The Spinney Light Railway

2014 - 2015
Running Lines Renewal Complete

The Tasks

Renewing the Main Line

Shortly after Alan Ainslie took over we began a programme of main line track renewal. The actual rails are hardly worn but the ballast subsided and sleepers rotted. Up until that time individual sleepers were replaced and ballast re-packed but the Ainslie regime saw a change to complete renewal. Our progress can be seen by scanning back through previous winters. The winter 2014 / 2015 saw the last section, the down main line from the gate to the first Bay Tree signal re-laid.

New conduit Empty track

making the track Assembled track

The pictures show progress including (bottom row) track panel assembly at the traditional place - the bridge gap using a full size railway sleeper as a support. Another shows the plastic membrane under the track, so damp does not permanently surround the sleepers.
Fortunately, no extra ballast had to be bought; a major expense in the past.
The opportunity was taken to encase some track circuit and signal wires in plastic tube where it passed near or under the rails.

Track Maintenance Diagram 2015

The diagram on the left charts the progress of our re-laying the track, beginning in 2005 / 2006 at the branch point by the gate and ending this year with the down main. Notice the date of the new long bridge - 2003.

Only the tunnel sections, protected from the rain, have not required attention.

Click on the diagram to see a larger, clearer version - use your back button to return here.

Steam Raising Air Line Renewal

alan and mick fitting airline

The air line was re-located from above the shed doors to track level with an additional outlet further out on the wall nearest the running lines so steam could be raised there whilst other locos used the pit positions.

The picture shows Alan S - the man in charge, with colleague Mike braving cold conditions to do the work in January.

New Branch Point Machine

Tim built the machine to Alan Stephen's design. The motors for these machines are now those that wind car windows up and down. This one was from a new source with a design feature that caused the motor drive to dis-engage if an obstruction was encountered.
Re-engagement is by reversing the motor. In our application the motor rotates in only one direction and when an obstruction fouled the point blade, the motor disengaged and would not re-engage. It took a little while to realise what was happening after which Alan S disabled the feature with a washer in the motor.

New point machine new point

Final installation was by David G and Mike C - sadly, not pictured. Here we see the new machine in all its glory and a preliminary installation by Nick and Bob. Bob was crucial in identifying cables since the old connections had been thoroughly obscured by mud and corrosion. Notice the machine has been moved to the other side of the track and further away from the rails to reduce the risk of destructive impact by passenger or driver foot. The pantomime of installation was made more 'interesting' by the point being some distance from Spinney signal box. Jamie, in the box, used his mobile phone to keep in contact with the installers as final adjustments were made.

Passenger Coach Maintenance

overhauling coach brakes mrake overhaul

Alan S and Mike were in charge of the project. Lubrication was applied to all the bearings but the main issue was brakes. The coaches have vacuum brakes but leaks to the system required repair. Alan S took various bits home to repair and the brakes now work.

Signal Renewals

signal restoration

For most of the year Alan Ainslie was stuck in his workshop cutting wood for the several hundred sleepers required for the track renewal.
However, a few signals had been put aside after we took them in because the wood was clearly rotten.
The picture shows Alan busy replacing the vertical wood posts that are the basis for every signal.
For Joseph, the railway's creator, signals were almost more important than the engines; Alan is following in his footsteps jealously guarding for himself the job of building signals to a high standard.

Odd Jobs 2015

Dave Mowatt was key in tidying the ballast store, Dave Marsh tidied brickwork too close to the track by the toolshed on the branch, and we cut up and disposed of redundant steel rail that had disfigured the entrance to the railway by the gate.

And we treated ourselves to a new set of SLR shirts - see below

Group Photo 2015

group photo

Top row, left to right, Alan Ainslie, Bob Thackery, David Daines, Richard Stokes, June Ainslie, Robin Smith, Alan Stephen, Heather Reynolds, Dave Marsh.
Seated, left to right, Mike Collins, Tom Zetemeyer, Tim Reynolds, David Grant.

Regulars missing: Cliff Perry, Jamie Heath, Nick Smith, Adrian Allum, Dave Mowatt and Phoebe.

Thanks for all the Tea

reusing track

The account of the winter's work would not be complete without a thank you to our hostess. Alan A was sometimes away on business but June was always there, bringing cups of tea throughout the day and presiding over the official tea with the cakes.
Talking of cakes, the photo includes Phoebe, never far away when lunch is declared or there are cakes about.

We managed to run our first proper trains on April 9th 2015 - a great improvement on the previous year when it was June before we started to use the railway.

But just before we start running......

Robin award Robin plinth

To mark Robin's role as project leader of the winter maintenance projects, Tim removed a miniature rail chair from some scrap steel rail we had recovered, mounted it, and presented it to Robin at the first running day.
Thank you Robin, for your leadership and thank you Tim for marking the occasion.

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