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Sunday, May 22. 2011
So what does it take to get the job done? This process began last year with the purchase of the 750 brand new ties to be installed. All of which were delivered by truck and unloaded on the property.
Needless to say there was plenty of ice and snow on the ground to make the job difficult.
With the ties all on the ground, the lengthy process of placing each tie in the exact location where it was to be installed began. Mostly, this involved the tie crane and an operator working eight or nine hour days over the weekends.
With only our small core group of volunteers, and without the necessary equipment to do the actual replacement ourselves, we hired a railroad contractor to truck in their own equipment and swap the bad ties for the new ones. This took a solid week for the contractor to finish the job and then the cleanup of all the material was left to us.
At this point the race was on to clean up the railroad before the operating season gets into full swing. During this time all of the old ties were collected with the tie crane and placed in one large pile near Johnson Siding where they will eventually be picked up taken away by another railroad contractor.
With the wood picked up we focused on gathering all of the steel scrap which took the form of 2,800 spikes from the tie job, hundreds of old tie plates and other track material left on the line from years past. This could only have been done quickly and efficiently with our Burro crane and its electromagnet.
That brings us to today. The next steps will be to get rid of our huge tie pile at Johnson Siding, and surface the railroad. Surfacing the railroad will be done in house using our ex Amtrak production tamper purchased a few years ago. Contracting an operation such as this would cost the museum another $40,000 and that does not include regulating the railroad afterward to finish the project! All of the work done in house by the Track Dept. easily cuts the total cost of the project in half and in this season alone has already saved the museum roughly $50,000. The alternative to any of what we do in house involves renting and trucking in equivalent machinery and paying contract wages. Work will continue throughout the season to tamp and dress the line working between operations and special events. Follow up maintenance on all of our machines and sorting materials from the line will take many more weekends of work.
None of this could be done without the dedication of our Track Department working odd hours in all sorts of conditions. Thanks to all who have helped on this project including Frank DeVries, Tom Hunter, Bill Lygiros, Patrick Shea, Jeron Glander, Mitch O'Brien, Bob Olson and Adam Robillard. Also we must thank everyone who supported the work including, but not limited to, the Operating Department granting us track time, Dave Diamond in the Buildings & Grounds Department, and anyone I may have missed.
More Track Dept. photos from Frank Devries and Adam Robillard can be found in the Member's Photo Site here- http://www.irm.org/gallery/Members-Photos
Monday, March 14. 2011
Riding on the success of yesterday's progress today our two goals for the day were to clean a few machines with the pressure washer, and unload the ties loaded onto the flatcar yesterday along the mainline. The short version of the story is that both jobs were completed but not without a little excitement in between.
The crew today was myself, Tom Hunter, Jeron Glander, and a new volunteer, Patrick Shea. We started right away with the rented 3000psi heated pressure washer and cleaned up the tie crane, regulator and Model 50 Burro crane. After cleaning the radiators on the burro it ran significantly better now that it has proper air flow drastically minimizing the possibility of overheating the engine. We picked up our loaded flat car of ties and the EJ&E 529 caboose and headed out onto the carline.
The rest of the day was spent unloading around 400 ties along the mainline. Tom expertly ran the crane while Jeron, Patrick and myself hooked and unhooked the bundles along the line, mostly between Seeman Rd and Four Mile Siding. We'll come back out with the tie crane sometime soon and distribute the ties where they'll be installed. It was an incredibly productive day and called it quits after tying up shortly before sunset in Yard 11. This week the rest of the ties (~250) should get loaded onto the flatcar which should allow us to repeat the job again next weekend. Thanks again to Patrick for joining us for a second day in a row. Hope we didn't scare him away.Adam Robillard
IRM Track Dept
Saturday, March 5. 2011
Today unofficially marked the beginning of 'the busy season' by inspecting the first portions of the mainline for its return to revenue service in the coming weeks.
Food started off the morning in Marengo with Frank Devries and myself. After arriving to the property we were joined by Bob Olson and began walking track from Seeman Rd working East. The priority was to walk and mark ties to be replaced this year as well as inspect for the usual defects; joint bars, bolts, breaks, culverts and anything else that isn't quite right. We walked a few hours before calling it lunch at Subway. Tom Hunter met us there and we were off for a few more hours of inspection.
We officially walked from Signal 201/202 all the way to the east end of the line. A few hard miles in full winter gear.
