Sunday, 20 October 2019

Track prep for "Morley's" (Mark 2) Shed - 19th October 2019

Georgie had asked for as many Volunteers as possible this Weekend, I received more apologies than attendees, for a multitude of reasons - unfortunately some in the Get Well Soon category, for which we do hope for a speedy recovery indeed.

The first part was removing the short rails, above remnants of the old charred inspection pit.

This involved digging out the fishplates and removing, likewise all the track screws and finally the rails - took longer than you would think but it certainly warmed us up! It is hoped the pit is to be deepened and lined with concrete.
The rails this time are to go right through the new shed, so Georgie using the Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) gave the formation a final scrape using Mike's Engineer laser eyes as a level guide! Then RRV took sleepers to site two at a time and Roger and me did our best to line up with existing rail ends at 
 3 foot centre spacings, using Peter above and his high-tech measure - right of first sleeper space.
After lunch Georgie had got the rail grab, so the 60 foot rails could be manoeuvred into position, just a case of laying rubber pads, inserting red plastic biscuits and clipping up (easier said than done) I had a birthday meal to attend so could only stay until 2pm but left it in the good hands of Jim, Mike, Peter, Roger, Georgie and I am sure they got on better without me! (Mike subsequently updated - We packed then slewed using RRV with Jim and me eyeing in and apparently Georgie was impressed! A tidy up then finished of the day)


Monday, 7 October 2019

"Wet Beds" Aviemore Section - 5th October 2019

Today saw a small squad meet at Boat of Garten of Ian, John, Fergus, with Georgie tasking only four "Wet Beds" beyond Kinchurdy heading towards Aviemore, then Iain and Roger (still light duties, I hope!) also attended.

Above shows a dug out "Wet Bed", with the tell tale markings on the rail where pooling water is splashed upwards when a train encounters this watery dip in the track, over time leaving what I think are called fines. To rectify the problem the poor contaminated/clogged up ballast is dug out below the level of the sleeper to drain any trapped water, then the dark art of Measured Shovel Packing (MSP - covered many time in previous posts) is applied and finally fresh clean ballast is filled in to aid future drainage.

Two more Beds were attended to, further towards Dalfaber and Reg Stanley who must have felt as if he had walked from his home in Wales to get to the worksite! Joined the bigger than anticipated squad. Ian and Iain also checked/tightened about a mile of fishplate nuts.

Iain, Ian, Reg, Georgie and Roger enjoy the mild dry weather (Fergus may have been looking for his next fencing job!)
and John Wood enjoyed his lunch, to whom I thank for all the info/photos, to make this Post possible.


Saturday, 21 September 2019

Recovering NR donations & Tidying at Aviemore - 21st September 2019

Small but productive squad enjoyed glorious weather today at Aviemore.
Peter here noting the end of railhead, just beyond the turntable at Aviemore.

Ian possibly thinking of charging Driver Steve (More 4 TV Celebrity) a Car Parking Ticket!
After a bit of shunting, most of the donated Network Rail rails, Switches and Crossings, timbers and baseplates were loaded onto the P'Way train by Georgie using RRV.
A Northbound mainline Scottish Railway Preservation Society charter is topped by a class 47 and
tailed by a 37.
Our own slightly older locomotive is more atmospheric, whilst Ian and Peter clear out surplus ballast from a Grampus wagon. Another non service day is required to get the last of the donated material. The Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) suffered an oil warning, so a general tidy up finished off the day.
Thanks to Georgie, Steve, Ian, Peter and Mike- who supplied all photos/info.


Monday, 9 September 2019

Lateral Resistance End Plates - 7th September 2019

The plan was to load more Network Rail redundant material, from the far end of the Car Park at Aviemore but the PWay train was found to be at Boat of Garten.... So Georgie consulted her Job Bank and re-tasked the Squad.
Above looking South into the Loop a Aviemore Station, the short section of flat bottom rail keeps on trying to resemble a fifty pence piece! instead of a smooth curve.
We slewed the track into the correct alignment and dug deep thin holes to accommodate the four "Lateral Resistance End Plates" (easier said that done as we came across old metal pipes and worst of all, old bits of buried sleeper - novel use of the sleeper drill made it easier for Bruce to use his sharp pruning saw) above Roger leaning on the end plate (he is on light duties!), waiting for Mike to get to the correct depth, with Iain having just filled and compacted the "ballast".

