Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Boat of Garten Trackscaping 13th - 18th January 2022

 On Thursday 13th our friends from Scottish Woodlands felled three trees that were causing concern to our neighbours at Boat of Garten.

Sleepers were used to protect the signal wires and signal ladders lying around. The whole felled trees were swiftly removed from the line by our Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) to level ground near the water tower and I suspect Georgie spent some time tidying the track shoulders to the North Signalbox by hand. 

On Saturday Ian and Kevin using chainsaws reduced it all to brash, kindles

and usable firewood blocks.

Meanwhile Georgie showed some of the newer members of the Gang, the intricacies of using the rail jacks. 

Thereafter the squad was large enough to split in two - Peter, above re-distributing "ballast", tidying and filling in the ten remaining sleepers

that the other squad changed swiftly by mid afternoon.


Andrew wasn't content with just the handle coming off his brush, in his efforts to fix it, he inadvertently split the head in two! Undeterred he continued removing dirt from the chairs for a short while, until his knees gave in.

Thanks to Georgie, Mike, Angus, Martin, Bob, Peter, Iain, David, Andrew, Ian, Kevin and Scottish Woodlands

Andrew redeemed himself by attending again today - Tuesday 18th January, joined by myself, Roddy and Sam all the way from Inverurie.

We were grateful of not having to hand shovel the locomotive ash out of the two wagons that Georgie had tripped from the Aviemore Engine Shed, on account of the clamshell bucket on our RRV.

However the huge lumps of strong dense concrete mixed in amongst it were not at all welcome! 

Slowing us considerably, we did manage to create a reasonable Down Cess by the time we were knackered and it was getting dark, maybe the Engine Shed staff should sieve their " locomotive ash" with a kitchen sieve next time!

As ever thanks to all that attended.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

First Week of 2022

To start New Year off - 2nd of January - Ian and John assisted Georgie in a surprise P'Way day. John reports and photos -

"Trench dug, 16 condemned concrete sleepers laid out on their side to provide a small retaining wall to provide a ballast shoulder and a better grip, line/ballast keeps tramping towards signalling equipment. 180 feet of excess ballast re-purposed and laid to provide 50% of the new shoulder. 


A lot of digging was done by hand, Ian and John both knackered by mid afternoon."

Three days later our mid-week P'Way was cancelled due to the white stuff above, our Stone Mason has not be able to progress for the same reason, the pink sheeting is a weather proof membrane.

Myself (above) Mike and Roddy had forewarned the Carriage & Wagon Department that their warm shed was now our destination. The set task was to heavy clean the interior of the above coach, we finished quickly enough to also externally clean the newly installed double glazed large windows (now spotless). Mike also managed to re-screw down the anti slip strips on Aviemore Station Level Crossing. We may well be back if the weather doesn't behave. 

Saturday the 8th saw a good sized squad rendezvous at Boat of Garten and due to the likely seasonal weather Georgie had already organised a short P'Way train - 

comprising class 27 diesel locomotive 

a "Flatrol" wagon with a vast array of power tools courtesy of John & Ian and the recently refurbished LMS Brake Van, which by all accounts now has a super almost self lighting coal stove that blasts heat!

 Mike  reports and photos - "we did a bit of trimming at Boat of Garten near the water crane then off to Dalfaber, across the crossing up to Spey Lodge and cleared below the telegraph wires except for some overhanging branches from neighbours trees at Dalnaby which were left to maybe get their consent.

Then after a late lunch we set off to mp 85 & did more as far as the estate crossing ..the chainsaws of all types were great   ..branches were left to be taken up by the Road Rail Vehicle grab & chipped ..weather fine, still light until 1615 so a longer day than of late."

Thanks to Mike, Martin, Ian, John, David, Kevin and Georgie who all worked very hard. 

Thursday, 30 December 2021

Maintenance at Boat of Garten - 29th December 2021

Yesterday saw an extra midweek day squeezed in, enroute by car it was a balmy 3 degrees Celsius at Slochd Summit but on arrival at Boat of Garten it was a chilly minus 5!

Ground too frozen to complete the planned re-sleepering, so Georgie got us to re-ferrule and renew the screws, where the old wooden ferrules had disintegrated. Above Peter tries the proper tool - waste of time!

The forecasted rain came suddenly through the bright sunlight

and instantly froze, coating rails, chairs and sleepers with a treacherous coating of ice.

The North end of the Up Loop was completed, flattening in the process all the re-chargeable batteries of the wrench, so Georgie and Mike got the petrol Bance into action, to screw down. Bob showing Peter the preferred ferrule removal tool - the handle of the sleeper nips, although both promise a more modern power tool solution would be better....
 Ian and his daughter were on lineside clearance duties - reclaiming from the undergrowth the buffer stop of the headshunt and Plumber Jim was checking for frozen pipes and burying the exposed pipe at end of Dock (photo in earlier blog)

Thanks to all that attended.

 And to finish off 2021 a short clip from Peter - a pity a few of the orange Army got in the way but without our monumental efforts over the year, scenes like this would eventually become a thing of the past.

Wish you all the Best for 2022


Sunday, 19 December 2021

Boat Station Re-sleepering continues - December 2021


Saturday 4th December saw the visitation of a ScotRail/Branchline Society Charity Railtour from Edinburgh.

