Saturday 21 December 2019

UWCs and re-ferruling - 20/21 - December 2019

Yesterday saw myself and Roddy start a "temporary" fix for the sighting posts (previously mentioned) in connection with the visibility splays at our User Worked Crossings (UWCs), as most are some 920 feet from the crossing, they were very difficult to see.
The intension is they will be painted white in the better weather, in the interim we have recycled the back of out of date Big Railway plastic poster timetables.
By tightly wrapping them around the post and using roofing felt nails to secure, as above, only time will tell how long they survive the ravages of our Highland climate.....
Today saw a really impressive number of PWay Volunteers - the avoidance of Christmas Shopping may have had something to do with it! 

Our task was to re-ferrule the life expired wooden ferrules that have rotted away and replace worn sleeper screws. Georgie marked them up, we removed the screws using one of our petrol driven Bances, got out the old ferrules inserted new plastic ones, lightly hammered in then screwed them down again with the other Bance.
Even though John, centre above, bought new hardened steel pins to hold the chuck heads on, they broke very quickly indeed and we reverted to another person manoeuvring the chuck from screw to screw - until Jim got some fence wire which lasted longer!
Photo Mike - Some passing traffic didn't stop our progress
fortunately Santa did! - as there was a bitingly cold wind and it was back breaking work but really good progress was made thanks to Georgie - supplying all the appropriate tools, Roger, Mike, Angus, Ian, John, Les, Jim and special mention to Andrew - whom at very short notice did the Track Inspection from Boat of Garten before joining us.

Friday 13 December 2019

Digging and more Digging! Boat of Garten - 11th December 2019

Mid week produced a welcome massive squad of eight, Georgie tasked Angus and I to obtain and put up the Temporary Speed Restriction (TSR) Boards required for the proposed switch into Boat of Garten North Yard,
unfortunately we could not source a 10 mph board for the above Warning Board but sharp eyed Drivers should be able to spot the 10 at the Commencement Board though!
Plumber Jim was mildly critical of their plumbness, I retorted that they lean into the prevailing wind so that they don't blow over! 
 Once we had finished that Angus and I joined the main squad, in a continuation from last Saturday, of digging out the ballast to the bottom of the sleepers.
Admiring job done, right up to the North end of the Boat of Garten bridge, in the background at the 88 3/4 mile post can be seen the Termination Board of the speed restriction and on the obverse is the 10 mph Commencement Board for Up trains heading towards Aviemore.   
As we had daylight still available Georgie told us to remove the excess ballast from the four foot (between rails) and build up the shoulders further down the line. The photos do not do the inclement weather justice as there was a biting wind and snow showers (my camera does not like any form of precipitation) but many thanks to Graeme, Martin, Andrew, Fergus, Mike, Angus and Jim for braving the elements and the hard labour.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Sleeper renewal and switch prep at Boat of Garten - 7 December 2019

Report and photos from John -
"This Saturdays pway squad update, 8 life expired sleepers changed in front of the North signal cabin at Boat of Garten completed by lunchtime,


The afternoon was spent digging out ballast for the new points install at the south end of boat road bridge, 15 beds dug out before it started to get dark and the inclement weather took its toll and the squads spirit became life expired!!
Thanks to Georgie, Fergus, Mike, Jim " not that Clark" and Ian " transport manager" for their care and consideration/abuse as it was my first day back on the squad after my Op."

Sunday 24 November 2019

Posts & Railings - 21st November 2019

A semi planned midweek PWay day saw us trying to pick up the tools from Boat of Garten yard, our progress was impeded somewhat by a forty strong film crew which had hired the Station for the day!

A short narrow gauge railway? photo courtesy of our Film Liaison Manager.  


Jim & Martin, above and I trundled off towards Broomhill, hammering in surplus round fence posts to more permanently mark the sighting distances of the User Worked Crossings, which I described in 3rd November Blog entry. Martin was a dab hand at creating a pilot hole with a bar, then Jim and I would take turns melling them in, Jim being our "plumber" ensuring they are plumb!  They still need to be painted, otherwise likely to get flailed!  
Meanwhile Mike and John Sinclair, were making a start on putting hand rails on both the parapets of underbridge at Milton as per the Office of Rail & Road (ORR) instruction.

