Re-railing and Bolts

This morning was spent preparing for re-railing on Thursday, with half the dog screws removed, awkward spikes removed at joints and the very last of the jewellery dropped out.

The afternoon however was spent replacing loose bolts between Muckleford and Rifle Range Bridge.

With many of them tightened only twelve months ago, many bolts are now so old they’re starting to become stripped and fatigued.

So we’ve adopted a policy of replacing all loose old bolts with newer (recovered from re-railing works) high tensile bolts with cone lock nuts.

This should greatly reduce the ongoing bolt tightening required.

The gang will be out in force re-railing at tangent 20-21 this week.

Works Train

The day started with a concrete sleeper drop out to tangent 10-11.

We’re very thankful our trusty digger can comfortably lift and stack these concrete sleepers, as the thought of manually handling 230kg doesn’t appeal!

We managed to stack 144 concrete’s track side here this morning, as that’s all we could fit onto our 5 wagon train once all our other bits and pieces were loaded up.

Our other bits and pieces were two complete turnouts! Two 94lb turnouts for the upcoming trackwork about to occur at Castlemaine. One of these will be used to connect up 5 siding to make it usable, while the other will be to divide the turntable road into two tracks (the existing one and one across the old ash pit).

We managed to unload our turnouts and sleepers well before lunch so we headed back to Muckleford to load up another 80 concretes, as that’s all we needed to finish off the drop off at tangent 10-11.

This went very well until it was time to take the digger home…

And the wet weather made itself known as the digger was well and truly bogged. And after ten minutes of trying we decided it’s removal from the bog is a Monday job!

Concrete Sleepers

We’ll today was nothing short of amazing!

Easily a record breaker in almost every way.

We began by unloading all the kit, ready to begin clipping up the sleepers inserted earlier in the week.

We quickly decided the hydraulic power pack applicator, although good, wasn’t any quicker for this job than by hand. We had plenty of hands today so we packed it away.

We began by clipping up the UP leg, using the pan setter (blue thing) to make sure the sleeper was hard over. Normally when clipping up with all the biscuits, the outer biscuits stop the problem of the sleeper wanting to slide sideways, but as we’re only clipping the inners this method seems to work.

This was followed closely behind with the crew clipping up the down leg. Using the gauger as required to assist.

The last clip on and all the gear loaded up into the bucket for the trip back up the hill.

We were running so far ahead of schedule with the clipping (more or less completed by lunch time) we needed to keep the troops busy! So we set to work bundling all the timber sleepers removed. A mammoth effort, about 260 all stacked by hand and strapped. Plus another 40 or so more left over from curve 12.

The digger was hot on the heels of the clippers, moving timber sleepers to stackable locations and moving the ballast around, ready for tamping.

We even found time to complete some drain clearing!

And if all that wasn’t enough… We spent the rest of the afternoon replacing old loose bolts, at least 100 and probably more like 150 were replaced! A big job, as each old bolt is either broken by a well placed sledge hammer blow or unbolted by hand spanner (as the rattle gun was busy tightening up the replacements). The digger was busy chasing the bolters down the hill tamping up the job.

At packup time, we ran out of truck space, with bits hanging off anywhere we could find room for the trip back to the other truck.

We were fortunate with having a large gang, a good number of prisoner helpers and excellent weather.

In total we have clipped up 180 concrete sleepers, stacked and strapped 300 + timber sleepers, replaced about 100 bolts and completed all the ballast and tamping of the new sleepers! A massive massive effort. If only we could have this gang 5 days a week… We’d have a mainline standard railway in no time.

Tomorrow will be a slight change of pace, as we run a concrete sleeper and turnout material train. Sleepers to the next tangent and turnouts to Castlemaine ready for the new works down there! Meeting Maldon 8am or Muckleford at 8.30am.

Concrete Sleepers

This week is a trial on installing lots of concrete sleepers early in the week to speed up the clipping up and overall progress later in the week.

The day started off well, with stunning sunshine and ideal weather.

However a very burst hydraulic hose on the tamping head burst our enthusiasm some what.

But a little under an hour later we were back into, with the lift completed and timber sleepers out.

