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.

Monday 21 November 2022

Earliest Distillery Shunters and other news

The Earliest Distillery Shunters

While many distilleries had sidings connected to the main line, few had their own shunters.  One source quotes the Ardgowan distillery on the south bank of the Clyde near Greenock as having its own Barclay 0-4-0ST built in 1894.  Several Speyside distilleries bought their own shunting locomotives in the late 1890s – Glenlossie (part of the private rail network at Longmorn) in 1896, Daluaine 1897 and Balmenach 1897.  Longmorn Distillery’s first locomotive was a McLaren 2-2-0 “traction engine” locomotive of 1898.

The reason for mentioning these early locomotives is that we are now in possession of two lamps that were originally fitted to Longmorn’s McLaren 2-2-0 of 1898.  A man (name unknown) who had previous associations with Longmorn distillery came to the locoshed to donate the lamps in his possession.  It is believed that he was given a footplate ride on Queen Anne at the 2022 Strathspey Diesel Gala – thank you very much for your generous donation.  The McLaren was in use until 1948 when Queen Anne was bought to replace it.

The lamps are of a style fitted to traction engines as they have one forward facing lens and a second window on one side.  They are a right and left-handed pair that were carried on either side of the smokebox.  There is a photograph on the Railscot website that shows the discarded McLaren locomotive at Longmorn around 1951 and you can see a lamp bracket on the side of the smokebox.

Note lamp bracket on the smokebox

Click here to view the full image on the Railscot website.

The lamps are made of tinplate by Eli Griffiths of Birmingham.  They had been painted latterly in bronze metallic paint and were in moderate condition.  After blasting away the paint, one lamp was in very good condition with only minor corrosion, although the tin plating had largely gone.  The other had more corrosion and will need repairs with tinplate.  The removable paraffin burners inside were also in need of repair.  Their butt-soldered joints had obviously caused problems with leakage in the past and the wick holders were missing.

The lamps as donated

Maker's plate on oil burner

It was decided to restore the lamps retaining as much as possible of the original material and dents etc.  After cleaning, the better lamp was painted with 2-part epoxy primer to prevent further corrosion and then sprayed gloss black.  The other lamp will need repairs before getting similar treatment.  The burners were repaired with tinplate.  Strips of folded tinplate were soldered over the edges where paraffin leakage had been a problem.  A spare wick holder from a different lamp was found and adapted to fit one of the lamps.  A second identical brass filler/vent was turned up to replace one that was missing.

Restored Lamp

Restored oil burners

The Strathspey Railway doesn’t really have any safe storage for historic items so the lamps will remain with Queen Anne for now.  One possibility is to bolt on temporary lamp brackets on either side of the locomotive at the front.  Queen Anne is already the guardian of one historic item – a Highland Green watering can with the legend “HR REDCASTLE” painted on the side.  Redcastle was a station on the old Black Isle line to Fortrose.  A long time ago this item had been in the collection of a small museum at Boat of Garten, but it was found in the skip.  After repairing the spout, it is now used to top up Queen Anne’s radiator.

Chain Oilers

The oiling system is still not complete.  The brush oilers have been obtained and these need to be fitted in place and connected to the oil pots.  Brackets have been made and piping obtained.

The oil pots and their solenoid valves have been fitted and wired in so that they dispanse oil when the engine is running.

One of the oil pots with solenoid valve

Control Box Improvement

The four electrical push/pull switches on the control box were fixed in with mild steel fittings.  However these had become corroded in the damp atmosphere of the locoshed.  It was decided to make new fittings out of stainless steel and these have now replaced the old mild steel ones.

The old mild steel fittings

Control box with stainless fittings

Gearbox Oil Valve

The Ruston 48DS gearbox has a slightly odd lubrication system.  There is a valve that is accessible through a hole in the cab floor and operated by a special key.  The valve should be closed while running but turned to the open position when the locomotive is not in use.  A sign in the form of a brass disc was created using the CNC router at Kingussie High School to do the engraving.  The sign reminds the driver to turn the valve clockwise (close) while running and anticlockwise (open) when stopped.  Three Terry Clips were screwed to the bulkhead in the cab to hold the special key to operate the valve.

The engraved sign

Special operating key

Hopefully this will remind drivers of the correct procedure to follow.


The “ignition key” for Queen Anne is kept in a key safe in the office at Aviemore along with other diesel loco keys etc.  On a whim, the term “queen anne keyring” was searched online and a Queen Anne whisky keyring came up on Ebay.  The price was £1.63 with carriage £1.90 + import VAT as it was located in the Netherlands.  So the key is now instantly recognisable inside the key safe.

