Sunday 19 November 2023

Jacker Packing - 18th November 2023

As anticipated a large squad assembled at Boat of Garten on Saturday, in rather damp but milder weather, 

our P'Way train took the Squad to the worksite at the Aviemore end of Kinchurdy straight, preceded by the Jacker Packer,

which John Sinclair our Plant Manager has been doing a long term re-build on, he was fortunately on site for a couple of teething problems - loose ignition lead and fuses and

Ian managed to operate the machine the whole day, Fergus being its attendant, with Mike and Martin manually packing the inevitable missed sleepers due to the joints and Georgie levelling & sighting.

Peter (left) Angus (right) still smiling - so before they and John started tidying 300 yards of ballast, using the trolley to shift surpluses to where it was required reported to be a "Loooooong hard wet day".

Andrew and Kevin were given a track spanner each and told to proceed on foot to Aviemore, tightening any loose fishplates enroute, allegedly last seen on the road trying to thumb a lift back to Boat!

As the light started to fade, job successfully complete and the train propelled back to Boat with the Jacker Packer following - no foot crossing harmed on this occasion!  

Thanks to Georgie, Peter, Ian, Martin, Fergus, Angus, Kevin, Andrew & Mike and John who kindly supplied info/photos/video. 

Sunday 12 November 2023

Miscellaneous Mid October - 11th November 2023

Mid October saw some off-track activity by Fergus, in the form of strengthening a considerable length of our boundary fence behind Broomhill Station House to beyond the Station Cottages, by initially strenuously hammering in new posts manually with his mell.    

Fortunately the local Farmer took pity on him and quickly supplied the proper tool for the job and in no time at all, the pair of them had the posts flying in!
Many thanks to both.  

Meanwhile the ballast tidying yet again continued on the Kinchurdy Relay, by chance the first footplate crew threw off some not inconsiderable lumps of coal, which required more of David's muscle power before it could be turned into heat in the lineside hut - it burned very well - enquiries suggested it was Columbian. 

Mid week this week saw the above two ballast hoppers emptied under Georgie's direction at the Aviemore end of Kinchurdy Relay, also we threw off 80 fishplates 

and then ploughed using the Shark.

Saturday 11th saw a good sized squad meet at Boat of Garten. We took own PWay train to site for Mess facilities, as no service trains running, 

the main task was to replace the old fishplates, with the new stronger "skirted" ones, with the aim to reduce the number of breakages and oil them

this was rapidly completed with the aid of the battery wrench and a boot! When the entire 40+ length was done, much to the Squad's angst - Georgie asked for "a bit of ballast tidying boys", by 3pm the train slowly trundled back to Boat, Squad picking up all the old fishplates and returning them to their cars.
Many thanks to Georgie, Mike, Ian, Fergus, Andrew and the new chap from Helmsdale & John whom supplied the info.



Monday 9 October 2023

Kinchurdy Ballast IX - Saturday 7th October 2023

Report/Photos from John - "Despite the Met Office Amber warning of heavy rain being as close as Aviemore, a good number of volunteers still assembled at Boat of Garten on Saturday to receive our tasking from Georgie - the intended re-sleepering was deferred, as she was yet again called upon for Operational duties at Aviemore. Plan B was tidying ballast at Kinchurdy, we did linger in the dry comfort of our BG/Messroom listening to the rain battering off its roof and wondering about our sanity!  

But in the end, some had travelled considerable distances to get here, so we headed to the Kinchurdy Bothy and quickly got a good fire going and another cup of tea! Bruce (left) didn't want to get any blame for any Wiltshire variant of Covid, Iain from Fife, Andrew (who was glad to be back) Mike and David whose torch lit up the rather dark scene when the door was shut.     

The rain did ease off a bit and we did get a good number of lengths tidied 

but not straying too far from the bothy." - unusual tender first photo apparently the bright LED headlight could be seen through the gloom long before the actual locomotive. Credit to Fergus for joining the squad AFTER he had done the Aviemore Section track inspection, thanks to all that attended. 

