Castlemaine Turntable

Another hot one today, but quite a productive day none the less.

The fitting of the abutment timber was today’s focus and it certainly kept us busy.

Lots of cutting, planning and drilling. For what is essentially a simple task, installing a bit of timber on a few bolts, it is still quite a complex process.

Cutting the curve to match the abutment shape was done quite easily freehand using the little cordless chainsaw, it proved excellent for this work.

Lots of test fits and turntable revolutions ensured any tight spots were eased.

Of course one of the tie down bolts will end up being exactly under a rail, so we’ve recessed it to ensure there isn’t any fouling, it proved to be easier to weld a new length of thread on the end of the old bolt.

The lock block was fitted in and a nice layer of mortar was put down to ensure the timber is well supported.

The bolts were tightened up until the sloppy grout mix oozed out, ensuring good even support.

To ensure adequate room for sleeper plates and to give added support, a second timber was fastened to the back of the first, rather simple but certainly very effective.

Job done and ready for track. Obviously the other end needs the same treatment before this goes into regular use.

And when the table is locked into the new position, it points exactly towards the laid out timbers, as planned!

Tomorrow, we’ve got a train booked in to drop off the relevant materials to allow. construction of the turnout to continue While we’re waiting for that we’ll do a full check over the turntable, tightening all the bolts through the timber work and preparing what we can for the next steps.

Meeting Castlemaine Yard from 8.30am.

Back into it

Well the program for 2022 has kicked off, with the first horse out of the stable being this turnout just off the turntable at Castlemaine. We’ve still got to bring down all the turnout rail etc… but we now know where things should go.

The slowest and most fiddly part is going to be fitting the abutment timbers, which will easily take most if not all of Thursday to complete. Thursday we’ll be meeting at Castlemaine from 8.30am.

The End for 2021

Well lunchtime today saw a nice simply gathering to celebrate the end of 2021 and it was one of the few occasions where we’ve been able to get so many different people together from the various Tuesday, Thursday and Friday gangs.

But, before breaking up, we made good use of the large workforce to tend to a few things. The first being the V crossing in the dockroad turnout. This particular design has the rails riveted to a flat plate. After 140ish years in service the odd rivet works loose.

Given that high tensile bolts are now a common item, it’s quite easy to remove the old rivet and replace with a bolt, which is what we did. We also did a bit of belts and braces stuff by actually screwing the crossing onto a couple of the timbers, which will help prevent the movement that leads to the loosening of the rivets. When time, resources and final future use plans for Maldon are available, we’ll upgrade this turnout appropriately.

Then we turned our attention to the gang truck. We’d all suspected for some time we were probably carrying too many bits and pieces, but we didn’t realise we were carrying so much!! Beside incredible duplication of most tools, we decided having 21 crow bars on board was possibly excessive.

And when tided up and the appropriate number of tools were returned to the vehicle, it was staggering just how much extra space there suddenly was.

While the truck was being attacked, our storage containers also received the same treatment and now not only is everything accessible, there seems to be twice the availability space.

And as if all that sorting wasn’t enough, the signalling van was also in dire need of an organise. As we slowly sort out our collection we’ve placed weather sensitive items into here, but never had the time to do the sorting. Well a small mountain of rubbish was turfed and the good stuff is now laid out in such a way as it can all be found!

At the end of another extremely busy year, it was very nice to finally have a chance to sit down and reflect on everything the amazing volunteer workforce has achieved. We were very spoilt as Mal’s wife very kindly made us sausage rolls and a very very nice selection of cakes and treats to enjoy, which was greatly appreciated by all – thankyou Leanne.

In a very brief summary, 2021 has seen a vast array of projects –

3 level crossings rebuilt, around 3000m of re-railing, another 1700 odd sleepers replaced (mostly with concrete), significant works at Castlemaine, with the loco shed pit and trackwork, the workshop trackwork and turnout. Elsewhere we’ve done – beam replacement in two bridges, lots of lineside mowing, one crossing upgraded to flashing lights, curve 21 fully re-sleepered with concrete, around 1700tons of ballast distributed, an enormous amount of geometry work, a great number of bolts tightened and lots of tidying up and sorting of materials and jewellery, with quite a bit of that done while working around covid lockdowns.

It’s been a busy one and next year’s not looking much quieter, although we’re essentially finished the major projects now (well our portion of them largely), with most Castlemaine work likely to reduce to a more staged approach as funds and resources allow, meaning we shouldn’t be under the pump quite so much. Our main track project next year will be completing the re-railing, which should be achievable, in between the other general maintenance.

Once again, thankyou to everyone who has been able to help us this year, not only do we greatly appreciate it, but we wouldn’t have achieved much at all if it wasn’t for you.

Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year from the VGR Civil Branch.

Workdays will resume on Tuesday 11th Jan 2021, check back on Monday 10th Jan for details.

Castlemaine Yard

The great wall of Castlemaine part 2! Although not truly an extension of the wall, rather just more posts to offer the waste water treatment some protection. However given that we learnt all those skills building the first wall, we fell into muscle memory for this one.

Basically a very straight forward rail post fence that’ll have a bottom kick rail to help define the different areas and a simple top rail to cap it off. We’ve done all but the top rail so far, and depending on the final levels, we might even add another longitudinal rail along part of it to help divert rain water run off away.

Here John shows us he has still got a good feel for the rail saw, although a short wall, still a good few cuts were required today.

In the afternoon we did another test move into the carriage shed, with the longest available carriage pushed around the curves and into the shed to just confirm everything was okay – it was!

That’s put a close to our Castlemaine works for 2020, next week will see lineside mowing early in the week, followed by odd jobs and a breakup day on Thursday.