Pandrol Adaptors

Today was the first trial of these things…. One of the many items we collected from the stockpile in Castlemaine some 6 months ago.

They are adaptors to convert a standard sleeper plate into a pandrol plate and this is the end result.

The trial location was the high leg of curve 13, the first curve on the UP side of Muckleford.

Some years back the high leg of this curve was re-railed in 80lb. However we have sufficient 94lb on hand from last years recovery effort to replace it. This is for a couple of reasons:

– it allows us to keep a uniform 94lb section of track from the Down Side of Walmer Rd to Sawmill Rd (then 80lb towards Castlemaine)

– it will also means we can easily install insulated joints (the modern almost completely fool proof and failure free glued type) when the time comes to flashing light Walmer Rd Crossing. It can be done in 80lb but it’s a lot more work, with more changes of rail type etc.. , however a 94lb option is available off the shelf.

– it reduces the numbed of junctions (80lb to 94lb) required between Mukleford and Castlemaine to just one pair! They’re pretty good the 80-94 junction rails but they are still a potential week spot so the less the better.

So what has all this got to do with the pandrol adaptor? The aim here it that by converting these plates to pandrol clips, when it’s time to change the rail it should be a case of knock off the clips, change the rail, do up the clips and it’s done! No drilling, no spiking. Given this will be the third set of rails on the same sleepers, the chance of getting enough wood for a crossbore is very low and would hasten the sleeper failures greatly.

This adaption method works by placing the fastenings in the outer holes of the sleepers plates, while a normal dog spike could be used, a ‘lockspike’ is preferable for clearance beside the adaptor and it converts the whole assembly to a ‘resilient fastening’. Which is a fancy term for meaning the fastening will now offer rail anchoring and improved holding as it is able to better withstand the forces of a train.

By working through one side of the rail at a time, the gang has been able to install the lockspike, remove the old dogspike (or screw), install the adaptor into the old dog hole (they need a little hole as they have a beak with goes just below the sleeper plate and locks under the rail foot). All that’s needed then is installing the clip.

With the final product looking like this. These are actually special e clips for this purpose (they work fine everywhere else too, but normal ones don’t fit here correctly), one feature is it doesn’t matter which way they’re installed – it actually doesn’t really matter on normal e clips either but they do go on a lot easier one way.

These adaptors have a local history, they were used to upgrade the high speed (130km/h) timber sleeper sections of the Bendigo Line during for Regional Fast Rail 17ish years ago. So they’ve been tried and tested very well and we’re thankful we can give them another lease of life.

We need to work on driving in the lockspikes, but we suspect the trolley mounted spike driver will greatly improve that.

The gang have a very well earned break. Given it was a learning curve, they did extremely well today, with about 2/3 of the curve completed, with the finish off to occur tomorrow.

Meeting at Maldon from 8am or near Muckleford Station from about 8.45am onwards.

Maldon Turntable

To complement the walkway decking at Castlemaine failing, the decking at Maldon has also decided to fail, in sympathy! Thankfully Castlemaine table now has a flash new steel deck and with one table out of action the second isn’t very useful so it’s now getting the same treatment while we’re still running a relatively small number of steam services.

The timber on Maldon table is actually a few years younger than Castlemaine, however not far off being as deteriated. That doesn’t mean however that the old bolts and screws are easy to get out!

Thankfully the table timbers are in excellent condition, being less than 20 years old (both tables were retimbered about the same time), this is a fairly rare view of a table without walkways, but otherwise complete.

Photos of the new decking of both tables will feature in the coming weeks. Being of much more durable construction, expanded mesh braced with old point rodding. The results at Castlemaine have a strange effect, they actually greatly improve the appearance and show off the impressive piece of engineering that is a turntable, while being a major safety upgrade.

The final rail train

The final rail train for 2020 was combined with a nice simple Christmas Breakup.

But as always on the civil gang, you never get a free lunch….

The day began with the everyone standing around the entire fleet of trucks allocating jobs.

The jobs were either track inspecting or heading out along the Guildford track picking up the odds and sods.

Bruce chose a third option, whipper snipping around all the level crossing, he’s now done this three times this season at some crossings! They do look significantly better for it too.

The track walkers started in Maldon, checking everything as they went.

The rolling track gauger was put to very good use, with readings such as shown here (1mm) now very much more the norm, a very pleasing thing given all the re-sleepering we’ve done this year!

Morning tea in some of the little available shade, unfortunately from now through till March we do need to plan works around having some shade.

A significant dip just out of Muckleford that was detected in Yesterday’s inspection was jacked and packed with a kango hammer, not a fun job but thankfully not too large a task given it was localised to just the joint.

The other half of the gang was busily out collecting bolts, drums of anchors, steel sleepers and anything else we still had trackside out to Guildford.

And come lunch time it was back to Maldon to have a feed, jump on the train and check out all the work we’d done this year.

All the short lengths of rail were loaded up, while the gang offered quality supervision.

Or just ate food.

We got both diggers in on the action, side loading different wagons (the rails had sort of been placed to allow this to work and it saved a lot of time). – unfortunately the video hasn’t transfered through in great quality but it shows the action.

Then it was off to Castlemaine to run around and allow a few of the gang to meet a train home.

A nice little train, but with a purpose.

The train ready to head home.

And home we went inspecting all the rail dropped out along the way.

The rail wagons were quickly dropped off in Muckleford Yard to allow for unloading and stacking over the coming days.

It’s not quite the end of the year’s work, but it is more or less the end of gangs for 2020.

We’re planning to collect and transport all the fastenings on Monday and Tuesday, pack up the gear and return everything home on Wednesday and Thursday.

However there will be a small gang on next Thursday for anyone who is really organised with their Christmas Shopping and looking for a day out in the bush, details tbc.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone for their help this year. Despite Covid, it’s been an enormous year, easily the busiest we’ve had in a couple of decades with several major projects on the go, thanks to everyone for helping us kick so many goals! It’s worth a quick look back over the last year’s blog posts to see just how much we have achieved.

Rail Drop out

A really bad photo but if you squint hard enough you can just see that we now have rails both sides of Sawmill Rd, closing the gap.

We’ve managed to get all the way from Muckleford to (and including) Sawmill Rd with 94lb, with 80lb from there to near Midland Hwy. It’s a lot of rail and except for the last few hundred metres near Muckleford it’s all dropped out ready to go in (it’s nearby in Muckleford Yard).

We’ve even ended up with a reasonable stock of 80lb in 40m lengths, we’ll have roughly 25 to stockpile for future projects such as Muckleford Creek Bridge, Castlemaine Platform Road and new works at Castlemaine.

Tomorrow is all set to be a good day. We’ll all meet at Maldon at 8am, where we’ll break off into two groups, one doing a detailed track inspection from Maldon to Muckleford, the other heading to the junction to load up the last of the small stuff, drums of anchors, bolts etc etc… We’ll then all meet at Maldon at 1pm for the last official rail train (we’ll put a carriage on of course!).

If you would like to head straight to Maldon Junction, feel free, we’ll be meeting there from 8.30am (ish).