Curve 21

A glorious spring day saw us make excellent progress on Curve 21.

By 8.30 we were well into it, with the spikes pulled and digger busily inserting concretes.

To install these big concretes without disturbing the underlying roadbed, a 5 inch lift of the rails was undertaken, meaning the new sleepers sit where the old timber did.

This lift is run just ahead of the insertions, with the jacks removed and cascaded once we’d got one sleeper installed past the jack, we found that gave us a very even top.

Before long they were all under, with clipping up well under way. Just in time to finish the curve we’ve got quite proficient at this!

Out of the several hundred sleepers installed in the curve… we managed to install 1 the wrong way! And no they don’t have a correct way, but these gauge convertibles are not symmetric, so we chose a direction and stuck to it, not just for aesthetics but to improve ballast profiles and regulation. So once everything else had been clipped up, we went back and turned it around, quite easy when there’s no ballast there.

All the reusable timber sleepers have been bundled, strapped and moved to storage also, which was no small job in itself.

Mainly just to remove any gunk we’d introduced and to help level a spot for a ballast shoulder to sit on, rather than just tumbling down the embankment, we scraped the remaining shoulder material aside (what little was left).

Then we brought in the big guns to dump the first load of ballast. Starting right back at the start of the curve, we’ve dumped and ploughed, with Daylesford’s plough, 4 wagons worth, with at least another 2 still needed in the morning.

Just the usual sort of thing, but with a slightly larger drop than we did the other day.

If you look closely you can see where the ballast ran out, still a good few metres to go. We’ll save the ballasted track pics for tomorrow, but a little hint of how it looks is below.

The freshly bundled up sleepers were loaded onto the well wagons, which came along for the ride, except for the actual drop, where we left them up near Bendigo Road to help simulate a track fault to enable the ‘disable lights during a track fault’ feature of the new flashing lights.

It was an extremely successful day, far outstripping our first expectations, with 113 concrete sleepers installed, all the good timber bundled (approx 150 sleepers), a load of ballast dropped out and a myriad of tidying jobs completed plus a general line of the curve pre ballasting.

Tomorrow will be just as action packed and exciting, so if you’re a regional Victorian who is looking for something to do post lockdown, feel free to come along, plant your deck chair (or even better offer a hand) and watch us do our thing getting this curve jacked and tamped ready for trains on Saturday. Meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.15am.

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