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.

Curve 12

It would seem we’ve got our concrete sleepering skills in peak condition, as we managed to install 56 sleepers before lunch time!

This time however a fair amount of preparation was undertaken in the days before. The sleepers were dug out on one end, screws were removed and the new sleepers distributed closely to their eventual homes. This was done on Monday and Tuesday in quite warm conditions.

However this morning was a delightful 3 degrees! Autumn is finally here.

As the screws were already out, the lifting and tamping was underway first off, with Clive being the important block kicker-underer.

In no time the old was on its way out, while all the jewellery was distributed. The concrete sleepers beside the track look quite impressive, showing that we really mean business.

Rolf had the scarifier going today, amazing what a new battery will do!

Before morning tea the last of the new sleepers were under the track.

As this was all done so quickly we had time to tamp up most of the concretes before they were clipped, this makes an enormous difference to the speed of the operation, as the clipping occurs at twice the normal rate once the sleepers are tamped.

As the ballast scraping and final tamping only takes the digger and one pair of eyes, the rest of the gang moved on to Muckleford.

We’re due for a few replacements at the UP end of 1 road. However the fish plates there prohibited the use of sleeper plates which is less than ideal, so we changed the plates.

The old plates are out beside Mal and the new are on. There are some strange hole spacings in some of these rails, so we had to use a mixture of plates to get around these issues.

Will and Clive inspect an instance where sleeper plates could have been installed, but weren’t (likely because they just weren’t available at the time). This will be corrected during tomorrow’s re-sleepering.

Please feel free to join us tomorrow, we’re fairly light on for numbers so any extra hands would be appreciated.