Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Miscellaneous progress up to - 14th June 2021

Alex the talented Stonemason has now rebuild and re-roofed the listed Highland Railway old toilet block at Aviemore Engine Shed.

As this project draws to a close another massive one commences close by - considerable ground works on the new Steam Running Shed.  

Mike surveyed and pegged it out for Georgie to start digging 

and removing using one of likely many spoil trains.

Saturday saw Georgie, David, Les, Ian (Aviemore) Fergus above and one of these days Mike might catch Michael working on camera! reached Lynchurn 1 level crossing on apparently penultimate day of fishplate oiling towards Boat of Garten.

Today's task was beset by problems from the rather wet start.

Look closely enough and Michael is actually working the weedkilling boom on the return run from the River Dulnain. The North British Locomotive had to get topped up with oil on arrival at Aviemore and then the diesel generator for the weedkilling pump packed in. Many thanks to Mike, Michael, John, Georgie and special mention to Jim Summers, Irvine Roy & Trainee for fortuitously working the signal boxes, although alas the Aviemore - Boat of Garten section is still to be done another day....

Meanwhile Andrew McCracken bravely single handedly managed to pre-drill and stack an amazing 41 new sleepers, although he reckons might have been more if he had a sharper drill bit!

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Fishplate Oiling - Mid May and 4th June 2022

It's that time of year again 

So I headed to Broomhill recently to ready the fishplate oiling cans.

The previous P'Way weekend saw Mike, Michael, Iain and Georgie do the required joints ie those with the nuts on the outside of the "four foot", as each consecutive length alternates - nuts outside/inside, thus ensuring that every 120 feet are oiled every year (in theory!) above looks a particularly dry joint?

Georgie and possibly Iain getting close to the end of the day Croftnahaven No 2 level crossing, but it was a long tiring walk back to the Broomhill starting point.

Today was a glorious Strathspey day with a continuation of the squads favourite task, above Michael with the carefully laid down powertool, maybe wondering why the others are so far behind or why he is wearing waterproof trousers on possibly the hottest day of the year thus far.
Georgie was so pleased that Tullochgorum was reached that a lift back to the cars was in order (ice creams another time maybe!) Thanks to Kevin, Iain, Michael, Georgie and a recently post covid Mike whom provided info and photos.


Sunday, 15 May 2022

Finishing off and commencing at Broomhill - 11th & 14th May 2022

Wednesday saw a small mid-week squad meet at Broomhill

and we immediately gave Mike above, his favourite tool (not!) - the very heavy hydraulic slewing jack, which in theory easily slews the track horizontally - once the sleeper ends have been cleared of ballast, the track jacked up vertically on the back rail and the requisite perfectly angled ballast hole dug (Roddy became an expert) for the slewing jack to be dropped into, all under Georgie's precise eye and direction. Once slewed, sleeper ends at back filled in with ballast, track jack dropped and finally, slewing jack eased off - hoping that that the track doesn't go back to it's former alignment! 
This process was repeated maybe a dozen times on the 200 yards of curved track that we have improved of recent.      

This was finally complete by lunch and the next task was to remove the remaining redundant plates and spikes etc from the site using the rail trolley, as there were no trains running, to convey them to the "flatrol". We were glad Bruce could join us for some weight lifting exercise! on his Spring holiday.

The virtual quarry at Broomhill has recently expanded by some 230 tons kindly donated by Network Rail, that was surplus to their requirements near Dalnaspidal on the Highland Main Line, contrasts significantly in colour to the Broomhill Quarry stone (although we spotted the larger lumps of rock are harder for us to work by hand - hoping Georgie drops it wisely!!!)

Thanks to Mike, Roddy, Bruce and Georgie (who fortusiously had to go deal with another Royal Scotsman) we latterly did some weedkilling, picket fence repairs and utilised some of Bruce's arboreal skills around the station - making a much lighter finish to the day.


  Saturday saw a larger squad meet at the same locus - Mike reports - sufficient for two squads - Georgie, Bob and Iain C headed South to "tidy and pack" the ballast hopefully to finally finish off the renovated section to Georgie's satisfaction! 

Above Michael (with a bit of a belly after all his big breakfasts on the 12 day GB XIV Steam Railtour), David and Mike who took the photo, of the commencement of fishplate oiling, mainline and loop were eventually done, hindered by tight nuts, rusted on plates and stationary trains! Ian S joined them after cutting the grass at Boat and the Station House, where a new tenant is imminent.

Thanks to all that attended.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Easter Miscellaneous - April 2022

 With the Easter holidays it seems the local volunteers went away on holiday and our more far flung ones ventured North. 

Gavin hails from the Central Belt and I think is employed by Network Rail Switches & Crossing design? - hence the close supervision by Georgie! (using possibly the lightest tool we have, looks to be drilling vertically anyway)

Kevin is from Leicestershire and now retired from frontline Big Railway PWay and I am sure giving the hammer some welly! 

