Saturday, 2 July 2022

Tullochgorum MSP - 2nd July 2022

Good sized squad assembled at Boat of Garten. We met our newest conscript Baptiste. Georgie asked Mike and Angus to tighten up the fishplate nuts to Broomhill as experience has shown that they come loose after their recent oiling.

Main squad then proceeded to Tullochgorum near 91 milepost where Georgie had noted that the steam locomotive gives a "bit of a lurch". Using the sighting boards this was confirmed and Baptiste (above right) was introduced to the dark art of Measured Shovel Packing (MSP).

All went fine until the heavy arrived and luckily we took shelter under one of only two over bridges on the whole railway - Tullochgorum

a protracted lunch was had and we tried to dodge very heavy never ending showers and it was decided to call it a day, first time in years! (of course Baptiste got the blame as he hails from warmer climes)  

Whilst Georgie went to pick up the very soaked through Angus and Mike, we busied ourselves by hand weeding the invasive weeds our weedkiller does not seem to kill?
Passing traffic from the fortuitous bridge.

Many thanks to Angus, Mike, Les, Iain, Baptiste & Roddy (who took the first two photos)

MSP to be continued....on a drier day!  

Saturday, 25 June 2022

Boat of Garten works - Two weeks ending 25th June

Saturday 18th June saw this years fishplate oiling completed in possibly record time

  thanks due to the regulars which included David, Michael, Iain (above foreground) Fergus, Ian and Mike who took the photo. Every joint was oiled on the "long welded" 180 foot length section and Georgie wanted every second normal 60 foot one done from Milton 1 level crossing into Boat of Garten Station (even though we did them last year!)

We are not so advanced with the hand spray weed killing as our long standing contractor has been very busy elsewhere, Mike has done much at Aviemore, Boat of Garten and Broomhill public Station areas and above even used some leftover weedkiller to do a small bit of our own P'Way Depot  but there is a huge amount of yards etc still to do.  

The following Saturday (not a normal P'way day) saw Fergus the Fencer and trainee Assistant Fencer Michael, helped by Mike in the afternoon erect a similar three wire chestnut pale fence at the request of one of our good neighbours (they kindly paid half the cost), 

the deal was brokered by Boat of Garten Stationmaster Walters who inspected the works as the last down train arrived (they kindly rotated 180 degrees so I could get the photo but I missed the fence!!!)

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Miscellaneous progress up to - 14th June 2021

Alex the talented Stonemason has now rebuild and re-roofed the listed Highland Railway old toilet block at Aviemore Engine Shed.

As this project draws to a close another massive one commences close by - considerable ground works on the new Steam Running Shed.  

Mike surveyed and pegged it out for Georgie to start digging 

and removing using one of likely many spoil trains.

Saturday saw Georgie, David, Les, Ian (Aviemore) Fergus above and one of these days Mike might catch Michael working on camera! reached Lynchurn 1 level crossing on apparently penultimate day of fishplate oiling towards Boat of Garten.

Today's task was beset by problems from the rather wet start.

Look closely enough and Michael is actually working the weedkilling boom on the return run from the River Dulnain. The North British Locomotive had to get topped up with oil on arrival at Aviemore and then the diesel generator for the weedkilling pump packed in. Many thanks to Mike, Michael, John, Georgie and special mention to Jim Summers, Irvine Roy & Trainee for fortuitously working the signal boxes, although alas the Aviemore - Boat of Garten section is still to be done another day....

Meanwhile Andrew McCracken bravely single handedly managed to pre-drill and stack an amazing 41 new sleepers, although he reckons might have been more if he had a sharper drill bit!

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Fishplate Oiling - Mid May and 4th June 2022

It's that time of year again 

So I headed to Broomhill recently to ready the fishplate oiling cans.

The previous P'Way weekend saw Mike, Michael, Iain and Georgie do the required joints ie those with the nuts on the outside of the "four foot", as each consecutive length alternates - nuts outside/inside, thus ensuring that every 120 feet are oiled every year (in theory!) above looks a particularly dry joint?

Georgie and possibly Iain getting close to the end of the day Croftnahaven No 2 level crossing, but it was a long tiring walk back to the Broomhill starting point.

Today was a glorious Strathspey day with a continuation of the squads favourite task, above Michael with the carefully laid down powertool, maybe wondering why the others are so far behind or why he is wearing waterproof trousers on possibly the hottest day of the year thus far.
Georgie was so pleased that Tullochgorum was reached that a lift back to the cars was in order (ice creams another time maybe!) Thanks to Kevin, Iain, Michael, Georgie and a recently post covid Mike whom provided info and photos.


