest embroidered on the front in Green, Black and Navy Blue. The FR is making its own WHR route DVD which is being shot on the non stop run on Saturday morning and then edited 'hell for leather' and manufactured in Caernarfon booking office all day Sunday so it can be sold that day. The FR version has been on sale for a week and they can't be made quick enough! To make the DVD a video camera was strapped onto the front of a loco and a video made of the whole route, up and down, each on its own disc so purchasers get the whole line. There is no music or commentary and by doing it all in house, the FR is making a good profit. The FR/WHR online shop is nearing completion and may be active this Autumn.
Phase 4 rails on the way
On 8/9/05 a WHRCL representative visited the Polish rail manufacturer to inspect the WHR rail order. Progress has been rapid and all 1300 tonnes of rail have been made. Half of the order is being shipped now to arrive Dinas w/c 26/09/05. The balance arrives about a week later. The WHRCL is storing all the rails at Dinas. When track is laid on Phase 4 in December, the rails can be transferred to rail wagons that will take them to just short of rail head. They will then be laid out in the 2 foot ready for RRMs to pick up and move them up to the Head of Steel ready for volunteer track layers. Sleepers will start arriving in October.
This view (8/9/05) at the Polish rail works shows some of the WHR Phase 4 rail order loaded on rail wagons ready to go to a Polish port for shipping to the UK. The rails appear to be bundled in threes. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Terry Turner. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Rhyd Ddu access works complete
Phasey had completed the Rhyd Ddu access works by 10/9/05. The car park access road has received its final 'wearing' tarmac layer and grass was already growing in the seeded peat in the Grasscrete area 'X' shaped slots. The new ramp has been tarmaced as well as the path leading to the new steps. The steps themselves have been completed with side walls in random local stone and a handrail on the north side. The former ramp has now been covered with soil.
Drainage work has seen the new drain under the access ramp (completed in August) finished as an overflow to the existing drain. A wall was constructed in the cess so that existing flows could continue via the original station drain under the SNP car park. Any peak flows will overspill the wall in the cess and flow into the new high capacity drain under the new car park.
During the weekend of 3/4 Sept. the East Anglian Group made further progress with station sign manufacture and also began work on the ex-MoD wagons. The first of the signs intended for Waunfawr was freshly faced in black vinyl. Further work on the signs project is likely to come to a temporary halt owing to the cost of suitable hardwood mouldings for the sign surrounds. Work has also taken place on the first of the ex-MOD wagons. This wagon has been dubbed "EAG 5", possibly a future RhE No. 5001. Quotations are being obtained for regauging of the wheelsets. Guidance is being sought from the Railway as to the specification required for completion of these wagons.
This view (3/9/05) shows the first wheelset to be removed from an ex-MoD 4 wheel wagon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Richard Watson on a Sony Cybershot DSC-P73 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
K1 at Crewe
K1 was loaded at Dinas on Thursday evening and was displayed on a short length of track (laid by the North Wales Track Gang) at Crewe on 9/9/05, together with Palmerston. Although the weather produced intermittent drizzle, the WHRS display tent generated considerable interest. K1 was missing its steam receiver pipe, that transfers the steam from the high to low pressure cylinders, and its oil firing apparatus. The pipe had been left off as it is difficult to load the loco onto a transporter with the pipe between the bogies. The loco is said to be ready for more haulage trials for HMRI type approval otherwise.
This westerly view (10/9/05) at Crewe Works Open Day shows the second numberplate No.2K. K1 has the boiler frame from the original K2 and the power bogies from K1. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (10/9/05) at Crewe Works Open Day shows Palmerston. The loco was in light steam. The proposed visit to Super Power is off, but preparations to fit appropriate couplers had been made. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Following extensive preparatory work, Welsh Highland Railway Construction Ltd is preparing to ramp its railway construction activities up into top gear by strengthening its core staff resource supporting the reconstruction of the Railway from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog. Key new staff members Maggie Piggon and Kim Martin have already joined the Company to look after the important finance and business administration functions respectively.
Roland Doyle, WHRC Ltd General Manager, has now announced a further new position of Civil Engineering Project Manager - responsible for turning the derelict railway trackbed into a condition fully finished ready for tracklaying. This new vacancy is being advertised but, said Roland, “I am delighted that Chartered Civil Engineer Simon Ambrose, who has been working with us in a voluntary capacity for some time, has agreed to take on the position pending a full time appointment. The existing team of Civil Engineer, Clerk of Works and Junior Engineer now report to the Civil Engineering Manager whose job is to oversee the challenge of delivering the civil engineering works on time and within budget”.
Construction work already well underway includes expanding and finishing Rhyd Ddu Station, current terminus of WHR train services. Contactors are also at work rebuilding the first section of line onward from Rhyd Ddu to Pont Caer Gors at the north end of Beddgelert Forest with completion on programme for the end of October. Preparations are also now virtually complete for the appointment of contractors to undertake trackbed refurbishment over a further two sections this Winter. One comprises extending the current works down to the boundary of Beddgelert Forest Caravan and Campsite. The other contract covers rebuilding the trackbed over about a kilometre length through the campsite, including building the new halt platform, during the Winter campsite closure period (November /December). Also on the short-term agenda is the early construction of the Bryn-y-felin railway bridge over the river in the Aberglaslyn Pass.
Meanwhile good progress is being made with detailed preparations for building the line through Porthmadog, the Cross Town Rail Link (CTRL). That work will largely be undertaken during the next three Winter periods, as the Company wishes to minimise railway construction work within the town during the tourist season. The first phase of these works comprises reorganising and expanding Porthmadog Central Car Park to make room for the CTRL.
Tracklaying is also in the final stages of planning ready to work along behind the Civil Engineering team. Paul Bradshaw, coordinator of the largely volunteer resourced track project, reports well over a 100 supporters have already offered their time to help ensure the railway is ready in good time for the opening of the extended line in 2009.
Elidir for SuperPower
The Llanberis Lake Railway will provide the loco Elidir for driver experience shunting in Dinas yard for SuperPower 2005. This ex-Dinorwic loco is the oldest of the three quarry Hunslets operating on the LlLR.
On 6/9/05, the Tuesday Gang spent a very hot day clearing shrubbery from the bank just beyond the water tower at Caernarfon. The wall has been revealed from behind the shrubs. The growth had to be cut back in order to provide clearance for trains once the track is slewed over at this point in November.
This northerly view (6/9/05) shows the Tuesday Gang cutting down the overhanging growth just south of the Caernarfon water tower. The blue plastic fencing protects the workers from the service trains. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on a Concorde 5062AF digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The WHRCL is preparing a contract for the second phase of the Rhyd Ddu Station works, to be carried out between 1/11/05 and Easter 2006. The contract includes extending the platform to its full 200m length and completing its second face, building a shelter (similar to that on the FR at Tan-y-grisiau), installing services such as water towers, platform lighting etc. The track layout at the south end of the station will also be re-arranged to accommodate the two siding yard (stock/pw) and yard headshunt. Train services will terminate at Waunfawr during the construction period.
In early September the WHRCL reported good progress on Phasey's Rhyd Ddu-Pont Cae'r Gors contract and confirmed that the contract was running one week ahead of its scheduled programme despite the flooding incident. The WHRCL has also received tenders for the Bryn-y-felin bridge (with options for the identical Afon Dylif and Afon Nanmor bridges). It is hoped to place the design/build/install contract soon so the bridge may be in place by late 2005, before GCC takes possession of the area to renew the road overbridge early in 2006.
Team Wylfa report 2/9/05
On 2/9/05 Friday some volunteers were put to work on No.140's boiler cradle during the daytime stripping components off - notably the front live steam ball joint. Team Wylfa started to remove the blast pipe arrangement. During the last few days, daytime volunteers have completed cleaning the front end power bogie frames and painted it in gloss black. On Thursday evening 1/9/05, Team Wylfa some preparation work for Superpower. The Clip Shed is to be open for viewing so volunteers did a massive clean up and also did a bit of work on NG15 No.133, refixing the display notes on the platform side of the tender and putting replacement laminated paper number and works plates on. Some volunteers will be helping on Tuesday evening to make a wooden access platform for SuperPower visitors to climb up to view K1's cab. During the following week, Tuesday and Thursday evenings will see a start on servicing RRM's for Phase 4. Two are already at Pen-y-Mount.
Phase 4 progress 3/9/05
Another week of progress has seen Phasey installing sidelong drains on the mountain (east) side of the cutting immediately south of Rhyd Ddu. A little more walling seems to have been done in Pitt's Head Cutting and a large pile of sawn slate slabs is on site. There appears to be no progress south of here. The Grasscrete for Rhyd Ddu's station car park appears completed and earth has been brushed into the X shaped pot holes and laid on the sides of the bank set aside for the station building. The new steps leading to the platform are nearing completion and it seems side walls will be fitted in local stone. The roadway to the car park needs another tarmac layer.
This easterly view (3/9/05) shows the station steps at Rhyd Ddu nearing completion. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly roadside view (3/9/05) shows the walling making steady progress along the east side of Pitt's Head Cutting and a delivery of fresh saw slate slabs. Roughly half the proposed length is under construction. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Preparations for SuperPower 2005
Preparations continue for SuperPower 2005 in a fortnight. The use of the northbound emergency ground tank at Waunfawr will allow the first train of the day to be steam. The seated accommodation in the B wagons will make use of Dinas' platform benches, laid lengthways in the wagon. K1 makes steady progress and it is hoped will go to Crewe Works next weekend and be in steam at superpower as well. The loco was still receiving attention in the Loco Shed on 3/9/05. New vacuum hoses and jubilee clips are being attached to the B wagons to ensure trouble free operation. The Goods' Shed has been cleared out so that displays of plans for the WHR can be set up.
WHR(P) appeal for extension funds
The WHR(P) has launched an appeal for regular donors to contribute a total of £70,000 to help finish the 900m extension on the original WHR trackbed to Traeth Mawr, which will be the site of a temporary loop. A new leaflet has been published that was included in some copies of the Heritage Railway magazine. Volunteers hope to complete the railway ready to open in 2006. Standing order contributors will be entered for a prize of a day driving steam engines. There are also 10 second prizes of footplate rides. Email WHR(P) for more details.
The WHR(P) plans to advance tracklaying along the WHR trackbed proper this Autumn during their Autumn Bash. The working week will take place from Saturday 22/10/05 to Sunday 30/10/05. Plans include the construction of Pen-y-Mount level crossing and, given the delivery of track materials in time, a start on tracklaying north towards Traeth Mawr loop. The ease of assembly of the new Pandrol type clipped track may permit tracklaying to reach Cynfal Crossing. If that occurs, the construction of Cynfal l/c may also be programmed as ballasting is almost complete in this area. Other work weekends may also be organised before and after this event. Contact Nigel Hanwell, or phone 01243 528859.
This northerly view (20/8/05) shows the ballast recently laid to a point approx. 10m north of Cynfal level crossing (LC120) by the WHR(P) volunteers. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The Tuesday Gang have now almost completed the transformation of Dinas South Yard buildings and built and planted a new garden adjacent to the Loco Shed. The new garden was created on the site of a rubbish dump. The thinking here was that this might encourage the rubbish dumpers to put their junk out of sight of the public. The Loco Shed has been painted and all 14 broken windows of the workshop opposite have been replaced and all woodwork and masonry painted.
This northerly view (30/8/05?) shows the new garden next to the Loco Shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tony Baker and was taken on a Concord 5062AF digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Super Power update 28/8/05
Prince will substitute for Palmerston on the Friday evening run to Rhyd Ddu on 16/9/05 but this train will only run if enough people book to make it worthwhile running. Prince will be used for the whole of the weekend event. The 1920s 'Colonel Stephens' vintage train will be available and will include the first visit of a 4 wheeler to the WHR. The Colonel Stevens' train is confirmed as Van No.2 (the former No.10), No. 23 and No. 1 (bug box) all in green livery. Coach No.26 will be used in F-set.
The B-wagons will run with temporary seats fitted in some of the mixed trains. They will only be available to people who have completed and signed volunteer registration forms for Phase 4 tracklaying (the forms should be available on the day for those that have not yet registered). Each wagon will have a supervisor and passengers will NOT be allowed to stand up while the train is moving. Anyone breaking this rule WILL be put off at the next available station or halt and have to wait for the next train.
The 0915 service from Caernarfon on both days will run non-stop to Rhyd Ddu. There are six return services the full length of the line interspersed with four services to Waunfawr and two afternoon Caernarfon-Dinas shuttles giving a total of 14 Caernarfon departures.
It is confirmed that a 'quarry' Hunslet from the Llanberis Lake Railway will provide 'drive an engine' opportunities in Dinas Yard. It will be either Elidir, Thomas Bach or Dolbadarn.
Pete Hugman is seeking volunteers for SuperPower, including Friday preparation, Saturday and Sunday. Contact Peter.email@example.com or phone 07880 792065.
This northerly view (25/8/05) shows the Prince simmering gently at Boston Lodge in preparation for use later that day. The loco is returning to the WHR for SuperPower 2005 as a substitute for Palmerston, whose couplings/coal firing seem to have excluded it from the event. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This view (25/8/05) shows the construction of an Ashbury 4-wheeler in Boston Lodge carriage shops. When these were life expired their bodies are reputed to have been used as waiting shelters on the WHR. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
It is reported that the translation of the KMX tamper instructions from the original French manual is now complete. The tamper is in Boston Lodge and work should take place in the Autumn on refurbishment and regauging.
This view (25/8/05) shows the KMX tamper inside Boston Lodge receiving attention. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (25/8/05) shows the recently repainted Harold sporting the pantograph from the KMX tamper. Staff have discovered that the pantograph is however part of the safety interlock system that prevents the tamper from being started. Harold previously assisted on Phase 3 of the WHR construction but the heavy loads and gradients of Phase 4 might require a much larger loco such as the WHR(P)'s LyD class. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Kerr Stuart Appeal relaunch
The appeal to raise funds for completion of this loco (KS4415) to working condition (or at least a cosmetic restoration) was relaunched during the Summer. This is the oldest UK diesel loco in existence. A new power unit has been obtained. It originally worked on the WHR in 1928/9 and it is hoped to have the loco in a presentable condition for the grand opening of the WHR throughout, planned for 2009, its 80th anniversary.
To contribute to the appeal, please send 9"x4" (22x10cm) stamped self-addressed envelope (or envelope with IRC if overseas) to:
Hugh Smith (Hon Sec. 4415 Group)
31 Carnarvon Road
London. E15 4JW
Phase 4 progress 25/8/05
Heavy rain overnight on 23-4/8/05 flooded Pitt's Head Cutting giving the contractors an early taste of the working conditions they might expect in the Autumn. The retaining wall for the east side of the cutting has been extended and the footings/drainage trench, dug towards the main road bridge. Some large diameter concrete pipe was delivered by 25/8/05 to help provide a permanent drainage solution to the cutting.
This northerly roadside view (24/8/05) shows the flooded cutting at Pitt's Head. a deep trench has been excavated along the east side of the cutting for the retaining wall footings and drainage ditch. Clearly the roadside drainage ditch, visible on the left, needs a lower exit to the north as it is full to the brim. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
By 24/8/05, steps were under construction for Rhyd Ddu platform access. An electricity cabinet had been constructed between the ramp and the stairs.
This easterly view (25/8/05) shows the new platform access steps under construction at Rhyd Ddu. The Manweb electricity cabinet is now available for wiring to the left. In the background, Castell Caernarfon hauls the first train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The subcontractor Grasscrete was on site completing the station car park surface on 24/8/05. This involves taking plastic 'potting trays' and setting them on a sand base. The concrete will be flowed around the moulds. The holes thus formed will later have peat and grass seed added. About half the Grasscrete had been laid by 27/8/05.
This southerly view (25/8/05) shows the sand being raked level ready for the 'Grasscrete' moulds. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
There was no further progress on Morrison's contract for Scottish Power (diverting power lines at Pont Cae'r Gors). However, signs have gone up at Hafod Ruffydd and Pont Cae'r Gors advising the public that the fenced off permissive path on the trackbed between the two points is no longer available due to WHR construction requirements. The forest track that parallels the railway is however available for cars and walkers.
This northerly roadside view (25/8/05) shows some additional clearance has taken place immediately south of Rhyd Ddu, north of LC65 (Ch.15100 approx.). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa Report 25/8/05
This week Team Wylfa has carried on with No.140's boiler, just generally cleaning it up externally. On the evening of 25/8/05 volunteers dug out the remains of No.140's last journey (in 1994!) from the smokebox. Luckily it had remained dry so there is remarkably little corrosion in there.
After a long period of reliable operation, No.138 failed on Wednesday afternoon (24/8/05) following a weak performance in the morning. The problem is the rear ball joint on the live steam supply to the rear bogie. The loco has been partially lifted in the Loco Shed to give access for a tricky repair. No.138 returned to service on 27/8/05 and ran well.
K1 has been lowered back onto its axles by 24/8/05 with connecting rods and braking equipment being refitted. It has acquired K2 number plates on one side to acknowledge the fact that it is an amalgam of both locos. Additional underfed lubrication has been added that will hopefully prevent any re-occurrence of the hot box problems. There is a possibility of some running in tests on the WHR before the loco goes to Crewe for the Open Day on 10-11/9/05.
Cambrian Coast Express success
The Cambrian Coast Express steam runs completed two more Porthmadog trips on 24-5/8/05. Arrival from Minffordd was about 10 minutes before time, with some getting off to sample the FR. At Porthmadog, some passengers took up the special offer at the WHR(P). A BT Police presence was required at Porthmadog to deal with the crowds. There was some slipping restarting from Minffordd on the return journey. The return services ran later than advertised with the trains waiting at both Harlech and Barmouth to cross northbound services, resulting in an hour's delay on leaving Barmouth.
Phase 4 progress 20/8/05
The week to 20/8/05 saw subdued progress due to Phasey's staff holidays. In Rhyd Ddu station, a start was made on the steps alongside the existing ramp that leads to the platform gate. In Pitt's Head Cutting, a trench has been dug for the footings for the east side retaining walling. Some progress has been made with the wall, which consists of sawn slate slabs stacked at a reclining angle, up to 2m high. It seems Plas-y-nant loop is no longer required, though this may be reviewed in the light of operational experience! The southern end loop point has been dismantled and is awaiting removal for elsewhere is Phase 4. There has been no further progress with Scottish Power's powerline diversion works or the associated excavation of Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting.
This northerly roadside view (19/8/05) shows the footing trench cut along the east side of Pitt's Head cutting. White markings show where the footing trench will be extended towards the road bridge. The wall has been completed to a height of 2m or so for a short length near the excavator. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly roadside view (19/8/05) shows the sawn slate slab retaining wall which is laid against the cutting siding on the east side of Pitt's Head Cutting. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Tryfan Junction-halt for a day!
Tryfan Junction is to regain its halt status for just one day during the Superpower weekend. On Saturday 18/8/05, it is planned to stop a train there for the planned walk from Tryfan Junction to Plas-y-nant Halt via the Bryngwyn branch. Only those booked to walk will be allowed off the train.
This easterly view (20/8/05) shows the fenced off remains of Tryfan Junction halt, now a Welsh Highland Heritage restoration project. The area between the station and the level crossing will be the set down point for the Superpower walk on 18/9/05. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Volunteers ballasted to a point approx. 10m north of Cynfal Crossing on 10/8/05 and completed the mitigating access track over their new ditch bridge to Talar Wen field the following day. Previously, the farmer had been using the trackbed to access the field. With the completion of ballasting, other than Pen-y-Mount and Cynfal l/cs, the way is open to lay track as soon as the shipment arrives in September/October. This is likely to be the first section of Phase 4 to receive track as the tracklaying on WHR(C) will be concentrating on Caernarfon station loop extension until mid-December. The WHR(P) hopes to open their 900m extension, along the original WHR for the first time, sometime in 2006.
A delivery of 500+ rails is expected to be stored at Pen-y-Mount shortly.
Cambrian Coast Express success
The 'Cambrian Coast Express' steam operation seems to have done well. The first train was well loaded but with the odd bay free noted at Machynlleth. The next day's train, which ran to Porthmadog on 22/8/05, was almost full and enjoyed a sunny day. Timetabling errors saw it retimed to wait at Harlech for a northbound 158 and run some 40m mins later than advertised. West Coast Rail's coaches have an Arriva Trains Wales transfer applied.
On arrival at Porthmadog, the loco ran around and the rake was shunted into Porthmadog's siding. The loco is said to have later returned to water from a hydrant opposite the WHR(P). The extended layover at Porthmadog (almost 4 hours) is due to the train being unable to run to Pwllheli due to bad track at Afonwen. It is possible that next year's services will run all the way to Pwllheli.
This westerly roadside view (22/8/05) shows the loco at Porthmadog level crossing having just run round and prior to propelling its rake back into Porthmadog sidings. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa report 18/8/05
Team Wylfa have managed to completely de-lag No.140's boiler. The next phase will see the rust cleaned off the boiler. Team Wylfa will then paint it with heat resisting aluminium paint to give it some protection. Volunteers be going in the smokebox to remove the spark arrestor etc. in preparation for knocking the tubes out. This will not be an easy task as in the firebox, the tube ends have been welded into the tubeplate and the weld beads will have to be carefully ground off and then the tubes machine cut out of the tubeplate. No.140 could have been next in line for the conversion to ACR's Girdlestone/McMahon NGG16a treatment - as the done to No.141 and No.155. The extensive modifications included making the boiler a producer gas fired one. Welding the tube ends in like this is normally associated with oil firing (or producer gas) since the fire burns hotter and it is possible for expanded tubes to crack at their ends due to expansion. This crack then propagates down the tube, through into the tubeplate and then start leaking. It really is a work of art in No.140's firebox and it seems a shame to have to cut them all out but out they must come for a full boiler exam.
Team Wylfa report 16/8/05
Team Wylfa achieved a little more than anticipated on the evening of 16/8/05. With just two volunteers, No.140's LHS boiler barrel cladding was removed without too much trouble in the end. There had been fears they would have to remove the turbo generator in order to do this, due to the limited clearance, however, this proved unnecessary. The generator will have to come off in due course. Apart from the lower firebox sheet, the LHS is now clear. Volunteers only have the two sheets and corner transition to take off the RHS firebox (planned for Thursday evening 18/8/05) and the boiler's external condition will be completely revealed.
A first glance shows that a few rivets in the steam dome foundation ring might need renewal as the heads are corroded away (similar to No.143's when it arrived from South Africa). There are a few concerns about the inner firebox around the foundation ring, as there was wet ash covering it. Similarly, the outer wrapper might have problems beneath the firing hole where wet ash was built up beneath the backhead cladding. There are one or two rivet heads on the upper firebox wrapper which are also a bit corroded too. On the whole, so far, no major problems have been revealed externally.
The boiler will need the tubes taking out and then a thorough visual and ultrasonic thickness inspection by the FfR's official boiler insurance inspector to reveal all. The clock is ticking with regard to No.138's boiler ticket and the railway will need No.140's late 1930's built boiler completely overhauled and ready in order to do a quick boiler swap to keep No.138 in service for the 2007 season.
Caernarfon tracklaying appeal
Volunteer Coordinator Tony Baker has been asked to arrange the volunteer input for the Caernarfon station work for Fred Howes, the FfR track manager. Work will commence on the 31st Oct and run until 9th Dec. It is essential the project is finished in time for the Santa Trains. The Tuesday Gang will be present on the 4 Tuesdays, the North Wales Track Gang (aka Black Hand Gang) on Nov 12/13 and 26/27 but lots more volunteer input is needed. Anyone who can manage even one day between these 2 dates could they let Tony Baker know ASAP so that a start can be made on putting plans together. Contact Tony Baker (see Contacts section).
Google, the internet search engine, has recently produced a scrollable world satellite image viewer with a zoomable feature. There is the odd cloud and cloud shadow but it makes for interesting viewing. The current images around Snowdon are limited to 1:200000 at best but the WHR is just visible at Rhyd Ddu.
Click on this map link to Google to try it. It is centred on Glan-yr-afon Quarries with Snowdon's white snow-covered summit to the right, Llyn Cwellyn to the top left, and Rhyd Ddu to the bottom left.
Half Million Competition Winner
A staggering 1,600 visitors hit this website yesterday-an all time record. Let us charitably hope there was no one pressing refresh repeatedly as the webcounter approached 500,000! To recognise the passing of this milestone, the FfR and myself are offering prizes for the person with the nearest evidence to their being the millionth visitor or above. In fact, the website has probably passed the half million some time ago as the counter has been off line for several extended periods. Thanks to everybody who submitted an entry. The results for the first ten are as follows.
1) Chris Jones 500,000 aged 17, Coedpoeth, Wrexham
2) Neil Evans 500,001 Nannerch, Mold
3) Chris Sanderson 500,002 Sandown, Isle of Wight
4) John Savage 500,008 Northampton
5) Colin Lea 500,100 Aldercar, Notts
6) Arie Den Dulk 500,105 The Netherlands
7) Jon Marsh 500,108 St. Albans
8) Dan Crow 500,152 San Francisco
9) Peter Roughley 500,157
10) Mike Potter 500,172
So the prize goes to Chris Jones. I am providing a Merddin Emrys cup (this loco was on the test trains on the WHR back in 1923) and a free copy of my Phase 2 and Phase 3 DVDs. The FR is providing a free WHR return ticket, courtesy Mike Hart. Roll on the millionth visitor, maybe in the year of opening through to Porthmadog!
EAG station sign news
The East Anglian Group will be holding its next signmaking session at Mill Green, near Horseheath, Cambs., on Saturday 3rd. September 2005. New faces are always welcome! The Group have now constructed 9 signs to the stage where fronts and backs have been applied to the timber framework. The next stage will be to apply signmakers' vinyl to the faces, followed by casings (rectangular sections with rounded edges) around the signs, and ornate cornicing within the casing. The final job will be to apply the lettering, to be supplied by Cedric Lodge. The longest sign we are making is a replacement for the one at Bontnewydd, and is over 3.7 metres in length.
This view (13/8/05) depicts activities in the EAG workshop at Mill Green. In the centre of the picture is Mark Neilson, drilling timbers for assembly in the jig shown on the left, while Richard Watson is applying Foamalux to the sign for Bontnewydd. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Nobby Clark and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Caernarfon station alterations given go-ahead
It has been confirmed that the track layout at Caernarfon will be changed to accommodate a longer platform as detailed below. This work will take place during November so that the station is complete for the Santa Specials from 10/12/05. The relevant dates for the Black Hand Gang will be 12/13 and 26/27 November. Volunteers are sought for either of these two dates, or even better both, please let Dafydd Thomas know (see Contacts page) as soon as is possible. Dave Kent will organise a gang on the alternate weekends. Tracklaying alterations at Rhyd Ddu station and building south from Rhyd Ddu have been put back to December.
Caernarfon station platform is currently the shortest on the WHR(C) other than the halts. At present the current limit of 7 coaches is acceptable most of the time for traffic on offer but is restrictive, presenting problems for charter trains and large groups and making double heading very difficult e.g. when recovering failed trains. The short loop also reduces the opportunities for specials at Galas as long trains have to split at Dinas.
The present layout of track, platform and access has not changed or been seriously considered since 1997 and is in need of rationalisation. These factors must be addressed before 2009 when the intention is to be able to operate 10 coach trains with a bike wagon for the peak flows that will occur immediately after the opening.
There are other safety factors that need sorting out. These are access problems that result from the piecemeal alterations that have occurred during the several changes of building in the last 8 years. The side of the station building needs protecting from cars trying to manoeuvre into the parking spaces as some damage has been caused already. A better method of closing the car park also needs to be provided.
A WHR standard carriage is 12.9m long and the present platform at Caernarfon is 104m long so 8 coaches could be accommodated. Unfortunately due to the track layout only 95m is currently useable, limiting trains to 7 coaches. If the south end point is moved further south (it will need to move about 80m to the next available straight section) the full length of the existing platform can be used but that will not provide for the planned 10 coach trains.
The chosen option (Option 4) would entail the removal of the siding for the water tower, allowing both the platform and run-round lines to be slewed as far as possible towards the water tower. The water pipe would need to be extended by about 1m to enable locos to take water on the run-round line. This would save one point and two extra movements while running round.
Plan of the suggested alterations to Caernarfon platform. Click on the image to enlarge. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The additional space can then be used to extend the platform further south alongside the Lon Eifion cycleway. A retaining wall with a fence on top would be needed alongside the ramp, then continuing just inside the Lon Eifion fence. The extension as drawn (see above) gives another 28.5m of standard width platform. Giving in total 132.5m, enough for 10 coaches (just). It is recommended that a further 6.5m of narrowing platform is also built at the extreme south end as shown to give some leeway for stopping.
Further extensions at the north end would be possible if the vehicle entrance to the site was re-sited to the Castle side of the existing buildings. This would also remove conflicts between people and cars around the Booking Office. An extended headshunt would enable one or more coaches to be left in Caernarfon during the day (locked behind a stop-block) that could be used for strengthening trains as necessary. However, changes in this area would reduce parking space in the station car park and force more people to park and walk from the Slate Quay car park.
Phase 4 news
The contractors Phasey have concentrated their labour force on getting the Rhyd Ddu Station contract (4A-1A) completed before moving on to major works south on the 1.5km contract (4A-1B) from Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors (Ch.16500 approx.) as some staff have been off during August for holidays. Cable ducts have been formed for platform lighting (and also the feed for the north loop point indicators that are currently battery powered). A water supply is to be provided. It had been hoped to complete the station car park before the high season. The car park bays are to be finished with cast reinforced concrete with slots for soil/grass. This is slightly cheaper than grass block paving.
A major effort has taken place over last week into starting a detailed ground survey of contract 4A-1B, including marking out the trackbed with 10m chainage posts for the next stage of works. A low stone clad retaining wall will be built in Pitt's Head Cutting along part of the length of eastern side near the road bridge. This will be constructed at the same time as the drainage goes in. Meanwhile detailed preparations are being made to let contract 4A-1C for approximately 1.5km south from Pont Cae'r Gors to the site of Hafod Ruffydd Halt (Ch.18000 approx.).
Since 25/7/05 fencing has been advancing on contract 4A-1D for 1.8km from Hafod Ruffydd to a point just north of Beddgelert Forest Halt (believed to be Ch.19800 approx.). Fencing through the area of the halt itself will be left until the campsite is closed at the end of October so as to avoid disturbing holidaymakers. It is also proposed to complete the trackbed and platform works for the halt and the two associated level crossings either side during the closed Winter period. The area of camping ground west of the line adjacent to the site of the new halt at Ch.20000 approx. is being abandoned and a new camping area is to be constructed elsewhere on the site. This will reduce the number of people crossing the railway in the campsite and improve safety. It will also be necessary to construct a parallel access for the Ty'n-y-coed small holding as they currently use the trackbed for access.
This northerly roadside view (10/8/05) show Pitt's Head Cutting right next to Pitt's Head road bridge. The east side of the cutting has been scraped clear of topsoil and surveyor's posts have been placed on the centreline. A stone clad retaining wall is to be constructed along the east side of the cutting. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa news 11/8/05
Team Wylfa had a 'battle royal' on Tuesday night 9/8/05 with the RHS boiler handrail. It had to come off one way or another in order to release the boiler barrel cladding. The stanchions were solidly rusted into the sockets (which are welded to the boiler barrel) so the only other way was to cut it or pull it through the loops. Volunteers decided to try and save it so, after scraping the paint off, polishing it with emery and soaking with easing oil, it was then almost mm by mm pushed and screwed (with a Stillson wrench on the free end) all 3.5m or so on what turned out to be one of the stickiest evenings at Dinas this year. At the end, all the RHS barrel cladding and lagging were removed.
