Turnout, tidy and track

After the short lockdown hiatus, we’re back.

The final bits and bobs on the turnout were completed today, just the connection with the existing track, ballasting and tamping to go now.

The last few dogs were the only real outstanding item.

Point lever, crank and spreader bars have also been installed.

Operating very nicely. As always we had to re-remember exactly how to fit these from new, we do it so rarely, but we got there!

Rolf even installed and tightened the last of the Heel bolts, with the patented heel bolt spanner.

It’s certainly looking the business now.

The first bit of track projecting out of 5 siding shed road was also started, a bit of excavation was required as we’ve inevitably built this up to gain access, but it’s all gravel and will be perfect as to go back as ballast.

The big digger is proving ideal for these larger concretes, no hesitation and no issues with reach.

In fact it’s proving very useful for this work as all this sort of lifting work is barely an effort for it, the poor little takeuchi will do it, but it’s a bit of a strain at a full reach, the combination of machines, while a pure luxury, is proving to be very benifical and saving a lot of wear and tear on the little fella.

We even assisted in a cleanup of one of the station building rooms, some water tanks were fitted years ago with the toilet upgrade, unfortunately the pump died some time back and the full tanks have started to cause subsidence to the floor (loosely paved brick on uncompacted fill). Hence they’ve been drained, disconnected and removed, they will no doubt be re-deployed to a better, more useful location.

Lots of old signs were stored in the room too, however they’re all of some significance, so to help preserve them for the years to come when in themselves that’ll be museum pieces, we’ve moved them to the carriage shed. Where they can decorate the rather boring tin walls instead of loosing a bit of our history.

The small length so far will be extended tomorrow when we get the levels sorted out beyond here and then we’ll back fill and tamp to re-establish the fire access (and our access).

Now…. A bold claim was made last week about not seeing snakes often… Sorry it was a lie. Another, slightly smaller brown, did an almost exact repeat performance of deciding to travel from near the mainline, through the middle of the gang (having lunch) and onwards to the creek! However right up by the carriage shed today.

Again, as calm as a cucumber, very interested in all these people, but a bit annoyed by the piles of dirt that probably weren’t there this morning!

He had a good few goes at this mound before deciding going around it was the better option.

Tomorrow we’ll be back here, building more track towards the new turnout, please join us from 8.30am. (might even see another snake!)

Back to Work

Well with today’s announcement, we can resume our usual Civil gang activities from Midnight Tonight. Unfortunately we’re not quite that eager… We think holding out until daylight is appropriate.

Tomorrow we’ll be in at Castlemaine from 8.30am (Maldon from 8am) to complete the turnout construction and begin building 5 siding.


Another extremely successful day, with around 90% of construction now complete on the new turnout.

A lot of time was spent getting the curve lead into a nice shape and we’re pretty proud of our efforts.

It’s starting to look the part! It won’t take very much work now to join the approach roads back up, but we will need to bring in a couple of short 94lb rails to avoid having a junction back to 80lb right off the V crossing.

As is always the case in Castlemaine yard, whenever you change something, something else needs modifying! Thankfully a relatively simple fix. The rodding that operates No. 28 points now lines up perfectly with a point timber!

But a nice simple joggle and modifying the old rodding lengths soon fixed the problem. This was finished just in time for the announcement of the Covid Lockdown, meaning it won’t be needed on Sunday now! But it had to be done so not wasted time.

Interestingly… Or maybe luckily mid way through adjusting that point rodding a snake was noted coming from the station area and making an obvious journey towards the creek… Right along the path of the rodding being worked.

Instead of startling/annoying the medium sized brown, we just stayed still and let him wander through the site and peacefully into the creek, it didn’t show any interest in us at all.

But it was obviously very happy with our work, as it didn’t see any need for further inspection of the worksite.

We rarely see snakes, but here’s the place if we do. They are generally very calm and almost curious, but they can get a little cranky when surprised. Just another interesting thing to enjoy out on the track gang.

Looking pretty good we reckon. Of course once it’s connected in, ballasted and tamped, it’ll look like just another turnout in the yard.

Today’s announcement of Covid Restrictions will effect the planned works on Tuesday next week, so we’ll cancel that day, however all being well Thursday and Friday we’ll be back here finishing off! Keep an eye out here for any updates re workdays.

Turnout Construction

There’s an old saying, “Wondrous Night, Farmers Delight, Wondrous Morning, Farmers Warning” implying a weather chance is coming later that day….Well this morning was very wondrous and believe it or not, at the time of writing this, the rain has finally arrived.A partly laid out turnout awaited the gang this morning, however the day did not stay glorious, rather very hot, sunny and windy, so the progress today was really extremely impressive!Before long the tweaking had begun, lots of adjusting and checking and then re-checking to get the straight stock rail exactly straight and square. This saves a power of work later and gives a much better end result.Once happy, fastening down begun.Just as per our last turnout, it’s a largely screwed down job, with pandrol plates between the heel and crossing, nice to work with and very robust.But a bit more checking and tweaking never goes astray, because a turnout looking good is just as important as it being good (at least we think so).Once happy, the whole straight leg was fastened (we’ve got a couple of spikes to finish driving tomorrow, but other wise all done).Slowly more bits appeared, making it look more and more turnout like.Once everything was bolted together and the rails roughly aligned (to check the timber locations – as this isn’t a stock standard turnout, rather a 2nd hand bitsa, the standard timbering plan locations can give rise to strange spacings).A bit of pushing to ensure it would curve just as expected (and it did, thankfully).We had a great number join us today, which was a great thing given the rather horrid weather we endured.By packup time, with only the left rail really fastened down and rest sitting there, it was very obvious it’s all looking the part and more importantly, all the bits point exactly where they should.Certainly something to be proud of!We even managed to get the centreline peg in the centre!With the white blob here representing the predicted new centreline of the track towards the turntable, which does line up very nicely with the turnout (the picture gives a strange perspective, but it does line up).This is the set out plan for the very turnout we are building, it has curved blades, rather than typical straight blades, with the result being an overall smaller turnout (1.5m roughly) or about two timbers worth.If anyone happens to have a diagram for this particular turnout type, we would appreciate a copy, it’s not critical as we can calculate and determine all the relevant rail data from the above plan, more just out interested to see if one still exists (we haven’t found one in our records/archives yet).After a very big day and all very happy with their efforts (and rightly so) the gang headed for home. Leaving a nice (and hopefully very straight forward) kit for tomorrow’s crew to finish putting together. Meeting at Castlemaine from 8.30am.