Pit Timbers

Today saw us make a good start on the pit timbers in the loco shed.

It’s a pretty slow job, as each piece of timber needs to be accurately cut, drilled and aligned quite exactly. Which all takes times.

We’ve pretty well got one side ready for grouting and fastening down now. With a good third of the day being a learning curve (as with a lot of jobs, we’ll be experts by the end and then not use the skills again for 20 years!)

The timbers are all almost 4 years old, so they’re quite well seasoned and still fairly straight, however the ends are all unfortunately bowed, more so longitudinally than vertically, so our lap joints will require a little bit of tidy up they’re fixed in their final homes. Once backfilled and with rail installed it’ll all last a hundred years (hopefully!).

Tuesday we’ll be back here, setting this side to it’s final height and grouting underneath (to help fill the voids in the bricks and ensure better load bearing), we’ll then have a finished height to work to on the other side. Meeting Maldon 7.30am or Castlemaine from 8am (no real need to meet at Maldon).

Castlemaine Yard

Today’s main focus was the dismantling of this old double compound, which was perfectly in the way for the future access road into the new workshop.

It’s very unlikely this turnout has seen any real attention since the late 70’s and was probably last used properly in the mid 80s.. Needless to say every bolt was a hassle. And in a double compound there are a lot of bolts!

We’ve loaded all the components onto a well wagon, for stacking as a unit out at Muckleford. However it’s a real mess, full of broken rail, decayed foot and web and generally quite worn. It’s also a bit of a rare beast…. It’s a Weighted 75lb turnout, the important sections of the turnout have a thicker web, taking the rail weight up to 86lb. It was a very old idea, that really didn’t work for various reasons, mainly due to the chair design and need for an enormous number of junction fishplates to join the various types of rail.

The old timber remnants still needs collecting up for disposal, but the area does look a little tidier. The well wagons are now quite literally sitting at the end of the track.. Almost like it was planned.

The remaining track will not be lifted, rather it will be slewed towards the fence to align with the shed and once we know the exact location of the new workshop track, we’ll extend it as far as practical to maintain some storage space.

Now that storage for trucks, equipment etc… is no longer needed in the carriage shed (we’ve got other sheds for that now!), 5 siding has been extended another 2 rail lengths to improve the available storage space by about a passenger carriage length.

This afternoon saw us move into the loco shed, to make a start on installing the pit timbers, this will be one of tomorrow’s main tasks.

While we were busily clearing stuff in the way, Rolf was busily surveying the track layout for the workshop track, he’s not quite finished yet, however it’s all looking like it’ll work.

Tomorrow we’ll be meeting at Castlemaine from 8.30am, hopefully the weather is as good as is was today.

Castlemaine Yard

Today saw us unbolt and dismantle the section of 4 siding north of the carriage shed, in preparation for track survey works.

Unfortunately the rain and stubborn bolts did result in this job taking most of the day, however it’s largely done, with just the rails requiring transport off site on the next works train.

Thursday and Friday we’ll be in here also, doing various jobs around the site. Meeting Maldon 8am or Castlemaine from 8.30am.

Platform Coping

To complement our recent bridge works. Some platform repairs of the timber coping at Muckleford kept us busy today.

A lot of the coping dates from around 1995/96 so it’s done very well, but we had a few showing their age, with large cracks showing.

So we’ve renewed any failed timber with 2nd hand point timbers. The replacement timbers won’t last anywhere near as well as new wood, but we should still see a good 5-10 years from them. At which time everything will need replacing then anyway.

Believe it or not, with all our fancy wood working gear, all we really needed for this job was a cordless drill (which will happily drill 21mm holes without batting an eyelid), a few spanners, battery rattle gun, hammer and chisel, plus a chainsaw just to speed things up a little. And it took a fraction of the time we expected it to!

All the bolts have been set into the top of the coping to remove the tripping risk and we’ve even tidied up some of the rougher bits, giving a very smart looking edge.

We’ll be down a truck next week while it’s in at the doctors so we’ll be starting at Maldon on Tuesday at 8am, with the exact task yet to be decided (the predicted rain may mean we start work on the pits in the loco shed at Castlemaine).