Mike reports the following good news-
The purchase of the above Colmar 4300. Road Rail Vehicle is confirmed from Ab2000 Glasgow. 
A heavy duty rotating grab is also purchased, it will also be able to have our larger vegetation flail finally fitted which will allow more extensive lineside clearance, due to the much longer reach than the current JCB RRV. 
It is getting rail wheel brakes fitted at Allan Hargreaves Plant Engineers Ltd in Lancs and should be with us in February next year. This machine will greatly assist the planned future track changes at Boat of Garten North site (Morleys)  and at the proposed new Aviemore Running Shed.

Saturday 16 November 2019

Stay Wires and Estate Level Crossing clearance - 16th November 2019

The task was clearing of tree limbs underneath pole route wires and clearance of the visibility splays at the Estate Crossing... We started off from a chilly Boat with the class 08 locomotive, 3 well wagons and a brake van, with a very reluctant fire and headed 2/3 of the way to Aviemore. Three of our lot (Mike, Jim and Roger) were dropped off near the summit with Bow Saws and tasked with clearing the Broom around the stay wires for the Pole Route
 above shows them being tasked, Peter and Ian then carried on in the train down to the Estate Crossing where the brake was wound on in the Van, the 08 and first well wagon detached and set off for Aviemore, where they were needed by our S&T colleagues. Peter and Ian set too with bowsaw and electric chainsaw clearing back as far as possible.

About 11 we heard a locomotive coming back to out train, to find Georgie had swapped the 08 for the NBL shunter - her favoured locomotive now it is in finer fettle, although it still needs a few finishing touches - one thing is for sure - you can hear it without the warning horns. This took us to an early lunch, by which time the rest of the team were down with us at the Crossing and lunch was had in the Brake Van - which was full of smoke thanks to the just discovered hole in the chimney....
Today was a shortened day as some had to get back to Inverness for other plans so a shortened afternoon saw us working towards Dalfaber Crossing, undertaking similar work to clear stay wires for the pole route (the rest can be handled by the flail on the Road Rail JCB) and clearing saplings and tree limbs affecting the pole route wires. Work done we then propelled back to Boat of Garten and into the Yard by the NBL (below), which we could certainly hear... Georgie told Ian that she thought the same engine was used in U Boats - we pity the poor submariners!

Thanks to Mike, Peter, Jim, Roger and his Son in law and Ian (for also supplying all info/photos)

Sunday 3 November 2019

Level Crossing Sightlines and Ash Cesses - 3rd November 2019


As a result of the Office of Rail and Road inspection end of August this year, Mike and myself recently set out to measure and mark the sighting distances for our User Worked Crossings.
(below Mike starts out measuring from Broomhill UWC)
Using the Guidance Note provided by The Heritage Railway Association (HGR-A0458 if you are bored!) We sourced Reg Stanley's old measuring wheel, recently calibrated to the high standard of SR-3/180 ie 3 "sixty foot" rails measuring exactly 180 feet! and then painted white the sleeper end at the requisite distance from the level crossing. Posts are still to be hammered into the ground either side of track at a later date, so that vegetation can be kept in check between the sightlines.
Yesterday's PWay day was deferred due to it clashing yet again with the Strathspey Railway Association's AGM - fortunately a few of us were able to come along today.
The exceedingly ambitious/impossible plan was to empty the last 3 months worth of waste ash from our steam locomotives, which had previously been mechanically loaded into 4 wagons and conveyed to Boat of Garten. We had to await the empty DMU from the aforesaid AGM trip arriving before we could get signalled on to the Aviemore section. The above photo may give the impression of speed but alas no, it was a dark drizzly day! Our locomotive didn't appear to be particularly healthy and this proved to be the case - parallels were drawn with of the classic Ealing comedy film "TheTitfield Thunderbolt" when the radiator started to overheat, I will say no more!  Consequently Steve the Driver and myself were despatched by Georgie to couple off from the train and swap the locomotive over with a more reliable one at Aviemore.
On our arrival back at the train a considerable amount of ash had been shovelled off onto the Cess (black area above) at this location the embankment is slowly sinking due to the marshy conditions below.
Pretty much the entire day was spent shovelling the ash from the wagons down onto the cess, under the watchful eye of Georgie who would, roughly spread it and control movement of the train,
after an extremely exhausting time, Graeme (above) who only started volunteering with us today, was eventually given the less arduous task of tidying up, as can be seen he made a good job of it and more importantly he was still smiling by the end! but I suspect he may find some muscles he didn't know he had tomorrow, Fergus was a relentless machine that put rest of  us to shame, as we were all completely knackered.
Many thanks to Steve, Georgie, Mike, Andrew, Fergus and Graham - only what remains in the two wagons above to go!
Today Mike, Georgie, myself, with Steve driving managed to empty the remaining ash
and level and tidy afterwards.


