Sunday 25 September 2016

Minor Track Maintenance - September 2016

Small squads due to Holidays (including my own). Mike Tough reports - Measured Shovel Packing & pumping sleeper remedials at firstly Drumullie & then Kinchurdy Wood, where he took the photo below.
A nest of Wood Ants, lets hope they don't like creosote!
As I have space, has anyone seen the below item?
It is our light weight bespoke Track Walking Hammer, which was ideal for hammering loose track keys in and tightening Fishplate Nuts. If seen please return it to the Porter's Room at Boat of Garten.
Lets hope it is just been misplaced and has not "walked"!

Saturday 20 August 2016

Track Slewing and MSP at Croftnahaven Wood - 20th August 2016

Eight Volunteers and two Staff made a very good sized squad, the first task was to Slew the track under the expert guidance of Georgie, deciding where and which way -
Sleeper ends dug out, Track lifting Jack the (above) right rail, carefully dug out hole for the Slewing Jack by Ben (Mike gave him marks out of ten each time) and then Mike heaves the heavy piece of equipment into position and pumps the handle to hydraulically push the track over by the desired amount, then pack ballast in the voids left at the sleeper ends, drop the Lifting Jack and finally release Slewing Jack - repeat at next prescribed location.

This is the temporary roller coaster view after Measured Shovel Packing (MSP) but before the train runs over it and irons out the lumps and bumps. In the distance can be seen John and Stuart, who all day repositioned any loose elastic spikes and replaced damaged ones (and removed the jammed piece of ballast under the baseplate photographed in the last Blog.)
One of these days I will learn how to electronically crop a photo! Anyway the above was taken from the start of the old The Great North of Scotland Railway divergence, which headed over the River Spey and our train from Broomhill approaches on The Highland Railway Line, shocking how quickly the broom has grown at this location. A very tiring warm day meant we finished early and the Inverness contingent stopped off at Carrbridge for a well deserved ice cream.   

Sunday 7 August 2016

MSP Rail Joints Drumullie and Oiling Points - 6 & 7th August 2016

On Saturday- Large squad assembled at Boat of Garten and proceeded by car to the worksite at Drumullie, which is about a mile further North.
We welcomed Gavin who is armed with shovel in the "four foot" (between the Rails), being his first time I hope we did not over work him! as believe, after doing the Measured Shovel Packing at the dipped joints some slewing of the rails was carried out and finished off by shovelling a lot of ballast at the Level Crossing for safety reasons. Thanks to John Wood for photo & Info.
On the Sunday Myself, Andy and another New face Iain, lubricated the slide chairs of all the points at Boat of Garten and Aviemore, this was made easier as all the Signal Boxes were Staffed and the Points were quickly reversed when the Signallers were asked to do so, thank you Guys.
Above Iain doing slide chairs on a set of Hand Points at Aviemore. 
In the afternoon, once we had obtained the requisite surplus bearing oil from the Engine shed and a suitable dispenser, we then oiled the mechanisms of all the hand points.
Sure Iain was desperate to glance up at 46512 departing Boat of Garten!

A rare sighting of the S&T Department (Signals and Telegraph) at work! They had the audacity to complain that the New Water Tower is not positioned correctly, as it complicated their new signal wire lines, for the new signal attached to the water tower.

Sunday 17 July 2016

MSP Rail Joints Croftnahaven - 16&17th July 2016

This Weekend saw small squads, guess people are away on Holiday.
Saturday- Ben, Roger, Stuart and after fixing a door at Aviemore, Mike, did Measured Shovel Packing of Rail Joints, slewing and tidying of ballast in the vicinity of the Croftnahaven No 1 Level Crossing.
This is the second Level Crossing to be visibly named, the first, was Tullochgorum, when Andy McClintock advised me not to give up the day Job! Don't think this one is any better, so if there are any budding stencillers out there, please let me know. I intend to do the UP Side only, as they are protected from the sun and prevailing weather, also hoped to put on an Ordnance Survey grid reference but mislaid all the readings from GPS.....
  Returning from Broomhill the Sunday Diner passes "Croftnahaven No 1". Stuart and myself continued with yesterdays work, today
the ballast wedged under the baseplate, front left is for another day....... 

Wednesday 29 June 2016

More Painting at Aviemore

Rather decrepit Stop Board, protecting Aviemore Station, before 

and after Painters got their hands on it, looks like they have joinery skills as well!
The Level Crossing Gates at the other end of Aviemore Loop, in the background is the repainted one almost in Signal Red.
Thanks to Colin Frost and the Gang for the work and the Photos.

