Concrete Sleepers

We’ll just on principle, we’ve broken yet another record! With 223 concrete sleepers inserted into tangent 10-11 today! This completes this straight.

It all went pretty well like clockwork today, with little to no breakdowns or annoyances.

The grabs even got to test out their new pads, welded on last week as the first pads have done so much work they were starting to wear out!

We had an extra person today, which helped greatly, 3 seems the perfect number for this.

Although they’re all under, no jewellery has been dropped out or sleepers tamped up, so that’ll keep us busy in the morning.

Meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30.

Concrete Sleepers

The day began with the exciting job of collecting the jewellery, left over from yesterday’s re-railing.

Once all this was sorted and packed away, we had to clear the track for a special train. Not something that occurs very often as we usual insist on no trains during our workdays, however we made a special exception.

Anchors were installed next, before a change of location.

The afternoon was spent at tangent 10-11, distributing concrete sleepers in readiness for next week’s big effort to install 223 concrete sleepers. Moving all the sleepers into place is a big enough job on its own, however we still needed to dodge that special train a few more times which, while a very pleasant thing, did break the work flow a little.

We’ll have gangs running on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday next week, so heaps of opportunity to join in the fun.

Re-railing

An extremelly successful day today, with a further 20 80lb rails installed into tangent 20-21.

Unloading the spiking hammer from the truck in the wonderful morning sun.

And what a glorious morning it was, not cold, sun shining and the feeling of early spring in the air. Unfortunately the wind picked up a bit later on, but it was still very pleasant.

Once all the gear was loaded onto its appropriate trolley and we’d managed to marshall the trolleys and excavator in the right order, we were into it.

We even cheated a little more this time, the digger remained on the track all day, carefully ensuring the rail was placed into the correct location before moving along to slew in the next length in. This actually sped things up a little as all 20 rails were in and bolted up by morning tea.

With Rolf handling the mighty rail saw in style, the closure too was cut and bolted up before morning tea, a very good achievement.

All the sleeper plates were inserted first today, often we do them in batches with the gauging and drilling, but this actually seemed to work well for the gang today.

The clipping of the steel sleepers followed this process, being much like concrete sleepers in the way gauge is fairly absolute, so it’s much easier to set them, rather than need to tweak things once the timber’s all spiked up.

Bruce hard at it on the spiking hammer, with the tamper hot on his heels.

By afternoon smoko, almost all holes were drilled, spikes stood with only driving left to go. Even Will jumped down from the digger to lend a hand (only right near the end though…).

An excellent days work.

We only have a very short supply of 80lb rail left now. We’ll use this up within the next month.

However it won’t quite be enough to see us out of this straight (the whole section between Maldon and Muckleford in fact) which is a little frustrating as the section it needs to join up to will be very much within sight! We have lots of very short rails, which we may be forced to used, which isn’t desirable.

However, we are still hopeful that VicTrack will come good with their offer of rail from the now closed Castlemaine – Maryborough line (a lot of which is 80lb). We hope it coincides nicely with us using up all our current Rail ex Bandiana.

Tomorrow will be a big tidy up from today, breaking up more 60lb rail to recover bolts and hopefully distributing concrete sleepers if time allows.

Re-railing and Bolts

This morning was spent preparing for re-railing on Thursday, with half the dog screws removed, awkward spikes removed at joints and the very last of the jewellery dropped out.

The afternoon however was spent replacing loose bolts between Muckleford and Rifle Range Bridge.

With many of them tightened only twelve months ago, many bolts are now so old they’re starting to become stripped and fatigued.

So we’ve adopted a policy of replacing all loose old bolts with newer (recovered from re-railing works) high tensile bolts with cone lock nuts.

This should greatly reduce the ongoing bolt tightening required.

The gang will be out in force re-railing at tangent 20-21 this week.

Works Train

The day started with a concrete sleeper drop out to tangent 10-11.

