While the main focus of the Strathspey Railway is running steam trains for the paying public, a small but dedicated group of volunteers has been restoring other items of heritage interest in spare moments between working on the loco fleet and improving locoshed infrastructure and facilities.

The current project is a Ruston Hornsby 48DS diesel shunter of 1948 which worked at Longmorn distillery until 1980 (even though Dr Beeching had closed the adjacent main line in 1967). Because it was presented to the Strathspey Railway repainted with advertisements for Queen Anne blended scotch whisky, it is known to most people as “Queen Anne”.

To find out more about our aims, follow this link or click the [About] button above.

This Blog was started over 5 years after the project began, so most of the initial blog entries are retrospective.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Queen Anne Moves Again


 Queen Anne has now moved (under her own power) into the Carriage Shed for painting.  She is currently in primer.

Primer paint applied

First Moves

The last time Queen Anne moved under her own power was somewhere around 35 years ago.  The first test runs were carried out recently in the yard at Aviemore.

Only a few minor adjustments were required.  The brakes needed tightening up and the clutch spring for first gear needed adjustment.

A short video of the first moves has been produced :-

An initial load test was also carried out and a coach was pulled in and out of the carriage shed without any problems.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

A Few More Pictures

There obviously hasn't been any progress in the last few months, but here are a few pictures taken earlier in the year.

The one-piece bonnet doors were made by bonding the 2mm sheeting to a steel frame using industrial adhesive.
The glue is applied to the steel frame

The frame is clamped to the steel sheet
 The bonnet doors were fitted with gas struts to make them easy to open and close.

Trial fitting of gas strut and brackets

The doors are finally fitted
When the original folding louvre doors were replaced by one-piece doors prior to the locomotive being donated to the Strathspey Railway, a 2 inch gap was left front and back to provide ventilation for the engine as the louvres had gone.  To keep the new doors at the correct spacing at the bottom, special stops have been made with a powerful magnet in the end.  The magnets provide an additional closing force to prevent the doors opening of their own accord in the event of wind, vibration etc.  With the gas struts fitted, it only requires a force of a few kilograms to begin opening the doors.
The magnetic catch/stop
 More of the paintwork as been rubbed down and undercoated in preparation for the final top coats.
Undercoated cab and buffer beam

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Announcing New S&T Blog

There is now a Blog covering the activities of the S&T department at the Strathspey Railway.  Please take a look by following this link https://signallingstrathspey.blogspot.com/ or via the "Associated Blogs" on the right-hand side of this page.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Bonnet Door Progress

Door Fabrication

As stated in a previous post, it has been decided to initially restore the locomotive to the state in which it was delivered to the Strathspey Railway with flat bonnet side doors and "Queen Anne" whisky advertisements.  This means that the original bi-fold doors (which are more difficult to fabricate) can be made and fitted later, and also means the loco looks the same as the recently-released Hornby 00-gauge model.

The side sheets have been cut from 1.5mm steel sheet and the top edge folded over at 90 degrees.  Sections of 6mm steel strap have also been cut and bent and these will be welded together to form a rigid frame under the steel sheet.  Some lengths of continuous steel hinge have been obtained and cut to length and drilled to fit the locomotive.  The remains of the old hinges which were part of the bonnet and rusty and distorted have been cut off  leaving a straight edge to the bonnet.
LH Door sheet temporarily clamped

RH Door sheet temporarily clamped
The hinges have been bolted to the bodywork and the side sheets trial fitted using clamps.  The appropriate dimensions for the doors have been obtained by referring  to a number of old photographs of Queen Anne, as we no longer have the old doors to refer to.

Detail of the continuous hinge
The original "Queen Anne" doors were propped open using hinged rods bolted the the running board.   This would have been slightly awkward to use, not to mention the risk of the bonnet door falling on one's head.  For the new doors a gas strut will be employed on each side.  Using a gas strut means that the doors will slowly self-open once pulled beyond a certain point and slowly self-close after being pushed back.  The force required to open and close the doors is only a few kilogrammes - much less than the weight of the doors.  Fortunately there is a website with a very good online calculator that allows you to design your own gas strut system.

