Spinney Light Railway Archive News
Winter 2016 / 2017

1st April Fool's Day 2017

Dry day to start with and then towards the end rain dampened activities a bit thanks to June for the Teas and cakes to keep us going. Special cakes today to mark a special day.

bmick 70

Bob did not attend as it was his Wedding Anniversary which took precedence Peter was away Dave MB said work got in the way and Jamie was unable to attend but e mailed to say there are two wagons within the freight stock which have three bags full of the muck (inc ballast) they require emptying down at Old Oak however One of the bags has several Fifty Pound notes at the bottom whoever empties the bags can keep what they find...........(just think about what date is) plus none of us would recognise a £50 note!!!! You could have sent me a few so I would know what to look for. Mick was one day short of 70 years so we rallied round and bought him a card and two Birthday cakes. Unfortunately none of us had anything of value to donate so it was just a card and cake event and hopefully Mick was surprised. David D continued with the cutting project between the tunnels and now says that we must wipe our feet before entering that area. It looks like it will be our next winter project to remove the track and relay on new ballast that will enable drainage. The ballast has been removed from the cess to allow the concrete base to show and hopefully this will aid the drainage situation. Cliff continued with leaf blowing but I am sure there will be more to do before we run our first train next time.

S & T news

“signals “branch

As can be seen by the pictures the signals have been put out and where possible tested. Just like full size - pressure on. The Spinney point from the main line to the branch number 7 points needed tender loving care and the S & T team gave it an overhaul. This however needed the rails to be re-aligned (bent using a tin wedge) as they had been run through in the wrong direction and caused deflection. All now working perfectly. The token machine at Old Oak received some paint.

Carriage shed project

“trees “carriageshed26”

Dave M pruned the trees next to the new carriage shed as can be seen in the lefthand picture. The carriage shed team made very good progress today despite having to leave early (Mick in celebration mode) and the heavy down pour of rain (weather forecast was light showers). The carriage shed is really taking shape now.

Next time

Next time it is planned to start running and hopefully test the railway. A few jobs still need to be finished. Please wear your Spinney shirts for a group photograph.

18th March 2017

Dry day where we were able to progress with a few odd jobs. Thanks to Dave MB for his contribution and June for the Teas and cakes.

“ballast “borehole"

foot crossing

At the last meeting Jamie and Dave MB started to remove ballast from between the tunnels and this time took it by wagon down to Old Oak where it can be seen being washed. The amount of sludge that came out showed that the track between the tunnels was heavily contaminated and not draining at all which has caused a few sleepers to deteriorate. The track between the tunnels sits on a concrete slab which along with the gradient is designed to allow any water to drain away via the tunnels. Tom bought along his large hole cutter to cut through the concrete slab and then dug down using his home made hole borer (right hand picture). This worked very well and a drainage hole 22 inches deep was dug. The hole was filled with a plastic tube filled with small ballast stones and wrapped in membrane - It is awaiting a top to be attached. Part of the concrete slab has been washed to remove the sludge and at one point David D was in his element standing on a railway and watching water pass him as if he was on his canal boat. Cliff arrived so we stopped for lunch (naturally) and after that Cliff became chief leaf blower and tidied up the site. With the recent changes to track alignment between loco shed and Dingly Dell this has meant that the foot crossing has had to be reconstructed and can be seen in the left hand picture being concreted - Dave M is supporting a piece of wood in case it falls over. Comments were made as to whether there will be a foot print in it. Nick and Robin fitted the new loco shed point with an operating lever and the point is now fully operational and just needs to be tested using a locomotive.

S & T news

“bob “david

Bob was again in Spinney box. He has been wiring the block instrument with a connector so that it can be unplugged and stored for the winter months. This task is proving difficult and Bob is pulling his hair out as the block instrument will not function correctly with the connector. This has taken a lot of Bob’s time and he has therefore not progressed with Dingly Dell which means Dingly will not be operational at the beginning of the season. David and Richard wired up the new point machine at Old Oak (7B points) and this has now been taken home by Alan S to have a lid made. As the motor is slightly different it has had a knock on affect with the mechanism and I have taken some parts home to remake. Mike H has re-installed the refurbished and now working trackside phone in the cutting it has been tested and works well. Mike H has also found a phone which will hopefully be ok for the trackside position by the splitting homes on the main line. This also would have been installed had it not been for the fact that he accidentally left it at home.