We’re very thankful our trusty digger can comfortably lift and stack these concrete sleepers, as the thought of manually handling 230kg doesn’t appeal!

We managed to stack 144 concrete’s track side here this morning, as that’s all we could fit onto our 5 wagon train once all our other bits and pieces were loaded up.

Our other bits and pieces were two complete turnouts! Two 94lb turnouts for the upcoming trackwork about to occur at Castlemaine. One of these will be used to connect up 5 siding to make it usable, while the other will be to divide the turntable road into two tracks (the existing one and one across the old ash pit).

We managed to unload our turnouts and sleepers well before lunch so we headed back to Muckleford to load up another 80 concretes, as that’s all we needed to finish off the drop off at tangent 10-11.

This went very well until it was time to take the digger home…

And the wet weather made itself known as the digger was well and truly bogged. And after ten minutes of trying we decided it’s removal from the bog is a Monday job!

Concrete Sleepers

We’ll today was nothing short of amazing!

Easily a record breaker in almost every way.

We began by unloading all the kit, ready to begin clipping up the sleepers inserted earlier in the week.

We quickly decided the hydraulic power pack applicator, although good, wasn’t any quicker for this job than by hand. We had plenty of hands today so we packed it away.

We began by clipping up the UP leg, using the pan setter (blue thing) to make sure the sleeper was hard over. Normally when clipping up with all the biscuits, the outer biscuits stop the problem of the sleeper wanting to slide sideways, but as we’re only clipping the inners this method seems to work.

This was followed closely behind with the crew clipping up the down leg. Using the gauger as required to assist.

The last clip on and all the gear loaded up into the bucket for the trip back up the hill.

We were running so far ahead of schedule with the clipping (more or less completed by lunch time) we needed to keep the troops busy! So we set to work bundling all the timber sleepers removed. A mammoth effort, about 260 all stacked by hand and strapped. Plus another 40 or so more left over from curve 12.

The digger was hot on the heels of the clippers, moving timber sleepers to stackable locations and moving the ballast around, ready for tamping.

We even found time to complete some drain clearing!

And if all that wasn’t enough… We spent the rest of the afternoon replacing old loose bolts, at least 100 and probably more like 150 were replaced! A big job, as each old bolt is either broken by a well placed sledge hammer blow or unbolted by hand spanner (as the rattle gun was busy tightening up the replacements). The digger was busy chasing the bolters down the hill tamping up the job.

At packup time, we ran out of truck space, with bits hanging off anywhere we could find room for the trip back to the other truck.

We were fortunate with having a large gang, a good number of prisoner helpers and excellent weather.

In total we have clipped up 180 concrete sleepers, stacked and strapped 300 + timber sleepers, replaced about 100 bolts and completed all the ballast and tamping of the new sleepers! A massive massive effort. If only we could have this gang 5 days a week… We’d have a mainline standard railway in no time.

Tomorrow will be a slight change of pace, as we run a concrete sleeper and turnout material train. Sleepers to the next tangent and turnouts to Castlemaine ready for the new works down there! Meeting Maldon 8am or Muckleford at 8.30am.

Concrete Sleepers

This week is a trial on installing lots of concrete sleepers early in the week to speed up the clipping up and overall progress later in the week.

The day started off well, with stunning sunshine and ideal weather.

However a very burst hydraulic hose on the tamping head burst our enthusiasm some what.

But a little under an hour later we were back into, with the lift completed and timber sleepers out.

After a good afternoon’s work of scarifying and inserting concrete sleepers, we managed to insert a record breaking 180 sleepers! Thankfully the blown hose was our only hiccup.

We even found time to run the blower over the sleepers and tamp up one end of each sleeper.

Tomorrow we’ll be out again, to finish tamping up to allow trains to run (at reduced speed on Wednesday) and distribute all the jewellery ready for the gang on Thursday.

We’ll then go on to tighten more loose bolts towards Castlemaine. Meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30am.