Dogging Down

Following on from yesterday’s extremely successful efforts, our small gang of 5 was tasked with the job of completing the remaining drilling & spiking of the 33 rails installed.

We were very fortunate with the weather, starting off around 4 degrees C making the morning the ideal time to knock over all the drilling and spiking. As we were still setup from the day before, we were well under way with the spiking by 8.30am. As we’d had time the day before to pack (tamp) all the sleepers, the drilling process was very rapid, not having to worry about lifting sleepers.

John and Trevor are well into it here. drilling holes and standing dog spikes ready for the spike driver to begin it’s job.

Neville and Trevor hard at work on the spiking hammer, nearing the end of the job, somewhat unplanned was that we ended up having to work up hill for the last few lenghts – this reminded us why we normally make such a point of aways starting at the top!

With spiking complete, attention was turned to the collection of all the removed jewellery, 33 lengths of 80 lb (almost 500m) is quite a length to walk, especially as the hot sun was now teaming down, but thankfully far from the hardest job on the gang.

A quick scrape of the rock to help fill in the tamping voids and preapre the sleepers to take the rails for the other leg saw the job completed! We’ll likely need some more ballast on this section as time goes by, however we’ll wait until all the 80lb rails and in and then assess it, it’s also much easier to do the work without mountains of rock getting in the way.

Next week, weather depending (looking like some well needed rain may fall early in the week), will see lots of the lineside mowing taking place around Castlemaine. Tuesday will be a mix of mowing and preparing the remaining rails in tangent 15-16 for Thursday when we hope to complete this leg down to Donkey Farm Track. Friday will hopefully be a catch up day, finishing off and cutting more lineside grass.

Tangent 15-16

Today saw massive leap forward for tangent 15-16. The plan 33 80lb rails are now in place, spiked 1 in 3 and well on track to be completed comfortably tomorrow.

It was all undertaken in the usual methods, with no new or exciting tricks, however a few more hands were around making the work a bit easier. Here the gang is busy removing the last of the dog screws to allow the 60lb to be removed.

The bolting up crew was well able to keep up with the progress today, only having to do every third joint, the mid week bolting really speeds up the job.

Here Will and Clive are setting the gauge and preparing the drilling and spiking gear after afternoon tea. Most of the progress always seems to happen late in the afternoon, mainly because the fiddly jobs are all finished and the team can focus on the major task.

We even had enough hands to free up the excavator for tamping, saving a lot of time tomorrow.

Last job was the cutting of the closure rail at the end of the job. Angled like this to direct the cutting sparks away from the dry bush land. While the gang looks on as Mick does the honours.

This section is quite abundant with steel sleepers, all these were clipped this afternoon, with Norm, Bruce and Mal having it down to a fine art.

Right toward to days end we broke into two teams, drilling the 1 in 3 pattern, again accelerating progress.

While Clive had the job of trying to keep the spiking up to the two crews!

By day’s end we were all exhausted, dusty and wondering if it’s was all worth it, but upon standing back to admire our hard work, everyone seemed very proud of their efforts and rightly so.

It looks brilliant and by all accounts knocks off another big chunk of the re-railing program.

We’ll be out again tomorrow and any extra hands would be extremely welcome. Maldon from 8am or site from 8.45am.

Preparations

With another big re-railing effort planned for later this week, today saw lots of material distributed and rails bolted together in preparation.

The day began with the dropping out of more sleeper plates, another pallet load to complement Friday’s drop out turned out to be about the perfect amount to achieve the 33 80lb rails were hoping to get in this week.

As previously the rails were bolted into strings of 3. Overall a fairly easy job but one that felt a bit like hard work as the day warmed up.

At the end of bolting up the strings Clive admires the last of the handiwork. We’ve achieved 11 strings to make the 33 rails, which should make for fairly quick going later in the week.

In addition to the plates and bolting up, dogspikes were distributed and the steel sleepers had their fastenings removed in readiness.

We’re hoping to have enough bodies to get a bit more done tomorrow to really speed things up. But any additional help on Thursday and Friday would be greatly appreciated.

Meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30am.

Rail Preparation

Well after this week, we’re almost ready to begin re-railing the remainder of tangent 15-16.

Thursday saw the gang busy preparing 80lb rail at Muckleford. It’s amazing just how small the stacks of rail are becoming, with each session now seeming to have a big influence on the remaining stocks.

Here Bruce shows his skill with the rail saw, it’s not the most exciting job but unfortunately it still needs to be done.

While Malcolm operates the rail drill. This is actually the much easier device to operate, no more exciting than the saw, but a lot quieter.

The digger is working away in the background loading up the already complete rails, ready for transport to site.

Our Prison workforce was out with the whipper snippers again on Thursday, focussing their efforts on the very over-grown area around Muckleford Creek Bridge. The result is stunning!

Thursday’s gang complete more than enough rail for the immediate needs, but ran out of time to get it all loaded, so half an hour or so was spent Friday morning loading up the remaining 17 or so rails along with all the needed jewellery.

Once all rails and jewellery were loaded, a little hard to see here as they’re on the far wagon, the train was taken out to site near Donkey Farm Track.

A quick scrape through with the Mud Bucket saw a nice even surface for the rail to be dropped out on. This is particularly critical where we’re dropping out 80lb rail where 60lb is still in place on both legs. We need to ensure the slightly taller rail is as low as possible to avoid any clearance issues under the rolling stock.

We even made use of our special train to transport back some concrete sleepers and re-usable timber sleepers left over from the recent upgrade of the level crossing.

The end of the day saw all the fishplates dropped out, allowing the bolting together to begin on Tuesday. We even managed to get out a pallet of sleeper plates, taking us through about 1/3 of this leg.

The pictures don’t do the impressive length of rail awaiting installation justice. Normally we haven’t got enough rail prepared to drop it all out in one go, but it certainly looks like we mean business!

The re-railing, of at least 30 of the 45 lengths dropped, out will be taking place this Thursday and Friday, with a big preparation day on Tuesday. So if you’re available to help on any of those days, please feel free to come along. Meeting at Maldon from 8am.