FRIENDS OF CARROG REPORT - JAN 2011
(Edited version of contributor’s newsletter)
The first three months of the year were wet and cold but we were able to strip down the Platform 1 running-in board plus the Station Approach board in the comparative warmth
of our workshop in the ex Weston Rhyn Signal Box. Since then we have invested in an industrial belt sander, courtesy of the Donation Box. This speeds up the stripping and preparation process compared to the laborious heat gun and scraper methods used previously. The Station Approach sign has been faced with expanded PVC sheet through which the letters are screwed as an experiment to try and give the prevailing wind facing wood more protection. If successful the two running-in boards will be similarly treated.
In the Spring all the spear fencing was re-painted with black bituminous. A slow and boring job while satisfaction levels soon reduce as the fresh paint quickly dulls.
S & T Group repositioned the ground signal at the Llangollen end of the station to the 6 foot enabling the final pick-up post to be erected. Wiring the four lamps required 250 metres of cable which was laid in trenches and connected to the 110 volt signal lamp circuit. 240 volt bulbs are used, the low filament temperature mimicking the yellowish flame of the old oil lamps. The correct red and green signal lamp aspects are thus achieved. See turquoise/ blue signal lens in photo lower left in white (day) light. These aspects are green at night.
The main activity in summer was to paint everything in sight using Johnston's Stormshield, a permeable paint system which can be used on both wood and metal provided the appropriate primer is used. As the secret with wood is to make sure it is as dry as possible we now check first with a moisture meter (must be less 16%) then soak in compatible wood preservative followed by two coats of primer/undercoat and at least one of top-coat. The undercoat needs to be left to harden properly then is lightly rubbed down between coats as it raises the grain. The finish coat can bubble if applied in too warm an environment resulting in vapour being trapped under the surface coat. Initially there was a problem in getting the right colour match for the chocolate as the first batch turned out too orange. Bromborough Paints were very helpful in advising the formula change and in giving us a very competitive deal.
Our new volunteer Ron spent many days in July/August painting to a very high standard the front of the Station building including the porch. As he is a painter by trade the wood was stripped back and gaps filled a lot faster than yours truly could have done. Ron you are booked this summer to paint the rear of the Station building.
All this activity encouraged Martin to paint the house windows facing the station and also to replace the utility room roof. The plan was to complete the painting of all items on platform 2 including the waiting room, benches, lamp posts and porter barrows. With the running-in board back in situ after been taken down for drying out and given the proper treatment, all that is left is the underside of the waiting room canopy. The inside walls of the waiting room have suffered from water ingress over many years, once again they require some plaster renovation.
The Corwen direction advance starter has been completely repainted and a wooden telephone box installed. This is the signal from which the paint was peeling due to the post being wet and started us experimenting with permeable paint. The trial over a small area was very successful even though the moisture content was greater than 16% limit when the paint was applied. The post for the telephone box at the Bracket Signal has been welded up ready for installation as soon as the weather improves.
One of the boxes has been made deeper, the top sheeted with lead to protect the wood and donated to Berwyn.
NOTE. If you click on the phone boxes on the adjacent photos you will see why we are replacing the cast ‘lollipop’ telephone box/posts units with period wood items in accordance with the Railway’s 1950s restoration policy.
The bracket signal now has three guy ropes fitted to stabilise it. Young William Allot and parents helped. Two ground anchorages were concreted in, one a concrete sleeper, one a length of bullhead, the third is a holding down bolt on the base of the old steel tube bracket signal. Turn buckles are incorporated for adjustment.
Sheila and Jeanette once again have been kept busy throughout the year cutting back the vegetation which soon gets out of hand. The flower bed on Platform 2 was especially bad. The grass in the bed where Carrog is etched out in stone, requires to be cut every work day in summer. This autumn a mass of bulbs purchased by Sheila have been planted which will give us a spectacular display in spring.
With the extra money Tony has constructed not two fencing panels as was planned but four.
Just for you Barbara is a photo of the panels by the house gate. Tony shaped 44 spears plus eight rails. Not all of them could be painted in one session as there is not enough room in the signal box. Each piece had to be preserved, then undercoated twice before being top coated. Both sides cannot be painted the same day as they are still wet for turning over. Potentially it means that each batch would take seven Sundays to complete so thanks to Jeanette for helping out mid-week to speed up the process. The middle post in the photo is now a steel one as part of our scheme to gradually replace all embedded wooden posts with steel box section.
