Pandrol Adaptors

Today was the first trial of these things…. One of the many items we collected from the stockpile in Castlemaine some 6 months ago.

They are adaptors to convert a standard sleeper plate into a pandrol plate and this is the end result.

The trial location was the high leg of curve 13, the first curve on the UP side of Muckleford.

Some years back the high leg of this curve was re-railed in 80lb. However we have sufficient 94lb on hand from last years recovery effort to replace it. This is for a couple of reasons:

– it allows us to keep a uniform 94lb section of track from the Down Side of Walmer Rd to Sawmill Rd (then 80lb towards Castlemaine)

– it will also means we can easily install insulated joints (the modern almost completely fool proof and failure free glued type) when the time comes to flashing light Walmer Rd Crossing. It can be done in 80lb but it’s a lot more work, with more changes of rail type etc.. , however a 94lb option is available off the shelf.

– it reduces the numbed of junctions (80lb to 94lb) required between Mukleford and Castlemaine to just one pair! They’re pretty good the 80-94 junction rails but they are still a potential week spot so the less the better.

So what has all this got to do with the pandrol adaptor? The aim here it that by converting these plates to pandrol clips, when it’s time to change the rail it should be a case of knock off the clips, change the rail, do up the clips and it’s done! No drilling, no spiking. Given this will be the third set of rails on the same sleepers, the chance of getting enough wood for a crossbore is very low and would hasten the sleeper failures greatly.

This adaption method works by placing the fastenings in the outer holes of the sleepers plates, while a normal dog spike could be used, a ‘lockspike’ is preferable for clearance beside the adaptor and it converts the whole assembly to a ‘resilient fastening’. Which is a fancy term for meaning the fastening will now offer rail anchoring and improved holding as it is able to better withstand the forces of a train.

By working through one side of the rail at a time, the gang has been able to install the lockspike, remove the old dogspike (or screw), install the adaptor into the old dog hole (they need a little hole as they have a beak with goes just below the sleeper plate and locks under the rail foot). All that’s needed then is installing the clip.

With the final product looking like this. These are actually special e clips for this purpose (they work fine everywhere else too, but normal ones don’t fit here correctly), one feature is it doesn’t matter which way they’re installed – it actually doesn’t really matter on normal e clips either but they do go on a lot easier one way.

These adaptors have a local history, they were used to upgrade the high speed (130km/h) timber sleeper sections of the Bendigo Line during for Regional Fast Rail 17ish years ago. So they’ve been tried and tested very well and we’re thankful we can give them another lease of life.

We need to work on driving in the lockspikes, but we suspect the trolley mounted spike driver will greatly improve that.

The gang have a very well earned break. Given it was a learning curve, they did extremely well today, with about 2/3 of the curve completed, with the finish off to occur tomorrow.

Meeting at Maldon from 8am or near Muckleford Station from about 8.45am onwards.

Maldon Turntable

To complement the walkway decking at Castlemaine failing, the decking at Maldon has also decided to fail, in sympathy! Thankfully Castlemaine table now has a flash new steel deck and with one table out of action the second isn’t very useful so it’s now getting the same treatment while we’re still running a relatively small number of steam services.

The timber on Maldon table is actually a few years younger than Castlemaine, however not far off being as deteriated. That doesn’t mean however that the old bolts and screws are easy to get out!

Thankfully the table timbers are in excellent condition, being less than 20 years old (both tables were retimbered about the same time), this is a fairly rare view of a table without walkways, but otherwise complete.

Photos of the new decking of both tables will feature in the coming weeks. Being of much more durable construction, expanded mesh braced with old point rodding. The results at Castlemaine have a strange effect, they actually greatly improve the appearance and show off the impressive piece of engineering that is a turntable, while being a major safety upgrade.