Spinney Light Railway Archive News
Winter 2014 / 2015

Group Photo

group photo

Top row left to right: Alan A, Bob, David D, Richard, June, Robin, Alan S, Heather, Dave M, Bottom row: Mick C, Tom, Tim and David G. Not present were Jamie, Dave MB, Cliff, Adrian and Phoebe. It was suggested to take another picture when these friends are present and photo shop them into the group picture.

The photo has been taken at the site of the main works this year, which has been to replace the majority of the line between the Spinney number 7 point and the home signal for Baytree.

11th April - maintenance

No one spotted that I spelt April wrong for the next working day!!!! Altered now. It has been mentioned that I should have gone to Specsavers as I initially incorrectly reported that only two friends were wearing their Spinney shirts as requested via e mail. Ironically I had just gone to Specsavers and picked my new glasses up on the next day (Sunday). To correct the matter, the following friends wore their Spinney shirts, Alan A, David G, David D, Bob T and Adrian, so the group photograph will be taken next time. After a short wet start the day became pleasant with our first sunny working day of the year and again another very productive day.

David D installing block joints Signals out

David D did a tireless task of installing all the block joints on the new track section which involved being on his knees for most of the time. David was wearing knee pads and when he stood up it looked like he had lost his skate board. David D also bought along his large magnet and covered the ground at the bridge section like he was metal detecting. This is where we made track panels and David found three screws in the shingle but not until I had driven my van over the area!!! Heather started the day clearing leaves with a brush and then Cliff took over in the afternoon with the leaf blower. Righthand picture shows the start of erecting the signals for the summer season, Alan A has a few signals to repair and they will be installed next time. We stopped for lunch just as Cliff arrived. We normally stop when Cliff arrives however his clock must be slow or he waits outside until we have stopped.

Mobile 12v supply Turning wagon

Lefthand picture shows how Scott Line loco became a mobile 12 volt supply for testing the point, two wires can be seen running over the cab roof. The point worked until David G stuck a screw driver in the point blade and then the point machine stopped working and had to be stripped down and re built. The point machine is now waiting to be fully wired to the signalbox. Righthand picture shows Dave M and Mick C turning a wagon, not sure why. More pictures can be seen in the pictures section of the web. The new track has been connected and ballasted, however with tamping, more ballast will be required. Robin has been over the new track with a level and mirror to tamp the track into alignment. Jamie had to leave early and took a vital piece of equipment which almost stopped work - Jamie took home his brush so the ballast could not be swept clear of the top of the sleepers, job for next time. Also, the track screws will need tightening.

Ten friends one job

The picture on the left just had to be published. It shows ten friends, one job and Mick C can be seen through the bush and is holding some wires. How many people does it take to change a light bulb springs to mind. A clearer picture is in the pictures section Winter 2014/15. Richard bonded the new track then with Adrian tested the signalling, I did't hear of any faults other than Dingly Dell point 5B needs attention before trains can run. Towards the end of the day, we all ran out of steam (as Robin put it) and all work seemed to have stopped and turned into a social gathering and plenty of chat. June once again provided us with tea and cakes and phoebe looked on for crumbs. It is hoped to run trains in the afternoon of the next meeting, but the following work must be completed first.

Next time

Complete projects, there are still a few tasks that need finishing:-

Spinney shirts next time for group photograph - please.

28th March - maintenance

Another good productive day. Weather was kind for the time of year with only a couple of light rain showers, but this did not stop the proceedings. Robin was unable to attend today but did come down during the week and also enticed Dave M along to move projects along a bit. New track levels were checked and Dave M built a retaining wall for the new Spinney number 7 point which is being moved to the other side of the line and also removed the top layer of bricks on the wall near the level crossing on the Old Oak branch near what is to be the tea rooms in the future. Robin placed new sleepers on top of the rail at various locations where spot resleepering was required. Cliff bought the remaining sleepers on Friday as he was not able to attend on Saturday.

new edges

Dave M has now lowered the retaining wall near the level crossing on the Old Oak branch and has cemented the coping stones on the top to finish it off. The lefthand picture shows the progress in the morning. Coping stones laid afternoon. It was good to see Bob back after his illness although not fully mended yet. Bob is involved with tidying up the wiring and conduit at Dingly. The route indictor at the turntable has been removed and Bob is now left with shortening the conduit and wiring. The conduit also needs to be put into a trench so as not to be seen.

