Saturday 17 December 2022

Boat of Garten Water Tower - 17th December 2022

 Another weekend of the week long cold snap and more snow, meant  P'Way had other duties 

After Stoker MacPhail (Angus) lit the coal fire in the Ladies'  Waiting Room (our preferred messroom having mysteriously been flooded by a burst pipe) the squad moved onto yet again clearing and salting the platform edge, result as above right. Ian clearing Broomhill platform and Georgie clearing points at Aviemore.

Concern that the Water Tower could get water into the steam locomotive were justified,

the previous day Georgie had  made and lit braziers to try and thaw things out a bit, Mike soon discovered that we could get water out of the tower on the main platform (bit of a flood ensued, Martin & David breaking the ice that rapidly formed)

Angus and Mike re-lit the barziers.

Then it was discovered that no water was getting from the mains pipe to top it up, so we boiled water in a bucket hanging over the converted oil drum brazier, much as we tried to pour the boiling water over the piping it never did thaw.

To see how much water remained in the tank was another not simple task as the hatch lid atop the tank was frozen solid, bars and hammering to no avail

this time the humble bucket of boiling water did the trick - sufficient water in the tank to keep the steam locomotive running for weekend.

Passing traffic above  - the Santa Train arrived with the class 31 diesel leading and 46512 providing the steam heating.

Thanks to (Left to Right) - Mike, Angus, David, Martin and Ian (off shot buying the squad coffee and biscuits from the shop). The drone like photos bravely supplied by Angus from the top of the water tower.


Saturday 10 December 2022

Festive white stuff cancels P'Way work - 10th December 2022

A few hardy souls fortuitously made up the P'Way squad today.

"Boat of Garten down platform being cleared of 4 inches of the festive white stuff (Fergus, Angus and Ian above) Georgie & David cleared all the required switches at Aviemore before all moved onto Broomhill Station and loop, as the planned re-sleepering was deemed impractical today YO HO HO"

Santa Express passing P'Way Depot (aka Morley's) at Boat of Garten.
Thanks to Mike for photos/info and the squad.



Wednesday 7 December 2022

Another Friday Packing - 2nd December 2022

Another Friday was organised so that some more lifting and packing could be done whilst no service trains were running. Fergus was cajoled into being the Jacker Packer operator and bravely agreed, as Ian was away, by the time he got into the swing of things a hydraulic hose sprung a leak and the job was stopped early afternoon. 

Mike foreground, Andrew and Bob (who took the photo) all assisted in manually packing the sleepers either side of the joint that the Packer cannot do due to the fishplates getting in the way of the railhead clamps. All, including Bob's dog had an early long walk back to Boat of Garten as Georgie was called away to Dalfaber Level Crossing, leaving the class 27 and messvan on site.
Thanks to all that participated.

Saturday 26 November 2022

Kinchurdy Down Distant to Level Crossing - 25/26th November 2022

Another extra P'Way day Friday was added originally so that more use of the Jacker Packer whilst no service trains running, but Georgie was called away with our Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) to Dalfaber Level Crossing.  

Angus and me were left in pouring rain to try and make the Kinchurdy P'Way Bothy more inhabitable clearing out the rubbish and insect life - Angus spent 45 mins trying to clear out the completely choked fire but as you can see he succeeded! with the help of Ian's  purchasing of smokeless ovoids the place did no longer resemble a smokehouse as the chimney does need a rebuild. 


Once the heavy rain finally gave way to instantly sunny skies we went and finished scaping away the pebble like "ballast" round the sleepers to be changed.

Thanks to all mentioned.


 The following day -Saturday 26th saw the commencement of the festive train service and the P'Way having given up their Absolute Possession of the Line the day before, 

with the Temporary Speed Restriction (TSR) Notices posted at the appropriate locations   

and the refectorised on track reminder boards in situ, the first of the Express trains eventually passed us at a sedate steamy 10 miles per hour.  

The mammoth task of re-sleepering started in ernest today. As Georgie expected, a certain amount of re-gauging was required, only the high rail sleepers had been pre-drilled, the opportunity was also taken to replace all of the remaining wooden ferrules/ & worn screws with new. Both Mike & I were glad Fergus was with us as he seems to be able to throw the heavy sleepers about with ease.  Approximately 20 sleepers changed in just over two lengths, took us beyond Kinchurdy Level Crossing but a long way to go.......

Thanks to all that attended and the warm sunny weather!    

Friday 25 November 2022

Dalfaber Level Crossing and Jacker Packer - 19th November 2022


The P'Way element of the Dalfaber Level Crossing upgrade seems almost complete

Strail rubber type decking panels delivered and should you ever have occasion to fit them here's how! -  taking care not to get one of the middle concrete edges the wrong way round!

