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  Enthusiast Activities - Infrastructure Services

SteamRanger’s Infrastructure Services structure is responsible for condition monitoring, modification and repair of SteamRanger infrastructure assets. Nominated team leaders coordinate the various categories of infrastructure and report to the Board of Management.

Signalling, communications and crossing protection
is coordinated by the Signals and Telegraphs Manager, and is described on a separate webpage.

Click [IMAGE] to see more details

Maintenance of bridges, buildings, stations, platforms and depots

is currently overseen by the SHR President

Track maintenance is coordinated by the Track Manager and is described below

Authorised volunteers can access important track and physical infrastructure documents
by clicking [IMAGE]
Access to these documents is restricted and you will be asked to provide a
USERID and PASSWORD available from the relevant Manager

Becoming Involved

For more information on becoming involved in the track maintenance area,
contact our Track Manager, Ray Green, Phone: 0438 845 940, or click the logo below and send him an email.

SteamRanger runs a fare concession scheme as an incentive to volunteers
who put in many hours of dedicated effort. Look here for details

This Webpage

commences by describing track maintenance activities as reported to members by the Track Manager during 2015 and 2016,
then describes the challenges and procedures involved in each area of work
and finally shows some of the equipment used.

Current and Recent Activities

The Strath Gang have also been busy keeping the yard at Strathalbyn clear


June 2016 Track Report

Early in April we finished re-sleepering the Cockle Train line. The plant was then transferred to Gemmells where we started re-sleepering and re-gauging from Stirling Hill No. 2 to Wistow Road Crossing. 204 "A" Grade Sleepers, 4 Steel Sleepers were installed and 7 curves were re-gauged.The track has been regulated and tamped between Stirling Hill No.2 and the Strathalbyn side Cut in Box at the level crossing signals at Wistow.The reason for the slow progress is that it takes us 1 Vi hours each way to deliver sleepers to the work site. The plant has to be removed for transfers and the Southern Encounter to pass.

In May the Rail Regulator travelled on rail from Victor Harbor to Rosetta Terrace, Port Elliot checking on pedestrian crossings over the railway line along the beaches.

Four of the team, Bill Lewis (Supervisor), Alan Potter, Philip Martin and Bruce Wilson went down to Naracoorte to start removing dog spikes, switches and rail and collect two control boxes that were removed by the contractor and Peter Charleson. We were not allowed to remove the main line that was between Riddoch Highway and the Creek at the entrance to the Town, so all the rail and double lipped plates and fish plates have been removed. Two truckloads of Rail have already been unloaded at Middleton. The bridge girders were also removed and will be transported back to Middleton some time. The volunteers stayed in the caravan park for the 3 nights.

20 second hand pine sleepers were put into the Strathalbyn yard. Community Services are working every second Friday, with their main tasks being tree trimming and weed control. Malcolm's team at Mount Barker are working tirelessly to keep the vegetation down and continue tree trimming. Now that the fire ban has been lifted they have started burning. Brenton and the Strath Gang have also been busy keeping the yard at Strathalbyn clear Chris Thomson is learning to drive the TMCs at Strath so that they can go out trimming trees and burning vegetation.

Brill 60 has had the rust cut out by Tim who is on the Work for the Dole Scheme. A Ram failed on the Gemco in Strathalbyn Yard. It was removed and taken to Strathalbyn Fabrications for repair which meant the machine was out of action for 3 days. The Tie Crane has been rebuilt by the Goolwa depot team and they hope to have it in service this month. The Torsion Beam Tamper has been repaired and tested and it is stabled in Strathalbyn goods shed. Human Resources are working on the paperwork that is required to operate the Tamper.

January 2016 Report

In amongst an interesting overseas holiday Track Manager Ray Green has had his team hard at it working in several areas

Compass Road regauging has been completed using 13 'A' Grade Sleepers. 130 'A' Grade Sleepers, 7 Switch Timbers have been inserted from Mindacowie Road to Bashams Beach Road. 24 'A' Grade Sleepers and 8 Switch Timbers have been replaced in the Goolwa Yard. Wellington Road, Currency Creek level crossing has been rebuilt with 19 Concrete Sleepers, 20 'A' grade Sleepers, 2 links of 60ft 801b rail. Alexandrina Council has reconcreted the Crossing at no cost to Steamranger.