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Kinchurdy ballast, visiting loco and second weedkilling - 16th/19th September 2023

Saturday saw Fergus, Peter, Iain and Michael meet up at a rather busy Boat of Garten due to the Steam Gala. Once Georgie was finally located, she dispatched them to "tidy up a bit of ballast boys"!

Yes you've guessed where - Kinchurdy half mile straight, Iain reports that he found it knackering but plenty trains passing meant plenty breaks! Thanks to him for photo and it looks pretty good to me, well done.

Later John having completed his track inspection captured Georgie giving more instructions, this time to the driver of the other visiting steam locomotive, which was on freight demonstration runs also at Boat of Garten as part of the Gala. Thanks to all that attended.


Tuesday day after the planned day due to the forecasted heavy rain, Mike reports - "Very non-eventful weed killing day with kind weather and only a few nozzle chokes.

 Entire mainline and the loops done from Network Rail boundary Aviemore to near the river Dulnain where the bridge got load tested by some full spoil wagons (from our own HS2 site at Aviemore AKA new Running Shed) which were shoved ahead from North of Broomhill.

Georgie drove the class 08 locomotive with Michael on the starboard spraying arm, Mike in the middle and John Sinclair to port in case of any pump/generator breakdowns (none for once!). All complete by 3pm which was almost the starting time back in June"



Sunday 27 August 2023

Miscellaneous tasks progressed - 26th August 2023

Saturday saw another extra P'Way day semi planned - plan A was to continue fishplate oiling from where Fergus, Michael and Richard had finished off two weeks ago - which was amazingly more or less the start of the 1/2 mile Kinchurdy relay (which we had been told to skip for now as newer stronger fishplates are planned soon) alas the rain was too heavy for the task and I did not want the dirty fishplate oil sloshing about in my car anyway! Plan B was to go and dig out the remaining 15 sleepers at the South end of the Relay, so Mike, Peter and myself set off to the Kinchurdy P'Way hut where the required tools were handily stored.

From the car we could see the new chimney pot now in situ and we looked forward to shelter from the rain and getting a roaring fire going, unfortunately the hut was locked and despite hunting all around, the elusive key was not found, the builder of the chimney was blamed as above (inscribed in the cement)

I drove back to Boat of Garten and scavenged the required from the Toolvan and by the time we were about to start digging, the first train was on us! Sleepers dug round, time for lunch, in the rain! Afterwards we set about doing a bit of ballast tidying where we had finished off previously, by 3pm we had had enough and headed back to Boat of Garten, 

where Mike wanted to paint the platform edge coping stone that he had replaced earlier in the week but he got carried away painting the ramp as well! 

Opposite us we found Ian, Fergus and John with his vast array of power tools extending the screening fence to hide the Royal Scotsman's new sea container, John supplied the above finished photo and his quote "roughest build i've been involved with in a long time" - looks fine to me, anyway thanks to all that attended.

Monday 14 August 2023

Welcome rapid progress Kinchurdy - 14th August 2023

Lampitt Rail Services have again intensively been changing sleepers for us at Kinchurdy, thankfully only leaving 42 for our squad to tackle, (I have borrowed the below photo from their Facebook page, where other photos can be found of their excellent work) can only thank them for their hard work, it would have taken us Months! 

Saturday 12th August saw Georgie, Ian, Angus, Martin and a new volunteer - Richard from Helmsdale meet at Boat of Garten and headed straight to Kinchurdy, over the day, much to Georgie's satisfaction 27 sleepers were dug out and changed and the remaining ones being on the transition ramp - can be done at our leisure.
Thanks to all that attended this big push forward,

which must have continued on Sunday - with Georgie probably removing the dead sleeper before dropping and spreading ballast, as Mike took this photo today, on another of his of recent many track inspections, so much so he has had to buy another pair of boots this year!

 He also spotted at the same locus the above chimney pot

which just might fit! Hopefully get some heat from the fire this Winter.....


Sunday 30 July 2023

Ballast tidying Kinchurdy - 29th July 2023

Another half day of tidying ballast at the Kinchurdy relay

as first service train gingerly approaches from Aviemore,

by mid afternoon we had had enough and a shower of rain finished us off!
Thanks to above - Left to right - Iain, David, Michael (who sprang into very unusual action at first sight of camera!) joined by Fergus, who reports we only have six 60 foot lengths to do...
Thanks also to Mike and John who did the requisite Track inspections.   


