Tuesday, 7 September 2021

S&C Timber renewals Aviemore - 4th September 2021

Good sized squad assembled at Aviemore in perfect working weather, the task will continue to be Switches and Crossings (S&C) timber renewals, for some time I guess, as Georgie mentioned that to get the best deal, quantity mattered, so an artic lorry load was dispatched from Boston (Lincolnshire presumably but the white pine came from Germany!)

Kevin supervises after doing a good bit of the digging, as a four man lift required to get new timber maneuvered into place, incidentally four rail jacks were also required to lift the considerable weight of the track at this location.

Just visible behind Georgie is the tiny battery drill that had successfully drilled all the holes until mid-afternoon, when both our batteries gave up and the more conventional equipment was draughted in from the Sheds.

Thanks to all that attended, especially Sam who had a reoccurrence of an old injury necessitating him to go all the way home again mid morning. Alasdair and possibly Bob were up for more PWay work on the Sunday  

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Timbers large and small - 14th & 21st August 2021

14th  August - Mike reports - Another big squad met at Boat of Garten splitting into three!

A team finished south box foot crossing John both Ian’s & Angus subbed for Fergus

B team started fishplate oiling heading North until the Nethy Road under bridge when Georgie arrives with sighting boards & measured shovel packing gear to sort some dips in new point work into Pway depot .. I thought Sam & Bart needed that pleasure & we split up again

 leaving Michael, Les, Dave & Mike to carry on & we reached short of Milton 1 where concrete sleepers start
Michael stayed a bit cleaner today!


Yesterday we met at Aviemore yard in light rain, our first house keeping chore  

was to stop the S&T point rodding wearing away our sleeper! - dug out bed so that sleeper could be relocated one inch further South. Angus sourced wood planks and nailed to keep the assets apart in future. The next job was to replace two mysteriously damaged sleeper chairs by Spey Lodge level crossing, by the time complete, Georgie had organised the timbers for the main task of the day - 

replacing life expired switch timbers and opportunity was taken to move the switch lever, for operational safety reasons away from the recently laid track,

  Above Angus removes planks, Bart disconnects point lever, Michael and Kevin dig out.

after much huffing and puffing right 12 foot 6 inch timber was replaced and the left "good" one was pulled through, gauged drilled and screwed down.

Timbers packed and boxed in, new wood was cut to size by John and his many battery tools and Bart got a lesson in how to hammer in nails!

Thanks to Kevin, Michael, Bart, Angus, Mike & Ian and John who completed the foot crossing below


using all three bags of staples attaching the anti-slip mesh.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Nearly end of fishplate oiling and foot crossing - 7th August 2021

 Alasdair Jackson kindly sent the following two photos of fishplate oiling for week ending 17th July, I was on holiday at the time and did not appreciate

A - the size of Iain's piece!

B - the distance covered in a day - being about a mile and a half.
Thanks to Iain, Bart, Sam, Georgie (in shorts!) and Alasdair.


Yesterday saw a large squad assemble at Boat of Garten Yard.

 Mike's squad continued with the dreaded fishplate oiling through the switches & crossings and very long loop line at Boat of Garten.

Above left to right, new recruit Bob, Michael (could do with braces!), David, Sam & Bart and Mike reports that it seemed that the crossover at the South Signal Box had not been done in decades as they were very difficult to loosen.

 Fortunately there were plenty of breaks for passing traffic. Sharp eyed PWay buffs will notice the lack of foot crossing? (other things maybe of interest too!) 

John's squad lifted the rather dilapidated existing South Signal Box foot crossing

 only to discover a number of track sleepers that were rotten, which were awkward and time consuming to change!  Above left to right Ian, Fergus, John and Iain.

Using John's vast array of power tools, the rest was relatively plain sailing although Fergus at one point had difficulty finding a real hammer!  To be completed next Saturday.....by the same "Special" Squad.

Thanks to all that attended, I think Andrew and David managed to escape being photographed and photos/clip from John, Mike and Ian Lamb who is submitting an article for inclusion in Hornby magazine.


