Tamping and ballast

Well… you can’t have everything go right all the time. A flat tyre gave us grief, nicely followed by a flat battery! Thankfully we got those out of the way early on.

Then it was onto cross boring a turnout in Castlemaine Yard. The issue really being the timbers are still adequate, aging but adequate, however the dog screws that we’re used had bent over, leading to widening of gauge. So they were whipped out and good dog spikes installed in there place and just like that the gauge issue was resolved.

We also did an extensive lift of the creek side rail through the turnout and beyond to correct a bit of embankment settlement, even after 100+ years, we still get some settling of the formation.

We even turned a Y class… just to help even up the wear and make the next job a little easier.

And the next job involved this lot, which appeared on Platform 2, a little after lunch.

A rake of ballast wagons arrived, onto our track! The owner of the wagons inherited them loaded, which wasn’t ideal given they needed some maintenance before heading out on their next major assignment, so between SSR, Bendigo Rail Workshops and us, we devised a method of emptying the wagons that was beneficial to all parties.

It was very much a drop and run job, once the wagons were on VGR metals, SSR’s train (just locos by now) were back out onto the mainline, heading to Melbourne.

So we moved them well clear of the platform to complete all of our checks.

One of these tests being to ascertain the exact weight of the wagons, as short of being an psychic, it can be very hard to guess the actual load.

We use a hydraulic cylinder, with a gauge, which we tested on several know weights prior (the Y classes and known carriages etc…). This led us to believe very satisfactorily the wagons weren’t overloaded, which is always a good thing. However it did confirm they were too heavy to go over Pyrenees HWY Bridge, so as planned we were going to have to drop rock before Pyrenees hwy bridge, to reduce the weight.

So that’s exactly what we did! We infact did it before Winters Flat Bridge to really play it safe, although we had our Track and Bridge engineer on hand to ensure we did the right thing.

The wagons are fully pneumatic, meaning there aren’t any horrid wheels to control and they even provide a purpose build control platform!

Those little levers are all that’s needed to open and close the doors, pure heaven!

We only did side discharging, as this is a feature our wagons don’t have and something which can be quite tricky to achieve well, especially on curves.

The shape of the wagons certainly makes sure everything falls out!

It did take a bit of practice to get good at controlling the flow, but it is certainly the only way to go!

We’ve put enough on to replenish that lost when we completed the 2 inch lift to install the concretes and once we’ve completed the re-railing, we’ll no doubt wish to drop a bit more, but this is massive bonus.

So far we’ve only discharged the first 5 wagons, with 4 still to go tomorrow.

Any extra hands would be greatly appreciated, as each wagon needs two operators and its much more efficient to not have to stop after each load to move to the next wagon.

Meeting Castlemaine at 8.15 for an 8.30 departure tomorrow morning.

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