During Ray's trip there was a derailment at Gemmells. Fortunately, the track was able to be partially repaired so that the Southern Encounter could run on the 4th October with a speed restriction.The Executive wish to thank all the Goolwa Volunteers and Malcolm's Team, including Daryl Simon, for the extra effort they put in to get the derailment site repaired for the Southern Encounter. There was subsequently a lot more work done to repair the track to Steamranger*s high standard. Unfortunately the Gemco has failed us again at the derailment site. It was towed back to Strathalbyn and when the cylinder head was removed it was discovered it was badly corroded so we are looking for a replacement.

Phil Neville has slashed the Currency Creek Yard and from Goolwa Depot to Port Elliot and the Strathalbyn Gang and Tony Colder has sprayed Strathalbyn Yard and tidied it as well as the Platform.Malcolm Merritt and his Team at Mount Barker have continued to trim trees and burn the rubbish.

December 2015 Report

In September, the Wellington Road, Currency Creek level crossing was reconstructed in conjunction with Alexandrina Council and SteamRanger. 2 x 60ft lengths of 821b rail, 19 concrete sleepers, 15 redgum sleepers, 60 dog spikes, 2 fish plates, and 20 double lipped plates were used at this site. This was the first road crossing that is completely concreted on SteamRanger's line.

Regauging and resleepering was carried out at Gemmells (an earlier derailment site). 52 red gum sleepers, 208 dog spikes, 104 double lipped plates, 495 dog spikes were used to repair wide gauging in the Gemmells Area. Work will continue in 2016 on the rest of the faults from Mount Barker to Stirling Hill No.3.

The next major project was the rebuilding of Gilberts Siding Rail Crossing between the 19th and 21st of October. 2 x 60ft lengths of 801b rail, 26 redgum sleepers, 52 double lipped plates, 126 dog spikes wre used here. The construction was carried out by South Coast Sand and Civil and SteamRanger Volunteers. In November we started replacing broken sleepers between Gardiner Street and Middleton. 54 redgum sleepers, 108 double lipped plates and 216 dog spikes were installed along with 2 redgum sleepers at Chiton Rocks Surf Lifesaving Club.

Malcolm and his team at Mount Barker have been working between Littlehampton and Wistow Crossing slashing and burning. Brenton and his team at Strathalbyn have been keeping the area clean, slashing, oiling joints and cleaning the built up silt in Milne Road Crossing. They have also installed 8 gauge bars in preparation for the transfer of rolling stock from Mount Barker. DPTI have repaired the Mount Compass Road Crossing by building up the centre with bitumen. They have also donated 20 dual gauge concrete sleepers and fasteners, with the only cost to us being transport from Dry Creek to Goolwa Depot.

October 2015 Report

Unfortunately the Gemco has failed us again at the derailment site. It was towed back to Strathalbyn and when the cylinder head was removed it was discovered it was badly corroded so we are looking for a replacement.The Executive and myself wish to thank all the Goolwa Volunteers and Malcolm's Team, including Daryl Simon, for the extra effort they put in to get the derailment site repaired for the Southern Encounter. There was still a lot more work to be done to repair the track to Steamranger's high standard.

Compass Road regauging has been completed using 13 'A' Grade Sleepers. 130 'A' Grade Sleepers, 7 Switch Timbers have been inserted from Mindacowie Road to Bashams Beach Road. 24 'A' Grade Sleepers and 8 Switch Timbers have been replaced in the Goolwa Yard. Wellington Road, Currency Creek level crossing has been rebuilt with 19 Concrete Sleepers, 20 'A' grade Sleepers, 2 links of 60ft 801b rail. Alexandrina Council has reconcreted the Crossing at no cost to Steamranger.

The Strathalbyn Gang and Tony Golder has sprayed Strathalbyn Yard and tidied it as well as the Platform. Malcolm Merritt and his Team at Mount Barker have continued to trim trees and burn the rubbish.