Sunday 20 October 2019

Track prep for "Morley's" (Mark 2) Shed - 19th October 2019

Georgie had asked for as many Volunteers as possible this Weekend, I received more apologies than attendees, for a multitude of reasons - unfortunately some in the Get Well Soon category, for which we do hope for a speedy recovery indeed.

The first part was removing the short rails, above remnants of the old charred inspection pit.

This involved digging out the fishplates and removing, likewise all the track screws and finally the rails - took longer than you would think but it certainly warmed us up! It is hoped the pit is to be deepened and lined with concrete.
The rails this time are to go right through the new shed, so Georgie using the Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) gave the formation a final scrape using Mike's Engineer laser eyes as a level guide! Then RRV took sleepers to site two at a time and Roger and me did our best to line up with existing rail ends at 
 3 foot centre spacings, using Peter above and his high-tech measure - right of first sleeper space.
After lunch Georgie had got the rail grab, so the 60 foot rails could be manoeuvred into position, just a case of laying rubber pads, inserting red plastic biscuits and clipping up (easier said than done) I had a birthday meal to attend so could only stay until 2pm but left it in the good hands of Jim, Mike, Peter, Roger, Georgie and I am sure they got on better without me! (Mike subsequently updated - We packed then slewed using RRV with Jim and me eyeing in and apparently Georgie was impressed! A tidy up then finished of the day)


Monday 7 October 2019

"Wet Beds" Aviemore Section - 5th October 2019

Today saw a small squad meet at Boat of Garten of Ian, John, Fergus, with Georgie tasking only four "Wet Beds" beyond Kinchurdy heading towards Aviemore, then Iain and Roger (still light duties, I hope!) also attended.

Above shows a dug out "Wet Bed", with the tell tale markings on the rail where pooling water is splashed upwards when a train encounters this watery dip in the track, over time leaving what I think are called fines. To rectify the problem the poor contaminated/clogged up ballast is dug out below the level of the sleeper to drain any trapped water, then the dark art of Measured Shovel Packing (MSP - covered many time in previous posts) is applied and finally fresh clean ballast is filled in to aid future drainage.

Two more Beds were attended to, further towards Dalfaber and Reg Stanley who must have felt as if he had walked from his home in Wales to get to the worksite! Joined the bigger than anticipated squad. Ian and Iain also checked/tightened about a mile of fishplate nuts.

Iain, Ian, Reg, Georgie and Roger enjoy the mild dry weather (Fergus may have been looking for his next fencing job!)
and John Wood enjoyed his lunch, to whom I thank for all the info/photos, to make this Post possible.


Saturday 21 September 2019

Recovering NR donations & Tidying at Aviemore - 21st September 2019

Small but productive squad enjoyed glorious weather today at Aviemore.
Peter here noting the end of railhead, just beyond the turntable at Aviemore.

Ian possibly thinking of charging Driver Steve (More 4 TV Celebrity) a Car Parking Ticket!
After a bit of shunting, most of the donated Network Rail rails, Switches and Crossings, timbers and baseplates were loaded onto the P'Way train by Georgie using RRV.
A Northbound mainline Scottish Railway Preservation Society charter is topped by a class 47 and
tailed by a 37.
Our own slightly older locomotive is more atmospheric, whilst Ian and Peter clear out surplus ballast from a Grampus wagon. Another non service day is required to get the last of the donated material. The Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) suffered an oil warning, so a general tidy up finished off the day.
Thanks to Georgie, Steve, Ian, Peter and Mike- who supplied all photos/info.


