Saturday, 11 September 2021

The final renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten

 The final renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 6th to 8th September

By Colin Frost


Once again we were lucky with the weather, and with the scaffold removed, we set about completing the outstanding workincluding a final coat of undercoat on the north and west walls, rubbing down and undercoating the two windows on the east side and cleaning down the wriggly tin roof of the store.

Looking down on the store roof


The following day the top coat of ‘pollen’ was applied to the north and west walls and the two windows were finished in ‘Banana dream 6.  The final broken pane of glass was replaced in the door and then the wriggly tin roof required attention. Due to the uneven ground surrounding the store and the way that it falls away in two directions, this was a bit of a challenge. But a coat of red tile paint was successfully applied without too many dramas.  


The finished of store

On day three all the remaining areas were painted in ‘saddle brown’, mainly the frames around the windowsand a final few touch ups were also completed.


Broken windows replaced 

All the wood off-cuts that had been lying on the ground at the rear of the box was collected and dumped, where possible the paint scrapings and swarf were swept up and all the old paint kettles and brushes were also skipped. 


Back all clean and clear of vegetation 

Along the way we have also cut back the overgrown foliage from the bushes and trees that partially obscured the footpath from the station.The work on the box is now complete, so our thanks go to the other team members that have helped Ray and I over the past weeks – a great job done.


The completed North cabin

Team this week Colin Frost and Ray Kenyon



September S&T Report.

 September S&T Report,

By Robert Law,

Yet another mouth has passed with more work been completed around the railway within the S&T department. Some time has been spent at Aviemore Speyside box, trying to improve the wight on the points into the carriage shed and the engine shed. With the carriage shed points it was found that there was an in balance of the rodding between the signal box and the A end of the points. With a new closure cut and bolted into the rodding run. This has greatly improved the wight of the point. Hopefully keeping our signallers happy. 

Newly restored 5025 passing Boat of Garten North box

At Boat of Garten North cabin the new points and signals are all working very well with only a few minor adjustments been required as everything beds in. The scaffolding is down around the signal box with just a few little bit still requiring attention with the building but there should be a separate report shortly about that.

Boat of Garten North box almost completed.

With the project on hold at Boat of Garten North box, until the location cases arrive. Attention has moved onto the long awaited Key token machines between Boat of Garten and Aviemore Speyside. Over the years the work has been on and off with this project. The large jobs that have been done over the years, is the repairs to the pole route between Boat and Aviemore. There is still lots to be done to the pole route. With at least 3 poles requiring  replacement, trees needing cleared from underneath the wires. Plus lots of cross members on the poles require replacement. Considering the vast majority of the poles date back to the 1950’s and earlier (it is believed), we can not complain to much. Before lock down began a new cable was run from the end of the pole route at Aviemore to Speyside box. Completing the connection between the two signal boxes. 

One of the poles that needed to be repaired 
Speyside KT machine 

The machine themselves are Tyers number  9 machines. Both machines in there recent past have been to uni part rail to be professionally overhauled. The locks have been reconfigured to an A lock, (the type of keys that we will be using). The machines are now in place at Aviemore and Boat of Garten. They have been tested by the installer, although are still requiring to be independently tested to prove that installation has been done correctly. We are waiting on personnel bodies for this task. The keys you can see sitting in the machine are not the key that will be used once the machines are in use. They are for test purposes only.

Broomhill loop GF

Included within the introduction of the key token machines between Boat of Garten and Aviemore. The section Token key and locking requires to be changed between Boat of Garten and Broomhill. The Broomhill section token will become the token that opens up Boat of Garten Signal boxes. Resulting in the locks requiring replacement and a new section key being created. Hear you can see the trial fitting of the new lock on Broomhill loop GF.  The original one is back on until such time that we are ready to do the change over.

Dalfaber LC.

Work is progressing very well and very fast. The scheme plan and the ground plans have been created and presented to the developers. At this point in time the plans are with the ORR and the Highland Council to be commented on and hopefully approved. Detailed draws for the level crossing are now been worked on. This is a very large time consuming job and requires the full attention of the professional members within our railways team. Below is part, of what is outlined. They are Not the finish or approved drawing and are subject to change. They are just an illustration of what work is been put in by the Railways professional members, that are not seen on the railway every weekend. Although are busy working away at home for the good of the railway. 
Part of the scheme plan

Part of the scheme plan 

Part of line side diagrams 

With the diagrams to help you understand them green is coming out, black is what will not be changed and red is what is to go in. That is all there is for this mouth, if you would like to get involved and help out with tasks within our S&T department or on the railway in other departments. Please get in touch with us through the railways website. We are always looking for help. From cleaning, tidying, oiling, greasing and preforming maintenance tasks. Also helping out with installation projects, there is lots going on just now!

