Rails

A quick tamp this morning to remove a few drips and wiggles from yesterday’s work has finished the job nicely. We do still need to tidy up the ballast still, but that is really more for aesthetics than anything.

The rest of the day was spent preparing the last of the 80lb rail.

We’ve prepared around 40 rails out of the 55 needed to finish tangent 20-21 (which will complete Maldon to Muckleford). Those 40 were the absolute last of the 14m lengths of 80lb rail from Bandiana.

We’ve identify enough shorter rails (ranging from 11.5m to about 12.5m) in the stocks to see the job out, after which we’ll only have stocks of 9m and shorter, which is really no better than the 60lb it’ll be replacing.

All being well we hope to get some of these in next week, but that does depend on lots of stars aligning.

Clipping up

Well to beat Monday’s record, we had to have a Thursday record.

223 all clipped up well before lunch time! An excellent effort and yet another first for the gang.

Bruce(s), Clive and Will worked up the hill today (just to mix it up) clipping up along the UP leg. Upon reaching the top, this gang grabbed the gauge and begun clipping up the down leg. Meeting up with the rest of the gang working up the hill doing the same thing. This proved a very effective method and one we’ll no doubt employ many more times.

Just to remind you exactly what a biscuit and clip look like. This clip is known as a PR clip, which has all the identical characteristics to an E clip except it’s shape.

With the ballast returned to the track and a tamp through, the job really has come together fast and looks fantastic.

But as we’d completed the task well ahead of schedule, more work was found in the form of fastening removal in the next section. Clive and Bruce went ahead some 300 sleepers clearing the way for the spike and screw pullers. With all the required fastenings removed from curve 9 to Sawmill Road Crossing. 176 concretes are needed here (will seem like only an afternoon’s work now!)

The jewellery was also collected and sorted into drums. All that awaits is for the sleepers to be loaded and dropped out.

Yet another stunning effort from the gang, they’re certainly an excellent crew and without them our railway wouldn’t be making these enormous leaps and bounds forwards.

Tomorrow will start with finishing off tamping today’s works, then onto preparing the last of the 80lb rail at Muckleford.

Concrete Sleepers

Well just on principle, we’ve broken yet another record! With 223 concrete sleepers inserted into tangent 10-11 today! This completes this straight.

It all went pretty well like clockwork today, with little to no breakdowns or annoyances.

The grabs even got to test out their new pads, welded on last week as the first pads have done so much work they were starting to wear out!

We had an extra person today, which helped greatly, 3 seems the perfect number for this.

Although they’re all under, no jewellery has been dropped out or sleepers tamped up, so that’ll keep us busy in the morning.

Meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30.

Concrete Sleepers

The day began with the exciting job of collecting the jewellery, left over from yesterday’s re-railing.

Once all this was sorted and packed away, we had to clear the track for a special train. Not something that occurs very often as we usual insist on no trains during our workdays, however we made a special exception.

Anchors were installed next, before a change of location.

The afternoon was spent at tangent 10-11, distributing concrete sleepers in readiness for next week’s big effort to install 223 concrete sleepers. Moving all the sleepers into place is a big enough job on its own, however we still needed to dodge that special train a few more times which, while a very pleasant thing, did break the work flow a little.

We’ll have gangs running on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday next week, so heaps of opportunity to join in the fun.

Re-railing

An extremelly successful day today, with a further 20 80lb rails installed into tangent 20-21.

Unloading the spiking hammer from the truck in the wonderful morning sun.

And what a glorious morning it was, not cold, sun shining and the feeling of early spring in the air. Unfortunately the wind picked up a bit later on, but it was still very pleasant.

Once all the gear was loaded onto its appropriate trolley and we’d managed to marshall the trolleys and excavator in the right order, we were into it.

We even cheated a little more this time, the digger remained on the track all day, carefully ensuring the rail was placed into the correct location before moving along to slew in the next length in. This actually sped things up a little as all 20 rails were in and bolted up by morning tea.

With Rolf handling the mighty rail saw in style, the closure too was cut and bolted up before morning tea, a very good achievement.

All the sleeper plates were inserted first today, often we do them in batches with the gauging and drilling, but this actually seemed to work well for the gang today.

The clipping of the steel sleepers followed this process, being much like concrete sleepers in the way gauge is fairly absolute, so it’s much easier to set them, rather than need to tweak things once the timber’s all spiked up.

Bruce hard at it on the spiking hammer, with the tamper hot on his heels.

By afternoon smoko, almost all holes were drilled, spikes stood with only driving left to go. Even Will jumped down from the digger to lend a hand (only right near the end though…).

An excellent days work.

We only have a very short supply of 80lb rail left now. We’ll use this up within the next month.

However it won’t quite be enough to see us out of this straight (the whole section between Maldon and Muckleford in fact) which is a little frustrating as the section it needs to join up to will be very much within sight! We have lots of very short rails, which we may be forced to used, which isn’t desirable.

However, we are still hopeful that VicTrack will come good with their offer of rail from the now closed Castlemaine – Maryborough line (a lot of which is 80lb). We hope it coincides nicely with us using up all our current Rail ex Bandiana.

Tomorrow will be a big tidy up from today, breaking up more 60lb rail to recover bolts and hopefully distributing concrete sleepers if time allows.

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!