Carriage shed project

“carriage “carriage

The carriage shed is really taking shape and progress can be seen. The timber roof frame is currently under construction and the top centre roof timber required many hands to get it into position. Alan A made a joint held by wedges and unfortunately when this was manoeuvred into place proved too much and the wood split. Wood was turned and another joint made and then put together in situ. Alan S used the power saw to cut the many angles required and had great fun using Alan A’s nail gun.

Next time

Bob will not be present as it is his Wedding Anniversary (congratulations) Mike H will not be present so the telephone at the junction signals will have to wait signals can be put out and tested clean signal boxes and using a wagon remove all the concrete (ex signal supports) from around the railway.

4th March 2017

The Hertfordshire contingency were not present and Dave MB phoned in with man flu. Odd jobs day and it is not far away to our earlier than usual start date. Projects on the go were Old Oak point machine carriage shed track drainage between tunnels buffer stops and signalling alterations. Thanks to Jamie Adrian Peter for their contributions and June for the Teas and cakes.

“tree “buffer

cutting drainage

Strong winds during the week which bought chaos to main line railways also affected Spinney with fallen branches (lefthand picture) all removed and placed on the bonfire. Jamie worked on the area between the two tunnels removing ballast that looked more like sludge. This will be washed and sieved however the area needs some decision making regarding drainage a smelly and mucky job. After a lunch time discussion it was agreed that the new exit road would temporarily continue to be a siding accessed from the Dingly Dell end due to signalling requirements. Dave M and I set about installing the temporary buffer stops to mark the boundary. Other ideas of marking the boundary included lifting out a track panel which seemed a lot of work and placement of a concrete block over the line but this was considered unsightly and could cause damage to a loco if the two came together.

“taking “carriage

Peter and Robin cleared the earth away from the front of the new carriage shed and the picture shows the earth being transported to plant bedding near the level crossing however the rope at the front seems a little slack!!!! Alan A continued to work on fixing the wood to the brick wall and can be seen framed by previous work.

S & T news

“signalling “old

Adrian Bob and Richard continued to work in Spinney signal box initially to add a connector to the block instrument which communicates with Baytree signal box. Up to now this has been permanently wired but now it has a connector allowing it to be removed for maintenance and winter storage. The block instrument was then tested between Spinney and Baytree and all worked well. I have been working on the new point machine for Old Oak point number 7B and this is now at a stage where it needs a lid connecting to the electrical circuits and testing.

Loco news

Cliff arranged to take Clan Line home with the help from Peter and his trailer. Some difficulty experienced navigating the new point work at Old Oak and was then secured onto the trailer. Jamie was going to move his locomotive to check that it still moved and had not seized but to get Clan Line out of the engine shed Jamie’s loco had to be moved and all wheels rotated successfully.

Next time

With weather permitting it is hoped to reinstate the foot path across the siding that has been slewed across and this will involve concreting a new slab and constructing wooden formers to mark the edges. Carriage shed project will continue with construction of the wooden frame.

18th February 2017

A fair weathered day and projects included converting siding to running line signal support brackets installed Point motor started and carriage shed continued. No Cliff Robin Richard or Jamie but we still managed lunch. Dave MB unfortunately had to visit A&E at Royal Surrey (Guildford) and missed most of the day but it was good to see him I know only too well the joys of spending a minimum of 4 hours in A & E last year and not once for myself. I have hopefully captured all those who attended either on camera or in the text. Thanks to June for the Teas and cakes.

“siding “wagons

One of the sidings from Dingly Dell has been slewed over 6 inches and connected via a point to the loco shed. It is intended that once the carriage shed has been completed this siding will not be required and can be used as an exit road from the loco shed. Adrian and Bob worked on moving block joints signal post and burying signal cabling whilst others ballasted and tamped the new line to bring it up to running line standards. Two wagons were used initially to transport wood from Old Oak up to Spinney (David D and David G) then as the picture shows conveying ballast to the upgrade work. In the left hand picture above Nick concentrates on the point lever mechanism whilst Alec (in orange) seems to have seen something of possible interest (only he knows)!!!!