August 2015 Report

1 Red Gum and 7 Pine Sleepers were replaced at Strathalbyn and re-railing at Chiton Rocks was completed in June using
10 lengths of rail, 122 Rex Locks,84 Double Lip Plates, 20 Fish Plates,80 Bolts and 46 Dogs. To complete the Chiton Rocks re-rail 24 Red Gum Sleepers, 48 Double lip Plates, 96 Dog Spikes were also used.

The next resleepering project was at Middleton with 47 Red Gum sleepers, 94 Double Lip Plates and 188 Dog Spikes. 79 Red Gum and 3 Switch Timbers are still to be installed which will be completed in August after which we will start re-sleepering Port Elliot yard and install some sleepers at Boomers Beach.

Re-gauging has been carried out at 55.6km and 62.5km in the Hills. During the School Holidays we continued using Dean Harvey's donated Jarrah Sleepers between Finniss and Sandergrove. Currently we are repairing the wide gauge at Mount Compass Road. The Track has been sprayed from Victor Harbor to Mount Barker. Tony Golder has donated a vehicle and his time to spray Strathalbyn Yard.

April 2015 Report

During the Christmas 2014-15 period the Switch Tamper, Gemco, Compressor, Inserter and all Sleeper Trolleys were repainted.All switches in the Cockle Train line were inspected and some repairs carried out.

The Victor Harbor Yard is being resleepered between Coral Street and Eyre Terrace. So far we have replaced 80 'A' Grade Sleepers, and 10 Switch Timbers. Tamping has been carried out between 119km to 124km on the Cockle Train line at Middleton .

The Track was closed at Rosetta Terrace, Port Elliot from the 18th May until the 22nd May to allow rebuilding of the road crossing using the concrete sleepers that have been donated by Dean Harvey. The work was carried out by Southcoast Sand and Civil who removed two cattle grids and donated the pipe that was placed under the Victor Harbor end of the Crossing. Alexandrina Council provided signage for the Road Closures and rebuilding the Pedestrian Crossing on the Port Elliot side at no cost to us. At the same time rail was replaced at Chiton Rocks.

The above photos show various stages of the work in progress and nearing completion.

24 lengths of 60ft rail have been transported from Strathalbyn to Middleton in preparation for the rebuilding of the new loop at Middleton. Steel Sleepers have been placed in preparation for the completion of Road 6 in Goolwa Depot.

And here are some shots from Ray of track work at Victor and plant painting

And the hardworking Strath gang -
Rex Jaensch, Chris Thompson, Brenton Jones, Rod Radestock, Jim Caspers, Nick Rollins and Mark Heinrich

Like to Help Us?

The Infrastructure Coordinator once again thanks all of our workers who have continued to assist with infrastructure maintenance, whether in the environmental, track, buildings or signals sections. The observable results are speaking for themselves, but more hands are always needed!

If you have an interest in any of the infrastructure maintenance aspects of SteamRanger and would like to volunteer some of your time then we would be pleased to hear from you.

For more information please call Troy Barker on 0419 803 526
or email troybarker@steamranger.org.au.

Updated: February 2016

A quick overview of our 80 kms of Track and Maintenance Activities

Mt Barker to Mt Barker Junction

This section of track is used only infrequently by SteamRanger for Junction Jogger railcar services. The line travels through a deep cutting before passing through a tunnel built under the South Eastern Freeway in the 1970s using circular steel lining sections and then crosses the Old Mt Barker Road at grade before winding through the outskirts of Littlehampton and on a elevated embankment alongside the roadway up the valley of the Mt Barker Creek to the site of the abandoned Mt Barker Station. The track terminates at a dead-end alongside the old platform, parallel to the main standard gauge line. There is no run-around trackwork and double ended railcars must be used or a second locomotive attached at the rear to haul consists back to Mt Barker.

Large trees overhang the track and brush invades the line at many points and both need to be kept well trimmed. Drains and culverts in cuttings near the tunnel must be kept clear to prevent ballast degradation. The maximum nominal track speed in this section is 25kph.

