By the time of the Steam Steel & Stars 2 Gala in April we had installed two of the three Token Catcher posts on the track-side of platform 2. The pick-up post was ready but we await repositioning the ground signal to the six foot as the new post will block sighting from the footplate. For the token equipment Martin made up four GWR type lamps from old paint tins as we had run out of ex GWR type lamp bodies.
During the warm weather in January and March we started rubbing down the sides and ends of the Western Rhyn signal box for a cosmetic repaint in Chocolate and Cream. The old peeling paint resisted attempts at removal with heat and Nitromors which made the task more difficult than expected. This time it was properly undercoated in grey/white which led to long debates about which bits should be Chocolate and which Cream. The resolution was to follow the scheme as per the Carrog box as old photos show inconsistency.
Three sides have been treated, the remaining nearside roof slope slated plus new barge boards fitted to give us a waterproof box as a workshop and conserve the building. The S & T hut then stood out like a sore thumb so that was given the treatment with the sides creosoted, the roof and drainpipes painted black bituminous and a new door panel painted brown. With the foregoing and the S & T Group having relocated its facilities to Goods Junction and consequently less ‘busy’ the area is a lot tidier.
In March Tony installed the new Car Park gates and constructed four new pedestal posts so that each end of platform 1 has a presentable and functional chain barrier. Platform 2 flower bed was cleared (hacking back mainly with a saw) and bulbs planted but we had to put up Keep Off signs as photographers and others persistently climbed all over the bed. All this work resulted in the station looking pristine for the Gala.
Martin then got busy making a new station lamp to replace the one stolen some years back from the platform 2 road bridge entrance. Fortunately we had an original carrier frame and burner unit but a new lamp body was required. This was fabricated from mild steel with the extremities from tin cans, saucers and machine handle knobs etc.
The advance starter post towards Corwen has started shedding paint. This was an original wood post recycled from Drws-y-Nant and was not completely dried out when first assembled. After Google research a suitable permeable paint system was found from the Sikkens range. This comprises a combined primer/undercoat base followed by topcoat. So far it has bonded to the most reluctant part of the post despite the recent heavy rain. It is not cheap paint but if it solves the problem then we will have to pay the price and treat the other signals in the same way.
Throughout the year Sheila and Jeanette spent alternate Sundays and Wednesdays, backed up by Tony, tackling the ongoing global warming march of vegetation and grass growth, essential tasks keeping the station area neat and tidy. The brief includes gully emptying, leaf and rubbish clearing, pruning, making good the ravages of sheep and rabbits and a host of other items.
Tony has constructed six telephone boxes out of treated tongue and groove. These are to replace the modern telephone enclosures installed on posts by each signal. Photos of ex-GWR prototypes were studied from which approximate dimensions were derived by scaling. The first one was sized with clearance for a tabletop dial phone and is now attached to the signal box and finished in chocolate and cream. Another is installed on the starter signal post on platform 2. Opportunity was taken to bury the cable at the edge of the wall and run it up the post inside conduit. The other four are of the smaller pattern, two of which will be installed this year.
A replica Limit of Shunt sign was specially cast for us. This was painted in red on a white background and concreted in the correct distance from the signal after consultation with S & T group.
This required lots of measurement from the trackside and care not to obscure the SW sign. The work was done on a very wet day with the Tamper realigning the track alongside to distract us from the rain.
Martin has been pressing Denbighshire County Council for ten years to carry out essential work to the Carrog road bridge. Just before Christmas the road approaches and bridge were resurfaced with falls to new and existing drains. This should prevent water ingress into the bridge structure and washing out of the path and embankment.
In 2009 the team were very busy as reported above but unfortunately all the work came at a price which resulted in a spend of £1700.
With a projected reduced income stream of around £790 in 2010, down from £1030, we must put in place a more stringently budgeted plan. Any essential expenditure outside the plan will have to be sourced by other means.
From the 2009 plan once again we have not managed to render the walls of the gents loo on platform 2, nor is the work planned for 2010 due to the lack of resources.
The successful completion of the work planned for 2010 and beyond depends on income, the human resource available and the weather.