On the evening of 11/8/05 Team Wylfa was expecting a similar battle with the LHS handrail but it popped out with ease once the first movement had been achieved. Volunteers got the front cladding sheet and lagging off before rain-stopped-play and then moved indoors to work on the front end power bogie. The turbo-generator will probably have to be unbolted and lifted off from the footplate before the next sheet will come off as there is only about 30mm clearance behind it. It looks like that will be next Tuesday evening's job (16/8/05). That will only leave the firebox side cladding to remove and then the boiler will be revealed in all its glory. Volunteers have to dismantle the lower cab further to do that.
This westerly image (23/7/05) shows No.140 as seen from the Vauxhall garage car park at Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Bruce Brayne and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
No.140 now has a name and an order for nameplates has been placed. However, in the meantime, the cabside has acquired a temporary laminated paper numberplate AND a nameplate. In the workshop, parts of No.140's front end power bogie are now in the lathe being fettled by the Dinas fitter.
Team Wylfa continued with No.140's boiler on Tuesday evening (2/8/05) until 'rain stopped play'. They found the elusive bolts holding the backhead cladding - hidden under 30mm or so of oily crud behind the reverser quadrant. It was a bit easier to get at since the Dinas fitter and the day squad had been busy removing the actual reverser scroll and some of the linkages. The backhead has now been cleared. All stainless steel joining bands are now off the barrel cladding so it will soon be possible to reveal the full external state of the boiler. Volunteers moved back indoors to the Clip Shed as it started to rain and top coated most of the remaining walls in the new stores area, a job completed on Thursday evening (11/8/05), again due to the rain precluding outside activity on No.140.
With K1 lifted by 4/8/05 and with wheelsets out it is good to report that there appears to be no physical damage to bearings or journals. It looks like a simple problem with the oilways - they are 'as machined' with sharp edges onto the surface of the whitemetal. This is preventing the 'oil wedge' from forming easily - oil should be carried out of the oilways by the rotation of the journal and form a very thin layer of high pressure oil which then lifts and separates the journal from the bearing surface. At the same time, as oil is flowing due to the rotation, it removes any heat from this near contact area. A light scrape to relieve these sharp edges and form a transition should cure the problem.
One or two small modifications to the lubrication system are planned as well as simplification of the braking system (being done for homework) to improve ease of access. Changes are also to be made to the smokebox door which leaks, preventing good draughting. Replica dogs will be fitted as well as some other measures behind the door to provide a better seal. The refractory material arrangements in the firebox also require attention.
Rhyd Ddu closure
Rhyd Ddu station is to be closed from the end of October until the end of March 2006 (when Easter services resume) with trains terminating at Waunfawr. Santa Trains will run 3 weekends from 10/12/05 and there will be Xmas trains 26/12/05 to 1/1/06 and Half Term trains 11-19/2/06. The FfR is considering themed trains on the WHR like the Bangers & Mash/Jazz trains on the FfR, given the demand.
Changes to Caernarfon station could take place from November. Removing the watering siding will allow the tracks to be slewed east and permit the extension of the platform to the south by 28.5m. At the moment, Caernarfon platform is the limiting factor for the whole line and the changes will permit operation of 10 coach trains instead of the current seven. The water tower pipe can be extended by about 1m to allow watering on the repositioned run-round line. Extending the platform southwards alongside the lower Lon Eifion will require a retaining wall and new fencing. A further narrowing southern extension of the platform for 6.5m (possibly painted with yellow hatching to indicate it is not for normal access) will allow some flexibility. Consideration is being given to leaving one or more carriages at Caernarfon for strengthening rakes, possibly in the headshunt. This will allow the railway to deal with coach parties and fluctuations in passenger numbers.
Bits & Pieces 14/8/05
Plans have been put in for approval to replace the derelict land opposite Caernarfon station between the former De Winton's foundry (now Oakmere Plumbing) and the Vanwil Oil building (that lost its historic sign last year!). A mixture of shops and residential is planned. The three storey building will be about the same height as the buildings either side and be finished with a slate roof, parking and a bicycle rack.
The Appeal is still open and continues to receive support. Future donations will all be going to carriage building and storage. The WHRCL has taken on three more staff and is looking for a part-time technical assistant. A donated Portacabin has also expanded office space.
Pen-y-Mount l/c, the first level crossing north of Pen-y-Mount Halt, was originally going to be ungated. The new design includes a road gate nearly 5m wide, and an adjacent bridleway gate 3m wide. Both sides have both gates. The bridleway includes a 3m x 3m box on each side of the railway as a refuge for horses similar to that at Rhyd Ddu.
It was the intention to replace 'tired' FR Observation/Guard's coach No.100 with No.101 before SuperPower but this will not now happen. No.100 is due to stay on the WHR until Xmas.
Traffic on the WHR was subdued at the start of the school summer holidays, though larger numbers have appeared in August. This may be due to the increasing petrol prices up 10% on a year ago.
It has been discovered that the new KMX tamper will not start without its pantograph attached. The instruction manual is currently being translated from French. The existing Matisa tamper blew a cylinder head gasket and was out of work for most of May.
The Porthmadog bypass has been put back 2 years with work due to start in 2010. It is planned to cross the WHR mainline and WHR(P) branch immediately south of Pen-y-Mount halt on a viaduct.
Cambrian Coast Express loco No.76079 will be taking water from a hydrant alongside the WHR(P) station. The WHR(P) hope to have a steam loco alongside when it arrives.
The WHR(P) hopes to open its extension to Traeth Mawr in 2006, now that the rail deal with the WHRCL has been approved. WHRCL rail will be stored at Pen-y-Mount. This offers the interesting possibility of genuine freight and passenger workings on the same day between Pen-y-Mount and Traeth Mawr loop as the construction railway forges north towards Nantmor!
The transition from SAR rail to the new Polish rail will be part way along the Rhyd Ddu to Pitt's Head roadside straight, after the existing stock of SAR is used up.
This westerly image (29/7/05) shows the W&LR Hungarian "MAV" carriage leaving the FfR via Jubilee track on the old WHR formation at Porthmadog Harbour Station. The carriage had been at Boston Lodge for refurbishment. The carriage is much larger than any of the WHR carriages and it proves that the WHR formation will fit between the wall and Spooners Bar. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Bruce Brayne and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
WHR bound loco Lyd was back in Boston Lodge from late July. It is hoped the L&BR replica loco will make a medium powered addition to the WHR fleet able to haul 4/5 coaches. The smokebox is now fitted to the boiler and the chassis is back in the Erecting Shop. Trial fitting of side rods took place during Kid's Week. The boiler is to be lowered into the frames shortly after insulation and cladding has been completed. Additional work is required on the motion and new smokebox door, cab sheeting and pipework are all required. The loco will be finished with brass window surrounds and a brass dome cover.
This westerly image (30/7/05) shows Lyd back at Boston Lodge. In the background, Harold, now in blue, has acquired the KMX tamper's pantograph! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Bruce Brayne and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The East Anglian Group held a sign making day on Saturday, 13th August, at their Horseheath work base, near Cambridge. They now have a mini "production line" set up, with 9 new running-in boards at various stages of assembly. To date volunteers have completed the frames and added the front and rear "skins" to 2 new signs for Waunfawr and 3 new signs for Rhyd Ddu. The frame for a fourth sign for Rhyd Ddu has been completed, and components for a 2 further signs for Caernarfon, and 1 for Bontnewydd, have been cut and treated with preservative.
This view (13/8/05) at Horseheath, Cambridge shows the four ex-MOD wagons ready for delivery to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Richard Watson and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Meanwhile, on the wagon front, the 4 Hudson wagons for Phase 4 construction have been completed and are presently stored awaiting the "call" from the Construction company. The team is looking for help in transporting the three previously refurbished wagons to the WHR. Four ex-MoD 2'6" gauge wagons have been delivered to Horseheath and are undergoing assessment prior to our beginning their overhaul. It has been agreed that these wagons will be through vacuum piped, as opposed to their receiving full vacuum braking. This is because their intended use will be as "runners", sandwiched between the existing ex-SAR bogie flats. The latter, of course, are fully vacuum braked.
K1 was moved to the Loco Shed in by 4/8/05 and on arrival, the main frame and attached bogies were raised using the ex-Channel Tunnel jacks supported by the recently approved lifting beams. The lifting bars have also been designed to be used with the NG15s in future. The wheelsets were released for inspection of the bearings and axleboxes. It is hoped that K1 will be ready to visit the Great Gathering at Crewe soon and return for Super Power on 17/18 September.
This northerly view (11/8/05) shows K1 in the Loco Shed at Dinas raised up to release its wheelsets for inspection/rectification of the axleboxes, oilways and bearings. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Sleepers found in Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting
A set of sleepers have been found in Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting. Trial excavations were made in July and were continued on 12/8/05, presumably as part of Scottish Power's diversionary works on the power lines. The sleepers are about 1m under the current surface and are perfectly preserved having being maintained as part of the wartime target practice railway that ran from Pont Cae'r Gors towards Hafod Ruffydd. The contractors are also cutting a deep drain on the west side of the line immediately south of the cutting. Elsewhere, 12/8/05 was another surveying day with surveyors on the trackbed all the way from Rhyd Ddu to Pitt's Head road bridge, even after hours.
This northerly view (12/8/05) shows the trackbed excavated through a metre of accumulated peat to reveal the original sleepers. The work seems to be part of Scottish Power's scheme to move the power line from poles on the west side of Pont Cae'r Gors Cutting (as they will become inaccessible when the railway opens) to a trench on the east side of the parallel forest track. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Cambrian steam latest
The timetable for the 'Cambrian Coast Express' steam specials is as follows:-
Sunday 21/28 August: Adult £30 adult, child £18
|Aberystwyth||1815||ecs to Machynlleth|
Monday/Wednesday/Thursday 22/24/25 August: Adult £25, child £17
Monday 29th. August: Adult £50, child £30
'Cambrian Coast Express' tickets are valid on connecting trains from Crewe and Chester via Shrewsbury on the same day as the steam excursion. Reservations are compulsory and may be booked by phone from 01743 458130 (Shrewsbury station booking office). Places were still available on all trains on 6/8/05 although booking was said to be brisk.
Phase 4 works 11/8/05
Phasey's emphasis switched back to the completion of Rhyd Ddu station in the three days to 10/8/05. Slate kerbs were fitted to the new zigzag disabled access slope and slate blocks were being used to complete the culvert headwalls opposite the toilet block. Steel reinforcement mesh was delivered on 10/8/05 presumably for the new car park bays. The bus bay on the main road was being completed in temporary form.
There was no discernable work south of Rhyd Ddu except for the erection of surveyor's poles on the centreline in various locations as far as Summit Cutting, which had been scraped the previous week. With some 25% of the contract time gone it is hoped drainage works will begin soon before the Autumn brings heavy rains and delays. The lineside drainage ditches should only take a week to install.
This southerly view (10/8/05) shows surveyor's poles on the short level section through Summit Cutting, believed to mark the spot where the Beddgelert water main crosses. The trackbed had been scraped clear again the previous week after re-growth since the Spring clearance. It looks like a section of peat on the right hand side, north of Summit Cutting, will need excavating. Drainage works are an early priority in this cutting before the Autumn brings heavy rainfall. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Scottish Power are diverting the main electricity power line south from Pont Cae'r Gors. Currently the power line crosses to the west side of the cutting and back again a few hundred metres to the south. Now they are placing the power line in pipes along the east side of the forest track that runs south from Pont Cae'r Gors parallel with the railway.
This northerly view (11/8/05) shows Scottish Power's excavations alongside Pont Cae'r Gors level crossing. The company is placing the power line in a pipe to avoid crossing and re-crossing the railway. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Fencing started south of Hafod Ruffydd on 25/7/05, apparently using the same company as the previous section. Fencing on the west side of the line had reached the upper S-curve from Hafod Ruffydd level crossing by 11/8/05.
This northerly view (11/8/05) shows fencing of the west side of the alignment has reached the top end of the upper S-curve in the Beddgelert Forest at Ch18650. This is the site of the former 'Beddgelert Canal'. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
With the Appeal reaching £1million, some £400,000 of it can be released for carriage works. The initial plan for 5 Saloons to be built at Boston Lodge will see two pairs underway soon. A further 4/5 might be expected as a result of a recent bequest, part of £1.5 million estate, to the FfR from the will of a former BR Catering Manager, David Sumner. One of these is likely to be a second Pullman coach, possibly to be named 'David'.
The Welsh Tourist Board grant of £125,000 might cover the cost of two Open coaches. There is a need for further coaches to make up the two additional rakes required and to strengthen existing rakes. These might be the subject of future appeals to grant bodies. Caernarfon station is to be extended to 10 coaches by removing the watering siding and realigning the platform at the south end. This will allow for anticipated growth during the period when the railway is extended to Porthmadog.
SuperPower 2005 is to be a 3-day event for the first time with the action starting for on Friday 16/9/05. It will include the longest ever freight train on Saturday, a visit by Palmerston, and a guest 'drive an engine' loco (possibly Elidir from the Llanberis Lake Railway). This will be the first visit of Palmerston to Phase 3. The loco was used in construction trains on the WHR in the 1920s. Palmerston is to feature on the 1530 Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu on Friday only. There is limited accommodation for this train and advance booking is recommended. Passengers will require a £5 supplement and a Weekend Rover. The issue of Palmerston's non-standard couplers and coal firing appears yet to be resolved but the loco will be pulling a 'Colonel Stephens' era train.
An early morning non-stop mixed service from Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu is planned on both Saturday and Sunday at 0915, taking material and plant for the launch of the volunteer effort. The launch will take place about 1pm on Sunday. A 'Photographers' bus' (£3 supplement) will track the 1200 from Caernarfon on Sunday arriving at Rhyd Ddu in time for the launch. Most of the full length mixed trains will be pulled by a single Garratt as they have proved their capabilities in previous Galas!
Other events include:- K1 back on WHR metals after its Crewe visit; maps and plans on show at Dinas, 'Drive an engine' in Dinas Yard, plus other attractions; a connecting free bus service to Porthmadog from Rhyd Ddu for the FfR and WHR(P), who are holding a similar event; shunting at Rhyd Ddu and Waunfawr; guided walks on both days.
A 'Spotter's Guide' Event Programme with full details of loco rosters costs £2, but the basic timetable is as follows:-
Six Caernarfon-Rhyd Ddu trains and return.
Six shuttles, four Caernarfon-Waunfawr and two Caernarfon-Dinas.
Fares for Weekend Rover for adult/concession/child are £30/£24/£15 and for members £8/£6.50/£4.
Day Rovers are £20/£16/£10 and for members £5/£4/£2.50.
Caernarfon station car park will only be available for disabled parking. Parking will be available in Dinas field alongside the station as last year.
Full details and timetable are available on the FfR website.
Beddgelert Station siding
It is now proposed to make the Beddgelert Station ash pit siding longer to the north so that it can stable a short train. The point for the siding will be near the north end loop points and the track deviated to run parallel with the loop. The ash pit is being retained to allow loco crew to oil around locos with inside motion that may be serviced there e.g. in Gala operations.
Points are being prepared at Dinas with one already on a wagon at the north end of the Carriage Shed (originally intended for the abortive north end exit to the headshunt). There are also three in the South Yard (two right handers) and the point at the south end of Plas-y-nant loop has been recovered as there is no immediate prospect of its use. The watering siding at Caernarfon is also to be removed. Points allocated so far are:- Rhyd Ddu 5 (3 already present) - includes two sidings and a yard headshunt; Beddgelert 3, Porthmadog 1.
Phase 4 construction progress
On 2/8/05 Phasey constructed the trackbed immediately south of their plant access road. At Pitt's Head they contoured the easterly cutting side near the bridge. On 3/8/05 the Pitt's Head cutting side was completed. On the 4/8 an excavator made progress towards Summit Cutting which it reached by 5/8. On the same day clearance and access was made from Rhyd Ddu south along the roadside section. Work continued and on 6/8 reached Pitt's Head from the north. A complete ballast bed has been exposed, possibly for the first time since 1941 when the track was pulled up! Work continued on Sunday 7/8/05 with surveyors at work along the trackbed.
This northerly view (6/8/05) shows the trackbed scraped down to ballast for the whole length from Rhyd Ddu to Pitt's Head Cutting. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Rail deliveries are expected from Poland this Autumn in two batches, delivered by sea to an East Coast port and by road onwards to the WHR, although the WHRCL suggested the use of rail transport and the Channel Tunnel. The order includes rail for the WHR(P) section and the WHRCL is pleased to acknowledge the contribution they have made (around 25%) to the cost of the Pen-y-Mount to Pont Croesor rail. Rail is expected to arrive in September and October. Some will go to Rhyd Ddu and some to Porthmadog. In addition to the Porthmadog Gasworks site, the WHRCL is negotiating with the WHR(P) to see how much rail can be stored there. Possibly all the rail for the section from Porthmadog to Nantmor could be stockpiled.
Sleeper deliveries are due in two batches in October and November and will be stockpiled at Waunfawr Yard. There are rumours that a long pw siding will be put in here, from the south end, under the footbridge and into the yard, giving access to the sleeper depot. The sleepers have two pads each with two slots that accommodate the pandrol clips.
Where sections of track are sharper than 100m radius, the gauge is widened by 1cm to avoid flange squealing and wear. Some 3km of track are involved so in addition to the 23,000 standard sleepers ordered, some 1200 wider sleepers are required. Stocks of ex-SAR sleepers will be used up and will also be required for transition curves.
The fencing of Pont Cae'r Gors to Hafod Ruffydd Halt was complete by 31/7/05 and this section is now completely fenced off and is not available for walkers. Fencing was also started on the next section south of Hafod Ruffydd Halt towards Beddgelert Forest Halt and appeared complete as far as Hafod Ruffydd Ganol farm by 7/8/05 but not yet visible at the top end of the Upper S curve.
This northerly image (7/8/05) shows the fencing complete at Hafod Ruffydd. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Work is expected to get underway on the CTRL in Porthmadog this Autumn. The alterations to the car park are expected to be underway between November and March, while the tourist parking is at a minimum. The work will involve fencing off the section of car park near Llyn Bach where the passing loop is planned.
Rhyd Ddu station works
Rhyd Ddu car park works were nearing completion by 5/8/05. A zigzag ramp had been constructed for wheelchair users to the north of the existing ramp, which is to become steps. The car park area was nearing completion with rolled slate fines and just required the final cast block paving. It had been hoped to finish the car park area before the peak service but the contract seems to be running about 2 weeks late.
This northerly image (5/8/05) shows the new zigzag path giving access to the new car park area. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
First Minister inaugurates Phase 4
The official kick-off was given to the WHR project by the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly on 1/8/05 when special arrangements were made for the 1630 from Caernarfon. A group of local councillors was invited to accompany the First Minister, along with FR/WHR Directors, WHR(P) representatives and your webmasters. The First Minister drove the train from Snowdon Ranger to Rhyd Ddu under Tony Williams guidance.
This northerly image (1/8/05) shows the First Minister addressing the assembled dignitaries at Rhyd Ddu with the Objective One poster to the left. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
With perfect weather, the First Minister addressed the crowd from the platform at Rhyd Ddu and emphasised how he hoped the railway would remove the need for car travel within the Snowdonia National Park. He quoted the possibility of travelling from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog on the narrow gauge, up the Conwy Valley line and back to Bangor by main line train (missing the obvious rail gap between Caernarfon and Bangor!). He congratulated the railway on raising £1million towards the project, well in excess of the agreed voluntary contribution. It was revealed that the largest number of contributions had come from North Wales, emphasising how the local community had taken the railway to heart. The assembled dignitaries then proceeded to the headshunt where Phase 4 begins and the First Minister cut a tape to signify the start of major work on the project.
This southerly image (1/8/05) shows the First Minister cutting the tape to inaugurate the start of Phase 4 works at Rhyd Ddu headshunt. Phasey's construction offices are to the rear. Also in view from left to right, Mike Hart, Michael Whitehouse and Roland Doyle. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (1/8/05) shows the First Minister trying his hand at an excavator on the Phase 4 works. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Ordinary passengers were bussed back to Caernarfon, while the Directors and First Minister were treated to a silver service meal in the Pullman car. The train left Rhyd Ddu at 1850, travelling at 5mph so as not to spill the wine! It paused at Glan-yr-afon for several minutes to enjoy the view of Llyn Cwellyn before passing Castell Cidwm at 1920.
This southerly view (1/8/05) shows No.138 working the Directors' Dining Special passing Castell Cidwm. This unusually late working and the perfect light angle offered an unusual view of steam at this location. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (1/8/05) shows No.138 working the Directors' Dining Special in rare lighting conditions from Castell Cidwm. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Rhyd Ddu station contract
Good progress has been made with the Rhyd Ddu car park works. The roadway on the west side was tarmaced by 31/7/05 and the car park area excavated. Spoil has been used to enlarge the plateau outside the station where a future station building may be constructed. The 10 tonne boulder previously mentioned has been incorporated into the plateau. On 1/8/05, the car park area was being backfilled with slate waste as a foundation prior to the block paving.
This northerly view (1/8/05) shows the car park road now tarmaced. The extended plateau for the possible future station building is to the right, including the large rock excavated during the car park works. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (1/8/05) shows the tarmaced car park road with the excavation for the car parking area to the left. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 news
While there was no sign of progress immediately south of Rhyd Ddu to Pitt's Head, great strides have been made by the contractors Phasey with Pitt's Head Cutting itself. By 31/7/05 the material stockpiled during the previous clearance had been sorted or removed by lorry. All the roots from the former swamp had been piled nearer the road and the spoil has been made into a 2m high bank nearer the railway at the south end. A larger area north of this has been cleared and levelled as a laydown area for material deliveries. There was no progress with Summit Cutting or the section south to Pont Cae'r Gors by 1/8/05.
This northerly view (1/8/05) shows Pitt's Head Cutting scraped down to hard core. Tree roots have been piled to the left and bank of remaining spoil formed close to the railway alignment behind the roots. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (1/8/05) shows the flattened area at the north end of Pitt's Head Cutting. This can be used as a laydown area for material delivered to the site. The trackbed is against the far bank of the cutting. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Betws Garmon station
The remains of Betws Garmon station building have been fenced off, as a Tryfan Junction station building, presumably to allow access by the Heritage Group to investigate. the building is in a much worse state than the one at Tryfan Junction as only two walls remain.
Phase 4 rail deliveries expected in October
With contracts signed, rail deliveries are expected to leave the manufacturers in the Summer and start to arrive at Rhyd Ddu in October ready for a November start to track laying south from the current Head of Steel. A new type of fastening is involved similar to the Pandrol sprung rail clip. Volunteers who lay track will need to learn new skills. Phase 4 will continue to be laid on steel sleepers but of a different design to accommodate the clip sockets. It is envisaged that the change will allow track to be laid much more quickly.
The initial plan envisaged some two shiploads of 18m rails to be delivered over the contract period, totalling over 25km of track, some for the FfR and some for the W&LR. There are relatively few places where roadside delivery can be arranged in consultation with local landowners and it is impossible to carry rail through the village of Beddgelert due to the sharp bend on the bridge. The first is Rhyd Ddu South, the second Pont Cae'r Gors. In Porthmadog, the derelict Gasworks site at the north end of the Central Car Park will be used as a general construction base for the Cross Town Rail Link (CTRL). Other locations could include Pont Croesor and possibly Bryn-y-Felin.
In addition to the main order for 597mm gauge sleepers, a quantity of 607mm gauge sleepers has been ordered. The larger sleepers will be used on those curves that require gauge widening. The change to the larger gauge will be carried over a transition curve of several sleepers of the South African SAR30 type used on earlier phases, of which a quantity remain in stock. The different sized clips available will gradually widen the gauge by 10mm as on the transition curves used in Phase 3.
Timber sleepers will be used in a number of locations, including station passing loops (for aesthetic reasons). Timber sleepers could be used for the gauge widening transitions but the preference is to minimise the number of changes from steel to timber and back again. This is to economise on the use of ballast under the steel sleepers in the vicinity of the transition to timber sleepers as these are necessarily further down in the ballast bed. Some underbridges on Phase 3 that do not require check rails have had their wooden sleepers replaced by steel (e.g. Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd).
Boston Lodge has taken delivery of the wheel sets from No.140's bogie (now designated 'E' as in the Fairlie series). The wheels will receive attention on the wheel lathe and be turned down to FfR/WHR profiles and gauge. When returned to Dinas, the wheelsets from the 'F' bogie, currently being dismantled, will travel to Boston Lodge to receive similar attention.
£1m Appeal raised!!
A Gold membership received today (28/7/05) was sufficient to take the Appeal over the million pounds mark. Appeal Organiser Andrew Savage gives his thanks to Gordon Rushton, John Hopkins and Pauline Holloway for their support with organising the Appeal over the last eleven months. He would particularly like to thank everyone who has been so generous in supporting the Appeal. This could be the highest sum raised in a single appeal on any heritage railway. A proportion of money from the appeal will be used to build several WHR coaches to form a new set. PS - The Appeal is still open for more subscriptions!
Phase 4 points
Four Phase 4 points are now reaching completion at Dinas. Work last weekend (24/7/05) by volunteers, including the North Wales Track Gang, has seen at least one of the points for Beddgelert station completed.
This northerly view (25/7/05) shows the completion of a new point at Dinas, one of three destined for Beddgelert station. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Mike Grant and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The latest edition of the London Midland Region of the normally excellent Quail railway map series that shows siding layouts of all railways has failed to show the Dock Siding at Dinas. There is also some confusion at the south end of Rhyd Ddu but this may be due to the fact that the layout will be changed by Xmas.
Team Wylfa No.140 report 27/7/05
Team Wylfa continued removing No.140's boiler cladding on the evening of 26/7/05. The loco is proving difficult with securing bolts in all sorts of odd, hard-to-get-at places. More boiler bands (the stainless steel inter sheet ones) have been removed and part of the backhead sheeting and lagging is now off. This latter required two screwed plugs in the backhead boiler shell to be unscrewed that had not been taken out previously. They were in the most awkward position to get at but with some ingenuity and half a scaffold pole extension to the spanner they were removed without damage. Weather permitting, volunteers will continue and may actually be able to start taking the large sheets off the barrel next week. There is no Team Wylfa on 28/7/05.
Phase 4 news
Fencing at the site of Hafod Ruffydd halt appears complete as does all the fencing work at Pont Cae'r Gors. At Rhyd Ddu, the foundation of the roadway and drainage on the west side, north of the toilet block was nearing completion on 25/7/05. Tarmac was due to be laid in the next few days on this future access road. A car parking area with block paving will be laid on the east side of the site.
This southerly view (25/7/05) shows the car park road nearing completion. It has been built in the former muddy grassed area on the west side. Car park bays will be built on the eastside from blocks which will allow grass to grow through. Slate kerbing slabs have been used for the west side edge of the road which was due to be tarmaced within days of this view. The kerb in the foreground delineates the edge of the car park. The road to the left leads across the level crossing to Ffridd Isaf and the Snowdon track. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Although a week on from the last update no further progress was visible along the trackbed south from Rhyd Ddu. The bus bay is to be on the main road just south of the existing car park and a new plant entrance has been made south of this to allow work to get started. Spare spoil has been deposited on the old formation north of and adjacent to the Ffridd Isaf l/c and blue plastic fencing protects the running line. One very large boulder weighing about 10 tonnes required two excavators to extract it from the car park!
There was no evidence of any progress further along the route immediately south of Rhyd Ddu but at the north end of Pitt's Head Cutting excavators were at work on 25/7/05 clearing spoil from the recently cleared marsh. A new access had been firmed up off the road for lorries and this spoil was being removed by two large lorries to be dumped off site.
This northerly view (25/7/05) shows the Phasey's excavator clearing the marsh at Pitt's Head cutting. A new access is visible from the main road where the car is parked. Work had started here during the previous week and progress was being made to the south. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
K1 (or parts of K1 and K2!) is having its lifting bars fitted in the Goods Shed preparatory to a lift and attention to the axle boxes, all of which show manufacturing defects which have made the bearings run hot. The heavy steel sections will allow the loco and bogies to be lifted as a unit by the ex-Channel Tunnel narrow gauge construction railway jacks and will be useful in the future for routine maintenance. The lifting beams have been manufactured at Boston Lodge and are now at Dinas for a trial fit. Before use, they first have to go to a test house near Wigan for proof loading and certifying.
This southerly view (25/7/05) shows K1 in the Goods Shed at Dinas. The more northerly bar is already in place and these components form the southerly lifting bar remain to be fitted. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa report 21/7/05
Tuesday night (19/7/05) found Team Wylfa working on No.140's boiler by request. During the day, the boiler cradle had been run down from the end of the headshunt into the Loco Shed where the ash pan had been dropped by permanent staff (with the help of volunteers). The ash pan was slid out sideways, through the Loco Shed side doors, into the roadway adjacent to the level crossing. It was still full of the remains of No.140's last 'meal' and needed clearing. Volunteers cleaned it out and carried out a preliminary de-scale. It appears that most of the ash pan is salvageable. Attention then moved to the end of the headshunt and Team Wylfa started taking the boiler cladding bands off and assessing the cladding around the firebox.
This southerly view (25/7/05) shows No.140's boiler unit in the Loco Shed headshunt immediately prior to removal of the cladding. The firebars are visible having been removed in the previous week. The upper part of the cab was designed to be removable to allow< the locos to be transported on the larger SAR Cape gauge carriers for attention at the main works. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
On Thursday (21/7/05), with only a two man team, volunteers focussed on taking the bolts out of the backhead cladding ready for removal next week. It will then be time for disposable boiler suits, dust masks and goggles, as the cladding comes off, the fibreglass matting insulation beneath will also need to come off and be disposed of.
River bridge newsIn an acceleration of plans for the three major river bridges (Bryn-y-felin, Afon Nanmor and Afon Dylif), invitations to tender for construction were sent out in the third week of July. The bridges have been designed by John Sreeves and all three will resemble the originals in having a truss design, without the defects of those designs! The originals collected water and rusted badly, having never been painted.
By ordering three bridges together, the WHRCL is hoping to get a bulk-buy discount. The bridges have been designed to take a temporary steel plate road deck to allow construction vehicles to access the isolated sections of trackbed (e.g. between the Afon Nanmor and the Afon Dylif). The work involved will also deal with the scour under the eastern abutment. The Afon Nanmor bridge will differ in having a cantilevered public footpath on the south side, as at Plas-y-nant.
This southerly view (7/11/87) shows the Bryn-y-felin bridge over the Afon Glaslyn as seen from the Beddgelert main road overbridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright David Allan. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This view of the planned Bryn-y-felin bridge shows that it will be very similar to the original design. The continuously sleepered deck is bolted to steel waybeams. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright John Sreeves. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This westerly roadside view (29/4/01) shows the remains of the Bryn-y-felin bridge over the Afon Glaslyn. A new footbridge was built jointly funded by the SNPA, NT and FR. It is a few metres to the left (north) of the existing bridge abutments and was opened at Easter 2003. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scan technology utilised is Olympus ES10 & iPhoto Plus4. Slide scanned at 200dpi.