Sunday 19 June 2016

Aviemore Station Painting and "Line Inspection" - 18th June 2016

The Ellon Painting Squad led by Colin Frost, start the undercoat, using the bespoke scaffold (as per last Blog) to paint the Aviemore canopy facia.
Photo taken by Norman Cameron, during his last Track Walk Inspection

and by the end of the day the other end of the canopy! Well done Guys.
photos taken by David Crosley.
The main event was the Annual PWay Line Inspection/Do from the comfort of the Watkinson's Trust LMS Saloon (it is available for private hire, fortunately we got it for free!) where a few "libations" were had and for the first time ever, we were served soup and a sandwich by a charming young lady from the Railways Caterers. Maybe the Caterer slightly underestimated how hungry "line inspection" work can be!
 We had a leaving card and collection (350 Canadian Dollars raised) for Norman Cameron as he is emigrating to Canada with his Canadian Wife. We also gave him at little expense, a book on Canadian Railways, donated to the Railway at some point! to whet his appetite for his new life. He gave us a short thank you speech above, in which we learned that he has been Volunteering in the PWay squad since 1973!
Here Norman wears, the first to be presented - 30 Year, Long Service Badge
 (yes we know he's been here more than thirty years but its the highest we have! and we thought postage costs to Canada might be a bit steep)
Anyway thank you Norman and we wish you and your Wife Marlyin all the very best. 

Group photo in glorious sunshine at Boat of Garten almost concluded, I hope very enjoyable day had by all.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

New Departmental Wagon - 13th June 2016

As mentioned in this Blog a few weeks ago, Colin and the Ellon Gang Painters must have come up with a plan in their local Pub on how to access safely our inaccessible platform 3 canopy facia at Aviemore because on Monday, Speyside Scaffold from Aberlour came to the Railway to erect a bespoke scaffold.
Which was securely clamped to an old "Sole" wagon chassis and suitably certified. 
Which surely is one of our more exotic additions to our Departmental Fleet of wagons, all be it temporary as the intension is to start painting this weekend, weather permitting.
Thanks to Mike for Info and photos.

Sunday 5 June 2016

Tidying Ballast Tullochgorum - 4th & 5th June 2016

As Georgie was on last day of holidays. On Saturday Stuart was in charge and the task was to tidy the ballast near Tullochgorum overbridge, where we have been using the Jacker Packer on midweek days.
A good sized squad made quick work of the 6 lengths asked for, possibly aided by Stuart buying the squad ice cream (take note Georgie!) to cool them down in the glorious sunshine, once the earlier mist had lifted.

 Left to Right Jim Clark, Andy McClintock, Angus Macphail, Roger Snowdon and Andrew McCracken.
Before Stuart, Myself and Andy headed to Tullochgorum to continue with ballast tidying today, I took a quick snap of the Class 27 deputising for the Class 31 on Royal Scotsman duties at Boat of Garten, as the 31 has oil problems.
Later the Diesel Multiple Unit made an unexpected appearance, transpires the Class 27 may have had turbo problems. Anyway PWay work continued albeit at a slower pace, due to the heat and we finished a bit earlier than usual.

Sunday 22 May 2016

Fishplate Oiling final chapter and Painting - 21st May 2016

Good big squad on Saturday, including our Membership Secretary Bill Johnson from near Thurso and Ben Tyrell from Blairgowrie (with the shades on)
The Mainline was completed right up to the boundary with Network Rail, the last stretch beyond the platform end pedestrian crossing was long overdue. Then it was a case of doing the run round loop, carriage shed yard, the head shunt, engine shed access road and turntable siding, just leaving the engine shed yard still to be done, hopefully today.
Above Ray Kenyon left, Colin Frost, Dick Davis discuss the "50 shades of pink" commercially available,(more like two though) with Mike Tough.
Colin and part of the Ellon Gang have since spent 12 days refreshing the paint work at Aviemore Station and a grand job they have done!

 leaving the not inconsiderable canopy facing untouched at present, apparently pending an essential Ellon Gang meeting in their local Pub, to plan how to safely tackle it!  

