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Cymdeithas Rheilffordd Ffestiniog



29 May 2015

Earl of Merioneth passes the newly restored capstan


This had to be one of the most varied work activity working parties in a long time; one minute planting FR heritage back on the railway, then moving a tin structure around the yard, followed later by replacing municipal street furniture opposite Cob Records…and more!

Heritage Disc Capstans

The Capstan from Amberley made the its final journey back from West Sussex via Gloucestershire on the Friday evening and was reunited with our own example released from the darker quarters of the Maenofferen Bach for some much overdue t.l.c. This involved a good dose of wire brushing and some slight corrections to the mechanical assembly of one unit.

In parallel, the Tim(e) Team went looking for the original locations on the formation at Lotties Crossing. We were successful in locating the four lead filled studs on the Port’ side of Lotties. At some point they had been cut off at ground level. The site was recorded before the new fixings were drilled

The Captstan Cupa Old capstan site

On the Blaenau side matters were a little trickier. We had a very good photo’ of the location, which could be verified today from the buildings and steps from behind the line, but our efforts to excavate were hampered by a water main running at a shallow depth in the cess. We were unable to find the original fixings, which probably still exist. Never mind, we knew where to plant it. A large slate slab provided the base fixing and was set above the water pipe for protection.

Painting took place after both Capstans had been mounted. Research using old photographs suggested that they were painted all over white, so this is what we did. It is our intention to make it possible to operate the ‘up’ signal at some point for demonstration purposes. A collection of pulleys and cable has been assembled ready for the job.

Disc signal string The up capstan outside Lotties

It is very pleasing to see them both back where they belong and in a position that can be seen by the many passers-by.

Tin Shed

Now, for clarity, there’s the Long Tin Shed, not to be confused with the Not so Long Tin Shed and then there’s the Short Tin Shed, which just happens to be slap in the way of the Waggon Tracks Project down in Minffordd Yard.

Painting the down capstan Moving the tin shed in Minffordd Yard

It found employment mainly for the storage of wood and other stuff. For some slightly odd reason, we were asked if we could move it. As always, up for any challenge, a plan was hatched. Once all the contents had been extracted and loaded onto pallets, an assessment of the structural integrity was then undertaken and the job commenced.

The S and T train at Pont Croesor

A couple of scaffold poles were secured under the structure and the lifting tackle rigged. Then came the lift, followed by a very slow journey across to a new location at the Port’ end of the yard. A base was prepared using the original concrete blocks and that is where it now rests.

That ‘B’ Wagon

In conjunction with a requirement for trailable point testing and the need to return drilling equipment back to our tool wagon, we took the S&T train plus a ‘B’ wagon over to Pont Croesor. With the top points clipped out of use, a bit of hand shunting was necessary to reform the train for the return journey.


Pole Route Inspection Rhiw Goch-Dduallt

It is always a smart idea to check for tree growth into the wires prior to the main summer season. On the Sunday afternoon and with only the Blue service in operation, we could get into and out of section relatively easily. This and some line walking permitted us to traverse the Rhiw Goch to Dduallt section, where the most troublesome overgrowth was attended to.

One of the Ospreys was keeping a watch on us from high above Bryn Mawr. After a run round at Dduallt, we headed back to Minffordd.

Municipal Street Sign

With the apparent concerns over cyclist safety high on the agenda on Britannia Bridge, it was felt that a new ‘improved’ sign would help matters. It differed from the original sign in that there were a few words added at the bottom.

Some engineering was required to manufacture an additional clamp, due to the odd diameter of the street lamp and then we set about doing the installation.

Mounting the new cycle  sign

It was Bank Holiday Monday, so there was the ever present public and traffic passing by. A risk assessment was carried out and measures implemented to ensure that the job could be executed safely.

It was a fairly quick and straightforward task. The old sign came down with little fuss and the new one, with oiled bolts, went up quite easily. As to its effectiveness, only time will tell if there has been a perceptible improvement in accident reduction.

Inspecting the wooden signal post

Signal Post safety inspection

A request was received for us to conduct an inspection of the old signal post outside Spooners. Using well tested procedures adopted for telegraph poles, the deed was done. It also became a live entertainment spectacle for all those enjoying the bank holiday Monday sunshine around the patio area.

‘Ann’ Anemometer tale

Plucked straight from the ‘nice to have’ basket, we were presented with a delicate wind speed and direction contraption which required mounting on the end of the Relay Room at Harbour Station.

Following the scavenging of useful parts with which to mount it, from the Long Tin Shed, we set to and affixed it above the roof line of the building. Not a simple task, compounded by drills that did not quite reach, a path to Minffordd that just had to be taken and the inability, with the aid of much ‘tech’, to come to a definitive conclusion as to where North was! (Try an analogue map – Ed.)

The device (Ann) will reside on a network, so, with a bit of luck, you may be able to observe and quantify the movement of air using a method far less interesting and rewarding than calculating the passage of locomotive steam over a known distance whilst compensating for turbulence and source emission velocity effects!

……and finally

We all enjoyed a very varied work programme and the sun mostly shone. There were a few jobs which were ousted off the list in place of other work, but there is always next time, which will be our Working Week at the end of June.

Next Working Party
Working Week


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