It is hoped that the new Bryn-y-felin railway bridge will be installed by contractors before the end of 2005. The intention is that following completion of the bridge, the site will be handed over to Gwynedd CC contractors to allow the rebuilding of the adjacent Bryn-y-felin road overbridge, currently planned for June 2006. This is part of an ongoing programme of refurbishment of WHR overbridges (and BR overbridges now used by WHR) that saw the deck of Llanfaglan road bridge replaced earlier this year as well as that over Dinas station a few years ago. The same programme saw Pont Betws and Beddgelert footbridge replaced while the Castell Cidwm and Pitt's Head road bridges were strengthened prior to 2000. The Bryn-y-felin road bridge of 1922 vintage is currently propped and the road deck will be replaced and steelwork removed before the railway gains access to reinstate this section in late 2006.
Leo's Co-op closure
It has been announced that Leo's Co-op in Porthmadog is to close, presumably caused by the opening of the large Tesco at the other end of Porthmadog. The Co-op is adjacent to the WHR route through Porthmadog Central Car Park where the WHR might have a passing loop in future. This site is one of the potential locations of the Porthmadog Gateway station referred to by the FR Chairman Michael Whitehouse. Whether the building is suitable for a central station/Carriage or Loco Shed or funds could be raised to purchase it is another matter!
Open-top bus runs again
The open-top bus service from Porthmadog to Rhyd Ddu restarts on 25/7 and runs Monday-Saturday until 4/9/05 (including Bank Holiday Monday). There are four services a day from Porthmadog between 0930 and 1600. Return services from Rhyd Ddu are roughly an hour later. The service offers new angles on the WHR through the Aberglaslyn Pass and offers interesting views of progress on the Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors section, where work is currently underway.
This northerly view (4/6/05) shows the Express Motors open topped bus passing Pont Cae'r Gors at 1040. Given the cold wet weather, it is not surprising that there was no one on the upper deck! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Click on this link for the timetable.
Click here for views from the open-top bus.
Phase 4 Appeal success
It has been reported in railway magazines that the Phase 4 Appeal will soon reach £1million. Appeal organiser Andrew Savage says 'We really would like to get there, ideally this month. A few more 'Bronzes' would do. This week a Gold and a Bronze have been signed up. As of 21/7/05 only five bronzes, OR two Silvers OR one Gold will get the appeal to £1 million. Whoever sends the form that takes John Hopkins' estimate past the £1M mark, providing the appeal organisers receive it by July 31st, will get a "Drive an engine" on the finished WHR, over and above their promised benefits. Any final 'Gold' subscribers will get a second go!'
Click on the link below to download the form.
Please post the completed from to Pauline Holloway at Harbour Station.
Fencing progress at Pont Cae'r Gors
Fencing at Pont Cae'r Gors was nearing completion on 16/7/05. LC70, where the forestry track crosses the railway, appears set to retain its sharp dogleg, despite the opportunities for a deviation at this location.
This northerly view (16/7/05) shows the fencing nearing completion at LC70 at Pont Cae'r Gors. The trackbed is curving sharply to the left at this point and runs along the left-hand fence line in order to complete a sharp dogleg into the filled in cutting behind the viewpoint. The trackbed is at least a metre below the forest track at this location. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
For more views like this click the Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert Forest page.
EAG wagon news
The East Anglian Group took delivery of their third (as yet un-numbered) ex-MoD 4 wheeler on 16/7/05. It was delivered to their site at Mill Green, near Horseheath, Cambs. It must be one of the few cases of an item of preserved rolling stock being transported all of 50 yards from previous owner to restoration site! The EAG anticipates that work will start on its restoration during the Autumn.
This view (16/7/05) of the EAG wagon No.3 at Horseheath, Cambridge, shows the delivery of the wagon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Richard Watson and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa report 14/7/05
Last Tuesday evening (12/7/05), Team Wylfa were requested to join Claire Britton (FfR/WHR Commercial Manager), Station Master Euros and several other volunteers at Caernarfon Station, one year after the present set-up opened, to give it a thorough 'spruce up' prior to the peak season. Whilst Claire and others deep cleaned and painted, the rest of the volunteers were busy digging in the car park removing a heap of sand and most of a heap of general spoil and ballast left from construction days. In all, about 6-7 tonnes were taken to Dinas in the company wagon and distributed in former wet spots on the bank leading to the Carriage Shed. With all the flower tubs in full bloom, volunteers can honestly say that the station looked a lot tidier and welcoming by the time they had finished.
On Thursday (14/7/05) Team Wylfa was back working on No. 140's top end power bogie, the one under the chimney. Volunteers continued the thankless task of scraping years of accumulated grime from the insides of the frames that some other volunteers have also been doing during the daytime. The end is in sight for the frame cleaning. Next comes the mammoth task of checking all the pins and bushes in the compensated suspension system. It is expected that many will have to be renewed. If there are any skilled machinists at a loose end out there, Tony Williams and Bryn (Dinas fitter) would like to hear from them. The more volunteer input the loco receives, the quicker and cheaper the refurbishment will be and more cash will be available for other pressing jobs around the railway at this important time of expansion. Bryn is supervising and doing a lot of this work, helped out by an almost permanent daytime volunteer at the moment. They have also been checking out the bogie's lubrication system - most of the oil lines have been proved clear and the mechanical lubricator has been checked out. There is still an immense amount of work required to get the bogie back in service, not to mention the second power bogie!
No.140 boiler progress
Work on the boiler module was gearing up by 14/7/05 with the backhead fittings now all removed and likewise the firebox arch and rocking grate. If there are any relatively unskilled volunteers out there, the boiler cladding sheets need to be carefully removed and the lagging taken off so that the boiler barrel can be inspected. The boiler cradle needs to be scraped, cleaned and repainted. This is another thankless mucky job but the reward will be to ensure that No.138 continues to operate (its boiler ticket expires in 18 months time and No.140's is expected to be the 'quick fix' by doing a boiler swap). For the more skilled, there will shortly be the task of knocking the old tubes out so that the inside of the barrel can be inspected and any repairs made. The final reward of course is to see the third Garratt in action in time for the grand reopening through to Porthmadog.
Recent scraping work has revealed the Tsumeb Copper's identity number -TS2859 and above it their fleet number - TC9 which, on being incorporated into SAR's fleet, became No.140. The stampings were revealed just ahead of the LH rear driving wheel axlebox horn guide during Team Wylfa's recent clean-up.
Phase 4 progress 16/7/05
Progress southwards from Rhyd Ddu was evident on 16/7/05. The new station car park, north of the current SNP car park was completely excavated from the toilet block to the north end by the Snowdon Path level crossing and slate waste had been backfilled. Drainage was being arranged along the full length of the car park and a culvert had been installed crossing the site near the toilet block.
This northerly view (16/7/05) shows the car park road site completely excavated. A culvert has been installed near to the toilet block and drainage is being provided along the full length of the site. Slate edging will be used for the car park as seen laid out to the left of the excavator. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Phasey's Portacabins have been installed at the south end of the station on the bank, east of the future alignment. South of the station, the trackbed has been cleared down to original ballast to Ch.15120m and a culvert installed.
This northerly roadside view (16/7/05) shows the trackbed cleared down to the original WHR ballast as far as Ch.15100 approx. Phasey Portacabins and plant are visible to the right at Rhyd Ddu station in the distance. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Giant rail order planned
The WHR rail order, due for delivery this autumn, is a joint rail order with the W&LR. The FR hopes the bulk buy will reduce prices. Previous rail has been second-hand from Donnybrook in South Africa and a new roll order from south African steelworks, where narrow gauge track is still being rolled for mines railways.
Major progress was made with the ex-SAR Brakevan over the period 10/7-13/7. Sunday 10/7 saw Derek Ingram, John Hine and Marcus Ingram set about the remaining steelwork. John and Derek drilled the holes in the new Caernarfon end angles that had already been marked out on a previous visit. Marcus set about removing the last few piece of plate from the frame, an all day task as it turned out. By the end of the day the volunteers had hung the two new corner pieces and painted a little bit more of the steel deck to add some protection to the de-scaled sheets.
The Monday turned out to be probably the hottest day at Dinas the brakevan team can remember in their 4 years volunteering. The volunteers had to stop until the shade from the carriage shed roof and that of the brakevan gave some relief. It must of been 30 deg and, with no wind at all, it was uncomfortable to work in. Still progress was made as the day wore on. The last of the old plates were removed except for a few fiddly pieces and the two large sections were cut and trimmed ready for welding. In the mid afternoon the PW Dept. welder came after he had finished work to weld the two angles required to support the new access hatch to the vacuum cylinder.
This southerly view (11/5/05?) of the brakevan at the north end of Dinas Carriage Shed shows all the remaining wasted floor plate cut out. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Although Tuesday was not as hot as Monday, it still required a delayed start outside. The access hatch was cut and trimmed, the new plates were painted and a hole was cut in the Caernarfon end plate to accept the Vacuum pipe for the vacuum brake. A start was made on the few fiddly bits that had to be cut but time ran out.
Wednesday turned out to be a disaster from the start as cutting complicated floor sheeting plates ended up unsuccessfully. Luckily volunteers had enough steel plate to re-cut the offending pieces. The team is running out of 4 1/2 " cutting discs. So far they have used over 130 of these discs since setting out on removing the rotten floor! All pieces were cut and fitted ready for welding over the next week and all the plates were painted with red oxide for protection before volunteers left for home.
This northerly view (13/7/05) of the brakevan at the north end of Dinas Carriage Shed shows all but one section of the new floor plate cut out and fitted in place ready for welding. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
One more sheet of floor plate is needed to fill the obvious hole over one of the Bogies and the fabrication of the high arched piece for the Port End is required. The team also still needs to find some 8mm 2" x 2 1/2" angle to replace the missing side angles. Once these are fitted that will be the steelwork completed and an end to an ordeal!
The next chapter has already begun but for now there is now an enforced gap until late September due to School Holidays. In the meantime some small metalwork parts will be completed as a homework project. The lower parts of the guard doors also need to be replaced. Another volunteer has been enlisted to take this on. Pricing is currently being sought on having the new panels cut and rebated off site by a local Joinery firm to speed up completion of the brakevan in the Autumn.
This southerly view (13/7/05) of the brakevan at the north end of Dinas Carriage Shed shows the steelwork of the brakevan nearing completion. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Station name boards
Work on the station name boards for Rhyd Ddu is progressing well. The next EAG sign-making session is on Saturday 16th July at the usual venue - assistance welcome! Contact Richard Watson (details on the Contacts Page).
WHR ties are now on order and should be available before Superpower. They will be available in Grey, Black or Maroon initially and will feature the same crest logo as on the fleeces, polo shirts and sweat shirts already on sale.
Team Wylfa report 7/7/05
After a determined attack on the leakage problems by Team Wylfa on the evening of 7/7/05, the Clip Shed should remain dry. Volunteers tackled the bank at the back of the building this week, after finding a flood under the new shelves last Thursday. Following a major bush bashing session, they created a clearing some 2m or so wide behind the building for the full width. The level of soil, leaf mould etc. had built up over the years and was in places over 50cm above floor level. The thick ivy covering the wall, previously cut at root level by volunteers some 2 months ago, had finally decided to die and was carefully prised off. This revealed the gutter was totally choked and a joint had broken so all the roof water had been cascading down the outside wall. The joint was repaired.
Team Wylfa dug down through the accumulated debris and found a concrete apron out from the wall, so they continued digging outside of this to form a cess. Volunteers are confident that no more water will find its way through the base of the wall. They also found that the 415V supply cables, although armoured, were lying in the debris. Some channel type drains were found and laid between the Clip Shed wall and the WHRCL Portacabin. The cables were then lowered in and grills placed over the channels so as to make the cables safe through to the distribution board in the construction office.
Team Wylfa expect to be back working on No.140 from next Thursday 14th. July. However, volunteers were at Caernarfon Station on Tuesday evening as Team Wylfa's presence was requested by Clair Britton to bolster the team undertaking a major bush bash/pre peak season tidy up of the station area.
Brian Woodward has successfully completed the cylinder re-bores on the top end bogie, so both cylinders and valve chests are now ready. The frames have been worked on and are now almost ready for painting - indeed, the front buffer beam is now in grey primer. The boiler is now located against the buffers of the Loco Shed headshunt. Some work has started removing fittings.
WHR(P) tracklayingThe WHR(P) will be offering guided tours of its 900m extension to Traeth Mawr loop during its Silver Jubilee Gala on Saturday 30th & Sunday 31st July 2005. There will be plenty of work going on to watch over the weekend. Volunteers will be finishing the last of the Stage 1 ballasting, and preparing the formation for the next stage - tracklaying. Anyone arriving by train at the WHR(P)'s Pen-y-Mount terminus will have the option of taking a walk alongside the formation to see the trackbed for themselves and the high quality work that has already been done by WHR(P) volunteers over the last few years. There will also be plenty of chances to ask questions and take photographs.
Extension work has continued at the southern end of the WHR(P). Volunteers are nearly ready to start assembling the points for the temporary loop at Traeth Mawr - this has been a lengthy job, which has taken many hours of work at the WHR(P)'s Gelert's Farm works. Volunteers at Gelert's Farm have some experience in refurbishing pointwork, as can be clearly seen in the junction point at Pen-y-Mount, which was fettled up on site. The Silver Jubilee Gala celebrates 25 years since the first train operated on the WHR(P), more details are on the WHR(P)'s recently revamped website - www.whr.co.uk
NOTE: The extension itself is a construction site, and access is strictly controlled. Guided tours will use the public footpath, which runs parallel to the whole section and gives good views. Please do not try to get onto the extension site itself during the Gala, or at any time when work is in progress.
Cambrian Steam latest
The trains will run on six dates, 21, 22, 24, 25, 28 and 29 August, starting at either Aberystwyth, Machynlleth or Shrewsbury and running along the Cambrian Coast Line to Barmouth or Porthmadog, taking in some of Wales’ most stunning mountain and coastal scenery. Pwllheli has been dropped from the itinerary after the recent timing trial but Shrewsbury added so as to take the loco off the Cambrian on 29/8/05 on its way back home.
The trains are expected to be popular with local residents and tourists to the area, particular over the August Bank Holiday. Fares start at £17 for children and £25 for adults and vary according to route. Tickets can be reserved by calling 01743 458130.
Service and fare information is outlined below:
Sunday 21 August and Sunday 28 August
Aberystwyth – Barmouth
Adults £30 Children £18
Monday 22, Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 August
Machynlleth - Porthmadog
Adults £25 Children £17
Monday 29 August
Shrewsbury – Barmouth
(Connecting Diesel service for the outward train from Shrewsbury to Machynlleth)
Adults £50 Children £30
Anyone who arrives in Porthmadog on the Cambrian Coast Steam Special can travel on the Welsh Highland Railway (P) on the same day for a reduced rate of £2.95 adult. Just show your ticket at the WHR(P) shop.
Phase 4 main trackbed works contract awarded
The WHRCL has placed the first of the contracts to rebuild the trackbed of Phase 4. The contract was signed on 4/7/05 with Phasey Construction, a local civil engineering company that had also previously won the contract for the first part of the Rhyd Ddu station works. Phasey is responsible for the civil engineering works between the south end of Rhyd Ddu Station up to a point just short of Pont Cae'r Gors occupation level crossing (the current end of the fencing at Ch.16520). The job includes extensive drainage works on what is one of the wettest sections of the old WHR through the peat bog at Summit Cutting.
Work is expected to start in mid-July and take up to 16 weeks to complete. Once finished, the first length of completed trackbed will be ready for track laying to get underway, currently planned for November 2005. With construction of the Rhyd Ddu Station improvements making good progress, physical work is now moving up a gear to ensure the line through to Porthmadog is rebuilt and ready for opening by Easter 2009.
'Highrail' website due 'late summer'
The official WHRCL website, www.highrail.co.uk is due to be launched in late summer 2005 having been put back from the originally intended Spring launch. The site is currently advertising 4 vacancies for paid staff at its Dinas offices.
Fencing has now reached south to the Afon Cwm Du bridge UB131 (Ch.17560) from Ch.16800 south of Pont Cae'r Gors. Work has now started in the opposite direction from Hafod Ruffydd Halt Ch.17940 towards the Afon Cwm Du bridge.
This westerly view (2/7/05) at Ch.17500 approx. shows new fencing erected all the way from Pont Cae'r Gors to Afon Cwm Du bridge on both sides of the trackbed. Fencing is similar to that used in Phase 3. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
For more views like this click on the Pont Cae'r Gors to Beddgelert Forest page.
Beddgelert Station plans
Final plans for Beddgelert Station are currently being drawn up using the Topographical Survey CAD data. It looks as though the WHRCL can just about squeeze in a siding onto the original pit road (still in existence). The siding would accommodate any loco laying over at Beddgelert (e.g. Galas or a pilot/banking engine for assistance on the climb to Rhyd Ddu). The concrete supports of the old water tank adjacent to the pit road can also be retained and, if fitted with a water tank, this facility could be useful for topping up any small engines stabled there. The old tank is not in the WHRCL budget but the WHR Heritage Group committee has expressed an interest in arranging this.
This easterly view (2/7/05) shows three of the four remnants that show the site of Beddgelert loco stabling point. To the right are the concrete supports of the water tower. From the centre to the lower right is the pit road. The patch of nettles indicate the filled in northerly end of the inspection pit. To the left is the base of the former coal/kindling store. The station loop was behind the water tower and will be built with a wider, longer platform. On the far side of the loop is the site of the former Loco/Goods shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
A large flow water tower will be installed at the north end of the full length island platform. Operational requirements insist that locos are able to fill up to the brim before tackling the 4 mile 1 in 40 climb through the S curves in Beddgelert Forest to Summit Cutting, just north of Pont Cae'r Gors. Loading up with water at Beddgelert will ensure that there is water to spare for the hard grind to the summit and will provide maximum adhesive weight as it is possible that the sharp curves and steep grades might otherwise cause slipping on a wet day in the forest.
For more images like the above click on the Beddgelert Area page.
Work starts on Phase 4 construction
Phasey Construction, a local civil engineering company, has been awarded the contract for the first part of work on Phase 4. Construction started week ending 3/7/05. Phasey's contract is to undertake the first (of two) phases of work to complete Rhyd Ddu Station. This contract includes surfacing the car park at the north end of the site with 'grass block' paving, building the path access from the car park to the station, providing a coach bay, bringing services onto the site and installing drainage. The remaining Rhyd Ddu completion works, including the extension of the platform, will be put out to competitive tender later this year as they cannot be progressed until services finish at the end of October.
This southerly view (2/7/05) shows the excavation of the Rhyd Ddu north car park. No remains of the original Rhyd Ddu station buildings or platform have been revealed. Slate waste is being rolled into the excavation and a type of block paving is to be laid which allows grass to grow through the gaps. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The next contract to be let will be rebuilding the railway from Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors. The WHRCL is in the final review stage of tenders and expect to announce the award of this contract within the next few days. Work will then get under way rebuilding that part of the line up to finished standard, including the first run of ballast, ready for track laying to get started later in the year. The job is perhaps one of the most challenging with much work required installing an extensive drainage system on what is probably one of the wettest sections of the line. Further invitations to tender are being prepared for the various construction phases working southward through the Beddgelert Forest.
Bits and pieces
Caernarfon Station shop is now selling sandwiches as a trial in July and August starting 4/7/05. These are Castle Bakeries sandwiches as provided for Super Power.
The Rhyd Ddu points are operating well despite the worn point blades. The battery charge lasts for some 200 operations and so S&T staff are looking forwards to the connection of a mains supply currently being provided by the Rhyd Ddu car park contractor. The yellow 'shunt' lights on the Dinas Home signals have been provided with hoods as they are difficult to see in setting sunlight.
Traffic on the WHR has been weaker in the 3 months to April despite trains having being cut back by 16%. This may be due to increased fuel prices deterring day trip visitors from the Midlands and North West. The Beerfest will be run again on 12-14 May 2006.
On the pw front some of the WHR rail (Phase 1/2 and part of Phase 3) is dated 1922/4 and will require replacement in due course though this ex-Donnybrook rail is very hard wearing and has only lost 1mm in the last 80 years!
WHR test loco Merddin Emrys is now complete with both bogies powered.
Steam on Cambrian
A gauging trial to Porthmadog ran on 30/6/05 with No. 76079 running to Machynlleth the night before in preparation for its season of trains over the period 21-29 August (see main story below). The loco arrived at Machynlleth about 8pm on Wednesday and followed this diagram on Thursday. The loco may possibly be trialled to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli on other days. It passed the WHR(P) tender first a little late at 1052 with its support coach. Running tender first means the loco will be smokebox first southbound on the return legs into the sun. Click on this link for the WHR(P)'s archived image of the train passing the Porthmadog WHR(P) station taken on 30/6/05.
Team Wylfa report 30/6/05
There was no work party on Tuesday (28/6) and only two volunteers turned up again on Thursday (30/6) evening but they did quite a lot of work. The remaining Clip Shed 'dark side' wall was painted and then they attacked the ivy and other foliage outside at the back of the shed. The recent rain had come through the back wall and pooled under the new shelving. So, on investigation, volunteers pulled off the now dead ivy and got up to the gutter. Two sections had come apart so the water must have been cascading down the wall just where it appeared to have come through. Volunteers emptied the gutter and refitted the joint so that should (almost) sort out the flooding inside. If the weather is kind next Tuesday (5/7) evening, Team Wylfa will have a bush bashing and digging session around the back and lower the earth bank to below floor level and refill with ballast to allow water to drain away before it comes through the wall.
Phase 4 points
Further Phase 4 activity was noted on the bank opposite the Clip Shed on 30/6/05 with a new set of points half built using some of the new sleepers delivered two weeks ago.
Progress in the Forest
Fencing is now moving south from Pont Cae'r Gors towards Hafod Ruffydd in the next section of Phase 4. A lighter type of fencing, similar to parts of Phase 3, is being used in this area as there is no grazing stock. It has recently been announced that fir trees will no longer be planted in parts of English forestry and, instead, indigenous species such as oak, ash and beech will replace them when clear felled and allowed to seed naturally. Local officials in Beddgelert believe the same may apply to the Beddgelert Forest in due course. The area between Hafod Ruffydd and Pont Cae'r Gors was clear felled in the late 1990s and already fast growth is obscuring some views from the trackbed.
This southerly view (24/6/05) shows the landslip at Ch.17800 approx. as the trackbed approaches Hafod Ruffydd. Newly planted forest can be seen either side of the line and it is hoped this does not obscure the view by the time the line opens in 2009. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
North Wales Track Gang report 26/6/05
Volunteers have recently finished a programme of refurbishing the sidings at Dinas, which included the Fuel Road, the Release Road, No. 3 Siding and the Head Shunt. Having been hard at it in Dinas for the last couple of months, it was a change to be out on the track again on Sunday, 26 June when they cutback over growing vegetation between Waunfawr and Betws Garmon. This is much to the relief of footplate crews who would get the occasional slap in the face from a bit of Ash or Sycamore.
Meanwhile back at Dinas on Saturday, 25 June, Howard Stuckey started constructing points for Phase 4, so trackwork for Phase 4 has already started! If volunteers would like to assist Howard, he especially wants people who can come during the week, contact him on 01758 750630 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brakevan progress 26/6/05
A pivotal point in the overhaul of the brake van has been reached! There is more being added to the brake van than is being removed. Half of the floor is now complete. The framework for the access hatch in the floor is ready to be welded in allowing easy maintenance of the vacuum brake cylinder without having to drop the whole heavy unit, as was done with the P-way vehicles. The remaining floor area in the Guard's area is going to look a bit like a patchwork quilt but has now been cut back and needs very little preparation.
Marcus Ingram will be organising a 4 day work party at Dinas 10-13 July when he intends to complete the preparation of the frame and cut all required plates ready to be welded. At the same time it is intended to finish the drilling of the two end angles and hang them ready for welding and manufacture the Port end high arched end plate. This should see the completion of all but the manufacture and fitting of two missing side angles and marks the end of the metal work phase in its restoration. If there is anyone interested in helping, please contact both Marcus Ingram and Carol Symonds at Boston Lodge.
Team Wylfa report 23/6/05
As predicted, Team Wylfa completed the extra lighting in the Clip Shed stores area on the evening of 23/6/05. The former 'dark side' is now more than adequately lit for stores to go on the shelving. Volunteers made up the last of the shelving and are just awaiting the delivery of some lengths of 6mm studding to stabilise the front edge of the racking. When the shelves have been made safe they can then sort / transfer a lot of loco and other spares onto them.
Following completion of the shelving, Team Wylfa will transfer their attention back to the workshop side of the Clip Shed to do some tidying and install one of the ex-Llandudno School pillar drills and one or two other bits of kit acquired by the WHR. The former Clip Shed is rapidly becoming a very useful building for general restoration work, repairs to pw equipment etc.
Traeth Mawr extension appeal
The Welsh Highland Railway (Porthmadog) has set itself an ambitious target of opening its next section of line in 2006. The 900m extension from Pen-y-Mount to Traeth Mawr loop will double the length of the existing line, and see the southern half of the Welsh Highland project advance forward onto the original WHR trackbed. The WHR(P) is warning that it still needs a substantial amount of cash, and many hours of volunteer time before it can open the extension. To raise the funds needed, the WHR(P) has re-launched its Extension Appeal. A new leaflet is being circulated, complete with characteristic line drawings by the artist Eric Leslie.
Speaking at the WHR(P)'s AGM James Hewett, Chairman of the WHR(P), said: "It's a dream that we have been working on for over forty years, seeing our heritage trains on the Welsh Highland trackbed. I'd appeal to everyone to support us as we aim to get the next section of the Welsh Highland open. We are the guardians of the WHR heritage, so helping our end of the line go from strength to strength is a very important way to make sure the historic past of this very special railway is safeguarded. Don't forget our section of line is being built completely by volunteers, so almost all of the money goes to buying the track and materials we need."
Baldwin project receives cash backing
The family of a former director at the WHR(P) have given the railway £193,000 to restore his favourite engine in his memory, and to help reassemble a rake of historic carriages. Peter Thomason was the company's Vice Chairman until his untimely death in a car crash in 2003. The donation will benefit a number of the WHR(P)'s flagship heritage projects, in particular the appeal to return a Baldwin 4-6-0 PT to the Welsh Highland. The original WHR Baldwin tank was "590" (45172 of 1917). It was one of three locomotives which hauled services on the line during the Welsh Highland's brief period of operation in the 1920s and 1930s. Sadly, "590" itself was cut up for scrap soon after the line closed in 1937. However a couple of similar locomotives survived in India. One, "794" (44699 of 1917) was brought to the UK in the late 1980s, into the custody of the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.
This southerly 1930s? view from the north end of Beddgelert station shows No.590 (FR No.11) standing in the platform having presumably arrived from Porthmadog. Russell (with cut down cabs) provides the connection for Dinas. It may be possible to recreate this view as both locos are being restored. However, the island platform will be wider and raised in line with the new WHR standard. This image is courtesy David Allan from the Welsh Highland Heritage photo archive.
In August 2003, just a month before his death, Peter Thomason helped negotiate an agreement between the Imperial War Museum and the Welsh Highland Railway (Porthmadog) for the long term loan and restoration of Baldwin "794", to run as "590" on the reconstructed Welsh Highland Railway. Peter Thomason's family have given £53,000 to the Baldwin project, which represents over half the total needed to return the locomotive to steam, and means that the start of restoration work is now tantalisingly close.
This southerly view at Gelert's Farm shows the rolling chassis of Lion having just been unloaded after transport from Duxford last year. This image is copyright/courtesy David Allan.
This easterly 1930s? view from High Street, Porthmadog shows No.590 (FR No.11) negotiating the level crossing past what is now the entrance to the petrol station on presumably a service to Beddgelert. The Harbour Station office building is visible to the rear. It will not be possible to recreate this view as the route is being diverted just east of here to run along the Llyn Bach pathway behind Leo's Cooperative supermarket. This image is courtesy David Allan from the Welsh Highland Heritage photo archive.
The bequest also sees the WHR(P) receiving £140,000 to set up a Memorial Trust Fund which will provide regular income to the Welsh Highland (Porthmadog) in coming years. The WHR(P) plans to put the first year's money from the new Memorial Fund towards its ambitious plans to rebuild a rake of original carriages. This includes the restoration of the original WHR Buffet Car, and a replica of a similar Ashbury Corridor carriage, No. 25. The first year's interest from the Fund will pay for new chassis for both carriages. There is now a very strong chance that a complete original Welsh Highland train can be reassembled in time for the completion of the WHR from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog in 2009.
This northerly 1930s? view from the north end of Beddgelert station shows No.590 (FR No.11) presumably arriving from Dinas. The water tower is visible behind the loco and behind that the loco depot with pit and kindling/coal store to the rear. This image is courtesy David Allan from the Welsh Highland Heritage photo archive.
Work on restoring Baldwin "794" will include a new boiler, firebox and smokebox, which will be built to the original riveted pattern. The donation from Peter Thomason's family includes an extra £9,000 to ensure that the Baldwin can have a riveted boiler rather than a welded one. Other major work is needed on the wheels and motion as well as replacement tanks. If all goes to plan, the Baldwin could be in steam again within a few years.
Caernarfon platform extension plan
Plans are being considered for the extension of Caernarfon platforms for longer trains. If the plan is given the go-ahead, following closure in November, the southern loop points would be moved towards Dinas. This will allow the platform to be extended southwards also. The watering siding could be removed and the water pipe lengthened so that locos could water on the loop line. The Caernarfon loop has been the limiting feature of the whole railway as it can only pass seven carriages/wagons at the moment.
Construction around Beddgelert Forest Halt
Fencing and works immediately adjacent to Beddgelert Forest campsite are being arranged to suite Forestry Commission Wales (FCW). This section will be fenced in the coming months, after the section from Hafod Ruffydd to the campsite boundary due to be let soon. There is a rolling programme of extending fencing southwards from Rhyd Ddu. Actual construction of that short section, the location of the Beddgelert Forest Halt, will be during the 6 week campsite winter closure to reduce inconvenience to holidaymakers.
The works involved include ripping up the tarmac road built on the trackbed, improving the drainage regime and providing level crossings either end. A new 60m platform will be constructed, roughly three coaches long, similar to that at Plas-y-nant. In view of the larger number of people who will use this halt, a wooden waiting shelter is proposed as at Rhyd Ddu.
Consideration is being given to leaving railway spare land available for parallel cycleways/footpaths in the forest under the Three Valleys Initiative. The loss of the permitted path on the trackbed south of Beddgelert Forest campsite towards Beddgelert and the absence of a footpath on the main road leaves pedestrian access to the campsite reduced. Both the FR and FCW have offered spare land for this purpose in the monthly meetings with the SNPA, NT etc.
New Tamper makes a move
The new tamper was taken from Minffordd Yard to Boston Lodge w/e 19/6/05 on its two carrier wagons. It will shortly go into the works with the first job being assessment. The engine will be started up to check all hydraulic functions are working (up/down/sideways) and to design the detailed work of re-gauging prior to start of full work on the project.
Membership card latest
As of 17/6/05, Membership cards for some 97% of cheque payers have now been despatched. The balance require correspondence. Those for Banker's Order payers are under way and Rob Merrick hopes to get a significant proportion out over the weekend. If for any reason members have yet to pay their renewals, please send cheques (£25 single, £40 Family), to Rob Merrick, Broombarn Corner, Great Missenden Bucks HP16 9PF
Team Wylfa report 16/6/05
Two volunteers continued with tidying the new Clip Shed stores with yet more floor space cleared. The two new fluorescent lights were installed over the aisles between the shelves, with only connections left to make into the junction box. Next Thursday will see this job completed. Volunteers please note there is NO Team Wylfa next Tuesday evening (21/6/05).
