Today saw the abutment timber completed, including the installation of the lock block.

Although a relatively straight forward task, it did still take a while. Requiring the modification of a few bolts and the removal of some of the old brickwork and mortar, which we think would give modern high strength concrete a good run for its money!

The afternoon was spent beginning a big tidy up effort, as we’ve now got items spread far and wide across the yard.

We’ll be back running Tuesday gangs again, with this Tuesday’s gang starting at Maldon at 8am, to sort out the great mess that’s currently on the gang truck. We’ll end up at Castlemaine around Morning tea where we hope to get a good deal more tidied up and get some drainage works underway to ensure all this new track doesn’t just fill with water.

Castlemaine Yard

Today saw further progress made on A & B loco roads. Lifting and tamping B road occupied the gang first up and a bit of tweak lining was undertaken on A road, really just to make it look snazzy.

The appearance of the loco shed now looks quite complete, with all three roads largely finished. Just some site tidy up and drainage to go now.

Today’s main task was the fitting of the abutment timber for the approach road that’ll align with the A/B road turnout.

Lots of delicate timber work to splice in an extension to the existing abutment timber was all that was required, however it is a lot easiest said than done!

As part of a rolling stock transfer to store some timber wagons undercover, a couple of loaded ballast wagons were dropped off, these will be needed to complete both A and B roads inside the loco shed.

During one of the many turntable rotations to check the lock block location, this unusual view shows how finished the trackwork into the loco shed now is.

With the location of the block carefully determined and marked out by Will and John, job number 1 tomorrow, will be recessing the timber and fastening the block in.

We’ll be back here from 8.15am tomorrow morning, meeting in Castlemaine Yard.

‘A’ Road – On The Level

Thursday and Friday this week (21-22 April) saw more progress in finishing off the tracks into the Loco Shed at Castlemaine.

Our main tasks were to add ballast to the track we finished laying last week, jack it up to surveyed level, pack the ballast under the turnout timbers and concrete sleepers and fit the turnout with a point lever.

The ballast went out on Thursday and we spent much of Thursday afternoon moving it to where it could be packed under the timbers – at the all important place – under the rails.

The ballast is on top of the track, ready to be packed underneath it. (Photo Bob)
The excavator heads onto the turntable from on top of the turnout. (Photo Bob)
Jacking the track up to the proper height before packing ballast under the sleepers. (L-R) – Norm and Art are ready with a big spanner to operate the jack which Bob is placing under the track, John S calls the levels while John McC (hidden) winds a jack up. This is A Road – B Road is behind Bob and it will get the same treatment next week. (Photo by Neville.)
The Takeuchi excavator, driven by John McC, packs the ballast under the point timbers. using our vibrating tamping ‘head’ to give a good firm result. (Photo by Bob)
John S helps guide John McC in packing the ballast. Squeeze too hard and the track ends up with a ‘hump’ in it, but not enough and a dip is the result. Note the holes left when the tamping’s been done. That indicates that lots of rock has gone from on top to under the timber. (Photo by Bob)
Tamping the tricky bits around the turnout. (Photo by Bob)

By the end of Friday, we had ballasted and tamped the turnout and A Road well into the shed.

Friday’s other job was to install a point lever, crank and rods to operate the turnout. This can be a tricky job to make sure that the point ‘blades’ sit firmly against the ‘stock’ rails to guide a train in the right direction.

The lever, crank, spreader bars and rod are all in place and fine adjustment is under way. Trevor (L) is guiding Norm to get the lever in exactly the right place to allow a connection to fit together. Rolf (R) is cleaning the point chairs to make sure no obstructions will stop the point blades from closing properly. (Photo by Neville)
– and it works perfectly! Norm operates the lever while Trevor makes sure that everything is working properly while Rolf works in the background. (photo by Neville)

Thursday 28th and Friday 29th April
Next week we will continue at Castlemaine, jacking and packing ‘B’ Road and more track building (from the turntable back towards the ash pit.

Castlemaine at 8.00am on both days. If you’d like to join us, please call or text John on 0427 352 416.

Castlemaine Loco Shed – We’re Nearly Finished!

It was a short week this week with Good Friday giving us a day off track work.

On Thursday we set out to get the last two tracks into the loco shed as close to finished as possible. That involved final alignment of the two tracks (A Road and B Road), bolting rails together, drilling point timbers, screwing base plates into position and clipping up rails to sleepers.

By early afternoon we had the track ready to accept ballast, initially using a pile we had nearby, placed by the excavator bucket load. Once we had the track roughly supported, we were able to run a ballast train over B Road, but we’ve saved A Road for next week.

Clive, Graham (back of) and Mal hard at work bolting up a rail joint (in a very hard to get to place) at the vee crossing of the turnout.

Photos are in short supply, but at the end of the day we were able to run our fleet of excavators into B Road, ready for next Thursday.

The VGR’s entire fleet of excavators in the same place at once! Sitting on B Road, with A Road in the foreground.

Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd April
Next week we will continue at Castlemaine, ballasting, tamping and more track building. Hopefully we can leave the Castlemaine loco depot ready for locos after that.

Castlemaine at 8.00am on both days. If you’d like to join us, please call or text John on 0427 352 416.