Rail Train

Today we had a guest photographer, Tony Sedawie. He captured the various scenes from today’s rail train.

First off we loaded 60lb rail into a QN wagon.

The excavator can handle all the loading with no other intervention required. The motley collection of rolling stock is just due to the order of the stock stored at Muckleford, easier to grab the lot than shunt out just the one wagon.

A rare pic of Will (usually taking the pics) hard at work straining all those arm muscles controlling the excavator.

After lunch we’d finished the loading of the 60lb, so it was time to get some 80lb out for the next re-railing job. Seen here during afternoon tea at Muckleford.

Again the digger does all the heavy work, with Trevor being the eyes on the ground, signalling the trains movement.

Lifting the rails off the wagon (just out of sight) and into the 5 foot.

Trevor signalling to the excavator how far to pull out the rail to allow it to be gently lifted onto the ground rather than dropped.

At the end of today we’ve got 29 rails ready for the next fortnight’s work (probably a bit optimistic but you never know).

Weather permitting we’ll be into this job next Thursday and Friday.

Tidy up and Material drop out

Today we cleaned up the last of the track jewellery from Curve 16.

You can see the piles of plates to the right, these were surplus here so were transported them down the hill to our next job.

Before leaving curve 16 we neatly stacked all the fishplates from the broken up 60lb onto a pallet, much easier for transport and storage.

Our next re-railing project is the straight leading down to Muckleford Creek Bridge.

We distributed the sleeper plates, seen to the right of the right hand rail, removed anchors and unbolted the steel sleepers, which well and truly used up the afternoon. The pic above shows us collecting anchors.

Nearing the end of the day’s work, looking towards Maldon the length of this straight is evident. It’ll certainly keep us busy for at least a couple of months.

We’re back out tomorrow collecting and distributing rails, so if you’re at a loose end and keen to see how we operate our rail trains, why not join us, leaving Maldon at 8.30.

Some tidying and a new stand

Monday’s are normally a preparation day for the work gangs later in the week, but given the small gangs this week this left time for some other jobs too.

A small job but one that had been put off for a while, cleaning up a pile of old sleepers in Maldon Yard (just visible on left) which were strewn about after several moves for various reasons.

While there, the collection of rails and odds and sods in the grass were stacked to make mowing easier and look much tidier.

But more excitingly today we trial fitted Bazz’s new rail stand for the well wagons.

This is to replace the pile of timber sleepers currently required to stack rail on the wagons, which while they serve the purpose are very inconvenient.

This pic shows why the stand is needed, to provide support in the ‘well’ of the wagon, with Bazz admiring his handiwork.

There’s a few high adjustments required, mainly due to the uneven floor of the wagon, but hopefully later this week we’ll give it a test.

Curve 16 done and dusted

Well today was significant in that it marked the last of the curves between Maldon and Muckleford to be re-railed.

By lunch time the job was done and tamped. Some clean up still to happen next week but from now on in this section it’s all straights, which are somewhat easier.

After lunch we broke up some more 60lb rail, with this to be collected and stockpiled in the near future.

Curve 16

Well as promised curve 16 was our victim today!

With a reduced gang and trialling a few new techniques we have only attempted 21 lengths rather than our usual 26, but actually we have done extremely well.

By laying the rails in the 5 foot we were able to speed up the removal of the old 60lb, which is often a hindrance. We also pre-tamped all sleepers, which greatly reduced the need to bar up the sleepers for drilling.

By the close of business we’d removed all the 60lb and rolled all 21 lengths of 80lb into place. We even managed to get all 21 lengths fastened down on every third sleeper and around 6 lengths completely spiked down.

These pics shown Clive on the drill and Rolf on the gauger, setting the gauge and drilling holes for spikes. This setup although slightly slower than the old manual method, is overall greatly quicker as it isn’t hard work and you can keep up a consistent pace all day.

As always a few of the gang and our trusty truck.

After tomorrow’s crew finish fasten down and join up to the old 60lb at the end of the curve, we will have completed all the curves on the Maldon to Muckleford section!

With the straights from here towards Muckleford the next in our sights.

Shunters Shed

VicTrack contractors have almost completed their works on the Shunters Shed in Castlemaine Yard.

The shed had seen much better days. Being on the historic register VicTrack has funded a structural and cosmetic restoration of the building, which is looking very impressive!

With only a few more days work the job will be completed and the building will now be available for VGR. It will become a real asset once we begin operations from Castlemaine.

Bridge Pile in!

The new pile in Muckleford Creek Bridge is in.

The pile in and back filled. John is seen here lining up the angle iron for bolt hole drilling.

Lots of onlooking while holes are marked and drilled.

This will likely complete the pile replacement bridge work for this year as we expect the weather will begin to get a bit wetter.

Next week we will be re-railing and we’re a few hands down so any help on Thursday or Friday would be greatly appreciated.