Wednesday 24 November 2021

Dalfaber LC update.

 Dalfaber LC update,

24th November,

Written by Robert Law.

Yesterday was the start of the Ground survey work at Dalfaber LC. Which has continued into today. This work is been done by SYSTRA (rail consultants) assisted by Strathspey Railway on behalf of Scotia homes. Who is investing in the community’s infrastructure around Dalfaber. Trial holes have been dug to evaluate the ground. To see that it’s stable and how it is formed for the installation of the new Equipment. Plus making sure that there are no buried services under the ground that are not registered.

Half road closure put in place for the work to be carried out safely. The railway is closed and no trains are running or allowed to run between Boat of Garten and Aviemore while the work is ongoing.

Trial holes been bug for various different parts of equipment. Depending on the results of the Ground type, this will decide how large the foundations will need to be to support the equipment.

Radar imaging map been created to understand what buried services are under the ground. 

One hole 2 cable’s, now are they post to be their?

The coring machine doing it’s work to discover what the Highland Railway built the railway on.

What it left behind a little bit of back filling required.

An example of one of many cores taken today. Turns out mostly sand.

Manholes and under road cable ducts been inspected. To see if they are serviceable or requiring replacement.

A long look into a deep hole. All have been labelled photographed and documented for future reference. 

This is only an illustration of what is hoped to be achieved. It is not yet approved and is likely to change. At the moment the plan show a half barrier locally monitored crossing. With a white light to the drive to indicate the crossing is working correctly and red if it is not.

Overall from what I have been told it has been a very productive couple of days and that no major surprises were found. Work will progress in the future as plans and diagrams are created.

Information and photo’s supply by Stephen Muirhead and Colin Stirling who were on site.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Autumn S&T Report

Autumn S&T report.

By Robert Law

Well it’s been a while and there is a few things to bring you all up to date with. There has been lot’s of small jobs done by various people. 

Boat yard on a late evening visit.

The big one has been the removal of the trees that were growing into the telegraph pole wires at the back of the Boat yard. The Burch trees will be recycled and should be keeping someone’s home warm this winter.

Our P-way department has been doing some points timber replacement around the Boat of Garten station area. This was requiring S&T presence for one day with the timber under the sole plate of 8 points at Boat South was requiring replacement. This resulted in use having to preform an FPL test after the timber had been replaced. Which it failed! Steps were taken to make the necessary adjustments to correct it. Which then had a knock on affect to the signal detection, which also required adjustment to get both the main line and shunt signals working again. By the shift end, everything was back in and working ready for the Royal Scotsman later that afternoon.

Work in progress replacing the timber.

The completed job, good for another 20 years.

The main work of the last 2 mouths has been getting the key token machines ready for use. This involved making some locking alterations to the Boat of Garten, Broomhill section. The signal Boxes at Boat of Garten are now switched in and out with the Boat - Broomhill section token instead of the Boat - Aviemore section token.

The new section tokens.

Having a look at the now “old” boat - Broomhill section key you can easily work out were it had come from. In around 2001 Nairn was re-signalled to what it is today. Most of the redundant equipment ended up at Boat of Garten, including the shunt key and locks used to release the GF at Nairn. Allowing trains into the sidings off of the up platform.

The “old” section token 

The locks at Broomhill have been changed with the locks that use to be in use at Aviemore about 6 years ago when this project was first started. You can see looking at the new keys that they are a different shape to the original. This has been done on purpose not by mistake! To make a clear difference between the old and new. Hopefully reducing confusion with drivers as they get use to the changes.

The changing of the locks.

Anyone fancy doing some painting? Both new locks fitted to the ground frames at Broomhill but a bit of painting would not go a miss.

Aviemore station GF 

Just a reminder of the locks that are fitted at Aviemore, the annex’s type lock was fitted a few years back now. The second is the shunt key that is released by Speyside box when the box is switched in and the train is in section with the section key. Allowing shunting to be carried out when the Scotsman arrives off the main line. 

Boat and Aviemore token machines 

In the middle of the night when the railway is closed and most people are not around. The professional S&T were around doing some independent testing for the Strathspey Railway. Checking that all was correct with the installation of our key token machines. Which they were quite happy with, just a slight earth issue coming from the batteries at Aviemore but well within tolerances. The key token machines have now been made available for our operations department to start training on them. Once the railways Rule Book has been updated to cover there operation, hopefully we can bring them into use!

Boat Up distant signal

On top of all this, work has started getting the railway signalling ready for the winter season train running. We currently have two battery lit signals on the railway. Both being distant signals, this one the Up distant at Boat and the Up distant at Aviemore. Both batteries have been changed and should be good for the next 3 mouth’s. All other signal lights have been checked and their signal sighting checked. No point having signals if the driver can not see them. Signal wire runs have been checked and slackened off as required with the colder weather. It’s only when you start writing things down that you realise how much work has actually been done.

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)