Western Rail Road Museum Track Crew News

The Track Crew meets twice per month, on the second and fourth Saturday. Track Crew News Archive

November 2012

In the past few months, the Track Crew has been hard at work on two different railroads – both on the Association's track at the Western Railway Museum, and also at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Our friends at Sacramento invited us to participate in a major track project at their facility. The City of Sacramento recently completed a project to relocate the Union Pacific Railroad main lines near Old Sacramento and the passenger station. This involved construction of new passenger boarding platforms and a host of other things, including a new track to connect the CSRM facilities in Old Sacramento to the Boiler and Erecting shops on the other side of the main lines. CSRM was responsible for constructing this new track, and selected materials from the old main line tracks to relocate and construct the new track. They hired a contractor to build the track; however they used their volunteer forces to dismantle and prepare the old track material to be reused. So the WRM Track Crew traveled to Sacramento on two hot days in August to assist in pulling spikes, turning bolts and cutting rails.

Another important project of the Track Crew is to rehabilitate rail joints. The rail on the Sacramento Northern line is original to the construction in 1913, and suffers from many bent, loose or otherwise worn out rail joints from the years of punishing service. The Track Crew has been using the Association's Joint Straightener machine for a few years to straighten any rail joints that are bent downward. This year, the Crew added the use of the Bolt Machine to tighten any loose bolts prior to the straightening work. Also any worn out bolts or joint bars can be replaced as this work is going on. The Track Crew worked these machines for a total of three days this year, tightening and straightening more than a mile of joints.

For many years at a location south of the Sacramento Northern siding called Molena, a culvert rusted away causing the embankment under the track to wash away. This location is well beyond the Association's operating track, so it has not been a priority to repair. However, with the rails suspended in mid air, this limited our ability to travel down the track with maintenance equipment. Finally an opportunity to repair this culvert presented itself, so the Track Crew went to work. Pipe material was selected from some cast-iron water-main pipe that had been acquired years before for the purpose of replacing culverts. A backhoe and trench compactor were rented for the weekend, and the Crew brought hand tools and the Association's Fire Truck to provide water for soil compaction. In short order, a trench was dug and the pipe was placed. The original soil, which had been deposited just below the embankment as it was washed away over the years, was placed in the trench and compacted to provide support for the track. New ties were installed where the originals were missing. At a future time, ballast will be brought to the site and used to tamp up the track.

A small but very satisfying task the Track Crew completed recently was installation of a number of signs along the railroad right-of-way. Joel Cox made signs following the Sacramento Northern standards dating from the 1920s for mileposts, crossings (X), and for the station of Diablo Vista. These signs are redwood painted and lettered using high quality enamel which should last for many years. The station sign was installed on a treated wood post, while the other signs were installed on line poles.

Looking ahead, the Track Crew has a number of small projects that will take them through the remainder of this year, and then the beginning of the New Year they will start on the annual tie replacement work. Do you enjoy working in the great outdoors? If so, consider joining the Track Crew on any second or fourth Saturday of the month. They meet at the museum at 9:00 on those days, and then head out for an interesting and sometimes energetic day of work somewhere along the Association's track. The work is always interesting and the camaraderie enjoyable.

Track Crew News Archive