And I think it's Les drilling, anyway the four of them managed to finish of the iron work of the Broomhill job. Thanks to all 

Leaving myself and Reg (who is up from North Wales) to "give the ballast a tidy up" mid week. Reg did a great job on the up cess below the Mess/Toolvan as they made for awkward access, alas they were required at Aviemore only a few days later. Many thanks to Reg for the work and the kind financial donation that he seems to bless us with each time he visits -  Haste ye back!

  Mike reports "Track inspections have started, trees were cut alongside the running shed to allow a new fence to go in soon by Ian & Kevin   Also now that frosts are gone the Stone Mason is well on with rebuilding of the old Highland Railway toilet, inner walls are block to endure there is enough good stone to do the outside post HR door / window openings are to be filled in with stone & soon with a new roof it will look externally as it was 120 years ago.

Yesterday in glorious weather saw another mid week day - Mike, Andrew, Sam and Martin (working! at height!) renew User Worked Level Crossing signage at Milton 1, Drumullie & Lynchurn 1. Also the point slidechairs were given a "dab of oil" at Boat of Garten and Broomhill and a bit of tree trimming round Boat of Garten underbridge" 

as neighbouring property has done a bit of tree felling, meaning our embankment samplings likely to grow all the faster. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Diesels and Trees - late March 2022

The P'Way for 19th/20th March was cancelled as Georgie was required to drive at the first Diesel Gala Weekend and other members of the squad assisted with Brake Van rides and Track Inspections,

hopefully the lofty cameras pointing at what's on the track and not the track itself, as the run round loop here at Broomhill is due packing at some point in future.

Busy Diesel scene at Boat of Garten.

An extra day was squeezed in on an unseasonal beautiful warm sunny day - Saturday 26th March - location the bare scrubland that the Railway owns behind the P'Way Depot at Boat of Garten. 
Lead by John Wood - who this year again purchased from his employer - Munros Nurseries on the Black Isle, roughly fifty bare root trees and again his generous employer also donated 50. John also bought bamboo stakes and cable ties and Mike managed to source plastic protective tubes. Above Martin and Kevin with John's petrol auger, which made planting so many possible. The only collateral damage was Kevin's t-shirt as he never noticed the exhaust had melted two holes, until it was too late! 

The first public spring steam service train passes Broomhill bound. 

By the time the last train had passed all the trees were planted and we all were pretty knackered (although take note Georgie! John bought us all ice lollies and juice to keep us going) Maybe we should call the area Woody's Wood in years to come (addendum 01/04 or maybe Jubilee in honour of her Maj)

Many thanks to (left to right) John, David, Kevin, Martin, Ian & Michael. A fuller more informative report likely in a future "Express".... 

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Broomhill works continue apace - 5th & 9th March 2022

 Angus reports for Saturday

"Small squad today only David Bruce and myself. In morning loaded two trolley loads with shiny new screws also Pandrol clips and dropped off ready at base plates to be screwed and fitted into new sleepers. On returns loaded scrapped baseplates on to trolleys and returned to flatrol and back for more as trolley too heavy to push. After lunch did some packing under new sleepers then tidying ballast and cess as only photo shows" - David working, Georgie and Bruce chatting

about the use of old rails, photo from Bruce's more usual local heritage railway line
 The East Somerset!

Midweek day today 

And a lot of drilling and screwing down (flattening 1 wee & 2 big batteries)  

here the gauge was found to be unusually tight, so gentle precise persuasion by Georgie using back to back track jacks, Mike drilling and Angus readying the screws (Georgie did allow Angus to drill a few almost vertical holes)

  Meanwhile our virtual quarry is being re-stocked for future use along the line. 

With a strong wind towards us we heard the horn of our new class 37 and test train coming from miles away, rather dull view from trackside approaching worksite

but Bruce had time to clamber up the farm track and catch it with a glimpse of sunshine (and some blokes standing around doing nothing as usual!) But overall we did achieve a good amount of work.
Thanks to Mike, Angus, Roddy, Bruce and Georgie. 

Monday, 28 February 2022

Extra Weekday squeezed in - 28th February 2022

 As I haven't pulled my weight of recent due to my shift work pattern, I fancied a nice easy day at the Railway whilst Georgie was away, to my pleasant surprise not only did we have a new recruit but seven other regulars responded to the call to arms email - meeting at Broomhill.

Bob, Roddy and me were given the easier task of changing every third baseplate with "Pan 11", no idea why named as such, so Googled, amazed to find and be distracted by photos from our own blog from 2016! So none the wiser.....

 Simply put, out with old 

in with new, repeat.... many times

We always give the new starts the nice easy jobs -

 Kevin having coerced Les into coming along, shows him the joys of elastic spike removal

although please be aware Les, Kevin's "Sharapova" grunts are optional!

Some need some gentle persuasion, to break their rusted in grip, no baseplates harmed, on this occasion.

The rest of the squad were changing sleepers and lightly packing them.

