Re-railing preparation

Today was spent not only enjoying the much cooler weather, but also preparing for our next re-railing exercise.

One of the main tasks being the unfastening of the steel sleepers, here Clive uses the rattle gun on its trolley to unfasten the nuts. In total only 2 of around 80 bolts needed to be cut, which is a better rate than usual.

After unscrewing the nut, a gentle tap with a hammer frees up the lugs / spacers and they’re removed. Followed by the excavator using the boom to push the bolts through the sleeper into the dirt below. We finish this process during the final re-railing as it’s much easier when the sleeper can be lifted a little. After which we can install the pandrol lugs.

The unbolting and removal of the last few anchors kept us busy till lunch. After lunch a slightly bent 80lb rail was straightened, using the buda (rail bender).

We then collected all the old jewellery and sorted it into drums for future re-use, disposal or storage.

Lastly we distributed 2 pallets of sleeper plates along the up leg in readiness for that side.

Tomorrow will be an odd jobs day, with some tidy up and sorting of bits and bobs at Maldon, more sleeper plate distribution and a quick run along the line to make sure the recent storms haven’t caused any issues. Meeting Maldon 8am


At lunch time on Saturday we had driven the last spike, packed up all the gear and had started heading for home.

The drilling and spiking proceeded at a fast rate.

We even found time to squeeze up a mud hole that’s been half way along this section for years (it gets squeezed regularly, however hopefully this year we’ll have the time to dig it out and replace with clean ballast).

Unfortunately (for us) it was the last day for our visitors from Pichi Richi. They also seem to have missed out on photo opportunities over the past week so this is one of the gang from Friday. We’d like to thank Richard, Dani, Spoon, Patrick and Phil for all their help over the last week. We hope they enjoyed their week on our track gang.

Next week will be very quiet, with most of the gang either on leave or unavailable, there will be no workdays.

From one massive job to another!

No rest for the wicked… Or maybe it’s just that we can’t help ourself.

Re-railing was today’s new task, the rail dropped out recently near Bendigo Road Crossing.

Things unfortunately were a bit slower and less organised than usual, as we normally set aside a few more days of preparation, but as we finished the Castlemaine job well ahead of schedule it was the logical next task.

The start of the 60lb coming out and the 80lb starting to go in.

The digger was brought in from Castlemaine this morning, which slowed down the morning a little, but overall we achieved an enormous amount.

Normally we run the digger along side to avoid the risks of punctures and prevent running over the removed jewellery etc… But with the cutting and heavy growth that wasn’t an option, so along the road base we went.

Often in the prep we remove joint spikes that the machines can’t get, but that happened as we went today. Rolf and Alf had that pleasure.

And I’m typical Victorian weather… We were sweltering one minute and absolutely soaked the next! But we all just look at each other and thought what a relief after the past few days.

By the close of play we’d installed 27 80lb rails spiked 1 in 3, steel sleepers clipped up and everything tamped, a pretty good effort once again.

It’s only a small part of this long straight but it’s a significant step towards our goal of having it completed this year.

We’ll be back tomorrow (yes Saturday) to complete the spiking and cut in the closure to the remaining 60lb. Meeting 7.30 at Maldon or 8 from site. Expected finish just after lunch.

It’s done!!

After a massive week, the re-sleepering job is now done! And it looks (almost) as good as V/Line’s track.

Today started with the whole crew, playing pick up sticks. All the smaller bits of old sleeper were loaded onto the wagons, which with all these hands was quite a quick job. The works train was then dispatched and the main gang moved onto re-railing prep near Bendigo Road.

Next was lots and lots and lots of ballast moving. The digger can do 99% of it, but we also had a small crew working along where the digger can’t reach.

The rock moving took until lunch, after which all the concrete sleepers were tamped, which took a while.

Followed by a final scraping of the ballast and filling in the tamping holes.

A lot of effort was also spent scraping away the overly thick ballast shoulder on the right, hopefully making next time much easier (as we had to dig out by hand just to find the dog spikes).

Overall, we ended up with a very very nice looking piece of railway. Clive had the unforgiving task of filling in holes with a ballast fork. (caught here mid drink after finishing the last one, once again the weather was hot and horrible).

Malcolm had the job of blower operator, we recently purchased a big back pack blower. It works incredibly well and shoots dust everywhere, poor Mal had a layer of dirt over ever inch of him by the time he was done!!

It’s now job done and onto the next!

We would like to thank V/Line for all their help, organising permits etc… and providing their staff to assist us in being able to foul their track while we undertook these critical works.

A massive thankyou to everyone who helped, a big thank you to the gang from the Pichi Richi Railway who gave up their holidays to drive all the way over and help! We couldn’t have done it without them or any of our hard working volunteers. We really can’t thank our track gang volunteers enough!! We think you’re the real Hero’s of this railway.

Tomorrow and Saturday are now re-railing days, as we felt we haven’t tortured ourselves enough this week!! Meet Maldon from 7am or Bendigo Road Crossing from about 7.15am.

And more

By lunchtime today, the last concrete sleeper had been clipped up! Which takes us to around 165 replaced this week.

We thought the last two days were hot, but today was just something else, searing hot sun teaming down with no breeze. But despite all that and discovering we can as a group go through about 50l of drinking water, we got an enormous amount done.

This afternoon saw all the larger lumps of old sleepers removed and either loaded onto wagons or piled up out the way.

Tomorrow should just about see the job done with only a few bolts to tighten, the small wood scraps to pick up, ballast scraping and regulating and tamping. It’ll take all day but should be achieved, especially seeing the weather will be much cooler (only 38!).

An absolutely stunning effort and a massive thank you to all who helped. It really has been above and beyond the call the past few days.

For anyone joining us tomorrow, please meet at Castlemaine carriage shed from 7.00 am rather than going to Maldon.

More sleepers

Another scorcher, but an extremely successful day! We’ve now installed the majority of the concrete sleepers, with less than 50 to go tomorrow.

It’s all happening as per the usual methods, which normally would seem quite easy if it wasn’t so hot!

We didn’t have the luxury of having the sleepers distributed before the works, so that just fits around and between removing the old, scarifying and clipping up.

It’s all on track to be done and dusted by Thursday, which will be fantastic.