Thursday and Friday Re-railing – The Left Hand Rail!

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.

Here Malcolm is undoing dog-screws using an electric impact wrench.
Followed by Graham pulling spikes.

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.

John McC swaps his first ever rail while John S “helps”.
The first of the new rails is in place ready for fastening.

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.

Here Graham, Malcolm (hidden) and Norm work on bolting up the fishplates after lubricating them to ensure the rails can move a little when the temperature goes up or down. Clive (left) is checking the remaining old rail.
Up ahead, and John in the excavator is swapping the last rail length for the day, just over ‘Farmers Bridge’, while John on the ground prepares the junction of the new rail to the old.
The short piece of rail shown is a junction rail which is a piece of 47kg/m rail welded to a piece of 40kg/m rail. The rail joint in the foreground, where the wide rail head meets the narrow head, is a junction joint from 40kg/m to 30kg/m. This arrangement is needed because there are no standard junction fishplates to join 47kg/m rail directly to 30kg/m.

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!

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