Looks like they managed! With the glued insulated joints in situ also.
Thanks to Stephen Muirhead for photos/info
Saturday 19th November sufficient squad assembled at Boat of Garten,

Ian drove the Jacker Packer to commencement of worksite, followed eventually by the NBL Shunter pulling short  P'Way train comprising tool van and Brakevan.

Georgie has previously laid out all the pre-drilled sleepers in the Up cess, the white dots indicate sleepers to be changed! Mike and Peter G just visible in distance measuring and hammering in pegs in Down cess to check for any lateral movement during the works.

Using the sighting boards (Fergus off camera at sighting end) the plan was to lift formation 4 inches so that no digging out of the beds is required, Georgie getting the cross level cant correct.  Alas beyond Kinchurdy Foot Crossing (which we lifted and made a temporary ballast one) it is only ash/stone ballast and only a 3 inch lift possible - meaning a fair amount of manual shovel work but it is relatively light. 

Thanks to Ian, Mike, Peter G, Martin, David, Fergus and Georgie - 9 of the 44 sixty foot lengths were lifted.

Monday 14 November 2022

More Sleeper pre-drilling - Saturday 12th November 2022

Saturday saw good progress in fine, warm even, weather.

Michael, David, Martin, Angus and Mike got through all the sleepers laid out on Boat of Garten back platform line but as Georgie was picking them up loading and carting them to site, an exact count was not done but reckoned around 130 sleepers, only possible by the use of two drills. Stabled in the background is the hired in Road Rail Vehicle that is in use at Dalfaber level crossing site below,

with much work necessarily being done on nightshift.
Thanks to Mike for info/photo and Stephen Muirhead for night shot, showing new rails/sleepers now in situ.  


Thursday 27 October 2022

Progress on three fronts - 27th October 2022

Saturday 22nd October not a P'Way day, the opportunity was taken to rediscover the old platelayers cottages from the encroaching vegetation at Broomhill.    


and after Ian, Kevin, Les and David used an assortment of tools and manpower to clear the site. Thanks to all and Ian for info/photos.
The forthcoming Dalfaber Level Crossing upgrade is more than just a major Signalling and Telegraph (S&T) project,  to date delivered  P'Way materials include -  

Hardwood sleepers with Pan11 baseplates already attached,

hollow steel sleeper/cable duct,

specially coated rail, in an attempt to slow the corrosion caused by Highland Council's winter de-icing of roads,

rails with glued insulated joints - which thanks to Chris Doig recently Incorporated Engineer of the Permanent Way Institution "SHOULD be installed completely in accordance with the Standard" as he supplied the definitive drawing to our S&T Director.
Today our sole task was drilling sleepers for this Winters big relay of track on "Kinchurdy Straight" using the late Hamish Mackay's robust/trusty template.

Fortuitously Georgie was on hand and used the Colmar to easily place the sleepers on the batons we placed out (although most were upside down! - we use the "heartwood up"  theorem - open to debate I am sure!) 

Anyway after lunch we dug out the generator and the bigger slower generator drill to double our production. Sleepers with markings of two X's enclosed with a circle are to be used at joints and ones with a single X are to be installed on the either end curves.
In total eighty were drilled today with plenty left to do, thanks to Mike Roddy and Georgie. 


Saturday 15 October 2022

Recent On & Off Track progress - Week Ending 15th October 2022

Off Track to start, the Signalbox at Aviemore is receiving a much needed external refurbishment and repaint more detailed (accurate) accounts can be found on

What won't be found is a photo of the stalwart main volunteers that have of recent years refurbished/painted Boat of Garten :- Signalbox, Station & North Cabin and many other projects - on the left (keeping warm and maybe giving orders!) Colin Frost and Ray Kenyon (multi tasking doing a bit of re-glazing). The Strathspey Railway Directors have promised them a lunch on the train as an expression of their gratitude. Colin has thanked his friends from Ellon and the small part that the P'way squad managed to contribute.   

Even more photogenically elusive is the professional painter Murray Duncan, who has recently painted Broomhill Station House to his usual very high standard. Photo from Mike Tough who led at short notice a mid-week squad - spreading the re-cycled locomotive ash on both cesses near Fishermans' Crossing, Martin and Iain, like Mike maybe found muscles they never knew they had the following day! Thanks to all. 

Today's start was delayed due to heavy rain and spot re-sleepering concluded near Boat of Garten Down Distant Signal (just visible above the extremely bright headlamp - must have better burning paraffin than coal these days!!!) some half dozen sleepers were pulled through and re-drilled to prolong their life and some re-ferreling was done. An early finish was gained as Georgie was satisfied with progress and she had to go and deal with another Royal Scotsman charter train arrival.  
Thanks to Mike, Martin, Ian, Peter and Fergus who still had the energy to join us after his Aviemore - Boat of Garten Track Inspection.

