The final works for 2022

It’s been a massive year, with an enormous amount achieved, just head back through the archives of this blog for 2022 to see just what we managed to achieve.

This week saw the final bits of work for 2022, which included fixing the flail mower and testing out our new laser level to ensure we get all our heights for things right.

The poor old flail mower has now seen a lot of use. Its main top piece was starting to show signs of wearing, so we’ve replaced it with a new and slightly heavier piece of steel. This just a small part of what goes on behind the scenes to make sure we can keep all the gear in good condition.

We got a nice orange level, it’s not the best of the best, but it certainly will do everything we need it to, which is largely setting levels, straight lines and handling grades, all things that are essential to the kind of work we do.

Although this blog focuses largely on the track, there are other things of note that have happened this year in the Civil Branch.

During the course of the year much has happened with our signalling equipment, both in maintenance and acquisition, a snapshot of this sort of work from this year was:

  • Refurbishment of flashing light heads for spares and future LX.
  • Refurbishment of recovered track disconnection boxes, retap screw holes, repaint lids orange
  • Submission of Expression of Interest documents for surplus signalling equipment to Victrack etc
  • Collection of donated signalling equipment ex Meredith, Melton, Seymour & Vline Lara depot
  • Resolved & installed outstanding spares & current date relays from Vline for MLRFGR LX
  • Install and test temporary radio remote control from trolleys etc for Maldon Lockwood LX
  • Install and test temporary radio remote control from trolleys etc for Midland Highway LX.
  • Upgrade Healthy state light to LED at Midland Highway and MacLise St , CME.
  • Regular maintenance (T3) & Planned servicing of parts on the three active LX.
  • Exploration of design features for future signal reversers at CME (Guard in charge working).
  • Exploration of signalling design & equipment procurement for future outer home signal at CME.
  • Liaison with Civil Manager & civil dept and providing on going technical signalling support
  • Keeping records of equipment and service intervals for signalling equipment.
  • On going liaison with Vline Projects for outstanding issues relating to Maldon Lockwood Rd LX

A lot goes on to ensure we can keep our current supply of signalling equipment in good working order, as well as trying to ensure we can acquire enough good serviceable 2nd hand equipment for our future needs (such as installing flashing lights at the Walmer Road Crossing).

Back in November we were donated a signal doll and arm. Long term member Dr Yuri Sos has begun to ‘downsize’ his collection of railwayana. He offered the VGR an 8′ signal doll mast- as seen on the departure mast at Castlemaine – and distant signal arm which were deemed as scrap during the Western Line closure in the mid 1990s.

Our signal department was extremely happy to accept the generous offer. The only missing part was a finial. Many years ago, foundation member Tony Marsden had one cast by Billman’s Castlemaine and gave it to Yuri and now it is with the doll. The mast came from the signal bridge on the downside of Buangor Loop which was deemed as scrap during the Western Line closure in the mid 1990s.  The  signal arm came from the up distant signal at Kororoit Creek Sunshine which was removed when the line between Sunshine and Deer Park was duplicated in 1976.

John McCorkille travelled to Sunshine to pick up the prized possessions and our crane truck was needed to lift the heavy doll mast with Yuri and Tony assisting John.

We thank Yuri for his kind donation which will be valuable assets for the railway.

We wish everyone a very safe and happy New Year. As always, a massive thankyou to everyone who has helped us out this year, we couldn’t do any of it without our supporters and volunteers. We’re looking forward to another busy year in 2023, with lots on the cards, including some work in the depot at Castlemaine, lots of bridge work, heaps of re-railing and lots and lots of sleepers!! Works will be back in full swing from Tuesday 3rd January, meeting at Castlemaine Depot from 8.30am.

Mowing and Tidying

Mowing, it was just a massive day of limeside slashing with the flail, with the little digger on hand to move all the items that have got in the way of the mowing over the past few years.

The trolley to go behind the excavator received a thorough workout today, with many loads transported away from the lineside around Castlemaine to much more appropriate homes. These drums did a long trip to Muckleford while many other items, such as sleepers, were condensed in single piles rather than multiple smatterings.

The grass mowing is progressing very well, with hopefully only two more days needed to knock it over. Therefore, we will be able to hold a workday on Thursday for anyone interested. It’ll be at Castlemaine Depot, jacking and tamping the loco shed track, meeting there from 8.30am.

Tuesday 20th Dec

Despite previous discussions, Tomorrow won’t be a workday, as we’re into full on grass cutting mode with the diggers, and we’re fast running out of year to cut the grass.

We may have a small workday on Thursday and Friday if anyone is interested, it’ll be at Castlemaine, jacking and tamping the track into the loco shed (should be a fairly easy job with the new hydraulic jacks!) However, if we run into any trouble with the mowing this may be cancelled, so please check back the night before just to be sure.

Walmer Road Crossing Rebuild

Well, to cut a long story short, it’s all done!

But if you don’t cut that long story short, this is how it all played out…

Thursday morning began early, with an on-site start time of 7.30, and by 7.45, just about every bolt and screw that could be removed had been.

The second the road was shut, we were into destruction mode, and as usual we don’t take any hostages in this process, it’s much easy and quicker to just rip it apart, as it’s all reached the end of it’s life.

It all happened quite rapidly, however after the initial pull apart, the work drops back to mainly just digging for a few hours.

There was still enough going on to keep us busy however, with conduits needing assembling with draw ropes etc…

However the second we had that road-base down and rolled, we were into building track.

The getting everything in the right spots took a bit less time than we expected, so before long we had that whole section of track clipped up and connected!

We did one major thing differently at this point, where instead of putting in ballast then jacking up and tamping, we jacked up first to the final height and then put ballast between the rails only (so as not to bury the jacks). A light squeeze from the grabs then held it all at the right height, ready for the rest of the ballast and tamp.

So at the end of Thursday, that’s what we had achieved, which is quite a bit more than we usually achieve on day one, the practise has obviously paid off!

Today began with some final lining.

We found time to replace another couple of sleepers, closer to the yard before the ballast truck arrived.

We then spread the rock, did a very thorough tamp and whack, before handing it over to the Asphalters at 10am to do their bit.

Seemed a shame to bury it, as it came up looking very very smart.

While the Asphalters did their thing, we did a few odd jobs, such as reconnecting the signal wire and generally just tidying everything up. A little touch up tamping of the approaches, just little things of that nature.

It was certainly nice to have the time to tidying everything up in day 2 rather than needing to come back for a day 3 later on.

And the finished product! It was a lot of hard work, many hours, but it was an absolute pleasure to see the finished product this afternoon. Thankyou to everyone who has helped along the way.