Key Ring

Other Memorabilia


It was noticed around the time of the 2022 Diesel Gala that when using 1st gear to pull away with a load, the corresponding clutch would slip unless the clutch spring was tightened very much more than it should be.  2nd and 3rd gear worked without problems and provided the load is not too heavy, the loco will happily pull away in 2nd gear.

The Ruston design of gearbox fitted to Queen Anne and many narrow-gauge shunters was very successful and is a constant-mesh type that uses separate clutches to engage each gear.  The problem with 1st gear is most likely due to the corresponding friction pads being worn down to the rivets.

Dismantling the gearbox is quite straightforward, and fortunately we have the 48DS manual that gives full details of dismantling and servicing.  After removing the cab floor the upper gearbox casing is removed and lifted away.  It weighs 3 cwt (150 kg) so will probably require some sort of hoist.  After that the main gear assembly can simply be lifted out and taken to the bench for servicing.


The 1st and 2nd gear clutches are removed together.  The 3rd gear clutch which gives straight-through drive without reduction takes longer to remove.  The friction pad thickness can be observed without dismantling and the 3rd gear pads may not be renewed if they have sufficient thickness left.  There are a number of companies that replace clutch and brake friction pads on historic vehicles and it is hoped they will be able to refurbish the friction plates at reasonable cost.

The plan is to do this job over the winter.

Friday 25 March 2022

Latest Diesel Gala Video Uploaded

Here is a compilation of film clips of Queen Anne taken at the Gala on Friday 18th March :-


Monday 21 March 2022

Strathspey Railway Diesel Gala March 2022

Brakevan Rides

The Diesel Gala ran on Friday, Saturday and Sunday 18th to 20th of March.  Seven Strathspey-based diesels were in action. Class 27 (D5394), Class 31 (D5862) and Class 37 37674 were in action on the main line and shunters Class 08 (D3605), North British D2774, Ruston 48DS “Queen Anne” and Thomas Hill Vanguard gave top-and-tailed brake van rides at Boat of Garten and Aviemore.  An SRPS railtour headed by two Class 37s made and appearance on the Saturday.

At Aviemore, Queen Anne was at the south end of the brakevan and the Vanguard at the north.  The rides were in Aviemore yard, from the coal dock up to the headshunt.  There was no timetable - trips were made on demand.  Quite a number of people were carried and three dogs.

Queen Anne at the Coal Dock

... and the Vanguard

Both locomotives ran without problems.  It was a good workout for Queen Anne pushing hard from the back on the uphill northbound runs and doing most of the work on southbound runs.  The Vanguard was used to get the train rolling in both directions to avoid overloading the Slow gear clutch and to provide most of the braking effort.  Middle and Fast gears were mainly used and Queen Anne in Fast gear could just keep up with the Vanguard as it accelerated towards the end of the headshunt.  Over the three days about 9 gallons of diesel was used.

Loading up

Ready for off

On the move

Gone to lunch.  Back soon.

After her shakedown (literally) run, the next step will be to give Queen Anne a thorough examination to check for anything that may have worked loose or needs adjustment.  It was noted that the fan bearing was rather noisy and it will be replaced in due course.  It was not possible to fit the chain oiler system in time but this will be completed in the next few weeks.

Class 31 passing

Class 37 in background

Saturday 26 February 2022

Paintwork Details

Four days of intensive work this week have seen most of the outstanding paintwork items dealt with.  The "Queen Anne" advertising vinyls will hopefully be applied by an expert in a week or so.

Sand Yellow

This is the colour for the buffer discs, draw hooks, wheel rims, cab edging, cab interior and lining out.  These items (except for the lining) had up to now been painted in a cream undercoat.

Cab interior painting in progress

Cab interior complete

Note that the windows are now fitted as are the curtains.

Lining Out

The lining on Queen Anne is quite complicated and is over 36 metres long in total.  It consists of lines 9mm wide in Sand Yellow.  The original was probably painted by (a very skilled) hand but it was decided to use masking tape this time.  For the straight lines (ie. most of it) 3M Fine Line Striping Tape 06314 was used.  This is 1" wide with 8 x 1/16" strips down the middle that can be peeled out after the tape is in place.  For the curved lines two strips of flexible 3M 471 masking tape were used with the gap between set by eye.

The original Autocad drawings for the cab platework were modified to include the lining.  The actual size and placement was determined by examining many photographs of Queen Anne in the original livery.  Guidelines were then added to the drawing 12mm outside of the centre of the lines, which is approximately half the width of the striping tape, so laying the edge of the tape against these lines would put the painted lines in the right place.

