Monday 26 March 2018

Re-Sleepering starts in ernest - 24th March 2018

Mike, Jim, Roger and Georgie had another extra day at the PWay. Meeting at Boat of Garten Yard, after looking at some building maintenance issues and
admiring the pristine private Charter Train which was stabled in the Up Platform,
which our own immaculate Class 27 had hauled in from Aviemore very early that morning.

At Aviemore the two superbly restored Mainline Class 47's were stabled, ready for the return working South on Sunday.
To save the long walk to the worksite, Georgie taxied the gang in her van, through the gated forestry tracks to near the Summit on Granish Moor.
20 sleepers were replaced (only 130 left!) but are yet to be screwed down ..the intact sleepers left maintain track integrity. Some of the sleepers to be changed are 9 ft long & date from LMS days ie are maybe 80 years old.

We all had forgotten what hard heavy work pulling wet old sleepers out is but the sun unusually shone and work was interrupted a few times by Caley 828 hauling the first service trains of the new season. We were dazzled by the freshly cleaned & polished paintwork of the carriages (a few from the PWay had helped the Carriage & Wagon Department with this work recently)
Thanks to Mike for all the info, Ryan Munro took the first photo and the rest are Mike's. 


Sunday 18 March 2018

Milepost 85 -1640 yards to 86 - 260 yards - 17th & 18th March 2018

Firstly, many thanks to Angus and Roger for braving the Siberian windy weather and assisting Georgie on Saturday, making one of the few PWay Huts that we have on the Railway, more weatherproof for shelter, as we are certainly going to be working in this location for some time. It can be seen in the background below.

On Sunday we finally finished digging out all the beds of the sleepers to be changed. Fergus on the left above, mentioned that he must have dug about 100 out of the 150!  BIG thank you to him, as both Andrew (right) and I were knackered after only a few.

On to the next task removing the screws, thank goodness we have the petrol driven "Bance" to unscrew them, although it becomes heavy after a while.
Once the screws have been hand picked out and carefully placed to the side,


 the old wooden ferrules are removed, using the pointy end of a bar to break them and brutally teased out, easier said than done sometimes.
Then Andrew here, hammers in the new plastic ones so that they are tight in the chair.
We managed to repeat this process most of the afternoon, we reckon completeing almost half of the 150 sleepers to do. Most of the new sleepers can be seen here ready & waiting in the Down Cess.  

One train passed the worksite - an empty stock movement towards Aviemore, with Georgie surveying our efforts from the rear veranda of the brakevan.

Thursday 15 March 2018

Level Crossing modifications & Fishplate changing - 10th March 2018

We somehow managed to squeeze in an extra Permanent Way Day and the call to arms was very encouraging - with Bill our Membership Secretary coming down from the Thurso area and a potential new member of the Gang coming up from Glasgow - lets hope the former signed up the latter! Georgie had been given the good news regarding the number of Volunteers the day before, enabling her to plan to split us up into two Gangs!
Steve above, took Georgie, Ian and John with a good selection of power tools to Lynchurn LC, where modifications were made. Onto the second Level Crossing but the ballast was frozen solid so a couple of overhanging trees were dispatched instead. 

The remainder of the large squad -Angus, Mike, Roger, John and myself, were left with a Brake Van for heat and shelter, near the Summit of the line, with the task of changing fishplates on the section of track that we aim to spot re-sleeper this year. The old cast steel fishplates have an increasing tendency to break as above.
Georgie managed to source skirted rolled steel (hopefully) indestructable ones, that have drilled round holes, necessitating the use of tabs to prevent the bolt from turning when the nuts are tightened. The use of washers (recycled from the rail bridge over the River Dulnain) is to accommodate the long length of the bolts.
The new milwaukee cordless impact wrench managed 10 sets of fishplate bolts (40 qty) on each charged battery but is rather noisey! Georgie had hoped that the undug sleeper beds could be completed but this years "perma frost" put paid to that, so a relatively early finish was acheived.
Thanks to all that attended, in the cool damp weather.


Monday 5 March 2018

Lineside Clearance and unloading old sleepers - 3rd &4th March 2018

 On Saturday good sized squad turned up at Boat of Garten, to find couple of inches of snow and a biting easterly wind but it wasn't long before the stove in Guards Van (BG) was well alight and the PWay train hauled by the Diesel Class 27 got us to the first worksite
Sighting of the Boat of Garten Down Distant Signal and Kinchurdy Level crossing was being obscured by overhanging branches, which were quickly seen to, by a loaned battery pole saw, which everyone had a go with and all well impressed with it's capabilities.  

Then onto next location Lynchurn, where two mature birch trees felled, delimbed and the brash was burnt (much to pyromaniac Mike's delight)
Luncheon was had out of the wind in the BG.
Andrew (bowsaw) MacCracken cut through a heap of gorse on the upper bank of the cutting using his tool of choice the bowsaw, the mans a machine!! Angus, Martin, Mike, Steve and Georgie dragged and burnt brash, while Ian dispatched another four30+ yr old Ash trees on the opposite bank, felled, delimbed, brash burnt. Last job was clearing the level crossing of gorse to improve sight lines, then we tidyied up, loaded up the Shark with a bit of firewood and headed back to boat for 4pm, productive day and good job done by all.
Thanks to all mentioned, Steve Robinson for driving the train and Roddy Macphee for getting the photos to me.
The following day I was the only Volunteer but Steve and Georgie soon another PWay train marshalled and ready to depart Aviemore,
as seen from the Brake Van.

You may remember from the last Blog entry, the lifted sleepers from Spey Lodge LC they were unloaded from the Flatrol wagon and should be re-used again! to eventually repair the fire damage at the "Summit" PWay shed.
Our sharp eyed Driver Steve spotted the above close to the line, speculation was it maybe for Wildcat filming?
A start was made on changing fishplates but more on that subject another time.......