Posted by: wrha | February 26, 2017

Riccarton Junction – Just a few Lines

In 2003 the family of Kit Milligan kindly allowed WRHA to republish the book Riccarton Junction – Just a few Lines. The copies that were printed at the time have all since sold out and very few come on to the secondhand market.

During 2013 it was decided that for the closure’s 45th anniversary dinner held at Newcastleton a new edition would be created, using a new set of photographs from different photographers and featuring maps of Riccarton.
Although the commemorative editions have now also all sold out we have decided that a new edition would prove popular and so volunteers have been working on the required editing and a run of a third edition has been ordered. This should be with us in the next few weeks so please keep an eye out for it appearing in our webshop at
Posted by: wrha | February 4, 2017

Saturday 4th February 2017

Baz Shell reports:

In true Whitrope style up the hill it was snowing, cold, and very wet.

Some preventative maintenance was carried out on the Permaquip to return it to service; the tracklaying gear was then loaded onto the trailer, with plans being to position the other rail into place on the first panel of the running line. This was done and it has been temporarily clipped and bolted up, but the weather was truly against us, so it was pack the gear away, have a cup of tea and planning chat, and head off back home.

Sod’s law that once over the hill, the sun was shining and the birds where singing!

The Fowler boys must get a different weather forcast to the track boys as they stayed at home in the dry and warm.

Posted by: wrha | January 28, 2017

Weekend of 28/29th January 2017

Track work (notes from Baz Shell):

Dress code for this Saturday was waterproofs and wellies as it was a very dull and wet day, with real rain between the showers.

But the weather didn’t deter our volunteers who were keen to battle on and complete the first section of the “running” line with concrete sleepers.

Jim quickly got our trusty digger cranked up and run up to the work site, but we had a “failure” with the Permaquip which was suffering from flat batteries, the altenator drive belt has been suspect for a while, so we decided to leave it and other small faults until we could have a full day working on it.

Work cracked on at a good pace, because it was pee-ing down, all the sleepers were in position and by the end of play one section of rail was seated and clipped in place.

Well done the track boys!

Not to be deterred by the weather the Fowler boys where again onsite sorting a few faults and the loco ran up for a good long period, there are still a few niggles to address.

Traction (Notes from Duncan Thomas):

1. Main jobs of the day was to check over the engine after last weekend’s running and start work on the air system.

2. The engine appeared fine, although it had lost a large amount of water from the cooling system, about 10lts.

3. The cooling system was topped up and a good check made for any obvious leaks, none were detected so the engine was started.

4. The engine ran fine and again had a couple of periods of running through the day.

5. The engine throttle control was connected up to the cab controls and now operate fine from the cab.

6. A small quantity of oil was drained from the sump for inspection. The good news is the oil appeared fine with no evidence of water contamination.

7. A fuel leak on the feed into the fuel filters from the lift pump was repaired and the leak fixed.

8. George and Davie managed to get a number of the air pipes refitted, although progress was a little slow as we appear to be missing some lengths of pipework, so a fair amount of time was spent hunting the missing pipework.

9. A number of the regular volunteers were on site and were really pleased to see the engine running as they missed it last weekend.

10. Jim reported he is making progress with sourcing parts for the electrical system, so hopefully work can start in this area soon.

Overall steady progress made. Next week, work will continue to find why the water level had dropped, with the continuous rain today it was impossible to see if things were leaking, or if it was just water dripping off the loco. Work on the air system will continue.

Posted by: wrha | January 22, 2017

Traction Talk:

The volunteers were at work on the Fowler again yesterday (21/01/2017) and there has been some positive progress. The engine was filled with coolant yesterday and run up for a couple of hour long periods. There are a few little niggles but it starts easily and runs well. There are currently no signs of oil passing into the coolant and compression is good. Work will continue to get the locomotive serviceable.

Old wooden sleepers removed from the main running (UP) line. A lot of these are waterlogged and rotten, and also had old BR1 style clips which we wish to dispose of. Any reusable sleepers will be put into stock for use on the sidings.

The UP formation graded and concrete sleepers being set out to upgrade the running line

A look south along the line

The lads move some more parts of the Fowler up to the workshop from store for refurbishment

Posted by: wrha | January 15, 2017

Weekend of  14/15th January 2017

Saturday was a beautiful day by Whitrope standards, our intrepid band of volunteers had a very hard frost to face first thing, but once the sun rose it really warmed things up; clear blue skies and bright sunshine all day, even a few midges, honest.

Jim decided to start the generator and heat the bothy with the electric heaters so it was nice and warm for snack breaks, as well as giving some light and heat for Alan working in the Information coach.

The digger was coaxed into life with help from some “Easy-Start” and Toyota Motors. Once it warmed up it operated perfectly all day. Not bad for a machine that’s nearly as old as it’s operator!

