The short version
Progress Report 50 of 1st March this year discussed the background story to the selection of the final design for the engine shed and storage facility for Pete’s Hobby Railway. Following initial site clearing, there was some delay until work commenced in earnest in mid-June. As early July, the servicing pit itself had been completed, with the supports and rails on the two internal tracks installed. Weldmesh had been laid… the works were inspected by Council and during the early daylight hours of Thursday 11th July, thus allowing the concrete floor of the shed to be laid. As at mid- September, the floor has been laid with the rail tracks in-situ and including an inspection pit, the walls are up and the roof is about to be installed. It’s finally happening!
The long version
The final design for the engine shed and storage facility was covered in Progress Report No. 50 of 1st March last.
A level surface for the shed and the approaches required a considerable removal of soil and underlay. Before this could be done, some eight 12.1m panel lengths of operational track had to be removed – five from the section approaching and parallel to the back fence, together with three from the inner track leading towards the shed site. Following the running of a ceremonial “last train” over the relevant tracks on Friday 10th August last year, the track panels were unbolted, allowing Mario with his crane to lift and relocate the panels clear of the worksite. This back fence section of track will be reinstated at a later date, on a regraded formation with an easier gradient. (It’s probably a little easier if one keeps one eye on the aerial (drone) photo of the track layout.)
Image 2018.1851: The last run over the “back straight” on Friday, 10th August last year, prior to be lifted the following day and temporarily stacked for later re-use.
Image 2018.1882: Josh is unbolting the fishplates joining two lengths of the inner track preparatory to relocation clear of the work site. Saturday, 11th August 2018.
Image 2018.1890: This was followed by the dismantling and removal of five track panels along the rear boundary. Saturday, 11th August 2018.
Image 2018.1902: A professional tree removalist was brought in to cut down two small gums adjacent to the proposed relocated right-of-way. As it was, the roots of these two trees were growing under my existing Archive Garage and so there was no alternative. They were cut down on Tuesday 14th August, along with a couple of peppercorn trees growing too close to the main house. Everything was mulched for re-use around the property.
Image 2018.1885: Another casualty of the proposed lowering of the ground levels was the structure (if it could be called that!) which initially held our timber fuel and then coal supplies for the steam locomotive. As far as can be ascertained, it may have been an original pig shed, dating back to the early days of the property. To say the least, it was in extremely poor condition and was dismantled by Phil and Josh over several days in late September, with the galvanised iron sheeting retained for possible future use. Saturday 11th August 2018.
There was no progress over the next few months until early November when my back yard was attacked by large machinery, firstly an excavator and large wheeled loader levelled the site and pushed the surplus soil towards the western boundary.
Image 2018.2899: One didn’t realise how much ground material was removed to gain the level surface, until it started to build up! Josh can be observed with the large garden hose, spraying in a successful endeavour to minimise dust. Monday, 5th November 2018.
Image 2018.2901: Phil was on hand to ensure that the correct levels were obtained. Saturday, 5th November 2018.
Image 2018.2913: After removing the shallow soft surface, the remainder was like concrete – requiring a ripper to break up the decomposed granite. In the left foreground, is the temporary end of the truncated back fence track. Tuesday, 6th November 2018.
Image 2018.2936: By the end of the week, the basic excavation and levelling had been completed, as shown in this scene taken on Friday 9th November 2018. In the background is the “mountains” of removed under-burden … all will be re-used later in the project. The new shed will be “hidden” from public view by my house at the right and from the rear, by my existing garage-cum-Archives Shed. A bob-cat was used to help consolidate the new level, as well as other spot works, such as reinstating vehicular access to the Archives Shed.
Image 2018.3353: The new level area was below the base of the Archives Shed and as the future inner track of the back balloon loop would be passing in very close proximity, it was deemed necessary for a protective retaining wall to be provided. Phil and Josh commenced construction works on Wednesday 5th December. Previously, the underground power supply to the Shed had been disconnected back to the main switchboard and fuse box at the eastern side of my house. A new power supply will be reinstated once power had been extended into the new Storage Shed, provision being made for the new line to pass under the proposed retaining wall to service the Archives Shed.
While restoration and repair works on the Fowler and Hunslet steam locomotives continued at what appears to be a frustrating slow pace, the next stage of construction of the Engine and Rolling Stock Storage Shed, laying in the tracks and concreting the floor, had ground to a complete stop. Council had required detailed engineering plans for the locomotive inspection pit… it took some time to find a suitable design engineer, but what came back initially would supported the SS Titanic, with a cost structure to match! Phil, as my Project Manager, was able to make some minor relocation of the pit road to the satisfaction of the Engineer, thus reducing prospective construction cost considerably and keeping more within budget. This difficulty delayed the next stage of Council’s approval, but meant that the builder had to move on to other works and so it was some months before he was able to return. Heavy rain in early February did not assist matters, with the work site becoming a quagmire!
Image 2019.0202: Water, water everywhere – including in the temporary inspection pit. In the background are what we have called the Burke Mountain Ranges after two of our volunteers. This comprises the soil and underlay cleared to provide the level base for the Storage Shed and the approach tracks. Tuesday, 5th February 2019.
Three days later, in brilliant sunshine, my contract builder returned, meeting on site with Council’s Building Inspector. All was in order for the works to progress which will be covered in the next Progress Report. Finally!!!