Friday 13 May 2016

Aviemore Jobs progressing - 9th May 2016

Over the weekend a good distance of fishplate oiling was achieved, thanks to Volunteers - Roger, Fergus and Bruce, finishing up at Dalfaber Level Crossing.
Mike (appropriately dressed), Bruce and myself continued on the Monday, possibly the hottest day of the year thus far.
 So hot that Big Davy felt sorry for us and served us Afternoon Tea on a tray Lineside from the Spey Lodge, where he had been assisting Jim Clark in finally commissioning the standby oil central heating, thanks to Graham for the above photo.
Even further up the line at Aviemore Station Colin Frost and his team are doing a bit of repainting

although the Forth Bridge springs to mind Guys!


Monday 2 May 2016

More fishplate oiling - 30th April 2016

I get the impression the Squad are keen to finish fishplate oiling fast, as Jim, John, Angus and Mike continued in the sunshine.  
Above almost perfect symmetry, although I notice Angus is cheekily out doing Mike in the number of stripes worn. (photo by John Wood)
Due to the inaccessibility of the worksite, a bit of a walk from even from the SpeySide Way where this photo was taken by Mike (maybe S&T Dept should bury their wires! what do you think Mike?) In total three quarters of a mile was completed.
Talking of jobs completed, this is the new Coal Bench extension in action.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Fishplate Oiling continues - 28th April 2016

The paid staff have continued with fishplate oiling completing to Broomhill and started from Boat of Garten towards Aviemore. Today a good squad of us met at Boat of Garten to sign on and collect the tools.
Having stabled overnight the Royal Scotsman, hauled by our class 31 diesel, was awaiting the arrival of our Steam service, so it can continue on its tour of Scotland by accessing the mainline railway at Aviemore,
where the GBRf Class 66 is stabled overnight. (Above good photo was actually taken last week by Mike Tough)
 Anyway I digress, we started at Kinchurdy Level Crossing after welcoming Roger (far left) a new Volunteer and chatting to Dave (far right) from the PWay on East Lancs Railway who is on his yearly holiday in the Highlands, with a day or two spent with us.
Progress was so good that by the end of the day, I had miscounted the quarter mile posts and we actually completed one and a quarter miles, which must be an all time record!
Well done and thank you Guys. 

Sunday 17 April 2016

Tullochgorum - Croftnahaven fishplate oiling - 16th April 2016

Mid-week Stuart and Georgie had used the Jacker-Packer to lift and pack about 3 x 60 foot lengths of track near Tullochgorum over bridge. Our first task was to hand pack the sleepers that the Jacker-Packer could not access due to the fishplates.
The first train to pass the "off-rail" Jacker-Packer was sensibly cautioned to ensure that there was sufficient clearance.
Subsequent trains passed at the line-speed of 25 miles per hour.
The next task was to tidy up the ballast of the formation  
and finally do some minor slewing of the track using the track jacks,.In this case slewing from left to right. Due to the good volunteer turn out this was all completed in time for lunch, which we had trying to shelter under the bridge from the wind, snow and hail. You would never guess that from my photos but it was a bitterly cold day (photos in snow don't come out very well).
We came across Bob, Track Inspector, but without the required combined hammer/spanner - he said he couldn't find it! On time today Bob, but minus the tool he needed!  He caught the correct train so he could walk back to Boat of Garten. We donated him our heaviest spanner!

   After lunch fishplate oiling continued at a great pace and three quarters of a mile was completed by the end of the day, followed by a long walk back to our cars - minus our heavy spanner! 

Sunday 20 March 2016

Switches & Crossings Maintenance - 19&20th March 2016

What are Switches and Crossings? I hear you ask.
Above a very simplified diagram.
Put simply they guide trains from one track to another, commonly known as points. The Maintenance of them is basically loosening all the nuts and bolts, oiling and re-tightening them, this stops them seizing and ensures they are all tight.

The opportunity was taken to oil all the fishplates, as there are that many, as well as the slide chairs at the switches at the same time 

In the distance an army of Orange could be seen coming our way to assist, alas no, they were Photographers, photographing our train they had hired for the weekend, which did a number run pasts, so they could get the perfect shot.
Over the weekend seven sets of points were completed from the Home Signal in distance above to the Signal Box, which is a lot of nuts and bolts, some easier than others!
 Thanks to Ian, Norman, Andrew, Neil, Mike, Angus, plus Georgie and Stuart.
46512 makes an unexpected appearance just as we were getting ready to start on the Sunday, it was the Photographic Charter again.