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.

Saturday 7 November 2020

Re -Sleepering & Spey Lodge Level Crossing - 7th November 2020

 Largest turnout of P'Way Volunteers in a longtime.

 Initially rather cool with a freezing fog, which made walking across the turntable too slippery, the 20 sleepers and two level crossing timbers were on the stabled "flatrol" wagon above, fortunately Keith was shunting carriages anyway, he and driver Steve used the class 08 shunter, to let us unload the sleepers in roughly the right places and convey the timbers to Spey Lodge Level Crossing (below)

    where road traffic was taking its toll, at about this point we split into two more than socially distanced Gangs!

  Myself, Jim, Mike, Martin, Roger, Angus and Fergus re-sleepering and if you look close enough Ian, John & Andrew on Spey Lodge Level Crossing (Keith & Steve hand washing carriages) 

 After a rather slow start, by lunch we had pulled out the old "sleepers" (above) we certainly get our money's worth! And placed in the correct way up, the "new" second hand ones.

Here the gauge was too wide even for our liking and a tie-bar was the solution, with Angus doing the business.

  Next stage, Martin screwing down, using thanks to John Wood, the modern (light and powerful) equivalent version of a petrol "Bance", after Jim had dipped screws in creosote. In total 18 were screwed down, as we ran out of the plastic ferrules.

Meanwhile on our extended worksite - the technical stuff included - new bearers and ballast, checked timbers with chainsaw

and special mention went to Andrew McCracken "Chief Stoker who tirelessly shovelled ballast" on the now refurbished Level Crossing.

Many thanks to all mentioned, we are likely to be re-sleepering for many weeks to come......

Saturday 31 October 2020

Aviemore Turntable - 31st October 2020

Today's task was to rectify a bit of a safety concern, some of the wooden decking boards on the Turntable at Aviemore had become life expired sometime ago and had been removed as below

which at least made the danger obvious. As it was not a main PWay Weekend few brave (daft) souls turned up to endure the forecasted stormy weather - John and Roger set to removing some more suspect rotten wood, whilst Ian and me loaded up the flatrol with more than enough planks

which Keith Holyland kindly propelled up to the worksite for us, using the class 08 shunter.

Progress was swift using an array of John and Ian's modern tools and yes the weather was horrible! Octogenarian Roger measures up, Ian ready with saw and John on deck - Lunch was had soon after and on resumption the sun appeared.  

 A sensible improvement was made - by inserting off cuts at right angles roughly in the middle of the spans, to stiffen up the noticeable flexing of the wood - hopefully the more rotund Traincrew will now feel a bit safer! 

46512 passes the worksite, tomorrow is its last day in traffic prior to overhaul, speaking of which looks like we will need to get Andrew McCracken back on the case to repaint the turntable again! - rust beginning to show, no doubt he will say his warranty has expired!

Thanks to all involved and let's hope its landing on the Engine Shed Office is a good omen for the future. Photo by John Wood. 

Sunday 18 October 2020

Aviemore footbridge & Re-Sleepering - 16/17th October 2020

Friday saw our 12 tonne Rail Crane in action, lifting the old dilapidating Great North of Scotland footbridge, originally from Longmorn (as below photo shows) courtesy of Douglas Gray/ Graham Maxtone Collection

Longmorn looking to Coleburn 1971

 It linked the island platform at our old Speyside Station from about 1978 until 1998, when we moved into the current refurbished mainline station.

Mike reports it was lifted in three sections, largest above, a suitable new home is being looked at but unlikely on the Strathspey Railway.

On Saturday PWay squad commenced digging out of the sleepers (130 in total) that Georgie had justifiably marked, if below is anything to go by!

Between the turntable and the headshunt at the other end of the yard.

I can see Graeme is having fun!

Helped by John,(Graeme smiling again), Angus, Ian, Andrew and Mike took the photo under the hopeful rainbow from the turntable.

Despite the usual passing traffic giving the guys a break, a very creditable 68 sleepers were dug out.

And some more unusual yard movements were more than welcome!
More running can be seen of this locomotive in the Whisky Shunters link.
Thanks to all for the backbreaking work and John for most of photos and video clip.

Friday 2 October 2020

Re-sleepering Aviemore Mainline Link - 19th/20th September 2020

Small but productive squad eventually got going, as the tools had to be conveyed to the worksite via Georgie's truck from Aviemore Shed.

Iain screws down one of the secondhand sleepers sourced from Doncaster, I think. Roger on the drill with Peter poised to move the generator.

The Network Rail Boundary plate in the four foot (between the rails) initially couldn't be found but it had been buried with spoil from the last dug out sleeper, we have responsibility for the joint just beyond where the old gates used to be.

The dull humid overcast weather soon gave way to hot sun, which hampered our energy levels but still enough to wave at a friendly passing mainline driver.

Thanks to all that attended.

The first train over the refurbished line almost a week later, was a private charter that stabled overnight in the platform, seen here propelling out onto the mainline and thereafter enroute to Kyle of Lochalsh. 

Mike who took the above photos noticed the very neat shoulder and level cess, with only the dead sleepers to remove. I suspect Georgie's work with obviously able assistance from Kevin on Sunday 20th?