Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Limited Local PWay - Jan/Feb 2021

Another Covid-19 Lockdown from Boxing day, pretty much meant that Strathspey Railway went into hibernation again, except for Georgie! - seeking out and loading the required P'Way materials for the new rail connection for the proposed Aviemore Running Shed.

  P'Way train awaiting signal from a wintery Boat of Garten - destined for Aviemore. Photo from the more than socially distanced brake van, by Resident Station Master acting as the lowly freight guard again!

By the end of January, a limited local PWay squad assembled at a still snowy Boat of Garten, chainsaws loaded and fires lit in both brakevans, off we set towards Aviemore.

The rearmost brakevan detached near Kinchurdy Cottage and chainsaw operators Ian & Fergus, assisted by Andrew & Kevin set too cutting many overhanging trees on the Down side of the line.

On arrival at Aviemore our train propelled into the headshunt, where previously felled trees and branches awaited their fate! Georgie had hired a woodchipper for the weekend and carefully loaded and secured onto the flatrol wagon above, John feeding it, myself, Martin and Georgie dragged the offending foliage to site.

 Once finished at Aviemore we returned to Kinchurdy, where a considerable amount had been cut and dragged up the embankment to get chipped. On completion, just when thought we were getting home, Georgie suggests a big birch tree, rope attached to the train taking the strain, to persuade the tree to fall - not on the fence or the telegraph wires - it didn't and we made short work of de-limbing and chipping it. As the chipper was hired for the Weekend, we felt it would be a shame to waste a Sunday's hire with it sitting idle.

 Sunday - On my arrival at Boat of Garten at 0800 the temperature was a cool minus 12 deg C and it took Georgie and me sometime to get the class 27 from the carriage storage shed onto the mainline as the point rodding was frozen solid, slidechairs were perfect, so must be have been an S&T problem! (not that we could use Signals! for fear of them sticking off or detection problems) 

Squad and PWay train picked up from PWay Depot and propelled to Lynchurn No 1 level crossing, dropped off Fergus & Ian with their chainsaws.

 We drew forward short distance to Drumullie LC, to again try improve sighting as above.

After Lunch John was assisted in the tree felling by Fergus. Georgie, Myself, Ian & Mike took turns in feeding the chipper. Thanks to John for this excellent shot.
It was a bitterly cold day and we all missed the bonfires that we used to have, to get rid of the vegetation.
Thanks to all that attended.

Another weekend felling trees but alas no chipper, as the weather forecast was dire.
Fergus is a dab hand with his tree surgeon chainsaw, Mike poised to haul it all to lineside for ease of disposal another time.

Angus on the handsaw and Andrew encouraging it to fall the right way!

Not far from Broomhill, trees felled and one choked drainage ditch, to be rectified.

Another weekend more recently again the chipper was hired and good weather was had, here near Fishermans' (foot) Crossing, previous day most of the already felled wood was chipped.

Decent lengths of soon to be firewood on one Flatrol and the rest shredded very efficiently (not on to the road!)

 As Kevin was missing shovelling  ballast so much he was detailed to do a bit of culvert clearing, here very close to Lynchurn number 2 level crossing, only adding to the flooding of the river Spey, which Fergus says he was looking at but I suspect he was also appraising his fencing work of last year.

Kevin and I were dropped off near Broomhill at the choked ditch, now that the shrubbery had been cleared, whilst Fergus, Angus and Georgie set about digging out the very muddy level crossing at Broomhill Station.   

On their return, Angus admires the improvement! (apparently couldn't find his wellies - sensible!)
Thanks to all that attended over the weekend. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Early Christmas present from Network Rail - 21st December 2020

Yesterday Rob Law got an unexpectedly early phone call from Georgie - to get himself down to Millburn Yard, Inverness as soon as possible, to assist loading the Network Rail donated material which has been available for collection for sometime. 

The reason for the delay in picking it up, was sourcing the specialist "Trombone" trailer and then synchronizing it with our contractor with a Hi-Ab capable of lifting the weight. Above shows the lifting of the first of 24 x 60 foot rail lengths. 