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 18th to 20th August

 Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 18th to 20th August 

 By Colin Frost

Our aim on this visit was to finish all areas that required scaffold access, and to this end the final top coat of ‘Pollen’ was applied to the walls in all the remaining areas just above ground level.


This achieved we moved on to paint the three windows in the porch area with undercoat and the finished top coat of “Banana dream 6” applied.  The porch was also completed, with the ceiling now in white and the window in light cream, which now gives a much lighter effect, as it had previously been painted brown.


At ground level on the east side of the under-croft there were two panes of wired glass that had been damaged many years ago, so these were removed and replaced with similar glass, and finally working at ground level around the back of the box, under the maze of supporting scaffold poles the undercoat was commenced on the north and west walls.


As a final touch the windows on the east and north sides were paint scraped and given a clean.


The good news is that the scaffold is being removed on Tuesday 24th after being in place for just about two months.


Team this week Colin Frost, Jim Hardy and Ray Kenyon


(to be continued)

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 31 July to 3 August

Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 31 July to 3 August 

By Colin Frost


On Saturday 31st we were joined by six members of the P/way team and Jim P and they were able to scrape down any loose paint, sand and apply an undercoat to the remaining north, west and east walls at the lower level of the scaffold.  The inside of the porch was also prepared and an undercoat applied.  This herculean effort moved the renovation on a pace and allowed Ray and I, over the next three days, to apply the top coat to all the windows on the east side at first floor level, replace another small rotten area of timber on the north wall and a pane of glass in a window in the south wall.  Final top coat was also applied to the east wall down to just above ground level. 


The first half of the wriggly tin roof of the store was washed down so that this can be prepared for painting.


We had deliberately left the south side of the box till last as most of the area did not require the use of the scaffold, but now was the time to prepare the walls on this side. So after more wood repairs were completed at ground level the wall on the first floor and at ground level was cleaned down and the undercoat applied.


Team this week Jim Clark, Colin Frost, Ray Kenyon, Neil McQueen, Angus McPhail, Jim Pittendrigh, Mike Tough, and we also welcomed two new members to the P/way squad Dave Gelippe and Bob Vincent.


(to be continued)

Thursday, 12 August 2021

August S&T report

 August 2021 S&T report 

By Robert Law

With school holidays progress at Boat North Box has been slow but steady.

The Block shelf has been mounted above the frame and the indicators have been mounted on brackets that have been made for the job. The King leaver indicator is now in front of it’s lever instead of been at the end of the frame. The temporary indicator for the points has been mounted above the points lever. 

A better look at the new indicators above the points lever. Top one is the temporary points indicator. The new one is still at S&T HQ waiting to be serviced before been sent up. Below it, is the track circuit indicator, not in use yet but ready when it is required. At the bottom is the track circuit override switch. This is for use in the event of a track circuit failure, and only to be used with RO’s authority.

Temporary disconnection boxes been installed for the termination of the 19 core cables. This has been done as the location cases are still at S&T HQ…. As the day’s are drawing in and the light is fading. The signal lights are required for the late evening running of the wine and dine trains. The signal lighting are supplied from under the signal, on the power distribution board. Over the 19 core cables, to the temporary disconnection boxes and onto the tail cables up the signals.

Just to show that is has been done, hear is all 5 of the new signals at Boat of Garten, well lit in the daylight.  Visibility at night time should be more then adequate for both drivers and signaller’s.

Moving on to Aviemore, problems were been had with the block bells at Speyside box. Two of the cells had become life expired and required to be replaced. A decision was made to just change all the batteries as we have a healthy stock of newer ones. The batteries currently supply the local 12v. At the moment it is  only for the block bells but in the longer term any relays and lever locks that will need to be installed, will be connected on to this supply.

Problems were identified with the table in front of Speyside box. The rabbits had been in about and dug out around the timbers. The timbers had become loose with the hot weather with the bolts becoming loose. Some time was spent back filling in around the timbers, bolts tightened and a new fishplate installed at the end, to tie the timbers together, to help prevent future problems. Once this was all done the points drive required an adjustment as it had effected the throw of the points.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 19 to 21 July

Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 19 to 21 July 

By Colin Frost


Front of signal box 

North face of box

Back of box

We made the most of the glorious weather over these three days, and managed to apply the final top coat to the east, west and north walls at first floor level.  This was followed by touching up the brown where it meets the cream, and we made a start on the final coat on the east side window frames.


However by the Wednesday afternoon it was too hot up on the scaffold in the sun where it was recorded at +35C phew.

More rotten wood identified 


At ground level more rotten timber was identified, which included a large piece replaced on the main beam at the northeast corner.   


