Friday 31 March 2023

March S&T Report

 March S&T Report

By Robert Law

Time is flying by and it is a struggle to keep up with all things S&T! We have not been ideal, the winter! That is for sure. I am happy to report that our, independent recognized experts. From out with the Strathspey railway have visited and preformed an independent new works commission testing of Dalfaber ABCL. The crossings was scrutinized, to the finest detail. A short list of post testing snagging was produced and this has since been acted on. The legal order to operate trains over the crossing was granted from the ORR on the 3rd of March. Independent testing was completed by the 4th of March. On the 5th of March the possession of the line was lifted and the crossing was formally handed back the the operations department. Allowing them to start training and familiarization of the crossing for all staff and volunteers before the start of the railways running season. Thanks is to be given to ALL who have been involved in the project! It has been a big one. With grate rewards for the railway, including a much Safer railway for all!

The last part of the testing. Actually running a train over it! 
37674 had the honour of being the first engine over the crossing,
With the crossing in automatic control.

Now with that one out the way! It is time to get back to the other smaller projects around the railway. 

With the implementation of the improved interlocking at Speyside Cabin last year. There was a couple of operational difficulties..? But things that had become harder with making thing safer! This has been taken on board and a solution has been developed. Instead of the North GF at Aviemore station been released by a physical key/ token that is retained within the frame in Speyside Cabin. It will soon be done by an electrical release instead. Which will make things more flexible for our operations department.

Was a great idea to refurbish the location case in the shed.
But made it very difficult to collect and deliver to site!

Now at its new home. This location case will house the equipment that is required at the remote end to operate the GF electrical release.

Not installed yet and not its final position on the block shelf!
But this is the electrical release annett’s lock which is operated by the shunt key. Instead of the key needing to be physically moved to the GF. It can be inserted into the lock that will then give an electrical release at the GF. Thus making things more flexible for our operations department.

Underneath Speyside Cabin, work is progressing. A new work bench has been installed and the electrical supply board has been improved. Sorry but the picture does not do justice, to the amount of work that has been done.

Another job that has been completed is the fabrication of new lids for the locking trays. Now the locking is contained and protected.

On top of all this project work. The routine maintenance of our signaling equipment has been completed, before the beginning of the running season. Points testing has been completed. Oiling and greasing of all the mechanical equipment has been done. Inspections of all assets has been completed and this has raised more work into the work bank.

On inspection of this compensator crank, it was found to be moving. Affecting the B end of 14 points at Boat of Garten South. The screws were found to be loose, as well as the two bolts.
The Bolts have been tightened up. Screw holes, plugged re-drilled and new screws installed.
This is now holding well, but will need the timber replaced at some point in the future.

Last of the jobs that have been done this month! With lots of two train days, planned in for this year. A training rig, of key token machines has been set up in the lodge. This is to help aid in the training of our signallers on the railway. Plus a bit of fun for us!

If you like what you have seen on this page and would like to get involved. Please head over to the Strathspey Railways website and discover how to join our team. 

External renovation of the Speyside Signal Box at Aviemore - the final chapter.

 External renovation of the Speyside Signal Box at Aviemore  - the final chapter.

Work over 15th to 19th March 2023.

By Colin Frost


In order to complete the final chapter of the renovation. The two sidings connecting roads 6 & 7 of the Roy Hamilton carriage shed would need to be blocked by scaffolding, so with agreement of the Operations Department we were allowed to have scaffolding built for a very short period from 15th to 20th March to provide access to complete the painting of the West side of the box. 


With help from the Georgie and the P-Way team the new staircase was moved down from storage at Boat to the Speyside platform.  It is constructed from Iroko hardwood, and is very heavy; it takes four men to carry them.


On Wednesday the old stairs and all the handrails were soon removed, and more rotten timbers were cut out and replaced, then it was onto the technical bit. 

The new stair case had been built oversize so with much measuring and judicial cutting they were trimmed to fit and offered up, so it was with great relief they fitted perfectly.  

The two paving slabs that the stairs rest on, at the base, were leveled by Steven Muirhead who also fitted tensioning rods beneath the steps to strengthen them horizontally.  


A spare plank of Iroko had been provided with the stairs so this was used to fabricate the handrails and supporting posts, these were all measured and cut to shape. The use of the circular saws in the carriage workshop was invaluable and without them the job would have been virtually impossible – Many thanks to Willie Dodds for allowing us access, so finally it was time to assemble the handrails and posts to complete the construction.  


Onto the painting of the timbers on the veranda and the west wall, to complete the work started last year, and meanwhile Mike Tough attended to the wriggly tin roof.  

The renovation of the Speyside box was now complete.  We had been advised to leave the Iroko unpainted as it contains natural oils, which act as a preservative and the stairs will darken over time. 


There was just time to undercoat the woodwork on the newly rebuilt ‘Old Toilet’ block, which is located on the eastern boundary outside the steam shed.


With thanks to the team:  Nick Courtier, Colin Frost, Jim Hardy, Ray Kenyon, Jim Pittendrigh and Dave Childs (who procured the redesigned staircase) and also with thanks to those mentioned above.