New conduit threading cable

The lefthand picture shows how many people it take s to cut a length of conduit, whilst the righthand picture shows team effort to thread a cable through a long length of conduit and then bury in the ground. They all seem to be doing something different.

new track construction

The 3D's, David G, David D and Dave MB, made up the final two track panels to finish the loop. It looks like Dave MB is either demonstrating his pole vaulting skills or is propping up David D chin, or smacked it one!!! No prizes for guessing who has their head fully covered. The rails were rolled and then added to the sleepers. The track panels were added to the other panels already laid in situ and as requested, not joined up to the unaltered track, possibly because the project leader (Robin) wants to do this task or the group have put the rails on the wrong way round and don't line up with the existing track - watch this space.

New point machine new point

The lefthand picture shows the new point machine although it still needs some fine tuning.

In the right hand picture, more holes than required seemed to have been drilled as the cross bar was inserted and many obstacles had to be overcome. Typical engineering project, solve one issue and create another. I have assembled a new point machine which as shown on the photo will be placed on the other side to the existing point machine. The new point machine will be moved back into the new recess and will be fully installed at the next meeting as it is still not 100% and will be taken home to complete.

Alan S and Mick started the day by completing the Cromer coach brake overhaul and testing. Testing involved Alan S riding on the coach whilst Mick C created and reduced vacuum levels which the coach was moving. All vacuum leaks have been traced and rectified so hopefully we have a good set of braked stock now.

reusing track

In this picture, David G shows what a shovel is designed for!!! Propping up whilst tea is served by June, Phoebe looks on. David had been lowering the track bed level so that the new track would line up with the existing track. Dave MB did some spot resleepering where Robing had identified in his e mail.

At the end of the day we attempted to look at the web site to establish the next working day, easy task until no one present could remember the passwords required. After many suggestions and attempts we managed to get onto our own web site. I think our web site must be secure when even the web master couldn't remember the passwords!!!!

Next time

Task list includes

March 14th - Tim absent DG Report

Dismantling track



Dismantling track


Building track




     Building track

Empty track




Empty track

Assembled track





      Assembled track

Point on track?





Point on track ?



Lots of progress. Many panels of track assembled and laid then pounced on for bondage. Some ballast added but major task is now skilful ballasting for our traditional smooth, level ride.

We only require to assemble and lay two panels to complete the line again.

If skilful ballasting team available next time we could run a loco round. There's a challenge!

28th February - maintenance

Sorry for the late news but England losing miserably to Ireland in the 6 Nations and beer delayed things a bit. Bob e mailed to say he had succumbed to the dreaded man flu again and has also had to have a horse put down, not a good start to the year. Cliff also made a brief visit just as we finished lunch, we could not wait any longer, and also was feeling under the weather. Speedy recovery to the both of you. Today we were a bit thin on the ground with only 7 friends attending, however progress was made but at a slower rate than necessary. As you will see from the news, friends have been putting in some extra time by working at home or putting in extra hours in order to complete the required tasks in time. A wet start to the day but it stopped raining for most part of the day. Thanks as always to June for keeping us fed and watered.

Brake overhaul mrake overhaul

Alan S has been working at home repairing the brake cylinder, rigging and fitment of new brake blocks from one bogie of the Cromer coaches (left hand picture). The right hand picture shows Mick C and Alan fitting the brake equipment and then testing. Unfortunately the coach would still not maintain a vacuum and fault finding had to start again. This time the fault was traced to the brake release valve which Alan S has taken home to repair. The defects seem to be age related, wear and tear.

richard bonding rails preparing the ground work

reusing track

Robin put in some extra hours by going to the Spinney during the week and ploughing on with making track panels. Richard bonded the track panels that were in situ then helped with track panel construction. Dave MB, Jamie and Robin were the main team for dismantling the track, rolling and then adding the new sleepers, busy task for a small number of the team. I believe two track panels were made today. The ground work is now complete and level ready for the new track to be laid and ballasted.