Fireman / machinist Brian Woodward set up his jig (by 16/6/05) to take a skim out of No.140's LH cylinder to true it up. It may be done by the weekend. The other side will follow in quick succession. The cylinders are in reasonable condition but probably would only have done another 3 years in service so whilst everything is stripped, it made sense to fix it for a full 10 year period. The boiler unit had moved from the North Yard headshunt to the Loco Shed headshunt by 17/6/05.
The planned working "week" intended to start Wednesday 29th June to Friday 1st July and continue Monday and Tuesday 4th/5th July 2005 will not now be happening. Apologies from Paul Bradshaw for this. However anyone wishing to help out on the WHR can still do so by contacting Pete Hugman (email@example.com or 07880 792065 ) or Tony Baker (01492 874579).
For those who are interested in getting involved in stone walling. Paul Bradshaw has provisionally planned to have a week long session in Autumn 2005 tackling some of the boundary walls which need attention. This is likely to be from Monday October 17th to Friday 21st . If you would like to get involved for the whole or part of the time, and whether you are an experienced waller or would like to learn or improve your skills, get in touch and put the dates in your diary.
Email Paul Bradshaw (firstname.lastname@example.org) or contact him by phone: 0151 427 2880.
No.140's boiler arrives at Dinas
No.140's boiler module arrived at Dinas on 9/6/05. It is currently on the ambulance bogies down the North Yard headshunt. No doubt Team Wylfa will be asked to start removing the cladding and tubes before long! The boiler was craned out of Glan-y-pwll yard and delivered by lorry to Dinas.
This view (11/6/05) shows the boiler unit of No.140 on ambulance bogies in the headshunt north of Dinas Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright/courtesy Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Phase 4 Tenders/construction
Rhyd Ddu - Pont Cae'r Gors - Basically Finished
Pont Cae'r Gors - Hafod Ruffydd - Contract placed with a different firm to that above and work started on the ground on 8/6/05.
Hafod Ruffydd - to Beddgelert Forest Halt - quotations being reviewed with the aim of settling an order shortly.
Rhyd Ddu Station: (Phase 1 works being car park surfacing, surfacing access route to platform, installing services, etc.) Tenders received and initial review largely completed. An order will be placed soon.
Rhyd Ddu - Pont Cae'r Gors: Tenders received and initial evaluation completed. Now into review and firming up with prospective contractors. Anticipate finalising an order with the successful contractor within a week or so which will see work starting on site soon.
Pont Cae'r Gors - Hafod Ruffydd: Detail specification of works being drawn ready to issue invites to tender.
WHRCL is currently evaluating quotations received from suppliers for rail, sleepers etc.
ON THE GROUND:
There was clear progress visible on 3/6/05 with survey work as far as Ty'n-y-coed at Ch.20500. Many red pegs had been driven in to mark the property boundary. The centre line was also marked on the road on the trackbed with yellow surveyor's marker paint. Also, many of the former cast iron telephone posts (ex-PBSSR trolley wire poles?) shattered at the base have been identified and painted red now the surveyors have got the spacing right.
RHYD DDU CLOSURE:
As work will be underway extending Rhyd Ddu platform and providing the southbound face until Xmas, contingency plans are being made to run the Winter Service from 26/12/05 to Waunfawr only and run round there as with the Santa Specials. The railway is closed for November and December otherwise.
This southerly view (3/6/05) shows the trackbed south from Beddgelert Forest Halt. The access to Ty'n-y-coed cottage will be moved off the trackbed. Until construction starts, a permissive path leads along the trackbed towards Beddgelert. The trackbed continues straight on where the forest track bends uphill in the background. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
For more images like this updated 17/6/05 click on this link to Beddgelert Area page.
Team Wylfa news 9/6/05
Volunteers have been plodding on with setting up the stores area in the Clip Shed. By end of play on the evening of 9/6/05 they had got all the racking into place and started putting the shelves on. They even got some of the scattered parts of No.134 onto their new shelves and the Clip Shed floor is becoming visible again. Some slight amendment to the lighting in this area is now required. Clive Briscoe will be getting some chains to hang the fluorescent light at a lower level and running at 90deg to present so it illuminates the shelves more evenly. It needs to be repositioned over one of the aisles. One of the spares will be positioned over the second aisle between the racking. The Clip Shed is really starting to look the part now. Labelling and cataloguing all the bits will follow.
Membership Card latest
Rob Merrick the new Membership Secretary collected all outstanding material from John Sweet (ex-Membership Secretary) needed to resume normal membership service on 6/6/05. The first task is to pay in all outstanding cheques and then he will start to send out membership cards to those who have yet to receive them. Members were finally receiving their cards in mid-June, but 2004/5 cards remain valid for travel on the WHR(C) and FR in the interim.
John Sweet has put in a huge amount of work over the years on behalf of WHRS members and the Society, but most recently more important matters have necessarily taken priority. We all owe John a great debt of gratitude for his significant contribution to the Society's progress during his tenure as Renewals and then Membership Secretary, and we all wish John and Tricia very well in the future. John will continue to offer the Society the benefit of his knowledge and experience, and it is most helpful for the new Membership Secretary to know that John's ongoing advice will remain available.
If you have any individual concerns, please contact Rob Merrick if you do not receive your membership card. Phone 01494862367 or email Rob Merrick
Open top bus service
Express Motors ran an open topped bus service from Porthmadog to Rhyd Ddu during the Bank Holiday week ending 4/6/05. The service returns for the school summer holidays ending with the August Bank Holiday week. The weather was cold and wet for much of the week but a few brave souls dared to ride (including your webmaster). This summer the bus will offer good views of the section from Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors upon which work is due to start in July.
Click on this image for the bus timetable including other bus links. Image courtesy Pete Hugman. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The open top bus runs from 24/7/05 to 4/9/05 as part of the Sherpa Bus Timetable. Departures from Rhyd Ddu (main road outside station car park). The bus reverses in the road junction with the B4418 Nantlle road and also runs to Morfa Bychan beyond Porthmadog. If the service is successful and continues next year, construction of the section from Pont Aberglaslyn to Beddgelert will also be in view.
This northerly view (3/6/05) shows the view of Pitt's Head Cutting as seen from the open top bus despite the bumpy ride! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (3/6/05) shows the view of the north end of Pitt's Head Cutting as seen from the open top bus. There is a rare traffic jam at Pitt's Head! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (3/6/05) shows the former Pitt's Head Halt (accessed through the gateway) as seen from the open top bus. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (3/6/05) shows the south end of Rhyd Ddu station as seen from the open top bus. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (3/6/05) shows the view of Pitt's Head Cutting as seen from the open top bus (I almost got it right despite the bumpy ride!). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Sunday 29/4/05 saw steady progress as all remaining fixtures were removed for safe keeping including the last 4 side panels. This leaves the brakevan resembling a skeleton (referred to by some as looking like a circus box car!). The remaining sides of the last bogie were de-scaled and the decks cleared in preparation for Monday's work. On Monday, after Castell Caernarfon had pulled out the first train, Conway Castle was used to pull the brakevan out into daylight. In fact this was the first bright sunshine since New Year for the B-wagons team. The oxy-acetylene torch was bought down from the South Yard and the defective floor sheets were systematically cut out in manageable chunks between the frame members revealing the good state of the frame!
On Tuesday, again after Castell Caernarfon had left and as the second service was about to leave the shed, Conway Castle was used to bring the brakevan out again. The remaining unusable floor plates were removed but at the last minute volunteers decided to keep the floor plate under the brake column as once it had been removed it was found to be in reasonable condition except the last 8 " to the edge (as was found at the other end of the van). As the gas axe was no longer needed and it was too hot for hitting/grinding metal outside in the afternoon, volunteers put the brakevan back in side in the shade and started to sand and grind the frame where necessary.
This southerly view (2/6/05) shows Conway Castle with the Brake Van at the south end of the Carriage Shed. The van has been reduced to little more than a skeleton with a brake standard and wheel. Two corner stanchions are missing at the near end and the high arched piece of steel at the far end that the central stanchions are secured to. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Wednesday was as busy as the first day with the frame being completely painted in its first coat of red oxide. The bogies were finished on all sides in black with springs picked out in yellow. There was even time to paint one of the steps yellow. Some of the immovable spot welds were ground and cut off the frames allowing these pieces of floor plate to be removed. This is the hardest and slowest part of removing the floor and still has a way to go.
The next job is to complete the cut away stanchions and replace the high arched end piece at the Port end. The brakevan may be finished in time for September's SuperPower event for a demonstration freight but will be finished with simple side cladding. It is intended it be ready for operational use on the Phase 4 PW trains this November.
North Wales Track Gang progress
The North Wales Track Gang (alias the Black Hand Gang) were busy at Dinas on Sunday 30/4/05 re-levelling the headshunt and re-packing the sleepers using Kangos. Conway Castle was used to empty the head shunt so the rail could be packed.
This northerly view (30/4/05) shows Conway Castle clearing the headshunt at Dinas so that it could be realigned and packed. Little used stock is stored on the two Carriage Shed extension tracks to the right. The nearest wagon is loaded with the former locker units that littered the ground at the north end of the Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
EAG ex-MOD wagons
The East Anglian Group has finalised the purchase of all four MoD wagons for eventual use on the Welsh Highland Railway. The wagons were once used at the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Beith in Ayrshire. The Committee would like to record its grateful thanks to everyone who contributed to the fund - your generosity has been fantastic. Volunteers hope to take delivery of the third and fourth wagons shortly - the first two are already on site at Horseheath, Cambs. - and anticipate that work will begin later in the year. Money is still needed for their restoration, so any further contributions will be more than welcome.
This view (18/5/05) of MoD wagons was taken on site at the EAG premises at Horseheath, Cambs. In spite of appearances, the wagon is in generally sound condition. This one, alone, was modified by the MoD, possibly for end loading of bulky items such as packing cases or sheet materials. The uprights with the bearings for the rollers will have to be removed prior to the wagon being re-gauged and refurbished. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright Richard Watson and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa report 2/6/05
Volunteers finally emptied the South Yard container of the last of No.134's components and transferred them to the new engineering stores in the Clip Shed on the evening of 2/6/05. The first bits of No.140 then appeared in the container by return. Team Wylfa's next task is to erect more shelving in the Clip Shed to store the last bits brought down. All components are now safely off the ground but still need a re-sort to get them into a better semblance of order. The remaining bits are on pallets. The storage areas are actually starting to look the part with spare space (not for long!) in both the Clip Shed and the K1 Shed.
The loco will shortly be lifted as a whole to release all the wheelsets to examine all the axleboxes. Team Wylfa's Clive Briscoe was asked to design the lifting beams to be used with the ex-Channel Tunnel jacks. Steel for this is now on order. The lift is necessary because of all the 'hot' boxes experienced during initial testing. It was found that lubrication was lacking due to blocked oilways and it needs to be ascertained that all are now clear. The wheeldrop in the Loco Shed was never completed and cannot be used for K1 so the only other alternative is to use lifting beams to lift the whole loco. These will also lift NG15 frames as well.
If the steel has arrived, K1 could be lifted towards the end of next week when the K1 Group are back to do some of the snagging. Once the work on the axle boxes is completed, very little needs to be done, beyond final acceptance trials, to get the loco into service. Amongst the remaining snagging points are a new, shorter chimney and mid section to the whistle standard, which have to be fitted to enable K1 to fit the loading gauge (the old ones being kept for when the loco is on display e.g.. for the 'Great Gathering' at Crewe in September).
Steam on the Cambrian Coast Line
In a move long considered by many to make economic sense, Arriva Trains Wales is promoting steam on the Cambrian Coast. They have booked West Coast Rail (WCR) to run a trial series of six steam excursions on the Cambrian Coast Line in the August Bank Holiday week this Summer. The loco is BR Standard 2-6-0 4MT No.76079 based at the ELR. It may be stabled at Machynlleth Depot and work north to Porthmadog/Pwllheli, where it can run around. Steam last ran on the Cambrian coast in 1991 when 4-6-0 No.75069 hauled an excursion on 16/6/91. The normal traction on the Cambrian in steam days was either ex-GWR Manors or BR standard 4-6-0s, both now deemed too heavy for the Barmouth Bridge.
This image shows BR Standard 4MT No.76079 at Bewdley on the SVR. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Ian Britton supplied by www.FreeFoto.com. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The WCR is copying its successful Fort William-Mallaig route operation in an area with many more tourists. Hopefully, if this venture is successful, it will be extended throughout August in subsequent years. The move comes shortly after Network Rail declared the Barmouth Bridge open for Class 37 hauled trains again earlier this year. The WCR's own chocolate and cream Mk1 coaches are likely to be used. The move is likely to bring increased tourist traffic to the area and benefit the WHR, though the FR will be watching its Bank Holiday figures to see if there is evidence of abstraction.
WCR's James Shuttleworth said: "I am very pleased to be working in partnership with Arriva Trains Wales on what is going to be a very exciting project and hopefully the start of an ongoing relationship. The Cambrian Coast Line has similar attributes to the Scottish Highlands and we will be able to use our established expertise from this and the other steam services we regularly operate nationwide, to ensure that we provide a first-class service."
The trains will run on six dates, 21/8, 22/8, 24/8, 25/8, 28/8 and 29/8 2005, starting at either Aberystwyth or Machynlleth, and running along the Cambrian Coast Line as far as either Porthmadog or Pwllheli, taking in some of Wales' most stunning mountain and coastal scenery. Wales Tourist Board chief executive, Jonathan Jones, said: "This is a popular destination for people visiting Wales and the romance and history of steam trains will provide a wonderful added attraction to the beauty of the area. I am sure that the scheduled runs will draw a large number of railway enthusiasts, many of whom might be visiting Wales for the first time - but not the last." The trains are expected to be popular with local residents and tourists to the area, particular over the August Bank Holiday. Fares will be priced at £30 for adults and £18 for children. Tickets will be on sale from the beginning of June and booking details will be available shortly.
Sandstone Trust website update
The Sandstone Trust website news (South Africa) has been updated recently. It contains news about locos and stock similar to that running on the WHR.
Click on this link www.sandstone-estates.com/heritage/rail/news/railnews.htm
Marcus Ingram will be working on the brakevan at Dinas from Sunday 29/5/05 to Wednesday 1/6/05. Volunteers are requested to meet him at Dinas. They may be rewarded with the sight of the brakevan going to the Loco Shed if all goes to plan!
Team Wylfa report 26/5/05
Team Wylfa carried on shifting stores and spares again on the evening of 26/5/05. Bryn (FR's Dinas fitter) can at last start clearing the workshop floor of all the bits removed from No.140's top end bogie and put them in the container outside as volunteers cleared one set of shelves entirely of all No.134's overhauled components and moved them to the Clip Shed stores. They still have to clear the shelves on the other side of the container but at least they now have somewhere to put the items so next Tuesday night next week should see that area clear too.
WHR(P) website re-launched
The WHR(P) website has recently been re-launched. Click on www.whr.co.uk to take a look. The site now has a new front page with a superb picture of Gelert in full steam passing the works (taken by Ben Fisher!). The menus have also been redesigned to be more user-friendly. There is an equally easy access to the timetables and fares for BOTH ends of the line at the top of the menu on the front page. As a gesture of co-operation, the Caernarfon end of the line also gets billing in the publicity bar at the bottom of the page. However, the WHRCL website www.Highrail.co.uk is still awaited.
There may be some action soon on the Pen-y-Mount level crossing. GCC has yet to agree with the local farmer on the nature of the crossing. Cow/sheep manure/urine causes tarmac to peel and wood to rot and so would require metal sleepers and concrete. Alternatively, If classed as a road, the crossing would be built with wooden sleepers and tarmac. Discussions continue between WHR(P) and WHRCL and it is hoped rail and appropriate sleepers/fixings can be moved to Porthmadog to complete the crossing soon (see below).
Team Wylfa report 24/5/05
Two Team Wylfa volunteers attacked the Clip Shed again on the evening of 24/5/05. The Tuesday Gang had been sorting the K1 shed. Team Wylfa moved the WHRCL's equipment from the Clip Shed to the K1 shed and tidied up. The sort out is going well with space appearing in both sheds. In the Clip Shed, the stores area now has racking of No.134 parts and K1 parts (ex-Good's Shed) and on Thursday, volunteers will move the remaining No.134 parts down from the container and get more racking up.
Track volunteers' week
Five volunteers partook of Paul Bradshaw's Old
Deviationists working party on 23/5/05. They tackled a pile of assorted rails in
Dinas Yard arranging them for further use. First there were eight with blue
ends, intended for the Crewe-fest. Then they had to set about dismantling the
pile of rails into three categories :-
(a) straight rails for further use.
(b) rails which were bent at Durban, which will have to be re-rolled and
(c) short lengths suitable for check-rails, pieces of pointwork, sidings or scrap.
The straight full length rails would seem to include four for the WHR(P) for Pen-y- Mount Crossing. A full 18m length at 30kg/m weighs over half a tonne and the shorter lengths are in proportion but more difficult to handle. Volunteers must have shifted something between 15 and 20 tons. The permanent gang had removed some spare rails from the ballast at Waunfawr on 16/5/05. These had remained since the loop was completed late in 2000!
On 24/5 the rail sorting was finished and produced about 40 lengths of new rail and 30 lengths of reusable rail which, together with rail at Rhyd Ddu will be sufficient to complete the Rhyd Ddu station area this Autumn and a good part of the straight to Pitt's Head. There is no news yet about new rail orders, though rail will be wanted around Xmas time when it is planned to extend the head of steel south from Pont Cae'r Gors. The Matisa tamper was having some attention to its hydraulics on Tuesday (roll on the new tamper/liner this Autumn!). On Wednesday it was able to tamp six lengths!
The volunteer working party over the weekend of 21-2/5/05 removed connecting rods, brakes etc. to allow a beam mechanism to be fitted so that the whole loco can be lifted about a metre using jacks supported under the bogie unit frames. This will allow all four wheelsets, bearings and axleboxes to be removed and inspected. It is expected these will be rolled out in June. Preparations were also made to fit the refractory brick lining inside the firebox.
Team Wylfa report 19/5/05
Team Wylfa undertook further clearance and shelf erection in the 'dark side' of the Clip Shed on the evening of 19/5/05. They started moving No.134's 'bits' down from the container and expect to have all of the components safely stowed in their new store next week, and make space in the workshop by moving some of No.140's components into the adjacent container.
Now they have created some more space in the Clip Shed, the ex-Wylfa compressor spares will also be moving in from next door to clear the K1 shed ready for WHRCL to start work. However, Team Wylfa needs to get more racking up. K1's spare components will also be moving from both the Good's Shed and K1 shed. No. 140's top end bogie crosshead slidebars were noted (19/5) nice and shiny again, having been taken off the bogie and machined true in the last two days.
Phase 4 progress
Work has been completed on the clearance and fencing contract from Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors. Tenders for civil engineering reconstruction of the line as far as Pont Cae'r Gors are out and it is hoped a contract will be let for these works before the end of June. The main trackbed construction contract takes advantage of the hopefully drier weather over the Summer season with the aim of handing over Rhyd Ddu station to volunteer tracklayers at the end of October. The contract includes, side drains and new reinforced concrete culvert decks, stabilising embankments and levelling trackbed, firming up trackbed with slate waste, rolling slate fines and providing a ballast bed. The next fencing contract onward from Pont Cae'r Gors to Hafod Ruffydd Halt LC71 (Ch.17940) has been let with work due to start shortly.
This image (14/5/05) shows the completed fencing at Summit Cutting just south of Pitt's Head bridge. There is no current work underway in this area for the first time since Xmas! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This image (14/5/05) shows the fencing complete to the forest boundary at Pont Cae'r Gors from the main road at LC69. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa report 16/5/05
Team Wylfa Friday called in at Dinas last Friday evening to rearrange all the displays in the Goods Shed - putting up latest news and photos of No.140's rebuild for people to enjoy whilst drinking their special ales!
The Clip Shed is now officially the Operations and PW Dept loco stores and outreach workshop for locos and pw. On 16/5/05 Team Wylfa restacked (by hand!!) the 10 tonnes of loco sand that had been delivered last Friday morning so as to clear the back of the shed for racking. They managed to get the first sections erected. Thursday will find them putting up more racking and moving all of the parts off No.134 from the container in the South Yard into the shed. This will release the container for No.140's bits which will be much more convenient as it is next to the main workshop where all the work is going on. All of K1's spares will also be going onto the racking, as will all the spares for the ex-Wylfa air compressors currently stored next door in what is now officially, the WHRCL Phase 4 workshop/stores.
No.140's top end bogie overhaul continues in the workshop. Re-boring of the piston valve chests was completed by expert volunteer machinist/fireman, Brian Woodward, whose purpose made, in-situ boring rig (previously used on No.138) came out of hibernation once more. It was noted last night that Bryn (Dinas fitter) has now removed the crossheads for fettling. Once Team Wylfa has set up the stores, they will be back helping on No.140 again.
Plas-y-nant Halt opened
Plas-y-nant Halt was opened on the afternoon of 15/5/05 when the 1330-ex Caernarfon called there for the first time, hauled by No.143 carrying the headboard 'Plas-y-nant Express'. Some 111 guests booked onto the reserved coaches on the train, a third local residents and the remainder Friends of Plas-y-Nant House. A tape was cut across the platform entrance and plaques attached to an original stone gatepost. A tree has been planted next to the entrance too. Funding for the station was raised by local activists, residents of Betws Garmon/Salem and supported by the Friends of Plas-y-nant house, including the Stubbs Family Trust. The party rode to Rhyd Ddu (and back on the 1500 ex-Rhyd Ddu). The following train, the 1500 ex-Caernarfon, passed through non stop!
Michael Whitehouse, Chairman of the FR said: “This contribution to our Community Plan for the region is very welcome. It develops further the integration of the Rheilffordd Eryri / Welsh Highland Railway with the local community and furthers the objectives of the Welsh Assembly in sponsoring the reconstruction of the railway to Porthmadog to encourage tourists to the region to travel by train. The opening of the halt coincides with the Community Rail Day being celebrated nationwide the same weekend.”
This image (15/5/05) shows the opening train, hauled by No.143, arriving at Plas-y-nant complete with headboard 'Plas-y-nant Express'. Over 100 special guests wait to board the train. 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 displayed at 96dpi.
The new halt may be used by walkers, local residents and residents of the Plas-y-Nant conference centre. Visitors might break their journey and picnic by the waterfalls of the Gwyrfai Gorge at Nant Mill, a 5 minute walk away. The public footpath to the Pont Cerrig-y-rhyd bridge is just 100m away. Plas-y-Nant Country House is a former Christian retreat centre now being remodelled as a country house/conference centre. Click on Plas-y-Nant for more information.
This northerly view (15/5/05) shows the green entrance sash that was cut and the plaques applied to the original NWNGR stone gatepost. A sapling was planted just north of the gatepost and the ex-WW2 Blacker Bombard mortar launcher base can be seen in the background. This was removed from the trackbed just north of the Plas-y-nant bridge during the reconstruction of Phase 3. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (15/5/05) shows the platform at Plas-y-nant still bedecked in bunting and balloons after the opening train had left. The siding in the foreground will eventually form part of the Plas-y-nant loop for Phase 4 and a second platform is likely to be built on this side for northbound trains. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (15/5/05) shows the first Down train to stop at Plas-y-nant. The train can clearly be seen climbing out of the metre deep subsidence dip in the formation off the end of the platform. Given the short platform, the locos stop off the platform at this location. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (15/5/05) shows No.138 crossing the access path to Plas-y-nant, with the lodge in the background. There is also a new view of Plas-y-nant bridge from the path to the halt. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Upnor Castle on Rail Ale specials 14/5
Upnor Castle hauled trains (see timetable below) on the evening Rail Ale specials on Saturday 14/5/05 (when Castell Caernarfon was on its evening trip to Rhyd Ddu). Team Wylfa had struggled to get the loco's lights working on the evening of 12/5/05. Conway Castle had failed with an accelerator cable fault so, unusually, Upnor Castle was covering the Rail Ale shuttles. It seems ages since Upnor Castle last headed a passenger train but it ran a few stand-in turns to Waunfawr in Phase 2 days and has done the occasional Caernarfon-Dinas shuttle. The twin headlights do not work so the 'trailing lead' headlamp powered from a 12V battery will have to be used (as currently used on the Garratts if running at night).
This northerly view (14/5/05) shows Castell Caernarfon on the 1805 Beerex to Rhyd Ddu, one of the latest ever runs on the WHR, returning from Rhyd Ddu at 2100. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (14/5/05) shows the extremely unusual sight of Upnor Castle hauling passenger stock at Dinas on the 1815 Caernarfon shuttle. The loco had replaced Castell Caernarfon which was hauling the evening Beerex to Rhyd Ddu. This unlikely combination (Upnor Castle and No.1001) operated in passenger use on the W&LR some 40 years ago, albeit with a wider gauge! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (14/5/05) shows the extremely unusual sight of Upnor Castle running round passenger stock at Caernarfon station on the 1815 ex-Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (14/5/05) shows the extremely unusual sight of Upnor Castle hauling passenger stock at St. Helens Road bridge on the 1840 ex-Caernarfon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The Rail Ale Festival received a promotional mention on BBC Wales so visitor numbers might have been expected to be boosted but in fact numbers seemed relatively light following on from the FR50 event so closely. Nevertheless, everyone enjoyed themselves and it is hoped that the event will be repeated next year.
Brakevan working parties
A large push is planned for Sunday May 29th through to the Wednesday June 1st. Marcus Ingram is looking for two or three volunteers to help, as the floor needs to come out in these 4 days along with the drilling of a couple of angles ready for welding. If you can help, please contact Marcus at email@example.com
Tender drawings posted
The evening of May 10th saw the Phase 4 tender drawings printed off the computer and folded ready for posting on Thursday. It looks like resident engineer Peter O'Donnaghaile has done the WHR proud with the surveying and subsequent drawings. Pegs and level markers are already in place in Pitt's Head Cutting. It is hoped that local construction companies will tender for the various sections and be selected around the end of the month.
Team Wylfa report 12/5/05
By 12/5/05, the dark side of the Clip Shed was completely cleared and 10 Tonnes of sand for sanding the rails was going in there, just inside the door on the morning of 13/5/05. Work had started on clearing this area of the Clip Shed on the evening of 10/5/05. There should still be room for the workshop area that Team Wylfa has enhanced for everyone's use, including No.134. No work was done on No.140 on 10/5/05 and no work is planned for Thursday either as the 'dark' side of the Clip Shed has to be completely clear by Friday 13th! Conway Castle's lights must be got working ready for the evening 'pub crawl' trains over the coming weekend's Rail Ale Festival.
New images of Pitt's Head
This northerly view (1/5/05) shows the cleared and fenced formation at the site of Pitt's Head Halt. Surveyor's pegs show progress has been made with setting out the alignment here. The roadside fencing has not been renewed on this section as yet. The stile to the right is made from rails similar to the ones remaining near Salem. It does not appear to be associated with a public footpath though the new fence has been constructed under it to allow its continued use. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
For more images like this click here.
Trackwork volunteer appeal
Just to remind potential volunteers that a working week is taking place from Monday May 23rd to Friday 27th. Our April effort concentrated on various jobs to complete Plas- y- Nant Halt in readiness for its opening on 15/5. So the May tasks are likely to include various trackside and on-track work to keep the Permanent Way neat and tidy which could not be fitted in during April. A further “week” is planned starting Wednesday 29th June to Friday 1st July and continuing Monday and Tuesday 4th/5th July 2005. So please join Paul Bradshaw if you can. Contact details at the end of this announcement.
Finally for those who are interested in getting involved in stone walling it is provisionally planned to have a week long session in Autumn 2005 tackling some of the boundary walls which need attention. This is likely to be from Monday October 17th to Friday 21st. If volunteers would like to get involved for the whole or part of the time and whether you are experienced in making walls or would like to learn or improve your skills get in touch and put the dates in your diary. You can get in touch with Paul Bradshaw by email ; firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0151 427 2880.
Phase 4 plans
Given good progress over the Summer with the trackbed contract (due to be let in May), work on tracklaying is planned to start this Autumn on Rhyd Ddu station to Pont Cae'r Gors section. Materials will be delivered to the Rhyd Ddu base and laid out in preparation for the volunteer track gangs. The alignment will be pegged out and permanent staff will come back mid-week to tamp the track with the new KMX tamper/liner. With the line closed for the whole of November, despite many schools' Half Term holidays extending through the first week of the month, it is hoped to complete the Rhyd Ddu station alterations before the Winter Service from 26/12.
Around Xmas, it is anticipated that the next section of trackbed from Pont Cae'r Gors to Hafod Ruffydd Halt will be available for tracklaying. The WHRCL are hoping an average of 10 panels (180m) of track can be laid per week. This implies a continuous flow of construction/ballast trains from Rhyd Ddu. Staff have learned from previous tracklaying issues that have left more subsequent maintenance than anticipated and rail will be pre-curved for the tighter curves e.g. the two S curves in the Beddgelert Forest.
Beddgelert Forest Halt is to receive a 60m hard surfaced platform and possibly a waiting shelter. This station is likely to provide a considerable source of income to the railway with the large caravan/campsite next door. In fact Forestry Commission Wales have been most helpful and will permit the use of the Beddgelert Forest internal roadways for construction plant. Beddgelert station will be a major joining/leaving point and a prestige visitor site. Facilities similar to Tan-y-bwlch are envisaged with a standard 200m loop and island platform. The station will have watering facilities at least at the north end. Heritage groups still hope that the loco siding/water tank and ash-pit can be preserved. They say it would make Galas much more interesting if a banking engine could be added here for the four miles of 1 in 40 to the summit.
Work for 2005-6 includes the section from Rhyd Ddu as far as the Afon Nanmor bridge some 2km south of Nantmor. During 2006, work on the Cross Town Rail Link will commence, where much construction is limited to the Winter season, when visitors and traffic jams are less of a problem. The first job will be to re-organise the Porthmadog Central Car Park between the Co-op and the derelict Gas Works site (to be the construction base). The area to be occupied by the line will be fenced off. October 2006 sees work to complete the Network Rail crossing of the Cambrian Coast Line. As well as colour light signals on both routes, the crossing will involve gates across the WHR route and a building similar to the original signal cabin will be erected to house the control equipment!
In 2007, it is intended to start the section north from Pont Croesor to the Afon Nanmor bridge. The WHR(P) are completing the Pen-y-Mount to Pont Croesor section and the WHRCL will help them in whatever way they can.
Four of the 12 projects anticipated under the Winter Major Works Programme (WMWP) were put back this year due to lack of time/changes in priorities. The long section from Caernarfon to Hendy has been put back to 2005/6 WMWP. The curve through Tryfan Junction bridge has been put back indefinitely as it gave little improvement in the speed profile due to the level crossing PSR just beyond. The section from Plas-y-nant to Castell Cidwm needs the Castell Cidwm bridge clearance issue resolved first, and of course the settlement of the Plas-y-nant loop embankment to come to a stop. On the positive side, there are no TSRs as of Easter!
Steel sleepered track has been found to be difficult to move once consolidated and this emphasises the need to get it right when originally laid. The recently completed section from Dinas to Cae'r Moel is still not perfect, despite much effort having been put in. The new KMX tamper/liner will help here. The machine will hopefully be re-gauged and available from this Xmas on the WHR (as the Phase 4 tracklaying starts) to both align and tamp new track and improve the Phase1-3 section. The WHRCL is seeking persons who can translate French technical manuals for the tamper!