Sunday, 15 May 2022

Finishing off and commencing at Broomhill - 11th & 14th May 2022

Wednesday saw a small mid-week squad meet at Broomhill

and we immediately gave Mike above, his favourite tool (not!) - the very heavy hydraulic slewing jack, which in theory easily slews the track horizontally - once the sleeper ends have been cleared of ballast, the track jacked up vertically on the back rail and the requisite perfectly angled ballast hole dug (Roddy became an expert) for the slewing jack to be dropped into, all under Georgie's precise eye and direction. Once slewed, sleeper ends at back filled in with ballast, track jack dropped and finally, slewing jack eased off - hoping that that the track doesn't go back to it's former alignment! 
This process was repeated maybe a dozen times on the 200 yards of curved track that we have improved of recent.      

This was finally complete by lunch and the next task was to remove the remaining redundant plates and spikes etc from the site using the rail trolley, as there were no trains running, to convey them to the "flatrol". We were glad Bruce could join us for some weight lifting exercise! on his Spring holiday.

The virtual quarry at Broomhill has recently expanded by some 230 tons kindly donated by Network Rail, that was surplus to their requirements near Dalnaspidal on the Highland Main Line, contrasts significantly in colour to the Broomhill Quarry stone (although we spotted the larger lumps of rock are harder for us to work by hand - hoping Georgie drops it wisely!!!)

Thanks to Mike, Roddy, Bruce and Georgie (who fortusiously had to go deal with another Royal Scotsman) we latterly did some weedkilling, picket fence repairs and utilised some of Bruce's arboreal skills around the station - making a much lighter finish to the day.


  Saturday saw a larger squad meet at the same locus - Mike reports - sufficient for two squads - Georgie, Bob and Iain C headed South to "tidy and pack" the ballast hopefully to finally finish off the renovated section to Georgie's satisfaction! 

Above Michael (with a bit of a belly after all his big breakfasts on the 12 day GB XIV Steam Railtour), David and Mike who took the photo, of the commencement of fishplate oiling, mainline and loop were eventually done, hindered by tight nuts, rusted on plates and stationary trains! Ian S joined them after cutting the grass at Boat and the Station House, where a new tenant is imminent.

Thanks to all that attended.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Easter Miscellaneous - April 2022

 With the Easter holidays it seems the local volunteers went away on holiday and our more far flung ones ventured North. 

Gavin hails from the Central Belt and I think is employed by Network Rail Switches & Crossing design? - hence the close supervision by Georgie! (using possibly the lightest tool we have, looks to be drilling vertically anyway)

Kevin is from Leicestershire and now retired from frontline Big Railway PWay and I am sure giving the hammer some welly! 

And I think it's Les drilling, anyway the four of them managed to finish of the iron work of the Broomhill job. Thanks to all 

Leaving myself and Reg (who is up from North Wales) to "give the ballast a tidy up" mid week. Reg did a great job on the up cess below the Mess/Toolvan as they made for awkward access, alas they were required at Aviemore only a few days later. Many thanks to Reg for the work and the kind financial donation that he seems to bless us with each time he visits -  Haste ye back!

  Mike reports "Track inspections have started, trees were cut alongside the running shed to allow a new fence to go in soon by Ian & Kevin   Also now that frosts are gone the Stone Mason is well on with rebuilding of the old Highland Railway toilet, inner walls are block to endure there is enough good stone to do the outside post HR door / window openings are to be filled in with stone & soon with a new roof it will look externally as it was 120 years ago.

Yesterday in glorious weather saw another mid week day - Mike, Andrew, Sam and Martin (working! at height!) renew User Worked Level Crossing signage at Milton 1, Drumullie & Lynchurn 1. Also the point slidechairs were given a "dab of oil" at Boat of Garten and Broomhill and a bit of tree trimming round Boat of Garten underbridge" 

as neighbouring property has done a bit of tree felling, meaning our embankment samplings likely to grow all the faster. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Diesels and Trees - late March 2022

The P'Way for 19th/20th March was cancelled as Georgie was required to drive at the first Diesel Gala Weekend and other members of the squad assisted with Brake Van rides and Track Inspections,

hopefully the lofty cameras pointing at what's on the track and not the track itself, as the run round loop here at Broomhill is due packing at some point in future.

Busy Diesel scene at Boat of Garten.

An extra day was squeezed in on an unseasonal beautiful warm sunny day - Saturday 26th March - location the bare scrubland that the Railway owns behind the P'Way Depot at Boat of Garten. 
Lead by John Wood - who this year again purchased from his employer - Munros Nurseries on the Black Isle, roughly fifty bare root trees and again his generous employer also donated 50. John also bought bamboo stakes and cable ties and Mike managed to source plastic protective tubes. Above Martin and Kevin with John's petrol auger, which made planting so many possible. The only collateral damage was Kevin's t-shirt as he never noticed the exhaust had melted two holes, until it was too late! 

The first public spring steam service train passes Broomhill bound. 

By the time the last train had passed all the trees were planted and we all were pretty knackered (although take note Georgie! John bought us all ice lollies and juice to keep us going) Maybe we should call the area Woody's Wood in years to come (addendum 01/04 or maybe Jubilee in honour of her Maj)

Many thanks to (left to right) John, David, Kevin, Martin, Ian & Michael. A fuller more informative report likely in a future "Express"....