“siding “old

At Old Oak Peter and I started work on replacing the old point machine for points Number 7b and the picture shows the extra long sleepers being inserted however one has a severe bow and may need to be replaced. David G bought a new point motor which turns out to be too large to fit the box and after many ideas as to how to overcome this problem I have decided to take the old point machine home to take out the old motor and put it into the new point machine box ready for next time. We also cemented new signal support brackets for Baytree junction signals 3 & 5 and the associated distant signals (2 & 6).

Carriage shed project


Alan A Alan S and Andrew continued with the carriage shed project and with the brick laying now finished efforts turned to carpentry skills and their results can be seen in the picture. Instead of being covered in brick dust Alan S was covered in saw dust. A damp course membrane has been placed between the brick structure and the wooden frame and all screwed together. The amount of wood required can be seen on the Old Oak platforms.

Next time

Discuss working arrangement for the new line between loco shed and Dingly Dell fit point motor at Old Oak and continue with carriage shed project.

4th February 2017


Present : Alan A June Mick C David D David G Jamie H Dave Marsh Dave Mowat Robin S Alan S Peter W.
Cliff did not arrive so we had lunch and then he arrived!
If I have missed anyone let me know. (me = DG who is responsible for today's ramblings.)

More Work on the New Carriage Shed


The taper on the carriage shed gable had been built up with whole bricks so the sloping edges were a series of steps at each course of bricks.
The task was to make this a smooth slope.
Alan A bought a large HEAVY petrol driven angle grinder to cut the bricks to this line.

Alan S was the hero who clambered on the scaffold and cut the bricks with the moral support of Alan A and David G.

Thank you Alan - we hope your back did not ache too much next day.

Clearing the Cutting

“Jamie “Dave

It was hard to believe the amount of ballast mixed with black Yuk that the team (pictured above) found in the cutting whilst re-sleepering there.
Much of it was perfectly good ballast. The repulsive mixture has been deposited on plastic sheet by the new carriage shed and it is hoped we can hose it down to recover the ballast.

Dave MB started making the journey with a wheelbarrow (another sore back?) but later the team realised there was a railway method and a truck was pressed into service.

The railway in the tunnel and cutting is laid on a smooth concrete base so there is a question about whether we should bother with any ballast there in future.

New Point Parts


Robin has been hard at work at home making replacement point parts.

Most significantly the 'nose' where the main wear occurs. The 'nose' is a vee shaped piece of metal which wheels strike after being unsupported.

The picture shows Robin and Richard near the tunnel mouth installing the new parts and adjusting check rails etc.

New Engine Shed Line

“Jamie “Dave

As ever lots of folk gathered and were prepared to offer advice (left picture) but Dave Marsh did manage to get the right-hand picture with Mick C actually working.
Apologies for the blurred picture but the gathering of advisers was too good to miss

We look to some imaginative shunting on the new facility next summer.

Photos offered and not used are added to the Current Picture Page linked here.

Contact DG re any errors and omissions on this time's news.
Do not be afraid to point out errors of grammar and spelling. Be aware that after he passed O-Level English in 1960 his teacher was kind enough to comment : "I didn't expect you to pass Grant".

21st January 2017

A cold day but still a good turnout everything frozen and slippery but projects continued except for the carriage shed project where no work took place. Apologies for absence received from Mike H David G and Alan S.

“loco “loco


The top two pictures show the main project of the day and as can be seen a large number of friends available to offer their views. This picture shows the group making a decision as to which way round the point should go and which way up!!! (difficult). The point has been inserted to allow locomotives to enter and leave the yard on separate lines. One drawback is that departing locomotives will only be able to access platform one at Dingly and the signalman will have to keep platform free for this move. Mick C led the way and this involved removing a track panel digging out and inserting the new point which was difficult as the ground was frozen. It is also intended to add an extra water filling location which involves ground work for running pipes under the track. Hopefully this will be remembered before the track is laid. Also the departure signal will need to be re located and wired and another signal post to be constructed. Right-hand picture shows Peter and me trialling the new support bracket at Baytree both this one and Old Oak did their job.

