Re-railing and Trenching

Well today was very momentous… With one leg of the re-railing between Maldon and Muckleford now more or less complete!!

The day began with some rail straightening. With Bruce on the BUDA and John’s careful eye of the rail the kinks were skillfully removed. Unfortunately we’re down to the dregs of the rail supply, which are often ones were rejected earlier for these reasons.

The joining of the new and the existing 80lb, the last time for this leg! The old 60 to 80 lbs junction plates can be seen in the background, these won’t be needed again in this section now. Today saw 16 x 80lb rails installed, some shorter than usual but still better than what it’s replacing.

John ceremoniously drills the last hole.

And inserted was the GOLDEN Spike (in this case pink as we didn’t have any gold paint!).

Driven in, fittingly by machine to mark our development in progress.

Job done… Almost. Due to the lack of before hand preparation and the fact the digger is busy in Castlemaine, all of this work was done by hand – an astounding effort. As such only every third spike is installed, which is more than sufficient for the next week until the gang can return to finish off.

This marks a very very long commitment from our tireless gangs. And a massive step forwards in our overall track upgrade. This is truly a time for celebration as the end is now very literally in sight.

We can’t thank our volunteers enough, it’s entirely down to their hard work and dedication that we’ve reached this amazing achievement.

And on some other less glamorous news, the digger wasn’t available today as it was busy digging! (the one thing it never normally does).

The trenching has begun for the services (power, water & NBN) coming in from Walker St. to the new development.

We’ll be here for about a week digging, sanding, helping install then back filling.

There won’t be a regular Friday gang this week, however you would be welcome to assist at Castlemaine, as there are plenty of odd jobs that need an extra pair of hands at times. From 8am at Castlemaine.

Civil Saturday

Well the first Civil Saturday (on the 7th September) was a resounding success.

There was only a small crew of two but the achievements were quite impressive.

All the active signal pulleys, point rodding and associated cranks etc in Castlemaine Yard were thoroughly oiled, inspected and many issues found were attended to and corrected.

Signalman have been complaining for some time that one of turnouts has intermittently been stiff to operate, this was found to be a whole collaboration of small issues along the rodding, all of which are now fixed with a very noticeable improvement.

Turnouts were adjusted, rubbish build up in the wrong places was removed, as well as knocking off an enormous number of those little jobs that the weekday gangs just don’t get time to do.

Even a broken signal wire at Muckleford was fixed, its cause identified and also remedied.

Resulting in a long day for the small gang of Trevor and Rolf, but one with a very valuable outcome.

If you’re interested and available to join our Saturday crew, you’d be most welcome and the railway would greatly appreciate the assistance. The next Civil Saturday will be the 21st of Sept.

Check out the civil blog in the days before for details.

Busy day

On what can only be described as the busiest Friday we’ve had for a long time, we seemed to achieve an enormous amount!

It all began with some tidying up from the day before’s re-railing. Then installing anchors before taking the Y class to Muckleford.

Once there we dragged all the rolling stock out of 3rd to allow access to the rail stacks. All the required slightly shorter lengths were plucked from their stacks and brought down to the preparation area to be drilled or cut as required.

Meanwhile the team were busy cutting the rails that missed out last week when the saw broken down. There’s still a few to go as rain interrupted proceedings.

After lunch was dropping out 216 concrete sleepers near Sawmill Rd, ready for the next section.

A trip back to Muckleford to collect the prepared rails followed, with those rails then dropped out at tangent 20-21. Now allowing the UP leg to be completed.

The late aftenoon was spent loading our Ballast Wagon (first of 3) which has been off the railway for many years. We need these badly for our upcoming ballasting of the whole line. It’s good to finally have the first back on the railway, with the others to follow in the next few weeks.

Re-railing

With the weather defying the early predictions of rain, we are now 16 more 80lb rails closer to the end.

It was all completed in the usual sort of fashion, differing only in that we hadn’t had any time during the week to pre-bolt any of the rails.

We were a little slower off the mark than usual today, only just pulling the final screws and spikes by morning tea.

We’d missed an old weld right on the end of a rail which needed to be cut off. It’s much easier to have all this done before hand, but this one just slipped through the cracks.

It meant we had to use our brand new rail saw (to get us out of trouble while we fix the old one which we somehow broke on Friday – something internal). It took us quite some time accompanyed by lots of advice from all the various supervisors to get it going… But when it did it went very well.

Rolf did the honours. The extra saw will prove extremely useful in our upcoming rail recovery.

Once that saga was over, it was all systems go, with the old rails out and new ones in, in no time.

Here using the digger to adjust the rail gap before bolting up.

Bolting up the last joint, always a nice moment, with the end now firmly in sight.

John was busy making up the rail with drilling locations, important so we miss all the old holes (some sleepers have had quite a few holes over their time)

One of our many (3) smoko breaks, one of the great pleasures of working in the bush is being able to simply sit back and enjoy it, while in good company.

The afternoon was exclusively drilling and spiking.

A job which concluded right on knock off time.

Another excellent effort by the gang, with the end of this whole section of the line now very literally in sight.

We’ll be back here tomorrow morning to tidy up and install anchors, the weather will then dictate the rest.

Civil Saturdays

Starting on Saturday 7th September, the civil branch it going to trial Saturday workdays. These will be the 1st and 3rd Saturday’s of the month.

We’re hoping to reach out to those who can’t make our midweek gangs.

Initially the workdays will start with smaller general maintenance tasks, to gauge interest and test the waters.

The first day will be at Castlemaine, attending to some preparation required for the upcoming works. It’ll also include import tasks such at tending to maintenance on the many turnouts in Castlemaine yard.

If you’re at all interested, please feel free to join, meeting Castlemaine Yard from 8.30am.

BYO lunch, snacks, cuppas etc… Steel Capped footwear essential and please dress appropriately for the weather. Hi-vis orange vest or clothing would be advantageous.

Any questions please contact Trevor Maylor on 0407 048 342 or via ganger@vgr.com.au