Donkey Farm Track Re-build

After today we’re most of the way through the re-building of Donkey Farm Track Crossing.

First job was to remove the fill from the crossing, which proved quite a task given how compact it had become.

But once we broke through the hard crust we were into unfastening the sleepers in no time. Screws has been used in here and it took some digging and scrapping to get the screw heads clean enough for the socket to fit on.

Only two screws gave us serious trouble, with the easiest course of action being to just cut the head off, as Rolf is doing here.

After the old 60lb rails were removed, the sleeper removal started.

Although the timber through the crossing was still in as new condition (replaced about 10 years ago) the timbers either side were worse for wear and as such we pulled quite a few out, particularly on the Down side of the crossing.

The road bed, less the rails and sleepers.

All the ballast was scraped away, to allow the new sleepers to sit flat on the old firm base.

The digger delivering the new sleepers to the formation, at this stage an unprecise dumping was undertaken, before running along with the grabs and accurately locating each sleeper. The weight of each sleeper, at least 230kg each, means that the excavator is required for all handling and locating of the sleeper.

The green marks indicate the positions of the sleepers. While the gang may not look too busy, they are needed to provide indication to the excavator as to which way the sleepers need adjusting.

We’ve used a mix of full and low profile concrete sleepers for this job, full profiles were used through the crossing, where we actually needed to gain a little extra track height for ideal drainage and low profile concretes in the leads up the existing track.

Before long the first of the 80lb rails were in, which was really the main reason for doing the works.

The rails through the crossing went in first to ensure we didn’t end up with a joint in the crossing, with either end cut to suit.

One draw back of not having a crossing was having it get on ‘track side’ which can be a little interesting given the excavator’s ground clearance isn’t enormous.

The digger was used to place the rails onto the sleepers, an almost impossible job otherwise. Here the next rail is being prepared to be lifted into place while the gang busily clip up the other side.

By afternoon tea we’d reached this point, all new sleepers from the crossing towards Maldon were fastened up. Here John sights along the rail, calling to Will in the excavator (via radio), to gently remove that slight kink in the track. Quite a job for the digger given the weight of all those sleepers.

And by close of play enough rock had been put back over the crossing to make it safe for road traffic (if any should come along!).

We’ve organised to have more ballast on site tomorrow to finish off the job and allow a tamp. Along with some gravel material to form a good hard road surface.

We’ve still got a full day’s work here tomorrow with tamping, ballasting, fastening down the last few sleepers and transitioning back into the existing track. So please come along, lend a hand and check it out.

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