Last sleeper

Alan A proudly shows the last machined sleeper of the day, all wood stock is now depleted and we are waiting for a new delivery of Oak wood in the near future. Alan has been working meticulously in his wood work shed during the week and on Spinney days, machining a chamfer on the sleepers. The extractor fan has also been working flat out to remove the dust. Cliff made a brief visit due to his impending cold and feeling under the weather, delivering drilled sleepers and taking away more sleepers for the same treatment, again more work being done away from the booked Saturdays.

lowering the track level

Despite my day of forgetting things, like my tool box, mat, cold drink I did manage to remember my pick axe which was invaluable for making progress as shown. The picture on the right shows the progress I made in lowering the track (sleepers showing) and digging a gully. Using a pick axe I was able to dig out all the ballast and lower the track as there was an awkward hump that needed removing. Also I have dug a gully in readiness for a conduit to be laid and the electrical wire (shown) to be inserted then ground infilled. The ground work was difficult due to the large ballast used in that area. Old ballast was moved further down the site to raise the ground edging where it has fallen away or needs building up for the new track alignment. At home I am constructing two more point machines which are coming on slowly. On Saturday a discussion was held and a decision agreed to move the Spinney number 7 point machine (point that takes you onto the Old Oak branch by the level crossing), from the left hand side of the track and place it on the right hand side. It was proposed just to move it back from the track but this would put it into the path of a well used walkway and become vulnerable to accidental damage from being trodden on or from a wheel barrow. So the move will prevent the point machine from possible damage.

Next time

There are still many track panels to be stripped and re-sleepered so we need as many friends as possible to make track panels otherwise we will have another late start to the year. Unfortunately I seem to have incorrectly written the March dates in my diary and will not be able to attend as it clashes with visitors. Also non attendees will be Mick C and Alan S. Apologies from all. Also the cable shown in the picture requires to be put in a conduit.

7th February - maintenance

rolling the track making the track

checking track level

It was nice to see a good turn out although the dreaded cold (illness) was still lurking and many had spouses with the lurgy. It did not rain as per forecast but it was chilly at times, If you kept moving it was not too bad but if you stopped for a while you noticed the cold more. Steady progress today with four more track panels constructed whilst three more were dismantled for next time. Cliff bought back the 100 sleepers (Cliff says they are all correctly drilled) and there are approximately 75 left. We appear to have a shortage of wood for new sleepers, will this lead to over running engineering works? Robin was supervising the track work and the picture on the right shows the team checking track level or had one of them had dropped 5 pence in the dirt!

The ground clearing for the new track has also proved difficult and a pick axe had to be used to scrape away a layer of ballast to get the levels correct. The top left picture shows the track being rolled for the curved track panels. Alan A continued chamfering sleepers on the remaining pieces of wood.

overhauling coach brakes

The air system at the loco shed was checked and a small leak was detected and rectified. Attention then moved onto the braking system on each of the Cromar coaches. These coaches were individually turned upside down and checked for overall condition, adjusting the brakes and lubricating the axle boxes. The last coach proved problematic as the vacuum kept leaking and the fault was traced to the vacuum cylinder. The braked bogie was removed from the coach and brake equipment was dismantled. Alan S and Mick C have taken the vacuum cylinder and brake rigging away for attention. The cylinder requires a new fitting whilst the rigging requires new brake blocks.

I have started making two new point machines, one of which will replace Spinney number 7 point entrance to the Old Oak branch. I few problems have cropped up which, after discussion with Alan S, I will alter. It is sad to see the point motor at the Spinney tunnel deteriorate so much in such a short space of time, discussions were held to see how conditions could be improved. Thanks as always to June for the tea and cakes especially at the end we had hot cross buns - probably a little early for the time of year.