I bought along another signal support bracket which Peter and I were going to concrete into the ground for Baytree Junction 3 & 5 signals however it needed re-alignment to match the distant signals for clearance and when we dug down we found buried cabling in the way. With some extra digging this was moved and the embankment built up with more earth. This will be allowed to settle until we meet next time. The distant signals (signals 2 and 6) also need the same treatment so the old base was dug out and ground works built up. Peter has taken the signal home to modify as per the others and I will construct some new support brackets. Dave MB was busy between the tunnels clearing leaves and later digging out some rotten sleepers and discussed with Alan A about improving the drainage in that area.

Bob reported that none of the points would operate as they were all frozen no such luxury as point heaters as on the full size. Bob was once again back in Dingly this time replacing the temporary wiring with more temporary wiring for the new track diagram which can be viewed in the pictures section. Bob was also working in cramped spaces again. Jamie cleared away moss from the track between Baytree and Spinney and started to build a stone edge from the bridge to retain the ballast. Cliff did not arrive which meant we had a late lunch at about 13.30. Due to the cold weather we left at 16.00.

Thanks to June for the tea and cakes especially in this cold weather (Did I mention it was cold?).

7th January 2017

“tim “yard


Firstly a Happy New Year to you all it was a mild day and a lot of projects were worked on. A big thank you to Mike H and Peter for supplying the pictures which can be viewed here and in the pictures section and to all of you that submitted your efforts so that I could write this news piece. Also to June for the tea and cakes. Cliff arrived so we stopped for lunch (had to say that) nice to know old habits don’t die and we do not need a watch or sundial. Talking of Cliff in the picture on the right you will see that Cliff is showing us his Dads Army training skills and along with Dave MB cleared all the leaves away from Dingly - there can't be any left now! Cliff also demonstrated the Teflon effect leaves have on rails and promptly fell over once Dave MB had stopped laughing Cliff was helped to his feet. Cliff has also e mailed all of us a link to train mountain which is very interesting. I have made some new signal post support brackets which with the help of Peter have been cemented in at Old Oak number 10 signal and Baytree numbers 12 & 13 signals. We have now dug out Baytree number 3 & 5 junction signal and also trimmed the end from the bottom of the signal to remove the rot. Holes will be re aligned to make it vertical. Right-hand picture above shows Robin refurbishing the broken tie bar on one of the yard points and all done under the supervision of………. Spinney point number 5B had been a cause of concern last year as a locomotive (long green one) had several derailments on it. Last meeting Robin took away part of the point and refurbished it. Today this was reinserted back into its correct position whilst the adjacent trailing spring point was dismantled for the same treatment.

bob wiring spinney

Left-hand picture shows Bob again working in cramped spaces; he must like that but this time he has moved to Spinney box for a change of scenery. The order of the day was to rewire the block instruments in Spinney box. Richard carried on bonding rails and Adrian carried out June’s wishes and continued to bury exposed cabling / trunking (picture in picture section). Mike H is working on testing and repairing the signal post telephones and today has got the SPT to work at Baytree signals number 3 and 5 (junction) and placed in a new position.

Also in the pictures section is the refurbished Dingly Dell signalbox track diagram. This will hopefully be fitted next time and I will report how it has fitted.

“david “jamie

Pictures above show Millie assisting both David D and Jamie with their track repairs not sure if it was help or hindrance. Rotten sleepers were identified dug out and replaced between Baytree bridge & driveway (heading towards Spinney). All ballast was sieved washed & recycled around replacement new sleepers.

Carriage shed project

carriage shed 18

At the start of the day David G and Alan A made a trip to collect some more sand so the team could mix some mortar. Alec also was able to join us and provided useful labour to Alan A and S by cleaning bricks moving bricks stacking bricks moving cement and handling bricks whilst David G mixed mortar carried mortar spilled mortar and finally disposed of excess mortar. Both now sick of the sight of bricks and mortar. The more skilful laid the bricks and another 8 rows were constructed at the front of the building to complete the A shape. An angle grinder will be used to trim the edges to complete the final design to match roof profile. As the air was damp the mortar was not setting quick enough so Alan A said he will finish the pointing on Sunday. Dave MB also assisted as assistant brush holder.

