Western Rail Road Museum Track Crew News

April 14, 2007

Track Crew Day

The yard lead for the Car House Three will have a fire access road crossing all the tracks, just in front of the building. This will allow emergency vehicle access, in the event of some unfortunate event. This same road will continue across the yard lead for Car House Two, as well as the Track One extension and the South Shop Lead. In all, the road will cross eleven tracks. It will be fun to put up the sign: Railroad Crossing, 11 Tracks!

In order to make sure that this road stays in good shape, it will be paved with asphalt where it crosses the tracks. Elsewhere, it is already constructed using gravel base rock, like most of our other access roads. However, the asphalt paving has yet to be done, so the Track Crew is focusing on the work needed to prepare the tracks for the asphalt paving. The work of this day was to prepare the South Shop Lead track for the paving, as well as the small culvert next to the track. The culvert had been installed previously, but it was done inexpertly and didn’t drain properly, so it was necessary to remove and reinstall it to the proper grade.

In order to do this work, a backhoe and trench compactor were rented for the weekend. The work started by removing the culvert pipe, and cutting the trench for the pipe. Once the trench was dug, the pipe was reinstalled and the trench backfilled using road base rock. This was compacted so that the road surface above wouldn’t be subject to distortion.

With the culvert work complete, the next task was to raise the adjacent South Shop Lead track. It was desired to bring the track up to be more level with the adjacent tracks, and to improve its stability by raising it up on clean ballast rock. Using the backhoe, ballast was brought over from the stockpile and dumped on the track. Then the familiar task of digging holes for jacks and inserting track jacks began. Once the track was raised up on jacks, the ballast was tamped using the Association’s big tamper. Finally, the excess ballast was cleaned off the track using the ballast regulator. It sure is nice to have these hard-working machines to do this work! Joel C., Bob P., Robert P., and Pete W. participated in this work.

reinforcing bars in place
Reinforcing bars in place for Tracks 32 and 33

Very near the end of the day’s work, it was discovered that something had humped Track 36 adjacent to the door where it leads into Car House Three. This track was not the subject of the work on this day, so it wasn’t known how this happened. However this was very unfortunate – while it is relatively easy to raise the track, it is very difficult to make it go down. In this case, it is critical that the elevation of the track outside the door of the building match the fixed elevation inside the building. So the only recourse was to lower the track. In fact, it was necessary to lower the track just to be able to close the door of the building, which otherwise was catching on the rail that was too high.

In order to lower the track, it was necessary to dig out all the ballast between the ties, and then excavate under the ties to allow the track to go down. This was all hand work, since the Association doesn’t have any machines that do this type of work. So the Track Crew set to work digging away. In a short time, the crew was able to make about 10 feet of the track go down, enough to get the big door closed. More of this work will be required later to complete the job, but at least now the building could be secured. The remainder of the work will have to wait until the next Track Crew work day.

Reinforcing bars
Reinforcing bars in place for walkway crossing of Track 31

April 10 & 12, 2007

Car House Three

After installing all the steel flangeways for the six tracks of the Car House, the next step was to install the reinforcing bars. Following up on the work that had been started earlier by the Track Crew, Joel C. continued tying the re-bars into the required grid pattern. This was rather mindless labor, but after two days of tying bars, the work was complete. The photos show the re-bar grids in place around the tracks. When the concrete contractor returns to pour the concrete, they will construct the necessary forms around the track and re-bar. Until then, this phase of the work is complete.


April 3, 2007

Car House Three

Flangeway angle clamped in place, ready for the supporting clip to be installed and welded

For this day’s work, Joel C. returned to the Car House walkways to install the steel flangeways at the track crossings. The steel angles will form the flangeways, protecting the concrete from damage from the railroad wheels. Once cured, the concrete will hold the steel angles in place. Until the concrete comes, however, they are held in place using steel clips that are screwed into the ties. In the photo, the steel angle is clamped in place next to the running rail. Another piece of angle is placed temporarily across the top of the rails, to align the top of the flangeway angle. Then the steel clip is screwed to the ties, and the clip is welded to the flangeway angle. In the photo, you can see the flangeway angle clamped in place, with the clips ready for installation and welding. One slight additional complication occurred where the rail joints fell within the walkway area. Here, it was necessary to trim the flangeway angle to clear the rail joint bolts. This was done using a cutting torch.

March 31, 2007

Track Crew work party day

Using the air-powered "jitterbug" hand tampers

For this day’s work, the track crew went back to work in the Car House Three yard. The first order of business was to raise and tamp tracks 34, 35, and 36 near the building. When these tracks had been raised initially, they weren’t brought up all the way, leaving the track a little low as between the building and the turnouts. So the crew got out the jacks, raised the tracks to give them a uniform grade, and tamped the ballast using the Association’s big tamper. Because this work didn’t involve the turnouts, it went quickly.

While part of the crew was finishing up this work, the remainder went to work with the air-powered “jitterbug” hand tampers. These tools were needed to tamp a few ties in each turnout that couldn’t be tamped using the tamping machine. This occurred where ties had been interlaced with those of the adjoining track, where they diverged. Also, it was necessary to tamp the ties of the switch stands, also in areas where the tamping machine couldn’t reach. The photo shows Pete W. handling rock with a shovel, while Mike W. and Robert P. work the air tampers. Also in the background are Mike C., Jerry A., Mike D., and Bob P., who were also working with the crew that day.

Installing reinforcing bars where the concrete walkway will cross the tracks

Some of the ties had been knocked down by the tamping machine previously, so the first order of business was to clear out all the rock between the rail and the tie plates, and then pry the ties up against the rail for a firm bearing. Then the rock could be packed under the ties using the air tampers. This was a noisy job! It was like having to small jack hammers going continuously. Thank goodness for ear plugs.

Once the tamping was completed, the Track Crew turned their attentions to the inside of the building. Where the concrete walkways will cross the tracks, the rails will be embedded in the concrete. This means that the concrete will need to support the rails, and of course the weight of the trains passing over. So the concrete needs to be sufficiently strong to withstand the forces. This is done by using high quality concrete, and by using plenty of reinforcing steel.

Tying re-bar for the concrete walkways

Previously, Joel C. had designed the reinforcing, and had ordered the bars pre-cut and bent for installation. The crew began installing the bars around the rails and between the ties. The photos show the crew tying the bars on Track 35. They go between and over the ties, and will mobilize the strength of the concrete to support the track without cracking. The work turns out to be somewhat time consuming due the difficulty of reaching around all the ties, bars, and rails to tie the reinforcing bars. However, by the end of the day, the crew had tied the steel for one track and laid out the bars for the next one.

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