Tuesday, 14 June 2011

MOTW - The Rhosydd Waggon

For the latest Model Of The Week feature we're going back to the origins and the purpose of the FR: The slate waggon. (Please note the two g's - the traditional spelling on the railway)

This, though, is not your average slate waggon. It's a semi-scratchbuilt model of the unique replica of a wooden bodied waggon from the Rhosydd Quarry.

I say semi-scratchbuilt because I used a Parkside Dundas 2 ton waggon chassis kit as the basis for the running gear on the model. It's not completely authentic - the wheels and the axle boxes are different on the actual waggon - but the thing's so small that only real waggon geeks are going to notice the differences. (And you know who you are!)

While I'm in the confessional - which is highly appropriate considering the restoration project was led by a priest - I'd better admit I didn't bother with 'bobbins' either. (That's the name for little iron collars that separate the wooden rails)

The challenge on this model was to accurately drill holes in the rails - which are strips of styrene - so that each rail slipped easily onto the brass wire uprights.

If any one of the holes was even slightly out of position the styrene strip would flex upwards or downwards rather than sitting straight and true.

There is a second similar waggon in our fleet, a version of one of the FR's own fleet of wooden bodied waggons, which was built in the same way but with a slightly different layout of the side and end rails.

Some notes on the prototype and its origins.

Rhosydd Quarry was situated at 1800ft. above sea-level on the col north-east of Moelwyn Mawr, near, but never connected to, the Cwmorthin Quarry that fed to the FR at Tanygrisiau. It makes a great hill walk to follow the track up into the hills behind the village to see the remains of both Cwmorthin and Rhosydd Quarries where slate-built barracks and a lonely chapel are slowly submitted to the elements.

The remains of this waggon were rescued from beside the main incline by a group of FR volunteers.

Restoration was restarted in 1999 from nothing more than most of the ironwork and newly-made longitudinal chassis timbers.

The team had only one drawing to work from as there are no known photographs of this type of waggon.

It has had a number of runs down the FR in the years since as part of the FR's restored gravity slate train.

Incidentally, there is currently an appeal by the Festiniog Railway Heritage Group to restore yet more of these wonderful slate waggons and provide undercover accommodation for them so the unique spectacle of the gravity train can still be enjoyed by generations to come, and we commend it to you.

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