Mt Barker to Strathalbyn

Leaving Mt Barker the line skirts the residential area, crossing Mt Barker Creek on a low level causeway, and then climbs through forested cuttings to the crest of the line at Philcox Hill (above).

The track then descends to Strathalbyn on a long extended grade, crossing the main Strathalbyn road at Gemmells. The steeply graded curved sections (as typified by this photo just beyond Stirling Hill Rd) are often on high embankments or through cuttings, and require particular attention in regard to maintenance of gauge and correct curvature under the stresses imposed by our 200 tonne locomotives and 40 tonne passenger cars.

The ranges can be subject to heavy rainfall and the large trees along the trackside and on sides of cuttings can be struck by lightening or be uprooted by a combination of heavy rainfall and high winds making a full track inspection before each movement obligatory. The maximum nominal track speed in this section is 40kph.

Strathalbyn to Goolwa

The next section from Strathalbyn to Goolwa initially traverses relatively level countryside, in places well away from public roads, with difficult access by road vehicles. The line crosses three major watercourses on significant bridges and flooding and erosion of the trackbed is common through the winter.

Track maintenance involves clearing and widening of trackside drains and rebuilding of the trackbed where it has been washed away by flash flooding. Regular inspection and maintenance of cuttings and embankments is required. This photo shows a section of track just south of Black Swamp bridge.

SteamRanger's Goolwa Depot is passed just prior to Goolwa township itself. Some of our track maintenance equipment and vehicles are based here and track inspections from Goolwa to Victor Harbor are conducted by locally resident volunteers. The maximum nominal track speed in this section is 65kph.

Goolwa to Victor Harbor

From Goolwa the line traverses flat farmland to Pt Elliot. There are a number of main road level crossings in this section.

From Pt Elliot the last 6 kilometres of track into the terminus of the line at Victor Harbor runs on an embankment along the back of the beach beside the Southern Ocean. This section, shown in this photo, is continuously subject to sand drifts across the track, caused in part by severe damage to the fragile plant species which would naturally bind the sand hills.

Salt spray causes accelerated corrosion, not only of the track but also structures such as culverts and bridges. Cuttings passing through sandy soil are subject to collapse, especially after heavy rain. The maximum nominal track speed in this section is 65kph.

Some Statistics

Generally, wooden sleeper (tie) life is 25 years requiring the replacement of 4000 sleepers per year. Being a broad gauge (1600mm) line, sleepers are 2.8 metres long and weigh up to 100 kg, depending on the species of wood.

The track by modern day standards is unusual in that it is entirely composed of jointed rails. Each rail is secured to the next with heavy steel plates and bolts, that allow expansion and contraction of the 40 foot rails. The positive side to this old style of structure is the lack of track buckles in high temperatures. The negative side is every joint plate and bolt require oiling once a year, all 26240 plates, 78720 bolts and periodic tightening or replacing.

The 76 Road Crossings require constant monitoring of sign condition as these have an effective life of only 7 years.

Bridges, Turntables and Station Cranes


Turntables are located at Mount Barker, Strathalbyn and Victor Harbor. The 85 foot electrically driven turntables at Mt Barker and Victor Harbor can turn any of SteamRanger's locomotives and railcars, whilst the 53 foot manually rotated table at Strathalbyn can turn Rx and F class steam locos, 350 and 500 class DE locos and Brill railcars.

The Mt Barker turntable is located in-line on the track between Mt Barker Junction and Mt Barker and was relocated from Bridgewater in the Adelaide Hills by SteamRanger and installed in a newly built pit. In SAR days, locomotives were turned at Mt Barker using a triangle located in what is now the caravan park The other turntables are on spur lines in areas of the station yard previously used as locomotive running depots.

Mt Barker TT looking towards MB Junction
Strath turntable with historic watertank
621 moves off the Victor Harbor turntable


The line passes over six significant bridges of varying construction and a number of smaller bridges over watercourses. Leaving Mt Barker, major bridges cross in turn the Angas River just before Strathalbyn and the Finniss River, Tookayerta Creek, and Currency Creek before the line reaches Goolwa. The line then crosses Watsons Gap and finally the Hindmarsh River before entering Victor Harbor.