Next time

Next working day is scheduled for the 21st February, however many friends have expressed that they cannot make this day. Please look at this web site for any possible changes.

News update

Next working day is the 28th February 2015, note the change to the previously advertised day.

24th January - maintenance

alan and mick fitting airline dave tidying ballast store

david and cliff dismantling track

This is the first meeting since 6th December, due to the Christmas period and the dreaded winter cold / bug that is going around. Most people have either had it or know someone with it. It is particularly nasty bug and can last for weeks and David G was spotted slipping a cold remedy into his tea for survival. Dave M was not present as he has just moved into his new house, so best wishes and also Bob e mailed to say it was his turn to be ill.

Robin was not present but had e mailed a list of jobs to do and had been down during the week to peg out the track alignment and height. Robin has painted the tops red for identification although I did fall over a redundant peg on the Old Oak branch and bruised my arm. June has also found these trip hazards when delivering tea. The righthand picture shows Jamie acting as deputy site foreman, reading Robins spec list, Dave MB tiding the ballast store and David D preparing the new track bed. Dave MB initially thought he would tidy up the ballast store in one day but true to railway practice, took a lot longer. A signalling cable tube had to be lowered as it had sprung up and in the way of the new track. The area below was dug out and tube lowered, a group effort as it had to be held down whilst in filling.

The picture on the left shows Davis G and Cliff doing their Beeching effort and dismantling the track. All fish plates have been previously removed and this left the track screws to be unscrewed, 3 track panels were dismantled. It is worth noting that David G is wearing a new HVV jacket and it is clean. Any bets on how long it will stay looking this good!!! One track panel was re sleepered and brought back to site.

Alan S and Mick can be seen in the top left picture working on the air line to supply air for steaming locos, Alan had made the air connector brackets at home and they were screwed to the walls, connected with pipework and then tested. The picture shows Mick making final adjustment to the air valve for that bay under the watchful eye of Alan S. An additional air valve has been installed along the wall before you reach the pit and will allow two locos to steam on the same road. Adrian had a look at the signals to see what work is required to get the signal lamps working which would look good if we do an evening run.

alan chamfering sleepers drilled sleeper

Alan A was busy all day chamfering the edges to new sleepers in readiness for Cliff to take away and drill. Cliff brought with him 110 drilled sleepers, ready for use, which he has been working on at home. There are four holes per sleeper except for the one in the picture. Cliff says the chamfer was put on the wrong edge but I think we can all safely say where the fault lies. Cliff has taken another 100 sleepers for drilling = 400 holes not 404.

6th December - maintenance

tidy up fish plate removal

Tidy up at the ballast store, fitment of pipe work for the engine shed pit air supply and removal of track for re sleeping was on the agenda for today. It was a bit of a cold day and it was noted that the spring points at Baytree were frozen and would not move. Are we the first to have frozen points this year!!!

rails removed brackets made

The ballast area was cleared, steel track in one pile for removal and aluminium rail was placed in the track store. A point was found and taken to Old Oak to see if it could be used in the carriage shed project. David MB shovelled ballast that was outside the store area, back into the storage area, what Dave did not realise at the start was that there was more ballast below ground level which could not be seen and it seemed to him that it was an ever ending heap of ballast. Dave nearly completed the task and does not need to go to the gym. Alan S and Nick worked quietly and ran some copper pipe from the engine shed to the engine pit in readiness for the air supply for blowers. Robin hammered in more wooden pegs for us to trip over, these are strategically placed for us to replace the track at the same height and alignment.

david drilling

David G was tasked with making brackets for the air valves and was sent in to solitary confinement (woodwork shed) to drill some holes. The fish plates that could not be removed with a spanner were removed using an angle grinder and two track panels were removed. One picture shows the rails removed and the so called sleepers still in situ but can hardly be seen.

