Castlemaine Yard

Now that we’ve got the Takeuchi back in action, we’ve caught up with a backlog of tamping jobs. The little digger has been out having some basic maintenance the last few weeks – amazing what difference a full service and fixing those minor little niggles does, it’s like a new one again!

The first job today was completing the trackwork into the loco shed, only a few bolt holes needed drilling and about 15 sleepers were clipped up. It still needs a final line, but until we get some ballaet on it, it’ll keep springing back to where it seems happiest.

We’ve ballast , jacked and tamped this track only as far as this, as we ran out of easily accessible gravel, so we turned our attention to all the other new trackwork still in need of a tamp.

The new turnout and turntable approach has received the full treatment, now looking very smart.

Although we didn’t get a photo, we did also jack and tamp the 3 siding extension track we built a month or so ago.

We’ll be back here tomorrow from 8.15am, we’ve still got lots to do, with a lot of mess needing tidying, lots of timber sleepers to bundle up and hopefully we can get more of the loco shed track tamped up too.

Rail Bonding

Today’s job was rail bonding. It wasn’t a case of sharing our innermost feelings with the rail and developing a relationship, as some of the gang had first thought… rather it is the process of install a low resistance electrical link between rail joints.

This is all part of the Bendigo Rd flashing light installation, with this being the last major civil input into the project.

The day started rainy so we set up a gazebo, however the day actually dried up early on and it just became a wind shelter at meal breaks (not a very good one with no sides, but it was up so we used it).

We purchased an adaptor to drill the holes with the rail drill, which for various reasons ended up being a failure, so we’ll research that one a bit more.

So we went back to the trusty old electric drill and hand held clamp, which after a very rocky start worked very well. The trick was not to use sharp drill bits! They just bite too hard and when they grab, it usually means the end of the drill bit, however a slightly dull bit and lots of coolant drills a perfect hole very fast!

Again learning lots of skills and no doubt we won’t need them again for years

The odd clip was removed to aid drilling, but generally it all went very well.

The stainless steel wires are held in the holes with channel pins, knocked in until tight. It’s a pretty easy job, but all at ground level of course so the knees hurt after a few hours.

Today saw all the required joints (79 joints) bonded, either side of Bendigo Road. With two bonds installed at each to give some redundancy. Hopefully this should give years of trouble free operation once the lights are active.

Given the Covid Lockdown effective from midnight, tomorrow won’t be a workday, the weather is also looking poor, so stay rugged up safe and sound and well post details of next week once we know more.

Castlemaine Yard

Excellent progress was made today, with the West track of the loco shed almost connected up.

Another cool morning, with the section ahead our aim for the day.

After digging out the makeshift roadway, exposing and removing all the clips on the inside of the curve, we set about slewing the track to its new home.

Initially it wasn’t overly interested in moving from its rather solid state, the gravel we used as ballast through here sets like concrete and takes a bit to disturbe. But once we got movement, it all came across without a hassle – the big digger really comes into its own doing this stuff.

For some reason, the loose rail popped out of its home, but that was neither here nor there, easily returned home with the digger. This is essentially the new alignment of the track, we did tweak it a little and no doubt we will again.

Once it place, closure rails were cut in, leaving only drilling, bolting together and clipping to go to have it connected.

It’s all looking very much like it should, pointing in the right places with appropriate curves etc… once done it’ll look very nice. The existing track to the left has not yet been moved to it’s new alignment, however it shows how far we did slew the track in the process.

Another very successful week.

Bendigo Rd has also seen a bit more action this week, with the fencing installed.

We’re hoping the installation of the lights and commissioning thereof is only a few weeks away now!

There won’t be a workday next Tuesday, however check back closer to Thursday and Friday to see what we’re up to.

Castlemaine Yard

Today saw a very good start made on the West track in the loco shed. The sleepers and rails had been roughly dropped into place previously, leaving us with just a big kit of bits to assemble.

Cold… was slightly an understatement this morning! Reports varied but -3 degrees seemed a consensus. Normally on frosty mornings, a strategic place in the sun is an ideal work location.

Cleverly, we promptly moved straight into the freezing cold shed, where the mud on the rails dragged in the day before had infact frozen solid!

We recovered enough long rail from the Guildford Track to be able to do from the back of the shed to the front of the pit in a single rail, which made the job much easier.

To fasten the rails to the pit timbers, single shouldered sleeper plates and dog spikes were used. This is partly to get the track at the correct height and partly to get the rail can’t to match that of the concrete sleepers.

Normal double shoulder sleeper plates are wider, which could lead to catching clothing and arms when working in the pit, hence the use of these plates.

To get the rails straight, a highly scientific process of measuring from a string line running along the centre of the pit was used to get the first rail fixed centrally over the pit. Then simply gauging from that straight rail.

We’re pretty happy with how this came out, it looks pretty snazzy. We’ve used some fairly warn 94lb rail, transposed to use the unworn edge, which should be quite sufficient for the next century or two in the shed here.

Once the timber portion was complete, the work progressed towards the doors.

We called upon Rolf’s skills once again to peg out the required curve.

Some minor earthworks saw the ramp up to the doorway removed.

By close of play today another rail length has been loosely installed outside the shed doors, with only a few sleepers left to clip up

Tomorrow will see us cut and slew the current shed road, to align it with this new track, a slightly revised track design has been adopted since we installed that centre track last year. Thankfully with the magic of concrete, it won’t be too much hassle to do the changes.

Meeting at Castlemaine from 8.15am