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 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. http://www.railstograntown.co.uk/
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.
 
 

Monday, 18 March 2019

S&T progress at Aviemore (re-worded) - 16/17 March 2019

Another busy weekend for the Signalling and Telegraph Team (S&T) at the Aviemore South Ground Frame. They suffered similar weather to the PWay Squad on the Saturday at the Summit but we don't have any pictures to record how bad it was!
 
 
Georgie was on site on Saturday afternoon with Nathan as the loop points were needing a bit of heat treatment as they were not quite up to S&T Departmental exacting standards. This was done successfully and switch rail now closes satisfactorily against the stock rail.
 
 The new Signal at Aviemore Station worked by Number 5 lever on the Station South Ground Frame has been wired up to interface with Network Rail. The group involved with this were Daniel Nimmo, Dave Bird, Mike Insch, Dave Dow and Rob Law all shown in the photo beside the ground frame and under Stephen Muirhead’s supervision
 
The ground works for new signalling cables and the telephone cable for direct communication with the NR Signaller at Inverness have been completed. The fitting of the phone and termination of the cable will be carried out by Siemens. You can see the concrete base for the phone to the right of the ground frame.
Following completion of the work on Saturday we were able to start setting up the detection of 7 points, for the new signal. This signal is route selected by means of the floating wheel assembly visible in the foreground below.


 
The circuit controllers on number 4 lever, which works the ‘additional control’ (also known as a ‘slot’) on the NR signal coming from the South and number 5 lever which works our signal has been fitted by the team, while Rob Law installed the interconnecting cables between the NR disconnection box, the Strathspey apparatus case, the signal and the Ground Frame.  
 
Thanks to Robert & Robyn Law for photos/info and Stephen for editing, 

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Re-Fishplating & Re-Sleepering at Summit - 16th March 2019

 An excellent turn out of men and women assembled at the meeting place of Boat of Garten yard, for the planned 0930 departure of the PWay train to the "Summit".
On arrival at the worksite it was possible to split into two gangs: re-fishplating
 
                                
above Ian instructs his daughter Lauren, on how to use the battery impact wrench to quickly loosen the nuts, which due to the cold conditions, the rail put tension on the plates, making it difficult to change them
 

 and re-sleepering which caught up with the former gang, in total an excellent 46 sleepers were changed and ballast packed under them but still require to be drilled and screwed down and roughly half the fishplates were changed. 
 

Above dining in the dry/warm confines of the BG (Brake Guard) van.
Due to the snow turning to wet sleet, a 1445 finish was appreciated by all that braved the Wintery conditions.
 
Thanks go to Angus, Fergus, Martin, Mike and Roger on re-sleepering and Ian, Lauren & John on re-fishplating. Steve the Driver and Georgie who got summoned to Aviemore S&T Team works to assist.
 
 John Wood & Mike Tough supplied the photos and Info.  
 
 
 

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

"Operation Undercover" receives first vehicles - 12th March 2019

Today without ceremony, the first vehicles were shunted into their new home at Boat of Garten, giving them dry storage for the first time in decades.
 
 
Doesn't the trackwork look good too
 

 
even 46512 gets a little peek inside!
Thanks to Robert Walters for photos/info.

 


Sunday, 10 March 2019

Signalling progress at Aviemore - 9th and 10th March 2019

As part of the current Network Rail Re-Signalling scheme at Aviemore mainline, The Strathspey Railway have to integrate traditional methods with the 21st Century!
 
 
Above showing new timbers and rodding.
  
 
 
Mr Muirhead (left) and Mr Dow enjoying Aviemore weather! behind the Ground Frame, that ultimately will be electrically connected to Inverness Signalling Centre. 
 
 
Above a resplendent Semaphore Signal AV5A, in the OFF position as part of the mechanical testing.
 
Thanks to Rob Law for photos and limited info, I believe a comprehensive wordy article is coming to "The Strathspey Express" (The Strathspey Railway Association Member's magazine) by Mr.S.Muirhead.
 
And yesterdays photos sent to me
 

via Colin Stirling, seen here trying to "unearth the lost cable"
 
 
Stephen posing here - sorry actually entitled - "Stephen doing some heavy work"!
 
 
And as the light faded the electric cables were suitably put to bed and Davy is possibly asking "are you finished with that hammer yet Stephen?"
 
 


 
 


Sunday, 3 March 2019

Next Stage in re-sleepering & Rapid Shed progress - 2nd March 2019

 
On arrival at Boat of Garten the squad were pleasantly surprised to find the PWay train being readied for departure.
  
 
Although Dave Green above detected a strange noise emanating from the class 08 locomotive (not that Steve Robinson our Driver, had any major concerns). Unfortunately three of the squad had a Strathspey Railway Association meeting to attend to in the morning, so it left with Georgie, two Johns and Andy,
 
 
whom amongst other things I think went Up the line heading towards the "Summit" collecting all the old fence posts (into the Flatrol as above) that have been replaced by Fergus during his marathon stock-proofing of our Up boundary fence.
 
After the meeting, Mike drove Ian and myself to Kinchurdy Bridge and thankfully the PWay train came and picked us up, as it is a long walk to worksite. Whole squad dined in the Brake Guards Van, which Andy McClintock had tidied out as well as tending to the stove.
After Luncheon the Squad split up into quite a production line at the re-sleepering site.
 
 
John Wood somehow is still smiling, after removing the majority of the circa 744 screws using the increasingly heavy Bance.
 
 
Thereafter John Hornby came along pulling out the screws from the chairs and placing to the side.
 
 
Followed by Ian Stanworth and myself removing the old wooden ferrules and a few split plastic ones.
 
 
Then Andy McClintock, who feels like he is still 18! places the new plastic ferrules in the chairs
 

for Mike Tough to tap them in using a hammer - at high speed! 
 
 
 
 
 
Andrew McCracken joined us after a Rails to Grantown meeting and Georgie delegated quality control of the screws to him - those that didn't have a sharp well defined, non corroded thread edge, being scrapped and Georgie replaced by better ones.
As the weather closed in the task was completed and we all took the train back to Boat of Garten - dropping Mike off, for him to suffer the very bumpy road back.
 
Thanks to all involved, I hope I haven't missed anyone! 
 
------------------------------------------
 
Station Master at Boat of Garten - Robert Walter's photograph show rapid progress by Nethy Steel on storage shed in yard on Friday below. 
  
 
And a couple of snaps from me below, when contractor not working yesterday.
 
 
 
 
 
 Project Lead - Mike Tough, hopes for completion next week, only with favourable weather conditions - fingers crossed.