Odd Jobs

Today started at Muckleford, with approx 60t of sleepers plates, anchors and dog spikes loaded onto trucks and transported to the Bellarine Railway.

They’re currently undertaking similar track upgrades to us, where they’re replacing old rail for newer 80lb rail. Check out their website bellarinerailway.com.au to find out what exciting things they’re up to!

As we’re making the transition to more concrete sleepers and given we’ve amassed more of these items from various recovery projects over the years than we now have a use for, it’s great to be able to support another Railway with their efforts, something we hope we can do a lot more of.

All of these plates might look familiar, as they’re those which we collected from the Guildford Track during the rail recovery. We knew we didn’t have much need for them, but we had a feeling making sure they didn’t go to scrap was a good idea.

We wish them the very best of luck in their upgrades and look forward to being able to help them and the other railways further as time goes by.

The real purpose of having the big loader on site was to load the Ballast Train, with the first 120t of rock from the recovered ballast.

We weren’t able to drop it out today, as you’ll see why shortly, however it’s now ready to go at a moments notice to top dress the recently re-railed section, to ensure it stays put over summer and enables us to lift dips and low sections to improve the track to a very high standard.

They’re a very smart looking rake of hoppers all loaded up, here remarshalled to be in a usable order. Daylesford’s plough at the end really just sets it off, great little bit of gear and something we feel privileged to have access to.

We’ll feature this ballast drop and just why it’s so important in the next week hopefully, when we get this rock onto the otherwise completed upgraded section of track.

Besides picking up jewellery around Pyrenees Hwy Bridge (we did end up re-railing the high leg over the bridge with a long rail, to fill in a day we’d reserved for Castlemaine works but couldn’t use on Friday), there were several strings of rail, both short lengths of 80lb and a bit of 60lb that needed breaking into lengths so they could be stacked strategically trackside.

Dropping ballast while there are rails in the middle is quite a challenge and impossible to plough. So removing these was a slightly higher priority than dropping rock just yet. While the ballast profile is generally OK in this section, we are aiming for at least a 50mm lift and a slight increase in ballast shoulder now that we’re using longer rails (which do need some additional lateral restraint compared with short rails, especially in hot weather).

And besides all that, we found time to start sorting a pile of jewellery at Muckleford in drums and transport this carriage – Acheron, to the loco shed at Castlemaine so further works can be carried out in it’s restoration.

There’s lots happening and we’re hoping to continue re-sleepering curve 21 (near Bendigo Rd) Thursday and Friday, however due to the recent Castlemaine focus, all the needed gear is at Castlemaine, so we’ll start there at 8.30, load up everything we need and then make our way down to Maldon at around morning tea time hopefully. This project will also need a ballast drop, so we’re hoping to get a few ducks lined up so we can get into ballast train mode for a few days.


The updates have a bit quiet this week, partly due to the reduction in workforce due to Covid and partly because it was just one of those weeks where little things seemed to go wrong, nothing major but enough to slow down progress.

After a couple of attempts we finally managed to get the long 41m 94lb rails delivered to Castlemaine Yard for the new workshop, lots of other bits and were moved around also, getting ready for upcoming jobs.

These rails are from Rowe Street crossing, replaced during the rebuild. They aren’t good enough to reuse in the track, but they’re ideal in a location like this.

Today’s job was locating the rails over a pre-poured slab in the new workshop, ready for the top slab pour.

We’ve used a very highly technical method of installing concrete screws beside the rail, much like dog screws in timber. Unfortunately due to a slight mistake in the setting out, the steel reinforcement in the concrete was exactly below where the screws needed to go! So they had to stick up a few inches which doesn’t matter in the slightest as all of this will be held in place by concrete, the screws are just locators to prevent rail movement during the pour.

We’ll be back at Castlemaine tomorrow, we’ve got a few jobs to do there and then depending on how we go, we’ve got a couple of jobs left to do out near Pyrenees Hwy Bridge which we might tend to. Meeting Castlemaine Yard 8.15am.

Job Done

Another busy day, with a further 32 concrete sleepers installed and a thorough tamp of every sleeper under the new rails.

We’ll leave the speed restriction in place for the weekend to make sure the ramps up to the 80lb, near the digger in the picture above, hold up, given they’ve had a 50-60mm lift.

If they stay put we’ll return this section to the current line speed of 20mph next week. Once we’ve completed a long enough section we’ll lift the track speed back to our maximum line speed of 25mph.

Next week we’re planning on being in Castlemaine Yard, but check back closer to the dates as things could change with Covid.


It was just one big day of driving spikes!

All of the recently re-railed section, had spike holes drilled and spikes driven today, which was a lot of drilling, spiking and walking.

We started near Brown Street, working down hill to Winters Flat.

We had at least two drills on the go, sometimes three, the power pack unit, which proved very effective, and a couple of standard hand drills. It’s a lot of holes and in this not new timber it certainly saw us go through a few augers.

Following that was a parade of spike droppers, spike standers and spike starters.

This allowed the spike driver to have a clear run to chase along behind.

By day’s end every spike was in and driven home, with only a few failed timber now remaining to be changed tomorrow for concrete.

A final tamp to ensure everything is supporting the rail adequately will happen over the next week or so, which will allow us to remove the temporary speed restriction.

Tomorrow we’ll again be meeting at Brown St Ped Crossing, around 8.15am.