After Lunch Kevin and Les gladly joined myself and Fergus heading North of Broomhill to Mid Curr No 2 Level Crossing, to put in cattle guards, which Georgie had dropped off sometime ago, to deter four legged encroachments along the line.

at the same time, the crossing was made safer for rail traffic

by digging out the flangeway.

  Meanwhile the rest of the squad had fun measuring and measuring again after tie bars used to tighten the guage and then drilling and screwing down quite a few sleepers. 

 In all, hopefully a successful day and many thanks to Mike, Roddy, Angus, Andrew, Fergus, Bob and especially Les whom may return before Kevin.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Snow and Milton tree/lineside clearance - 19 February 2022

Plan B swung into operation after yesterdays white stuff, rendezvous was changed to Boat of Garten Station.

Where the Station Master was grateful of our shovelling skills, in clearing a short section of platform as only a short train was running

.Some lineside clearance was carried out at the behest of the organisers of a forthcoming photo charter.

Once Georgie had cleared the points of snow at Aviemore to release the Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) from the shed onto the mainline, she joined the squad at the next worksite, just off shot from above clip and mentioned/photo in previous blog -


the split wind damaged tree near Milton No 2 level crossing

John above and Ian soon expertly felled them without touching any electrical wires

and looks as if Fergus' fence was unscathed too! The brash was laid down and Martin first in there for some firewood!

Thanks to Georgie, Mike, Michael, Martin and John & Ian for Info/photos, on what turned out to be a cool gloriously sunny day.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Broomhill re-sleepering & Milton tree - 12th February 2022

Large squad assembled at Broomhill Saturday 12th, which Georgie organsied into three teams :- changing sleepers, changing ferrules and changing baseplates from from spike to a type called Pan 11 and undertaking the associated gauging and fixing work.  

After Lunch the weather turned liquid, even though still managed to change 21 sleepers and heaps of baseplates & ferrules, work to be continued.....

Report of "sheep on the line at Milton" - John and Fergus were dispatched to herd them off

and to check fence lines to see how the incursion occurred, in doing so came across this storm damaged tree which is closer to power lines than we would like, this unplanned work also to be continued.....

Thanks to Ian (also photo/info) Iain, David, Bob, Kevin, Fergus, John (also photo/info) Angus, Martin & Georgie who was pleased with the progress made.


Thursday, 10 February 2022

Digging out near Broomhill - 5th February 2022

 Despite the forecasted bad weather a huge squad still assembled at Broomhill Station, with the next longterm worksite just around the corner. 

The curve is reputed to be the tightest on the old Highland mainline North of Aviemore and apparently in days gone by the trains rattled round at the full line speed of 60 miles per hour.
Georgie's plan is to hold the gauge much better than currently possible. Commencing with spot re-sleepering - Above Bob, Fergus and Andrew make a start on digging out, a massive 37 were dug.

The weather was pretty awful with heavy rain and Mike didn't want to risk getting his phone wet (or lost again!) hence photo in the Porters Room at Broomhill being the only mess facilities available on this occasion - Kevin dragged along for the second time his mate Iain almost hiding behind his large flask but still smiling.
 John, Mike, Angus, Georgie and others had fun trying to remove the dreaded elastic spikes - of which more in the future I am sure!
Thanks to all that braved the elements and Mike/John for photos & info.

With all the recent storms affecting rail routes in the Highlands a route proving locomotive was run and fortunately this was the worst that occurred so far, near Kinchurdy underbridge yesterday.
Thanks to Rob Law (S&T) for photo and tidying up the debris with Georgie. 

Sunday, 23 January 2022

MSP concludes work at Boat of Garten Station - 22nd January 2022


The unseasonably mild January weather meant that trackwork could continue.

First job of the day was to re-slew a length of track at the South end of platform 1 in Boat of Garten. Both sleeper ends were dug out, the platform end loosely filled with new ballast and the track slewed using jacks. The ballast was then tamped to avoid the track springing back. The jacks were removed, ballast tamped again and the length tidied.

After lunch the worksite moved to the North end of the platform for some Measured Shovel Packing (MSP), measurements taken using the sighting boards (alas no photos)

and marked on the chairs in chalk, cross levelled to other rail, then each alternate "bed" between the sleepers dug out to the bottom of the sleeper approximately 18 inches either side of rail. 

Track then jacked up, leaving a sufficient gap under the sleeper

then the prescribed number of canisters, full of small "chippies" are measured out onto a special shovel, 

and carefully spread (packed) under the entire width of the sleeper 18 inches either side of rail. If done correctly each canister should lift the rail 1/16 of an inch after bedding in.

The following links might show the process in L.M.S days

Then drop jack and onto next bed to repeat, once complete just a case of filling in the beds with ballast and tidy up, hopefully concluding the Station trackwork at Boat of Garten for the time being.

Thanks to Mike, Angus, Kevin and especially Ian & John who supplied info/photos and Fergus as he loves MSP so much!