Sleeper plates and dogspikes

We were back out at the recent re-railing site today, installing sleeper plates and dogging up. Just under 3 pallets of sleeper plates were required.

Any failed sleepers have been identified, these will be changed once all the good timber is dogged up.

One of the 60/80lb junction plates we installed last week was starting to show signs of cracking, it would probably have survived another 30 years, but to be safe, we’ve exchanged it for a non-cracked model.

We even got to test our new tool, a Milwaukee 1inch drive rattle gun. It is an absolute ripper and would appear to have more power than the petrol guns, less than half the weight and much quieter. This is a very kind donation from one of the gang, and we’re extremely grateful as it’ll certainly save us a lot of back breaking work.

The rattle gun was also used to break up a few lengths of 60lb rail, partly to test and partly to improve access by the old occupation crossing.

Lots of drilling and spiking followed, with around half of one leg complete.

As part of the process, every sleeper was tamped, unfortunately this did result in a slight loss of lateral stability, especially in the section that was yet to spiked up. As such we did a quick run through lining the track then dragged up more rock to form a thicker shoulder.

We managed to get it a lot straighter than it was previously. Once we can complete the spiking on Thursday, this will become nice and stable once again, until then we’ve placed a 10mph speed limit over the length.

We’ll be out here again on Thursday, meeting Maldon 7.45am or on site from 8.15am.


Well… we didn’t expect to do as well as we did!

Once we got onto it and into a rhythm, it became very obvious we were going to finish the straight well before lunch. So we promptly got into pulling apart the low leg of the curve.

Before too long the new rail was in and bolted up, with the clipping up not too far behind. Today saw us install another 340m of 94lb, taking this week’s total to around 700m. If we could keep up this pace we’d knock the re-railing over in no time.

If you can believe it, we even managed to fluke the junctions back to the 60lb being almost exactly square, only about 1 inch different, which is more than acceptable. Normally one of the new rails needs cutting or tweaking to achieve this, but using a slightly different combination of closures we achieved this without any unnecessary cutting.

We even found the time to collect the jewellery and install some speed signs to keep the train speeds down until we can get back and give a few bits that need it a good jack and tamp.

We’ll be back here on Tuesday, to begin installing sleeper plates and dogspikes. Meeting Maldon 8am or out on site from 8.30am.


Well we did slightly better than expected today, we’ve re-railed along the remainder of the UP leg of T12-13 and right around the UP leg of Curve 12 also. A total of 371m of rail was swapped over, not bad going at all.

Logically, we started where we finished last time, but that did include unclipping the first 27m of rail that we’d installed as a temporary length to help square up the junction back to the 60lb, easy with the concrete sleepers however.

Unfortunately, almost without fail, the dog screws fell underneath the bolts at the joints, the easiest method being to just cut the head off the screw. We’d be stuffed without a cordless grinder.

The slow bit is unfastening the 60lb, despite all the work on Tuesday, the remaining bits still took far more time than installing and clipping up the new rail did.

We were doing so well, that we realised it was well within our abilities to get around the curve also, unfortunately we hadn’t done any preparation there on Tuesday so that did slow us down a little.

Even up to the start of the curve wasn’t an unimpressive amount.

We had a bit of fun trying to reach the rails ahead at times, we’d dropped them out unevenly to avoid the old occupation crossing, which made a couple of them a challenge, but not an impossible one we proved.

We’re getting pretty good at cutting in closures now, with this one only requiring one cut and 2 holes to give an ideal closure back the 60lb.

By day’s end the UP leg was not only once again bolted into the track, back we’d clipped up all concrete sleepers, which is slightly better than 1 in 3.

In a few pics from way back in the rebuilding to Castlemaine day’s, we can see just how much things have changed since these scenes from February 2002 were captured by Alan Williams.

We’ve upgraded to a nice lightweight trolley, got a whole range of rattle guns, made the move from timber to concrete and started using rock ballast – and added a whole raft of diggers and trucks to make work much easier. These pics were taken in the general area of today’s works.

This pic, also from the same collection but several months later in July 2002. The first train on the rebuilt track is discharging ballast, the front of the train is roughly where we started work re-railing today. It’s not unrecognisable today, but the changes are significant; 1 in 3 sleepers are concrete, the rail is now long lengths of 94lb with a quite impressive ballast shoulder to match.

Back to the present and Tomorrow’s goal, is to complete as much of the Down leg as possible, it’s unlikely we’ll go past the end of the tangent tomorrow, as well need to leave sufficient time to do some jacking and tamping to correct the ramps down to the 60lb.

Meeting on site from 8.15am (which is just up the bike track from Muckleford, parking up near the old occupation crossing). The more hands the better, as this jobs can be very easily sped up and more rail changed with larger gangs.

Re-railing Preparations

Today we set out preparing the remainder of T12-13 for re-railing. We’ve removed any non essential fastenings, dropped out all the jewellery and prepared the rail ends ready for the change over on Thursday.

So far we’ve really only prepared the remainder of the straight, but if we find we’re going great guns on Thursday, we might even do the high leg of Curve 12 also.

Yesterday saw lots more mowing, between Maldon and Bendigo Rd, as well as lots of weedspraying around Maldon Yard to try to slow the regrowth of weeds.

Thursday and Friday will be pretty big days, as we can easily increase or decrease the work to match the gang size. Both days starting Maldon 7.45am or out on site (about 0.5kms on UP side of Muckleford) from 8.15am.