Finishing off

It was quite a simple day today, with no staggering achievements but we did get the last of the timber sleepers from curve 8 bundled and all of those from the curve loaded onto a wagon and dropped at Muckleford.

We also had time to tidy up the ballast at yesterday’s worksites which leaves both looking pretty swish.

Next week’s attentions will be at Castlemaine Yard, tidying up our materials in preparation for the new engine shed project.

Curve 8 and more

The rest of curve 8 received the 1 in 3 concrete sleeper treatment today. This leaves only one long curve (11) on the whole railway which hasn’t been either re-railed or re-inforced with concrete sleepers.

Nothing too exciting, no new methods or techniques, however we are certainly perfecting our ways as all 42 were installed and clipped up before lunch.

We’ve decided the shovel measure works, so we’ll run with that from now (maybe a slightly reinforced version as some panel beating was required!).

We managed to squeeze in enough preparation on Tuesday to actually insert 10 sleepers and tamp them up, to keep the gang busy first off today. The Tuesday preparation is the make or break of a successful Thursday/Friday.

Our success was so great we even completed the same treatment between curves 9 and 10 where only 18 sleepers were needed. Unfortunately Tuesday’s preparation didn’t extend to here so this was a little more time consuming (the sleepers were still stacked and the screws not removed).

We even completed all the tamping at both locations, done under Rolf’s watchful eye. Tomorrow afternoon will see some ballast scraping to tidy up and if we get time we’ll bundle the sleepers too.

Tomorrow morning will be in Castlemaine Yard tending to various bits and pieces.

Curve 8

Yesterday saw the completion of the 82 (not 78 as we thought Thursday) concrete sleepers in curve 8.

The final biscuits and clips were in in no time.

Then onto the brilliantly dusty job of ballast spreading.

The whole length received a tamp with Rolf sighting any dips and twists. It is probably one of best looking sections we’ve done so far and we’re pretty happy with it.

We also made use of our gang to bundle all the reusable sleepers from this curve as well as from curve 10.

Next week will be more of the same, which will see this curve finished and onto the next.

Curve 8

Another busy day concrete sleepering.

Unfortunately not all our plans came off, with our regular assistants from Middleton Prison having to call in sick at the 11th hour.

We did however still achieve an enormous amount. We had hoped to finish the whole curve this week but it’ll only take a day to complete it next week now.

As the screws had been removed on Tuesday, only this one damaged screw required attention. Sleepers were also distributed and pads installed on Tuesday.

We tried a couple of small differences today, the first being our new shovel measurer… A simple bit of 50mm RHS welded on the end of one of our broken shovels, bent to this shape. It removes the need for the wooden blocks. It actually worked really well and certainly sped things up.

While the lifting was happening, all jewellery was distributed as well as the old collected and removed.

Morning tea shows the gang well and truly enjoying a relax. It wasn’t overly hot but the humidity was high.

Another alteration was using the digger to hold up the sleepers while the first inner biscuit was installed and clipped. This saved a lot of manpower, probably not quicker but it was better use of our workforce.

This was followed up by the gauger and small crew installing the other inner biscuit and clip.

We didn’t install any of the outer biscuits until much later which certainly sped up proceedings.

By 2pm we’d inserted and started the clipping of all 78 that we’d set out to do so we started installing the outer biscuits and clips and achieved around 20 before we knocked off.

The last clip of the day going on, a nice feeling knowing we’d achieved so much and still had tomorrow to finish off.

We’ll be back tomorrow finishing off the clipping then sorting the removed sleepers and bundling the reusable one. Meet Maldon 8am or site from 8.30am.

Sleepers and Rail

Another good day on the track, with 176 concrete sleepers dropped out in various places for the next few jobs.

The afternoon was spent preparing more 80lb rail.

34 lengths were prepared and loaded onto a wagon. These will be for the UP leg near Bendigo Road.

Next week will be another big one, with our aim being to install at least 100 of the 124 concretes needed in curve 8. It’s success is largely due to any preparation we can do on Tuesday, so any extra hands Tuesday would be very greatly appreciated.

Castlemaine Yard

With the impending arrival of ‘The Royal Train’ (check out for details) we have brought forward out next round of sleepers required in Castlemaine Yard.

Only 27 were needed and none were critical, however it’ll ensure we don’t need to divert our busy gang from its other tasks while hosting the visiting train over the next few months.

It was all just done in the usual way, but being a bit more fiddly than usual due to all the things that get in the way in yards! The scarifier was used in most locations, with the digger handling those that it couldn’t.

We even had to do some delicate hand digging for some timbers near the signal box, interlaced with all the point rodding and signal cables.

All of which went perfectly to plan.

We only have available 2nd hand timber, some of which won’t see all that many years, however it will tide us over comfortably until we can find the time to do a more thorough rebuilt / referb of the yard as our use of it grows.

It was a very successful day, with all 27 replaced and all the tidying up completed.

We had thought it might take us into tomorrow, however we’re now going to distribute concrete sleepers, ready for next week. Meeting Maldon at 8am or curve 8 (near boundary track crossing) from about 8.30am.

Muckleford Yard

Only 16 sleepers replaced in Muckleford yard today. A pretty good effort for our little crew.

Most of them were in the UP end of 1 road, just replacing life expired. It’s the first time we’ve done timber in a while and it’s seems like ridiculously hard work compared with the concrete! However we didn’t have enough people to bring all our kit down so we did some of it the hard way.

Most of what we removed came out in kit form… So well and truly due, however all surrounding timber is in very good condition which is nice.

Some final tamping in a week or two once it’s settled a little will see this end of the yard as good as new! We might even get the wiggle through the dock road turnout out if we get time (there’s no rush, it’s only been like that for almost 25 years).

Next week will be the same but in Castlemaine yard, nothing is urgent in there but while we’ve got the gear on the trucks it’s a good time to do another few.