Sleepers drilled and Georgie screwed down the chair screws - hopefully it will not creep back to the old alignment!
After lunch In Georgie's usual fashion "a few dipped joints to do Boys" - This consisted of doing Measured Shovel Packing on nearly every joint right up to the platform ramp of our old Speyside Station, certainly Iain and Bruce (right) were thourghly reacquainted with the dark art of MSP! and all of us were knackered by the end of the glorious afternoon.
Thanks to Bruce, Mike, Iain and Roger (half day) and Georgie who still had to unload all the tools after we had gone.   


Saturday, 27 July 2019

Weedkilling & Roofing - 25/26th July 2019

After steam finished service on arrival at Aviemore on Thursday 25th, the class 08 diesel shunter driven by Steve Robinson headed to Boat of Garten to pick up the Weedkilling train and hauled it back to Aviemore it was then propelled spraying between 4 and 6 miles per hour, with Mike Tough and John Sinclair controlling the spraying and Cess booms - retracting them when required, to clear lineside structures, platforms etc. 
I operated Ground Frames so loops could be done at Aviemore, Boat of Garten and Broomhill, sidings and yards have previously been done by hand, by our Contractor.
Above snap taken, whilst tank wagon and fire pump used to rapidly fill 1 Tonne (1000 Litre) spraying tank with water to save time, even then we did not have time to do the Dulnain extension but all felt that a 2130 finish was late enough, glorious hot weather so lets hope the weeds lapped up their poison with gusto! 

The following day Mike was back to the Railway and reports "the last bits of work were done to the below -

Thanks to the Robert Walters for his organisation and prompting and the Ellon squad (with some help from the PWay squad) for the exterior woodwork paintwork has been transformed. 
The scaffold was modified the day before to allow safe access onto the roof above Jim Clark is fixing a new ridge flashing below -

to replace a defective stuck on one. 
The refitted front downpipe was painted black & some cracked roof slates made good 
We look forward to seeing the scaffold taken away next week & the box will look as good as it was when built in 1923 (Then the inside could do with a smarten up over the winter Robert at Boat Station if you can help) 
This is one of the various listed building Strathspey Railway Company own and are responsible for at Boat of Garten and is still in daily use just now and an important part of our Heritage Railway .
The scaffold access established it to be in good condition at nearly 100 years old with localised & now repaired wet rot at one corner ... it is good for the same again we hope."
Thanks to Mike Tough for photos and info.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Improvements at Boat of Garten - 26th June 2019

Bill McCarthy reports -The Electrical Department improvements at Boat of Garten Station continue 
- above "New Lamp we have fitted to the Gas House. We also had help from Benny in the Engine Shed to modify the bracket to take the lamp. Nick Winter fitted the light and external waterproof switch and Neil Ellision shot blasted and painted the whole thing"
Thanks to Bill for the info and Nick for the photo.
Continuing on from last years very successful mammoth Station re-paint at Boat of Garten, Colin Frost and the Ellon Gang were asked to paint Boat of Garten South Signalbox - possibly portrayed to them as mostly a brick building with a few windows!

Top with cap on is Colin and right is Ray, others are mentioned later - Simon Smith whose hobby is photography took this image and others, that may appear hopefully in the Strathspey Railway Website in due course.
They rose to the challenge and so did the suitably contractor tagged scaffolding.
The weather for the Monday and Tuesday was terrible rain/drizzle for Colin and Ray but the day we the PWay squad agreed to help was glorious (might have been too hot to work on the Track anyway) Myself, Roddy (closest above) and Jim (next) were detailed to sand down windows and paint with undercoat. Mike did some joinery work and replaced window putty that was life expired.
All in all we had a good day and hopefully we assisted the Ellon Squad. The mid-afternoon ice cream provided by the Station Mistress - Eileen Scott was much appreciated by all.
As were the new temporary vantage points
provided by the scaffolding.


Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Sighting and Concrete Sleepers - 8th & 10th June

On a bright Saturday past, Ian Stanworth and John Wood under the Supervision of Georgie, put their Strathspey Railway Association sponsored chainsaw certificates to good use, clearing sight lines from both Signal Boxes at Boat of Garten and Morley's North Yard.
Various branches and small trees cut down and taken away by JOKK the JCB to Boat of Garten Yard.
Then onto Broomhill to repeat the process.
Spot the difference!

 Hopefully improve the sighting for Broomhill Level Crossing, by 4pm job done, as were the chainsaw operators!
Thanks to John for info/photos.
Network Rail and Bam Nuttall as agreed, provided a 360 degree Road Rail Vehicle, bogey and operator to Strathspey Railway for one week starting Monday 10th June.
The first task was shifting the concrete sleepers (which are the remnants of some of the short track panels, painstakingly broken up from Aviemore Mainline works - see Blog 12 December 2018) from Boat of Garten Car Park to the Great North of Scotland Railway (GNSR) trackbed North of Morley's, using above machine to load, unload our P'way train hauled by the recently repaired ex BSW shunter locomotive, driven by Steve Robinson, with Georgie Supervising proceedings.
Strathspey Railway is very appreciative of the assistance given here by Network Rail and Bam Nuttall.
Thanks to Mike Tough for info/photo.


Sunday, 19 May 2019

Summit PWay and Improvements at Boat of Garten - Week ending 18th May 2019

Recently I had a midweek day off, so headed to box in a few of the "new" sleepers with ballast near the Summit, hard going on my own and in the baking sun 

but I took the opportunity to take a take a break now and then! - above the late running first service train of the day, gingerly passes due to the high fire risk.
Sometime later in the opposite direction The Royal Scotsman hauled by our own class 31 at linespeed of 25 miles per hour. Think I only managed 25 sleepers before dehydration kicked in and I headed back to Boat of Garten to sign off and take water.
Where I came across David Childs who has been doing a massive amount of unseen skilled labour, inside and out, on the Island Platform Waiting Room.
For sometime now loose cabling has been hanging off the footbridge, 


as part the planned electrical upgrades at Boat of Garten by our own Electrical Department, the opportunity was taken, to finally camouflage (blackboard paint has its uses!) and secure them in position. Thanks to I think Nick Winter, Neil Ellison and Bill McCarthy for skilled work, photos/info.

Finally, a shot from the footbridge showing the sleek, unobtrusive, low profile....            WEEDS!
Less permanent evidence Mike Tough has been busy again!


Friday, 10 May 2019

Re-sleepering at Summit and RH & DR - 4th May 2019

On Saturday 4th of May a good squad of Ian, Mike, John, Bruce, Roger & Fergus all made their way to the "Summit" worksite by car, Iain arrived by the eco-friendly way, on his bike.

Fortunately John the Railway's Fitter had managed to cobble together a parts bin drill, as our one had failed in service last PWay Weekend, although it was slow going drilling as the sleepers are hard and knotted, blunting the bits rather too quickly. John Wood's battery drill also assisted in drilling some  the 430 holes! (using all his 4 batteries in the process)
Despite the weather being awful: squally showers of hail sleet and rain, at least abating the recent high fire risk. Excellent progress was made, Mike and Bruce managed to change 6 of the 12 remaining double sleepers, which will need drilled and screwed and then only the entire length needs all the ballast neatly boxed in! (with future tamping with our Jacker Packer planned)
Thanks to all that attended and John Wood for photo and video clip (edited by Graham Sutherland) and more info from Mike.
Meanwhile I was with R.MacPhee and R.Anderson on a short Heritage Railway break at the other end of the country admiring the 15" track gauge of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, complex but much lighter work to change sleepers here!
"Hurricane" left and "Hercules" ready for the right away, both built by Davey Paxman & Co in 1927, seen here at New Romney, was the final day of our pleasant jaunt South. 


