Odd jobs

As with all things, some jobs get put on the back burner while major projects like Castlemaine and Bendigo Rd Lights are on the boil.

However today saw the odd job list reduced a little.

First adjustment of the down end turnout at Muckleford, it wasn’t quite throwing correctly and the locking was all out of adjustment, meaning was locking fine, but wouldn’t always unlock correctly.

Anyhow, an hour or and lots of blokes watching one bloke work and it was all fixed!

While the big digger was on hand, we had a crack at lining the dock road turnout at Muckleford. Since about 1996 it’s looked a bit like this, at an odd angle.

So we set about pushing and shoving until we’d achieved something more desirable.

Still a million and one wiggles that we could remove, but on the whole, it looks much more appropriate now. This work is beyond the little digger but this one just take it in its stride.

We then did a very through track patrol over the 60lb, to make sure our watch points from last inspection hadn’t degraded, with one exception, which is only a very minor issue, nothing has got significantly worse. However the timber sleepers are really starting to age during this wet year. This was also a planning exercise for the re-railing we’re hoping to start in a few weeks.

Last job of the day was to reinstate this speed sign, which we’d completely overlooked re-installing after the rail recovery effort.

Tuesday will likely be a works train, delivering more material to Castlemaine for the next little bit of work later in the week. Meeting Maldon 7.30am or Castlemaine from 8.15am (head straight to Castlemaine unless you need a lift from Maldon).

They Flash!

It’s a done deal, the lights and bells at Bendigo Road are fully installed and working!

After what seemed like a whole army of V/Line technicians descended on the site, suddenly lights were on posts, signs were erected and bells were ringing.

Just after lunch a call was put through asking for a test train, which of course was happily provided.

Initially a low speed run either way was undertaken to ascertain that everything functioned correctly, which of course it did.

This was then followed by a full line speed run of 40km/h, the track speed limit now in place here. Until today, we had restricted the speed of trains to 15km/h due to the dangerous nature of the umprotected crossing.

A view from the loco during the testing, one of the tests involved sitting in the approach sections to simulate a failed train, to ensure the lights responded correctly.

A big thank you to everyone who has been a part of this project, from politicians, government departments, V/ Line and our volunteers for all the many months of work that have gone in to making this a reality. We’re extremely grateful and much happier now that this isn’t such a high risk crossing, it’s a big win for everyone who uses it, road and rail.

Besides the fun and games of having the lights working, today’s gang did achieve a few things. One of which was removing all the old signage, which we’ll cascade to another crossing or keep as spares.

The all important job of removing the speed restriction signs was done with great enthusiasm.

As part of the welding in of the insulated joints some time back, we had a whole stack of short rails with fishplates attached, that needed recovering, which was successfully achieved today.

We had a good number of sleepers laid out at Maldon which still had dogspikes and plates attached, so these were removed and the sleepers were bundled and strapped for later use.

A lot of sorting and tidying of general stuff was also undertaken, helping to make use of the quiet moments between major activities.

Tomorrow, we’ll be meeting at Maldon from 8am. We’ll be doing a range of jobs, including a full track inspection prior to regular trains returning this weekend.

Ballast Drop

Today was relatively exciting, with the first real rail vehicles over the recently refurbished pit, the first in-fact being Daylesford’s Ballast Plough, generously on loan to us.

It was a ballast train, dropping rock for the new track into the shed. We had planned on using gravel, but given how saturated the ground and the gravel piles have become, it was just never going to happen until summer, unless we brought in the big guns.

We’ve even completed the lifting and tamping to final height, however given how wet everything is, we know we’ll be back to lift again once everything dries out and site is draining properly.

While we were in the swing of things, half a wagon of rock was dropped on 5 siding, as it still needs jacking and tamping to it’s final height.

These ballast drops also marks the first real use of recently recommissioned Y157. An ideal machine for this work as it’s fitted with hump control, enabling very controllable speeds when ballast dropping in these more delicate areas.

Believe it or not all that took all day, with two drops needed by the shed doors, given the lift required with lots of jacking and tamping required.

We have of course stabled the loco in the loco shed, because why wouldn’t you!

In other news, things are all a go at Bendigo Road, with final commission expected for this Thursday!

Last Friday didn’t make the blog… mainly as the camera was only remembered once! A lot of cleaning up the site was undertaken and a start made on the 2nd pit, with the temporary rails and sleepers removed.

This Thursday we’ll be starting at Maldon at 8am, we’ll then be working in the vicinity of Bendigo Road Crossing, so we’re on hand for the commissioning and we’ll tidy up all the jewellery, lengths of rail etc etc… left over from all the recent works there. We’ve also got a good list of outstanding jobs around Maldon we should tend to.

Castlemaine Yard

Now that we’ve got the Takeuchi back in action, we’ve caught up with a backlog of tamping jobs. The little digger has been out having some basic maintenance the last few weeks – amazing what difference a full service and fixing those minor little niggles does, it’s like a new one again!

The first job today was completing the trackwork into the loco shed, only a few bolt holes needed drilling and about 15 sleepers were clipped up. It still needs a final line, but until we get some ballaet on it, it’ll keep springing back to where it seems happiest.

We’ve ballast , jacked and tamped this track only as far as this, as we ran out of easily accessible gravel, so we turned our attention to all the other new trackwork still in need of a tamp.

The new turnout and turntable approach has received the full treatment, now looking very smart.

Although we didn’t get a photo, we did also jack and tamp the 3 siding extension track we built a month or so ago.

We’ll be back here tomorrow from 8.15am, we’ve still got lots to do, with a lot of mess needing tidying, lots of timber sleepers to bundle up and hopefully we can get more of the loco shed track tamped up too.