Re-railing Preparations

The low leg of Curve 13 (just on the Castlemaine side of Muckleford) will be our next re-railing victim.

Today saw us drop out sleeper plates, dog spikes, fishplates and bolts ready for a big effort this Thursday.

Unfortunately this short curve is the only section between Muckleford and Castlemaine not to have received the 1 in 3 concrete sleeper treatment, so we’ll be re-railing this the old school way, just like we did Maldon to Muckleford.

We’re using 94lb, which we’ll eventually install on the high leg too. As we’re basically within Yard limits for most of the curve, we’re using a bit of a mix of the short lengths of 94lb remaining on hand, still longer than we’re used to at around 27.5m each.

The 27.5m lengths have been bolted up into 55m lengths to speed up Thursday and we’ve prepared the 60lb to 80lb to 94lb junctions to save time also, with temporary joints installed so it’s a case of unbolt and go on Thursday Morning.

As Friday is a public holiday, we’re aiming to knock all this over on Thursday. So any extra hands would be very welcome. Meeting at Maldon 7.45am or Muckleford from 8am

Castlemaine

Well today saw us finish the standing of rails in the workshops shed. This is now ready for the concrete pour, which will likely happen over the next week. Once all that’s done, we’ll get onto building the track from here back to the turntable approach road.

Next week will likely involve re-railing near Muckleford. We’ll confirm Monday what Tuesday’s plans are.

Muckleford

Well today’s exciting job involved sorting through a big pile of dirt. All by hand, to sort out any valued treasures that may have been hidden.

A good number of treasures were found, including pandrol clips, adaptors, dog spikes, lock spikes and of course hundreds of sleeper plates.

Everything has been placed into a dedicated drum ready to be redeployed to where it’s next required.

It’s slow going, but today’s gang have made excellent headway now, with around 1/3 of the pile dealt with, leaving only a small mountain to go! We’ll now try to use up the sorted stuff at the base to save double handling it, so it might be a while before we’re back.

Earlier in the week we ran a civil train for the purposes of filling ballast wagons and dropping out some more 94lb rail, ready for our next re-railing job, just around the corner from Muckleford Yard.

Tomorrow we’ll be in at Castlemaine (meeting there from 8.15am), completing the new workshop track in the shed, with the afternoon likely to see us head out to Muckleford to make a start on some re-railing preparations.

Curve 21

The reminder of the stockpile at Woodlocks Ln was loaded into the wagons first thing today.

Then we got onto completing the discharge around Curve 21.

Looked a million dollars with a nice uniform ballast profile.

Of course after a ballast comes a tamp, which pretty much became the day’s task after that.

We did a running tamp the full length of the low leg, achieving a minor lift, with any dips jacked out to form a really very good finish.

When it came to the high leg, we installed a uniform 30mm of cant (super elevation), as although at 40km/h cant is really not essential, should the high leg start to settle, you can quickly develop negative cant, which is extremely undesirable, especially with rigid vehicles such as 4 wheelers – of which we run a few. 30mm cant allows for significant settlement before anything problematic arises.

This cant was installed by using a cant gauge (track gauge and level with a measuring stick stuck on one end) and the tamping head. Not a single jack required, which was nice. We generally achieved about a 2 inch lift in that leg, which we’re very happy about, with excellent results.

It really did come up a treat.

A bit of ballast regulation (and a works train to drops the wagons home at Muckleford), left the job looking marvellous.

We’ve got a very slight kink, which we induced during the resleepeeing, to still correct next week, but 20 mins with big digger and it’ll be some of the best track we’ve got!

Before summer really hits we’ll increase the high leg shoulder in a few places, as this has historically been a place of buckling potential, although we suspect the 100% big concretes has probably fixed that. The only downside of the ballast train is it tends to favour discharging to the low side of a curve, but that’s just gravity really. So a good few bucket loads of ballast from the digger will be the best way to fix this.

Given that all this was done with just bare hands, hand tools and diggers, the line, top and appearance of the curve are pretty amazing. The next level would be to have a production tamper through, which would take it to mainline standard, that day will come and the more track we get up to this standard first, the better that will last.

So this curve, which is only approximately 350m long has taken around 7 workdays to complete (not including all the preparation time). 466 concrete sleepers have been installed, close to 250t of ballast and a very good amount of human effort. But that effort should see the curve last for a very long time, with minimal maintenance. Once we’ve re-railed more of the Muckleford- Castlemaine section, we’ll be getting into refurbishing more of this section in this manner, which will quite quickly reduce the ongoing maintenance of our running line.

Next week will be a little all over the place due to a number of commitments, so please check back Monday night for details of Tuesday.