Wednesday 18 November 2020

Signalling Maintenance and Installation work

 Signalling Maintenance and Installation works.

15th October to 18th of November.

It is getting harder to find time and help to get on with the jobs at the minute. Between the the ever changing Government Guidelines and the colder and darker Autumn day’s arriving. Again there is no train’s running, even though that helps with our work. It reduces the enjoyment of being on site. This months work has been divided into two different parts. Maintenance and installation. This story starts at Aviemore with the maintenance of Speyside Box.

Speyside cabin sitting in the Autumn overcast sun. The general appearance of the box how ever good it looks, is in need of some major body work! The windows are tiered and the cladding has seen better days. But yet the cabin is probably the most important signal box on the Strathspey Railway now. Controlling movement’s out from the engine/carriage shed on to the main line. Secondly it controls all train movement’s in and out of the carriage storage shed. Within the cabin is the key token machine which will control the single line section between Aviemore and Boat of Garten. Needless to say time must be spent maintaining the signalling equipment to ensure the box is fault free.

This is a view of the lead off table in front of the signal box. As you can see it controls a lot for a small cabin. Some time has been spent and all the cranks and pullie wheels on the entire rodding and signal wire runs. Have been greased and or oiled to ensure everything is working properly for the up coming winter train service. 

A little look inside the cabin, you can appreciate some of the work that has been done and that, that needs to be done. The block shelf has been changed in the cabin. As the original one was in very poor condition and in need of a lot of work. This one has been cleaned up and varnished by Stephen. It was originally the block shelf at Carrbridge, of the frame that was in the station building. The windows in the cabin are in a poor condition now and are in need of repair or replacement. If there is any wood workers reading this and would like to volunteer, you’re help would be much appreciated.

Looking to the back of the cabin you can see the key token machine, yet to be commissioned. The writing desk as well as our internal phone network phone. From hear the signaller can speak to the Aviemore Station staff. Boat Of Garten, South and North boxes. This all works over our pole route between Aviemore and Boat Of Garten. There can not be meany heritage railways that can boast having a work pole route, 5 miles in length.

Moving to Boat of Garten North Box. Colin Frost and team have been able to finish off the internal painting, plus the installation of skirting boards around the Cabin. Internally the Cabin is looking very good. I can see it being a pleasure for the signaller to work in, once a new normality is achieved.

Moving outside number one signal is nearing completion. The balance weight now on, cable run up inside the post. The signal lamp unit installed and wired up. Just some small things to sort out and a bit of painting once the weather improves.

The p-way department has been following up, with the first of the IRJ’s been fitted. (Insulated Rail Joint). There is still some to be purchased before they can be installed, unfortunately there is a number of step joints required which we do not have in the railway storage area.

At the engineering sidings points (number 2 leaver) some remedial work has been carried out. The lock was binding as there is a slight height difference between the lock shoe and the crank in the four foot. After a day of looking in the storage area at Boat of Garten. The correct type of rod was found, cleaned up and installed. It’s a small change but improves the workings of the points. The points detector has now been wired up, ready for telling the signaller what way the points are lying. This is once the location case has gone in that will be supplying the power for it.

 Underneath the signal box there was a big job to do! The prop under the end of the frame was suffering from dry rot and required to be replaced. A jack was borrowed from the engine shed, packing pieces found  around the yard. The leaver locking frame was loose-end up to allow the cross beams to be lifted just enough to knock the old prop out and get the new one in. As you can see in the top left image, the prop was not in the best of conditions.

Since the prop had been changed, work has continued on the leaver locking rack and leaver tails. The locks are now attached to the leaver tail via a con rod. Each signal and the FPL are now locked in place and the signals or FPL can not be pulled off or lock removed, with out the leaver lock first being electrically energised.

So overall the project as a hole is coming along nicely. Thanks needs to be given to everyone who has been helping out in the other departments within the railway. With us all working together, Team Strathspey will complete this and mean more project’s to come.