And Over The Bridge!

This week we replaced the rails on the ‘Down’ (South) side of the track where we had replaced the ‘Up” rails last week. The process was the same but we were a bit better prepared this week so it seemed to flow a bit better.

But first – the magnificent sunrise at Maldon station that day! Inspirational – to balance the cold wind blowing.

Once on site, we unloaded the equipment and got right into it.

Unloading the spike puller from the “Yellow” truck – now painted white – but who noticed.

The rails were once again fastened to the sleepers using a mixture of screws and spikes on the timber sleepers and clips on the concrete ones.

Mal undoing the screws.
The spike puller – temporarily unmanned while Bruce the operator takes a photo of it.

The new rail is all laid out between the old ones.

New rail ready to be installed.

The first job in the actual rail changing was to undo the fishplates holding the rails together where the new one was to go in.

John S, John McC and Clive undoing the first joint.

The old rails are shifted to one side, any ballast or tree debris is cleared out of the way and then the new rail is lifted into position. The new rails to be laid today, go over Bridge 10 (Farmers Bridge).

The old rail (left) has been lifted out of the way and the new on put in its place.

Off the bridge, every third sleeper is a concrete one, so the rail is held in place by a metal lug on either side of it. However, on the bridge all the sleepers are timber, so we put a few screws loosely into some of the old holes to stop the rails moving to under the excavator.

The new rail (right) is about to be moved against the screw standing up in the sleeper to ensure the excavator runs over rails the right distance apart.

Moving the new rails, which weigh about 2.5 tonnes, up to the previously laid ones and leaving the correct gap (to the millimetre) can be quite tricky. On Thursday we tried using a rail grab attached to the arm of the excavator to see if we could do it a bit easier – and it helped a bit.

John S with a radio, talks to John McC in the excavator while the rail is very slowly moved to give an 11mm gap for expansion.

Close behind the excavator is the team clipping the rails to the concrete sleepers.

Mal and Clive get on with the clipping while John S and Murray discuss joining the rails together.

By the end of Thursday we had replaced 275m of rail and clipped it up to the concrete sleepers. Friday’s job was to fasten the rails to the timber sleepers, particularly over the bridge, and join the new rail to the old – ready for tomorrows trains.

The short piece of rail (second from left) will be added to the nearest one on the right and the old rail cut to match it.

Friday’s gang was once again quite small (the gang – not the people!) with just four of us there.

We drilled holes in timber sleepers, installed sleeper plates, Pandrol adaptors and clips and drove in spikes until all the rails we laid on Thursday were securely fastened ready for Saturday’s trains.

We also closed the gap between the new rails and the old, and built a bit of a ramp to take account of the 25mm difference in height between the old rails and the new. We now have just 5,267m of track to re-rail to finish the job between Castlemaine and Muckleford. That’s just 10,534m of rail to go!

Next Week – Thursday and Friday – More track to be laid into the loco shed at Castlemaine. Meet at Castlemaine Depot 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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