Sunday 10 December 2017

Snow Clearing - 9th December 2017

Once Storm Caroline had subsided a single Locomotive ("Light Engine") was utilised for a Line Proving run between Aviemore and Broomhill late on Friday, with Georgie applying a special de-icing lube to the slide chairs on the switches that were essential to the running of the Weekend Santa services.  
Mike Tough arrived Saturday morning to find 6 inches of fresh and still falling snow. He started clearing it from the platform at Boat of Garten Station and was glad to be joined by Dave Inglis above
and then fortunately a North York Moors Railway squad arrived, led by Davie MacNicol, his Son and friend all working hard above.
Meanwhile some 4 &1/4 miles away at Broomhill Station, looks like Colin Stirling had an easier time of it, with less of the white stuff to contend with but with Graham Sutherland "assisting" who knows......
Just one part of the usually unseen effort required to run Winter Steam services. 
Thanks to Mike for Info and Boat of Garten photos, Graham for Broomhill one.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Digging out near "The Summit" - 2nd December 2017

Plan A for yesterday was to have been replacing the Timbers on Spey Lodge Level Crossing at Aviemore but as said Timbers had not arrived timeously....
onto long term plan B - replacing sleepers that Georgie decreed were life expired, as she disappeared over the "Summit" horizon feverishly marking the dead ones with a white spot, leaving the small squad of Fergus (foreground), Roger and John (all no doubt, praying for snow to obliterate the dots!)
to start "digging out" the ballast all round and to the base of the marked sleepers as above

and for a bit of variety, two together means the whole "bed" between them must be almost completely cleared of ballast, I guess here the sleepers will be pulled away from the camera, when extraction time comes.  


Here Roger takes an all too infrequent break as the "Santa Express" climbs from Aviemore

and passes, and we still don't see his perfectly knotted tie! In total a credible 45 sleepers were dug out, fortunately by 2.45pm light was going fast and as the Gang were knackered an early finish was allowed!
Many thanks to all, especially John Wood for photos and info.
It has been a couple of years since we have been able to afford to do any major spot         re-sleepering, hence the mere 292 identified this time to be replaced!
With new sleepers costing approximately £20 each, not an inconsiderable sum being invested in the long term maintenance of the Line. Fortunately split over two Winters and if the thought of all this exercise is too much for you, feel free to reach from your armchair to hit the donate button on this Blog, as I am sure we will manage to break some tools along the way! 


Monday 20 November 2017

Stone Blowing Kinchurdy - 18th & 19th November 2017

About a Month ago we started work on an approx. 100 yard section of track, just beyond Kinchurdy bridge see PWay Blog of 21st October. Since then Georgie has dropped ballast on the Track "shoulders" and on Saturday a large squad created the "up cess", tidied both shoulders and dug the holes so that stone blowing could commence.
As we had an increasingly rare "Possession" of the line (no service trains running) the Tool Van and temporary Mess Van were able to be stabled at the worksite for the weekend. 
Here Georgie is sighting and instructing Mike to jack up the track to the right level and Andrew is doing the same, using the crosslevel as a guide, so that both rails are on the jacks to exactly the required height.
A number of years ago the PWay Squad Volunteers clubbed together to purchase the brand new Stone Blower which is simply a petrol driven air compressor with an air hose 
to the above attachment, which Andrew is steadily feeding the small crushed stone ("chippies") into the hopper and the compressed air blows it into the space between the sleeper and the old trackbed. The aim is to completely fill the void so that when the jack is removed the track sits solidly on its new foundations. 

These simplistic few words make it all seem easy! But we all found those small muscles that we didn't know even existed were exercised.
As punishment for not getting the Mess Van fire to light first time, we put Andy above left, on to the wheel barrowing of the chippies, thus only being subjected to his Glasgow patter intermittently!   
Thanks go to Andrew, Andy, Angus, Ben, Ian, John, Les, Mike and Roger over the weekend Georgie seemed satisfied with the end result.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Leylandii removal Aviemore Station 3rd - 5th November 2017

A row of 60 leylandii trees had been planted long ago along the edge of the car park at Aviemore station, the section now in use by main line Scotrail passengers. 