The original Ruston bi-fold doors were much lighter, as there were 2 doors on each side.  The design was quite clever - when opened the rolled bottom edge of the door could be hooked behind the edge of a channel running down the middle of the bonnet to retain the door in the open position.
A bi-fold door in the open position


The wheels have now been needle-gunned / wire brushed to remove the old paint and primed.  This was the only part of the locomotive that had not been cleaned up.
Newly primed wheels

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Wiring and Colour Schemes

Wiring completed

It is fortunate that in 1948 Ruston Hornsby made extensive use of electrical components used in cars of that era.  The enduring popularity of classic car restoration means that many of these components are still produced, meaning that Queen Anne’s electrical system can be restored to its original condition.  In particular, brass bound armoured cable would be very difficult to imitate were it not still being made (although at a premium price).

The electrical system is very simple and the photographs below show the various components wired up to the control box and working.  Similar armoured cable has also been used to connect to the battery, starter and dynamo.

The front light

The rear light

The cab light

Control box and wiring

Note LH horn switch by cab opening

Colour Schemes

Recently some colour photographs of Queen Anne in its original green livery have been obtained.  The green colour is certainly not the standard “Deep Bronze Green” as used by Rustons before WW2 and later on.  Some of these colour photographs can also be seen on the revised “Queen Anne History” page.

An early view at the loading dock

A later view in 1979 or 1980
Prior to donation to the Strathspey Railway in 1980, Queen Anne was repainted with the whisky advertisements on a chocolate brown background.

Getting ready to leave Longmorn

Some more of the Longmorn staff

The new livery with chocolate brown background
Some time after arrival at Aviemore the background was repainted in a beige shade.  This has been confirmed by sanding down the paintwork and by comparing the lining above the rear advertisement, which is lower down after the beige repaint.  All this may seem a bit pedantic, but modellers seem to be very particular about liveries.

Note brown background and lining on rear panel

Later beige background and different lining
One outstanding item in the restoration of Queen Anne is the restoration of the bi-fold louvre doors on the bonnet sides.  These were replaced with flat panels when the locomotive was repainted with the Queen Anne whisky advertisements in 1980.  The louvre doors will take some time and effort to reproduce due to the rolled edges and punching the louvres themselves.

The Queen Anne style flat doors would be much easier to make and in view of the fact that Hornby is producing a model of Queen Anne in its as-donated livery, it has been decided to initially restore the locomotive in the same form as the Hornby model.  This would be contingent on financing the brown background paint and the vinyls for the whisky advertisements.
The Hornby Model

The ultimate goal is still to return the locomotive to its 1948 condition, but restoring to “Queen Anne” condition initially may help generate more widespread interest in this restoration project in view of the imminent release of the Hornby model.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019


Painting Progress

The bodywork has been rubbed down and a grey undercoat applied to around 50% so far.  A further undercoat may be applied followed by the top coats.
Rear perspective

Front perspective

The exact shade of green for the topcoat has still to be decided.  A piece of the original bodywork has been kept and sand blasted to reveal the original colour.  This seems much lighter that the "Deep Bronze Green" (BS381C 224) paint sample we have - the original "Ruston Green".  A book about Ruston locomotives states they used a lighter shade of green for a while after World War 2 before reverting back to the original Deep Bronze Green.  Perhaps our green is this lighter shade, or perhaps it was a special colour.  It doesn't seem to be a BS381C colour.
Original panel and paint sample


The engine is now running nicely with all its injectors now having the correct "VRH" nozzles.  It has been cleaned up ready for a final touch-up with special Ruston Green engine paint.
Cleaned Engine LHS

Cleaned Engine RHS


The armoured cable has arrived thanks to a £200 contribution from the Strathspey Railway Association's "200 Club".  New cable clips have been ordered and rewiring has begun.  The ends of the brass wire need to be bound with cotton cord and varnished to prevent them unravelling.