As it is Christmas it was nice for June to feed us with mince pies and mulled wine - thank you.

Unfortunately Bob had man flu and was unable to attend as was Cliff, David C and Jamie. Happy Christmas to all.

22nd November - put signals away

electric loco check kate last steam

Cliff e mailed us all to say he could not attend so we should not wait for his arrival before we consider stopping for lunch which was held in the engine shed due to the rain. Thank you Cliff, we might have gone hungry otherwise. All signals were taken in for winter storage and four signals have been earmarked for repair work as they are suffering from rot. Work force low on numbers today but it is only a week after our last run. Thanks to David G for some of the pictures, as my phone pictures were blurred and of course to June for the tea.

kate blowdown fish plate removal

Mick has had a lubricator problem and spent today investigating the cause. It appears that he had picked up the wrong oil can with unknown contents and this may have contributed to the lack of oil passing the lubricator. Mick then steamed Kate and blew it down in readiness for the winter. The water from George V was also drained.

heather tidies the shed nov 2014

As can be seen by the pictures, with limited numbers today, a lot was achieved. Robin surveyed the area for the new carriage shed and considered more options. Jamie is working in the back ground and hopefully I will have an artist's impression to post on this site in the not too distant future. Alan surveyed the engine shed with the idea of running a new air line for steaming up locomotives, Dave MB and Tim removed fish plates on the main line between the ballast pit and the splitting distant signal, it is estimated that we will require 500 new sleepers for this section and hopefully we have enough ballast. Heather cleaned and hoovered the engine shed. Any chance we could keep it this clean!!! and also attended to King Jack, emptying the firebox and giving it a wipe over.

Next time

Start projects:-

15th November - change to the roster

team work coaches at dinglys

Today was initially planned for last Saturday and as an end of season pack away day i.e. put signals away etc, however true to Railway style things were subject to alteration. Alan and June had a visitor from Japan plus some other more local visitors and wanted to show the railway in operation, which we did. The visitors almost had the railway to themselves.

Robin was selected / volunteered to be the controller, the resident expert for times like these. The weather was damp, no rain whilst running, but the rails were treated to avoid slipping. A lot of team work was observed today as shown by the bridge lift and many jobs were completed. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day. Jamie has drawn some plans for the new carriage and wagon shed and today he surveyed, pegged and measured the area in readiness for development. Myke and Marion Baigent also made visit and it was really nice to have a chat with them. Myke was keen to talk about projects he had done in the past at the Spinney and at Guildford. As it got dark early, we packed up earlier than usual and chatted around the table with fish and chips, making a good end to the day.

dingly covered in leaves rail treatment

On Friday, Dave MB came down and started blowing the leaves, as can be seen from the picture, the whole railway was covered by them and a lot of clearing up was required before we ran a train. On the day, there were still many leaves on the railway which had to be cleared and transported by train to Old Oak and then by wheel barrow to the fire. We trialled a new method of applying the rail head treatment by using a plastic tub with a hole in it and whilst kneeling in a wagon, ran it along the top of the rail, pushed / pulled by Dave MB. It worked well, so now a more permanent solution is required to be designed and built.

Loco news

loco line up at spinney nick at spinney

Three locomotives out today and one with Robin driving which is rare: King Jack (Jamie, Tim, Alan), 78054 (Nick and Robin) and Eileen Grant (David G). Jesse 1939 (Cliff) steamed but immediately sprung a steam leak on the manifold and was immediately retired for the winter and maintenance. David G was first in steam and ran with two coaches. Dave M cleaned his Pannier 1369 and removed all the ash, whist Shaun took his Black 5 away for winter storage and maintenance.

S & T news

One major problem occurred prior to running at Spinney, number 7 and 9 points would not function. The fault was traced to number 7 points and with Adrian to the rescue, all fixed ready for service. The point motor assembly is planned for replacement this winter.

Next time

Put signals away and start winter maintenance and project work which will include constructing two new point machines, re sleeping the main and construction of a carriage / wagon shed.

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