Muckleford Creek Bridge

Bridge beams was the flavour of today.

Muckleford Creek had a failing inner bridge beam, much like the recent Winters Flat Bridge beam job.

However instead of just changing the inner beam, we installed a temporary steel beam to support the decking, while both beams were removed to ease replace the failed inner one.

This method proved far superior, taking much less time and effort than we’d usually require.

The beauty of this method was it allowed the remaining good beam to become a template for the replacement.

It also allowed us to drill the holes exactly in a convenient location for once and check out the beam as required to match it’s neighbour.

Using the digger to re-install the beams was a breeze. Only very minor tweaking was required to get all the holes to align and bolts installed.

With the exception of needing to make a few new bolts to account for the slightly thicker new beam, it all went together like a big kit.

And of course a bit of a settling load from the digger confirmed all was well, before the steel beam was maneuvered out of the bridge and placed into storage ready for next time.

Seeing this method has saved us about a day and we’re all geared up to do woodwork, tomorrow we’ll be tackling the failing platform coping at Muckleford Station. Meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30am.

Pedestrian Crossings

Today saw us resurface the three pedestrian crossings in Castlemaine. They were all getting quite uneven and lacking material.

The two pedestrian crossings near Maldon Junction received a lot of attention, with complete renewal of the timber sleepers underneath with concrete. We then used left-over road base material from Rowe Street, thoroughly moistened and whacked down to give a nice compact foot way.

The crossing at Brown Street received a similar treament, although the sleepers underneath were not renewed, we’ll do that when we re-rail through here.

One day we might win tattslotto and be able to afford to asphalt these pedestrian crossings.

We’ve also tidied up our loose materials around Rowe St. Crossing and moved some gear around ready for Thursday and Friday, when we replace the life expired beam in Muckleford Creek Bridge. Meeting Maldon 8am or Muckleford Creek Bridge from 8.30am.

Rowe Street

Another very long day, but it’s done.

We began today by installing 6 concrete sleepers, removing the last timber sleepers under the insulated joints, we’d held off doing this until the track leads (part of the flashing light circuitry) were pulled out of the way.

Then the rock went on while the closure rails were cut, drilled and installed.

And this is why we cut closure rails, to move this horizontal step in head wear away from the insulated joints.

Now that step couldn’t be left in the track as it was, so we finally put to use our rail grinder, and what a great job it does!

The final lift and very thorough tamp.

A final dressing of rock and a good whack saw a sensationally hard surface ready for the hotmix. The whacker, hotmix and traffic control are all courtesy of our local shire, Mount Alexander, without their generous support it would be many many years before we could afford to do this, thanks a million!

By 1pm, the allotted time, the hotmix hit the ground. Spread initially with our digger, which saved a power of time and effort.

The finish achieved is really very stunning, the asphalting crew certainly knew all about railway crossings, so hopefully we’ll be able to call on them again.

V/Line also made use of the opportunity to renew all the very old track leads and rail connections, which apparently has resulted in a significant improvement in circuitry. They were fully recommissioned and tested without any trouble.

Once again, a massive thank you to everyone that has helped us out with this project. But a big shout out to Mount Alexander Shire Council, V/Line and our sensational track gang for achieving such a marvellous job.

Next week is a little up in the air, however Tuesday will certainly be a tidy up at Rowe Street Day, meeting Maldon 8am or on site from 8.30am.

Rowe Street Rebuild

Well, all those weeks of preparation really paid off today, we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were at Bendigo Rd at the same time.

We cut the asphalt yesterday, to get ahead of the game.

As the track was already in the correct location, datum marks were placed well clear of the trench, by driving nails into the asphalt, the section which gets removed tomorrow.

Once the crossing had been excavated to sleeper level, the big digger lifted the track, while the backhoe knocked off the old sleepers, a pretty enormous time and back saver!

The old rails were dragged well clear, loose jewellery collected before the sleepers were loaded straight into a tipper for removal.

Then onto careful excavation, although a very thorough pre-check of all service locations was undertaken, there were potentially a couple of wildcards, however everything was exactly where we predicted it would be.

Lots of height checking, and location checking for the railway signalling cable saw us with a very tidy trench. We chose to not go any lower as it was becoming obvious we weren’t that far off getting to bottom of the compacted gravel layer, with our local plastic clay no doubt sitting just below. This does mean we sacrifice a thicker layer of ballast, however it’s still going to perfectly adequate for our trains and the road traffic.

Geofab and drainage installed, with a layer of ballast to only about 50-75mm of final height was rolled in before sleepers were dropped out.

Some precision rail cutting and drilling, as we really wanted to correct the fact that the old rails were really too short, having massive joint gaps, which was a disaster for the health of the insulated joint end posts.

A good amount of time was spent trying to locate the sleepers as accurately as possible, using the offset marks made earlier and an off cut of rail.

Once happy with the sleepers the big digger was called in to drag up the new rails, which we’ll note on record were the perfect length! Immediately it looked a stunning curve.

After some very minor tweaking, we managed to convince our rather large gang to hang around an hour longer than usual, which saw us clip up everything assosiated with these island rails. A few minutes of final lining in the morning and it’ll be a really nice curve once again.

We had a sensational gang today, 17 people, a massive thank you to everyone! These lights still fall under V/Line control, so a massive thankyou to them for disabling them this morning and assisting in making the job so much easier.

All that said, we’re still not quite ready to call in the asphalters, we need to ballast, lift and fully tamp the track. Cut in new closure rails either end of the new track section and get the lights re-comissioned.

We’ll be meeting on site from 7.30am tomorrow and hopefully it’ll all go as well as it did today and we might even get an early(ish) knock off!