Tuesday 27 June 2023

Best laid plans at Boat - 27th June 2023

Today was an extra mid-week day squeezed in at Boat of Garten - to expedite the drilling of sleepers (62 done today) prior to the welcome arrival again of Lampitt Rail Services in August, to complete the big relay at Kinchurdy,

however halfway through lunch an unscheduled sea container arrived for The Royal Scotsman's use,

with the experienced help of the delivery agent, we surprisingly managed to plant it quickly.

Second attempt at luncheon was then interrupted by Dave Green (diesel driver) who reported a noticeable track defect (bump) at 85 (milepost) & 1100 yards, fortunately he was willing and able to take us to the locus quickly (as no road access whatsoever) - he was killing time between shunts and yet another arrival of Royal Scotsman, diagnosis - broken fishplate, which we carried out a temporary repair (couldn't find skirted plates in time)
Many thanks to Ian, Dave and Kevin (whom as usual, showed us up as doing a power of work!) whom I wished a merry Christmas! - however he did concede he enjoyed today......  

Friday 23 June 2023

Aviemore Running Shed Pits built - 22nd June 2023

West Pit of Aviemore Running Shed nears completion as at 21st June - photo Mike Tough

And appears complete as of CCTV date stamp

Confirmed by Alex Walker Builder/Stonemason who took above photo.
Many thanks to him getting through I am sure the challenging heat of recent.


Sunday 18 June 2023

A Miscellaneous Week ending - Saturday 17th June

 Sometime ago Tuesday 13th of June was picked as the date for the whole line Weedkiller train, as there was no service trains planned, little did we know that the line had been hired out for a private operation, so we had to fit in with them, 

on the plus side Signalmen were on duty easing operations, although a localised downpour stopped play for the day at Croftnahaven. Above clip from John who with Ian did Monday and Tuesday assisting S&T Squad work week at Boat of Garten, 

doing what the P'Way squad are good at, digging holes manually in blistering heat! 
Far too technical for mere P'Way Blogger to chronicle further! However Roddy, myself and Doug Scott (Chairman) filled them in Wednesday afternoon. 
(more info may appear in S&T Blog?)

Thursday saw Alec start on the West Pit wall at the new Running Shed at Aviemore.

Normal P'Way Saturday, saw Georgie yet again on Diesel banking duties whilst this hot spell continues. However she left a "few" sleepers to pre-drill using the bullhead rail jig. 

Apparently Iain asking Peter if the two done is enough!

Plenty of dis-tractions for the squad - The Three Peaks Charter train made a short notice Service stop at Boat of Garten, as there is a wash away on the Fort William line (passengers bussed from Kingussie to Ben Nevis) By the end of an exhausting day Mike, Peter & Iain managed to do 90 out of 320 in total which are destined for the big relay at Kinchurdy.

Thanks to all mentioned, Mike took last three photos. 

Monday 12 June 2023

Aviemore Running Shed and Boat Footbridge - week ending 10th June 2023

Aviemore Running Shed - Hot spell continues  

Blocks stacked where Alex (builder/stonemason) requires them, West pit floor shuttered and reinforcing mesh in position ready for concrete. (photo Alex) 

Friday saw a happy Alex mostly in the shade and our preferred contractor getting ready final pour. (photo C. Stirling) 

Saturday saw Ian cooling off the concrete with a good dousing of water.


Mike reports - With Georgie yet again on Diesel driving duties, to reduce high fire risk, a small P'Way squad - Mike, Michael and latterly joined by Fergus after Track inspection continued prepping & priming in red the Boat Footbridge. David carried out hand spray weedkilling in the yard.

 John caught 5025 heading off shed towards Aviemore Station prior to his long hot track inspection to Boat of Garten.

Thanks to all that contributed.

Monday 5 June 2023

Boat Footbridge, Fishplate oiling and Aviemore Running Shed - 5th June 2023

Mike reports -

"Boat of Garten  Footbridge was made in Inverness 123 years ago, to a design used throughout the Highland Railway. This one came from Dalnaspital as Strathspey Railway got going & replaced (in 1977) the original in a different place which was at Station House / Gas House in background above.

