Maldon Yard was getting a little overgrown, so today we corrected that.

A combination of the flail and brush cutters pretty quickly took care of the overgrowth.

Being able to do the bulk of the work with the digger certainly made the brush cutting more manageable.

We’ve basically done everything that needed it and even a bit more, just to make it even easier next year.

Once we’d knocked over Maldon, we set about tidying up under the bridges, with Muckleford Creek, Walmer road and Farmers Bridge all tidied up.

Once the forecast stops predicting rain, we’ll hit some of these spots with some spray to help reduce the growth for the rest of the season, especially in the more difficult to mow areas.

Tomorrow, we’ve only got Winters Flat Bridge and the level crossings around Castlemaine to go and we’ll have a very tidy looking Railway.

Meeting at Winters Flat Bridge from 8.15am.

Bolts and grass

Bolts and grass are in no way connected, but they’ve been the focus of this week.

Following the recent track inspection, we’ve identified all the loose fishplates along the track, with most requiring replacement bolts to correct. So that’s what we did on Friday afternoon and again today, with a good 200 or so bolts installed so far, today’s small gang of 3 is certainly feeling it now!

However we’ve now only got one tangent left to go, about 50 bolts, which will see us with nice joints for the summer.

Mowing of the grass was yesterday’s activity, with a large portion of the mowing now completed (some for the 2nd time this year) around Castlemaine, a bit more around Muckleford and a start up at Maldon.

Unfortunately being an extremely good year for growth on the back of a few reasonable seasons, the grass is impressive to say the least, however it also means there’s an enormous amount to mow, and likely multiple times.

In general Tourist and Heritage Railway sector news, B grade timber sleepers have been released from the Echuca line upgrade and these are being delivered to Muckleford for use by the various groups around the state.

We’re not actually going to use any of these sleepers ourselves, as we’ve enough in stock for several years already, given they’re largely confined to our yards now.

So we’re doing our bit for the sector by offering some land to store them and providing a machine to load trucks with when the times comes to send them off to their new homes.

Thursday and Friday will see us mixing up our usual activities to tackle a good amount of the overgrown areas around Maldon and along the line. Meeting at Maldon from 8am.

Track Inspection

It’s that time of year again, walking the track and running the rolling track gauge over the full length to check for any deterioration.

We’ve still got a few kms to go, but generally we’re extremely happy with the results, with nothing found that exceeds any of the tolerances or poses any risk to safety. All that work is paying off!

We did find a couple of very freshly broken bolts, they were old non high tensile bolts and both did appear to have historical defects. We’re gradually upgrading all these old bolts to new ones as money allows. It was an easy fix, once we’d opened up the nearby gaps which had obviously stayed nicely closed after the bolts let go yesterday. That’s also why there’s four bolts per joint, as for a dangerous situation to arise, all 4 must break.

That was it really, nothing else has been found of any consequence. Fingers crossed when we complete it tomorrow we don’t find anything. The data collected will be used to help us prioritise the work over the next 12 months, but we only found a few areas that will need much attention, which is good as we’ve still got lots of re-railing and Castlemaine work to complete over the next year.

Earlier this week we said goodbye to the ballast hoppers, as SSR called in and collected them. It was all rather uneventful, as it should be.

Our new track at Castlemaine is now part of the roadway once again, with the remainder of that trackwork to occur later in the year.

Tomorrow will see us complete the track inspection, weather permitting. We’ve only got a few kms to go, so hopefully between showers we’ll find the time to knock it over. Meeting Muckleford station from 8.15am.

Ballasting part 2

Not a lot in the way of pictures to show for today, but very successful.

We did run into some trouble with a couple of the wagons, one had doors which didn’t always want to close, good fun when you’re trying to be precise! And another that just didn’t work at all.

However some trackside mechanical repairs and we’d emptied one wagon and exchanged parts with the failed one to get it up and running like a new one.

All in all it went very well.

Most of the afternoon was spent trying to remove the last of the well stuck rock from inside the wagons, unlike the small wagons you can’t just lean over the edge and give the rock a poke, we found that a variety of speeds, up and down hills breaking and accelerating was the best method to free the stuck rock, hence the push pull train seen here.

It was very successful few days and we’re extremely grateful to Bendigo Rail Workshops, SSR, V/Line and ONRSR for allowing this movement to occur – a massive boost for our little railway.

Next week’s workdays will be announced Monday afternoon, once we’ve safely got these wagons back on the mainline and onwards to Bendigo.