Saturday 2 March 2024

More digging and much more at Broomhill - 1st & 2nd March 2024

A few of us had a Friday off work, so where else would we go for fresh air and exercise!

Rare photo above (Richard, Ian, Michael, Roddy) Michael actually working!!! Possibly with the encouragement of Ian. In the glorious sunny morning digging out the switch and crossing was completed.

And after a rather smoky lunch, we had digging out the remainder of the plain line to look forward to, in the event it was easier than anticipated, as the wee clamshell bucket saved us a lot of heavy digging, although we were getting rather tired, Ian and Richard with Georgie sighting marked out the new alignment. Roddy took above arty photo - showing the soon to be replaced naked wooden Mills Clip track panels

 Richard above then finessed the new rails into position with the help of the Colmar and Georgies skillful operation. 

Thanks to all that attended.


On Saturday, 2nd day of meteorological Spring, the drive up the A9 to Broomhill didn't exactly fill us with glee!

As captured by John in Ian's car, who met up with  Angus, Mike, Martin, Fergus, Richard, Iain, myself and Georgie at an altogether more balmy worksite.

Above showing existing alignment, proposed is just visible - red ground mark and new rail will be the position of sleeper ends. 

Think it was two plain lengths of Mills clips removed, rail dragged out, then sleepers man handled so that Georgie could reach with Colmar. 

Then unscrew catch points and remove to PWay train in loop.

Then a couple of lengths of the dreaded elastic spikes, each time Georgie went to the train with redundant material, she came back with required components in the grab.

A lot of unscrewing required on actual switch and crossing, which was finally dismantled and removed after half of us had left site.

Yet again thanks to the many that turned out and I hope Georgie was pleased with progress!

Thursday 22 February 2024

Digging out at Broomhill - 17th & 21st February

Georgie got a new very handy attachment for our Road Rail Vehicle - a clamshell bucket able to scoop the ballast in between the sleepers - saving a lot of manual back breaking shovelling

as photo'd by John officially on the Grantown Extension on Saturday 17th February

It made digging out the plain line easy 

alas the switch and crossing still problematic requiring the manual sweat of John, Richard and Ian - 180 feet plain line dug and 2/3rds of the switch.


Yesterday me and Mike had a couple of hours digging almost to the nosing of the crossing but other more pressing track maintenance took precedence.

Mike mentioned that within about a Month of installation the first time round tie-bars had to be inserted to hold the guage and they have only multiplied over the years! Apparently the whole alignment is to be slewed to the right above......  


Finishing one major project, start of next! - up to12th Feb 2024

Small but capable squad met at Boat of Garten on Saturday  and Georgie said the dreaded words - "a bit of ballast tidying boys"

All headed out to Kinchurdy Straight and proceeded to tidy ballast and create decent cesses  possibly the last, for the time being. 

Thanks to Georgie, Andrew, Fergus and Mike for photo/info


The following Saturday saw the start of a new project - the replacement of the run-round switch at the North end of Broomhill Loop and replace four panels of track beyond.
Commencing at Boat of Garten. 

Big enough squad to get split up - myself and Michael above tasked with getting all the small stuff ready to be taken to site but after carrying sixty skirted fishplates through the obstacle course at Morleys - our conclusion is nothing is light on a railway!

John and Martin above selected appropriate rails for Georgie to load onto PWay train and they also dismantled the extremely out of guage components off the switch. Mike did battle with plumbing jobs am and assisted pm and took the photos.


By the following Tuesday the still out of guage P'Way train was assembled

and Dave Green took this photo prior to its slow propelling movement all the way to Broomhill under the watchful eye of Georgie and Nathan from the brakevan.

Past Tullochgorum overbridge, disturbing the cattle!

Broomhill Bridge necessitated stopping first and checking!

Re-marshalling and shunting required to unload using, our 12 Tonne Rail Crane recently re-livered.

Switch panels now ready for further transfer at appropriate time.

Thanks to Dave, Roddy, Ryan for all the photos



Saturday 20 January 2024

Lineside Clearance - 13th,14th & 20th, 21st January 2024


Its been a few years since our last lineside vegetation clearance and the rate of growth seems to increase each time - climate change or getting older? 

The Strathspey Railway Company again paid for the hire of a mobile wood chipper, without which it would not be possible to clear anything as much - as burning that amount of brash not possible.

PWay train starting off towards Aviemore in light snow.  

An array of John Wood's tools poised for action in the LMS brakevan.

Above on Dalfaber Straight - Ian, John, Fergus and Martin chop and throw brash to the Down Cess

to be picked up by me and Mike puts it through the shredder, with Georgie moving train forward when required. A number of areas were cleared completely between our boundary fences 

and others more selective pruning was required by John with his extendable pole saw, also the Telegraph pole route was cleared for its entire 5 mile length, although I believe our friends Scottish Woodlands are to be asked for specialist assistance between the Down Distant Signal and Home Signal at Boat of Garten.

