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! 


Monday, 20 November 2017

Stone Blowing Kinchurdy - 18th & 19th November 2017

About a Month ago we started work on an approx. 100 yard section of track, just beyond Kinchurdy bridge see PWay Blog of 21st October. Since then Georgie has dropped ballast on the Track "shoulders" and on Saturday a large squad created the "up cess", tidied both shoulders and dug the holes so that stone blowing could commence.
As we had an increasingly rare "Possession" of the line (no service trains running) the Tool Van and temporary Mess Van were able to be stabled at the worksite for the weekend. 
Here Georgie is sighting and instructing Mike to jack up the track to the right level and Andrew is doing the same, using the crosslevel as a guide, so that both rails are on the jacks to exactly the required height.
A number of years ago the PWay Squad Volunteers clubbed together to purchase the brand new Stone Blower which is simply a petrol driven air compressor with an air hose 
to the above attachment, which Andrew is steadily feeding the small crushed stone ("chippies") into the hopper and the compressed air blows it into the space between the sleeper and the old trackbed. The aim is to completely fill the void so that when the jack is removed the track sits solidly on its new foundations. 

These simplistic few words make it all seem easy! But we all found those small muscles that we didn't know even existed were exercised.
As punishment for not getting the Mess Van fire to light first time, we put Andy above left, on to the wheel barrowing of the chippies, thus only being subjected to his Glasgow patter intermittently!   
Thanks go to Andrew, Andy, Angus, Ben, Ian, John, Les, Mike and Roger over the weekend Georgie seemed satisfied with the end result.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Leylandii removal Aviemore Station 3rd - 5th November 2017

A row of 60 leylandii trees had been planted long ago along the edge of the car park at Aviemore station, the section now in use by main line Scotrail passengers. 

After consulting with our neighbours in Dalfaber Road, who had been complaining about these trees, we organized a team to remove them.

and after photo to set the scene.
A number of hurdles had to be overcome, not least closing the car park for the duration of the work, a task skillfully completed by Graham Sutherland, who blocked off bays during the week as they became vacant, leaving only four cars parked by Friday, which we were able to work around. The recent courses attended by our chainsaw operators is now also paying dividends for the railway, as these tasks can now be done safely and expediently. 

Brashing done, to ease access for felling.
So on Friday a team of ten commenced work, with Ian and John operating the chainsaws and Graham and Big Davie driving trailers to provide a continuous shuttle carting the brash to the burning site. The work continued on Saturday morning with Ben now also operating a chainsaw, while Ian was preparing for the Strathspey Railway Association AGM.
Ian giving chainsaw TLC or having a well earned rest
Loading one trailer
And unloading the other onto the fire
Not much more smoke than a steam engine!
John Wood assisted by Nick Courtier & Jim Hardy with strap for more accurate felling.
Colin sweeping up
All 60 trees were cut down to a height of about 2 foot; this to provide a marker for the parking cars, and all the brash was removed and burnt in the yard near the coal bench.
Job well done-all that remains of 60 trees.
As a welcome break we attended the AGM in the afternoon, before continuing with the work later.

There are another 12 leylandii further along by the coach park, but time constraints meant that by the  Sunday only the Ellon Team of five were still working, so we cleared broom from the area, and cut the lower branches off the leydandii to provide improved light and views for the adjacent houses. 

Another job for the New Year.

Thanks to Ian Stanworth, John Wood, Ben Tyrell, Mike Tough, Neil MacQueen, Davie Dow, Graham Sutherland, Ray Kenyon, Jim Hardy, Dan Courtier, Nick Courtier, Colin Frost.

(Words from Colin and some photos from Ray and Neil)


Sunday, 22 October 2017

PWay Maintenance - Croftnahaven 7th October & Kinchurdy 21 October 2017

There was a good turn out but only Georgie, Ben, Roger & Mike ventured out onto the track where between mp 91 & 91 1/2 (Croftnahaven) various routine maintenance tasks were dealt with. Other essential things had to be done however by the others. Those outside enjoyed a pleasant Autumn day in a peaceful spot 
Above -Digging out below the high rail sleepers ..this was dug out maybe 30 mm & left to settle
Also present were Ian who assisted Ian Stokes a Volunteer who was digitally surveying the yard at Boat for a site for a storage shed Strathspey Railway Association are planning to progress. Ian also had to assess tree clearance needed at Aviemore Head shunt & was then with Neil Howie who appeared with a former work friend also Mike & they got into the faulty jacker packer & it seems the problem has been found & the machine will be in action soon. Valuable spares were retrieved from the other machines & taken inside where 2 almost new rail saws obtained by Davie Dow from a railway yard in Glasgow were spotted & admired .. well done Davie.
The track work included clearing ballast from below around 10 sleepers at mp 91 1/2 on the up rail to get rid of a horrible hog in the up rail top. By the end of the day the trains had got the rail back to level & this was lightly repacked & left to bed in further.
Afterwards & without Andy the expert measured shovel packing (MSP) tin man we did MSP at maybe 10 joints & dips around the curve & got a well done from the boss.

An out of focus Roger focussed on getting chippings to the MSP points. 
Thanks to Mike for the above information and photos.
Yesterday's P'Way saw another calm dry Autumn day, the location very close to Kinchurdy Bridge and the task was to dig out the sleeper ends to start the improvement of the drainage, above Mike in foreground, then Fergus, Andy and in the distance Martin Macleod fortuitously filling in a gap in the Track Inspection Roster (Lennon his high viz dog off camera but thanks go to both of them for this vital task)
and renew the ballast shoulder which was previously dropped in the "four foot" (between the rails)  Ben with a grape full of fresh ballast, Andy brushing the dirt off the sleepers and Georgie trying to tidy up our efforts on ballast shoulder and level cess. 
Last Down train of the day passes over Kinchurdy Bridge and thanks to Fergus for clearing out the steps down the steep embankment, making it an easier walk down to our cars after an exhausting day.