Sunday, 22 November 2020

Track alterations Aviemore Running Shed - 21st November 2020

An experimental 0900 start as currently brighter in the mornings, even Graeme managed to rise at the crack of dawn, alas Georgie (the boss) pitched up at the usual 0930 by which time it was pouring with rain, Angus aka "Stoker McPhail" had by this time got a good fire going in the van. We eventually braved the elements, once the stabled vehicles had been shunted out of the way,

Jim and me clamped the points out of use for number one "road" at Aviemore Engine Shed, as it was being disconnected, to allow work to commence on laying new track towards the anticipated new "Steam Running Shed" 

ultimately adjacent and towards the rear of the existing. Above left to right - Martin, Graeme, Ian, Angus & John pose for the "before" photo. Yet again the squad was big enough to be split in two -

allowing re-sleepering to continue, mid-week Georgie and Fergus had re-ferruled a good number of the chairs, so we thought plain sailing but we could not get our portable generator started, rather dejected we we returned to shelter in the Mess van to discover, the fire had also died!  

Angus & John working with Georgie in the Colmar Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) 

made rapid visible progress, fortunately the weather improved and John easily fixed our generator, Mike joined us after a virtual Strathspey Railway Board meeting and a few sleepers were changed.

Stats - 8 pairs of severely corroded/buried fishplates removed, un-keyed & un-screwed 180 chairs and removed by hand, sleepers as above. John and Angus will I suspect have a few aches and pains today!

Above scene as the light faded. 

Thanks to all mentioned and John for his photos and stats.


Monday, 16 November 2020

Re-sleepering continues & Turntable work concludes - 14th November 2020

Another good turnout in wonderfully benign November weather, tools loaded onto rail trolley and pushed towards turntable line,

unfortunately third set of trailing hand points were set against us and no one noticed until CRUNCH! Wee minor derailment - swiftly rectified as above.  

Once we got to the worksite it was discovered that Georgie had to abandon the previous days P'Way train, with a broken spring on the North British Locomotive, conveying our required sleepers. Yet again Steve and the trusty 08 locomotive came to the rescue, above from the brakevan showing the train eventually leaving for the five mile sprint!

The sleepers were quickly thrown off on arrival at Aviemore and spot re-sleepering was able to continue. Meanwhile some of the squad were able to pack, backfill and tidy the previously changed sleepers, I had intended an after photo but light faded too quickly.

Also Ian and John (not often you see him lying down on the job!) stretched & fixed chicken wire over the decking of the turntable, hopefully to reduce slipperiness  

and finishing off with a job that John loves - painting! - on an oil based wood preserver.

Many thanks to Andrew, Angus, Kevin, Mike, Fergus, Ian, John and Georgie & Steve.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Re -Sleepering & Spey Lodge Level Crossing - 7th November 2020

 Largest turnout of P'Way Volunteers in a longtime.

 Initially rather cool with a freezing fog, which made walking across the turntable too slippery, the 20 sleepers and two level crossing timbers were on the stabled "flatrol" wagon above, fortunately Keith was shunting carriages anyway, he and driver Steve used the class 08 shunter, to let us unload the sleepers in roughly the right places and convey the timbers to Spey Lodge Level Crossing (below)

    where road traffic was taking its toll, at about this point we split into two more than socially distanced Gangs!

  Myself, Jim, Mike, Martin, Roger, Angus and Fergus re-sleepering and if you look close enough Ian, John & Andrew on Spey Lodge Level Crossing (Keith & Steve hand washing carriages) 

 After a rather slow start, by lunch we had pulled out the old "sleepers" (above) we certainly get our money's worth! And placed in the correct way up, the "new" second hand ones.

Here the gauge was too wide even for our liking and a tie-bar was the solution, with Angus doing the business.

  Next stage, Martin screwing down, using thanks to John Wood, the modern (light and powerful) equivalent version of a petrol "Bance", after Jim had dipped screws in creosote. In total 18 were screwed down, as we ran out of the plastic ferrules.

Meanwhile on our extended worksite - the technical stuff included - new bearers and ballast, checked timbers with chainsaw

and special mention went to Andrew McCracken "Chief Stoker who tirelessly shovelled ballast" on the now refurbished Level Crossing.

Many thanks to all mentioned, we are likely to be re-sleepering for many weeks to come......

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Aviemore Turntable - 31st October 2020

Today's task was to rectify a bit of a safety concern, some of the wooden decking boards on the Turntable at Aviemore had become life expired sometime ago and had been removed as below

which at least made the danger obvious. As it was not a main PWay Weekend few brave (daft) souls turned up to endure the forecasted stormy weather - John and Roger set to removing some more suspect rotten wood, whilst Ian and me loaded up the flatrol with more than enough planks

which Keith Holyland kindly propelled up to the worksite for us, using the class 08 shunter.