Next time

Continue with the carriage shed project and hopefully start on the wooden roof structure install the signal support bracket for Baytree numbers 3 and 5 junction signals plus continuation of wiring upgrade at Spinney box.

17th December 2016

“lunch “old

I normally state that Cliff arrived and we stopped for lunch but Cliff e mailed to say there was illness running in the family we wish full recovery for Christmas however Tom took his place today. This was beaten by Dave MB who arrived and we all went home….. Dave did manage to look around assess our work and get a cup of tea. I have removed the old signal bases at Old Oak number 10 shunt signal and Baytree number 12 and 13 signals. These will have new support brackets made and hopefully if the weather is good enough next time they will be concreted in place. Both lines between Baytree and Dingly have had the ballast scrapped back to reveal the sleepers and allow them to dry as they have been covered for some time thanks to Peter for helping me. Robin worked on point maintenance and has brought back a rail and re inserted it into the Old Oak siding point 7B. Also points at the loco shed received attention.


Alan A Alan S and Dave concentrated their efforts to the carriage shed project. As can be seen a roof profile was made and more layers of bricks added at the front to match Dave M is holding a very important piece of wood. Mick and David G used a Cromer coach and transported all the roof timbers down to Old Oak and stored on the platform as can be seen in the lunch picture. The coach was also used by David G for his own personal dining train. Bob worked in Spinney signal box and came out just as a point had been laid on the loco shed exit road and joined in with the discussion about its viability to providing a different and safer operating arrangement for trains entering and leaving the loco area which I think were the words Bob was looking for when explaining to Alan A. This may progress this winter. The idea is to convert one of the Dingly sidings to be the loco shed exit road and do away with the reversible running on the current line. This apparently used to be the arrangement many years ago how things go full circle. If this goes ahead I will have to re draw the track plans!!!

Thanks also to June for supplying the tea cake mince pies and mulled wine.

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year hope to see you in 2017.

3rd December 2016 First working party day

Dry day good turnout of friends and winter maintenance started. Main areas of work were the carriage shed points and Dingly Dell signal box a good start to the winter maintenance programme a productive day.

“wood “s&t


Only one train ran today - wood was delivered during the week and then today it was loaded onto two wagons and transported from Spinney down to Old Oak and placed inside the carriage shed. Cement was mixed and more bricks were laid. I was going to take a picture of the end of day's work but it was covered up so no one could see it - or to protect it from the frost which is more likely. Richard and Bob hid in Dingly Dell signal box and continued to make wiring alterations. Left hand picture shows the group having lunch at Old Oak normally held in the engine shed but it was decided that it would be nice to sit outside Mick tried to hide by covering his face - can you spot him!!!!

“preparing “spinney

Robin worked on the trailing point tunnel end of Spinney station removed the rails and has taken these home for alteration and repair. Picture shows Mick helping free two screws which originally refused to move but with a bit of brute force and ignorance were successfully removed - hammer helped. Old Oak number 7B point is going to be fitted with a new point machine and this has so far involved removing the old point machine and replacing sleepers. Peter our carpenter expert has cut two long length sleepers to accommodate the new point machine and can be seen in the picture deliberating the machining process. These will be fitted when the new point machine is ready currently needs a new lid and motor. I have taken Old Oak number 10 subsidiary signal home to make new ground bracket as the new point machine will not be a straight swap but involve movement of signal securing posts.

19th November 2016

David D not well Alan S had to work and the M3 was partially closed causing extra journey times.

“lunch “old

David D e mailed to state he was unwell and we wish him a speedy recovery. Bob was able to attend after his illness and provided his sought after cake was it that he could not afford the postage!!! The M3 was partially closed due to bridge works and this meant traffic was diverted onto the A3 and M25. Everyone was subject to long delays getting to the Spinney with Mick and David G taking three hours - hopefully the return journey was better. A very relaxing day with plenty of chit chat plus tidying up the site. Cliff arrived so we stopped for lunch some eating in the loco shed whilst others braved it at Baytree. Peter once again came to the rescue with his trailer and made two trips to collect some ballast sand helped by June and Dave MB - Sand shovelled into storage bags at the Spinney. All signals have now been washed and put away and Dingly Dell signals placed elsewhere so that Bob has space to continue with his Dingly Dell upgrading project. The whole railway was cleared of leaves using brooms and leaf blowers and a lot of mischief. Picture shows Mick with a broom a bit high and leaves being directed at people a lot of fun had by all.