Sunday, 21 April 2019

Fire and Water (updated) - 20th & 24th April 2019

Yesterday possibly due to the Easter Holidays, only myself, Mike and Georgie despite the baking heat managed to change the last 23 sleepers, meaning nearly all of the 133 have only to be squared, gauged, drilled, screwed up, repacked and boxed in with ballast. An extended break for lunch was had, as we thought we could see smoke after the below train past, on investigation by driving along the forest track nothing was found on this occasion - better safe than sorry.  
Despite the Permanent Way Departments best efforts - a decent ash, weed free cess and Scottish Woodlands flailing this cutting as far as their Road Rail Vehicle could reach up the cutting, a potentially serious fire has recently occurred, fortunately contained by a Strathspey Railway Fire Break that Georgie scraped out using the old Road Rail Atlas, many years ago.

Boat Yard will miss this boat, as Georgie plans to launch "Thelma" on Monday, initially into the Caledonian Canal.
Thelma was last "spotted" breasting Slochd Summit (A9 Trunk Road) at a good rate of knots on Monday.
Today - Wednesday - Mike, Martin, Myself and John Sinclair (our new Strathspey Railway Plant Fitter) set off for the Summit, 4 miles by car from Boat of Garten, our generator started eventually but died, John and Mike went and got the spare, pictured below
John here using the 2 stroke "Bance" to screw down.
Roger (left) joined us after being to a Dentist appointment (hence the neck tie, so he said!), no one noticed that we had not taken the Track Gauge but fortunately Mike (right) had a tape measure to check gauge before drilling.
Unfortunately but sensibly due to the high fire risk the class 31 Diesel Locomotive was utilised today. Almost like Network Rail, Martin looks like he is wearing a white hard hat but we are not that daft! it's a sun hat. We managed to drill and screw almost 50 sleepers before the trusty hand me-down British Rail Sleeper Drill also died, we are not sure where we are to get such a heavy duty drill to replace it nowadays. Re-ballasting and boxing in still to do.    
 Thanks to all concerned, looks like John will be kept busy, repairing the plant that we break, if today is anything to go by.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

A Rails to Grantown initiative and Aviemore Mainline works - 23rd & 24th March 2019

Saturday was an extra day of scrub clearance and tree felling organised by Andrew McCracken, close to Grantown on Spey, as part of the "Flags in the ground" initiative.
An excellent turnout of nearly a dozen occurred and it was perfect weather.
The only practical way of getting rid of the material was to have a few controlled fires, above Jim and Angus feed one and Mike and Martin can just be seen in background tending another.
Andrew planned to feed the troops with baked potatoes
but at picnic time at Glenbeg Bridge, alas they were ever so slightly underdone. Just as well we had the usual back up sandwiches! John, Ian and Ben did the technical stuff with the chainsaws felling large trees by the bridge and using John's pole saw and ropes for the broom on the very edge, some inevitably escaped but were swiftly collected up into the back of Ian Masson's Pick-Up (owner of Grantown Garage) and driven round to Mike's fire for incineration.
Above John sawing, Ben assisting, sectioning the previously felled cherry trees into 4 foot lengths for a local Woodturner to collect.
Eventually Angus got his mid-afternoon snack, which he ate with gusto!
Andrew checking the remnants of the fires before phoning Scottish Fire & Rescue, with Ian, John and Ben having a long walk back to the cars, from cutting down a tree on the "bridge to nowhere" very close to the A95 Trunk Road.
Andrew thanks Ian Masson, Neil MacQueen, Roddy MacPhee, Mike Tough, Jim Clark, Angus MacPhail, Ian Stanworth, Ben Tyrell, Iain Ross and John Wood for all their hard work. 


Meanwhile the "Aviemore Story" at the other end of the line was the final stage of the Mainline Re-Signalling/Re-Modelling (we could do with one of the above) thanks to Daniel Nimmo for this photo.
The Strathspey Railway passively accommodated a fully loaded top-n-tail ballast train - at the Northern end 66539 (thanks to Davie Dow for this photo)
and 66511 at the Southern, with the named "Thomas Telford" Tamper in our run-round loop. (thanks to Roddy MacPhee for this photo) 
On the Mainline side, a hive of activity
courtesy of the above Kirow Rail Crane (thanks to Davie Dow for above two photos) 
 in theory, we easily gained the redundant material from Network Rail overnight, although our Steam Season starts 30th March!.... 

Thanks to all that contributed to this Blog - very much a team effort all round.