Sunday saw Fergus (above) John (who took this photo) and Georgie fell and remove some of the larger trees threatening our line.

 Many thanks to all that attended over the two Weekends - Ian, Mike, Fergus, Angus, Martin, Michael and especially John whom supplied many of the wood cutting gadgets and he also managed to  volunteer all four days of "hard labour" as Michael would say! 

Strathspey Railway Association Members will no doubt be able to read a more detailed eloquent account in "Express"  magazine in due course.

Thursday 4 January 2024

Slewing and more slewing Kinchurdy and a late Christmas present? - Dec 23 + 03 Jan 2024

Sometime ago now - 9th December 2023

 - Georgie says to us "a bit of slewing boys", she gave Fergus detailed instruction on how to operate the slewing jack as he had never had the pleasure before (above) and I was on the lifting jack, with Georgie sighting. Process was - I put jacking pole on railhead slowly walking towards Georgie until indicated to stop with direction of slew, I jack up track vertically, Fergus digs a perfectly angled hole in ballast below opposite rail and heaves the slewing jack under it and starts pumping the handle to hydraulically slew the track horizontally, once in desired location as indicated by Georgie, I drop my jack and Fergus then releases his - repeat whole process many times, carrying above equipment up and down the line is somewhat tiring especially the slewing jack as it is bloody heavy!    

The following Weekend Fergus made sure Mr Stanworth became the "expert" on the slewing jack! Although the main task was I believe Measured Shovel Packing at the strap rails near Kinchurdy Cottages. Mike and Richard were tasked with attempting to fix a significant leak on the Boat of Garten water tower, a temporary repair was achieved. As ever thanks to all attending.
Yesterday John sent these photos of a switch and crossing being delivered to Boat of Garten yard. 

Apparently not acquired from the abandoned High Speed 2 but Leven....


Sunday 19 November 2023

Jacker Packing - 18th November 2023

As anticipated a large squad assembled at Boat of Garten on Saturday, in rather damp but milder weather, 

our P'Way train took the Squad to the worksite at the Aviemore end of Kinchurdy straight, preceded by the Jacker Packer,

which John Sinclair our Plant Manager has been doing a long term re-build on, he was fortunately on site for a couple of teething problems - loose ignition lead and fuses and

Ian managed to operate the machine the whole day, Fergus being its attendant, with Mike and Martin manually packing the inevitable missed sleepers due to the joints and Georgie levelling & sighting.

Peter (left) Angus (right) still smiling - so before they and John started tidying 300 yards of ballast, using the trolley to shift surpluses to where it was required reported to be a "Loooooong hard wet day".

Andrew and Kevin were given a track spanner each and told to proceed on foot to Aviemore, tightening any loose fishplates enroute, allegedly last seen on the road trying to thumb a lift back to Boat!

As the light started to fade, job successfully complete and the train propelled back to Boat with the Jacker Packer following - no foot crossing harmed on this occasion!  

Thanks to Georgie, Peter, Ian, Martin, Fergus, Angus, Kevin, Andrew & Mike and John who kindly supplied info/photos/video. 

Sunday 12 November 2023

Miscellaneous Mid October - 11th November 2023

Mid October saw some off-track activity by Fergus, in the form of strengthening a considerable length of our boundary fence behind Broomhill Station House to beyond the Station Cottages, by initially strenuously hammering in new posts manually with his mell.    

Fortunately the local Farmer took pity on him and quickly supplied the proper tool for the job and in no time at all, the pair of them had the posts flying in!
Many thanks to both.  

Meanwhile the ballast tidying yet again continued on the Kinchurdy Relay, by chance the first footplate crew threw off some not inconsiderable lumps of coal, which required more of David's muscle power before it could be turned into heat in the lineside hut - it burned very well - enquiries suggested it was Columbian. 

Mid week this week saw the above two ballast hoppers emptied under Georgie's direction at the Aviemore end of Kinchurdy Relay, also we threw off 80 fishplates 

and then ploughed using the Shark.

Saturday 11th saw a good sized squad meet at Boat of Garten. We took own PWay train to site for Mess facilities, as no service trains running, 

the main task was to replace the old fishplates, with the new stronger "skirted" ones, with the aim to reduce the number of breakages and oil them

this was rapidly completed with the aid of the battery wrench and a boot! When the entire 40+ length was done, much to the Squad's angst - Georgie asked for "a bit of ballast tidying boys", by 3pm the train slowly trundled back to Boat, Squad picking up all the old fishplates and returning them to their cars.
Many thanks to Georgie, Mike, Ian, Fergus, Andrew and the new chap from Helmsdale & John whom supplied the info.