Sunday, 11 July 2021

Fishplate oiling continues - 10th July 2021

Good sized squad parked up at Kinchurdy underbridge, Georgie duly arrived and conveyed most of us 

 on the back of her truck along the gated somewhat overgrown track,(above Sam, Iain and Bart) all the way to where we finished fishplate oiling sometime ago - Estate level crossing,

 just in time for the first train of the day to pass.

progress was swift until the we reached the bomb proof steel plates with nylock nuts, above Mike takes the strain, with Michael giving leisurely assistance as the tab had broken.


At lunch Mike alerted me that the dreaded track lube had somehow managed to migrate upwards! The weather just got warmer and warmer and by mid afternoon we where taking a wee extended break, as Georgie had to go and get replacement fishplates from Boat of Garten - she came back with unexpected but appreciated ice lollies! Somehow Michael managed to get two?

  We managed to do nearly a mile and a quarter before we were exhausted and bad light stopped play -  torrential rain followed,(my camera does not like H2O) hence above Met Office shot, sure the stuff we had should have been white on the scale, even though it was only a short walk back to our cars, some of us got wetter than others (Michael jogged to the Station to wash his hands, before getting in his car, maybe burning off the extra lolly calories!)

Thanks to all that attended to this much beloved task and Fergus for doing the track inspection.


Meanwhile John and Ian finished the handrails at Dalfaber pedestrian underpass, not sure if they too got wet. 

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Aviemore North siding complete (for time being) - 3rd July 2021

Friday morning saw only two responses to the usual weekend PWay call to arms but by afternoon numbers had more than doubled, fortunately Georgie was updated that evening. 

and she finally got the new "North" siding packed, slewed (again) and tidied to her satisfaction, thanks to the above - Sam, Fergus and Iain in four foot, Roger left and Michael right & Mike who took photo and assisted. The long term intension is for it to be extended right up to the coal bench, unfortunately the old redundant Aviemore Speyside Station footbridge and signal cabin are in the way!

And looking towards Aviemore Shed, number "one road" will be reconnected by a switch off "two road" roughly where the rail jack is in the above photo, I guess next year, as we are falling behind on track maintenance work.

Of recent Mike as been assisting Ellon squad with roof work on Boat of Garten North Signal Cabin (more info https://signallingstrathspey.blogspot.com/2021/07/renovation-of-north-signal-box-at-boat.html ) whilst there he took this almost drone like view looking North towards our PWay Depot - "Morley's" 

Steady progress has been made on fitting hand railings on underbridges by John and Ian, the Down side still to be done and location will then be revealed.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Two Weeks ending 20th June 2021

 Week past Saturday saw Angus, Bart, Sam, David, Fergus, Justin, Michael (who mysteriously vanished), Mike Tough at least had the excuse of a Board meeting to attend 

and above Reg Stanley who was a regular with us until moving to North Wales (on "holiday" I guess, he did more days volunteering installing rodding & hand point lever with Georgie and left an unexpected but very welcome donation to the PWay fund) Much lifting and packing with inferior "ballast" that was discarded from Network Rail Aviemore upgrade a few years ago now, but perfect for our needs.

 This was the intended worksite yesterday - finish off new siding for time being, more slewing and levelling ballast but alas Georgie had more pressing matters to attend. Note the wilting weeds as our weedkiller train ran the entire length of line midweek recently (no photo yet of complete switch and hand points, as rail vehicles parked atop already!)

Plan B was continuation of fishplate oiling.

David here our most recent recruit with impact wrench competes with Andrew on speed! Angus having just caught up with our supply wheelbarrow, but the commendable winners always were Bart and Sam, whom have youth on their side and worked very well together.

Our extended breaks were obtained about train times and we did from Dalfaber Level Crossing to Estate Foot Crossing about a mile and a quarter (only 3 more to go!) but it was a long tired walk back to Aviemore for all of us.

Many thanks to Roger, David, Sam, Bart, Andrew, Angus and Les. Also Les & Fergus who were Track inspecting.and Mike for replacing slates atop Boat North Signal Cabin.. 

Today Georgie, John and Ian renewed the disabled access Foot Level Crossing at the North end Boat of Garten to Stationmaster Walters apparent approval.