The General Manager's loco policy article in the latest TSR reveals that No.134 has definitely been sidelined again until the WHR has 3 working NGG16s. The first priority is to assess the boiler off No.140. If found to be in reasonable condition, it will receive attention prior to 2007 when No.138's 10-year boiler ticket expires. Depending on the condition of No.138's boiler, it may either be repaired and re-certified or swapped with No.140's. In 2008, the same process will require the examination and repair/replacement on No.143's boiler. If it needs replacing it will receive either No.140's or No.138's, after refurbishment. In 2009, whichever boiler is spare will be used to complete No.140 for the start of through services when four locos may be required in the peak to run a four set service. The intention is to secure at least one other NGG16, probably as a source of spare parts including another good boiler. At the start of the WHR project, the idea was to import two more NGG16s from South Africa and Nos.139/142 were originally considered.
No.140 will be finished in red as now, giving three different coloured NGG16s, and will most likely be named Eryri, the Welsh name for Snowdonia. The loco strategy sees K1 as part of the fleet and one NG15 (No.134 on which work has already been done) may be brought back into action. The railway is also looking to build replacements for the two Funkeys, though funding is not yet secured. These would be Bo-Bo diesels with 400-500hp on tap compared to 335hp for the existing pair. The two Funkeys would then be relegated to stand-by duties.
Team Wylfa (No.140) news
Team Wylfa had a narrow gauge 'superpower' stand (from 1863 England's to NGG16's via Fairlies, K1, & NG15s) in Boston Lodge Carriage Works and received quite a few compliments and many questions asked. Volunteers manned it on all three days of the FR50 Gala and hope to re-erect it at Dinas for the Rail Ale festival if anyone missed the display. On Friday evening 29/4/05 Merddin Emrys was noted in steam, setting off across the Cob for the first time, albeit as a single Fairlie!
Tuesday night 3/5/05 found Team Wylfa assisting the North Gales Track Gang packing and labelling the latest TSR for posting. With what time they had left they did a bit more on No.140's 'E' bogie. Team Wylfa will be relieved to learn that they can continue to use the Clip Shed during Phase 4 after all their hard work making this formerly 'dark hole' into a really useful workshop. The WHRCL want the other garages to store materials and require a clear out of both useful and useless equipment accumulated since 1997. The most northern double bay at Caernarfon end will become the PW store for Phase 1/3 track gang.
This lack of undercover working and storage space is really becoming a problem at Dinas. On Thursday evening (5/5/05) volunteers returned to No.134's container in the South Yard and turfed out a load of junk that had accumulated in the back to make more space to store some bits off No.134 and No.140. Unfortunately the offer of an ex-Wylfa container has been withdrawn. So, the loco restoration team is back to square one as regards storage room. Team Wylfa is desperate for another container in reasonably good order at an advantageous price.
This image (1/5/05) shows the right hand side of No.140's frames with wheels removed and motion disassembled. Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Rob Bradley taken on a Canon Powershot A70 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This image (1/5/05) shows the axleboxes removed from No.140's frames. They appear to be in good condition. Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Rob Bradley taken on a Canon Powershot A70 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This image (1/5/05) shows the driving wheels from No.140 outside the workshop. Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Rob Bradley taken on a Canon Powershot A70 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This image (1/5/05) shows the pony truck from No.140 outside the workshop. Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Rob Bradley taken on a Canon Powershot A70 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
As of 5/5/05, Bryn (FR's Dinas fitter) had re-bored the driver's side valve chest and had nearly completed the fireman's side too. The bores had been found to be somewhat pear shaped. The overhaul of 'E' bogie continues with ever increasing speed. Next week, volunteers will probably be preparing the chassis for painting and continuing to clean up and assess the motion pins and bushes.
This image (1/5/05) shows one of No.140's wheelsets at Boston Lodge being turned on the wheel lathe. Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Richard Southey taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This image (1/5/05) shows the left hand side cylinder of No.140 with motion disassembled and piston/valves removed. Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Rob Bradley taken on a Canon Powershot A70 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
1923 and all that!
With the General Election out of the way, the results in Wales provide a slight ring from 1923 with the Liberal Democrats rising to the strength they were nationally (as the Liberals) the year the WHR opened. In that year, Lloyd George, the Liberal Prime Minister during WWI, was MP for Caernarvon Boroughs (celebrated by a statue in the Caernarfon market square). There were not as many party political posters as previous around the railway and the famous Plaid Cymru poster on the floodplain visible from The Cob was not visible during the Gala weekend.
This image (1/5/05) shows Welsh Pony/Merlen Cymraeg in its new prototypical blue livery, freshly outshopped from Boston Lodge works. This is NOT a political comment by the FR, the loco operated on the WHR in this livery in the 1930s! Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Bruce Brayne taken on a Sony DSC-P32 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
There was mixed news for all four Welsh parties, Labour held Ynys Mon against a strong PC attack (but lost 5 seats in all). The Conservatives gained three seats from Labour (Clwyd West, Monmouth, Preseli), Liberal Democrats re-established themselves as the third party of Wales with a gain in Ceredigion (from PC) and Cardiff Central (from Labour). PC managed to hold 3 seats with increased majorities over Labour. The final score in Wales was Labour 29, Liberal Democrats 4, Conservatives 3, PC 3.
Sunday 1/5/05 saw steady progress on the brakevan front. Marcus Ingram and John Hine were supported by the arrival of three new volunteers, Rupert, Scott and Cassie! Volunteers have now removed all of the wooden floor covering the remains of the steel floor in the Guard's compartment. The floor will be replaced by new steel sheets. Three volunteers set about removing the remaining panels and doors on one side. John Hine completed the de-scaling on one side of the Port end bogie. Cassie put her artistic skills to use giving the Caernarfon end bogie its new coat of black and painted the springs yellow as volunteers have done on others in the wagon fleet.
This view (1/5/05) shows Cassie painting the brakevan bogies black in the Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Marcus Ingram taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
This view (1/5/05) shows Rupert working on the brakevan in the Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Marcus Ingram taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Next time it is intended to remove the last four panels on the Port end and the high arched piece of steel for replacement. Then volunteers can gas axe most of the floor panels out before cleaning back all of the frame to take new steel sheets.
This image (1/5/05) shows Scott Bradley with his latest recruit Cassie (his girlfriend) with one of No.140's bogies and No.143 in the background. The pair will be back volunteering for the BeerFest! Click on the image to enlarge. Image courtesy/copyright Rob Bradley taken on a Canon Powershot A70 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
The FR50 event was a success and many visitors bought the 'Three Railways' ticket, covering the FR/WHR(C) and WHR(P), which was also holding a Gala. The problem for the WHR was that although large numbers travelled, few tickets were sold on the WHR(C). The Gala included a line up of 'four and a half' Fairlies at Porthmadog Harbour station on 30/4. WHR celebrity loco Merddin Emrys was back in action in unlined black. It is hoped this loco will be available in 4 year's time for the WHR Opening test train re-enactment with David Lloyd George or Earl of Merioneth (rebuild with standard water tanks!).
At the WHR(P), WHR loco Russell was displayed for the last time before boiler work. This loco may be ready for the 2009 WHR reopening. The big LyD diesel Eryri also ran freight trains. The three LyDs could be useful on pw/construction trains for the through route. The WHR(P) is hoping to get a second example working soon.
Also in steam at the FR was the DHR 'B tank' and maybe this loco can come to the party in 2009 as well! It would certainly impress on the steep grades either side of Rhyd Ddu!!
This image (30/4/05) shows Adrian Shooter's Sharp-Stewart 'B tank' at Porthmadog FR50 Gala with two DHR coaches built by Boston Lodge. Mr. shooter is keen to bring the loco back for a run from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog in 2009. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Limited numbers of copies of your webmaster's Phase 2 DVD were available at the Minffordd WHRS stand on 30/4/05 in +R and +RW formats. Half were sold the first morning!
Clearance and fencing progress
Good progress has been made on the fencing contract prior to letting the construction contract in May. Work was completed to Pitt's Head bridge by 30/4/05 and fence posts extended all the way to Pont Cae'r Gors. Work has also been done to provide a stable 45 degree batter to the peat sides of Summit Cutting.
This image (30/4/05) shows the fencing nearing completion at Summit Cutting. The peat has also been cut back to a 45 degree angle as part of the clearance contract to help drain the site. Further grading work will be required as part of the construction contract to fully stabilise the peat on the cutting sides. Similar progress is being made towards the viewpoint. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Bits & Pieces 1/5/05
The North Wales Track Gang was making progress at Dinas. The EAG has received its next ex-MOD wagon for conversion to a Phase 4 runner. The WHR is currently running with three FR coaches as No.26 is being used temporarily whilst No.23 is away for the FR50 season.
Plas-y-Nant halt to open May 15th
Work on Plas-y-Nant Halt had reached completion by the end of April. The station name board was in place and the historic original bench duly chained to the posts!
This image (1/5/05) shows the completed Plas-y-Nant Halt with yellow line (high speed trains pass this platform!), antique bench and covered station name board. Access to this halt is via a new pathway partly parallel to the old path to the level crossing by Plas-y-Nant bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
FR considering coal conversion
The FR is considering converting some of its larger locos to coal after inconclusive trials with a spark arrestor on Palmerston on 2/4/05. Paul Lewin (FR General Manager) has confirmed the company is looking again at coal firing due to the rising cost of oil, which seems set to double this year compared to last year's prices. He has identified the Garratts as likely candidates for conversion due to their large fireboxes.
This image (30/4/05) shows the final appearance of Russell at the Porthmadog WHR(P) Gala before extensive boiler work to renew its 10 year ticket. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
If the move is successful, this may go some way towards satisfying the dispute with the WHR(P) over coal-fired operation. The WHR(P) want to operate a coal-fired Russell over the WHR with spark arrestor technology. Their latest magazine says they have engaged solicitor David Morgan to negotiate with the FR over outstanding issues to revise and widen the Agreement between the FR and WHR(P). It states discussions would take into account their right to run heritage stock on the Traeth Mawr extension (when completed) as well as the through route and their offer to use the WHR(P)'s Tremadog Road terminus as a terminus for the whole route. The WHR(P) has raised about £28,000 of the estimated £60,000 cost of the remainder of the Traeth Mawr extension. The WHR(P) Extension appeal may be re-launched at their AGM this summer with the aim of opening the Traeth Mawr extension in 2006.
No.140 news 29/4/05
Work has continued on No.140's top end bogie overhaul on 28/4/05. On Thursday night Team Wylfa found that Bryn (FR's Dinas fitter) had got both pistons out and the left hand piston valve. The one gratifying thing is that there is no rust. The bores glistened, though they have not been measured for wear. In fact, all over the top end bogie, volunteers are finding only a superficial layer of rust under the oily clag. Most nuts and bolts are coming off with relative ease and volunteers continued dismantling and cleaning. After 2 weeks soaking in easing oil, the large nut on the end of the draw bar virtually spun off after being absolutely solid when the bogie arrived. The draw bar and its SAR coupler are now out. All the cylinder drain cocks and operating levers are now off and volunteers will do a final clean and lap the six valves in next week, and then put them in store ready for re-erection.
Earlier in the week Team Wylfa continued the strip-down of bogie 'E' on 26/4/05. Volunteers were cleaning the side rods and started removing accumulated dirt from the frames. One thing that came from under the grime was a small stamping on the main frame. It reveals that the loco is actually No.140 (as it says on the packet!). The stamping has been identified as 'TS2859' then 'TC09', the former Tsumeb Copper Corporation identity for No.140. More importantly, the Beyer Peacock build number '7865' was also found and several other instances of '7865' were noted stamped on other components, though one of the side rods is stamped NG129. Using the FfR methodology of rebuilding locos around individual components (Taliesin!), so far, Team Wylfa could now rebuild at least 3 other NGG16's and a NGG13!
Volunteers also got the cylinder drain cocks and operating rods off the fireman's side and started overhauling them. They intend to do the other side this Thursday evening. Bryn (Dinas fitter) has managed to get the front cylinder covers off. One piston is down the bore a bit revealing the bore to be rust free. No measurements have been taken but it looks likely not to need a re-bore. One set of driving wheels has gone to Boston Lodge but the journals on the others look to be in excellent order.
Team Wylfa report 21/4/05
Despite not yet having enough space (i.e. the container) to store all the bits, FR staff moved the ex- Channel Tunnel jacks into the workshop. The Jubilee track has been pulled from under No.140's top end bogie and all the brake rigging and other components stripped off. On Tuesday night (19/3/05) two volunteers were tasked with removing the horn stays in preparation for the frames to be lifted off the wheelsets. They managed to get all the nuts off the fireman's side but left the driver's side for Thursday.
By 21/4/05 No.140's 'top end' bogie, now designated 'Bogie E' (presumably No.138's are A & B; No.143's C & D following Ffestiniog Fairlie bogies' convention), was lifted high in the air with all the wheelsets out and ready to be transported to Boston Lodge for turning. The first two were due to go south on 22/4/05. Last night (21/4/05) found volunteers tasked to clean up the brake rigging. They completed about 66% at 'close of play'. No major problems are emerging. One or two of the horn guide slippers may need replacement but none of them has (so far) dropped out due to fracturing of the back of the slipper as was the case with a few of No.138's.
The axleboxes look in reasonable order. All the running faces are excellent though two will have to be re-metalled due to pieces spalling off on the side faces. They may all be done as a matter of course however, to ensure future reliability. All the rodding looks good, although all pins and bushes are to be renewed, again to ensure reliable operation for the full 10 years of the boiler certificate.
The major job is just generally cleaning the accumulation of crud off everything before volunteers can really start any overhaul work and get everything painted and shiny. Again, Clive Briscoe is appealing for help. This is an ideal, if mucky, job for unskilled personnel but will make a major contribution to returning the loco to steam. This is now a high priority job with No.138's major 10 year exam due in 2007 and No.143's the following year. The sooner No.140 is finished, Nos.138/143 fixed (only needing a boiler re-tube and minor mechanical work), then No.134 gets to the top of the priorities.
Contacts:- Team Wylfa at usual mobile and office numbers (see Contacts Page); Tony Williams at Boston Lodge or Bryn Jones at Dinas on 01286 831671.
Dinas shunt frees up diesel fuelling siding
There has been a big shunt around of rolling stock in Dinas North Yard. The ex-mines tamper is now at the north end of the headshunt siding past the Carriage Shed, followed by the 'Forth Bridge' tracklayer and the ramp wagon/match truck and finally, No.134's tender chassis. The Loading Dock siding which leads to the new diesel storage tank is now clear for the first time in many years and this suggests that the new tank is ready for commissioning. It will then be possible to use it for fuelling the three diesel locos. Diesel locos will only use the south end of the siding to fuel.
Pitt's Head Cutting rails
Contractors clearing peat at Pitt's Head Cutting have found about seven lengths of rail but not what was expected. All the rails found are thought to be ex-Croesor type. The WHR Engineer says it was not laid on the trackbed itself but alongside. This could be the remains of the Beddgelert Forest timber tramway of WW1 vintage, roughly shoved aside and forgotten when the WHR was relaid in the 1920s.
Brakevan Progress 18/4/05
Sunday 17/4/05 saw 4 volunteers working on the brakevan and major advances were made. The dividing partition from the luggage area to the Guard's compartment was removed along with the toilet partitions, now giving one large compartment. Along with this, the double doors both sides and the panels back to the Guard's compartment doors were removed on one side. The bolts holding these panels in place were badly corroded. This allowed volunteers to access to the dreaded Guard's compartment floor. This area has long been suspected to be in very poor condition, as the water that had got in through the hole in the roof for many years had been soaked up by the wooden floor. Sure enough when they removed the wooden floor their worst suspicions were met. Approximately 1/2" thickness of rust was found leaving the floor paper thin where it was left. In other place the floor had just gone!
This image (17/4/05) shows work in progress on the Brakevan in the Carriage Shed at Dinas. The side panels have been removed to give access to the Guard's compartment. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96 dpi.
Monday 18/4/05 saw a team of 2 making further progress. The new fabricated arched end piece was offered up and into place. Then the two corner supports were removed that had suffered severe corrosion. This arch piece is needed to be in place before the two new corner pieces can be fabricated and will be required to hang the new pieces off prior to welding in place. The recently replaced floor panels were also given a protective coat of the ever present red oxide.
This image (17/4/05) shows work in progress on the Brakevan in the Carriage Shed at Dinas. The new floor strips have been welded in and painted in red oxide and the rotted corner stanchions cut away. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96 dpi.
The next Working Party will be on the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday of the FR50 celebrations (1-2 May). So if readers would like to help dismantle the remaining panels please contact Marcus Ingram. Tea, coffee and refreshments always at hand!
WHR Volunteer Appeal
presence at numerous events
The Society will have a
presence at numerous events over the forthcoming year in order to promote the
WHRS and the WHR, encourage new members to join the Society and seek volunteers
especially with regard to the track laying on Phase 4.
In order to make the
Society’s presence at these events successful and to achieve the above aims
volunteers are needed to man the Society’s marquee and assist at these events.
Assistance is also needed to
prepare for many of these events in advance. If you can help please contact the
person indicated, contact details listed at the bottom.
The events are: -
Contact Dafydd Thomas, principally Welsh speakers.]
Buckles – '
01286 650540, :
Hugman – '
07880 792065, :
Thomas – '
01248 681019, :
Phase numbering/work in progress
Phase 4 has been divided into a number of subsections by the engineers.
4A-1A is Rhyd Ddu station itself (platform and loop extension, sidings, water cranes, car park extension and platform shelter - due to be finished Winter 2005/6).
4A-1B is Rhyd Ddu south to Pont Cae'r Gors (fencing due from 11/4 and earthworks contract due to be let shortly for May start).
4A-1C is Pont Cae'r Gors to Hafod Ruffydd (LC71). Work is underway at LC71 to prevent vehicular access to the trackbed which was formerly used by the Forest Enterprise to gain access to clear-fell its plantation.
Rhyd Ddu progress
Plans are now advanced for Rhyd Ddu with two sidings to be built on the old formation, south of the station to accommodate construction railway trains clear of the operational railway. The first rail stack will be based at Rhyd Ddu. A grass block paved area will allow additional car parking north of the GCC toilet block. This is currently muddy and cars can get bogged down. The first Phase 4 track will be laid south from Rhyd Ddu in about 9 months time.
This northerly view (31/3/05) at Ch.14950 shows the trackbed needs levelling in this area. The right hand track will be extended to the south to lie alongside what will become the extended northbound arrival platform. The point may be moved a little further south. The siding to the left may be slewed to make room for the extended platform and the siding point removed to the viewpoint and reversed so that it leads into two sidings to the left as a train approaches from the south. The North Wales Track Gang will be based in Portacabins at Rhyd Ddu from Autumn. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
For more Easter 2005 views like this click on the Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert Forest page
Clearance south of Beddgelert
Achnashean has completed mulching work in the Bryn-y-felin Cutting. All the trees and bushes obstructing the trackbed were chopped down in February.
These southerly views (11/9/04 and 31/3/05) from the public footpath above Bryn-y-felin Cutting show progress with clearance and mulching. Brown patches of wood mulch have been scattered on the sides of the cutting. Click on the image to enlarge. These images are copyright R.J.Edwards and B.W.Hughes and were captured on an Olympus and a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Images post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
For more views of this area from Easter 2005 click on this link to the Beddgelert Area page.
Team Wylfa report
Last week was a quiet week for Team Wylfa. They knocked a few more taper pins out from No.140's top end motion and undid a few more nuts and bolts on Tuesday but, as it was raining again on Thursday, they reverted to working on No.134's boiler cladding sheets.
Further progress cannot be made with the stripping of No.140's bogies until the promised 20' container arrives from Wylfa Nuclear Power Station. When it eventually appears at Dinas, Team Wylfa will have somewhere dry and secure to store all the bits. Bryn, the Dinas fitter, is getting a bit fed up with his workshop floor being covered in bits of No.140!
April 4th. Bits & Pieces
The Llanfaglan road bridge near the just south of Hendy level crossing was completed just before Easter. The bridge has a reinforced concrete deck and parapets with local stone cladding. The approach ramps are also protected by concrete walling with stone cladding. GCC continues with its WHR bridge replacement programme next year with OB173, the A498 overbridge at Bryn-y-felin, timed to coincide with the adjacent WHR Afon Glaslyn bridge works.
Road access to the WHR is a problem again along the A55. Watch out for delays between Abergele and Llandulas with several miles of 40 mph limit and reduced width lanes as work takes place on the westbound hard shoulder.
EAG wagons finished
The East Anglia Group (EAG) "Paint Your Wagon" session on 2nd April saw the four ex-Duxford flat wagons completed. The four wagons, numbered EAG 1-4, comprise one unembellished flat wagon, two wagons with low side kerbs and ends, and one with corner stanchions. This last will permit the loading of long items. The EAG is now waiting to hear from the WHRCL as to when they will be needed.
This image (2/4/05) shows wagon number EAG3 completed at Horseheath near Cambridge. The wagon is one of 3 ex-Duxford flat wagons that were retained there from a WWI trench railway project that was never completed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Richard Watson and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96 dpi.
The restoration group will not be disbanded, however, as they are about to embark on the construction of several running-in boards (large station name sign boards) for WHR stations. Waunfawr station already has two signs in situ, but both of these face trains bound for Rhyd Ddu. We will be making two more for the opposite platform face. The shopping list also includes a second sign for Caernarfon. This will be the EAG's next priority after they complete those intended for Waunfawr. The group has also been asked to make three signs for Rhyd Ddu for the south end of the platform when it is extended at Xmas and the second platform face put in. They have also been asked to make another for Bontnewydd, so the EAG will be busy! Their first sign-making session will be on Saturday 23rd April, at their usual venue. If you fancy lending a hand, do go along!
The new WHR clothing has arrived and is now most definitely on sale, exclusively in Caernarfon Station shop. Some more details:-
Adult Fleeces from Small to XXLarge in Black, Grey, Green and Maroon. Children's fleeces in Pale maroon and Black from 3-4 up to 14-15.
Sweat shirts in Black, Olive Green and Maroon. Polo shirts in Pale grey, Turquoise and purple.
All have started to sell so anyone who wants some should get down to the shop or email John Wooden.
This image of the shop (27/3/05?) shows the new WHR logo clothing items. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Wooden and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iphoto+4 and displayed at 96 dpi.
Easter Bits & Pieces
While contract work ceased for Easter, there was little action to see over the Bank Holiday but Achnashean was back cutting up felled logs on 30/3/05 at Ch.18500 and similarly in Summit Cutting on 1/4/05. There are lots of logs to cut up all along on the trackbed. Here and there, the remains of metal fence posts (and shattered metal telephone poles) have been painted red to help identify the railway's boundaries. There was no sign of the fencing contract having started at Rhyd Ddu by 1/4/05.
This northerly view (28/3/05) at Ch.18600 shows the sleepers in situ on the trackbed that has emerged from the mire. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
For more new images of this section see the Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert Forest page.
On the planning side, discussions continue with the utilities about re-routing water mains, sewers, telephone lines, power lines etc.
One of the B wagons (B1899) used for carrying bicycles has had an internal number added (BW2201). The second bike wagon carries no BW number as yet.
The new adverts for the WHR Beer Festival shows K1 in action! Whether the loco will be available for the May 14/15th event is unknown but an evening service to Rhyd Ddu is confirmed on 14/5/05.
The small white trailer used to sell tickets at Rhyd Ddu for last year's Super Power event was back in action over Easter at the same location.
The new Framafer KMX tamper arrived on 29/3/05 and was stored on bogie flats in Minffordd Yard awaiting its turn at Boston Lodge.
This northerly view (29/3/05) at Minffordd Yard shows the tamper having just been delivered. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Clearance south of Nantmor
Clearance has reached south of the site of Nantmor Halt by 19/3/05. There is more to do on this section.
These southerly views (12/12/04 and 19/3/05) show the south end of the Nantmor Cutting (Ch.25050 approx.), south of the site of Nantmor Halt. Click on the images to enlarge. These images are copyright B.W.Hughes and were taken on a Concord 3340z (3.1 Mega pixel) and a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Images post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (19/3/05) shows the walled embankment south of Nantmor. All the trees on the trackbed have been chopped down, though some more 'hedge trimming' will be necessary next year when serious work gets underway on this section. This walled embankment requires repairs to the retaining walls. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Volunteers Week 25-29/4/05
Paul Bradshaw is seeking volunteers to join him between Monday 25th and Friday 29th April 2005. Volunteers will have another chance to visit parts of the WHR(C) and see the passing trains from the track side in places where the general public cannot reach. Activities are likely to include battling with over-exuberant vegetation, clearing trackside drains and numerous other maintenance tasks needed to keep the WHR in shape. It is not glamorous work but all very necessary to keep the railway safe and it allows the permanent track gang to get on with other important tasks which only they can do. Maybe, if circumstances permit, for those who enjoy the challenge there will be some dry stone wall building to do.
There will be a further working party from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th May.
Contact Paul Bradshaw: By phone: 0151 427 2880 or email: Paul Bradshaw
Beddgelert clearance works
Progress with clearance has been impressive south of Beddgelert. Your webmaster was granted special permission by the WHRCL to obtain the following images of works in the Goat Cutting. There are still some WHR(P) rails and sleepers in the cutting.
These northerly views (29/1/05 and 19/3/05) from the footbridge over the Goat Cutting show clearance has been completed in this area. In the background Beddgelert Station can now be seen. Click on the image to enlarge. These images are copyright R.J.Edwards and B.W.Hughes and were captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Images post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
These southerly views (29/1/05 and 19/3/05) from the footbridge over the Goat Cutting show clearance has been completed in this area. In the background the trackbed curves to the left into the deep rock cutting approaching the Goat Tunnel. Click on the image to enlarge. These images are copyright R.J.Edwards and B.W.Hughes and were captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Images post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
These southerly views (29/1/05 and 19/3/05) from Beddgelert Station show clearance has been completed in this area. In the background the trackbed passes under the Goat Cutting footbridge and curves to the left into the deep rock cutting approaching the Goat Tunnel. Sleepers and rail from the WHR(P)'s attempts to restore the railway south from here are still present in the cutting. Click on the image to enlarge. These images are copyright R.J.Edwards and B.W.Hughes and were captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Images post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (19/3/05) shows the entrance to the Goat Tunnel, long obscured by undergrowth. Some rockwork is required here as a fallen slab can be seen to the right. The former aqueduct is visible lying on the ground to the left and the water thus entering the cutting has made it very boggy in this area. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
For more views like this see the Beddgelert Area page.
Achnashean has now completed clearance of the Bryn-y-felin cutting. The house itself has a Leylandii hedge to screen it from the railway.
These northerly views (29/1/05 and 19/3/05) of Bryn-y-felin Cutting show clearance has been completed in this area. In the background the trackbed curves to the right behind Bryn-y-felin house. The saplings have been mulched and spread on the cutting sides. The Leylandii hedge can be seen to the right. Click on the image to enlarge. These images are copyright R.J.Edwards and B.W.Hughes and were captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Images post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Bits & pieces 25/3/05
Planning permission notices were posted for the section Beddgelert Cemetery to the Aberglaslyn Tunnel on 10/2/05.
K1 was seen coupled to No.143 on the morning of 24/3/05. It was missing the steam pipe between the two bogies, which is in the Carriage Shed. It is believed attention is to be given to more of the bearings found to run warm, though the one that ran hot has now been fixed. K1 was stabled in the carriage release road on 25/3/05.
The new KMX tamper is due to be delivered to Minffordd Yard early next week.
GCC has removed the map board from the Beddgelert central car park. This used to show the abortive attempts by the WHR(P) to build the railway into Beddgelert from Porthmadog.
On 19/3/05 the North Wales Track Gang gave some attention to the release road that parallels the bay platform at Dinas.
The issuing of WHRS membership cards has been seriously delayed this year. They are being sent out this week.
WHR celebrity Fairlie 'Merddin Emrys' is due out of Boston Lodge on 30/4/05 for FR50 event.
Caernarfon shop latest
Delivery of the new Rheilffordd Eryri fleeces, sweat shirts and polo shirts is expected to the Caernarfon shop soon, maybe by Easter weekend. There are also some other nice WHR(C) souvenirs on their way including K1 mugs and some attractive metal key-rings. Darren Lodge, the new WHR 'trolley dolly', has a portable shop on the E set from which he will be selling a selection of souvenirs on the train. Darren has come all the way from New Zealand to do the job, so he must be keen!
Team Wylfa latest
Team Wylfa had quite a good night on 22/3/05 with two teams working, one in Clip Shed continuing the repaint of the last 3 sheets of No.134's boiler cladding, the other deployed on No.140 bogies where all the sandboxes and lube oil tanks were removed from the outside of the front and rear water tanks. They appear to be in good order. The sandboxes were still full of Port Shepstone sand! Team Wylfa can put some samples in small polyethylene bags as souvenirs, £5 / lb towards No.134 / 140's rebuild anyone? ;-)
Looks like some more of Wylfa Nuclear Power station is heading to WHR soon. Since Team Wylfa need somewhere to store all of No.140's bits as they strip and overhaul the bogies, a spare container will be purchased at a very advantageous price. So, within a month, it should be arriving at Dinas. Wants list: strong racking/shelving to fit in container when it arrives.
Team Wylfa are going to work together with Tony Baker and his Tuesday Gang - they have promised to help if they are at a loose end during the daytime. Hugh, their painter, has already done some of the Clip Shed wall painting when it was too wet for them to work outside. He will continue around the so far 'dark side' walls as and when, with some paint that has been kindly donated by a WHR(P) member. They will also assist with cleaning and stripping No.140's bogies. Again, if anyone else is interested in helping, there is much to do at times when we are not there during normal day hours. Just let Clive Briscoe know when you want to come and he will ensure that work is available and will be overseen.
Rain and wind stopped play on No.140 last week so Team Wylfa reverted to repainting No.134's boiler cladding. They thought several of the last sheets were good until they gave them a light rub with emery prior to repainting and found that most of the previous paint simply lifted straight off. So they had to scrape / sand them down to bright bare metal and start again with a full paint system - etch primer and undercoat. Work is now well advanced.
Team Wylfa 'acquired' the old fluorescent light fittings ex-FfR Harbour Station platform canopy. The 'dark' side of the Clip Shed received light on 17/3/05. Volunteers also cleared some rubbish out from the back wall so that Hugh from the Tuesday Gang can attack it with some white paint they were given by a WHR(P) member if the weather does not permit outside jobs.
Team Wylfa are taking an Easter break and are back next Tuesday evening (29/3/05).
Pitt's Head curve
Things are moving rapidly with the design of Phase 4, Peadr O'Donnaghaile, the WHRCL Civil Engineer, has been present most evenings at Dinas and is planning the alignment south from Rhyd Ddu so he is currently starting to design the curve into Pitt's Head overbridge. It will be a tricky curve as there is little room for a straight to line up the loco / train before entering from the Rhyd Ddu side. It will be quite a tight fit - similar to Castell Cidwm but the PBSSR bridge has proved to have sufficient clearance for height as it was designed with overhead trolley wire clearances in mind. The entry curve transition will have to start well back towards Rhyd Ddu and the track will have to be slewed as far towards the east as the cutting will allow to get the correct entry for the Garratts and NG15s without fouling the bridge sides.
Rhyd Ddu works
Work at Rhyd Ddu prior to the start of Easter services included a replacement station sign facing the car park and the new train operated points.
