Curve 11

Today saw the last curve on the whole line receive either concrete sleepers or heavier rail. A big achievement.

We flew through clipping up the remaining 50 or so sleepers, being well completed by lunch.

After which we turned our attention to ballast scraping and tamping.

This whole curve has had issues with cant (superelevation / cross fall) for a long time. We’ve tried spot corrections, which helped but we still had sections of negative cant and generally little to none elsewhere (less than desirable).

So we set about putting a track jack at every single concrete sleeper in the curve and jacking until the cross fall was around 25mm – a big job on this long long curve.

We were also corrected any dips that we came across. By the end of the curve we had a sensational system going to race the jacks along the job, largely carried our by our prison assistance, we’d certainly be struggling without them on these sorts of jobs.

But the end result was a stunning curve, beautifully smooth (a few crippled rails let it down unfortunately) and we’re incredibly proud, the best and the quickest curve we’ve completed to date.

Next week we’ll be sending our digger off to Daylesford to assist with some works on their railway.

However our usual gangs will still be running, with 80lb rail preparation on the cards for Thursday.

Curve 11

Another big day, with 116 concrete sleepers inserted into curve 11.

It started out as a very chilly, frosty day, turning to drizzle as the day went on.

All the concretes had been distributed alongside earlier in the week, the sleepers to be changed marked up and we even managed to get a bit of a head start by removing a few screws.

Malcolm preparing the trolley mounted rattle gun, which only 5 minutes later failed!

Leaving Clive to lug around the other gun manually.

Following close behind was the excavator, undertaking the 50mm lift.

We had 11 more sleepers than were needed for the curve, so we just continued on into the straight, meaning a few dog spikes required removal.

Sleepers under and jewellery dropped out ready for clipping up.

Tamping up the recently inserted sleepers to make the clipping up process much easier.

The scarifier and excavator spent most of the day in tandem, almost perfectly synchronized by the end of the day.

The all important lunch. The weather today was intermittent… However without fail everytime we sat down for a cuppa it rained!

Will, Rolf and John very closely observing the fastening on this particular sleeper.

It’s a slight variation, whereby a different style of plastic biscuit is installed upside down in place of our manufactured biscuits, with a piece of flat bar placed on top for the pandrol clip to fasten onto. We think it’ll be a good alternative when we run out of old steel sleeper lugs.

And by days end we’d clipped up well over half the sleepers, leaving only a few hours work to finish off tomorrow. We’ll also make a start on bundling and strapping up the reusable timber removed. Meeting at Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30am.

Tangent 20-21

Another stunning autumn day and equally stunning re-railing work.

We got into the swing of things really quickly this morning, with all the old rail out of the way and the new in place well before morning tea.

The old trusty sleeper plate gap estimator when butting up the strings of rail still seems the most foolproof (the gap in this cooler weather is perfect).

The cut in location, right on the old tip road level crossing (not been a crossing for many years but names always seem to stick).

Thankfully it allowed us to remove the worst bit of rail on our whole system, bad foot wear from being in the crossing for many years. Gone now though.

Cutting out the old failing 60lb.

Bolting in the correct length closure that is in much better condition.

The 1 in 3 spiking was completed by lunch, a pretty good effort given we ended up installing 14 80lb rails (we found 2 more leftover from re-railing jobs nearby).

The tamper was hot on the heels of the first spiking pass, with the drilling of the intermediates not much further behind.

Only a few weeks ago, our team were chasing the shade, now we’re desperately seeking sun.

The final spiking pass was completed in no time, with the crew then diverted onto breaking up the old 60lb into manageable lengths and collecting all the old jewellery.

A final anchoring pass saw the job complete (still a few anchors to go but not many). We even had an extra pair of hands today, Will from the Yarra Valley Railway, coming to see how we do our thing.

Tomorrow’s crew will be starting the first half of our 6 monthly track walk / detailed inspection. We’re not planning on finding anything serious but if you’re interested in finding out just what it is we look for / at, you’re welcome to join us, leaving Maldon at 8am.

Finishing off

Another very successful day. Even with our much smaller crew today, we managed to comfortably install a further 3 lengths of 80lb (takes us to 22 installed this week) as well as break up some 60lb and tidy up the completed section.

Lunch time saw an end to all the drilling and spiking as well as having the new railed joined up to the old.

All the jewellery was collected and sorted into the appropriate drums ready for reuse / storage / disposal etc…

After a quick tamp through the whole length and lifting out a big dip through one of the muddier sections, this bit of track is looking very smart.

Next Thursday we’ll be back here finishing off what we didn’t get to this week. We’ve only got 12 rails to go so we should comfortably knock it over in a day.


The UP leg of tangent 20-21 was our victim today, with 19 lengths of 80lb rail installed.

Clive and Mal hard at work de-dogging. As it’s been a while since our last re-railing, the power pack used to drive the spike puller proved temperamental to start, resulting in quite a bit of lost time.

The other snag today was our petrol rattle gun for removing screws wouldn’t play the game, we have others but they require more manual handling, hence only achieving 19 rails instead of our usual 27 or 30.

By morning tea we were starting to make headway, with 60lb coming out and 80 going in.

Norm and Mal carefully installing and aligning sleeper plates.

The end take 1. This was a logical spot to call it quits initially, however on closer inspection we decided to go a further 3 80lb rails as it just worked out much tidier and simpler. (there was already some short sections of 80lb in here making for an awkward join up.

The short bits of 80lb were installed some years ago to allow for insulated joints when it looked like the crossing would get flashing lights.

After the usual run through of every third sleeper, the gang followed up with the drilling and starting of the dog spikes on the intermediate sleepers.

Often we do a tamping run before this, however the way things worked out today it was quicker to just bar up the sleepers that needed lifting.

We’ll be back out to finish the job tomorrow, lots of spiking still to do to complete today’s work. All going well we will hopefully even get a few more rails replaced too, even just another 3 will make a big difference next time we’re back here.

Curve 11

A final tamp and bit of ballast moving in this morning’s rain sees this section of curve 11 finished.

We’ve still not quite half way through the curve, however if we can keep up the same pace as Yesterday, two full days should just about see it out.

Next week will be re-railing tangent 20-21, as our supply of steel biscuits for the concrete sleepers has temporarily dried up owing to a worn out cut off saw.

Curve 11

After today’s effort on top of Tuesday’s works, we now have 92 concrete sleepers installed in curve 11. We’re yet to do the final tamp and ballast scrape.

The day started out very cool, gloomy and had a wintery feel, which seemed to only get more gloomy and cold as the day went on.

We started by lifting the section that had the screws removed on Tuesday, using our special shover feeler gauge. A big improvement over the blocks, we’ve decided.

With the scarifier cleaning trenches and the digger catching it with the insertions.

The digger working it’s magic. This job would be almost impossible without this machine.

By morning tea we’d inserted around 30 concretes, with the remaining going in soon after lunch.

Although it was a fairly cold day, it was perfect for trackwork. As the movement to drop out all the required jewellery keeps you nicely warm.

Following the clipping up, now a very well oiled routine, the ballast was spread ready for tamping tomorrow morning.

Another stunning effort by the gang.

We’ll be leaving Maldon at 8am tomorrow, to tamp this section, however the weather is not looking promising so we may end up calling it a day once that’s done.