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.
Once on site, we unloaded the equipment and got right into it.
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.
The new rail is all laid out between the old ones.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Close behind the excavator is the team clipping the rails to the concrete sleepers.
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.
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!