The headboard was eventually allowed to be fitted at our old Speyside platform

and terminated at Boat of Garten Up platform. Fortuitously there was a large P'Way squad to clear snow/salt platforms and similar at Broomhill as our steam Festive service was also running. As our intended worksite was somewhat occupied, another tranche of sleepers were pre-drilled in the yard, close to the warmth of the messvan!

A mid-week day saw a small squad, level off the recently dropped ash to form a cess near Broomhill, above the before photo, too dark by time we finished, likely to be at this site again soon enough.

I think last weekend a lot of digging out of sleeper beds was achieved as well as slewing, and yesterday in cool damp conditions the Up platform line was re-sleepered.

Leaving approximately only ten on the Down line to change, as can be seen the stonemason continues to improve the platforms, weather permitting. We welcomed a new member of the gang that Kevin conscripted - Iain.
Thanks to all that attended during the Month too numerous to mention and wish everyone a Merry and Safe Christmas.


Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Boat of Garten and beyond - 20th & 24th November 2021

Another excellent turnout in what was initially a mild wet day. 

First task, to remove all the excess stonework from the re-building of the Dock Platform facing that was lying in the "four foot" and at the same time bury the blue water pipe that runs between the sleeper ends and the platform (guys heading to main task, rainbow not quite in right place!)

 As our skilled Plumber Jim was many miles away on holiday, Mike assisted by Bob & Michael took the opportunity to rectify one of Jim's long standing leaks! - Will await his nod before burying the joint.

Many years ago Her Majesty's Railway Inspectors (HMRI) informed us that the Up Platform had to be raised to a more acceptable height, this was done by a contractor brickie and the story goes, that the only bricks available were engineering bricks, pretty much ever since they have been spalling, Mike Tough observed recently right back to the "frogs" in places and now our stonemason is slowing down the erosion process by removing the worst of the loose material and  

  applying the first layer of mortar (maybe more technical info in
Express  magazine....)   

  The main task was re-sleepering, by removing the "six foot" chair and jacking up the track sufficiently, the old sleepers can be removed over the rail of the Up line, above Georgie did it too quickly to show how tight it actually is.

Above new sleepers in, almost ready to pack, once jacks dropped. Note Fergus trying to outdo Georgie in hat department.

Just a case of filling in, alas too much "ballast" excess deposited in "six foot" to be cleared later, above Michael removing worst of spoil from chairs. In total 17 sleepers changed and weather cleared up but much colder.
Thanks to Martin, Angus, Mike, Bob, Fergus, David and Andrew.
Mid-Week morning saw 

Mike ("driving" into the sun) & Michael (pushing) returning from Broomhill section having changed some level crossing signage - spirit level required next time apparently!

Leaving Angus and Roddy to apply anti-freeze lubricant to the Mainline switches at Boat of Garten, I had the easy job of reversing all the points from the Signal Boxes at the required time.

After lunch we headed to the Broomhill end, Angus & Michael "Winterising" the points there, Mike, Roddy and myself levelling spent ash forming a cess, guess from steam locomotive 5025 as it was very light and a pleasure to work with, apart from finding face masks and ear plugs amongst it! As it was getting dark by this time, the end result might not quite be up to Georgie's high standard but we are likely to be at this locus again next year.

Again as ever thanks to all that helped.    

Sunday, 14 November 2021

Up to 14th November Miscellanea

This is "On Track" activity of another kind - The Strathspey Railway own the access road to the Engine Shed at Aviemore, it is freely used by non-vehicular members of the public and a complaint had been received about potholes.

Lead by Mike Tough above, we filled in the deeper holes with railway ballast and brushed over with post-crete cement and sprinkled with water.

Michael admiring our work, how long the fix lasts, might depend on how often vehicles obey the 10 mph permanent speed restriction!


 Although overtime everything weathers and this includes parts of the platforms at Boat of Garten.
Earlier in the year we got some Government money to go towards maintaining our infrastructure - this is being used to hire in again our trusty Stonemason from Aberdeen-shire.

The Dock platform before


surplus masonry may get recycled

as other areas still require attention.....TBC


As usual the Strathspey Railway Association AGM clashed with a P'Way work weekend but this year's Diesel Multiple Unit trip took Members to the New P'Way Maintenance Depot a.k.a. "Morley's" at Boat of Garten.

Where Ian guided Members round the various bits of plant and inside the shed itself. After this Georgie had Sam, Bob and Peter possibly tidying the tool van? as the weather turned foul as forecasted. 

 Yesterday by chance John had his chainsaw with him, as he and Ian were to construct a sleeper foot crossing, but first Georgie dispatched them to clear the fallen tree that had been reported the day before by a dog walker near the 85 milepost.

John hard at work removing the brash.

The rest of the squad stayed at Boat - splitting in two - Andrew, Angus, Mike, Martin and myself started by pre-drilling one end of the new sleepers, using a template constructed many years ago by the late Hamish Mackay.

After lunch a start was made on digging out the sleepers to be changed

Alas the Diesel Driver Training Train (DDTT?) never stopped in the station to give us a break! - not that there is any ballast only ash and earth but it was hard slow tiring work.

The other squad lead by Georgie - Bob, Kevin and Michael did some measured shovel packing and other technical stuff ! - Kevin must have worked hard as they were let away before darkness.

Oh and "Fishermans Crossing" now for the first time ever has a proper sleeper foot crossing!

Thanks to all that attended, the Railway is being maintained and even improved.