Some more pics

As promised, some more pictures of today’s works. Courtesy of Rodney.

During the first pass of the tamper.

Trevor, Neville and Bruce look on while the tamper moves to the next sleeper.

While Rolf checks for level, an important factor especially where drainage is concerned.

The gang in position, ready to remove the jacks as the tamper works towards them.

Spreading the gravel, thankfully the digger was able to do all the heavy lifting here.

While the roadway was attended to, the drains were not forgotten, here receiving some attention to remove debris and unwanted ballast. You can see the end product of trackwork that was achieved, overall very desirable.

The high tech roadway compaction apparatus.

Some final trimming up before the last compaction run.

Don’t forget to read the previous posts to get the full story on this project.

It’s a crossing again!

It took us the best part of two days but the crossing is now complete. And looking very snazzy. There will be more pics to follow too from ou most recent track recruit, Rodney.

Things kicked off this morning with the fastening down of the UP end closure rails.

We had to wait a while for things to warm up before we could bolt up the rail cut yesterday as things had shrunk a bit over the cool of last night.

We had a load of road gravel dropped off this morning and a load of our ballast from Muckleford was also brought up to site. Here we’re distributing that ballast over our new works to allow for lifting and tamping as required.

Before tamping, the ballast has been scratched away from the centre to allow visibility for the tamper.

Post tamping but before lifting. After an initial tamp just to help build a firm foundation we jacked the track, which is extremely hard work with heavy sleepers, to get the levels right. Here the gang is installing the jacks.

We, deliberately, ended up with a slight hump at the crossing, this is to allow for the eventual lifting of the track either side of crossing as re-railing and ballasting occurs. This way we won’t have to return to the track through the crossing for many years, hopefully decades.

After achieving the desired heights and appropriate ramps down to the existing track, it’s only a very slight ramp on the UP side to allow for future ballasting, but more of a ramp on the Down as this section is still 60lb.

The ramps are insignificant for our trains and will be quite acceptable if we never get around to lifting either side.

After a ballast regulate and general tidy up we set about gravelling the roadway. It was placed in several layers, with our modern road compaction devices (trucks!), running over the crossing many times each layer to achieve a solid roadway.

The finished product. After the predicted rain early next week we expect this to firm up beautifully and hopefully leave it maintenance free for a few years.

Thankfully last time the crossing had works done drainage pipes were installed below sleeper level, these have been left in as they were certainly keeping the roadbase nice and dry.

Next week’s the big week, with works underway on Friday, Saturday and Monday around Castlemaine while V/line have a shutdown. We’re going to need all hands on deck those days, so please consider your availability as even a few hours will be a big help. Thursday’s gang will be on as usual too, replacing sleepers in Castlemaine Yard.

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.

Works Train

This week is seeing lots of Train activity, with extra services running for the Seniors Festival. We chose to piggy back onto one of these trains to drop out sleepers and rails for Donkey Farm Track.

We only need to run our train out from Muckleford so we used the morning train to bring the Y class down for us.

Here Pete (The train Guard) prepares to send the train on its way after we’d cut off the Diesel.

The train headed off to Castlemaine giving us an 1.5 hour window to get our train out to site, unload the materials and return to Muckleford.

We didn’t manage to get any action shots of the unloading, but the resulting piles (all done using the excavator) can been seen here. The rails needed for the crossing were laid out beside the track, to leave the crossing clear the road traffic until we close it to do the works.

Our works train was made up of the same consist we used on Friday, not because we need it all but rather it was quicker and easier to bring the lot!

The rails needed to join up the crossing to the recently completed section are seen here.

Our timing was perfect and we even fitted in a bite for lunch before the train returned from Castlemaine.

With fingers crossed and some good luck we should have the bulk of the works completed this Thursday, with Friday available to finish off and tidy up.