On Thursday and Friday we replaced about 275m of 60 lb/yd rail in 22’6″ lengths (30kg/m in 6.86m lengths) with 94 lb/yd rail in 180′ lengths (47kg/m in 55m lengths).
Task 1 is to unfasten the existing rails – these being held by a mixture of dog-spikes and dog-screws in timber sleepers and Pandrol e-clips in concrete sleepers.
Rolf had gone ahead removing anchors and e-clips – sorry no photo!
John McC got stuck into using the ‘big digger’, aka Hyundai 140W7, to shift the old rail to one side and move the new rail into place.
The rail ends have to be carefully adjusted to give the right gap to suit the length of the rail and the prevailing temperature. Too much gap and the rail joints might pull apart in winter cold and too little may make the rails buckle in the summer heat. We use a clever ‘pyrometer’ to measure the exact temperature of the rail and then look up a table which tells us how much gap to leave to suit the length of the rail.
Friday’s work was to finish fastening rails to sleepers to allow trains to run on Saturday. There were only four of us in the gang on Friday (8 on Thursday) and it kept us going all day. Our job wasn’t helped when our hydraulic dog-spike driver malfunctioned and we had to revert to driving dog-spikes using sledge hammers. Nostalgia is all very well, but we much prefer the mechanical method over the old and very tiring way of doing things.
Our small gang on Friday was a reflection of the age we live in and the age of our team. One was away with Covid, two were in hospital under repair, (not because of trackwork!), and one was away attending a funeral. We look forward to seeing you all back soon. If anyone would like to come and try track work you would be welcome. No special knowledge or skill is required and as you can see, you don’t have to young or fit!
Sorry there were no photos, but our usual photographer was under repair on Friday.
Next week we will be back at the same place, replacing the rails on the other ‘leg’ of the track.
Next Week – Thursday and Friday – Re-railing over ‘Farmers Bridge’. Meet at Muckleford at 8.00am each day. Please ring John on 0427 352 416 to confirm you are coming- or if you would like to join us for the first time!
On Thursday and Friday we worked on finishing the access tracks into A and B bays of the new loco shed at Castlemaine. Back in February we made a good start by building most of the turnout needed to connect the turntable to the two right hand bays in the shed and then had to do bridge work and squeeze in a week of track work at Newport.
We now have another member of the Civil team who is filling in part-time for Will while he is on leave. John McCorkelle started a week or so ago and this week was his “baptism of fire” with the Takeuchi excavator while he shifted materials about and ballasted the track.
The weather started out a bit bleak, but that didn’t trouble Clive and Malcolm who bravely drilled and screwed rails to point timbers.
There was quite a dip in the turnout, so it was time to start getting ballast under the timbers. The site was very muddy because of the rain in the morning, so we confined the excavator to delivering rock from a nearby pile to the turnout by rail. This involved filling the bucket, running the excavator onto the turntable, turning it to line up with the new track, then running the excavator onto the new turnout to drop off a bucket of ballast. Lots of times! A slow and tedious process.
While the ballast was being delivered we roughly packed it under the point timbers to support the turnout under the excavator and to keep ourselves warm during the process. As the day wore on, the need to keep warm by shovelling went away and we had to resort to storytelling to distract us from the hot and sweaty work.
Thursday was an ideal time to do some tree trimming near Castlemaine, while our gang truck and track tools were still on their way home from Newport. With three chainsaws in action, our first job was to clear as much of the heavy growth inside the curve as we could reach from the track.
Once we cleared what we could from the trackside, we started near the crossing to clear as much as we could to improve the view of Rowe Street for train drivers heading toward Maldon.
We cleared between the street and the railway for about 50m so car and train drivers get a much better look at each other. What we cleared was both self-seeded poplars and blackberries and we’ve cleared it so that machinery can do it next time. Further clearing will need the use of a pole-saw because the bank was getting too steep for our sprightly gang of young retirees.
Friday saw more of the same but in a different place. Sorry there are no photos but we forgot to take any!
We started at Maldon Junction where we cleared some scrubby trees on the inside of the curve to allow people on the Gainsborough Street and Sheehan Street pedestrian crossings to see oncoming trains (and our train drivers to see them).
Then it was back towards Maclise Street where we cut down some peppercorn branches on the high side which were hanging over the track almost enough to scratch our carriages – and passengers with their heads out.
We finished off the day by trimming some oak and poplar trees on the inside of the curve between Rowe and Maclise Streets where visibility was poor. We now get a better view of the damaged whistle board for trains going towards Castlemaine. Time to fix it too!