“puncture" “mick

Cliff’s car had a puncture and with no spare wheel fitted the RAC had to be called to take the defective wheel away and return with a repaired wheel from a local garage. Just as well the garage was open not normal to have an orange van at the Spinney. Mick C helped clean the loco shed under the supervision of June and comments were made if we could photo shop Mick to include a piny etc - just the thought of it!!!. Next time we can start with the planned winter maintenance programme and progress with the carriage shed project. Thank you to June for the tea and cakes.

5th November 2016

Cold (as everyone will vouch for) but dry day traditional end of running season marked with Fish and Chips followed by Fireworks.

“leaves “leaf

Everyone felt the cold and if possible huddled around a steam locomotive or hands around a cup of tea just to thaw out a bit a day for wearing thermal and fleece lined clothing. Thank you June Louise and Eric for helping in the catering department and for assisting with lighting during the fireworks. The railway was tidied up as can be seen in the pictures and Scott Line encountered a leaf or two on the line (suffering as per full size). Dave MB and M successfully cleared the line using leaf blowers whilst Peter made many trips to the bonfire. Alan S Peter and Dave MB cleared the carriage shed floor moving bricks and brushing out the water that had accumulated. Hopefully this year's winter project will involve getting the roof built and this will keep the floor area dry. Plan was to run trains to 4pm where we would have tea clear up then have the usual end of season fish and chips followed by fireworks. Bob T was unable to visit due to illness (we wish him a speedy recovery) and at tea his cakes from previous visit proved to be very popular (if you cannot make next time can you send more in the post?). David D also went home early due to not feeling well and the cold (sitting next to a nice warm fire sounds the answer). Mike H was nominated controller for the day which he did not relish until informed there would only be one train running for most of the time and that could look after itself (easy job). David G was away sunning himself - did I mention the cold!!!

Loco news

“elsie “mick nick robin at dingly “jamie

Four locomotives on track today and were Standard 78054 Scott line Class 20 and LMS 7163 two steam and two electric. Scot Line ran for the first two hours as ‘one engine in steam’ and therefore was given free running before being joined by the others at 3pm. Picture shows Dave M daughter Elise driving which she thoroughly enjoyed apart from Dave who sat there and got cold (no train heating!). With only four trains on the railway we were able to run longer trains and Scott Line ran with four coaches and 78054 had three.

S & T news

Four signal boxes three signalmen (sometimes two) - Richard covered Baytree and sometimes Dingly whilst Mike H had a drive Mike H was in Dingly and Robin covered Spinney. Old Oak became TMO (Train Man Operated - full size terminology) where the driver would operate the levers to run the train round the coaches then gave two on the token instrument machine to let Spinney know they were on their way back. This worked very well and used the large token for this purpose. At the previous running day Richard took home the banner repeater usually found between the two tunnels for maintenance did any driver notice it was missing or even report it missing?

Other work


Picture shows Tom welding together a wagon chassis for Nick using the back of his pick up as a work bench an unusual working practice. When finished the wagons will be a six wheeled tank variety and will hopefully complement the Spinney wagon fleet and the wagons Dave M is constructing. Looks like the carriage / wagon shed needs extending before it is built!!!

End of summer season

red signals

Picture shows red signals at Baytree which I thought summed up the end of the running season all stop. It is very rare to see the railway operating in the dark and therefore rarely see the signals lit up. The last two years have seen rain on this day but thankfully rain fell the previous day and we were able to have the usual end of season fish / pie with chips and fireworks although all sat there bearing the cold elements (possibly a taste of future maintenance weeks). Some of the fireworks were a bit bland and we had to watch ours and listen to the fireworks from neighbours to gain full effect however Peter bought along a firework called ‘Empire’ and this was a true firework packed with action and noise. Well done Peter for that one more of those next year please.

Next time

Start of winter maintenance clean and pack away signals so many hands please to make light work as they say then start winter projects. June and Robin have produced a list of items that need maintenance / renewing.

End of News - Summer 2016