The person on left is remotely controlling the Hi-Ab lift, Georgie (center) getting ready to sling the next crossing load.

The first lorry "loaded", although capable of 100 tonne gross weight.

The second being lengthened so it could take the check rails, crossings and closure rails, as the Mossend bound (4D47) Eddie Stobart / Russell's train departs, having dropped off containers full of Tesco's Christmas treats and now leaving with containers loaded with Norbord wood in them.

Today - rails now languish briefly at Boat of Garten Station, photo taken by a giant StationMaster (maybe trying to work out the car parking charges!) 

 Thanks to Transport Scotland for cajoling Network Rail into donating the scrap material, Vital Rail for taking the time/care to remove it, so that it can be put to good further use by ourselves, our haulage contractors, Georgie and Rob Law especially for instigating it all, as well as slinging and info/taking photos.

Wish everyone a Merry Safe Christmas..

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Aviemore & Grantown worksites progress - 15th & 19th December 2020

Andrew McCracken reports that on Tuesday 15th -

"There is now a fence (the kind known as Heras fencing though the material is not Heras', this last seems to be becoming a generic term like "Hoover") between our land and McGowan's land at the industrial estate - see below images. Temporary until we get a permanent fence erected but sound enough to give security, judging by other boundaries of McGowan's land, and making another positive statement on the ground..


My thanks to Georgie McNair and John Sinclair of the permanent staff for helping to round up the components from Morley's and the Lodge and for transporting them to Grantown, and to p way volunteer Graeme Dougal for helping with the erection of the fencing"

(I think this is the land recently purchased from Highland Council for the nominal £1.00, I feel sure it will be reported in full in the next Strathspey Express -  Members Magazine)


Saturday 19th saw a rather depleted squad continue re-sleepering at Aviemore, heading towards the Headshunt.

John reports 13 were managed despite various injuries to the younger members of the squad, above Ian and Angus have had to remove chairs as limited clearance, so that the old one can be pulled free and newer one inserted. 

 I foolishly volunteered to do the Aviemore - Boat of Garten Track inspection before going to work, fortunately Mike offered to do from Spey Lodge level crossing to Aviemore Station, otherwise I wouldn't have made work in time! Thanks to Mike, Ian, John, Angus & Fergus. Above is possibly my last  (cine film like) clip of Highland Steam this year.

 I would like to wish everyone a Safe Christmas and hope that 2021 will be better! 


Sunday, 13 December 2020

De-Fencing & Re-sleepering continues - 12th December 2020

Even though a number of the Gang called off through various injuries, a good sized squad turned out on a cool drizzly/damp December day, to continue re-sleepering in Aviemore Yard.

Georgie also bought us an early Christmas present in the form of six brand new "Bulldog British Heritage" shovels - only to increase productivity!

Shortly after a leaky steamy scene passes Aviemore Signal Cabin

by the time the first train returned our worksite had moved on slightly, almost onto Spey Lodge Level Crossing, although just coasting past slowly (not worthy of a video).

Driver Martin doing some oiling, photo from John who was on light duties, with Fergus our Fencer seconded to dismantling the fence where Georgie was working with the JCB (bottom photo)

 then after lunch digging out the light ash ballast ahead of the main squad, which managed maybe double figures in the number changed - one had to be changed twice! (In true Strathspey fashion) as it was found the screws wouldn't grip as it was rotten inside.  

  The up concrete base of the old Speyside Station footbridge is considerably more extensive than we would like, talk of having to hire a "pecker" to be attached to the Colmar behind Mike, to attack it, to reduce the weight (lets hope the other one is not as big below ground) 

Many thanks to Fergus, John, Ian, Angus, Andrew, Roger and Mike who assisted after doing the Boat of Garten - Aviemore weekly footpatrol. A get well soon goes to Graeme, Kevin, John Hornby and Jim who is recuperating after a planned operation, we now have plenty shovels waiting for you! 

