More Sleepers and Tamping

Today we put in the rest of the sleepers, again a mix of steel and timber.

You can pick the new timbers by their red colour. The short straight above was one of our roughest sections of track, however after an hour of jacking and tamping it now rides very smoothly.

Unfortunately there is a number of ‘crippled’ joints, the rails are bent vertically near the joint, which prevents us getting the track dead flat, but it’s much better… Only all the way to Castlemaine to tamp up now!

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Sleeper Replacements

After finally managing to get our hands on some sleepers, some nice new red gum, we’ve got back into sleeper replacements.

Our worksite today was near the Maldon tip, replacing life expired and broken sleepers.

This is the first time our new grab has had a real go at sleepers, it’s fantastic and we definitely won’t go back to the old grabs!

We had a few steel sleepers on hand and these were installed also. The pic above shows the finished job, timber sleeper just under the excavator rail wheels and a steel sleeper a bit further up.

We haven’t fastened them down yet, but we will once we re-rail with the 80lb, as fastening now will only weaken the sleepers later on.

We’ve got some more tomorrow, so feel free to have a day in the bush seeing how it’s done!

Newport Workshops

Among the VGR’s trackwork skills is helping out other organisations with their trackwork.

In the week just gone we assisted Steamrail with some trackwork at their home in the old West Block of the Newport Railway Workshops.

The work largely involved replacing life expired turnout timbers and correcting areas of wide gauge in the plain track.

We mustered our usual kit of trucks, excavator and tools to tackle the job, with the job 90% complete, only not completed due to appallingly weather on the last day.

The works, although for Steamrail, did also include some trackwork for 707 operations and DERMPAV (other groups based at the workshop), which should now see them able to use the yard for several more years without hassle.

Below is a collection of pics from the week:

The team gauging and spiking a turnout after new timbers were installed.

The usual morning tea and lunch rituals are still followed even when working away!

There was generally only a few timbers required in each turnout, however the state of the timbers removed is clear by seeing how easily Malcolm was able to carry them around!

The trusty fleet.

Overall the works went very well, however due to weather we will we back to finish off an urgent job this coming Tuesday and then again in a fortnight’s time.

If you’re a Melbourne resident and would like to come and check out how we do things please feel free to come along, as always the more hands the easier the job.

Tangent 14-15

Well we set another record today, by 11.15am we had the whole 27 lengths spiked in, without help from our prison workforce!!

These pics show the last few lengths being spiked in.

A few of the completed job, featuring our trusty gang truck.

After lunch we clipped up the steel sleepers, collected the old jewellery and sorted it accordingly. Here Trevor and Tony were placing the old jewellery into the bucket for sorting.

Our sights were then directed to preparing for re-railing the other leg.

Using the bucket as a blade allows ballast close to the track to be scrapped away from the work zone and provide an even surface to place the 80lb in before installation.

The next few pics are just to show off our hard work!

It was an enormous two days work, but the result is fantastic, the ride is already billiard table smooth by comparison!

Thanks again to everyone who was able to help out, and watch this space for details of our next re-railing job.

Tangent 14-15

Today saw an incredible achievement, with 27 x 80lb rails installed, spiked 1 in 3, in the down leg of tangent 14-15 (near Muckleford Creek Bridge).

The start of works, showing unbolting of the first rail and power pack for spike pulling.

Here Bruce is pulling spikes with Clive further ahead removing screws.

Unfortunately there were are no completed pics as it seemed the rain was about to start (still hasn’t arrived!) and we made a dash for home, but tomorrow we will have the job completed and lots of pics to show off our hard work.

A lot of mid week preparation occurred to help with this achievement, bolting 2 out of 3 rails together, material distribution and steel sleeper inbolting, however it has really paid off!

We’ve even tamped all the sleepers to make tomorrow’s drilling job easier and quicker.

We’ll be out on site from around 8.30 tomorrow, so please join us as there’s still lots to do and the more hands the easier the job.

Rail Train

Today we had a guest photographer, Tony Sedawie. He captured the various scenes from today’s rail train.

First off we loaded 60lb rail into a QN wagon.

The excavator can handle all the loading with no other intervention required. The motley collection of rolling stock is just due to the order of the stock stored at Muckleford, easier to grab the lot than shunt out just the one wagon.

A rare pic of Will (usually taking the pics) hard at work straining all those arm muscles controlling the excavator.

After lunch we’d finished the loading of the 60lb, so it was time to get some 80lb out for the next re-railing job. Seen here during afternoon tea at Muckleford.

Again the digger does all the heavy work, with Trevor being the eyes on the ground, signalling the trains movement.

Lifting the rails off the wagon (just out of sight) and into the 5 foot.

Trevor signalling to the excavator how far to pull out the rail to allow it to be gently lifted onto the ground rather than dropped.

At the end of today we’ve got 29 rails ready for the next fortnight’s work (probably a bit optimistic but you never know).

Weather permitting we’ll be into this job next Thursday and Friday.

Tidy up and Material drop out

Today we cleaned up the last of the track jewellery from Curve 16.

You can see the piles of plates to the right, these were surplus here so were transported them down the hill to our next job.

Before leaving curve 16 we neatly stacked all the fishplates from the broken up 60lb onto a pallet, much easier for transport and storage.

Our next re-railing project is the straight leading down to Muckleford Creek Bridge.

We distributed the sleeper plates, seen to the right of the right hand rail, removed anchors and unbolted the steel sleepers, which well and truly used up the afternoon. The pic above shows us collecting anchors.

Nearing the end of the day’s work, looking towards Maldon the length of this straight is evident. It’ll certainly keep us busy for at least a couple of months.

We’re back out tomorrow collecting and distributing rails, so if you’re at a loose end and keen to see how we operate our rail trains, why not join us, leaving Maldon at 8.30.