Team this week Ray Kenyon and Colin Frost


(to be continued)

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 13 to 15 July

 Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 13 to 15 July 

By Colin Frost


With the top level of scaffold now dismantled the gutters were accessible, a few small leaks were sealed and they were rubbed down, undercoat and the final top coat was applied. Undercoat was also applied to both the north and south walls and also the frames of all 36 windows were painted - a great job NOT. 

Ray and I had great help on the Wednesday when three members of the p-way team pitched up,

Jim Clarke, Neil McQueen and Mike Tough.  They did sterling work scrapping, rubbing down and applying undercoat to the back wall. 


The ladder to ‘noware’ also received a rub down and a coat of black Hamerite, well it seemed churlish not to give it a coat of paint seeing as we had access up there!


(to be continued)

Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten 30 June to 3 July

 Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 30 June to 3 July

By Colin Frost 


Work on the roof area was completed with flashband applied to bond the slates with the timber facing on the roof edges.


South end face

North end face

Both apex ends of the box were painted with the finished top coats, and this completed the work on the top scaffold level.


Meanwhile at first floor level, the north and south walls and windows were scrapped and rubbed down and primer applied to any bare wood and with all the loose putty removed from the window frames, fresh putty was applied.   


With another delivery of new mouldings, more defects were replaced, and a suitable 15ft long plank of timber was purchased from the Spey timber yard and this was fixed over the rotten area on the main support pillar on the rear North corner.  


We now await the removal of the top level of scaffold so that the areas from the gutters can be accessed.


The work team were Colin Frost, Ray Kenyon, Jim Hardy and Mike Tough


(to be continued)

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

General improvement works

 General improvement works 


By Robert Law

Since the last update lot’s of little jobs have been completed! Somethings still being difficult with Covid-19 regulations, others been difficult because of scaffolding around the Boat of Garten North signal box. The electrical wiring works within the North Signal box has been left for now until the painting gang completed there work to keep numbers within and around the structure at a Covid safe level. They are a very dedicated team and always seen to be there when we turn up.

Improvements have been made to the Aviemore Station north Ground Frame, new operator instructions have been mounted on to the back board, for operators to follow. Hopefully this will help, when the operator forgets what they are doing with the GF...

It was also identified that the loop stop board was of poor condition and required replacement. Yes it has been modified from it’s original wording but is quite clear on what needs to be done.

 Moving to the other end of the line and the stop board has finally been installed in the loop. Giving the drivers a very clear point to stop before. This stop board was the one beside the water tower at Boat of Garten. Nothing goes to waste on this railway!

Back to Boat of Garten with the painters working on the North Box and COVID regulations regarding how many people are working in one area. It was time to get on with some outdoor work and do some painting of our own. Top coat of black paint has been applied to number one signal. 

The outer home has received a coat of black paint at the bottom of the post as well.

Improvement works has been made to 15 and 28 signal at Boat of Garten South box. A new arm and lenses has been applied to 28 signal. Plus 15 has received a new disc. This was not a big job but it improves the look of the signal and gives the drivers less excuses for not seeing them.

Problems were starting to develop with the detector for 15 and 28, in the form of the chains on the vertical wheels becoming badly worn. Preventing the points lock from being removed. New chains have been fitted and the problem removed.

One job has been completed within the North Box. This was done on a very late shift to avoid the painters. The existing signal lighting circuits have been transferred from the old temporary arrangement, onto the new signalling distribution board. The old system has been removed. Now just waiting for the location cases to connect up the supply to the signals to the north of the box.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 17 to 19 June

Renovation of the North Signal Box at Boat of Garten – 17 to 19 June


With the scaffold erected we were now able to inspect the intermediate levels and the roof. 

Firstly the edging timbers on each of the four roof edges were found to be beyond repair so suitable timber was sourced and these were replaced, meanwhile slipped and missing slates were dealt with and we were ready to start rubbing down the paintwork on the eaves.  Most of this was was just flaking off.


More rotten mouldings were also identified and replaced where we could, but we are now awaiting a further supply of new mouldings to complete this job. 

A large section of the main support pillar on the rear North corner was also rotten, so the rot was removed and treated with preserver, now awaiting the supply of more new timber. 


The work team were Colin Frost, Ray Kenyon, Jim Pittendrigh and Mike Tough


(to be continued)

Thursday, 3 June 2021

External renovation of the North Signal box at Boat over 31May and 1June

External renovation of the North Signal box at Boat over 31May and 1June

By Colin Frost 


Taking advantage of the sunny weather, Ray and Colin spent a further two days catching up on work that that had been postponed due to the previously inclement weather of a last couple of weeks ago.          


The final colours have been applied to staircase and work has progressed painting the token stand, which has been in bare wood since its construction probably over 5 years ago.


Further sections of the rotten moulding have also been cut out and replaced, but for the time being this is about all that can be done, until the scaffold has been erect, which is scheduled to be in place from 17June.