After consulting with our neighbours in Dalfaber Road, who had been complaining about these trees, we organized a team to remove them.

and after photo to set the scene.
A number of hurdles had to be overcome, not least closing the car park for the duration of the work, a task skillfully completed by Graham Sutherland, who blocked off bays during the week as they became vacant, leaving only four cars parked by Friday, which we were able to work around. The recent courses attended by our chainsaw operators is now also paying dividends for the railway, as these tasks can now be done safely and expediently. 

Brashing done, to ease access for felling.
So on Friday a team of ten commenced work, with Ian and John operating the chainsaws and Graham and Big Davie driving trailers to provide a continuous shuttle carting the brash to the burning site. The work continued on Saturday morning with Ben now also operating a chainsaw, while Ian was preparing for the Strathspey Railway Association AGM.
Ian giving chainsaw TLC or having a well earned rest
Loading one trailer
And unloading the other onto the fire
Not much more smoke than a steam engine!
John Wood assisted by Nick Courtier & Jim Hardy with strap for more accurate felling.
Colin sweeping up
All 60 trees were cut down to a height of about 2 foot; this to provide a marker for the parking cars, and all the brash was removed and burnt in the yard near the coal bench.
Job well done-all that remains of 60 trees.
As a welcome break we attended the AGM in the afternoon, before continuing with the work later.

There are another 12 leylandii further along by the coach park, but time constraints meant that by the  Sunday only the Ellon Team of five were still working, so we cleared broom from the area, and cut the lower branches off the leydandii to provide improved light and views for the adjacent houses. 

Another job for the New Year.

Thanks to Ian Stanworth, John Wood, Ben Tyrell, Mike Tough, Neil MacQueen, Davie Dow, Graham Sutherland, Ray Kenyon, Jim Hardy, Dan Courtier, Nick Courtier, Colin Frost.

(Words from Colin and some photos from Ray and Neil)


Sunday 22 October 2017

PWay Maintenance - Croftnahaven 7th October & Kinchurdy 21 October 2017

There was a good turn out but only Georgie, Ben, Roger & Mike ventured out onto the track where between mp 91 & 91 1/2 (Croftnahaven) various routine maintenance tasks were dealt with. Other essential things had to be done however by the others. Those outside enjoyed a pleasant Autumn day in a peaceful spot 
Above -Digging out below the high rail sleepers ..this was dug out maybe 30 mm & left to settle
Also present were Ian who assisted Ian Stokes a Volunteer who was digitally surveying the yard at Boat for a site for a storage shed Strathspey Railway Association are planning to progress. Ian also had to assess tree clearance needed at Aviemore Head shunt & was then with Neil Howie who appeared with a former work friend also Mike & they got into the faulty jacker packer & it seems the problem has been found & the machine will be in action soon. Valuable spares were retrieved from the other machines & taken inside where 2 almost new rail saws obtained by Davie Dow from a railway yard in Glasgow were spotted & admired .. well done Davie.
The track work included clearing ballast from below around 10 sleepers at mp 91 1/2 on the up rail to get rid of a horrible hog in the up rail top. By the end of the day the trains had got the rail back to level & this was lightly repacked & left to bed in further.
Afterwards & without Andy the expert measured shovel packing (MSP) tin man we did MSP at maybe 10 joints & dips around the curve & got a well done from the boss.

An out of focus Roger focussed on getting chippings to the MSP points. 
Thanks to Mike for the above information and photos.
Yesterday's P'Way saw another calm dry Autumn day, the location very close to Kinchurdy Bridge and the task was to dig out the sleeper ends to start the improvement of the drainage, above Mike in foreground, then Fergus, Andy and in the distance Martin Macleod fortuitously filling in a gap in the Track Inspection Roster (Lennon his high viz dog off camera but thanks go to both of them for this vital task)
and renew the ballast shoulder which was previously dropped in the "four foot" (between the rails)  Ben with a grape full of fresh ballast, Andy brushing the dirt off the sleepers and Georgie trying to tidy up our efforts on ballast shoulder and level cess. 
Last Down train of the day passes over Kinchurdy Bridge and thanks to Fergus for clearing out the steps down the steep embankment, making it an easier walk down to our cars after an exhausting day. 