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Miscellaneous snowy PWay works - ending 5th December 2020

Last Saturday in November - Ian Stanworth reports and thanks the hard work from the squad of Kevin, Angus, Jim, Martin & Roger managing to change 16 sleepers until 3pm when it got very chilly and the light faded. Georgie had yet again to fill in the pot holes in Aviemore Station Car Park and then spent more quality time with the JCB preparing the trackbed for the new track to the Running Shed site, as seen below 

on Thursday, re-sleepering was not possible due to a penetrating frost but Georgie had the small squad swapping worn check rails on the curve over with good ones on the straight, like everything on railway easier said than done!

Here the check rail needed the gentle persuasion of back to back jacks to sit in the chairs properly, so the new wooden keys could be hammered tight, making the check rail rigid and hopefully prevent any more wear on the nosings. Thanks to Mike, Andrew & Georgie for braving the frost that never lifted all day.

 Yesterday saw further snow as seen from John Wood's track inspection, photo looking towards Aviemore on the "Dalfaber straight". Roger, Angus and Georgie did more dismantling of redundant track behind old Speyside Station. Ian cleared snow off platform at Boat of Garten and Mike attended to Broomhill platform and cleared run round switches. 

 Further on in John's inspection at the Kinchurdy strap rails, hopefully a short clip of the first of the Winter Steam Services makes a rather smoky appearance.

Thanks to all that braved the elements/contributed to this blog - Teamwork as usual!

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Track alterations Aviemore Running Shed - 21st November 2020

An experimental 0900 start as currently brighter in the mornings, even Graeme managed to rise at the crack of dawn, alas Georgie (the boss) pitched up at the usual 0930 by which time it was pouring with rain, Angus aka "Stoker McPhail" had by this time got a good fire going in the van. We eventually braved the elements, once the stabled vehicles had been shunted out of the way,

Jim and me clamped the points out of use for number one "road" at Aviemore Engine Shed, as it was being disconnected, to allow work to commence on laying new track towards the anticipated new "Steam Running Shed" 

ultimately adjacent and towards the rear of the existing. Above left to right - Martin, Graeme, Ian, Angus & John pose for the "before" photo. Yet again the squad was big enough to be split in two -

allowing re-sleepering to continue, mid-week Georgie and Fergus had re-ferruled a good number of the chairs, so we thought plain sailing but we could not get our portable generator started, rather dejected we we returned to shelter in the Mess van to discover, the fire had also died!  

Angus & John working with Georgie in the Colmar Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) 

made rapid visible progress, fortunately the weather improved and John easily fixed our generator, Mike joined us after a virtual Strathspey Railway Board meeting and a few sleepers were changed.

Stats - 8 pairs of severely corroded/buried fishplates removed, un-keyed & un-screwed 180 chairs and removed by hand, sleepers as above. John and Angus will I suspect have a few aches and pains today!

Above scene as the light faded. 

Thanks to all mentioned and John for his photos and stats.


Monday, 16 November 2020

Re-sleepering continues & Turntable work concludes - 14th November 2020

Another good turnout in wonderfully benign November weather, tools loaded onto rail trolley and pushed towards turntable line,

unfortunately third set of trailing hand points were set against us and no one noticed until CRUNCH! Wee minor derailment - swiftly rectified as above.  

Once we got to the worksite it was discovered that Georgie had to abandon the previous days P'Way train, with a broken spring on the North British Locomotive, conveying our required sleepers. Yet again Steve and the trusty 08 locomotive came to the rescue, above from the brakevan showing the train eventually leaving for the five mile sprint!

The sleepers were quickly thrown off on arrival at Aviemore and spot re-sleepering was able to continue. Meanwhile some of the squad were able to pack, backfill and tidy the previously changed sleepers, I had intended an after photo but light faded too quickly.

Also Ian and John (not often you see him lying down on the job!) stretched & fixed chicken wire over the decking of the turntable, hopefully to reduce slipperiness  

and finishing off with a job that John loves - painting! - on an oil based wood preserver.

Many thanks to Andrew, Angus, Kevin, Mike, Fergus, Ian, John and Georgie & Steve.