Martin welds steel lugs to the posts so that the panels can easily be unscrewed for renewal. Tony has constructed a completely new wicket-gate for the house access by the Station entrance, to be installed in spring. The other two fencing panels were erected by the Car Park gates. There are no plans this year to renew any of the eight panels alongside the entrance path as they are still in reasonable condition.
All the station Black and White signs plus the SW signs down the track have been washed down and cosmetically repainted. As it is a long walk down to the furthest sign near Owain Glyndwr’s Mound it is not a good idea to leave behind any tools or materials.
Looking at photos of the station in GWR/BR days our station was covered in publicity signs. To this end there are now two new boards on the wall of Platform 2 Waiting Room with matt plasticised copies of BR signs for Barmouth and New Brighton. The latter has generated some debate as to whether it is appropriate but for Scousers it brings back memories of childhood days out on the Mersey Ferry. There is another sign advertising St Ives on the tin hut wall with a blank board requiring another poster next to it. We are thinking of mounting an enamel sign on the blank bit of wall at the end of the Waiting Room. We have a small selection but would welcome any suggestions.
When somebody wanders into the station to see if they can help then they are immediately signed up to the FOC and set to work. Robin found that his first job was to strim both banks west from the road bridge. As we only had old equipment Robin bought a new strimmer which he has very generously donated to the group. His next task was to lift over a fence and concrete in one of Martin’s heavy posts at the top of platform 2 path. The mounted notice board will be aligned to the road as in the old photos. If anybody knows what the form of words should be along the lines of “This Platform for Trains to Corwen “ please let Martin know.
The paint on the four pedestal posts, which were constructed in March 2010, did not last the summer which is a worry. The posts have been brought in to the warmth to dry out after having the old paint stripped off. This time they will be given the treatment with permeable paint, sealer and have spacers fitted under each corner to lift the wood clear of the ground.
The arches of the road bridge are in a dangerous state as shown in the photo and could cost up to £120,000 for a full repair (involving pinning), money which the railway does not have.
However a ‘holding’ repair can be undertaken at a cost of up to £40,000 which needs to commence soon as there is only a narrow window of opportunity to erect scaffold over the track. Martin has secured 400 red engineering bricks from a Salvage Company near Oswestry so that we will have the basic materials immediately to hand.
Latest News 7/1/11: Agreement has been reached with the Council (DCC) for a ‘holding’ repair to be carried out using the Council’s labour.
With other commitments in 2011 the core team will not be able to work at Carrog every Sunday, our work plans are being drawn up to reflect the changed situation. Hopefully Ron and Robin can spare some time in the spring/summer to give us a hand.
The main thrust for the work the new year, apart from all the usual tasks, is twofold.
Finally start work on the Gents Loo on Platform 2. The walls require rendering, the slate (in stock) to be fixed to the walls and the wooden half-roof built supported by a steel beam. Materials still need to be ordered.
Complete the painting of the Starter Signal on platform 2 and refurbish the Bracket signal. The other three signals will have to be left until 2012 after they have been checked over and anything urgent dealt with.
In addition a second box section gate post sized at 6” x 6” (one already in stock) plus another sized 3” x 6” need to be obtained, vee tops fabricated, painted and concreted in before the two wood gate posts at the car park entrance and any further panels can be replaced.
Within the body of the report many of the other tasks to be tackled in 2011 have already been mentioned including:-
Pedestal posts painted and weathered.
Notice board fixed at platform 2 entrance with at least GWR letters fixed at the top.
Rendering of walls inside the Waiting Room
Painting of the rear of the Station Building plus Toilet block on Platform 1.
Paint all lamp posts and benches on Platform 1
Paint both main doors to the Station building when nobody is around (is that possible?)
Paint underside of the Canopy on Platform 2.
Install two more ‘50s type Telephone boxes
Replace the last metal base on the platform lamps.
The platform edging slaps require re-setting after being disturbed by the frost.
For a number of years the Railway has run a special mid week Santa train for the schools at Carrog and Glyndyfrdwy and provided presents for all the children.
To celebrate my 25 year of being a Santa here is a photo of the event.