Monday 2 October 2017

Painting and Bo'ness Trip - 23rd & 24th September 2017


As promised Reg Stanley above and Bruce Buswell below, painted the recycled platform copings and sleeper stop at the well end of the turntable at Aviemore, they also painted the granite blocks that guide road vehicles safely round the exit to car park. Reg continued with painting the base stones to the new sign by the turntable (I am sure the fruits of Reg's working holiday will take sometime to spot around the railway)
Bruce thought it was "an act of geological vandalism" obliterating them in white masonry paint!
828 departing Aviemore with the Sunday Dining Train 24th Sept.
Above photos and info all courtesy of Bruce.
Saturday 23rd saw a number of us from the PWay squad (above) get a guided tour of the extensive site at The Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway. Many thanks to our guide Steven Ramage (above back right) who gave us our behind the scenes view and threw in a visit to the on-site Museum of Scottish Railways (well worth a further future visit), we then returned to where we had had breakfast, the Station CafĂ© for a cheap wholesome lunch before using our Strathspey Working Members Passes for a trip up to Manuel and back, washed down by a beer or two. All in all a worthwhile day out.  


Wednesday 20 September 2017

Silted up Level Crossings - 16th September 2017

The good sized P'Way squad met at Boat of Garten, loaded the appropriate tools into Georgie's van and proceeded to Lynchurn No 2 Level Crossing. Where for sometime now water has been running off the main A95 trunk road, down the short dirt track onto the Level Crossing, depositing a considerable amount of silt contaminating the ballast, which all had to be dug out by backbreaking shovel. This is the second time that I recall having to this at this location, plan is to use the JCB to dig ditches to hopefully prevent a reoccurrence.
Andy, Andrew, Ben, Roger and Mike (left to right) pose for Iain Ross at Lynchurn No 2. (I suspect fresh ballast will be dropped after ditches dug) The squad then went onto Croftnahaven No 2 level crossing to repeat the process and coachscrews inserted to keep the flangeway clear, alas no photos as what seemed like the remnants of hurricane Irma! forced the squad into the palatial barn to shelter.
Ian and John tried to mend the Jacker Packer at Boat of Garten North Yard and then assisted some of the Ellon Squad tidying scrap there.
On Sunday Andy, Bruce, Fergus and Georgie put in flangeway screws in Lynchurn No 2 and finished off tidying up, possibly also the cess at Aviemore Station loop.
Yesterday Bruce was painting with Reg Stanley (who is up for two weeks "Holiday", so best not standstill for too long when Reg is about!)
Thanks to all those that attended and for info/photo.

Friday 1 September 2017

Aviemore Turntable Sign & Fishplate Oiling - 30th August & 2nd September 2017


The original sign was well past its use by date.



 Ray Kenyon and Colin Frost painted the supports first over the 24th & 25th of July.

Whilst PPS Glass Fibre Ltd of Inverurie (they also did the Roy Hamilton sign) fabricated the wooden former, encapsulated in fibreglass, with raised acrylic letters.

This was delivered at 1030 Wednesday 30th August, with the help of Colin Vaughan driving the Coal Loader, it was lifted into place, held in position with nine fixing bolts and the job was successfully completed by lunch time.



The Team on the day, left to right - Colin Frost, Jim Clark, Ray Kenyon, Andrew McCracken and Mike Tough (who took the photos)


We are deeply indebted to Colin who paid for the fabricated board, letters and delivery costs as a kind donation to the Strathspey Railway Co. 
As Colin says "it should never need further attention in future - weather permitting!"
Today the P'Way squad continued fishplate oiling from 92 1/4 milepost towards Broomhill, after Georgie found us some more oil. Above left to right Roger Snowden, Roddy MacPhee and Ben Tyrell with a busy Broomhill Station in the background, the three coaches came from Cruise Maritime & Voyages cruise ship Columbus berthed at Invergordon for the day,
hopefully they appreciated the great weather and scenery, we were hot & bothered and too busy trying to rapidly finish off fishplate oiling, for the season

although Mike Tough had time to gaze for safety reasons you understand! 


