Rerailing

With a good number of other projects now out of the way, we’re head long back into rerailing.

Given the very systematic nature of the task, we spent the morning preparing as much as we could up to the straight, with our aim being to get this completed over the coming weeks. We began by removing fishplates and lubricating the joints.

We then set about correcting a slight rail joint location anomaly, where all the joints were going to fall on top of a concrete sleeper, a sort length of the existing rail was removed and to keep the digger able to pass over, the holes were drilled first to save time.

We’ve distributed clips and equipment as required along the job to reduce the instances of double handling etc.

After lunch we were ready to begin unfastening the 60lb and getting the 94lb in.

As yet we’ve only bolted up the first 55m length of 94lb and slewed it into position, ready for tomorrow’s crew to clip up while the next lengths are installed.

And just because we could, we decided to back the truck into an old pile of fencing wire so we could spend several moments thoroughly enthralled in a detangling effort! No damage done however.

Tomorrow’s crew will be meeting on site near Farmers Bridge from 8.15am. Where hopefully we’ll get a good few lengths of rail installed.

Ballarat Tramways

Occasionally we still do a little external contracting, if it fits in with the works program.

The past two days we’ve had the little digger and Will over at Ballarat Tramways doing some fiddly jobs, mainly in relation to get the last two bays of the old shed into a condition where a slab could be poured to replace the gravel floor.

It was a fairly fiddly job, pulling up the last of the old track and digging out all the gravel, 1 bucket at a time, to the correct depth. The little digger turned out to be the perfect size for the job.

Once everything was cleaned out, the new rail was manoeuvred in and the joining up work began.

While there, the digger was used to do an enormous amount of site clean up following the huge works that have been happening around the depot – check out the Tramways website and Facebook for the full run down.

The digger’s going to hang on there for a few more days to be available to load material onto trucks and the like, while they prepare the new track enough to stable this tram back in the shed.

Back on the VGR, unfortunately no pictures from today’s works, but we’ll be into rerailing again from Thursday, meeting Maldon 8am or near Farmers Bridge from 8.30am.

Maldon

We started out by replacing two failed sleepers out by the Maldon home signal with concretes, a nice easy job while we waited to see what the weather did.

Thankfully it seemed to turn into a nice day, so we set about jacking and packing 1 road at Maldon, to get the height of the platform track back up something more like the other platforms.

It was a considerable lift, the track was lowered many years ago to reduce the step out of the doors, however it’s settled to such a point that some doors won’t open and the diggers could no longer slew to undertake works on 1 road without risk of hitting the coping.

The amount of lift undertaken called for a ballast drop and luckily the ballast train was ready for deployment.

Following a drop and a final tamp, it came up a treat! It’ll likely settle quite a bit over the coming wet months given how much lift we’ve given it, but we can return later in the year to touch it up if needed.

We brought it back to where it should be, which makes it now level with 2 road, so there’s no longer a big height different their either. This brings Maldon back in line with Muckleford and Castlemaine platforms, meaning uniformity across the railway.

No sooner was all that done, than the digger was loaded onto a truck and sent off to Ballarat Tramways, where it’ll spend a few days doing some work for them.

Next Tuesday the gang will meet at Maldon at 8am, heading out to break up some 60lb rail into their lengths.

Pipeline Crossing

Lots of pictures from today’s rebuild of Pipeline Crossing. The weather held out so we went full pelt, knocking it over very comfortably in the day.

The slowest part of any crossing job is the excavation to unearth whatever may still be below the surface. In this case we were pleasantly surprised how ok some of the sleepers still were.

We did this much in the same style as removing mud holes, where 6 or 7 timber sleepers are removed, the old ballast excavated then the newies put under and clipped up before repeating.

We had plenty of hands today, so in the moments when manual work was required, it happened in meer moments!

Correctly spacing the sleepers, certainly give a very nice and professional look to the track.

We even spent quite some effort lining the crossing, only a minor detail, but for the past 20 odd years it’s had a slight kink, which gave the illusion the crossing was actually in the curve, however the curve should start immediately after the crossing, which we seem to have now achieved.

It’s not often we have a truck and train so close out on the track! But don’t worry, the truck was removed from the story before the train was called upon for the ballast drop.

Certainly the quickest and easiest way of getting rock out in a hurry is using the train, and seeing we wanted to get a bit more out up the hill it all tied in very nicely.

With its safety lock removed and the blade lowered, Daylesford’s Plough was once again put to good use spreading the rock. We don’t usually have a wagon in tow when ploughing, however we may consider it in future as this seemed to help smooth out the performance of the plough somewhat and certainly ensured any high ballast was pushed aside for the setback moves, which can be a slight issue with this quite light 4 wheeled wagon.

The end product. We ran quite a way up the hill to get the wagons properly empty, as this 2nd hand ballast does stick to the sides of the wagons a bit.

Following a jack, tamp and tidy up, it was beginning to take shape.

Rather than reusing the old roadway material to make the crossing, we used clean gravel, however the old material was used to reshape the approaches, which were a little agricultural previously.

The extra wagon was used to transport away all the timber sleepers and steelwork removed from the crossing.

A truck load of fresh Muckleford gravel was called in to form the roadway, which has come up looking very smart, we’ve ever so slightly extended the crossing so we can get hirails on and off more easily, as short of going to Muckleford there aren’t many other options here.

Another very pleasing day’s work! Tomorrow we’ll still be working, however out of Maldon, the weather will determine the exact tasks, but likely just working through a small list of jobs near Maldon. Meeting there from 8am.