Klausrl’s Weblog

The World according to Richard Klaus..Trains, Planes, Cars, Wales,Scotland.

Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland this summer?

I’ll let the links speak for themselves.



And, if you decide on a trip to the Ffestiniog/Welsh Highland check out the Oakeley Arms Hotel. Large rooms for the U.K., and great food. In the Pub, on cool nights they have a coal fire going in the fireplace. The coal warms you to the bones.

New this year to Porthmadog  a Travelodge. Provides the equivalent of US turnpike, motel service.  For those on a budget, this could make the difference.

Remember also Port Merion is just nest door, for you Patrick McGoohan fans, Port Merion is the Hotel/Town that served as the setting for “The Prisoner” BBC TV Show.

For those of you that are “Bucks UP” The Village is operated as a Hotel, although the tariffs are breath taking.

The grounds are however open to us commoners for a small fee. It’s worth an afternoon walkaround.


December 28, 2009 Posted by | trains, Uncategorized, Wales | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Post of the body work needed on the Wagon

Just a quick post to show the body work I need to get done on the Valiant.
Doesn’t show well in the photos, but the left end of the front valance, under the bumper is missing.

On the post below of the Wagon, I’ve got a picture of the right side. The small dent on the right fender doesn’t worry me near as much as the left side.
Oh, by the way. I found out that while the Wagon is a Valiant, technically it’s not a Plymouth. Made during a short time when Valiant was a separate product line from Chrysler. So for part of one year it was “Valiant by Chrysler”.

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Cars | , , , , , | Leave a comment

60 Valiant Wagon. Or, I really need another project!

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Yes I did add a fixer upper to the fleet. This should be a long term keeper.
A 1960 Valiant Suburban wagon. This little wagon does run and drive. Needs some body work, but should be an easy fix. Slant six, automatic, and overall in quite good shape.
Not going to get quite the number of upgrades that the 66 is getting, but we will see. Going to be made into a daily driver, and we certainly wont lose it in a parking lot.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Cars | , , , , | 1 Comment

Tal-y-Llyn Railway troubles

DSCN0572 Small Web view

Just getting the word out. Not sure how to help, but the Tal-y-Llyn railway on the coast of Wales would seem to be suffering from the slack economy. Word is that the operation lost about 100,000 pounds, roughly $180,000 last year.
The Tal-y-Llin is one of the oldest restored railways in the U.K., but suffers from being some distance off the be beatin track. About halfway between Porthmadog, and Aberystwth Wales, this wonderful little railway is passed by on the way to other destinations.
Check them out at http://www.talyllin.co.uk.. it’s worth the look, and if you happen to get to the U.K. a trip through Wales is worth the time. You don’t really need a rental car as the train service is good. The only notable gap in transportation, being that the west and north coast railways have no direct connection. If you have the time, one can take the Ffestiniog from Porthmadog to Ffestiniog, and catch the Conwy Valley standard gauge line to the coast.
The Cambrian Coast route stops right at the west end of the Tal-y-Llin railway, a 1/2 block walk to the narrow gauge station and museum.
Anyway here’s the question for you. Any ideas on how to get the word out about the trains of Wales. I know there are sites out there (Great Little Trains of Wales) and other, but their visibility seems low. I’m not in the travel industry, but it seems like that might be the key to helping out these small railways. It would be a shame to lose some of them.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | trains, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Welsh Highland Golden Spike

Saturday, February 2009 the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog Railways will be linked in a golden spike ceremony, in Porthmadog, Wales. Actually a golden clip, they do things a little different over there.

Now the work begins for those of us in the U.S.  Time to spread the word, with the world economy going in the tank, it would be a shame for the Welsh railways to fail after all they have done to restore the lines.

I know that not everybody can afford to take off every other year or so, but, for a relatively inexpensive trip Wales works.

Give it a thought. Castles, little trains, mountains,sea,and great people.

I’ve been to London several times (big city) and York (old city) great trains museum there.  But if you would like to visit an area that lets you turn your mental clock back 50 years, it’s got to be Wales, OK Scotland was pretty cool to.

I’m going to work on a trip plan next time I get home, but I’m thinking there’s a loop from Manchester west along the north coast, then south to Aberystwyth (ask Avrila) then back to Manchester.  Train travel is very reasonable, and fast.  If you rent a car, try Avis, avoid National.  Someday I’ll have to tell about the Vaxhaul, $1600 for two weeks (OUCH).

Might be a good year to go if you can afford it. Lots of people are going to stay home and there might be some good deals to be had.

February 28, 2009 Posted by | trains, Wales | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

U.S. Customs

So, I get up to a book warehouse in Ontario, Canada today.  No problem getting into Canada, got the books on board and headed back to the border. Yep I got all my forms filled out and filed. What could go wrong?

Well somebody at the brokers office could reverse two letters on the trucks license plate.  Three hours later I left the border office with the full knowledge that during the time those inspectors spent “solving” that problem a couple hundred “farm workers” slipped across the southern border.  But the country is safe from trucks with PR instead of RP on the plate.

