Castlemaine

Well it’s all happening at Castlemaine, some slight delays in service tappings etc.. have held up the trench back filling, but that should be well underway by later this week.

Today saw the last of the north end trenching, to the location of the power and water meters. John’s busy in the hole spreading bedding sand.

While Bruce got the exciting job of untangling the orange bunting! To help secure the open trenches.

Water; both fire service and domestic supply, electricity and nbn conduits are now largely laid, with only the final lengths to go in tomorrow.

This is a big step forward in the Castlemaine upgrade works, with it’s benifits and future proofing setting us up very well for the future. Watch this space as lots of exciting things will be starting over the coming months.

It has meant our road access to and from the yard has been temporarily disabled, so it’s rail both ways. We even treated ourselves to a turn on the turntable, just for something different.

While back at Maldon the ballast wagon is complete, with all it’s stenciling now applied, it looks a treat.

Too good not to share

Riley from for Young Volunteers Group has spent the last few days hard at work painting one of our ballast wagons, thanks Riley and YVG.

It’s looking stunning, far too good to use. It arrived covered in graffiti and looking quite unloved. But no longer!

This wagon is the first of our wagons to return to the VGR after many years away, having been hired out after our last major project (rebuild to Castlemaine). The others will return to us over the coming months.

And how could we not show off our gang, ready and eager to get into it on Thursday Morning.

Back – John, Mick, Clive & Bruce T, Front – Malcolm & Bruce D. This isn’t our whole gang but it’s most of our regular Thursday Crew.

It’s not often we can get the crew to stop work long enough to grab a pic like this (unless it’s smoko), so thanks to Bruce T for organising it.

This Thursday will be a little different, with the gang off to Muckleford Creek Bridge, to correct some of the wiggly track. Meet Maldon 8am or site from 8.30am

Preparations

Another very successful day! 26 rails (plus the one left over from the UP) were brought up from Muckleford and dropped out along the very last part of Tangent 20-21.

We ended up having two lengths of 80lb too many, how’s that for cutting it fine over the whole 8Km between Maldon and Muckleford, only 2 rails left over! (lots of short fairly useless stuff left over too but it’ll likely be used in sidings)

Once dropped out the shuffling began, getting the lengths into their approximate final positions.

This was followed closely by the joint cleaning and lubricating crew, which in turn was followed by the bolting up crew. The 25 rails required are now bolted into strings of 4.

To round out the afternoon we broke up the very last of the 60lb still in strings and removed about half of the dog screws in preparation.

As next week is a short week, we wont attempt it then, however in a fornight and the big day will arrive and we’ll finally have this section complete.

Don’t forget tomorrow’s civil Saturday at Muckleford from 8.30am

Getting there

Today sees us yet another step closer to having the re-railing done.

This morning started by dragging the digger away from trenching at Castlemaine for a quick tamp of last weeks work, followed by lots of drilling and spiking to complete the job.

Steel sleepers were also attended to, as were anchors.

We used a combination of the drill pack and the hand drills today, this gave a very quick production rate, with everything spiked and jewellery collected by 11am.

The gang sorting the jewellery.

No rest for the wicked however, we’ve dropped out all the sleeper plates ready for the next leg.

We even found time to duck away to Muckleford and cut the remaining rails as required as well as loaded them ready for drop out tomorrow.

Afternoon tea was quite a relaxed affair today, as the gang are all back on deck, taking the time to catch up once again. It was also extremely well deserved as with the speed and effort they put in, means we exceeded all expectations and even broke up all the old 60lb rail from the previous efforts here – a very hard and tiring job.

Our gang in action, it’s a pleasure to just stand back and watch occasionally, as things happen at a great rate before your eyes!

We’ll be out here again tomorrow, preparing the other leg.

And don’t forget about Civil Saturday, this coming Saturday at Muckleford from 8.30am.

Re-railing and Trenching

Well today was very momentous… With one leg of the re-railing between Maldon and Muckleford now more or less complete!!

The day began with some rail straightening. With Bruce on the BUDA and John’s careful eye of the rail the kinks were skillfully removed. Unfortunately we’re down to the dregs of the rail supply, which are often ones were rejected earlier for these reasons.

The joining of the new and the existing 80lb, the last time for this leg! The old 60 to 80 lbs junction plates can be seen in the background, these won’t be needed again in this section now. Today saw 16 x 80lb rails installed, some shorter than usual but still better than what it’s replacing.

John ceremoniously drills the last hole.

And inserted was the GOLDEN Spike (in this case pink as we didn’t have any gold paint!).

Driven in, fittingly by machine to mark our development in progress.

Job done… Almost. Due to the lack of before hand preparation and the fact the digger is busy in Castlemaine, all of this work was done by hand – an astounding effort. As such only every third spike is installed, which is more than sufficient for the next week until the gang can return to finish off.

This marks a very very long commitment from our tireless gangs. And a massive step forwards in our overall track upgrade. This is truly a time for celebration as the end is now very literally in sight.

We can’t thank our volunteers enough, it’s entirely down to their hard work and dedication that we’ve reached this amazing achievement.

And on some other less glamorous news, the digger wasn’t available today as it was busy digging! (the one thing it never normally does).

The trenching has begun for the services (power, water & NBN) coming in from Walker St. to the new development.

We’ll be here for about a week digging, sanding, helping install then back filling.

There won’t be a regular Friday gang this week, however you would be welcome to assist at Castlemaine, as there are plenty of odd jobs that need an extra pair of hands at times. From 8am at Castlemaine.

Civil Saturday

Well the first Civil Saturday (on the 7th September) was a resounding success.

There was only a small crew of two but the achievements were quite impressive.

All the active signal pulleys, point rodding and associated cranks etc in Castlemaine Yard were thoroughly oiled, inspected and many issues found were attended to and corrected.

Signalman have been complaining for some time that one of turnouts has intermittently been stiff to operate, this was found to be a whole collaboration of small issues along the rodding, all of which are now fixed with a very noticeable improvement.

Turnouts were adjusted, rubbish build up in the wrong places was removed, as well as knocking off an enormous number of those little jobs that the weekday gangs just don’t get time to do.

Even a broken signal wire at Muckleford was fixed, its cause identified and also remedied.

Resulting in a long day for the small gang of Trevor and Rolf, but one with a very valuable outcome.

If you’re interested and available to join our Saturday crew, you’d be most welcome and the railway would greatly appreciate the assistance. The next Civil Saturday will be the 21st of Sept.

Check out the civil blog in the days before for details.