The Angas, Finniss, Black Swamp and Currency Creek bridges were originally built in the latter half of the 1800s and rebuilt or strengthened in the mid 1900s to handle the heavier locomotives introduced in the "Webb era". In general the original piers have been retained and spans replaced with steel girders or lattice girders, although the Finniss bridge has a single steel span raised just 150mm above the original and now redundant piers.

The current Watsons Gap bridge is an early example of an arch reinforced concrete bridge and the Hindmarsh River bridge rebuilt in 1907 was the first beam and slab concrete bridge in Australia. More information on the heritage of this bridge can be found HERE
Both bridges replaced earlier timber bridges.

Each of the bridges has been subjected to a professional engineering accreditation since SteamRanger took over the line and is monitored on an ongoing basis in regard to sleeper and steel girder condition and for internal reinforcement corrosion in the case of the concrete bridges.

F251 on Angas River Bridge, Strathalbyn
Rx207 crosses the Finniss River
Black Swamp bridge over Tookayerta Ck

621 on our highest bridge, Currency Creek
F251 on Watsons Gap "Eggshell" bridge
Alexandra Bridge entering Victor Harbor

Station Cranes

Most major SAR stations were equipped with goodsheds, dedicated freight loading platforms and ramps and hand operated cranes for unloading freight from road vehicles into open goods wagons.


Four heritage cranes have been preserved on our branch line; one at Mt Barker Depot (left),
two at Strathalbyn (centre & right) and one at Victor Harbor.
The only other evidence of a station crane is at Goolwa, where a large concrete mounting base remains
adjacent to the Victor Harbor end door of the goods shed.

Pictured are the two cranes of quite different designs at Strathalbyn. Both were rated at 5 tons, with the one adjacent to the goods shed carrying a plaque indicating it had been imported from the England

Track Maintenance and Inspection Equipment

Although much of the track maintenance requires hard manual labour and use of hand tools, SteamRanger has received as a donation, has purchased and/or has modified a range of track machines to assist wherever possible in order to cover the relatively long track length of over 80kms on a regular basis.

The following photos illustrate the range of on track or road/rail equipment used.

Road and Road/Rail Vehicles


Track Inspection Vehicles


Track Maintenance Machines

Gemco Track Machine
works at Victor
Gemco Track Machine with
verge trimmerattachment
Spot Tamper
tidies up MtBarker Depot yard

Typical Track Activities

Sleeper Replacement

Individual sleepers are removed manually and a resleepering machine digs out the ballast and inserts the new sleeper, the track is spiked to the correct gauge either manually with sledge hammers or with a pneumatic hammer.The track is jacked to the correct height and ballast (40mm crushed rock) is forced beneath the sleeper with electric hammers.

More major activities require assistance from a contractor.

Our photo shows track stalwarts Troy Barker and Terry Garbett hard at work packing track at the 75km mark.

Switch Reconditioning

Particular attention needs to be paid to the condition of sleepers and switch mechanisms at each station yard along the line.

Photo: Replacing switch timbers in Goolwa yard


An ongoing task is removal of tree branches which can damage rolling stock and pose a fire hazard in the warmer months.

Photo: Trevor Williams and his chain saw at work

Vegetation Clearance

Emergency Response

Unexpected flooding and line obstruction after regular inspections demand an on-call response so that scheduled services can be quickly restored


A full on-track inspection is necessary before eacxh movement from Mt Barker and weekly along the south coast.

Photo: Troy and Anthony with their Mazda road/railer

Track Inspection

Major Track Rehabilitation

Major trackwork beyond the internal capabilities of SteamRanger is outsourced to contractors
who can use specialised equipment.conducted by Track

In 2003 contractors carried out major track rehabilitation in the Victor Harbor to Goolwa section,
involving replacement of some 2000 sleepers and virtual rebuilding of Goolwa Station Yard
as part of the Goolwa Wharf Environs redevelopment (Photo below)

Contractors were also used to relay track at Mt Barker Depot following unexpected subsidence.