 828 taking water -photos/info from John, still South end to tackle.....

Monday, 7 June 2021

Recent PWay Works - up to 5th June 2021

Fishplate oiling has started at Aviemore and the aim is to get to Boat of Garten over the Summer, now that we are on the Mainline it's every second joint, which in practice means we do the joints with the OUTSIDE NUTS (which we are!) 

All we need are the willing participants, no doubt I will risk my camera getting the horrible fishplate lube on it whilst actually carrying out this task which has been neglected for sometime.


Now that Georgie is back she wants to crack on with the new works at Aviemore Shed, so that the resultant siding space can be used, to that end Saturday saw

Bart, Justin and Sam start trying to line up the concrete sleepers with the ubiquitous bit of string, so that the rails can be more easily dropped into the jaws of the chairs,

then its a matter of keying up, Iain prizing slightly open the jaw of chair with a bar whilst David, gets into the swing of things on his first day with the PWay (hopefully not his last!) with the keying hammer. Fishplated up, then the hard graft started - slewing and more slewing to satisfy Georgie's eye and then packing ballast under it all, just as this was completed -  
"Ian and John showed up, swearing blind they had been replacing barriers on bridges - but I have to say they were spotless and I suspect they had been picknicking in the shade for most of the day!"
Thanks to Bart, Iain, Sam, Justin, David and the anonymous contributor of photos/text (and grafter!)


Over quite a number of Saturdays John Wood and Ian Stanworth have actually been quietly erecting and fixing hand railings to our underbridges as per the 2019 Inspection diktat of the Office of Rail and Road.

Above is the example at Milton, which was started last year but the fixing were not up to the job, so it has been redone and there are unconfirmed reports that a spirit level was used this time! As well as a vast array of John's personal tools, many thanks to those that are getting on with this necessary but unappreciated task (I suspect a more comprehensive/accurate article will appear in next "Express" - Strathspey Railway Association Journal.)   



Sunday, 9 May 2021

Aviemore re-sleepering complete & New Works contd. - 9th May 2121

Another great turnout, considering the snow earlier in the week.

Mike was delegated to take a squad to finish off the re-sleepering, packing and filling in ballast on the mainline, this was completed by lunch and he assured us that it is now a prize length!- Alas no photos. 

Our first task was to key up the Up rail on the concrete sleepers, fine and easy when the formation is level, not so otherwise - as elevating concrete sleepers is not easy, as they are somewhat heavy! Above Fergus rarely seen sitting down on a job - actually using his weight to lever the sleeper up, to allow Bruce to open jaws of chair to allow Andrew to hammer the key in, often Justin and Bart used bars too, to get extra height.

Our next task was to insert all the chairs on the closure rail, this necessitated the removal of all the interlaced sleepers but at least they are wooden, again keyed up, this time gauged, only one hole drilled and screwed down, to allow for further tweaking later.

 The Shed Foreman Nathen kindly heated up the rail using the Shed gas burner so Georgie could use a "Jim Crow" (anyone know why named so?) to slightly bend the rail into requisite shape at the toe of the switch. 

Later in the afternoon a crucial bit of PWay kit - the string appeared! - to determine where the target board was to be positioned, so that the rail in number one road is at the same elevation as the new track.  

After considerable jacking up of the crossing, Georgie used the clamshell bucket to drop ballast, so we could furiously pack it under the timbers, remove jacks, move forward sight & jack up and repeat.

Fair to say we were all pretty tired by the later than normal finish.
Thanks to Mike, Martin, Angus, Bart, Justin, Fergus, Iain, Andrew, Ben & Bruce who regularly joins us from a warmer Wiltshire.

Addendum provided by Kevin - Sunday saw Georgie, Alasdair, Bruce and Kevin continue works from his recall below -
 "We slewed over the rails using angled jacks to improve the running line (again),

We lifted the rail level and packed the sleepers from where the sat crew left off to the end of the line

We drilled and screwed the chairs to sleepers (without a chuck key as it had gone missing YET AGAIN) in so doing we flattened all the batteries and got through all remaining fuel !

We dug out the interwoven sleepers at the points, leveled the base and repositioned them.