Totals from the day include 387 ties marked for renewal between West Switch Johnson to Four Mile Siding (+ a few more not yet marked), one center broken joint bar and two pull aparts. At least another 100 ties will be marked once we clear ballast off the track between Poles 39-46ish. The goal is 700 ties on the mainline this year which we will begin to distribute next weekend. Slow orders and O.O.S. bulletins ARE posted and will stay in place until repaired. We called it a day with dinner at Joe's and wrapped up a lot of loose ends.
Frank will be out tomorrow and next weekend we'll begin loading flat cars with ties for distribution and probably working on repairs as well as continued inspection. Come out and join the fun!
***If you're interested in helping out give me a shout at email@example.com or find any one of us on most weekend and we'll get you hooked up!
Monday, April 19. 2010
Sunday's gang consisted of myself and Tom Hunter. Jeron Glander joined later in the day. Riding off the success at Four Mile Siding last weekend Tom and I prepped tools and material on the crane, flat and caboose combo and headed East to finish building the siding. We didn't waste any time when we got there pulling the storage cars from the siding and using the crane to connect the last two track panels. I realized we had forgotten lock washers to finish bolting them together but all of the joints have a bolt on each side until we can pop a few more in. After finishing off the second panel an investigation into a low oil pressure issue was found to be a hot engine... A little Too hot. It looks like the water pump has failed or the radiator is severely clogged. But with no coolant flow on the top of the radiator it brought our crane use to a severe halt. With the crane shut down Tom and I moved on to spiking up all the remaining ties in the section we had installed the rail in last week. Using track jacks, air compressor and spiking gun we had one entire side spiked up in no time. Prepacked lunch followed in the 529 and then onto spiking the other side.... After restarting the air compressor, without fail, it sputtered off and wouldn't restart. Upon investigation of this issue we figure a bad fuel pump. Fuel in, no fuel out... How about some hand spiking to ease the frustration? Of course! We spiked up the entire other side by hand just in time for Jeron to arrive with the Ballast Regulator. We set the panels in a rough line and Jeron, who reinstalled the rebuilt hydraulic cylinder earlier in the day, plowed stone from the siding into the new track. Getting late in the day we called up for a 'tow' back to the property not risking an engine failure without coolant..and were grateful to see Joel Ahrendt, Warren Lloyd and Kyle Merkel arrive with the ComEd 4 electric steeplecab to help us back. While waiting, Jeron managed to drag nearly enough stone for a first lift on the new track to the very end of track. The end will need somewhere around 12-18" raise but it's very close to complete as is. The 'in service' trackage was officially extended roughly 80' and the last of it will be extended another 80' once we make a good raise and tamp.
Sunday, April 11. 2010
The day started with Brian Harp and Tom Hunter refilling the hydraulic tank in the Amtrak Regulator. It drank roughly 40 gallons of fluid severely depleting our 55gal drum of oil. We'll have to get more soon.. After I arrived and met up with Steve L. we prepped for a day at Four Mile Siding. Tom ran the crane with work train with Brian as the conductor and headed east to switch out the siding, while Steve and I switched Barn 2 to retrieve the Hydraulic power pack and motorcar. We followed east and began by moving trees with the crane. BIG trees. The biggest tree we had to slide down the track on two ties and teeter it off with the crane into a wide clearing. The tree maxed out the crane's capacity at near 10,000 lbs but Tom managed to set it off very nicely. A few more large limbs were moved out of the way as well before we had the room to begin building track. We cut, drilled and installed a stick of 112lb rail and gaged the track to set everything up for the first panel to be hooked up. We gage spiked a few ties under the new rail for the crane to roll onto to hook up the first panel Jeron Glander arrived via the North Shore 714 with a gift of bottled water and helped us out for the rest of the day. We lifted the first track panel out of the way first to clear the ground of limbs and sticks to get a relatively smooth foundation for the new track. Tom then set the new panel in place and we bolted it all up with relatively little difficulty. We cleaned up and headed back to the property around 4 o'clock. All that is left is the hookup of the next two panels and finish spiking 12 or so ties. One more day and we'll be ready for the regulator and brush cutter to begin their work. Thanks to Brian Harp for joining us this weekend. I hope he can join us again in all of the festivities before next year's annual meeting. On a bad note- the J585 refuses to start now. The starter problem has gotten much worse and it no longer spins the engine over to crank.. Flywheel replacement time? Looks like a return of the 580 is imminent.
