Odd jobs

Today saw us successful complete the sorting of the enormous pile of fastenings in Castlemaine yard. Overall we did very well, getting close to the figure of items we were given access to. We fell short by a a couple of thousand pandrol clips, however 16000 is still a pretty good number! (another 4000 sleepers at least)

Once we’d tidied up the V/Line site, our attention was turned to the new track in the Carriage Shed.

It required a significant lift and level, but the end result is quite pleasing. We’ll probably need to revisit this in due course once it’s had a bit of traffic over it.

We simply squeezed the gravel into the voids of the steel sleepers with the grabs rather than with the tamping head, time will tell if this ends up with a better result but we are very confident this method has done an excellent job of filling the voids with gravel, which is half of the battle with steel sleepers.

A rough scrape of the gravel has left it better than before for shunting of trains, we’ll still add more gravel in due course but for now it’ll work perfectly for storing rolling stock.

The rest of this week will be concrete sleepering near Winters Flat Bridge, meeting on site around 8.30am.

Big Pile

Today’s job was sorting this pile of fastenings! It’s all the left over material from V/Line’s recent sleeper renewals where they replaced all timber in the mainline with concrete.

We have been given access to the pile to collect used pandrol clips and clip in shoulders (to convert standard sleeper plates to pandrol plates).

To ensure we maintained a safe distance from V/Line trains, we erected an appropriate temporary fence.

Once the edge of the pile had been sorted, the digger was called upon to drag that material clear.

Thankfully the pile is large, so maintaing a social distance is very easy and is also the most efficient way to attack the pile.

All of the material in the foreground has been sorted with the behind pile being the working face.

By the end of the day, we’d filled 16 drums and moved them over to our yard. We’re just over half way through the pile, which is an amazing effort, hopefully with a similar effort tomorrow we won’t need to return next week.

Big thankyou to V/Line for making this surplus material available.

We’ll be back here tomorrow (near the old goods shed), entry via Kennedy Street Castlemaine, meeting around 8am. Any extra hands extremely welcome!

Recap of recent works

There has been a lot happen of the past few weeks and unfortunately not all of it has made the blog, so here is a quick recap of what we missed sharing.

V/Line shutdown works:

We made the news!

The video largely speaks for itself, however it really has been a major turning point for our railway, being able to use Concrete Sleepers instead of relying on 2nd hand timber, every sleeper we put it now should comfortably last 40+ years (probably much much longer) compared to the enormous task of replacing every timber sleeper every 20-25 years!

Following the V/Line shutdown works, where we managed a staggering 252 concrete sleeper insertions, 29 point timbers and lots of incidental jobs, we had a very impressive climax to the week with a visit from a production tamper.


V/Line required the use of a tamper to complete their portion of the works, however they had hired the machine for a full day and intended to get a whole day’s use out of it.


The turnout featured in this photo was the main task that the tamper had been brought in for (our connection to V/Line), given it required a slight lift, our adjoining turnout also required a comparable lift to bring it to the new level, so the tamper was always going to need access to our track.


However given the John Hollands Crew managed to complete the required turnout tamping and lifting in good time, they had sufficient time to complete some additional tamping for us.

The entire section worked on during the shutdown (approx 500m) received a production tamp, lift and line in an afternoon, leaving the track in a very high standard (see pics below) – easily 2 weeks work if we were to try and achieve a vaguely similar standard

We are extremely grateful to V/Line for their incredible support during the recent works, they have been very supportive and understanding of our situation and helped us where ever they could, we hope they found us equally supportive and helpful (in the small ways that we could be).

We are also very grateful to John Hollands for undertaking the works to a very high standard, being very cooperative and nicely fussy on the end result.

The following images show the impressive result obtained from the tamp, we just wish our whole track was up to this standard now, but if we keep going at the rate we are, that may not be many years away.


Hopefully the pictures show the quality improvement when compared to the earlier shots during the re-sleepering works. The last pic clearly shows the removal of the catch-points, which was really on our wish-list of things to do during the shutdown, however we successfully achieved everything on our list and more!


More recently we’ve turned our attention back to the Carriage Shed at Castlemaine, with 3 siding now ballasted with a nice gravelly medium ready for jacking to the correct height and tamping, this should leave a nice even walk-able surface in the shed for foot traffic.


The ring around the turntable also required a kerbing as part of the site permits, to help prevent accidentally driving into the hole. This has now been finalised, with 2nd hand timber sleepers fastened into the ground with hidden steel rods (no sharp edges or tripping hazards) and reflective tape affixed for extra assistance at night.

The setting out of the trackwork for the other side of the turntable and into the shed has begun, with a layout plan of works expected shortly. Things at Castlemaine are really starting to come together, with most items now in or close to their eventual homes and almost all the services now fully connected and functional.

There is a lot to go yet, a lot of planning, organising and doing to be get the job done. The most challenging part for the civil gang is going to be to be fitting in all the various projects we have on the go over the next 2 years, all while maintaining and improving our running track.

But we’ve proven over the past few years and especially during these Covid-19 times that we can undertake an enormous amount of work when we set our minds to it. But we can always use extra hands and it’s looking like it’ll still be some time before trains are back running as usual. We’ve got a good window of trackwork ahead so we plan on making good use of it. Please contact Will via ganger@vgr.com.au if you’re interested in helping out and for details of how we’re managing the risk of Covid-19 on our workdays.

We’ll be at Castlemaine this week (Thurs and Fri) sorting some fastenings that are surplus to V/Line follow their recent works (but valuable to us), meeting Carriage Shed Castlemaine from 8.15am or on site along Kennedy Street from 8.30am.

Detailed Track Inspection

Well on the back of all the work undertaken over the past few months, we were slightly overdue for a detailed track inspection.

One of the tasks is pushing the rolling track gauge to ensure the gauge is checked everywhere.

And hopefully gives a nice reading like it has here!

Any odd jobs are tended to along the way, in this case installing a missing clip on a steel sleeper that was recently relocated.

As well as checking all bolts to ensure anything loose is marked, ready to be tightened.

The track inspection will conclude tomorrow, meeting Maldon at 8am.