Today was massive landmark in the project, with all the trackwork complete!
By afternoon tea we had finished all of the track work and even tested it by a run through with the excavator.
The ceremonious last spikes and the group celebrating with a cheer!
There had been much pushing and pulling and tweaking to lead up this point in the day, so the group was more than relieved to drive in the last spike.
And it looks fantastic! Just a pit this isn’t on our railway really.
With the forecast of heavy rain and storms tomorrow morning, we decided we’d stay back a bit later and begin the job of back filling / ballasting before things got too wet.
The whole yard is laid in old loco ash and gravel, which over the years will have no doubt been contaminated with oils and such things, it’s safest environmentally to use the removed material as the ballast, thus containing any issues to the existing location. It is actually remarkably clean, with quite good aggregate size, no clay contamination and very little organic matter. With a good tamp and some rain it’ll compact up very nicely, just as it was before.
In a site like this with very minimal drainage, we also run the risk of ending up with a large swimming pool if we’d chosen to use rock ballast, as getting the required fall across the site to drain our excavations would be a massive job.
The excavator does around 90% of the spreading and levelling, with only a bit of shovelling needed around the turnout.
This pic shows off just how well the curve and turnout came out, we are extremely proud.
With the exception of tamping and a bit of a clean up, the job is essentially completed on time! We expect to run a test locomotive over the works tomorrow to help bed in the new turnout and settle any soft spots, allowing time for a final tamp if required before we leave the site.