Monday, 21 May 2018

Flailing & Re-sleepering - 11th & 19th May 2018

On a recent Trackwalk inspection on a non running day, I unexpectedly came across Scottish Woodlands doing some training work in the area of our re-sleepering marathon but as I approached the flailing stopped, as the eagle eyed Banksman had spotted me and radioed the operator. 
After a bit of cajoling, I convinced the Banksman that really I would like an action shot, they kindly obliged but I had to zoom in considerably with my small compact camera as above (next time I will lug my SLR with me!)
On Sat 19th of May in addition to the expected volunteers of Roger, Bruce & Mike we had Angus & Iain Ross to make up a reasonable squad.
Georgie had to deal with fences broken by cattle at Broomhill in the morning whilst we backfilled & tidied all the open beds left from last time. We then took out, replaced, fixed down & filled in another 15 or so sleepers before she got called away to a lineside fire.
The weather was hot & we all took our cars in & out along the forest track & left for home exhausted (as per normal!) 
The PWay hut is now a long way from the work area & the end is getting closer.
The recent whin removal by Scottish Woodlands is seen on the photos but only goes so far up the slope as yet & the up side clearance has not started but another wee handling exercise was using their brand new machine to up lift the old sleepers into wagons, many thanks to them and all those that turned out. Mike took last photo and provided most of the info. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Re-Sleepering continues and Railtours- 21st April 2018

Large squad turned out for more re-sleepering on a glorious day. Ian's Landrover was ideal for getting us to the worksite, although Mike managed to step out of it, straight into an ant hill and blamed Ian for bad parking...... 
I was cajoled into rapidly climbing the broom laden cutting to try and catch this first smoky train of the day (wont hurry to do that again)

Peter who is a lineside fencer at The Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway paid us a visit and soon mucked in, here getting to grips with the petrol driven Bance - screwing down the chairs.
After 21 years of faultless service the generator decided to conk out on a couple of occasions, Fergus above left cajoled it into life again the first time but the second time, he decided a wee overhaul may be in order at his leisure. 
Notwithstanding the above, In total I think 32 were replaced and screwed down. Many thanks to Ian, John, Mike, Fergus, Peter, Kevin (who also oiled all the point slidechairs on the Sunday) Georgie and Neil H who was repairing the jacker packer at Boat of Garten. 

13th April saw the empty stock of the Northern Belle pay us a brief visit to clear the Highland Mainline and for stock watering and rubbish removal before returning South again, as usual it was actually top & tailed by diesel class 57's.

And yesterday Great Briton XI Railtour took considerably more water from a road tanker in platform 2 at Aviemore before continuing its journey South.  

Monday, 26 March 2018

Re-Sleepering starts in ernest - 24th March 2018

Mike, Jim, Roger and Georgie had another extra day at the PWay. Meeting at Boat of Garten Yard, after looking at some building maintenance issues and
admiring the pristine private Charter Train which was stabled in the Up Platform,
which our own immaculate Class 27 had hauled in from Aviemore very early that morning.

At Aviemore the two superbly restored Mainline Class 47's were stabled, ready for the return working South on Sunday.
To save the long walk to the worksite, Georgie taxied the gang in her van, through the gated forestry tracks to near the Summit on Granish Moor.
20 sleepers were replaced (only 130 left!) but are yet to be screwed down ..the intact sleepers left maintain track integrity. Some of the sleepers to be changed are 9 ft long & date from LMS days ie are maybe 80 years old.

We all had forgotten what hard heavy work pulling wet old sleepers out is but the sun unusually shone and work was interrupted a few times by Caley 828 hauling the first service trains of the new season. We were dazzled by the freshly cleaned & polished paintwork of the carriages (a few from the PWay had helped the Carriage & Wagon Department with this work recently)
Thanks to Mike for all the info, Ryan Munro took the first photo and the rest are Mike's. 


Sunday, 18 March 2018

Milepost 85 -1640 yards to 86 - 260 yards - 17th & 18th March 2018

Firstly, many thanks to Angus and Roger for braving the Siberian windy weather and assisting Georgie on Saturday, making one of the few PWay Huts that we have on the Railway, more weatherproof for shelter, as we are certainly going to be working in this location for some time. It can be seen in the background below.

On Sunday we finally finished digging out all the beds of the sleepers to be changed. Fergus on the left above, mentioned that he must have dug about 100 out of the 150!  BIG thank you to him, as both Andrew (right) and I were knackered after only a few.

On to the next task removing the screws, thank goodness we have the petrol driven "Bance" to unscrew them, although it becomes heavy after a while.
Once the screws have been hand picked out and carefully placed to the side,


 the old wooden ferrules are removed, using the pointy end of a bar to break them and brutally teased out, easier said than done sometimes.
Then Andrew here, hammers in the new plastic ones so that they are tight in the chair.
We managed to repeat this process most of the afternoon, we reckon completeing almost half of the 150 sleepers to do. Most of the new sleepers can be seen here ready & waiting in the Down Cess.  

One train passed the worksite - an empty stock movement towards Aviemore, with Georgie surveying our efforts from the rear veranda of the brakevan.

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.