Oh, and in all the fuss over the plate, they forgot to run the truck through the scanner.  That didn’t dawn on me until I got down to Eire PA. and I not going back.

We may all be blown up someday, but at least we are safe from typo’s.

February 27, 2009 Posted by | Truck Stuff | Leave a comment

70 Challenger

myphoto5 Tempted to add to the title “Dumbest sale I ever made.”

To those who where wondering if this car ever did exist, yes it did.  Maybe it still does, if so, if I ever hit a powerball lottery win, it’s first on my list to find.

This photo, the only one I could find as yet,and was probably taken back in about 1974. Yes I know it’s cracked and faded. Maybe I’ll find some better as I go through my old junk.

For the car folk, it’s a 1970 Challenger 340 with a factory 4 spd.  Many people think it’s a R/T, but while it had the R/T hood and dashboard (150 mph speedo, and tach) R/Ts had big block engines.

Interestingly this Challenger, while it could top 145 mph, came frome the factory with non power drum brakes on all four wheels.

Over the years, it got a rear sway bar, an option I highly recommend, and as you can see, hood pins. It doesn’t show up in this photo, but the hood has two small creases near the center. That was from a run down highway 26 that forced enough air under the hood to bend it slightly. A trip to the Dodge dealer and a set of factory hood pins, set things pretty much back right.

Sold the Challenger about nine years ago to raise the funds for my first Freightliner. Probably a good move, but to this day I wish there had been some other way to do that.

February 8, 2009 Posted by | Cars | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Well ya gota love it.

So last week I get a load of tea to take to Calgary. Leave Portland, Saturday morning with plenty of time for a Monday delivery. Get to the border about midnight Saturday. It turns out someone somewhere didn’t do the customs paper work right, oh and it can’t be fixed until Monday.

OK. 25 degrees out, I’m on the Idaho, British Columbia border, and it going to be a day and a half before anybody can look at the problem.  Sounds like some desk jockey should be buying some fuel.

As you might imagine I’m not real happy.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Truck Stuff | Leave a comment

66 Valiant


A couple people have asked about the Valiant, so here it is.

Still in need of some work, there are a couple bad spots on the rear floor area, and it’s kind of trapped behind Robert’s 66 Charger at this point. But as time permits, I think we’re going to try to modify the fuel injection from a mid 70s Volvo to fit the slant six.

Also considering:

Seats from a Chrysler Sebring Convertible, get good seats and shoulder straps that way.

Super Six (2 barrel carb) set from a 76 Aspen, also has a much larger exhaust.

Going to have 100/1000ths cut from the head. Big boost in compression.

Electronic ignition. This ones easy from a wrecking yard, we have done this before.

Front and rear anti sway bars. These are on the shelf, just got to bolt them on.

Power disc brakes. Anybody that has worked with an older car knows how important this is.

Battery is being moved to the trunk, and a cold air intake goes in the old battery location.

Finally, since this is going to be a daily driver, air conditioning.

We will see how it all goes, but my intention is to keep this a budget project. Also we’re going to take notes and photos of the progress.  Much of what we’re going to do is Valiant/Dart specific, but might be of note to those thinking about the same idea with a Nova/Falcon or any other 60s compact.

My feeling is that in an age of $100,000 plus Challengers,  Mustangs,  and  Camaros, those of us that have to stick to some kind of a budget will be turning to the Dart,  Nova,  Falcon class of car.

This particular Valiant was purchased from the Kidney Car people, and cost $300. Hope to keep the project to under $2,000 including the car.  OK maybe when I’m done, I let a good paint job take me over that, but the idea is to do as much from U-Pull-It wrecking yards, as is possible.

Comments and ideas are most welcome, we all have a lot to learn.

January 20, 2009 Posted by | Cars, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Welsh Highland Update 3.0

vacation-oct14-004-small-web-view1 Latest news is that  the Welsh Highland will begin service to the public over the entire route in July 2009.

Might be worth planning some vacation time for late summer or early fall. The dollar is quite strong against the pound right now, and airfares have dropped to levels we haven’t seen in a year.

If you are thinking about a day or two in Porthmadog, the Oakeley Arms, about 5 miles from Porthmadog in Maentwrog, is worth a look.  A delightful hotel with a Pub/Restaurant in the building.  And old building with many odd hallways, and stairs, it’s easy to get lost on your way to your room.  When we checked in last year, the desk clerk had some time finding our rooms.  Oh the food in the pub is first rate, and priced for a budget.

For those on a tight budget, a Travel Lodge has opened in Porthmadog.  The rates are on a par with U.S. motels.

vacation-day-1-044-small-web-viewRemember to stop by Spooners in the Ffestiniog station at Porthmadog and have an ale with “The Princess”

January 17, 2009 Posted by | trains, Uncategorized, Wales | , , , , | Leave a comment