By 2000 it was looking very shabby & some of the balustrade lattice bars were corroded & had to be replaced. A specialist painter was engaged to scaffold shot blast & paint it with a long lasting oil rig type coating . This wax in 2004 & we recall being told to touch in any minor problems after 10 years but are now getting onto it only after 19 years! Overall it remains in good nick but many of the lattice crossings show cracks in the paint water ingress & rust.


Mike Tough under took to touch it in over Summer 2023 & decent progress has been made helped one Saturday by Reg Stanley & another Saturday by Michael Massie (above left)

    The odd hour with a scraper after other work has helped. After scraping off loose paint wire brushing with a battery drill we apply metal primer then black hammerite which on tin says it will last 8 years . Hopefully we will get longer with the prep & primer used . The steps on platform 2 need done & using safe high level access the middle outside parts over the track."

Thanks to Mike and all that assisted.


Medium sized squad met in glorious sunshine at Boat of Garten Saturday 3rd June for usual P'Way meet, alas Georgie phoned to say she was not with us, as she had to drive the banking diesel, to ease the associated fire risk from the Steam Service. "Not too hard a task" was set for us - fishplate oiling, once we assembled all the necessary parts which were scattered somewhat, we set off towards Drumuillie, every 180 foot length was oiled, thereafter every second joint on the usual 60 foot. 

Above left to right - Fergus was on the final torque tightening with the big spanner, Michael loosened and tightened with the battery wrench, Iain wheel barrowed all the oil and tools and most importantly our rucksacks, David was the advance dab of oil on threads before slackening nuts sufficiently for wrench and I had oil tin.

By the end Michael (who worked hard) had plenty factor 100 suntan oil in spots! The rest of us were suffering from heat and exhaustion but our target was met.
Thanks to all.


Late News - Today at Aviemore. Again Mike reports -

"Start being made on East pit blocks being put exactly where the stone / brick mason Alex wants them, using Strathspey Railway loader driven by John Sinclair and a hired in grab which is simple & cheap so all good, Georgie will excavate a bit more later on 5 th to allow base of West pit to be shuttered & concrete on 9 th Busy times ahead this week....."



Sunday 14 May 2023

Rapid visible progress on Running Shed - 12th May 2023

Following on from previous at Aviemore Running Shed - the East Pit floor

Shuttered and reinforcing mesh ready for concrete, taken by Mike Thursday.

Alex Walker the Builder in paradise.
Ian took Alex at speed (time is money!) as well as the 12.5 cubic metres of concrete

Job done for East Pit. 
Thanks to Alex and Ritchies Aviemore and all that attended and watered afterwards to prevent cracking during curing process.


Tuesday 9 May 2023

Kinchurdy Foot Crossing and Aviemore Running Shed - 6/8th May 2023

Coronation day saw a small squad head to Kinchurdy foot crossing

which had been temporarily removed to allow re-ballasting. 

after the excess ballast removed from the sleepers, just a case of renewing the packing and screwing down the crossing timbers into the old holes, or so we thought! Alas somehow they didn't line up at all, so new notches cutout and drilling new holes ensued, just after photo taken - Fergus' drill battery expired with it jammed in and a train coming......

mole grips saved the day. Eventually discovered that the foot crossing now has more of a skew to align better with the gate on the up side - hence the holes not aligning earlier. At the end Georgie had us trying to match her neatness on tidying the track shoulders, to be continued. Not sure if visible but the telegraph wires are apparently being shorted by the encroaching branches - Fergus planning to do a bit of pruning. 

Thanks to Mike, Fergus, Ian, Andrew and Georgie.

Bank Holiday Monday at Aviemore new Running Shed site saw the commencement of digging the East pit at long last but as luck would have it nothing but rusted car bits were dug up at the North end, hindering site clearance.

Thanks to Mike, Georgie and Alex (the stonemason).

Mike provided portrait photos.

P.S. Further progress below 09/05 

And today 10/05, I think both taken by Colin Sterling.