More next time..........

Progress! Progress! And a spanner in the works...

Progress! Progress! And a spanner in the works...

By Robert Law

2 June 2021

It has been a while since my last update but lots have been achieved. Lot of pictures for you to see! To start with credit needs to be given to the other departments that have been getting involved with what has tuned into a big project. Colin Frost and Co have been getting stuck into the much needed building maintenance and timber renewal of the North Signal cabin structure. Please have a read of the dedicated posts on this work. Then there is our E&P team lead by Nick Winter. Who I have to say, has done a brilliant job of bringing the power and distribution of the signal box right up to current standard. Unfortunately there has been a operations mishap by our locomotive department but this have been dealt with very quickly and efficiently by both P-way and S&T teams with normal working resumed by the next day.

The picture dose have a signal in it! Number 19B of Speyside cabin, with our black 5, 5025 shown here doing test runs within the station area of Aviemore. The annual Maintenance and FPL testing has been completed at Aviemore Speyside and both Station ground frames, with the shed staff “playing trains” around us. 

Back to Boat of Garten North Cabin. Work has progressed on connecting up the points indication circuit. Which has now been connected up, with the addition of electrical locks now working on 4, 7 and 16 signals. This is the three signals that protect the points. Now the mechanical interlocking checks that all the levers in the lever frame are in the correct position. With the electrical detection at the points proving that the points lever has put the points over and that the points lock lever has in-gauged the lock. Thus making sure that it is safe for trains to travel and stops signaller’s from doing anything that they should not.

The track circuits that are required to prove that no train is present over the points, will be installed in the near future. This has been delayed by the weather and S&T HQ not been able to work outside in the rain. But now that the points detection is installed there is no need for the use of the clamp and scotch making our P-way department much happier when taking their trains in and out of their site.

Underneath the cabin, lot’s has been going on Nick Winter’s new power distribution clear to see by the front door, new LED strip light meaning that we can now see! What a difference in light output compared to the old lights! The New S&T power distribution board is now live and work can now commence on moving the current signal lighting circuits over to the new board. Plus the B12 supply for the electrical locks and relays is now feed from the new supply.

S&T power distribution board. 110v external, supply to the signal location cases when they arrive, to the left. 24v signal lighting in the middle still to be completed. On the right B12 supply for the internal lever locks and relays.

A look upstairs showing the new 1950’s style signal cabin lighting. This is a vast improvement compared to the original strip lights that was in the cabin. There are still period type lamp shades to go on and the  “old” current signal lighting switch still in place which will be removed once the control circuits have been moved onto the new power distribution board.

Looking to the north of the box you can see the signaller do get a light for the writing desk, for filling in there paperwork. The old Tilley lamp is still sitting on the original hook just to remind people of what the cabin originally had for lighting before the Strathspey Railway put electricity into the box. That’s right under BR this signal cabin never had a 240v mains supply. The other question some of you may ask, “why only two small lamps”. Simple, to reduce the light pollution. So the signaller can see out his windows at night. To see what train is there if it is clear of the signal and if it’s train is complete, and the tail light is showing. Note to signaller’s you now have a plug, table and seat to sit in for your cup of tea! No need to deserted your post now!

Unfortunately, in the first week of service there was a operational mishap. Probably not the best thing to be showing! But it shows how the railway pulls together to get things fixed and safe for the public in the most efficient way. When the train was making it’s run round movement at Aviemore. A bit of memory fog came over a member of staff which lead to the damage of the points at the North end of Aviemore station. Unfortunately damaging the stretcher bars, lock bar and right hand switch blade. In this picture the p-way have already removed some of the S&T equipment. Clamping the points making it safe for the train to depart in a trailing movement. (From the back of the picture, to the front). Once the train was out the way both S&T and p-way got to work to get things fixed before the train was to return.

By the time the train was to return, replacement stretcher bars were on. Heat treatment had been applied to the bent switch with the correct pressure applied to bring it back to its correct shape. With this been achieved a clamp and scotch was fitted making it safe for the service train to pass over in a facing movement. With the happy passengers now back in Aviemore, the train that had now finished for the day was shunted away for the day allowing us to continue with the repairs. By 19.30 the points were back into original condition apart from a bit of welding that was required to build up the damaged right hand switch blade. The local blacksmith came out at 08.00 the next morning to successfully make this repair. The FPL was setup and tested. Once this work was completed and trains were running the next day from 10.00 with no one knowing any different. This was a bad situation, but it is a good example of how team Strathspey can come together to keep trains running.

CR828 passing over the repaired points after a 7 day exam had been made on the North Station GF after the event. All nuts checked for tightness and a second FPL test carried out, to insure everything was ok. Which it was!