Saturday 8 October 2022

Civil Engineers Fleet expands - September & early October 2022

September saw continuing spot re-sleepering beyond Kinchurdy Bridge

large squads and good weather were much appreciated.

Bruce using one of his many arboreal hand tools to good effect. 

Saturday 17th was the PWay squad Annual "Line Inspection" with Georgie kindly paying for our soup and sandwiches (absorbing some of the alcohol!). Earlier David Childs showed us the excellent oo scale model railway layout of Boat of Garten. Thanks to all. 

Mike inspecting two surprise additions to the Engineers Fleet - 1950's era "Medfit" wagons which were acquired from the Churnet Valley Railway  

and this week two out the six "Sea Urchins" being unloaded having been purchased from the Wensleydale Railway. Stationmaster Walters advises - Shildon built in 1979 possibly the youngest vehicles on the Railway. (thanks to R.Law photo)

The following day a P'Way train was quickly squeezed into Aviemore on a busy day,

with three service trains, light loco and the Royal Scotsman. The wagons were examined by the Carriage & Wagon department and Georgie already has them now fuller with spoil from the proposed running shed site. 

Sunday 28 August 2022

Boat of Garten North worksite concludes - 20th - 27th August 2022

Gang met up again at Morley's on the last formal P'Way weekend of the Month 20th August

Re-sleepering continued and has now concluded for the time being, above shows a bonded joint to assist with the continuity of S&T track circuits (not many were harmed!).

Another task is to re-ferule the worst of the old wooden ferules, the hardest job is trying to remove them, the best tool we have found is the handle of the sleeper nips as shown by Mike above but still at times a very frustrating job.

Then David inserts the new yellow ferrules and importantly are hammered down by Peter who joins us from the Leeds area.

Then where the screws are worn, new ones are used. 
Above spot the difference ? - on the right is a normal run of the mill chair screw and the one on the left has no taper on the thread and is used to give better grip in old sleepers/holes. 

To aid identification M is for Maintenance, AS above (& S) possibly refer to the type of chair they can be used on?

Squad were glad that 46512 was on the service train as at least it's whistle can be heard.
Thanks to Georgie, Mike, Andrew, Peter and David.


Station Master or Royal Scotsman or Ballast Guard - R Walters report and photos 24th August "As soon as the last service of the day, hauled by the Class 2 Ivatt, has entered the single line to Aviemore, a ballast train sneaks out of the Up Loop, hauled by the Class 27 Diesel, whilst Royal Scotsman, complete with its own liveried Class 66 locomotive trailing behind our Class 31 awaits its guests before setting off for Dundee.

The ballast train loaded with spoil from the new Running Shed excavations proceeding past Royal Scotsman towards Broomhill, with newly renovated LMS Brake Van at the rear."


Yesterday saw an extra P'Way day squeezed in, Mike and Georgie were very glad to see Bruce who is up from Wiltshire (below foreground)

appear just as the heat of the day was yet again taking its toll, re-feruling was finally completed and then a bit of track sluing and Measured Shovel Packing (MSP) and no doubt a bit of tidying ballast, all to Georgie's satisfaction.

Thanks to all, especially Bruce, thus enabling squad to move onto another worksite next time. 

Monday 15 August 2022

Boat Trackwork - 6th & 13th August 2022

Mike Tough belatedly reports for Saturday 6th August - "worksite Mile post 90 1/2
Rail regulation after reports of a noisy joint ( did not say broken fishplates ) caused by cooler weather after hot spell
7 joints 6 rails had to be freed off the dreaded elastic spikes first
Then joint and other measured shovel packing."

With thanks to Georgie, Ian, Kevin Morris, Andrew, Mike Tough and especially Baptiste as it was his last P'Way day before he heads back home to Lyon, photos below from resident Station Master Walters,

who had the pleasure of him as a house guest and I think he benefitted from Baptiste's excellent cooking skills! (Glad to see the weather finally warmed up for him.) We wish him well with his future Rail studies and hope he can return someday - au revoir!

Saturday 14th August again saw blisteringly high temperatures - squad met at the new locus of tool/messvan as the worksite is now not far away,- from Outer Up Home Signal to the start of the concrete sleepers there are apparently seventy wooden sleepers marked up for replacement, Georgie had previously laid out new sleepers at the sites of the worst condition ones first, certainly hauling out the old ones was easier than normal all being bone dry and some even in bits!

  We envied the farmer in his nice air conditioned cab! It was so hot that we had luncheon inside the P'Way lant Maintenance Shed aka Morley's (mark 2) and Georgie even treated us to ice creams (some had more than one! - Michael)

Here the guage was found to be slightly tight, necessitating removal of screws 2 chairs either side and then applying back to back track jacks to maintain the correct distance whilst drilling, rior to screwing down.
Thanks to Georgie, David, Bob, Iain, Michael and especially Fergus & Mike who also managed to do track inspections over the weekend.