This easterly view (19/3/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows the erection of a replacement station sign facing the car park. The previous sign was stolen last year. This one has been attached with heavier duty bolts! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (19/3/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows the cabinet housing the train operated point mechanism. To the right is the points indicator light. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
First train of the New Season
'Spring has sprung' and the first day of the Easter service dawned warm and sunny! No.138 hauled the first train of the new season with Castell Caernarfon still in pieces in the Goods Shed receiving a long waited overhaul. Coach No.2040 in its new livery with colour coded doors was included next to the similarly liveried brake coach. Conway Castle shunted K1 into the Carriage Shed to end the first day of the new season.
This northerly view (19/3/05) at Dinas shows the new livery of coach No.2040 with cream doors to help the visually challenged. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (19/3/05) at Dinas shows Conway Castle shunting a very mixed rake with K1 at the rear into the Carriage Shed. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (19/3/05) at Dinas shows No.138 leading the rake directly into North Yard at the end of the first day of the new season. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (19/3/05) of Castell Caernarfon in Dinas Goods Shed shows the cowcatcher having being painted gloss black. However, the loco's power unit is still in a disassembled state. It appears that the loco may have been re-varnished so perhaps it will not appear in green as TSR suggested, after all! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Plas-y-nant nears completion
The new halt at Plas-y-nant is nearing completion. The platform looks complete but requires a new access parallel with the existing footpath from the road to the level crossing by the bridge. The opportunity has been taken to restore the former worksite at Plas-y-nant used during Phase 3 construction.
This southerly view (19/3/05) at Plas-y-nant shows the new platform completed. A sign advises people that the station is not yet open and trains will not call. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (19/3/05) at Plas-y-nant shows the access nearing completion, parallel with the existing path. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Pitt's Head progress
All trees have now been cleared at Pitt's Head and a fencing contract was due to start on 21/3/05 covering the length between Rhyd Ddu and Pont Cae'r Gors. Earthworks are scheduled for May, when it is hoped the site has dried out a bit!
This southerly view (19/3/05) of Pitt's Head cutting shows the bog now cleared of trees. The alignment follows the left hand edge of the area and turns sharply under the road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (19/3/05) of Pitt's Head cutting shows the bog now cleared of trees. The alignment follows the right hand edge of the cutting. The sharp curve as the route emerges from under the road bridge is clearly visible. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
WHRCL purchases new tamper
A modern Plasser KMX Tamper/Liner has been acquired for the WHRCL to assist in the construction of the remaining section of the line from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog as well as the ongoing maintenance and upgrading of the existing railway. The purchase of this tamping machine is an important step forward in preparations for the construction of Phase 4 from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog as it will enable the building of a railway to the very best quality with low ongoing maintenance costs.
This view of the Plasser KMX Tamper/Liner was taken in Lorraine, France recently. Click on the image to enlarge. The image is courtesy Mike Hart, copyright Olivier Jaubert. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
For Phase 1/2 of the WHR project a small ex-mines tamper was purchased, but this was unsuccessful (now for sale!) and tamping of Phases 1/2 was by manual means using Kango hammers. For Phase 3, a small basic Matisa tamper was used successfully though it required a lot of additional manual work in parallel with its mechanical actions. In comparison, standard gauge tampers have the ability to detect where the track is at start of work and from that an on board computer calculates a lifting and lining plan as to where the track should be, what cant is required, and then automatically complete the job.
To look into what was needed for WHR, a small team set out to investigate requirements and scour the world for an affordable machine. Investigations led the team to conclude that a Plasser built machine, with their reputation for reliability, was the ideal candidate. If possible, the requirement was for a machine with the sort of automated lifting and lining equipment that are commonly found on standard gauge railways. The optimum machine would be one of the Plasser KMX series narrow gauge machines, such as used in Australia to maintain 800km of track on their 2 feet gauge sugar railway system. With only a handful of these narrow gauge machines having been built the WHR's chances of finding one available for sale were thought to be slim!
The Plasser KMX tamper is designed to be assembled to individual customer requirements in the gauge range of about 1000 to 600mm gauge. It is built to order varying from the simplest of machine with nothing much more than a manual tamping head up to the most advanced with all the track recording and evaluation equipment, lifting, slewing and lining gear. In its most advance form it is built with largely the same equipment used on the modern Plasser 08 tamper/liners that are in everyday use on NR. Nevertheless a new narrow gauge KMX tamper with automated lift and line equipment was clearly unaffordable with current new build price of around Euro 1 million!
Despite the scarcity of the machines the WHRCL's search turned up a 1995 built Plasser KMX tamper/liner for sale in France at an affordable price following the closure of the extensive Lorraine Coal fields, where it had been in service. Not only was it available for sale but it was the 'top of the range' version of KMX! An immediate trip to France was arranged so that FfR Co. engineers could inspect and evaluate the machine. This showed it was just what was required and in excellent all round condition. In addition, while it is currently assembled for 1 metre gauge track, its bodywork is inside WHR and FR's loading gauge so it will be able to work throughout on both lines.
This view of the tamper at a snowy mine in Lorraine, France shows Terry Turner General Manager of the W&LLR, which had purchased a similar machine. Terry kindly assisted in the WHRCL search for a machine and accompanied the FfR Co. inspection team to France. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Mike Hart and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The machine will arrive in the next two weeks and go into Boston Lodge during the second half of this year, where it will be re-gauged and overhauled. Then, with the support the WHRCL has been offered by friends from the main line railways who use this sort of automated tamping machine on a daily basis, it will complete a programme of training and commissioning before being moved up to the WHR for new construction and maintenance of the existing track. It is intended to lay new track south from Rhyd Ddu starting Xmas 2005.
The 17 tonne KMX is powered by a Deutz diesel engine with a scrubber unit on the exhaust to reduce emissions for working in tunnels. Interestingly, it is also fitted with an overhead pantograph but that is simply a safety device to ensure the overhead line current is switched off when the machine is working. The tamper can travel to site at up to 35 km/hour (20mph) and cabs are fitted at both ends - one incorporating the tamp and line control desks. The lifting/lining gear on the WHR's KMX95 CM tamper is the same Plasser technology applied to mainline machines around the world. The combined lifting and levelling unit located directly ahead of the tamping head can automatically lift and align the track to the predetermined position with power and precision while the track is locked in place by squeezing the tamping tools in the ballast under the adjacent sleepers.
Phase 4 progress
The 'full' clearance of the trackbed trees and shrubs from Rhyd Ddu to the vicinity of Nantmor is now complete. From there to the start of the flat lands near Hafod-y-Llyn the trackbed is now complete enough for access but will need a 'haircut' prior to the 2006 bird nesting season to finish. Contractors are concentrating on getting the felled trees dealt with and there are now significant numbers of staff on site cutting up, shredding etc. The fencing contract has been placed for Rhyd Ddu to Pont Cae'r Gors and planning is at an advanced stage for actual construction to start on that section, possibly in May, with earthworks progressing south from a work base at Rhyd Ddu station south. It is also planned to complete the station area and hand it over next Winter, then move the work base to another location, such as Pont Cae'r Gors.
The work involved at Rhyd Ddu includes:-
Clearly some of these works can only be attempted in the closed season next Winter as they will disrupt the platform and run round loops.
Porthmadog Gateway station
Michael Whitehouse (FR Chairman) told an FR Society meeting in mid March that the current funding would allow seven new WHR coaches to be constructed, hopefully at Boston Lodge. This will only allow two ten coach trains to be formed to operate on the WHR. If the re-launched WHR Appeal is successful (see next edition of Railway Magazine on sale 6/4/05) the coach build programme will hopefully be expanded.
He also told the meeting that the plans for the WHR would be finalised in the next three months or so. McAlpines has done a thorough audit of the costings for the rebuilding which agreed closely with the original estimates. Stage 1 is to rebuild from Rhyd Ddu to a point south of Nantmor. Stage 2 sees the Cross Town Rail Link (CTRL) built. The section in-between will only be progressed if sufficient funds are available (the WHR(P) are building the section from Pen-y-Mount to Pont Croesor). Some £1.5M is being allocated for contingencies and this will be available for the central section.
Michael Whitehouse added that the details of the Cambrian Coast NR crossing are well advanced (planned for Oct 2006). The Porthmadog end of the Cob will be widened to allow the WHR tracks and a 10 carriage platform to be built alongside the road as initially the WHR will run through to Harbour Station (and stock will need to go beyond to Boston Lodge for servicing/stabling in any case). Once the by-pass is completed it is likely that both WHR and FR services would terminate at a new "Gateway" station, with easy access from the bypass (presumably between Pen-y-Mount and the Central Car Park-this would mimic the original Porthmadog New of 1923!). The bypass itself now looks likely to be completed in 2010. He concluded by saying that Porthmadog really needs another 1000 car parking spaces immediately and even more when the WHR gets there.
This view of the Goods Shed bar (14/5/05) shows the stillages set up along the wall. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
During the weekend of 30 April - 1 May and Saturday, 7 May the North Wales Track Gang completed the adaptation of the Good's Shed at Dinas for the Cwrw ar y Cledrau / Rail Ale Beer Festival (14/15 May). This has included clearing out the shed, cleaning the floor, filling in and screeding holes in the floor, the construction of a stage for the various musical entertainment and the construction of stillages capable of taking 30 barrels, a total estimated weight of beer of 1.5 tons!
The pubs involved in the event were:-
The Black Boy Inn (Caernarfon)
The Prince of Wales (Caernarfon)
WHR Dinas Good's Shed (Dinas)
The Snowdonia Parc (Waunfawr)
The Cwellyn Arms (Rhyd Ddu)
A Weekend Rover Ticket (£12) and Festival Guide was available in advance from ‘Rail Ale Festival’, Ffestiniog Railway, Harbour Station, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9NF or by phone on 01766 516000. Click here for full details.
The extra trains timetable for the WHR Rail Ale Festival (14-15th May), the first of what is hoped will be come an annual event, has been fixed. It includes what may be the latest ever evening run on the WHR. The extra shuttles will be hauled by Castell Caernarfon except for the four evening workings, which will probably be in the hands of Conway Castle. The shuttle will consist of coaches Nos. 23/24/26, which the railway will have for a few weeks, together with No.1001 as brake. Castell Caernarfon will also haul the evening train to Rhyd Ddu. The fitters are currently refurbishing its diesel engine and hope to have it back together by 8/4/05. The BeerFest's normal service trains will be hauled by Nos.138/143, which are operating reliably at the moment.
|D||D||D||D||D SO||D SO||D SO||D SO||SO|
Green columns are normal service trains and are hauled by Nos.138/143.
Mauve columns are extra Rail Ale shuttles, hauled by Castell Caernarfon (Conway Castle in the evening).
Yellow column is extra train to Rhyd Ddu, hauled by Castell Caernarfon.
Columns with D at top are diesel hauled.
Columns with SO at top are Saturday Only.
K1 received some attention from the K1 Group working party on 16/7 April. The loco was shunted over the Carriage Shed pit on Sunday morning for work on the motion. Following the problems with the hot axlebox, it has been decided to remove the other wheelsets to check they are in reliable condition. The axleboxes were supplied by a contractor several years ago, replacing the life-expired originals. K1 is now stabled in the Goods Shed again as it is vacant following completion of the Funkey's overhaul.
Attention is also being given to K1's oil firing system. Firebrick walls are being fitted in the firebox and the burner is also receiving attention. The first public run of K1 is likely in 2005 but there is no target date as the loco must be released to the Operating Department in reliable operating condition. There is also the question of the availability of water at Rhyd Ddu and K1 has such a small tank.
Castell Caernarfon is back in service following attention from Cummins engineers to the power unit. On its first trip on 14/5/05 it disgraced itself with a vacuum brake problem and Conway Castle had to come to the rescue. It arrived back at Caernarfon an hour late with a party of Americans aboard. The FR staff provided a 'Welsh Food' light luncheon menu for them.
This northerly view (17/4/05) at Dinas shows Castell Caernarfon bringing the second train of the day into the station to start its turn at 1130. K1 is visible over the Carriage Shed pit to the right. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
Blackhand Gang progress
The North Wales Track Gang (alias the Blackhand Gang!) were keeping their hand in on tracklaying skills on 17/4/05. They relaid the short Dock Siding where the diesel bowser and new diesel tanks are located. This was the first piece of track to be visible from the public side of the fence and was laid in 1997 by Colin Hill and Dave Yates among others! The first actual track was laid at Xmas 1996 in order to store the Funkey in the Goods Shed. Although originally intended to allow ballast to be tipped into wagons from the high level roadway at this location, the Dock Siding has never been used as a loading dock.
This northerly view (17/4/05) at Dinas shows the new fittings added to the paired rail carrying wagons. The spacing bar between the two identical wagons allows a full 18m length of rail to be carried. These stanchions and slotted sections of rail will ensure the rails cannot fall off and are raised off the deck so steel slings can be passed under them for lifting. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
No rails at Pitts Head!
Although excavations have been underway in Pitt's Head Cutting this week, no NWNGR or WHR rails have been unearthed, only a few sleepers. The site clearance and fencing should be complete in a few weeks time. The peat has been piled against the roadside.
These northerly views (19/3/05 and 17/4/05) at Pitt's Head Cutting show the progress made in just one week in excavating the trackbed in this area. The trackbed is the curved formation to the right that was buried under a metre or more of accumulated peat. The original ballast bed has now appeared. More work needs to be done to provide a continuous deep drain in this area. Click on the images to enlarge. These images are copyright B.W.Hughes and were taken on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Images post processed using iPhoto Plus4. Image displayed at 96dpi.
For more new views like this click the Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert Forest page.
Where EAGles Dare!
The East Anglian Group (EAG) is rapidly gaining a reputation for its homework projects. Already, the Group has rebuilt four Hudson 4-wheel wagons ready for use on Phase 4 construction work. Volunteers are now making seven station name boards for the Railway, and work has already begun on their construction. The latest news is that, with the knowledge of the FR Company, the Group has now secured four ex-MoD 2'6" gauge flat wagons. With a little help from the Railway, the EAG plan to re-gauge and refurbish the wagons and fit them with vacuum brakes. The intention is that they will be used on the WHR main line as runners between the existing ex-SAR bogie wagons.
All of the projects, however, must be achieved at virtually zero cost to the railway. The EAG Group urgently needs your financial assistance to complete the purchase of the MoD wagons. £400 is needed in the first instance, and more will be needed to purchase materials for their restoration. Please give whatever you can afford to help us help the Railway. Please make cheques out to "WHRS East Anglian Group" and send to:
Hartz staff visit
Visitors from the Harzbahn operated the trains on the WHR on 16/4/05 (under supervision of the regular staff of course!). They brought HSB style shedplates and both Nos.138 and 143 carried them on 16/4/05.
Team Wylfa report
Team Wylfa is still waiting for the ex-Wylfa Nuclear Power Station container in which to store all No.140's bits, so they cannot really strip any more off the power bogies until it arrives. However, this will not stop them freeing off components. They will probably restart that next week. In the meantime volunteers have now completed repainting No.134's boiler cladding. The paint was still a bit soft on the last piece on Thursday night (14/5/05) so it did not get moved down to the Carriage Shed. Next Tuesday should see the Clip Shed clear of cladding at long last!
Team Wylfa are concentrating on No.140's sandboxes and oil boxes at the moment and have almost finished stripping them down in their Clip Shed workshop. Once cleaned up, volunteers will do a couple of minor repairs to the sandboxes, repaint the outsides and paint the insides with a hard epoxy paint (as has been done on K1). The headlamp assemblies which mount on the oil boxes are recoverable. Volunteers did a bit of panel beating on one last night and it came out true again. Both need a strip cropping and new metal welding in across the top near the cover hinge.
St. Helens Road works
Work has been underway since late March constructing a footpath from Caernarfon station entrance to the start of Lon Eifion. This has reduced free car parking near the station. Work was completed around Easter time.
WHRS at FR50/WHR(P) Gala
The WHRS is manning a stall at Minffordd Yard at FR50 (30/4-2/5) and is looking for volunteers (see below). They will be joined by WHR(P) volunteers who may not be able to be present for the whole weekend as they have a special event too and are running the big Polish Lyd2 diesel Eryri and showing Russell one last time before stripping.
FR50 weekend WHR timetable
It has been decided to run a yellow timetable for the FR50 Weekend (April 30th to May 1st) as many visitors to FR50 may wish to take a trip on the WHR as well. This timetable involves 5 round trips (the first is a diesel hauled from Dinas to Rhyd Ddu).
Click on this link for the timetable.
Team Wylfa update 8/4/05
No.140's top end power bogie was successfully moved into the workshop yesterday. The motive power was the recently donated 'Bodysgalen' JCB. As soon as the bottom end bogie has been power washed and the trailing pony truck removed, that too will go inside. The group are still waiting for the container from Wylfa to be moved to Dinas to put No.140's bits in. It is likely to be a week or so yet.
Only two of No.134's boiler cladding sheets remain to be treated. Volunteers got the last of the old paint off on Thursday night (7/4/05) and the primer will be done by other volunteers over the coming weekend so Team Wylfa should get the undercoat on next Tuesday and move them out to the storage racks in the carriage shed on Thursday.
This website is sad to report the death on Tuesday morning of Karen Humphries, publican of the Snowdonia Park Brewpub at Waunfawr, after admission to hospital on Monday. Long a supporter of the railway, Karen made a good business out of a previous moribund pub and successfully reinvigorated it. When she retired as a nursery school teacher, she invested her savings in the new enterprise and had the new toilet block built for the caravan/campsite, over the footbridge from the pub/station car park. Her son set up a successful micro brewery in the pub cellar. She has also been very supportive of the community in general.
The buffet meals that she laid on for railway gatherings have always been extremely good and noticeable for the high proportion of home produced dishes. Your webmaster has been a frequent customer, last seeing her on Easter Monday, and has also stayed at the caravan site. I would like to add my appreciation of her success in life and condolences to the family. The funeral may be on Saturday or early next week.
North Wales Track gang progress
As a result of work carried out by the North Wales Track Gang (alias The Black Hand Gang), over the weekend 2/3 April, on the temporary fuel road at Dinas, the ban on bogie carriages from this siding has now been lifted by the Chief Engineer. This is the track that leads to the Goods Shed and its new status will allow more flexibility for shunting and storage at Dinas. Currently the Carriage Shed headshunt is the Release Road alongside the bay platform track, which was fettled a few weeks ago. The volunteers are keeping their hand in ready for track laying on Phase 4 south from Rhyd Ddu around Xmas!
Pitt's Head progress
The bog at Pitt's Head Cutting has dried out a little following the excavation of a drainage channel by Achnashean in February and subsequent dewatering. The site clearance north of the road bridge, will continue next week (from 11/4/05) with the aid of a 21 tonne excavator. The remaining peat on the track bed will be heaped up, probably on the west side between the railway and the road, to allow it to dry out. The excavator will have sufficient reach to put the heap far enough away from the trackbed to prevent it slumping back. Peter O'Donnghaile, WHRCL's Civil Engineering Manager, has thrust a ranging rod through the metre or so of accumulated peat and can hear the old ballast crunching underneath.
These works are site clearance, not new construction, and the SNPA are happy with this view. New construction is not allowed until Planning Consent is in place, which is expected in a couple of weeks or so. It is expected contracts will be let shortly for a start on actual construction south from Rhyd Ddu station in May.
Bits & Pieces 15/3/05
The A-05 tamper performed well on 15/3/05 as the Track Gang with assistance from the Tuesday Gang set the cant and tamped 6 lengths at Tryfan Junction as part of the Winter maintenance programme designed to raise speed limits. There are rumours that a new tamper is about to be purchased.
The Train Operated Trailable Point (TOTP) mechanism recently installed at the Caernarfon end of Rhyd Ddu station has now been commissioned in time for the Easter resumption of services on 19/3/05. The point indicator light is turned on by an approach treadle and off by the same treadle or after 30 minutes.
Coach No. 2040 was back at Dinas by 15/3/05, in time for the resumption of services for Easter on 19/3/05. All the coaches of the E-set, including No.2040, have had their Eberspacher heaters serviced. Taking them out is relatively easy but putting them back is a bit more difficult due to problems refitting the warm air ducting.
Coach No. 2040 was on its way back from Boston Lodge on 13/3/05. After the low loader delivered the B-class DHR saddle tank loco to Minffordd for its FR visit, it carried the coach back to Dinas. The carriage was noted in Minffordd yard prior to dispatch with the new white doors that are designed to help those with poor vision.
This view (18/2/05) in Boston Lodge Carriage Shops shows coach No.2040 being refurbished. It was intended that the coach would emerge with colour differentiated doors as the previous BL refurbished WHR coach No.2090. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (13/3/05) in Minffordd yard shows coach No.2040 in finished condition. The carriage was due to go to Dinas by lowloader. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright David Barnwell and was captured on a HP Photosmart 945 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The A-05 tamper, which had its ram refitted on 11/3/05, later went past the drystone wall repair gang at Rhostryfan Road to tamp a curve that was slewed the previous day. It may have suffered problems again after as little as 30 minutes operation. The WHRCL is looking for a good second hand narrow gauge tamper for Phase 4 as it will have 12 miles of new formation to tamp and slew and needs a more reliable machine.
No.140's power bogies arrive at Dinas
No. 140's power bogies arrived at Dinas on 7-8/3/05. They have been lowered onto lengths of Jubilee track laid on the roadway on the station side of the old trackbed bridge (as the lorry could not get under it) and pushed along with the Jubilee track leap-frogging from behind to in front. Eventually they went over the running lines and will eventually go into the workshop. The pair will just fit in!
This northerly view (7/3/05) at Dinas shows the unloading of the first of No.140's bogies. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Peduzzi and was captured on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (7/3/05) at Dinas shows No.140's bogie having been rolled onto Jubilee track. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Peduzzi and was captured on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (21/2/05) at Dinas shows the unloading of No.140's tanks, which preceded the delivery of the bogies. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright John Peduzzi and was captured on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The first bogie arrived at 15.00 on 7/3/05 and was moved immediately through the bridge and left till the next day. This bogie was moved, as described above, over the running line next morning. Volunteers got it right in front of the workshop just as the next bogie was delivered! The second bogie was unloaded about 12.30 on 8/3/05 and after lunch was also moved over the main line as it is only possible to do this while the railway is closed. Luckily there were plenty of volunteers as Paul Bradshaw's gang was co-opted to do the heavy work! The team even had to work out a way of using three lengths of jubilee track as a turntable to make the turn from the crossing towards the workshop.
Team Wylfa lost no time in attacking No.140's power bogies. By 10pm on 8/3/05 they had stripped the front bogie of its cow catcher and most of the cylinder cladding and lagging was removed. Quite a few of the components are now marked for removal. The power bogies are staying outside the workshop for a while pending pressure washing and then will be moved inside for complete stripping, assessment and overhaul/repair. If anyone wants to join Team Wylfa on Tuesdays and Thursdays, if the station yard gate is closed - come up to the Loco Shed/Workshop and volunteers will find Team Wylfa there working on No.140. If the station gates are open, volunteers should come down the yard to the Clip Shed where Team Wylfa will probably be doing work on No.134.
Bits & pieces 9/3/05
The disabled access at Waunfawr has at long last been re-graded and given a smooth top coating. The path runs from the car park gate near the footbridge, along the edge of the cutting, to the gate at the level crossing at the south end of the station. It had previously been in use but was a bit rough for wheelchairs.
Work has taken place on the drystone walling alongside Rhostryfan Road.
Colin Hill leaves K1 project
On 3/3/2005 the K1 Committee released the following statement:-
The K1 project has steamed along since late 1995 and is nearing completion. For virtually all of these past nine years our project leader has been Colin Hill. He has led the team through every high and low point of the project with great determination and the results are for all to see, a restored K1 almost ready for service on the WHR. Colin has now decided that the time has come to hang up his overalls and retire from the project. We thank him for his tremendous energy and time devoted towards restoring K1, and his friendship to all. We wish him well in the future.
Work began in March on Plas-y-nant Halt. The platform edging blocks had been put in place by 6/3/05.
Phase 4 clearance works
At Pitt's Head cutting, the tree clearance was complete north of the road bridge by 6/3/05. The trackbed has not, however, been excavated down to formation level. Work will start to level the whole formation through this area in May given dry conditions. The opportunity may be taken to level out some of the gradient changes between Rhyd Ddu station and Pitt's Head Cutting using excess spoil stored at Rhyd Ddu. At Goat Cutting, just south of Beddgelert station, clearance has seen all the trees removed as far the Goat Tunnel as well as the ex-Croesor track and temporary sleepers laid by the '64 Co. many years ago. The old display map in Beddgelert Central Car park shows the railway in place from Porthmadog!
Further progress was made on the ex-SAR brakevan last weekend. The Caernarfon end of the van was sanded and given one coat of red oxide. More of the floor was cut away and prepared ready to accept new plate. Some of the internal fittings were removed, along with some of the external lamp fittings, for safe storage.
This view (6/3/05) in Dinas Carriage shed shows progress with one end of the brakevan. Click on the image to enlarge. The image is courtesy John Hine and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Winter overhaul begins on Castell Caernarfon
Castell Caernarfon was long overdue a full service (has it had one since it arrived on the WHR?). The loco has now been taken apart in the Loco Shed with the engine stripped. All 3 cylinder heads are off.
Team Wylfa update
Team Wylfa had a short but productive evening at Dinas on the evening of 3/3/05. No.140's rear tank/fuel bunker was jacked up so that the bunker now 'self drains'. The bunker has been cleared of large items so only a pond of sludge - mostly coal slack/fines from its last journey remained. This has now been mostly shovelled out into a skip and all that remains is to wash it out. Once clean, Team Wylfa will sheet over both tanks to keep the weather off whilst they are in store. A wheel barrow load of rust has been shovelled from the front water tank. On the whole, both tanks do not look too bad. A high pressure water jet will clean them to bare metal so they can be coated with bitumastic compound to preserve. The chimney was stored in the bunker and now it is out, the skirt around the base (that marries with the top of the smokebox) is seen to be badly wasted and holed in several places. Thus this chimney base will need renewing.
Plas-y-nant Halt works
Plas-y-nant Halt works were due to start in March and hopefully be completed for an official opening on May 15th (if not before). The works involve the building of a 40m long by 2m wide platform (similar to that at Bontnewydd) on the west side of the line, 60m south of the footpath crossing. This will place the north end of the platform just south of the loop point and on the site of the disused stone level crossing gates. The embankment will require widening and extending to the south west to accommodate these works. The platform will have concrete block kerbs and concrete paving slabs next to the kerb with rolled crushed slate behind this. There will be wooden fencing along the back and a black halt sign with white lettering.
The work is being done by a contractor, Dave Phasey, and is funded by the friends of Plas y Nant, who have deposited the cost of the work with FRT. Their member Lewis Esposito also did the sketches for the halt to FR Co. specifications. The contract has been let and is supervised by FR Co.
The platform will be reached by a footpath on the west side of the line giving a new public vantage point for photographers. The former WWII concrete gun emplacement which was removed from the trackbed just north of Plas-y-nant bridge is to be positioned beside the path as a historical memento. An original WHR platform seat, formerly at Plas-y-nant Hostel, has been refurbished and will be fixed in place.
This image of Plas-y-nant Halt seat apparently at Plas-y-nant hostel. This is the restored seat from the original halt (note the different end detail compared to the modern WHR seats). Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy Andrew Savage, taken by John Miller. Image post processed using IPhoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
'The Board of the Ffestiniog Railway Company resolved at its last meeting on 18th February that K1 would not bear a name but that it would be dedicated at an appropriate ceremony to the work carried out by all at Beyer Peacock in recognition that it was the first Garratt built. The Board took advice on the proposed naming of the engine from the Heritage company which is responsible for monitoring the heritage fleet. The unanimous advice of the Heritage company and its archivist was that on account of the engine's historical significance being the first of its kind there was a responsibility to keep the appearance of the engine as original as possible. So, K1 will also be painted in its original livery.'
Michael Whitehouse (Chairman FR Co.)
Gareth Williams (Chairman FR Heritage Ltd.)
Consequently the pair of long nameplates 'Herbert William Garratt' already made by the K1 Group will not be used on this loco. It is believed the original livery was 'blackberry' black from flecks of paint found during the loco's restoration.
Team Wylfa / No.140 report
On 18/2/05, the Wylfa air compressor spares were removed from the Goods Shed and are safely and neatly stacked on pallets in the K1 shed down the yard. All that needs moving now is the spare bedplate and compressor (i.e. the heaviest items). Apart from the corner in front of the large window, (with 2 pallets of K1 spares and 2 pallets with the compressor and bedplate) the floor area is now completely clear.
NGG16 No.140's tanks arrived at Dinas (Farm) on 19/2/05 but were not moved to the WHR yard for a few days. The ambulance bogies were transported from Dinas to Glan-y-pwll on 18/2/05 allowing the power bogies to be removed later that day. With both front and rear tanks unloaded by Tuesday, Team Wylfa examined the murky waters in No.140's coal bunker. It was believed some of the valve rods were there. All they found and recovered on the evening of 22/2/05 were the cab windows. Regrettably, some are smashed but the frames will clean up. On Thursday they intended to jack the tank / bunker up at the rear end so that it self drains in future and then clear all the junk that has accumulated in there and hopefully, find the missing rods.
This westerly view (19/2/05) at Glan-y-pwll Depot shows NGG16 No.140s bogies being shunted clear of the boiler frame by Moel Hebog. The right hand spring hanger from the pony truck has been removed to replace that broken (due to poor SAR weld repair) on No.143, which lead to the derailment by the Carriage Shed late last Summer. The bogies will be coming to Dinas soon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tim Goodspeed and was captured on a Digital QV-3000EX digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This easterly view (19/2/05) at Glan-y-pwll Depot shows NGG16 No.140s boiler frame unit on ambulance bogies, recently moved from Dinas. The boiler unit will eventually follow the bogies to Dinas and it is possible three Garratts will be in steam for 2009! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Tim Goodspeed and was captured on a Digital QV-3000EX digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
A donation of brilliant white emulsion paint was delivered on 20/2/05. Five of Team Wylfa made quick work of putting a top coat on the long wall of the Clip Shed that the Tuesday Gang had undercoated for them and carried on around until the paint ran out around 10pm. Sunglasses are now required in the Clip Shed!! They intended to complete the back wall and around the front doors on Friday evening. The paint has totally transformed the dark, unloved pit that was the Clip Shed into quite a pleasant workshop - especially with the space heater doing its job well.
This week Team Wylfa should be lowering the compressor off its pallet onto its final resting place and getting it bolted down. Then it will be over to Mr Hazeldine (FR Electrical Engineer) to organise the electric supply. When connected, Wylfa Power Station's workshop manager has promised to come down personally to set it up and commission it. With No.138 having been shedded in the Goods Shed after hauling the service trains during the Half Term holiday week, it would have been ideal to have had the air supply available to flash it up again in the mornings without having to shunt it up to the Loco Shed with Castell Caernarfon (now recovered from flat batteries)!
Bits and pieces 26/2/05
Achnashean have started work on clearance in the Beddgelert Goat Cutting. Access has been via the Oberon Wood estate. Clearance should proceed to Bryn-y-felin. Meanwhile the surveyors have been out at Bryn-y-felin bridge.
This southerly view (18/2/05) at Bryn-y-felin bridge shows NRG surveyors making initial topological measurements for the new bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Work started on automating Rhyd Ddu north points on 21/2/05. The mechanism has been ready for installation for about a year.
The permanent staff PW gang cleared the rail stack at Plas-y-nant on 21/2/05. This is so that the contractors could build the platform on the site starting a few days later, i.e. on the west side of the line, just south of the point.
