Thursday, 15 March 2018

Level Crossing modifications & Fishplate changing - 10th March 2018

We somehow managed to squeeze in an extra Permanent Way Day and the call to arms was very encouraging - with Bill our Membership Secretary coming down from the Thurso area and a potential new member of the Gang coming up from Glasgow - lets hope the former signed up the latter! Georgie had been given the good news regarding the number of Volunteers the day before, enabling her to plan to split us up into two Gangs!
Steve above, took Georgie, Ian and John with a good selection of power tools to Lynchurn LC, where modifications were made. Onto the second Level Crossing but the ballast was frozen solid so a couple of overhanging trees were dispatched instead. 

The remainder of the large squad -Angus, Mike, Roger, John and myself, were left with a Brake Van for heat and shelter, near the Summit of the line, with the task of changing fishplates on the section of track that we aim to spot re-sleeper this year. The old cast steel fishplates have an increasing tendency to break as above.
Georgie managed to source skirted rolled steel (hopefully) indestructable ones, that have drilled round holes, necessitating the use of tabs to prevent the bolt from turning when the nuts are tightened. The use of washers (recycled from the rail bridge over the River Dulnain) is to accommodate the long length of the bolts.
The new milwaukee cordless impact wrench managed 10 sets of fishplate bolts (40 qty) on each charged battery but is rather noisey! Georgie had hoped that the undug sleeper beds could be completed but this years "perma frost" put paid to that, so a relatively early finish was acheived.
Thanks to all that attended, in the cool damp weather.


Monday, 5 March 2018

Lineside Clearance and unloading old sleepers - 3rd &4th March 2018

 On Saturday good sized squad turned up at Boat of Garten, to find couple of inches of snow and a biting easterly wind but it wasn't long before the stove in Guards Van (BG) was well alight and the PWay train hauled by the Diesel Class 27 got us to the first worksite
Sighting of the Boat of Garten Down Distant Signal and Kinchurdy Level crossing was being obscured by overhanging branches, which were quickly seen to, by a loaned battery pole saw, which everyone had a go with and all well impressed with it's capabilities.  

Then onto next location Lynchurn, where two mature birch trees felled, delimbed and the brash was burnt (much to pyromaniac Mike's delight)
Luncheon was had out of the wind in the BG.
Andrew (bowsaw) MacCracken cut through a heap of gorse on the upper bank of the cutting using his tool of choice the bowsaw, the mans a machine!! Angus, Martin, Mike, Steve and Georgie dragged and burnt brash, while Ian dispatched another four30+ yr old Ash trees on the opposite bank, felled, delimbed, brash burnt. Last job was clearing the level crossing of gorse to improve sight lines, then we tidyied up, loaded up the Shark with a bit of firewood and headed back to boat for 4pm, productive day and good job done by all.
Thanks to all mentioned, Steve Robinson for driving the train and Roddy Macphee for getting the photos to me.
The following day I was the only Volunteer but Steve and Georgie soon another PWay train marshalled and ready to depart Aviemore,
as seen from the Brake Van.

You may remember from the last Blog entry, the lifted sleepers from Spey Lodge LC they were unloaded from the Flatrol wagon and should be re-used again! to eventually repair the fire damage at the "Summit" PWay shed.
Our sharp eyed Driver Steve spotted the above close to the line, speculation was it maybe for Wildcat filming?
A start was made on changing fishplates but more on that subject another time.......

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Lynchurn No 2 and Spey Lodge LC's - 17 February 2018

The centre spread of the last Strathspey Express showed a few of our motely crew posing after yet again having to dig out the silt deposits, contaminating the ballast caused by the run-off from the A95 Trunk Road at Lynchurn No2 Level Crossing (LC)
Recently Georgie has hopefully now solved the problem by digging a graded channel and lining it with old concrete, diverting the excess water and silt into a very close by burn.
 Last Saturday morning saw five Volunteers assemble at Aviemore Spey Lodge LC, above photo shows the existing "temporary" sleepers that were now beginning to lift under road traffic.   

The old crossing sleepers were lifted out, with Martin and Angus retrieving the screws using the new impact wrench and de-nailed, which was no mean feat as the nails were 10 inches long and 3/8s wide! Meanwhile the old wooden packers, ballast/soil cleared out and levelled off.
The 1 Inch thick treated packers were cut into 45 individual ones of correct size, which were also levelled off (maybe Roger above is doing that, or heading for Tea!) and screwed onto the sleepers. The timber came from Raddery Sawmill on the Black Isle, being the most local that could be sourced for the large size that we required.  
65 holes drilled with the coach screws countersunk, with a bit kindly sourced by Nathen and Tommy from The Shed, as we had misplaced ours (which was potentially disastrous). Ian and Mike arrived having been at an Association meeting as the above outermost new crossing timbers were notched by Georgie to accommodate the rail chairs.  
The passing Rail Traffic was in the form of Class 117 Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) which appeared to be very busy. 