Sunday, March 28. 2010
Track Dept Weekend Report Mar 27, 28 Posted by Adam Robillard in Track Department at 23:02
Saturday Report ---
The day's primary project was the joint effort with the Signal Dept to get the very large Corwith Tower lever machine into our Spaulding Tower. This proved to be no easy task. The entire lever machine is roughly 20 ft in length and weighs nearly 9000lbs... The signal dept can report further on its future but our part was the heavy lifting with the Model 50 Burro crane to get it into the lower level- through the doorway. Tom Hunter ran the crane and after a few test lifts near Barn 9, we lifted the machine near the station and ran it into the Tower very slowly and carefully. We were successful in getting it in the building around 2PM and hit lunch. Lets hope that machine never has to leave the tower again!
Monday, March 15. 2010
Track Dept Weekend Report. March 14, 15 Posted by Adam Robillard in Track Department at 15:24
Saturday Report from Adam Robillard and Sunday Report from Frank Devries:
Today was just one of those days things just seemed to go right. It's about time I'd say.The day started early with Frank and myself and the first order of business was to make a run to Farm & Fleet for some hydraulic oil and parts. While we were away, JD Marzec and Greg Frech both showed up willing to work! They did some invaluable work 'derusting' and lubing track bolts in the shop and did a fine job. Upon our return we hit the machine maint. work. Frank filled the hydraulic on the switch tamper and began testing the new pump he had installed previously. Unfortunately it turns out the pump is pumping the wrong direction... a bit more trouble shooting and adjusting will be needed to hopefully get the machine back to 100% soon. JD, Greg and I topped off the hydraulic on the 6000 tamper and about that time Tom Hunter joined the gang. We did some QC bolt work on the 6000 and cleaned up the tool boxes and prepared to tamp.. The original plan was to do a walking inspection of the main line but the hit or miss weather was enough to keep us close to home.
During lunch we formulated a plan for the rest of the day. Frank, JD and Greg set to do an oil/ filter change on the Amtrak Ballast regulator which desperately needed it. The air filter is the color of dirt and as Frank put it "hasn't seen daylight since the Carter Administration..." Tom and I ran to Napa for oil and filters and Frank, JD and Greg prepped the machines in Yard 11. While that gang was doing the oil, Tom and I switched out the 6000 tamper and began tamping the Streetcar line between Electric Park and the S-Curves. The initial goal was to test the machine from its winter work and break it back in. Amazingly everything seemed to work well and only a few minor adjustments will have to be made. We spent the next four hours tamping the carline and after the Regulator was finished Frank, JD and Greg ran it around to our work area and began regulating the freshly tamped track.
More of the same......
The first task was to determine the electrical short on the regulator. When the lights were knocked off during the barn 11 project, the one light was hanging by the wire. Seems during our work on Saturday, it came in contact with the muffler, burned through the insulation and shorted. Jeron had noticed the high amp readings Saturday night. A quick clip of the wire resolved the short. The light bulb was broken in that light anyway. I noticed most of the lights are burned out on the machine. Next trip out I will pick up some spares from Napa.
We fired up the regulator and resumed the plowing and brooming of the carline between Electric park and the S curve. After a short period of time Jeron noticed a hydraulic leak. I sent him back to yard 11 to put the machine away. Jeron found the leak was a loose hydraulic hose, and with quite a bit of trouble, tightened up the loose connection. Apparently like all track machines it was not as easy as putting a wrench on and tightening. From what I understand it involved a hydraulic power pack unit, and a lot of contortionist like moves. Once fixed, it was back to work. Brooming and plowing continued until another leak was noticed. Seems the valve for the oil pan had worked itself loose. When the leak was noticed we shut down quick, and resolved the leak. So that machine had it's second oil change this weekend. I will hit up the hardware store to get a plug for that valve to avoid a similar issue from happening again!!! By the end of the day
the track looks really good. There is still a bit of box work to be done, but it is a huge improvement.
While Jeron was fixing the hydraulic leak, I went for a walk. Track walking that is... I was able to inspect from East Station switch to Signal 251. During that walk, I found several loose joints, a couple of hanging joints that will get fixed when we tamp, but no breaks, no other defects that will affect opening day. I also marked several piles of OTM and scrap along the main for pick up with the 50. Brush through this stretch looks good. A touch up could be in order around Karsten's, but that's about it. I also marked ties for replacement between E. Station and Karsten's. I think the total was around 140 ties. I marked 5 ties off the bridge to ensure we have good support going into the bridge.
Photos have been posted of the Carline results in the gallery below. A few shots of things from barn 10 as well.
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