Tracks extending north out of the Carriage Shed have been completed with some excavation being required. This will be used for storing little used stock. The original idea was to fit points so that alternative access could be made to the Carriage Shed.
This northerly view (18/2/05) at Dinas shows the completed extensions to the Carriage Shed roads. The point formerly intended to link these into the headshunt remains on the nearer flat wagon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Rhyd Ddu is to get a central water tank, possibly up on the bank to the east of the station, feeding water cranes at either end of the platform. It will be fed from the local water main and may be fitted within the next 12 months. This is important in view of K1's limited water capacity (see below).
The Dinas diesel fuel tank (not yet in use) has been painted coach maroon by the Tuesday Gang, whilst the plinth is 'sand'.
This southerly view (14/2/05) at Dinas shows the newly painted diesel fuel tank and plinth. Diesel locos are still refuelled from the red bowser (left), until pipework is complete. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The WHR is considering, amongst other options, a printed ticket style section authorisation instead of the token system currently used after the line opens to Porthmadog. Previously, the WHRS magazine 'Snowdon Ranger' has mentioned a similar system used on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. Equipment boxes on platforms would print out the authorisation to enter the next section/sections from Harbour Control via a data link. This would obviate the need for divisible tokens but let us hope the ink cartridge does not run out or the phone lines do not come down! The ticket would give permission to run through multiple sections when appropriate, avoiding the need to stop for new tokens and thereby speeding up the journey.
Clearance continues apace!
With a deadline of 1/3/05 approaching for tree felling, Achnashean's team resumed work with a vengeance at Pitt's Head on Sunday 20/2/05 and also started clearing Beddgelert Station approaches. Goat Cutting has also had some attention and the rails laid by the '64 Co. in an earlier preservation attempt have been reclaimed.
This northerly view (21/2/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows the drainage channel completed at Pitt's Head Cutting after the Achnashean team had worked Sunday. The railway will continue to the right in a left curve that brings it back towards the road. As the cutting is dewatered, the trees can be felled and the accumulated sludge could be piled back against the road. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Keith Bradbury and was captured on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The contractors report that the water at Pitt's Head is flowing in the right direction (north) and starting to drain the site. Nevertheless, in the meantime they say it is a bit like digging porridge in that area! This is not surprising as the flow of water has been bringing in fine material from the summit bog into the cutting north of the bridge since the line closed about 70 years ago. As the water level drops and the mud dries out, it will be possible to excavate down to the trackbed. At least it is now known that the railway will drain north away from the bridge, as predicted in previous investigations.
This northerly view (21/2/05) at Beddgelert Station shows a pile of rail recovered from the Goat Cutting. The ex-Croesor Rail (laid by the '64 co. many years ago) has been stacked on the concrete base of the old station building since at least 16/2/05. The other item is believed to be a farm implement. some of the rail was removed by the WHR(P) about 10 years ago. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Keith Bradbury and was captured on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
These southerly views (14/2/05 and 17/2/05) at Ch.18650 (from the old dam) shows the cutting cleared down to hard standing. In the background can be seen the main forestry track. Click on the image to enlarge. These images are copyright B.W.Hughes and were captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
A major advance was made on 16/2/05 when contractors excavated uphill through the Forest Enterprise dam. They cleared a previously impenetrable cutting with tree stumps and about 50cm of decayed grass which had turned to peat. Underneath, there was a perfect ballast bed, complete with some sleepers still in place revealing that the spacing was, on average, 36 inches. The newly appointed WHRCL engineer Peadar O'Donnaghaile is quite pleased, as the more trackbed is exposed, the more is found to be in good condition!
These northerly views (14/2/05 and 17/2/05) shows the completed cutting after the Achnashean team had excavated down to a firm foundation. The railway continues in an almost straight line to the site of Hafod Ruffydd Halt. Visible in the distance, contractors have found a section of trackbed with original sleepers and ballast still in position about 100m or so uphill from the former Forest Enterprise dam across the cutting. The 'lost' railway in the forested section is now cleared towards the Hafod Ruffydd field. Click on the image to enlarge. These images are copyright B.W.Hughes and Bruce Brayne and were captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Images post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
K1 on coaches
With the rodding disassembled on the evening of 16/2/05, the offending axle was removed from K1 on 18/2/05 after the wheeldrop was vacated by No.143. The repair work on the hot bearing was completed by volunteers on the evening of 19/2/05 and the following morning, with the refitting of the axle and reassembly of the motion. The loco was warmed up on Sunday 20/2/05 and ran from Dinas to Caernarfon for water at around 1530, then to Rhyd Ddu, returning to Dinas in the dark. It appears the loco ran well, hauling 5 coaches, and was said to sound impressive on the final climb to the summit and to be 'fleet of foot'!
On the downside, the loco is only just able to get from Waunfawr to Caernarfon water tanks hauling coaches (via Rhyd Ddu!) due to the small size of its leading water tank (despite having a full boiler and tank at Waunfawr). It is reported that other bearings may also be in need attention to oilways. When the simpling valve is used the loco is said to use 'huge' amounts of steam. Clearly this will only be used as a starting 'gear' for short periods, as with a car starting in first gear.
This northerly view (18/2/05) at Dinas loco shed shows K1 on the pit with Conway Castle right and No.143 left. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (18/2/05) of K1 in the Loco Shed shows the leading rear axle dropped out for attention to the bearings. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Bruce Brayne and was captured on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (20/2/05) shows K1 hurrying north to Caernarfon at the St. Helens road bridge on 5 bogies. The train later ran to Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Mike Hart and was captured on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (20/2/05) shows K1 running round its test train at Caernarfon. The train later ran to Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Mike Hart and was captured on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (20/2/05) at Waunfawr shows the first loaded run of K1 to Rhyd Ddu. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Rob Bradley and was captured on a digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Clearance to Hafod-y-Llyn
Clearance works currently underway consist of clearing the trackbed of accumulated debris to expose the original surface, removal of scrub and tree growth and getting the old drainage regime working so as to help dry out the formation and make a firm plant road. That will be followed shortly by fencing contract. The clearance contract placed a few weeks ago currently goes as far as Hafod-y-Llyn. Clearance of standing trees from this section is most important as tree felling enters a closed season to allow for bird nesting from 1/3/05. For more views like those below see the Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert Forest page.
These westerly views (14/2/05 and 20/2/05) at Ch.18700 shows the trackbed clearance programme having chopped down all the trees at the top of the final S-curve. Re-establishing the drainage regime is one of Achnashean's tasks, so as to dry out these boggy areas. The hard surface of the original trackbed has emerged from the bog. The former dam caused by the Forest Enterprise track is visible in the distance on the 'before' shot. Click on the image to enlarge. The first image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. The second image is copyright Mike Hart. Images post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
It is understood that K1 went into Dinas shed on 15/2/05 for the hot bearing to be dealt with. The loco cannot be lifted, using the ex-Channel Tunnel narrow gauge construction railway jacks as it has no jacking points, so the offending axle is being removed on the wheel drop. Previously, the hot bearing had been identified as a lubrication problem with the oil-way not penetrating the white metal. This was bored through and a secondary oil supply had been fitted in recent weeks. It had been hoped that the bearing would improve with running in but more drastic action is now necessary. At this stage it is not known if the loco will be completed in time for test runs booked during the coming Winteractive weekend.
This northerly view (14/2/05) at Dinas shows K1 being readied for the day's test programme. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (14/2/05) at Hendy l/c shows K1 running to Caernarfon to be watered with Conway Castle in tow. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (14/2/05) at Caernarfon shows K1 at the water tower. It refilled again at Waunfawr. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (14/2/05) at Dinas south cutting shows K1 accelerating through under the main road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (14/2/05) at Waunfawr shows K1 after refilling with water, waiting for the passenger service to pass. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (14/2/05) at Pont Betws shows K1 approaching the new road bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (14/2/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows K1 running around Conway Castle so it could lead on its return journey down the valley. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Bits & pieces
Contrary to expectations, the WHR Funkey, Castell Caernarfon, was Dinas 'Thunderbird' for the Half Term holiday week services. The loco is going into the Dinas shops for a long awaited overhaul on 21/2/05.
S4c (Channel 4-Wales) filmed at Caernarfon on the 11:00 and also the 12:35 ex-Rhyd Ddu on 16/2/05. Later, on the 14:00, they filmed scenery and locomotive shots. The programme should be aired in May.
K1 on test
K1 ran with Conway Castle as back up to Rhyd Ddu on 14/2/05. The intention was to increase its load by a couple of coaches each day until it was running fully loaded by Thursday, all being well. However, a re-occurrence of the hot bearing problem saw lubrication oil boiling by Rhyd Ddu. The day's testing was curtailed at Dinas on the return and there was some doubt that the loco would emerge later in the week. The speedometer in Conway Castle indicated speeds up to 25 mph (K1 does not have a speedometer) and the loco appeared to steam freely.
This southerly view (14/2/05) at Rhyd Ddu shows the first visit of K1 to this location. The loco ran a hot bearing. The guard was riding in Conway Castle. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
It had been reported on the WHR Yahoo Group that K1 will be hauling test trains (F-set empty stock) starting Monday 14/2/05, until (and including) Sunday 20/2/05. The train leaves Dinas for Caernarfon every day at 11.30, Caernarfon for Rhyd Ddu at 12.00, Rhyd Ddu for Caernarfon at 13.55, and Caernarfon for Dinas at 15.45. The train is a test train so is free to take its time, so that engineers can deal with whatever crops up, without holding up the service trains, as well as familiarise themselves with its various eccentricities! The train is scheduled to pass the service trains at Waunfawr. There is NO guarantee this train will run on any of the days and there will be absolutely NO passengers!
Before and after at Summit Cutting!
These southerly views (29/1/05 and 17/2/05) of the Summit Cutting at Pitt's Head show the progress that can be achieved in a fortnight. Achnashean have made solid progress and the trackbed is reported firm despite worries about the bog. The footbridge (which was apparently never completed) is to be completed for free-roaming livestock to cross the line. Drainage has been completed to the north of the underbridge and it is hoped this site will soon drain. Click on the image to enlarge. These images are copyright R.J.Edwards and B.W.Hughes respectively and were captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The original holding down bolts for a presumably steel deck that was never completed by PBSSR or WHR 1922 are visible in the pictures of the farm occupation bridge. Looking to achieve low life costs the WHLR anticipate the deck will be concrete with a suitably disguised side elevation as on previous over-bridges.
Team Wylfa latest
Team Wylfa report that they are no longer appealing for a diesel engine to power the spare compressor. Mike Hart has indicated that the trailer mounted compressor recently arrived at Dinas, with the JCB and Portacabins for Phase 4, will be available for the standby compressor. Team Wylfa have been asked to add the job of 'checking it over' to their increasingly long list of 'things to do'. The compressors arrived on 14/2/05 so Team Wylfa will be busy sorting compressors and spares on Tuesday and Thursday evening this coming week.
This view (14/2/05) at Wylfa nuclear power station shows a happy Clive Briscoe watching the loading of the compressor onto the lorry for transport to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (14/2/05) at Dinas shows the local farmer/transporter unloading the compressor off the lorry after delivery from Wylfa. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (14/2/05) at Dinas shows the working compressor standing in the Goods Shed ready to be wired up. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Santa service for 2005
The 2004 Santa trains raised almost £15,400 with record numbers travelling, nearly half coming from the Caernarfon area. Some 1573 passengers travelled on the 12 public trains. Two school trains were run in between the two weekends. Santa Trains for 2005 will operate on two weekends, 10-11/12/05 and 17-8/12/05.
Michael Whitehouse has issued the following message to WHR supporters.
Dear WHR Supporter,
Welsh Highland Railway, Phase 4
As you know, the FR is planning the reconstruction of the final stage of the Welsh Highland from Rhyd Ddu to Porthmadog. A major reason for the success of the project has been the massive support that we have received from individual donors, who have contributed freely to the Phase 4 Appeal.
To date we have received or been promised some £800,000 in donations, covenants and gift aid; we think this makes this the single most successful funding appeal in preservation history. Although we originally set out to raise a minimum of half a million pounds we always hoped that we could do better. In particular if we can reach a million pounds we can release a substantial private donation currently in the construction fund to provide the basis of a package that will allow us to construct at least seven new carriages.
Many of you will have supported the appeal already, but I felt that it was appropriate to re-publicise it on websites as I am sure other supporters will want to consider making a donation bearing in mind the additional information I have been able to give you above.
We only need another 130 bronze level subscribers to allow us to release the private donation, and with 225-or so we put all the internally generated funds in place for the carriage project. These numbers fall rapidly if we get silver or gold subscribers. We will be putting out a major advertising campaign for the fund in March; we hope that will enable us to complete the fund. We know that many of you have already supported this most exciting project, but thought that we should offer you all the chance to join in our success before we send the appeal out to a wider audience. Any money you feel able to give will be very much appreciated and will be applied first to the reconstruction of the WHR and, once that is fully funded, the balance to carriages.If you would like to subscribe to the future of the FR and WHR by supporting the fund please fill in the forms and return them to us at Harbour Station.Michael Whitehouse
This northerly view (29/1/05) shows the surveyor's pegs between the two seats and to the left of the dog bin on Llyn Bach path north from the Britannia Bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Check out the Porthmadog Cross Town Link page for more images like this.
Team Wylfa Compressor
The ex-Wylfa Nuclear Power Station air compressor is due to arrive at Dinas early next week for use in Goods Shed. One unit is coming as a complete package ready to run, powered by electricity. A second unit is being delivered at the same time as a spare with a new cylinder block. This was running until a couple of weeks ago. There is a bedplate for it and two spare motors but thoughts have turned to fixing a small diesel engine on the bedplate to drive the second unit so that in event of a power cut, the loco shed can still flash up a steam loco. Can anyone donate a spare, small, 35 - 40 HP diesel engine?
This view (4/2/05) at Wylfa Nuclear Power Station shows the compressor ready for delivery to Dinas. Click on the image to enlarge This image is courtesy/copyright Clive Briscoe. Image was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed with IPhoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Team Wylfa were involved with oiling up and checking the 'E' set on 8/2/05 ready for it to go out on the line for Half Term week. The 'F' set is to be used for K1 testing. If any time is left over, volunteers will be clearing some space (a considerable amount actually) in the Goods Shed for the new compressors and boxes of spares. There is so much spare gear for them that space may be an issue!
Bits & pieces
With 55 ales available between Caernarfon and Rhyd Ddu, the WHR is hoping to make the May 14-15th BeerFest an annual event. CAMRA has promised volunteers for the Dinas WHRS stall, with 30 different real ales on tap! There will be a reduced flat fare of £10 for the all-day Rover for the event and a special intensive diesel shuttle every 45 minutes between Caernarfon and Dinas.
Suggestions have been made that Funkey diesel Castell Caernarfon will be turned out in green with gold lining after its February refit.
This northerly view (25/10/04) at Dinas shows the simulated green repaint of Castell Caernarfon but the 'go faster' yellow stripes will be replaced by gold lining. Click on the image to enlarge This image is courtesy/copyright Dave Waldren. Base images was taken on a Canon G2 and re-coloured with Photoshop7. Image post processed with IPhoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The WHRCL official website (run by Ben Fisher) will be launched in February. A holding page has already been uploaded at http://www.highrail.co.uk
Hafod Garregog Halt
Although there will be no halt at Hafod Garregog (midway between Nantmor and Pont Croesor), a recent visit to the trackbed at this location revealed that the original 1920s posts for the halt name-board were still present in the form of two vertical rails at the site of the platform. The Heritage Group may wish to provide a name-board here as they intend at Tryfan Junction. Check out the Nantmor-Pont Croesor page for more images like this.
This northerly view (29/1/05) at the site of Hafod Garregog Halt shows two steel rail posts that formerly carried the station name-board, with the Moelwyns in background. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
Fred Howes and the WHR PW staff worked through Salem and Bryn Afon to raise the speed limit from 10mph to 15mph before Xmas. Some slews were in excess of 150 mm. The work at Glan-yr-afon Viaduct has seen speed limits on the entrance and exit curves raised from 5mph to 10mph.
Work started on 4/1/05 between the A487 road bridge at Dinas and the ballast dump l/c at Cae'r Moel with the aim of achieving 15/20mph speed limits. This should allow heavier trains, particularly the more powerful diesel hauled trains, to make use of the dips under the bridges to achieve 20mph on the long straight east of Cae'r Moel. At the end of January work was concentrated on Clogwyn-y-gwin, with a realignment to move the track away from the edge of the drystone ledge. This might require some rock pecking.
When the Half Term passenger service ceases on 20/2/05, it is the intention to upgrade some of Phase 1 track, raising speed limits between Caernarfon and Hendy l/c so that trains can take advantage of the dip under the new St. Helens road bridge and charge the Coed Helen bank, a location where trains sometimes have adhesion problems at low speed.
The WHRS has committed itself to raising and donating £150,000 to the WHR Phase 4 during the 2005/9 construction period (£30,000 per annum). They have published an appeal leaflet for people who wish to make a single donation rather than a regular monthly contribution over the five years.
More K1 Test runs
K1 is shown on FfR rosters as operating test runs on the WHR from 14-20/2/05 including the Winteractive Weekend. Winteractive itself has sold out, except for the Castell Conwy freight runs, which have received no bookings at all. As a result the Winteractive freight paths have been cancelled to allow for K1 test runs, another attraction for the Winteractive weekend (though there is no guarantee the loco will operate). Guards have been requested for the K1 trips, presumably with the second passenger rake, which will not be in use this week. K1 has recently received attention to its hot bearing. This will be the first time the whole 12 miles of line is available for testing the loco with a load since the route was closed for '25mph Campaign' improvements and the Llanfaglan road bridge works earlier this year.
WHR Phase 4 Appeal success
The FfR is delighted to report that to date the appeal to help fund the construction of the Welsh Highland Railway from Rhyd Ddu through to Porthmadog has now topped £800k. A tremendous achievement thanks to all the Project's supporters. Sights are now set on moving that figure up to about £1million (£960,000 to cover coaches and benefits to supporters) so the FfR can invest in further passenger carriages for the WHR. To try and reach that, the FfR is going to advertise heavily in the coming weeks, with articles and leaflets in various magazines.
To reach the next target many more subscriptions are needed (130 Bronze supporters!). If you, or anyone you know, might consider making a donation to the Appeal please email Pauline Holloway at FR Harbour Station, who will be happy to send you some more Appeal leaflets.
Tool van upgrade
Around the time that the daily train service ceased it was decided that the Permanent Way Department Tool Van needed a repaint. The problem was how do you paint something that is in daily use. The answer was to load ladders, paint, brushes, rollers, sandpaper , etc. on board and to paint it whenever it came to a stand. So, every Tuesday for the last three months, the Tuesday Gang's resident painter Hugh "Fawr", accompanied the van up the line and set to with brushes and paint wherever the van stopped. So the van was painted at Glan-yr-afon, Plas-y-nant, Salem, Rhostryfan Rd Bridge, Cyffordd Tryfan and Cae Moel!
This northerly view at Dinas shows the repainted Tool Van in the platform with painting now complete. The van has acquired an end balcony. Click on the image to enlarge This image is courtesy/copyright Peter Roughley. Image post processed with IPhoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
EAG 'At Home' success
The EAG "At Home" day on 29/1/05 was a success with visits from several people during the course of the day. Further good progress was made with the EAG "windcutter" rake - see photo below. One more session should just about see them completed.
This image (29/1/05), taken at Horseheath (Cambs.) shows the finished wagon with ends and kerbs substantially completed and "cuprinolled. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright Richard Watson and was taken on a Sony DSC-P73 4.1 Mega pixel camera. Image post processed with IPhoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This image (29/1/05), taken at Horseheath (Cambs.) shows the new Simplex Jane having arrived a few days earlier from Glan-y-pwll Yard. It is remarkable what you can get on a standard pallet! Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright Richard Watson and was taken on a Sony DSC-P73 4.1 Mega pixel camera. Image post processed with IPhoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
By 29/1/05, notices had gone up with regard to WHR Planning Permission between Rhyd Ddu and Afon Cwm Cloch bridge dated 15/1/05, e.g. one was situated on the Pitt's Head bridge. The applications are in respect of the appearance of structures only (as the FfR already have basic planning approval). The railway is split along its length into approximately eight planning application sections. As the start of work has been moved forwards, the first planning section - Rhyd Ddu to just north of Beddgelert Station, is being progressed now so that contractors can get underway later this year to allow tracklaying in the Autumn/Winter south from Rhyd Ddu.
Garratt No.140 news
The 'Red Devil', Garratt No.140 is heading from Glan-y-pwll depot to Dinas very soon. Tony Williams is trying to arrange transport for (initially) the power bogies, with the boiler unit to follow later. A pair of ambulance bogies are moving from Dinas to Glan-y-pwll so that the power bogies can be pulled from under the boiler. Temporary rails will be laid into the Dinas workshop opposite the loco shed to run one bogie in at a time for stripping, cleaning and overhauling.
Team Wylfa is going to be heavily involved and they may need others to help out as well as it is a big job. Initially, it is expected that work will mainly be confined to cleaning, with most parts reported to be in reasonable order. Items like the motion are expected to require holes reamed true and new pins machined to suit. Hopefully, the crankpins and associated bushes will be found 'good' though it may be necessary to make new horn guide slippers as per No.138 last winter. Until the frames are lifted off the wheelsets, the condition of the main bearings is unknown but they are believed to be good.
Further parts exchange is possible e.g. an overhauled power bogie might be used to get No.138/143 working again by substituting in an emergency (as per Fairlie bogies on the FfR) but the intention is to get No.140 ready for action. Also No.138's boiler ticket runs out in 2007 and No.143's in 2008……
Team Wylfa have been asked by Tony Williams to concentrate on No.140's bogies when they arrive. With the amount of work now looming, No.140's power bogies plus, if volunteers can squeeze it in and have sufficient labour, continuing with No.134, the team is going to need extra help. So, are you free on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7pm until 10pm? Team Wylfa will give you a warm welcome at Dinas. If volunteers could only help at weekends or during daytime, no problem - Team Wylfa will arrange to have supervision and a list of work available. Just let Clive Briscoe know. Current works e-mail / office DDI are:- email@example.com / 01407 733665 (09:00- 17:30) or mob 07974 927027 anytime (ansaphone only 09:00-17:30).
With 2009 starting to loom very close on the horizon and four steam trains likely in the peak, all three NG16s plus K1 and even No.134 will be required!
Phase 4 moves up a gear
'Clearance for access' has moved up a gear with access for the topological survey now visible in several sections around Beddgelert. Following the surveys and establishment of a work base at Rhyd Ddu south, the intention is to start tracklaying from Rhyd Ddu southwards later this year as previously recorded on this website. On 29/1/05, work was visible in Bryn-y-felin cutting with a basic 2m wide strip around the notional centreline. Some trees have been identified for cutting with red cross markings.
This northerly view (29/1/05) at the Bryn-y-felin cutting, north of the Afon Glaslyn Bridge, shows trees marked in red for removal as they are foul of the loading gauge. Work beyond the fence has seen a 2m wide strip cleared for access to allow the topological survey. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright R.J.Edwards and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The Goat Cutting has also been cleared leading south out of Beddgelert station. Achnashean will start on the Pitt's Head cutting on 31/1/05 and also the now drained 'Beddgelert Canal' section. Surveyors have visited the tight curve off the Britannia Bridge in Porthmadog and placed pegs in the ground on the Llyn Bach pathway.
This northerly view (29/1/05) from the Goat Cutting footbridge, shows basic 'clearance for access' of the Goat Cutting on the northern approach to the Goat Tunnel, just south of Beddgelert station. The remains of the ex-Croesor temporary track laid by the '64Co. in 1973 can just be made out. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright R.J.Edwards and was captured on a Kodak DX6490 digital camera. Image post processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
By 13/1/05 K1 had moved over the pit in the Carriage Shed for attention and Castell Caernarfon is now in the Goods Shed. The loco cannot be tested as Dinas is currently isolated in both directions by works on the line (Llanfaglan Road bridge renewal and Cae Moel 25mph programme). K1 engineer 'Beefy' has joined WHRCL, having hopefully cured the hot bearing issue, though this will require further testing when the line is available.
This northerly view (25/1/05) shows K1 over the pit in the Carriage Shed, presumably for attention to hot bearings. The loco had been over the pit 2 weeks previously as well. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This northerly view (1/12/04) shows K1 watering at Caernarfon during its load test runs. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Jon Marsh and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Fisherman's Path works delayed
The Fisherman's Path works in the Aberglaslyn pass have overrun. These works have been ordered and paid for by the National Trust. Work was due for completion by December but will now take until Easter. A small excavator was visible on the trackbed on 29/1/05 north of the Aberglaslyn Tunnels. When the path is complete, the fencing contractor will fence off the trackbed with permanent fencing allowing it to become a worksite.
As previously mentioned, work starts in early February on the platform for Plas-y-nant Halt. The platform will be on the west side of the running line and will be approximately the same length as Bontnewydd platform, extending to a point just short of the subsidence. Access will probably be via the existing footpath crossing. The embankment will require widening to take a 2m wide platform. Work takes place over three weeks of line closure. It is hoped the halt will be opened for the restart of services at Easter. Funding for the £11,000 platform was raised by local supporters and residents. Due to reduced length of the platform, a full seven coach rake will not be able to pull up in the platform and passengers will need to inform the guard if they wish to detrain.
More No. 134 progress
Team Wylfa continued with cleaning and repainting No. 134's water damaged boiler cladding on the evenings of 25 and 27/1/05. Volunteers should be putting it back in the Carriage Shed next week, but this time properly stored on pallets to prevent further damage until it is required.
A heap of rusty coupling rods arrived in
the Carriage shed off No.140 on 27/1/05. However, it is strictly
speaking, NOT No. 140 as the connecting rod big ends were cleaned
to reveal the stampings which showed:-
2-off ex BP 7866, 1958 built TC10 / No.141
1-off ex BP 6926, 1939 built No.116
1-off ex Hanomag 10599, 1928 built NGG13 No.49 (this one has recently been rebuilt at our sister railway, Sandstone)
So, this raises the question of whether one of No.140's bogies is ex-No. 141 or was it just rods that were exchanged at some overhaul or other? Boilers were routinely swapped on a regular basis so it is likely other components were also swapped. This just shows what little change there was between the NGG13's and the NGG16's. For reference, most of No. 134's rods are original with '134' stamped on them but we know that one cab side is off a Henschel built NG15 and the boiler is off one of the last 1958 built NG15's. (No. 133's boiler being off Class leader, 1933 built No. 17).
The new ex-Wylfa air compressor is still at Wylfa Nuclear Power Station awaiting signing off. This is due early next week so it is possible the compressor will leave for Dinas towards the end of next week.
In the Loco Shed, No.138 has been called in for light winter maintenance, mainly a boiler inspection, while No.143 is being stripped for heavier work. Nothing appears to have been done with 'Castell Caernarfon' yet and it is still in one piece in the Goods Shed.
Cambrian Loco-hauled special 29/1/05
The WHR(P) will be running a special service this Saturday 29/1/05 to mark the first loco-hauled train on the Cambrian Coast Line (north of Tywyn) for years. The special will be hauled by a Class 37, and arrives at Porthmadog at 11:38, where it will wait before leaving at 11:59. The WHR(P) plan to have a train in Porthmadog (WHR) station in time for a photo opportunity as the special comes past. The WHR(P) shop and cafe will also be open. At Gelert's Farm Works, there will be the chance to drive a diesel, and also tours of some of the more obscure bits of the Farm that are normally closed to the public.
Marcus Ingram made further progress with the ex-SAR brake van No. 3172 over the weekend of 21-23/1/05. Further stanchions have been scaled and primed and the wasted floor plate has been cut out on one side.
This view (25/1/05) shows the brakevan under repair in the Carriage Shed. All the exposed stanchions have been scaled and painted in red oxide. The floor plating on this side has been freed up but not yet cut out. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This view (25/1/05) of the other side of the brakevan shows the wasted floor plating cut out and ready to weld in new metal. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Festiniog Railway "Simplex" diesel Jane (No. 8565 of 1940) has been purchased by EAG member Rob Blackmore, for use on his proposed private railway. The diesel left Glan-y-pwll yard, Blaenau Ffestiniog, on 21/1/05, and is now at his site at Horseheath, Cambs. The loco is in need of complete restoration as it has been out of use for a number of years. Garratt No. 140 had to be shunted out of the way to allow Jane to leave the yard!
Garratt No. 140 news
Rumour has it that red Garratt No.140, currently stabled at Glan-y-pwll depot, is to be dismantled shortly, and the bogies taken to Dinas. Initially, they may be used as spares for the two operational Garratts, but the long term aim is to get the loco working, possibly for the 2009 opening of the WHR throughout. The loco has already donated several parts including the super-heater to the working pair.
Mike Schumann retires
Mike Schumann is retiring from the Board of Directors of Welsh Highland Railway Construction Ltd, the Ffestiniog Railway Company subsidiary responsible for constructing the new Railway.
Director Mike Hart said "I have enjoyed working alongside Mike Schumann since the Ffestiniog Railway Company first become involved with the reconstruction of the Welsh Highland Railway nearly fourteen years ago. He provided the initial funding that kick-started the project as well as being a major match funder to the Millennium Commission project. He has dedicated much of his time during this period to helping turn the project into a viable working railway. There can be no doubt that without Mike's very considerable practical and financial assistance The Welsh Highland Railway would still be largely a barren trackbed. Mike leaves with our very sincere thanks and gratitude for all he has done to make the new Welsh Highland Railway a success".
While Mike Schumann will be retiring from day to day WHR Project Director activities he will continue to be involved in Welsh Highland Railway policy development as a Director of the Ffestiniog Railway Company and Trustee of the Ffestiniog Railway Trust.
Pete Hugman, together with several of the regular volunteers, has been busy improving carriages at Dinas. Brake coach No. 2090 is now the proud possessor of a greatly improved buffet storage cupboard. The existing two double 'wall' units have been replaced by two 'floor' units, i.e. they are a bit deeper enabling most things to be put in end on including the sleeves of drinks, whole pallets of soft drinks and boxes of crisps. This means that all the clutter on the floor can now be fitted in the cupboards.
All coaches have been cleaned inside and out - a Winter 'spring clean'. Many minor niggles have been dealt with; all sliding doors in Nos. 2021/2 have been re-hung to slide better; all door locks have been removed and re-greased to ensure they are safe for another year. Cliff Garnet fitted the new small shelf tables in Opens Nos. 2021/2. These coaches previously had no tables.
Achnashean have cleared some of the undergrowth in the Beddgelert Tunnel approaches. They should also have done some work at Pitt's Head cutting by this weekend (29/1/05).
WHR 2005 timetable
The WHR 2005 timetable has just been issued on the FR website. The timetable shows an increased variety of different service patterns, with March a riot of colour showing no less than six different timetables from 19-31/3/05, over Easter!! Let us hope all this yield management is not too confusing to the passengers! Some Mondays and Fridays have no services in April and May. The service is continuous from 27/5/05 until 2/10/05, after which Mondays and Fridays have no trains.
There are no weekend services at all shown for November as a new Winter timetable will be released in the Autumn. An Xmas holiday service (details not available) is advertised for 26/12 to 31/12. In fact this will probably be extended to 2/1/06 as that is the New Year Bank Holiday.
The Super Power event is shown incorrectly on 10-11 Sept. In fact it will be on 17-18 Sept. Santa trains are planned for 10-11/12/05 and 17-18/12/05. There is also a 3 day event from April 30th until May 2nd corresponding with the FR50 event. This will probably be a red service day but the FfR are keeping their options open as to providing something extra on the WHR.
