Pipeline Crossing

We set about the preparations for renewing Pipeline Crossing today.

As part of the works 18 failed or failing timber sleepers adjacent to the crossing have been replaced, with concrete. This was largely due to the fact that we’ll need to lift the track slightly following the sleeper renewal through the roadway due to the slightly thicker concrete sleepers. As such anything that wasn’t going to survive that process was replaced.

A rough and ready box up saw us able to give this work a tamp, ready for trains tomorrow.

The afternoon was spent jacking and packing track on the Down side of the crossing, in some cases as much as 60mm. This is due to a very very historic timber bridge removal, back in early VR days, which is continuing to settle. We will need to drop a bit of ballast here to ensure that what we’ve done stays good, however we’ll have a ballast train on hand on Thursday for the crossing, so two birds one stone.

Unfortunately, we had the digger fail on us, thankfully right at the end of today’s works. We managed to get it home, we’re very hopeful of getting it fixed tomorrow, a notice will be put up here if we don’t however, as it may change the plans for Thursday a little (the big digger can only substitute so far, as unfortunately the attachments aren’t interchangeable).

On a completely unrelated note, our local earthmovers came past today to tidy up the road side of the E class in the Dock Road, this certainly tidies the area up greatly.

Thursday’s gang, all being well, meeting Maldon 8am or Pipeline Crossing from 8.30am.

Dock Rd Turnout Gone

In no time, we were on the tools and into fastening up the other leg. Except for rail cutting and drilling, all the power tools used in this job were battery powered and what a difference it has made! No back breaking lugging around heavy gear or loud noisy motors fuming everything up.

Unfortunately no pictures of the actual ballast drop part, however two wagons of rock later and the job looked almost complete.

It wasn’t quite though, as a good lift and tamp was required for the whole length and a distance either side.

But once that was done, the ballast train was sent on its way, back to Muckleford.

The afternoon was spent tidying up the great mess that’d we’d inevitably made over the past week, this took almost as long as everything else today!

The side drain was dug to depth and right on que, the sump pump kicked in, sending a nice amount of muddy water out along the drain, proving not only that our new sub surface drain works, but the side drain can now get the water away from the area and down to lower ground.

It is a pity to have to change the layout of the yard, however hopefully with the E in the Dock and the prospect of an extended platform, it’ll seem a very realistic and practical compromise. It’ll certainly reduce the maintenance in that area phenomenally over the coming years, which is quite critical given the other projects we’ve got on the go.

Thankfully today’s weather was nice, a great improvement over the recent wet, however next week is looking wet again. At this stage we’re planning on renewing Pipeline Crossing (midway between Maldon and Muckleford), however if the weather is looking too wet, we may swap to another less muddy job, check back next week to see the plan.

Dock Rd Maldon

Today saw the Dock Road turnout removed. Unfortunately, it also saw a lot of wet and miserable weather.

The last few bolts were unfastened, before the big digger was called in to lift the turnout out in lumps.

This allowed all the spikes and screws to be dealt with out of the way of the earthworks.

The top layer of fouled ballast was excavated until we hit clean gravel road-base, which was actually not far below the bottom of sleeper level.

The real cause of the track failure in the turnout was the lack of drainage, so to prevent a recurrence, we’ve installed a drain the full length of the works and extending into the sump pump collection area so the water can be more effectively removed from the track.

We even took the opportunity to cover the ground with geofabric, in the hope it might at least slow the clay from working back up through.

A keen eye will note a ballast train stabled in the platform, this was brought up last night by the light engine move. We’ll need that tomorrow to ballast the new track, but we also needed it today to access a bit of rock to cover the drainage pipe.

In no time at all, we’d laid out the sleepers, all 2nd hand timber of reasonable quality. The new rails were cut into the existing track. The new rail is 60lb AS, an improved version of the 60lb D we have been replacing elsewhere, however we only have a very small amount of it, so we’re saving it for historically significant places such as 1 road at Maldon.

These rails are in twice the length of the old rail and with much better fishplates, which is what’s being tended to here.

We chose to cut the old remaining 60lb D rather than shortening the longer rails, this resulted in cuts being needed both ends of the job to ensure we maintained appropriate rail lengths in the old 60lb D.

And by close of play, we’d joined up all the rails and completely drilled and screwed down one leg of the new track.

We’ve got a bit of lining to do first thing tomorrow, before gauging and fastening up the other leg. Then we’ll run out a few wagons of ballast, before jacking and tamping, hopefully all done well before knock off time!

We are looking a bit light on for numbers tomorrow, so any extra hands would be appreciated. Meeting at Maldon from 8an

Maldon Dock

Today was slightly ceremonious, as it saw the last ever rail movement into and out of the Maldon Dock – at least in its previous configuration.

The Dock Road Turnout, timbers and roadbed have reached the end of their serviceable life, so a renewal of some sort was required. However given we’re very hopeful of extending the Maldon Platform in the near future, any extension would prevent the use of the Dock road Turnout.

So the decision was made to remove the turnout, and replace it with plain track, we’ve been planning this for some time and today saw the start of the that process.

Infact after much discussion, it was finally decided that the perfect long term exhibit in the Dock Road would be our very own E 371, previously plinthed at the other end of Maldon Yard.

The VGR Young Volunteers Group set about turning the rusty, dilapidated old E, into nothing short of a work of art! It did take up the workshop space for a few weeks, but hopefully once everyone gets to have a close look, they’ll appreciate just what a massive difference it’s made to the overall appearance of Maldon Yard.

It was a very delicate operation to place the E into the Dock, in exactly the right place so we can, if need be, replace the end wall timbers etc…. and in reality, if anyone’s was to write a big enough cheque for its restoration, it’ll be a very easy crane lift to get it out.

And the reason a crane would be required, is that no sooner had the E gone in than the track started coming out.

We’ve taken everything that could be reasonably taken out, but still allow trains to run tomorrow, so on Thursday we can get all of this out and the new track in before the weekend.

We took lots of pictures of how the annett lock was installed, and we’ve placed all that gear safely away as we expect we’ll need it again one day.

Although we don’t seem to have any pictures of it, we’ve also relocated the old Lamp Room and Red Hut, into the civil compound to become an office and storage space. This has tidied the area up amazingly, certainly worth a visit to see how much better it now looks.

Thursday and Friday we’ll be meeting at Maldon from 8am, where we’ll be full swing into getting the old turnout out and new track in.