Progress was swift using an array of John and Ian's modern tools and yes the weather was horrible! Octogenarian Roger measures up, Ian ready with saw and John on deck - Lunch was had soon after and on resumption the sun appeared.  

 A sensible improvement was made - by inserting off cuts at right angles roughly in the middle of the spans, to stiffen up the noticeable flexing of the wood - hopefully the more rotund Traincrew will now feel a bit safer! 

46512 passes the worksite, tomorrow is its last day in traffic prior to overhaul, speaking of which looks like we will need to get Andrew McCracken back on the case to repaint the turntable again! - rust beginning to show, no doubt he will say his warranty has expired!

Thanks to all involved and let's hope its landing on the Engine Shed Office is a good omen for the future. Photo by John Wood. 

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Aviemore footbridge & Re-Sleepering - 16/17th October 2020

Friday saw our 12 tonne Rail Crane in action, lifting the old dilapidating Great North of Scotland footbridge, originally from Longmorn (as below photo shows) courtesy of Douglas Gray/ Graham Maxtone Collection

Longmorn looking to Coleburn 1971

 It linked the island platform at our old Speyside Station from about 1978 until 1998, when we moved into the current refurbished mainline station.

Mike reports it was lifted in three sections, largest above, a suitable new home is being looked at but unlikely on the Strathspey Railway.

On Saturday PWay squad commenced digging out of the sleepers (130 in total) that Georgie had justifiably marked, if below is anything to go by!

Between the turntable and the headshunt at the other end of the yard.

I can see Graeme is having fun!

Helped by John,(Graeme smiling again), Angus, Ian, Andrew and Mike took the photo under the hopeful rainbow from the turntable.

Despite the usual passing traffic giving the guys a break, a very creditable 68 sleepers were dug out.

And some more unusual yard movements were more than welcome!
More running can be seen of this locomotive in the Whisky Shunters link.
Thanks to all for the backbreaking work and John for most of photos and video clip.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Re-sleepering Aviemore Mainline Link - 19th/20th September 2020

Small but productive squad eventually got going, as the tools had to be conveyed to the worksite via Georgie's truck from Aviemore Shed.

Iain screws down one of the secondhand sleepers sourced from Doncaster, I think. Roger on the drill with Peter poised to move the generator.

The Network Rail Boundary plate in the four foot (between the rails) initially couldn't be found but it had been buried with spoil from the last dug out sleeper, we have responsibility for the joint just beyond where the old gates used to be.

The dull humid overcast weather soon gave way to hot sun, which hampered our energy levels but still enough to wave at a friendly passing mainline driver.

Thanks to all that attended.

The first train over the refurbished line almost a week later, was a private charter that stabled overnight in the platform, seen here propelling out onto the mainline and thereafter enroute to Kyle of Lochalsh. 

Mike who took the above photos noticed the very neat shoulder and level cess, with only the dead sleepers to remove. I suspect Georgie's work with obviously able assistance from Kevin on Sunday 20th?

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Muscleman & Aviemore Engine Shed part III - 12th September 2020

 Last week Ian, John & their friend Derek kindly went and got a replacement for the "Muscleman" that was destroyed last year in the fire at Boat of Garten. 

 Above vehicle and trailer hired and the trip wasn't local, as it was from the Paighton & Dartmouth Railway. Took them a few days to wend their way back up North, calling in at a couple of Heritage Railways enroute and sampling a few local ales no doubt! (more details in next edition of our Members' magazine "Express" I am sure)

Saturday saw Bruce, Martin, Fergus, Angus, Ian, John and Georgie meet up for final installment of the new timbers (ordered before Lockdown) at Aviemore. 

John used his small chainsaw to cut the last scarf joint, which was found to be much quicker, (bet Angus was relieved)  then it was a case of dropping in chairs and rails, fishplating and keying up the new wooden oak keys that Jack from the Carriage & Wagon Dept kindly made for us, the old ones resembled kindling for the firebox 

Georgie precisely positioning the 100 plus year old chairs,

Ian (I think!) drilling after the gauge had been checked

 John likewise with a beefier drill  (at first glance I thought Fergus was drinking tea in background!)

 and then Martin screwed down. Georgie must have been pleased with the team effort as she bought tea cakes for the Gang and a rare early finish was granted.

Thanks to all that attended and Bruce & John for the photos - without which, it wouldn't be a blog.

Sunday saw Georgie, Andrew and Kevin being productive I am sure....