Concrete Sleepers

Today was all about distributing the concrete sleepers that we’d dropped out lineside previously.

Every sleeper required checking for pad condition and installation if missing, before being placed at suitable intervals along the running line.

With a follow along run to drop them out lineside next to their new home.

It looks very impressive with all 272 dropped out awaiting insertion. We require only 11 more to complete this straight (Bridge Excluded).

The next straight towards Castlemaine was also marked up in the 1 in 3 pattern ready for fastening removal and re-sleepering, with only 223 required there.

Another successful day

After today, all holes were drilled, all spikes were driven and everything is fit for traffic.

A quick tamp through the whole length started off proceedings. It was very evident just how dropped a lot of the old 60lb joints were just by how much gap was present between the sleeper and the new rails, so in doing this we’ve immediately removed a lot of rough track.

At exactly 12 o’clock the last spike was driven and the job was essentially complete!

The afternoon saw more productivity with all the jewellery collected and sorted, a few little tidy up jobs completed as well but amazingly we managed to break up all but 5 lengths of the removed 60lb! A big effort just in itself.

This week’s efforts leave us with only (approx) 75 x 80lb rails left to install in this straight and infact in this whole section (Maldon to Muck). Comfortably 3 weeks work once all the rails are prepared and on site.


The weather, although cold, has finally been kind enough to allow some re-railing. Today saw another 28 lengths installed into tangent 20-21.

We were well underway by 8.15, with John greasing up the final fish plate.

We we a little down on numbers today, as such we didn’t quite finish all the tasks in record speed, however everything was still very nicely under control.

Our trusty gang truck is back on deck after receiving it’s new water pump. We also got to test out the new sleeper drill, which proved to be excellent. It took a little while for the gang to master it, however it certainly reduces the back breaking bending of using the petrol drills. We’ll take lots of pictures of it in action tomorrow.

By days end the gang were all thoroughly exhausted but very proud of our efforts. We’ve clipped up all steel sleepers (quite a lot in this section), spiked the whole straight 1 in 3 as well as having cut and fitted the closure rail to join up with the old 60lb.

Tomorrow should be a comparatively easy day, with a quick run through with the tamper required first up, before a pass with the drill and spiking hammer to finish off the job. Hopefully we’ll get around to breaking up some of the 60lb removed today also. Meeting Maldon 8am or site from 8.15am.

Breaking Bolts

(sorry this has been sitting sneakily in the drafts area since Thursday! Details of works on Thursday 19th July)

Not entirely true, lots of unbolting and cutting too.

Our trusty(?) gang truck has let us down with a failed water pump and the spare won’t be in till Tuesday. So the re-railing was put off a week and we found jobs that didn’t require the truck.

We tackled breaking apart the 60lb in strings from our most recent re-railing effort. We really did this to retrieve the reusable bolts for use in the Castlemaine section as we used up our entire supply on Tuesday.

We didn’t count the exact number that we broke up but it would have to be 200+, a pretty good effort really!

We’ve even tidied up all the fishplates and scrap bolts.

As well, the gang installed a few missing 80lb anchors on the most recent re-railing as well as removing more 60lb anchors in the next section to be done.

Tomorrow will be a bit more breaking up rail, before we head out and change a few sleepers and finish off with some more bolt tightening. Meeting at Maldon 8am.

Odd jobs

Well we finished breaking up the 60lb near Bendigo Road this morning.

We only had about 25 lengths to separate, which was a comfortable number for our small gang of 3.

In the afternoon however we set about replacing the 3 sleepers in a row which had been marked as failed in curve 16.

However we very quickly decided that the marks should not have been on all three sleepers, rather just 2, as 1 was still in very good condition.

So we replaced those two and picked on two other nearby failures. As we happened to have a few concretes nearby, they were our insertion of choice.

It’s also a good test to see how concrete will go in this poorer ballast, so far we’ve been very impressed that we’ve seen no signs of pumping or working in similar conditions.

Unfortunately however…. We did break one of the grab hydraulic lines on the digger just after inserting the first concrete sleeper! Which meant we had to install 3 without grabs and in a cutting.

Some cleaver and gentle manouvering with the forks ended up being quite successful, will all 4 clipped, hand packed (because the digger couldn’t operate the tamper while broken) and boxed up before the spare part arrived back! A quick visit on Monday will see these receive a proper tamp.

We’ll have gangs running on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday next week, where we will be tackling re-railing in tangent 20-21.

Maldon Yard

Due to the predicted rain for today we chose to stay close to shelter in Maldon yard. Luck we did because we had quite a bit more rain fall than was predicted.The target work was sleepers in 1 and 2 roads, meaning we had to keep moving the rolling stock around the yard to get access.9 sleepers today we’re replaced in the platform. Generally the condition, although not new, is actually reasonable, but we had a couple of broken sticks which always just look terrible, especially at a station.We’ve not replace any timber in 1 road since before we pulled 2 road across last year, and it’s amazing how much easier it was this time with those few extra inches of clearance.We even dared to look under areas of 2 road that haven’t seen daylight for many years, pleasingly not as bad as we had expected.And without fail, we managed to park the loco on top of a sleeper to be replaced! We did quite a few moves today until we found a good spot to hide the train away.The mess we created is quite impressive! Thankfully that’s what tomorrow’s for. We managed to fasten up everything we put in today, which totalled around 34 (it was too wet to do a precise count so we’ll do that tomorrow).We got to test out our new hydraulic sleeper drill, and what a ripper it is! It attaches onto the same power packs used by the spiking hammer and pandrol clipper, making our kit very versatile. This drill has both forward and reverse, a very important feature. This will no doubt speed up re-railing greatly.Tomorrow we’ll be back at Maldon, still needing to ballast and tamp all of today’s work, as well as clean up all the mess, hopefully the weather is a little kinder. Meeting Maldon Yard from 8am

Big train of Concrete

This is officially the biggest train of concrete sleepers we’ve run out to date. 272 sleepers in total, spread over 5 wagons.

It looked very impressive glimmering in the early morning dew.

The drop out points were up the hill from Farmers Bridge. Around 300 are needed here to complete this straight, so once we’ve got this lot distributed we’ll know exactly how many more are required. Needless to say unloading all of these took quite a few hours.

The afternoon was spent preparing for re-railing next week. Lots of fish plate lubrication and bolting up into stings as well as removing the last few anchors.

We’ll have gangs running Tuesday, Thursday and Friday next week for anyone interested in joining.