Ainscough Crane Hire’s Invergordon depot has successfully completed work refitting various locomotive parts for Strathspey Railway, as part of a scheme to restore some of their iconic steam trains to their former glory.
Strathspey railway station is located near the town of Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands. It is currently run by Carmyllie Pilot Company Ltd., a volunteer team of five who have been working on restoring a number of trains at the station, including the LMS Black 5, No. 5025, for nearly twenty years.
The 5025 is the oldest steam train currently in preservation. It was built in 1934 at Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows and was withdrawn from public use in 1968.
Ainscough Crane Hire was contacted in October of last year to attend a site visit and begin planning a lift programme. Early March, a specialist Ainscough team consisting of a crane operator – Graham Murray, signaller – Neil Fraser and supervisor – Richard Heggie arrived on-site to lift a 25t boiler from its tender, placing it within the 5025’s main steam engine.
Due to the station’s status as a busy access route, trains were heavily restricted on the day to allow the team to carry out their role safely. Icy conditions within the highland environment also meant the crew had to be careful when driving their machinery along slippery road surfaces.
However, using an LTM1100/2 with 26t counterweight, and a 19m boom, the boiler was able to be removed from its former tender.
This load was then held whilst the tender was shunted down to the workshop for future improvement works. Meanwhile, the refurbished main steam engine was transported down to the lift area to manoeuvre the boiler into its new position within the steam engine body.
In addition to this lift, the Ainscough team were also asked to transport a 14t engine and a 12t tender from Bridge of Dun, near Montrose.
Ainscough’s Dundee depot was well placed to carry out the job and loaded the locomotive parts onto transport using an LTM1070-4.1, with a 14.5t counterweight. These were then delivered to Strathspey Railway and will be used by volunteers to restore another aged steam locomotive, 46464.
All being well, the 5025 will be back in steam by summer 2021.
Richard Heggie, contract lift manager at Ainscough’s Highlands depot, said: “Despite a complicated lift programme and icy conditions, this was a smooth and efficient operation thanks to our specialist team and the fantastic efforts of the Carmyllie Pilot Company Ltd.
“We’re thrilled to have been able to contribute to such an important and historical project, and we look forward to seeing both trains up and running again soon.”