The taylored plan for 2010 is therefore as follows:
1) The station approach board is in our workshop drying out as it bears the brunt of the weather due to its location. The tongue and groove swells and then dries out which results in the paint not bonding. We have sourced paintable expanded PVC sheet onto which the letters can be screwed. The board will then receive new beading, be completely re-painted and restored to its prominent position at the station entrance. If the treatment works then in 2011 the running-in boards may also have the PVC sheet added. In the short term only the beading will be replaced on these and an otherwise a cosmetic restoration given. The board on platform 1 will be treated first by removing it to our workshop for drying out.
2) The wood post signals and ground signals have been surveyed and a check list of work logged. A rolling plan for the next few years is being drawn up. It is known that the paint is deteriorating on some of the signals especially the black base and on the ladders. Work must be started early in the spring as soon as it is warm rather than left to later in the year. A large paint bill is envisaged.
3) The tin shed loo cistern needs replacing with a new lead internal lining and wooden base.
4) Ageing fence panels need replacing as this task was shelved in 2009. Treated wood for new panels must be obtained before construction can commence. It is planned to replace only two of the four worst ones in 2010 unless more money can be found. There are three box section posts in store at least one will be concreted in.
5) The remaining four signal telephone boxes require painting and sheet lead tops and flashings to be constructed before installation on the posts. Two are planned to be completed this year.
6) Peeling paint on gate posts and window ledges must be treated this year but we have not enough human resource to complete a comprehensive paint job.
7) The path down to the station entrance is badly shaded by the tree growth. Working parties to undertake wholesale cutting back need to be organised.
8) The normal time consuming grass cutting and continuous tidying of the flower beds and planting twice a year of new bedding plants goes on as usual.
Carrog Bridge repairs and B-road drainage.
For the last 10 years or more Friends of Carrog have been pressing the Denbighshire County Council to carry out essential works relating to the Carrog Station Bridge and the associated B-road.
The key events are as follows:
• 2001. Retaining wall and earth bank at platform 2 west end collapsed. This was caused by a build up of surface water from the local B-road and bridge. Previous requests to the Council to install drainage had been ignored. We rebuilt this wall to safeguard the entrance path, embankment, the forthcoming signalling installation and the railway’s operations. As a temporary measure we installed a roadside gully and drain taking the water to the railway trackside. Unfortunately this remained the only system until 2009 by which time significant silting of the track bed had occurred. (Partially rectified by the Council in Oct ’09 by digging out and replacing the top layer of spent ballast).
• 2005. FOC wrote to the Council following a series of phone calls and meetings during 03/04 requesting action to resolve the road drainage problem.
Llangollen Railway Chairman attended site meetings with the Council. These were not followed up.
• April 2009. We again wrote to the Council emphasising the risk to the Railway’s daily operations and to the Corwen extension if action was not taken to resolve the road drainage question. This appeared to have the desired effect.
• June 2009. Meeting with the Trunk Roads Agency (TRA) and the Council to determine permanent arrangements for management of the surface water and prevention of water penetration into the bridge structure. FOC issued meeting minutes.
• September 2009. The TRA cleared an obstructed outfall from a key A5 road drain. Previously water had been running from the A5 down the B-road onto the Railway track bed. The drain was tested and witnessed in operation by FOC.
• October 2009. The Council installed a double roadside gully in the lower B-road piped to a new 10 cubic metre settlement tank and soak-away in the adjacent field. The 'temporary’ roadside drain (see 2001 item) was incorporated in the Council’s maintenance regime and no longer requires regular emptying by the station group.
• Nov/Dec 2009. The Council removed ‘soft’ verge areas from the bridge and approaches and applied new base coat. The bridge parapet wall copings were reset and highway side wall faces repaired and rendered.
• Mid Dec 2009. The bridge and approaches were resurfaced with tarmac incorporating the new and existing drains and aligning with the platform 2 pedestrian entrance gate-way and fence.
These works should resolve the road drainage question and also reduce water ingress into the bridge structure. Over the years this has been causing leaching and frost damage to the brick barrel and abutments.
This prepares the way for the repairs to the brick barrel necessary for the Corwen extension.
Friends of Carrog Dec 2009