Volunteering

Volunteering — Blog Post #13

Volunteering, Niles Canyon Railway
Posted: April 16, 2017 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

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February 04, 2017 – by Brian Hitchcock

Last month we got the sections of panel track ready to be added to the line east of Verona crossing, and this month, it was time to place as many of those panels as we could. With the Burro crane leading the way east, we followed on the MOW train. We got to the end of the line and dropped off the many tools we would need. The MOW train then backed up to the west past the location of the panel track so the Burro crane could come back, lift the panels and take them east to the end of the line.

We got the joint bars and tie plates moved to where they would be needed to join the first panel to the existing track. As each panel of track is put in place, we needed to slide one of the rails to meet the end of the previous panel to form the staggered rail joints. A set of clamps were fabricated with a winch attached. Once the clamps are attached to the ends of the two rails, we can crank the winch and pull the rails together. This of course requires pulling all the spikes along the rail that is sliding. We use prepared pieces of old ties as spacers to keep the ties on the panel track from shifting around while we pull the rails together. At one point, the rails were too far apart for the length of cable in the come along so it was time to improvise. A chain from the clamp on the rail that needed to move was attached to the chassis of the Burro crane and the rail was slowly pulled into place.

This is why a large team is needed. There are many jobs to be done on each panel of track while the crane goes west to get the next panel. Someone has to loosen spikes, move joint bars, place any new ties that are needed, place the spacers between the existing ties and pull the rails together all before the next panel arrives. It also takes a lot of effort just to move all the tools and ties and tie plates into position. As each panel goes into place and is joined up, we have to move all the tools and parts about 40 feet east to be ready for the next panel.

I saw 15 people working on this at one point and this allowed us to place 6 sections of panel track. Each panel is about 40 feet long so we put down about 250 feet of new track. We had a great team this day and that allowed us to make great progress. Thanks to everyone that helped.

Being able to participate in building track for a full scale railroad is not something I ever thought I would experience. I don’t know that I will have this opportunity ever again. For that reason, I encourage you to join us, the first Saturday of each month, out on the east end of the line, to experience what it is like, the sights and sounds of building a railway. We really do need as many persons as possible and you don’t need any specific skill.

 

The track crew east of Verona crossing. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Using the Burro crane to line up the next section of panel track. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Using the Burro crane to line up the next section of panel track. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Placing the next section of panel track. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

One of the panels was missing a lot of ties. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Two sections of panel track extend the line east. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

New ties need new spikes. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Placing the sixth and final panel for this day. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Placing the sixth and final panel for this day. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

 

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