Monday 9 September 2019

Lateral Resistance End Plates - 7th September 2019

The plan was to load more Network Rail redundant material, from the far end of the Car Park at Aviemore but the PWay train was found to be at Boat of Garten.... So Georgie consulted her Job Bank and re-tasked the Squad.
Above looking South into the Loop a Aviemore Station, the short section of flat bottom rail keeps on trying to resemble a fifty pence piece! instead of a smooth curve.
We slewed the track into the correct alignment and dug deep thin holes to accommodate the four "Lateral Resistance End Plates" (easier said that done as we came across old metal pipes and worst of all, old bits of buried sleeper - novel use of the sleeper drill made it easier for Bruce to use his sharp pruning saw) above Roger leaning on the end plate (he is on light duties!), waiting for Mike to get to the correct depth, with Iain having just filled and compacted the "ballast".

Sleepers drilled and Georgie screwed down the chair screws - hopefully it will not creep back to the old alignment!
After lunch In Georgie's usual fashion "a few dipped joints to do Boys" - This consisted of doing Measured Shovel Packing on nearly every joint right up to the platform ramp of our old Speyside Station, certainly Iain and Bruce (right) were thourghly reacquainted with the dark art of MSP! and all of us were knackered by the end of the glorious afternoon.
Thanks to Bruce, Mike, Iain and Roger (half day) and Georgie who still had to unload all the tools after we had gone.   


Saturday 27 July 2019

Weedkilling & Roofing - 25/26th July 2019

After steam finished service on arrival at Aviemore on Thursday 25th, the class 08 diesel shunter driven by Steve Robinson headed to Boat of Garten to pick up the Weedkilling train and hauled it back to Aviemore it was then propelled spraying between 4 and 6 miles per hour, with Mike Tough and John Sinclair controlling the spraying and Cess booms - retracting them when required, to clear lineside structures, platforms etc. 
I operated Ground Frames so loops could be done at Aviemore, Boat of Garten and Broomhill, sidings and yards have previously been done by hand, by our Contractor.
Above snap taken, whilst tank wagon and fire pump used to rapidly fill 1 Tonne (1000 Litre) spraying tank with water to save time, even then we did not have time to do the Dulnain extension but all felt that a 2130 finish was late enough, glorious hot weather so lets hope the weeds lapped up their poison with gusto! 

The following day Mike was back to the Railway and reports "the last bits of work were done to the below -

Thanks to the Robert Walters for his organisation and prompting and the Ellon squad (with some help from the PWay squad) for the exterior woodwork paintwork has been transformed. 
The scaffold was modified the day before to allow safe access onto the roof above Jim Clark is fixing a new ridge flashing below -

to replace a defective stuck on one. 
The refitted front downpipe was painted black & some cracked roof slates made good 
We look forward to seeing the scaffold taken away next week & the box will look as good as it was when built in 1923 (Then the inside could do with a smarten up over the winter Robert at Boat Station if you can help) 
This is one of the various listed building Strathspey Railway Company own and are responsible for at Boat of Garten and is still in daily use just now and an important part of our Heritage Railway .
The scaffold access established it to be in good condition at nearly 100 years old with localised & now repaired wet rot at one corner ... it is good for the same again we hope."
Thanks to Mike Tough for photos and info.

Sunday 30 June 2019

Improvements at Boat of Garten - 26th June 2019

Bill McCarthy reports -The Electrical Department improvements at Boat of Garten Station continue 
- above "New Lamp we have fitted to the Gas House. We also had help from Benny in the Engine Shed to modify the bracket to take the lamp. Nick Winter fitted the light and external waterproof switch and Neil Ellision shot blasted and painted the whole thing"
Thanks to Bill for the info and Nick for the photo.
Continuing on from last years very successful mammoth Station re-paint at Boat of Garten, Colin Frost and the Ellon Gang were asked to paint Boat of Garten South Signalbox - possibly portrayed to them as mostly a brick building with a few windows!

Top with cap on is Colin and right is Ray, others are mentioned later - Simon Smith whose hobby is photography took this image and others, that may appear hopefully in the Strathspey Railway Website in due course.
They rose to the challenge and so did the suitably contractor tagged scaffolding.
The weather for the Monday and Tuesday was terrible rain/drizzle for Colin and Ray but the day we the PWay squad agreed to help was glorious (might have been too hot to work on the Track anyway) Myself, Roddy (closest above) and Jim (next) were detailed to sand down windows and paint with undercoat. Mike did some joinery work and replaced window putty that was life expired.
All in all we had a good day and hopefully we assisted the Ellon Squad. The mid-afternoon ice cream provided by the Station Mistress - Eileen Scott was much appreciated by all.
As were the new temporary vantage points
provided by the scaffolding.