After a good afternoon’s work of scarifying and inserting concrete sleepers, we managed to insert a record breaking 180 sleepers! Thankfully the blown hose was our only hiccup.

We even found time to run the blower over the sleepers and tamp up one end of each sleeper.

Tomorrow we’ll be out again, to finish tamping up to allow trains to run (at reduced speed on Wednesday) and distribute all the jewellery ready for the gang on Thursday.

We’ll then go on to tighten more loose bolts towards Castlemaine. Meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30am.

Re-railing Preparation

Today, despite being very cold and a bit wet, was quite productive.

The rails dropped out last week were bolted into strings, of varying numbers, as we ended up rejecting one quite bent rail and that upset our nice system!

The lubrication at each joint was applied liberally, as the rails were wet, it doesn’t coat very well, hence lots in the hope that enough will end up in the right spots.

The bolting up crew was hot on the heals of the lubricators, with all this done and dusted by morning tea. It was a little quicker than usual with only 20 rails now dropped out.

Fish plates and dog spikes were distributed next, along with the jewellery needed for steel sleepers.

After lunch the task of collecting all the broken up 60lb rail jewellery was undertaken.

All the fish plates have been nicely stacked for easy moving on pallets, with all the old bolts placed (poured from the bucket) into a drum ready to go to scrap.

We then repeated this around the corner at curve 20, where the rail was broken up long ago, but we never quite got around to the jewellery.

This afternoon was spent breaking up the remaining strings of 60lb along curve 20, yet to be stacked, but that’s a good job for just the digger one day.

We’ve only got about 6 km of 60lb left to break up now!

We will be running a gang tomorrow for those who are interested, however the weather forecast is not looking favourable, so we’ll have to wait and see how much we can get done.

Meeting Maldon 8am with work depending on the weather.

Finishing off and rail drop

By morning tea the 103rd sleeper was clipped up. An excellent effort. The UP leg was clipped up before a run along with the gauger as required to install the biscuit and clip on the down leg.

A pass through with the bucket to move ballast to where it was needed before a tamp left the job looking quite a lot smarter.

After a tamp most of the twists and wiggles pulled themselves out. After a few trains and in connection with the rest of the straight, we’ll give this another tamp to lift out any settling.

While this was going on, the gang moved around to the next straight to collect all the jewellery removed but not collected yesterday.

These activities only took us through to lunch.

So this afternoon, 21 more 80lb rails were dropped out at tangent 20-21.

The whole gang decided a train ride seemed like a nice way to end the week, however it meant our comfy chairs were back at Maldon, luckily a well wagon doubles nicely as a bench.

Another very successful week. Next week will be busy, with Monday being a big load up point timbers day, Tuesday will be a special train to Castlemaine to drop them off in readiness for turnout building. Thursday and Friday will most likely be installing the 80lb rails dropped out today, however until the weather forecast firms up, that is still to be confirmed.

Concrete Sleepers

Another successful day, with 103 concrete sleepers inserted into tangent 11-12.

Unfortunately a burst hydraulic hose on the tamper slower down the process this morning, but a new hose by morning tea had us back into action.

As we’re now into the 1 in 40 gradient and it’s always easiest to work downhill, we started from the end of curve 11, working back towards curve 12.

It was all done in the usual process, lifting 50mm, remove the timber, scarify, insert concrete and tamp up.

Due to the setback with the hose, no clipping up occurred today but all the jewellery is out, with one side having it’s biscuit’s positioned and clips started ready for first thing tomorrow.

However all the sleeper changing only required two people, so the rest of the gang soldiered onwards to the next section, tangent 10-11.

All the sleepers with paint had their spikes or screws removed.

Unfortunately the pattern for re-sleepering did coincide badly with the anchoring, so a large number of anchors were moved. We’ll make sure we pick a more appropriate pattern on future works.

Despite the task, the gang managed to complete all 223 sleepers worth of fastening removal and a similar number of anchors were shuffled, all by afternoon tea, an excellent effort.

Tomorrow’s gang will be clipping up and finishing off the 103 concretes installed today. Leaving hopefully some time in the afternoon for other activities.