The four-train service runs with a 1030, 1200, 1330 and 1500 giving a standard 1.5 hour interval from Caernarfon and allowing 20 mins at Rhyd Ddu for toilets. Off-peak, this is run as an alternate diesel and steam hauled service. A 'yellow' timetable shows the addition of an 0915 diesel-hauled from Dinas southbound, and four steam-hauled round trips. The 'early-bird' service collects local holidaymakers from the Beddgelert area and Waunfawr for a day out in Caernarfon. This train changes to steam hauled on its return to Dinas. A 1630 departure from Caernarfon is added on the 'red' peak timetable, offering 5 round trips. The peak timetable operates for 28 days this year, an increase on last year.
Bits and pieces
The Past-time railtour to the Cambrian Coast on 29/1/05 will not be visiting the WHR(C) as it is currently impossible to run trains due to the work on Llanfaglan road bridge and re-alignment above Dinas. The train organisers have got a box of WHR Appeal leaflets to distribute during the journey.
Work on Castell Caernarfon starts on 24/1/05. Meanwhile, major work refurbishing No.143 to the same standard as No.138 is progressing.
The new loco start-up compressor for the Goods Shed is unlikely to be used immediately. The Goods Shed was last used in 2003 for stabling steam locos, though the new compressor may be an issue when the WHR has three working steam engines (K1?) available for Phase 4 or expansion of services prior to that (given another rake of coaches!).
Real Ale Beer Fest
A new event for 2005 will be a Real Ale beer festival based all along the railway and at Dinas. Pubs at Caernarfon, Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu are joining the WHR in a beer festival on 14-15 May 2005, using the railway to connect all the sites together. In total about 40 special brews will be available including over twenty at Dinas, based in the Goods Shed, together with live music on both days. Extra trains will run including a shuttle from Caernarfon to Dinas. Special Weekend Rovers will be available together with a commemorative WHR beer glass. More details will be made available later.
More progress on No.134
Team Wylfa's production line was working on No.134's rusted boiler cladding this week. By end of play last night (20/1/05), volunteers had got all but two sheets rubbed down and primed. Undercoat was applied to the first side of all that they had primed on Tuesday evening (18/1/05). The next problem Team Wylfa will be faced with is where to store the sheets once they are all painted so they do not get damaged again.
There has been progress with the hoped for movement of the loco chassis into the Clip Shed to allow all year round work. Consultation with Geoff Pethick at the Sandstone Railway in South Africa has suggested an alternative way to move this heavy item without the cost of using a crane or a temporary rail link.
Good news for loco start-ups!
Clive Briscoe has acquired a large capacity redundant, fully overhauled skid mounted air compressor, electric drive motor, air tank and spares from Wylfa Nuclear Power Station. The intention is to have it based at the Goods Shed to enable oil-fired steam locos to be flashed up at Dinas North Yard. With stabling of locos taking place in the Goods Shed in the Summer timetable, this will be a real gain. Currently, dead steam locos have to be shunted up to the Loco Shed via the main line to get them started and this requires the shunt token. Delivery of the compressor is expected next week.
Team Wylfa cancelled their Tuesday evening (11/1/05) working party due to the storms. Members 'rescued' the new boiler cladding sheets for No.134 from a 'pond' that had formed in the Carriage Shed the previous Thursday evening. Volunteers went a stage further on 13/1/05 and trolleyed them up to the Clip Shed where a start was made on rubbing down the rusty areas. The sheets will all be repainted. The new sheets were made some three years ago by the previous No.134 Team and have been stored in the Carriage Shed ever since.
Team Wylfa had fun with one of the oil-fired space heaters that they have borrowed from the Loco Shed. On their last working party, they found out why this one had been sidelined. It worked fine for about half an hour then started belching out smoke. They stripped it down and found that the tank had been filled with a mixture of oil and muck. Once the tank was cleaned out, filters cleaned and the tank refilled with clean diesel, it worked a treat.
Team Wylfa also did a bit more surveying for a possible semi-permanent rail link into the Clip Shed in order to get the chassis into an interior work area for Winter (as craning costs are unaffordable). It would need an extremely tight curve off the bay platform release road. The initial thoughts of a siding off the fuel road, starting at the Goods Shed end, have been dropped as the required radius would have been impossibly tight. The new proposals are being put to FR PW department.
The WHR Phase 4 Appeal which currently stands in excess of £750,000 (and still growing!) is likely to be devoted primarily to coaches and a new WHR carriage shed, possibly at Porthmadog, for trains originating from there in the morning. While locos usually attract their own funding, the provision of other rolling stock often languishes in comparison. Recent purchases of carriages for the WHR have averaged £40,000 for Open coaches. A current Saloon might double this cost with the extras of cushioned seating, tables, glazing, heating etc. If the WHR Phase 4 Appeal is able to achieve a million pounds as hoped, it will only fund another rake of six coaches. However, the 25 mile WHR may need a fourth rake on top of this as an hourly service might require two rakes running north and two south in the peak at the same time before any expansion of rake size is taken into account.
The next EAG "Paint Your Wagon" day will now be held on Saturday 29th January. This time it will take the form of an "At Home" session. Richard Watson says; "Come and have a cup of coffee with us and see the progress on the wagons! Our member Rob Blackmore also hopes to be on hand to demonstrate his ex-MoD Wickham Target Trolleys on a short length of track". If you are able to come along, please contact Richard Watson or phone 07971 130829. Alternatively, contact Mark Neilson.
The location will be member Rob Blackmore's site at Horseheath, between Cambridge and Haverhill. Directions: From Cambridge direction, leave the A11 at the Fourwentways junction, following the A1307 towards Haverhill. Pass the villages of Great Abington and Linton, and you will eventually come to the village Horseheath which is actually located off the A1307 on a "passing loop". Ignore the village, but look out for a minor road on the right, signposted Shudy Camps and Camps End. Head for the water tower, which is a local landmark. Follow the road around and Rob's site is on the right, immediately under (but just before) the water tower.
Marcus Ingram and his father spent another weekend working on the ex-SAR brakevan No.3172 on 8-9/1/05. Good progress was made removing rotten metal. Some of the sound metal was scaled and primed.
This southerly view (9/1/05) shows the ex-SAR brakevan at the north end of Dinas Carriage Shed. The nearest corner stanchion has been primed with red oxide having been scaled. The other three bars still show the yellow paint of the warning stripes near the top. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (9/1/05) shows the rotten metal floor plating of the brakevan being cut out. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Marcus Ingram and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
Over the weekend 8-9/1/05 members of the North Wales Track Gang (NWTG), led by Pete Gray (full time PW Supervisor at Dinas) realigned the section of track between the A487 road overbridge at Dinas and Cae Moel bridge. The work was part of the continuing programme to upgrade the existing line. The aim is to permit speed to be increased and give a smoother ride over this section by giving a better alignment through the curves. Reduced journey times on Phase 3 are essential to giving a practical end to end time for the whole 25 mile journey to Porthmadog in 2009.
The gang of 10 volunteers was able to provide the muscle power to carry out the task which would have been difficult for the four-strong full-time PW gang to do alone. The section is now ready for the permanent staff to level and tamp in preparation for the resumption of passenger services during the 12-20/2/05 Half Term holiday. The NWTG will meet again on 22-3/1/05.
WHRCL to launch website
The WHRCL is to launch a website later this year as part of its commitment to the Welsh Assembly, who administer the bulk of the grant supporting the project, to ensure it fully involves and informs the local community.
The website (to be run by Ben Fisher) will contain information:-
about the WHR project
Contractor's Page (invitations to contractors to apply to get on approved contractors list)
Comments about the project from SNPA, NT etc
Progress with photos
Volunteering (with downloadable volunteer form)
Links (FR/WHR/SNPA/NT/this site)
The WHRCL has invested in a project planning programme and is currently using it to identify critical paths in the construction process and therefore identify the best phasing of construction of the various sections. In part, the plan will be determined by the limited number of road access points, but by a myriad other factors as well! The plan might be finished by the end of January. The initial outcomes suggest that Rhyd Ddu to Nantmor/Hafod-y-Llyn might be an early section to tackle and Hafod-y-Llyn to Pont Croesor last. This latter section involves three missing major river bridges where temporary road decks will be necessary to give access. The Cross Town Link in Porthmadog (Harbour station to Pen-y-Mount) might be completed over two winters (Network Rail crossing already agreed for February 2006). Pont Croesor to Pen-y-Mount is already under construction by the WHR(P).
Locos back on the Cambrian
With improvements to Barmouth Bridge now completed, loco hauled passenger trains can now be allowed across the Barmouth Bridge after a gap of several years, though loco hauled PW trains have operated during this period. Only relatively lightweight locos are allowed on the line, limiting the route to Class 37 haulage. Nos. 37418/421 have been placed in a special operations pool but 15 other Class 37 locos are also available for haulage. One of these 17 locos will haul the 'Barmouth Barker' from Northampton to Pwllheli on 29/1/05 (Past-Time Rail). This tour will feature optional travel on the WHR with a coach connection and a full dining option! Contact Past-time Rail
Another Class 37 hauled Cambrian tour from Sheffield to Pwllheli takes place on 2/4/05 with the return in daylight (Pathfinder). Contact Pathfinder
Coach No.2040 did leave for refurbishment at Boston Lodge on 4/1/05, as previously advised in this website. It was offloaded at Minffordd PW yard and shunted to the Carriage Shop. It remains to be seen if the coach will emerge with cream doors, colour differentiated for the 'visually challenged', as with the previous refurbishment of No.2090 last year. Meanwhile, on 6/1/04, a little home-grown refurbishment was taking place to the guard's compartment of No.2090. This presumably is an improvement to the stores area.
Castell Cidwm problems
Due to the frequent Winter flooding at Castell Cidwm bridge, a green/red indicator has been applied to the bridge portal on the approach from the north. If the water level is in the red region, the train cannot pass and must propel back to Waunfawr to run round there. This is to protect the axleboxes and loco burners. A previous incident required all the water-contaminated axleboxes to be drained and refilled. Unfortunately, a trespasser removed the indicator in the Xmas Holiday period.
WHR(P) level crossings
Work on the level crossings on the WHR(P) Extension may be progressed in the Spring. The farmer at Pen-y-Mount has already provided his own gate on the north side of the bridleway level crossing! The WHRCL has kindly donated a further two 18m lengths of rail for the Pen-y-Mount l/c but the cost of getting them to Pen-y-Mount appears to be prohibitive unless they can be transferred as part of one of the WHR coach movements to/from Dinas.
400,000 competition results!
Amazingly, a record of 925 hits was registered on 5/1/05. The competition was won by regular visitor David Gander at about 3pm with 400,025. Peter Asquith was a close second with 400,036!
Tales from the Clip Shed!
Team Wylfa met up again for the first time this year on the evening of 4/1/05. They improved the lighting in the Clip Shed by erecting another strip light and are considering alternative ways of getting the chassis of No.134 into the shed for winter work.
WHR(P) Extension Xmas Holiday progress
Hardy WHR(P) volunteers completed the farmer's mitigation field bridge near Cynfal Cottage over the Christmas to New Year period, often in appalling weather. The strip field along the northwest side of the trackbed north of Cynfal Cottage was only accessible to the farmer via the trackbed, or over a very small bridge - over the north-south ditch of depth about 3m and width about 5m.
First volunteers built two dams - either side of the new field bridge site - and pumped out the section. A bypass pump was also installed to pass the water flow around this section. They next excavated the bottom of the ditch (more of a raging torrent at the moment!) and put in and consolidated base material. This was followed by a 6m x 1200mm double-walled rigid poly pipe, bedded in consolidated pea shingle all round. On the top, about 30cm of pea shingle was added to distribute the weight of farm machinery using the bridge, plus about the same of slate waste, with sand at the edges to absorb the sideways thrust.
In compliance with the specifications of the WHRCL consultants, volunteers built mortared stone end-walls and parapets, which conceal the modern pipe end, and retain the fill. The original small slab and fill bridge was then demolished, and the stone piled for the use of the farmer. A stock fence was then built to prevent cattle and sheep falling into the south end of the ditch, and the banks and surroundings tidied.
Click here for images courtesy of the WHR(P) website
Turning back to the previous farm access at Cynfal, the new straining post and strut to form the end of the fence to the cottage was concreted in. Although volunteers were satisfied with their progress, the poor weather did not allow time to complete the trackbed to Cynfal l/c, as hoped. On Saturday 1/1/05, the wind and sleet at Cynfal were so strong that they blew the window right out of the tractor.
Work still required between Cynfal l/c and the former field access at Cynfal Cottage includes:-
completion of the fence where the temporary field access was
preparation of the formation immediately to the north of Cynfal Crossing to the former field access
final levelling of the formation
completion of first stage ballasting.
For more details about the WHR(P), please click the link below.
February 2005 steam!
The planned heavy maintenance of Castell Caernarfon due to take place in February 2005 will mean the appearance of steam in the form of No.138 Millennium on the Half Term holiday trains 12-20/2/05. At this time of year it is normal for the Funkey to haul trains. The appearance of steam will give more opportunities to photograph trains in the snow, which is much more likely at this time of year, after the disappointment at Xmas. Trains are the 1100 and 1400 from Caernarfon, forming the 1230 and 1530 return from Rhyd Ddu. Onward bus connections allow 2 hours in Beddgelert for a walk or lunch between trains (Sundays Excepted). Click on the link below for Gwynedd Sherpa Bus times (NB. 1.2MB pdf file!).
Click here for Winter 'Sherpa' Bus times
WHR fares rise from 5/1/05 by £2 for the All Day Rover tickets to £16 (£12.80 concessions, £32 family). A Waunfawr to Caernarfon/Rhyd Ddu ticket costs £9 (£7.20 concessions, £18 family). The First Class supplement rises to £6 (£3 single) but the flat fare for dogs and cycles remains unchanged at £2.50. The Spring Timetable begins on 19/3/05. As before, children aged 3-15 are charged half fare but with one free child per adult paying ordinary 3rd class fare.
The new Winter Timetable leaflet states, 'To prevent woodland fires and protect the environment our steam locomotives burn a low sulphur oil. Due to world events outside our control, it has been necessary to add a fuel surcharge to our fares. Our fares have not increased for the last three years but unfortunately we are no longer possible to absorb the extra costs incurred.'
Changes to Winteractive 2005
Changes are planned to the Winteractive schedule due to the unavailability of the WHR Funkey Castell Caernarfon as it will almost certainly be undergoing heavy maintenance at the time. Its freight trips are therefore being replaced by Conway Castle with one freight wagon and former Chattenden and Upnor 'Combination Car' No. 1001, which will be offered either as a solo guest-driver trip, or as a group trip, with up to four paying guests being allowed to share the driving experience. The event will be held on 19-20/2/05.
A Weekend Rover is required for participation in booked events. These £24 tickets are free to WHRS/FR members, but travel on the other line will be charged at 25% of the standard fare. A 10% discount is available for anyone booking three or more activities. The following links are courtesy Peter Lawson.
Click here for full Winteractive timetable
Click here for full Winteractive programme
WHR(P) extension 2005 plans
It is still possible that the WHR(P) Traeth Mawr Extension might open in 2005, although there has been no final response from the FfR management on the coal-fired dispute and orders for rails have still not been placed. The issue now seems to be focussed on whether the FfR management will give permission for the WHR(P) to operate its steam locos on the Traeth Mawr Extension on a regular basis, irrespective of weather conditions.
This view from the 2000 Gala (13-14/9/2000) shows Russell on loan from Gelert's Farm, approaching Tryfan Junction with a southbound midday service. The loco had assistance from Taliesin but is seen powering up the grade past Cae Hen with an impressive exhaust beat and a tower of smoke. The WHR(P) now uses relatively smokeless anthracite fuel and believes it can easily fit spark arrestors. The nature of the grant application for restoration requires the loco be restored to its 1906 condition and therefore not as an oil burner. This image was featured on the front cover of Snowdon Ranger No. 30. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scan technology utilised is Olympus ES10 & iPhoto Plus4. Slide scanned at 200dpi.
Given the rails, WHR(P) sources suggest that the 900m Extension, excepting the temporary Traeth Mawr loop, can be laid in about 2 weeks. However, the WHR(P) requires a substantial bank loan (around £45,000) to buy the rail, sleepers, fittings, ballast and three sets of crossing gates. Clearly they will need some additional revenue to service the loan during the next 4 years before the FR runs trains into Porthmadog, bearing in mind that the Agreement specifies that they will give the Extension to the FR trust when the WHR is completed.
Marcus Ingram and his team were in action at Dinas on 28-30/12/04 working on the ex-SAR brakevan donated by the Sandstone Trust. After an initial day of setting up in Two Road at the back of the Carriage Shed, the following two days saw great progress on the brake van. The Caernarfon end saw not only the lower panel removed but also the higher panel and the damaged steel infill piece at the top that supports the roof timbers. This will need to be replaced. It was also possible to remove the two adjacent lower panels down each side of the van, as far back as the double doors, leaving the floor in the goods area now total exposed and accessible.
The work revealed a mixture of good and bad news. The vertical steel angles were in the main in very good condition. However the two end angles were found, as anticipated, to be in the poor condition and one will certainly need to be replaced. The floor is, as many people thought, sound in the majority but at all edges it has either rusted through or is close to failure. The volunteers attempted to remove the first floor panel but it is welded to the two longitudinal steel frame members, both of these being sound channel section and plate. As it has proved impossible to separate the floor panels from the frame, replacement of the floor plating will cause difficulties in the future.
Bits and pieces
There is good news from buffet/trolley sales, which have exceeded budget by 30% over the whole FfR Group, with the WHR trolley making a significant contribution e.g. some 40 people travelled on New Year's Day and raised over £200 on the trolley. WHR traffic is down slightly as expected because the previous Autumn saw a surge of suppressed demand following the opening to Rhyd Ddu. The marketing trailer, sometimes used for ticket sales at Waunfawr/Rhyd Ddu is no longer roadworthy and must be replaced. The FfR is looking for a sponsor.
There have been no TSRs on the WHR this year, a consequence of the high quality work done during construction. The 2009 arrival of the WHR in Porthmadog has begun to impinge on FR track renewal programme. It is planned that major re-railing of the FR will be complete by then and Fred Howes is considering recanting some speed restricted sections of the FR for 20mph running if the Caernarfon-Blaenau timetable requires it.
The Xmas Holiday train service kicked off to a good start today (26/12/04) with well loaded services. The sun was out but, unfortunately, snow was only visible on the higher peaks. Castell Caernarfon was used inside No.138 for insurance as has happened on other occasions recently. A coach party was conveyed from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu.
This easterly view (26/12/04) at Ffridd Isaf curve shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon inside hauling the first train of the Xmas Holiday service. Some small patches of snow are all that's left of the overnight 'blizzard' forecast by the Met Office who said 'snow up to 15cm deep'! Note the ballast boards that have been erected on the inside of the curve to prevent ballast spilling off the embankment. 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 (26/12/04) at Ffridd Isaf curve shows No.138 with Castell Caernarfon leaving Rhyd Ddu with the snow covered summit of Y Garn (633m) visible behind. 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.
Annoyingly, there was plenty of lying snow to be found on your webmaster's way home between Chester and Birmingham! Conditions at Dinas and Rhyd Ddu have not yet been freezing so any snow that falls quickly melts.
This northerly view (26/12/04) at Dinas shows Castell Caernarfon left on the back after drawing the train out of the carriage shed and into the station. After departure from Caernarfon, the loco remained attached to the train 'inside' No.138 all day as insurance. 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.
Happy Xmas to all supporters of this website
Seasons greetings! This website will be updated throughout Xmas as news/images become available. If snow falls, I will be off to North Wales to record No.138 in the snow, hopefully on Boxing Day! Latest webcams (25/12 am) show snow on the ground over an inch deep at Dinas and even some in Porthmadog with passing showers and blue sky. Weather is set to warm up by the New Year, so less chance of snow by then.
This northerly view (25/12/04) shows Dinas Station with an Xmas morning snowfall. The snow on the platforms had all melted by the afternoon. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Cliff Garnett and was taken on a digital camera. Image post processed using iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology and displayed at 96dpi.
With trains operating from Boxing Day to 3/1/2005, there are some useful resources to check if there is snow at the WHR(C). First Hydro has four webcams in the Llanberis valley. If the one pointed at Llanberis shows snow, this would give a good indication of snow in the Gwyrfai valley as they are around the same height.
Another useful resource are the A55 webcams. The Bangor webcam can be helpful though it is nearer sea level than the WHR(C). Click on J8A/9 (requires Active X installation).
The WHR(P) webcam would show the rare sea level snow cover at Porthmadog.
The Met Office provides a useful animated radar weather map covering the last 6 hours that shows the rain/snow coming into Britain.
The main Met Office website has a Wales page that shows the predicted weather for the Porthmadog area for the next five days.
Here are the train times courtesy of the FR website.
Santa Specials success
Last weekend's Santa Specials had been fully booked for about the last month. In fact all the Pullman cars have been full for even longer. Despite this, the WHR(C) squeezed a few latecomers onto the train. Carriage 113 was in the set to act as a rest carriage for Santa and the elves, and as a mobile store. This is because there were effectively no 'rest' periods between each train. The first Saturday is always a bit of a strain as everyone has to try and remember the best way of organizing everything but by the second Saturday it was all running smoothly.
Saloon No.2040 is due to go to Boston Lodge for refurbishment on 4th January, after the end of the Xmas Holiday services. FfR coach No.100 will be swapped with another brake observation of the same type before the start of the daily service.
This section has been brought back by popular demand! Although snow is rare on the lower section of the WHR north of Waunfawr, it has occurred on a few occasions since the 2000 start of services to Waunfawr. Contributions of snow scenes are welcome for this festive season. Snow and train operations (let alone steam) do not often coincide!
This southerly view (31/12/00) at Waunfawr shows No.143 paused for attention to the points while running round. Some of the problems of operating in the snow are illustrated. The point blades must be cleared of snow otherwise they will not close properly. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scanned at 200 dpi using Olympus ES10 and iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology.
This northerly view (31/12/00) at the north end of Dinas shows No.143 arriving with the final Up train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scanned at 200 dpi using Olympus ES10 and iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology.
This southerly view (31/12/00) at Dinas shows No.143 arriving with the final Down train of the day. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scanned at 200 dpi using Olympus ES10 and iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology.
This northerly view (31/12/00) at Dinas shows No.143 going on shed at the end of a hard day's work in heavy snow. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright B.W.Hughes. Slide scanned at 200 dpi using Olympus ES10 and iPhoto Plus4 image correction technology.
This northerly view (4/3/01) was taken by the volunteer track gang from LC23 as they started their weekend of work. The loco was at the limit of Waunfawr headshunt. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is copyright Stan Owen.
This northerly view (28/2/04) shows Castell Caernarfon on the afternoon working approaching Snowdon Ranger. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/ copyright Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post-processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (28/2/04) shows Snowdon and the snowy-covered landscape from Snowdon Ranger's platform. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/ copyright Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post-processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (28/2/04) shows Castell Caernarfon on the afternoon working approaching Castell Cidwm bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/copyright Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post-processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
This southerly view (28/2/04) shows Castell Caernarfon on the afternoon working approaching Tros-y-gol bridge. Click on the image to enlarge. This image is courtesy/ copyright Ben Fisher and was taken on a digital camera. Image post-processed using Iphoto+4 and displayed at 96dpi.
The ex-SAR brakevan No.3172 was in action on 9/11/04 on the rear of a charter demo freight hauled by No.143 with a rake of 4 B wagons a DZ and a flat with timber. The rake was photographed in a patch of sunlight near Rhyd Ddu by members of the 3P20 Parcels Group. The brakevan is now at the back of No.2 road in the Carriage Shed where, between Xmas and New Year, a start will be made to take it apart. All lower panels are to be removed to allow access to the rotten steel floor which has to be replaced along with the lower panels. Additionally, two steel plates at high level on each end that form the roof, need to be replaced.
The brakevan will now be out of service until late Summer but hopeful back in time for Super Power. Consequently, it will not appear in Winteractive in February 2005 and the current Mess Van No.1001 is likely to be used as a brakevan instead for the planned demonstration freight services. If there is a qualified welder out there who can offer his/her services by volunteering then the brakevan will be completed a lot quicker!
Many external and internal features will be temporarily removed from the brakevan e.g. the duckets, as it is to be used by the Permanent Way crews on Phase 4 and it is possible that some of the already damaged items that need the tender care of a tin smith (Volunteers please apply!) may be lost or damaged beyond repair. The intention is to repair these over the term of Phase 4 (possible homework Project for a Group?) and replace them when the brakevan is returned. The brakevan will then be given a new roof and restoration will be completed. A schedule of work is being drawn up prior to Xmas.
WHR(P) Xmas construction plans
Despite news that the WHR(P) is considering not going ahead with its order for rails on the Traeth Mawr extension until negotiations about coal-fired loco operations are settled with the FfR, WHR(P) volunteers will be at work on the extension over Xmas. The volunteers intend to complete the mitigation field bridge and then complete the remaining 73m of ballast to Cynfal l/c at Ch.33400, if possible. The dispute casts into doubt the possibility that the WHR(P) Traeth Mawr extension will open in 2005.
No.143 winter maintenance starts
Black Garratt No.143 was shunted outside the loco shed and had its steam dome cover removed by 7/12/04. The firebox door had also been removed for access to the firebox. By 14/12/04, one of the pony truck wheelsets had been removed. Winter maintenance has clearly started and will follow a similar pattern to that given to No.138 last Winter. Let us hope it is not so protracted!
Team Wylfa update 16/12/2004
The new 415V power supply box is complete by the Goods Shed roller shutter door. Team Wylfa completed the wiring up on Thursday night and await the approval of the FR electrical engineer, Mr. Hazeldine, who will connect the other end into the supply. Team Wylfa wish a Happy Christmas to all their readers/supporters and will re-convene in the Dinas Clip Store at 7pm, Tuesday 4/1/2005.
Clearance contract awarded
In line with its policy to offer contracts to local companies wherever possible WHRCL has awarded a contract to Achnashean Fencing Ltd. of Llandegai, Bangor for the clearance of three waterlogged sites on the new section of the railway line to be built between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert. Achnashean previously won fencing and clearance contracts on Phases 2/3.
The clearance of the three
sites has to be carried out in advance of other construction work, due Autumn
2005, in order to
enable a detailed topographical survey to be completed.
The sites are located beside the A4085 near Pitt’s Head rock, within
Beddgelert Forest and near Cwm Cloch Isaf close to Beddgelert Station. These are
the sites identified in a previous story.
The work involves clearing out drains that have become blocked over the years and removing trees and other vegetation that have established in these wet areas. All the sites have been checked for conservation and wildlife interests with the object of rescuing any special creatures or plants. However, nothing of special interest was found.
is possible rails will be found under the mire in the cutting north of Pitt's Head
and the Heritage
Group has been advised. They will be present to check materials e.g. dates on
rail webs could determine if this rail was laid new by the NWNGR or by the PBSSR
in 1906. The work will start in January 2005 and is expected to take six weeks to
complete. Advance works to clear the middle obstruction, the forest track/dam at
Ch.18650, are illustrated below.
On 12/12/04 'clearance for access' work was visible at Pont Cae'r Gors, on the upper S curve in Beddgelert Forest and at Porthmadog New (1923). The minimal clearance will allow access by Environmental Consultants and the topological survey team.
This northerly view (12/12/04) at Pont Cae'r Gors from the car park shows the recently cleared trackbed with the summit straight beyond. 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 (12/12/04) at Ch.18650 approx. (the top of the upper S curve) shows the breach completed in the former Forestry track and a section of trackbed previously flooded to 2m depth, now exposed, though coated in black slime! This section, dubbed the Beddgelert Canal, can now be seen for the first time in decades. 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 (12/12/04) at Ch.34350, Y Cyt bridge, shows the cleared trackbed at the site of Porthmadog New (1923) station, just south of the Network Rail 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.
Fisherman's Path progress
Work was well underway on the Fisherman's Path in the Aberglaslyn Pass in December. Quantities of stone were being delivered to Nantmor l/c and trucked up the trackbed to Cwm Bychan. Plant was stored under cover just inside the south end of the long tunnel.
This northerly view (12/12/04) at Nantmor l/c shows stone dumped on the trackbed for use in the improvement works for the Fisherman's Path in the Aberglaslyn Pass. 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 (12/12/04) of the Cwm Bychan portal of the long Aberglaslyn Tunnel, shows the plant being used for the Fisherman's Path works, stored in the dry. 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.
Caernarfon Slate Quay Development plans affect WHR
The latest plans for Caernarfon Slate Quay development affect the WHR terminus. Of the four options, Option 2B shows the railway extended to the Harbour Master's office with a single-sided platform on the north side. However, it seems the railway would be hidden behind the existing buildings retained as facia. Only a single track is indicated with the loop in the existing platform area.
A level crossing and T junction would replace the existing roundabout at the tunnel entrance. The platform length appears to be 100m which, although comparable to existing train lengths, allows no space for expansion as at other stations where 200m has been stipulated.
Other options see the railway extended to the tunnel mouth. Option 1A/B and 2A see an additional halt, car park and bridge across the harbour near the existing southern footbridge and Help the Aged shop. Lifts are planned from Segontium terrace above the railway or from Castle Square in some options. For full details click the following link and go to the 'Exhibition Panels' link on the middle right hand side of that page. Public Consultation closed on 5/1/2005.
Latest news on WHR(P) NG15 tender move to Dinas
The latest WHR(P) magazine suggests their NG15 No.120 tender is to move to Dinas. The tender was moved to Pen-y-Mount ready for transhipment at the end of October. This could happen as a return load when a WHR coach is shipped to Boston Lodge for refurbishment. The move to Dinas has been in the pipeline for several months in connection with the WHR(C)'s No.134 refurbishment.
This northerly view (12/12/04) at Pen-y-Mount shows NG15 No.120's tender waiting for collection in the siding. The tender appears to be in good condition. 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.
Visitors to this website may be confused as to the reasons for this action when there are already two NG15 tenders at Dinas. Team Wylfa have been busy repairing No.134's own tender chassis but it is still far from complete and the estimate to build the required new water and fuel tanks is about £15,000. There is also the problem with one tender bogie having a mismatch in the wheelsets, one having new tyres of full diameter with the other well worn. Both wheelsets on the other bogie are also well worn.
This westerly view (12/12/04) at Pen-y-Mount shows NG15 No.120's tender awaiting collection for Dinas. The only damage appears to be in the drawbar area. 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.120's tender appears (apart from the front drag-bar area) to be complete and in almost running order. The tank is solid all over and WILL hold water. All the wheelsets have almost unworn new tyres. For a very little spend (mainly cosmetic work cleaning it up and repainting), the WHR would have a tender ready for use.
Team Wylfa understand that the NG15 tender is coming on a 10 year lease with the understanding that the WHR(C), put it, and keep it in good running order. It is good to see the positive relationships developing between the two railways at volunteer level.
Santa specials success
Six trains run were run with good loadings on the weekend of 11-12/12/04. The WHR Santa Specials seem set to have another good season and provide much needed income for the WHR. No.138 provided the motive power on the Caernarfon-Waunfawr run. Next weekend sees a further 3 trains each day at 1030, 1230 and 1430, though there is unlikely to be any snow.
This northerly view (12/12/04) at Waunfawr shows No.138 bringing in the final Santa Special of the weekend in fading light. 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.
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