Monday 14 August 2017

Milepost Vegetation Clearance - 14th August 2017

Today Myself, Ian Stanworth, Mike Tough and Andrew McCracken had a midweek PWay day. We set off walking from Boat of Garten towards Aviemore in pouring rain, the plan was to strim and cut the vegetation round all the quarter mileposts and improve the sighting at Level Crossings enroute. As time went on our tools let us down, one loper was useless and one saw broke 
and the vegetation just got thicker and thicker in the form of broom, which seems to have taken over the lineside in places. Above Andrew rediscovers the 86 milepost, whilst Mike and I tried to dispose of the cuttings as best as we could but had difficulty keeping up with the prodigious output of "Machine McCracken"!
Looks like the grass snake? had the right idea sheltering from the constant rain under one of the fire beaters.

At the end of the day Andrew (the "lineside forager") got his reward - chanterelle mushrooms apparently. 

Saturday 5 August 2017

Bridge, Painting and Oiling - 5th August 2017

Dislodged & loose small pieces of sandstone cladding below the walkway at the Boat of Garten Nethybridge Road under bridge were made safe on 30/17/7 by Mike Tough. Until such time as 2  other potentially loose sandstone pieces were removed a temporary speed restriction was imposed. This was done on 4/8/17 by Ian Stanworth & Mike & the restriction lifted to the relief of the footplate crews. Other minor repairs to coping stones are planned.
Ray Kenyon and Colin Frost did some painting over 24/25 July of the gates by the Engine Shed at Aviemore. 
Above before
And after
The new board holding the signs on the middle of the gates has been made, and painted by Jack in the carriage shed and will be fitted to the gates when completed. Thank You to Colin for information and photos and as he says "improved kerb appeal". Another painting job was started but I will save it for the completion photos.
As per my last Blog the PWay Squad finished fishplate oiling at the 89 milepost, or so we thought, during a subsequent weekly Track Inspection, I noticed one spanner, one oil can opposite the 89&3/4 milepost and that the fishplate oiling had been completed up to that point. A big thank you to the unknown Warrior.

Today's Soldiers above - left to right John Wood, Andy McClintock, Ian Stanworth, Mike Tough, Roger Snowden, Ben Tyrell and Neil Howie (who took the photos and info) managed to complete an amazing mile and a quarter.

Glad to see Ben is still smiling as they approach Tullochgorum Bridge where they finished for the day.



Wednesday 19 July 2017

Ellon and C&W Team Work - early July 2017

Ray Keynon measuring up the rather dilapidated running-in board on the Down platform, 14th of May.
Fast forward to June 30th and the Up and Down boards are ready to be loaded from old Speyside platform at Aviemore onto Fish & Chip Special Diesel Multiple Unit, to conveniently convey them to their final destination. I believe Colin Frost above left paid for the new boards, many thanks, what I don't believe is that William Dodds from the Carriage Shed did the restoration, as they look too Good!!! (subsequently found out that a whole team from the C&W Department were involved, apologies to ALL, hopefully Keith's Blog will give due credit)
The following day Nick Coutier, Colin Frost, Dan Courtier, Jim Hardy & Ray Keynon (who took the above photos) erected the boards as well as cutting the grass by the picnic tables. 
Many thanks to the Ellon Team for their hard work over the weekend which also included finishing off the Train Watering plumbing works at Aviemore Station.
More recent works done by the PWay Squad included - grass strimming at Boat of Garten and Broomhill thanks to Ian Stanworth, manning the footcrossing at Boat of Garten during the Family Gala Weekend - Thanks to Roger & Andy and of course a continuation of Fishplate oiling, now on the Boat of Garten to Broomhill section. Thanks to Ben Tyrell, Ian Stanworth & Mike Tough for completing 3/4 of a mile in very wet weather.
Which looks as if cleared up by close of play.