And, we had a staff meeting and concluded that all future on-site talk would be conducted in scottish-gaidhlig" (Gaelic? - Kevin might hail originally from South of Watford?)

 Alasdair backfills under the newly repositioned siding sleepers whilst Georgie multitasks by delicately providing a balancing lift, assesses the newly aligned and screwed rail and checks for any vicarious activity on board the passing crew-training engine This delicate balancing lark is harder than it looks!"

Many thanks to all. 

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Two new recruits welcomed & Jacker Packer arrives - 1st May 2021

Mike reports - Good turnout yet again, meant three small PWay squads at Aviemore! Two re-sleepering on the Mainline between the Signal Box and Aviemore Station and one on new works in yard.

We welcomed Sam (on right) whom at last was allowed to travel from Aberdeenshire to join us, glad to report that he felt the long trip was definitely worth it for the day and looks forward to the next time, who knows our Hostel like accommodation Spey Lodge may have re-opened by then. 

Iain (left) also glad to return to Aviemore, as travel restrictions now lifted, on the right is another new recruit Alasdair (two in one day amazing!) looks like he is getting to grips with filling in ballast after sleeper changing. More sleepers would have been changed had the new works squad not hogged the generator and drill! 

This was the scene at close of play on the line into proposed new running shed.
Thanks to Georgie, Ian, Kevin, Angus, Martin, Roger, Iain, Sam, Alasdair and Mike who took the photos and supplied info.

Earlier in the week, thanks to Ian Stanworth's dogged searching and perseverance, a replacement for the "Jacker Packer" that was totally destroyed in the catastrophic Shed fire in the Summer of 2019 duly arrived in the yard at Boat of Garten. As its name suggests, it Jacks up the track and Packs ballast under the sleepers - saving many hours of hard manual shovel labour.  

  Having been cast aside in the bushes at Titley Junction for sometime it looks a bit worse for wear but the guys there assured Ian it does run, the driver that delivered it was not happy that a considerable amount of hydraulic fluid had leaked over his lorry! (it is a long way from Herefordshire) After John Sinclair our Plant Engineer had tightened things up and inserted a new battery.

. This was the scene on Friday being driven by Ian (after refreshing his memory from the manual) from the yard to our new Plant Maintenance Shed (Morley's II) for more in depth maintenance and some TLC.

Let's hope we will see it in use in the not too distant future?

Thanks to John for sharing photo/video and of course Ian - maybe it might pass its Noise and Vibration test someday!  

Monday, 19 April 2021

Aviemore & Level Crossing prep work - 17th & 19th April 2021

 Saturday saw a great turnout again at Aviemore (13 in total), in bright sunny weather equaled two squads - Mike's was a never ending continuation of re-sleepering on the Mainline from old Speyside platform almost to platform at Aviemore.

Digging out, remove screws, jack up track, pull old sleeper away, dig out sleeper bed, insert new sleeper repeat! 

After lunch Fergus (our muscleman!) had to depart, enthusiasm and energy were waning and we all came to the realisation, none of us are getting any younger but fortunately the Carriage & Wagon department had a bit of a shunt to do - meaning we had many breaks thereafter!

Think only seven left to change - drilling not possible as Georgie's squad had the drill!

Her squad continuing with track building, (although it seems plenty chatting too!)


towards the proposed new Running Shed at Aviemore, the fine lining was done by bars and, no doubt also huffing and puffing. 

Bart (left) and Justin our newest recruits (conscripts!) still smiling at the end of the day after getting the old switch lever fit for use again, with a less young 828 being readied for a filming charter later in week.

Thanks to all that attended (too numerous to mention) and Roddy for the smaller photos.


   Monday morning saw Roddy and me oil the switches at Aviemore and Plumber Jim fix radiators in Spey Lodge and in the afternoon, the three of us

 after getting the appropriate Token to take Possession of Boat of Garten - Broomhill Section, we put the motorised trolley on track to plant more sighting posts at the appropriate distances from User Worked Level Crossings - as successfully measured by Jim above (much easier/quicker/more accurate than walking with measuring wheel!) to be continued another day......