We quickly decided on the concrete sleeper spacing we would use on the new construction, and Jim set to work removing the track ballast for re-use, and lowering the formation as the concrete sleepers are deeper than the original wood ones.

With ballast removed and the formation levelled, we started to place the concrete sleepers in position, with Andy taking great care with the spacing, and Bill keeping us on the straight and level

In all eight concrete sleepers were put in position before bad light stopped play as the digger has no lights.

There was scheduled to be a committee meeting to discuss the programme and operating details for 2017, but with few members in attendance this was cancelled.

The “Fowler boys” were also a miss, as the track boys were hoping to hear the sound of the loco emerging from it’s long hibernation…

However it turns out the Fowler team were in attendance on the Sunday instead.

A small amount of diesel was put into the tank and primed through, the rockers were lubricated and the rocker boxes refitted and then battery leads were fitted to the starter and the solenoid engaged. The engine fired up very quickly and was run for a short period as the cooling system is still being worked on. This shows that the fuel system is okay, and that the head and block are sealed enough to maintain compression to fire. The oil pressure also was at a satisfactory figure.

Work will continue on the Fowler over the next few weeks.

Picture credits to Baz and Jim

Posted by: wrha | January 8, 2017

Saturday 7th January 2017

After the fog had cleared away the day was very mild and warm, with occasional glimpse of the sun.

Another good turn out of volunteers for the start of 2017.

A rare, but very welcome member was Duncan, who gave his excellent knowledge to George, Rod and Davy and “sorted” the slight problem with the Fowler oil pump, Thanks Duncan.

Unfortunately Jim was not abled to attend until later, and when he did his digger didn’t want to play !

Baz, Andy, Bill and Craig spent the morning working on the concrete sleepers we are laying on our running line, but without the digger it was a no go!

There is also some query to the sleeper spacing to address.

1 The sump was removed to check the oil pickup pipe was ok, and it was.

2 The engine was spun over to make sure the oil pump was being driven via the cam shaft, all in order.

3 It was decided to overfull the sump with oil to ensure the oil pump itself was submerged and after several spins on the engine at long last oil appeared in all the places we hoped it would. We even got an 8psi pressure reading on the oil pressure gauge in the cab.

4 The cleaning process for the air brake pistons was started.

5 The injectors were fitted and torqued down.

6 Next week we hope to fit rocker covers, tube up the injectors and fit the exhaust.

Another good day.

(Words and pictures from Baz Shell – posted by DMS, to be edited)


Posted by: wrha | January 3, 2017

Work parties:

Now that the festivities of Christmas and the New Year are over we are looking at erring back to having at least fortnightly working parties at the site. The biggest job is fettling the track ready for the new season. There will also be work on the rolling stock, and general tidying around the centre and the track. If you are interested in helping then please drop us a line. Please remember that for insurance purposes volunteers must be paid up members of the Waverley Route Heritage Association.

Posted by: wrha | December 24, 2016

Seasons Greetings 

A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our members, supporters and followers.

Posted by: wrha | December 19, 2016

Saturday 17th December 

Once the sun rose it was a reasonable day weather wise.

The volunteers stripped down the ex Methil panels so that the materials can be checked and stockpiled. The sleepers will be used to upgrade the running line, with some of the pandrol clips being used here too. The majority of the pads and insulators are life expired and will be replaced. The rails will be put to one side in our storage area, along with others recovered from the southern area ready for future developments.

Various maintenance jobs were undertaken too; with the Permaquip Patrolmen’s trolley given some more checks and a top up of antifreeze and other fluids.

It and the Hymac digger provided much mechanical advantage when stripping the panels, but a tracked excavator would be very handy if anyone has on sitting idle…

Work has also continued on the Fowler and other rolling stock, and preparing the exhibition and buffet coaches for next season.

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff to do! If you are interested in helping out please drop us a line (see )- you’d be made most welcome 🙂

Text from Baz Shell, Edited and posted by DMS

Posted by: wrha | December 11, 2016

Saturday 10/12/2016

Andy, Alan and Jim, with help from the Hymac digger began to transfer concrete sleepers from the materials (ex Methil) near the crossing and start to lay them out towards the tunnel in the running line, as part of ongoing upgrade works on this section. Pete was at work near the tunnel with a bushman saw, cleaning out some of the scrub around the portal. Tom was working on the brake van underframe, along with Malc inside van taking measurements and photos to prepare timber replacements at home in his workshop. Joe was tidying up plant boxes ready for the winter. The Gilnockie crossing gates moved into dry store.

After lunch, with cake due to Davie’s birthday, Alan and Bill worked on the exhibition coach, and Davie, Rod, George and Jim continued work on the Fowler with the starter motor being temporarily wired in so that the engine can be spun over for testing.

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