A cable end with cotton binding


Saturday, 15 June 2019

Cab Roof Finished

Cab Roof Finished and Window Seals

Cab Progress

The new cab roof has been rolled from a single sheet of 2mm mild steel by a company in Elgin.  The main part of the roof (3200mm radius) was formed by rolling and the edges (150mm radius) were formed by discrete bending.  A template was provided to assist in the forming process.  The roof was lifted into place and did not require any adjustment.  It was then drilled and bolted to the curved angles which are fixed to the cab ends using ¼" Whitworth round headed bolts specially machined out of stainless steel.
The new roof is delivered
The roof is fitted
The roof has half-round feather edging riveted all round its edges.  This requires four pieces to be formed (one for each corner).  The roof corners are 4” radius and the edging is first bent to 90 degrees using the same bending jig as was used for the edging on the cab side openings, but with a different disk to get the correct radius.  The strips then have to be curved in the other direction to conform to the roof profile.

The first step is to bend the 3200mm radius using a set of bending rollers.
The next step is to bend the 150mm radius at the edge, which is much harder.  This is done by clamping the strip to the side of the roof to mark it, then heating that area and bending that small section only.  The process is then repeated many times until the curve matches the roof.  The edging is then drilled with 3/16 inch fixing holes and temporarily fixed to the roof using 2BA nuts and bolts.
Forming the 3200mm radius
Making the edging fit
A peculiar feature of the original edging was that 1” wide strip was used around the cab roof and 1¼” strip was used around the cab opening.  At the top of the cab opening the two different widths were welded together which can best be understood by looking at the pictures.  The roof edging is separate from the edging around the cab sides so that the roof can be unbolted and removed separately.
The completed cab
Curved rain bars are fitted each side so that most of the rain water drips off front and back and not over the cab opening.  They are attached to the roof using 2BA stainless bolts tapped into the roof with a locking nut behind.  This means further trimming of the edging.  All in all a lot of time-consuming “fettling” is required to get everything fitted properly.
To prevent corrosion a sealing compound was used between the edging and the roof and rain bars and the roof.  Shell Tixophalte was chosen for this as it is a high specification waterproof seal.  The sealant was applied and the edging bolted back using 2BA nuts and bolts which were tightened to squeeze out surplus sealant.  The bolts were then removed one at a time and replaced by rivets which were hammered over by hand.  The roof is now ready for final painting with black bitumenous paint.
The completed roof. Note the different edging widths on the side of the roof.
The specially-made roof fasteners
The battery box has been fixed in and the battery fitted inside.  A heavy-duty battery isolation switch has been fitted on the side of the box.  Only the starter motor is connected at the moment.  The next step will be to connect the dynamo and check that is charges OK.  The rest of the wiring will need to wait for new brass-bound armoured cable to replace the originals.
The battery box is fitted
The original cab interior had a cream roof and dark green walls and battery box.  It has been decided to paint the upper half of the cab interior cream as well to make the cab lighter.
Undercoat applied to cab interior

Window Seals

The windows on the front and back of the cab have aluminium frames with special rubber seals to hold the glass in place.  The original rubber seals were perished but we still have a sample piece.  To fit a window, the rubber seal is placed around the glass and offered up to the frame.  The seal has a “flap” at the front that must be pushed into a groove all round the frame in order to stop the glass coming out.
The picture shows the sample piece inside the frame.  The insert on the right shows the cross-section of the rubber seal.  The insert on the left shows the nearest profile that is theoretically available.  Unfortunately, this profile is not a stock item, and the manufacturers require an order of at least 30 metres at £15 per metre.  As we only need 7 metres this is not an option.
The window seal with profiles.
The next approach is to consider 21st Century technology in the form of 3D Printing.  It may be possible to print sections of seal in a suitable material.  Shorter lengths could be glued together with Cyanoacrylate adhesive as most 3D printer beds are not long enough (we need 21”).
We have access to an early 3D Printer for the purposes of investigation.  If the process looks promising, we may need to investigate getting the job done externally if this is not too expensive.
An initial sample length of the seal has been drawn up using 3D CAD software.  3D printers normally print rigid shapes using ABS plastic, so we will produce trial samples in this material to get the best profile and finish.  If this looks good we will buy some TPU filament (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) and try printing a sample in that material (which is flexible).  If that works, we will look at getting all the seals printed.
First trial samples in ABS
However, it is still quite possible that 3D Printing will not be good enough with currently available technology.  In that case we will use rectangular U-shaped seals (which are available from stock) and glue the seals to the frame.  Of course this means that if in future you need to replace the glass you will probably have to destroy the old seals and replace them with new, but it is the only affordable way out.