An extract from the lining drawing.

The guidelines were drawn on the cab using a black Chalk Marker (this is supposed to rub off with water, but requires a bit of scrubbing).  The striping tape was then carefully applied inside the guidelines :-

The guidelines drawn in

Striping tape detail
Striping tape on the bonnet

Striping tape on the rear panel

 The gap between the strips of masking tape was rubbed down with a thin strip of emery paper to remove the gloss and provide a key for the Sand Yellow paint.  The paint was then applied using a small brush and left to dry overnight.  The following day, once the paint was fully hardened the tape was carefully removed to reveal the finished lining.  The 3M tapes work very well and are easy to peel with no seepage under the tape.

Bonnet lining complete

Rear Lining

 As stated earlier, the "Queen Anne" vinyls are due to be applied soon and the loco will again look as it did when it arrived from Longmorn Distillery in 1980.

Diesel Gala

Another reminder that Queen Anne will be in action giving brake van rides at the Strathspey Railway Diesel Gala on the 18th, 19th and 20th of March 2022.  She will be top-and-tailed with the ex BSW Sawmill Fort William Thomas Hill Vanguard.  Both locos are 4-wheel chain-driven diesel shunters.  We hope to see you there.


If you upload any videos featuring Queen Anne at the Gala to YouTube, there is now a new page on this blog "Queen Anne Videos" to provide links to appropriate content.  A search of YouTube will be made periodically and links to new videos added.  To make sure your video is found, please add tags "queen anne", "ruston" and "shunter" to make it easier to find.

Saturday 19 February 2022

Final Touches


The self-adhesive vinyls have arrived.  The artwork had been prepared some time ago using desktop publishing software and are an accurate representation based on measurements of the old panels and some trickery to create a "Queen Anne" font very similar to the original.  The quality of the printing is very good.  The artwork has been printed on standard 40" x 60" and 700 x 1000 mm sheets with a brown border that will be trimmed prior to fitting.

Two of the vinyls were taped in position on the cab sides to gain an overall impression :-

Rear Vinyl
Rear Vinyl

Cabside Vinyl
Cabside Vinyl

View of both vinyls
View of both vinyls

The same brown colour (NCS S 7020-Y30R) was specified for the paint and printing, but inevitably different processes produce different colours.  The excess darker brown on the vinyls will in any case be trimmed off before fitting.

The vinyls will be applied once the lining has been painted.


The curtains have been made and are ready to fit, which will be done after the final coats of paint have been applied inside the cab.  Oilcloth was tried initially, but proved unsuitable so waterproof vinyl cloth was tried and works very well.

The fabric was cut slightly oversize based on initial measurements and a wide hem was stitched on the top edge.  It was determined that 10 eyelets per curtain were required and these were riveted to the hem using a tool specially bought for the job.  The eyelets are marine grade solid brass (not the cheaper brass plated ones) with a 1/2" hole.

The curtains were threaded onto the curtain rods using the best of the original copper curtain rings and some new ones.  In a previous post it was explained that the old rings had been used in the whisky still in a device to prevent frothing.  The curtains were then trial fitted to obtain the correct width and drop :-

Cosy Cab

 The curtains were then taken away, trimmed to size and a 1/2" hem stitched on the other three sides at the curtain workshop :-

The final curtain

Fuel Dipstick

There is no fuel gauge on Queen Anne, so a dipstick was made from a piece of oak.  The level markings were calculated based on original Ruston drawings of the fuel tank that are archived on the Lincs To The Past website.  Artwork was produced using Autocad and the markings burnt on using the Laser Engraver at Kingussie High School.

The Fuel Dipstick

 While re-routing the fuel pipe from the tank to accommodate the Chain Oiler, it was noticed that fuel was not flowing freely from the tap under the tank.  This was because the tap had become blocked with rust flakes.  Fuel taps for motorbikes etc. often have a tubular gauze filter that pokes up into the tank, so it was decided to obtain one of these and fit under the tank.  This should ensure a free flow of diesel in future.

The installation of the chain oiler is nearly complete, and will feature in a future blog post.


 It is hoped that Queen Anne can be moved into the Carriage Restoration Shed for the week beginning Monday 21st February so that painting can be completed.  The upper inside of the cab needs finishing and the lining and other details need to be applied.  Hopefully the vinyls can be applied shortly afterwards (ideally by someone who has done it before).
 The Strathspey Railway is holding a Diesel Gala on the 18th, 19th & 20th March 2022.  Queen Anne will be appearing and we hope to have everything finished by then.