Tidy up

The usual follow up of ballast scraping and tamping today. 129 is the exact number installed yesterday, meaning a total of 231 concretes have been installed in this straight this month.

A final scrape.

Leaving the job looking very smart. Unfortunately there are a couple of wiggles (not new by any means) which let down the otherwise polished look.

As our digger really needs track side access to remove a wiggle like that it’ll need to wait until the ground is much drier. (or for a production tamp…)

Today’s other major task was stacking and bundling 15 packs of 16 sleepers and 1 pack of 12 (total of 252). These were all from this tangent and curve 12. We’re still yet to collect curve 11’s removed timber sleepers and that will be a similar number.

Next week will be more of the same, just around towards Farmer’s Bridge. We’ll be doing the lifting, extracting, scarifying and insertions on Tuesday, so feel free to come along.

Concrete sleepers

Well, yet another record today, with around 130 concretes inserted and clipped up in tangent 12-13.

It started out chilly, but with a sense of excitement. As today we were able to try out our latest toy! A hydraulic clipper.

The procession of equipment just before we started work.

It was all done in the usual fashion, however only about half the sleepers have been tamped as we had more than enough people to bar up the sleepers.

It was a big learning curve… As can be seen by all the detailed looks and intrigue. It does work very well, however it’ll really comes into it’s own when doing both clips at the same time, however we were only doing one at a time today and the gang still thought it was an improvement.

We even setup a trolley with clips, biscuits and tools to streamline the operation.

The beast in action.

Unfortunately it doesn’t really work with the gauger, just too little space for everything, so we only used it on one side. However when it’s re-railing time this machine will be on the job flat chat.

Today’s effort saw the whole tangent completed, with only ballast scraping and tamping to go tomorrow. The next section (next week) will be this short stretch up to Farmers Bridge.

Tomorrow’s crews will also start bundling up the good timber removed, for storage and re-use elsewhere.

Castlemaine again

Nothing too exciting today, just more cleanup of old sleepers and timber and lots of digging.

Although we found the sewer line yesterday, we’ve been advised that we needed to uncover it closer to the creek, which we’ve attempted to do… But so far we’ve found lumps of pipe, lots of rubbish and a big lump of concrete. None of which really makes any sense so we’ve fenced off the area and we’ll be back at some stage to investigate further.

Next week we’ll be back to concrete sleepers at Tangent 12-13.


Today was the real pits. Well only one pit actually.

We began the excavation of the old Ashpit, unused and filled since some time in the 1960’s.

It took the best part of the day to gentle dig out what we could with the digger, with the remaining all scrapped out by shovel.

The lower pit structure is in remarkably good condition, however the top courses which were obviously modified in the 50’s (or there abouts) were are a little worst for wear.

As this was an ashpit, instead of having longitudinal timbers running the length of the pit for rails to mount upon, it had a series of timber blocks, mounted between bricks and secured to heavy duty angle irons concreted in to hold gauge. (this was a later idea as the original would’ve have had longitudinal timbers)

Seen above in its various states of health. The east side was in very poor condition compared to the west which is probably a result of the bulldozer or loader that filled the pit in.

The timber blocks were sheeted over with metal, presumably to stop hot embers setting them alight!

This here actually shows the original top of the brick work and the old through bolts for holding down longitudinal timbers were (very rusted) still in place at a couple of locations. It’s only the above additions which are unserviceable and now we know the condition we can plan around the best way forward.

As we won’t be using this as an ash pit, we can consider other options. It will simply just be an inspection and running repairs pit.

We even cleaned out the silt trap… Which appears like the railways had never ever looked at, going by the compactness of the material in there.

Only really one other interesting thing was discovered, this little drain that lead into the pit, probably just the drain from a standard garden style tap used for hand washing or similar.

As it was cold and wet and we had a large amount of very dirty timber and general timber mess to clean up, a bon fire was most welcome.

An old sewer plan showed a connection from the shutters cabin under the creek to Gingell street, which if still good (will need lining most likely) may save us a lot of money and effort to connect into the sewer.

And sure enough we found it right at the back of the shed, much shallower than predicted, but none the less there and in good condition. However a camera will need to be sent down to check it out properly.

Bit more at Castlemaine again tomorrow, final tidy up around the pit and a bit more cleaning up along what will be the fenceline.


It’s been a busy couple of days. With yesterday seeing the loading of wagons with sleepers, rail and jewellery. Even making use of the old QN ballast wagons as sleeper movers.

While today was the big drop out. First off Concrete sleepers to tangents 12-13 and 11-12, 128 were dropped out in total today.

The last few to come off the train.

All nicely stacked to make running them out along the track with the digger a very simple task.

Then all the way to tangent 20-21 for dropping off a wagon load of palletised sleeper plates. This stack should hopefully see this straight out.

Then onto the rail drop out, with 28 80lb rails dropped out for the UP leg. (the extra wagons were dropped off just over the next hill during this exercise)

Finally some of the jewellery was dropped out. Enough fish and sleeper plates to install these 28 rails were dropped out, along with a few bolts. Another full day of preparation here and this will be ready for re-railing.

From tomorrow until Friday the digger and gangs will be in at Castlemaine, starting preliminary works for the big redevelopment works.

Finishing off

Well by 9am we’d finished clipping the remaining 49 concrete sleepers. We’ve certainly got the process well worked out now.

We even decided to do an extra one! The old sleeper was really non existent and as we had all the gear handy, we installed another concrete, taking us to 102 for this week. It means we’ve now got our first care of 2 in a row concrete under 60lb (we did clip that one up with outer biscuits to ensure we maintain gauge.

With a bit of a ballast scrape it started to look like a mainline.

The whole length received another tamp, followed by a some lifting of dips and twists. Giving a very nice end result.

Some final tidy up scraping and a bit of drain clearing brought this section of the job to a close.

So the gang finished off the afternoon by de-bending a few 80lb rails (damaged during transport from Bandiana) at Muckleford ready for loading and dropping out in the near future.

Next week will see a works train on Tuesday, dropping out more concrete sleepers and 80lb rails while the latter part of the week will be in at Castlemaine preparing for some of the upcoming big projects.

Tangent 12-13

Now that all the curves have been strengthened, it’s into the straights. We’re starting from Muckleford and heading towards Castlemaine.

Scraping rock away from the fastenings.

With marks on the sleeper ends and the ballast scrapped away from the fastenings were we ready to start pulling screws and spikes.

This whole straight only needs about 230 concrete, of which 177 are already on site.

The big blower clears the rocks away brilliantly ready for pulling fastenings.

Before long all the spikes were pulled and the first 50 concrete were under the track. With Rolf running along with the blower clearing any dirt away before tamping up.

Tamping the sleepers up before clipping.

Of course interrupted by the critical lunchtime tea drinking ceremony.

All the kit, ready to do the next sleeper.

As we didn’t have a lot to do for the crew while the digger and scarifier were busy, they moved down to breaking up more 60lb rail, this time the rail removed from curve 13.

By days end we’d inserted 101 concrete sleepers, all tamped up and 52 clipped up. We’ve clipped them up using the inner lugs only through here as we plan to rerail this very soon and as we’re on a straight, gauge holding is well within the ability of the remaining timber sleepers. If we find it a problem we’ll install outer biscuits and clips.

So despite showers predicted, we’ll still be out again tomorrow, clipping up the final 49 sleepers and preparing the next lot of sleepers.