Thanks go to Martin, Angus, Roger, Bruce, Ian, Mike, Georgie and John who supplied most of the info and last 5 photos. 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Lineside Pruning Dalfaber - 13th January 2018

A few of the Squad slipped in a productive extra PWay day (to burn off a few of the Festive calories maybe!)
As can be seen from the above photo, the ever growing vegetation is again beginning to encroach the telegraph wires on the Up approach to Dalfaber Level Crossing.

Mike here attacking it the traditional way, whilst John Wood and Ian Stanworth put their chainsaw certificates to good use. John by using his trusty Stihl chainsaw waded through 200+ small trees and saplings, whilst Ian got to grips with John's new battery powered pole saw for removing high and awkward to reach branches. Mike followed up by neatly stacking the brash lower down the embankment.
Thanks to John for photos and info. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Spey Lodge Level Crossing and No 3 Road - 6th January 2018

Good turnout for the start of 2018 in Arctic conditions - John, Roger, Ian, Andrew and Georgie turned up on time and the first task was to make the worksite safe by scraping the snow and ice off Spey Lodge level crossing, as over time some of the timbers were beginning to work loose.
Eventually Angus, Mike & Martin turned up having had Morning Coffee and Cake! in the warmth of Spey Lodge. Four timbers lifted and four safety screws fitted into web of the rail, another four lifted to asses damage and dipping/unevenness and repeated, ballast packing proceeded under the longitudinal beams to level everything up.
54 coach screws (12x200mm) removed and new holes bored and countersunk and replaced with new. Job done we thought!
Georgie summoned class 08 Diesel hauling a wagon with some small ballast to fill in dips on the approach ramps.
Finally job done and onto the next minor task....
Road 3 in the Aviemore Engine Shed needed some TLC - broken chair replacement -
Easy - Oh so Wrong! to unscrew chairs, remove/move and make new wooden keys and chair packers (Many Thanks to Willie Dodds of the C&W Department), in the process we broke another chair, eventually found a suitable replacement after much searching of Aviemore Yard.
Then re-assemble, re-key, pack chairs bolt up, level, re-drill holes and tighten screws took a mere three hours!
Thanks to John Wood for all photos and Info.


Sunday, 10 December 2017

Snow Clearing - 9th December 2017

Once Storm Caroline had subsided a single Locomotive ("Light Engine") was utilised for a Line Proving run between Aviemore and Broomhill late on Friday, with Georgie applying a special de-icing lube to the slide chairs on the switches that were essential to the running of the Weekend Santa services.  
Mike Tough arrived Saturday morning to find 6 inches of fresh and still falling snow. He started clearing it from the platform at Boat of Garten Station and was glad to be joined by Dave Inglis above
and then fortunately a North York Moors Railway squad arrived, led by Davie MacNicol, his Son and friend all working hard above.
Meanwhile some 4 &1/4 miles away at Broomhill Station, looks like Colin Stirling had an easier time of it, with less of the white stuff to contend with but with Graham Sutherland "assisting" who knows......
Just one part of the usually unseen effort required to run Winter Steam services. 
Thanks to Mike for Info and Boat of Garten photos, Graham for Broomhill one.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Digging out near "The Summit" - 2nd December 2017

Plan A for yesterday was to have been replacing the Timbers on Spey Lodge Level Crossing at Aviemore but as said Timbers had not arrived timeously....
onto long term plan B - replacing sleepers that Georgie decreed were life expired, as she disappeared over the "Summit" horizon feverishly marking the dead ones with a white spot, leaving the small squad of Fergus (foreground), Roger and John (all no doubt, praying for snow to obliterate the dots!)
to start "digging out" the ballast all round and to the base of the marked sleepers as above

and for a bit of variety, two together means the whole "bed" between them must be almost completely cleared of ballast, I guess here the sleepers will be pulled away from the camera, when extraction time comes.  


Here Roger takes an all too infrequent break as the "Santa Express" climbs from Aviemore

and passes, and we still don't see his perfectly knotted tie! In total a credible 45 sleepers were dug out, fortunately by 2.45pm light was going fast and as the Gang were knackered an early finish was allowed!
Many thanks to all, especially John Wood for photos and info.
It has been a couple of years since we have been able to afford to do any major spot         re-sleepering, hence the mere 292 identified this time to be replaced!
With new sleepers costing approximately £20 each, not an inconsiderable sum being invested in the long term maintenance of the Line. Fortunately split over two Winters and if the thought of all this exercise is too much for you, feel free to reach from your armchair to hit the donate button on this Blog, as I am sure we will manage to break some tools along the way!