The flavour of February is Bridge work.

Yesterday was some pile tongue preparation in the depot at Maldon, as a big time saver for the pile that went in today.

Lots of precise measuring, cutting and adzing to achieve a nice square, true and long lasting tongue with good shoulders to support the crossheads.

The main point of this work is to replace these undersized piles in Muckleford Creek Bridge, although still structurally sound, there is little safeguard against deterioration.

In the nice cool air of this morning we set up the worksite and production line, before getting into the job of excavating the old pile (no. 3R).

The same process as yesterday ensued, measuring, cutting and adzing to prepare the next pile (tomorrow) and the base of today’s, Bazz drew the short straw on the chainsaw today.

Before long the old pile was lifted out and the condition of the sill (raft) below could be assessed. It looks in this picture that the ratchet straps are holding up the bridge! But this is not the case, they are simply assisting in keeping the cross heads out of the way for pile changing (they can’t fall because of how they’re fastened on the oppososite pile). The heavy duty props are actually the beauties doing all the bridge holding.

The old sill was found to be far beyond re-usable, so a new one was fashioned from good quality 2nd hand sleepers.

And seemingly in no time, the new pile was being swung into position, an easy enough job with a digger. Imagine doing this by hand.

It looked very swish on its new sill holding up the bridge, it’s just a pity all our hard work gets buried.

And buried it became, here some fine tuning of the shoulders (after we’d filled in the hole so we could actually reach them) saw the job turned from a good one, into an excellent one.

Hey presto, one pile successfully replaced. We’re yet to instate bolts and angled brakets, but tomorrow should see it either finished or well under way.

We’ve even dug the hole for tomorrow’s pile, no. 4L. Mal and Clive had the job of cleaning out the last bit of fill by hand, as any damage to the sill is avoided to ensure the compacted ground below is not disturbed.

We’ll be into it again tomorrow, meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30am.

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