Nuclear spanners just the job for steam railway
June 28, 2010
A box of huge imperial ‘flogging’ spanners, found in the Prototype Fast Reactor's turbine hall, are starting a new life with a Highland steam railway.
The spanners, which were probably used during the operational days of the reactor, were identified as having more than scrap value by decommissioning engineers Danny MacDonald and Forsyth Oag.
Danny said: “We used the spanners when we were taking apart old steam vessels, as modern metric tools were not compatible with the imperial nuts and bolts.
“Once we had got rid of all the imperial equipment, the spanners were no longer useful, and were going in the skip.”
Luckily for the spanners, they were rescued just in time and have been gratefully received by the Strathspey Steam Railway at Aviemore.
CNC officer Bill Johnson, who works at Dounreay, is the membership secretary for the Strathspey Railway Association, who support the historic railway.
Volunteers are working on the renovation of engine No 46512 which was built in Swindon in 1952, and rescued from a scrapyard in Wales where it had lain in a salt laden atmosphere since 1967.
“Salt and metal do not mix and everything was seized up,” Bill explained.
“We have had some time in trying to free off nuts and bolts without recourse to gas axing as they are Imperial sizes, no metric over 100 years ago. Thanks to DSRL and the gift of these flogging spanners it is going to make life much more simpler for the fitters to strip down the locomotives for the foreseeable future."
The Strathspey Railway is a preserved railway running 9.5 miles between Aviemore and Broomhill and apart from a few paid staff is volunteer run.
The line originally ran from Aviemore to Forres but was closed by Dr Beeching in 1968. A five mile section was left in place between Aviemore and Boat of Garten and it was in 1972 that volunteers decided to open this part of the line as a tourist railway.