Volunteering — Blog Post #14

Volunteering, Niles Canyon Railway
Posted: April 23, 2017 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

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March 04, 2017

It was time, once again, to add more track panels to the east end of the railway. We started to prepare the MOW train to leave Brightside yard and I noticed two very new and very shiny MOW push cars. Why do we work hard on TOL? Because TOL brings in the money to buy cool stuff like new MOW flat cars. Thank you TOL!

We got two more panels placed at the end of the line at which point we had run out of prepared right-of-way. As our day in the valley east of the canyon ended, we needed to start preparing more right-of-way (shaking out the old ballast) to be ready for more panels next month. We replaced a number of ties in the panels that were well beyond their useful life.

We also had to cut the rails on a few panels to have square ends for the joints. Another reason we needed to cut the rails was that they had been torch cut when they were removed from the previous installation which weakens the rail. Cutting the rail removes the weakened section before we use it in our railway.

After we were done installing the track panels, we moved west, back to the new switch that has been installed just east of Verona crossing. We will be adding track to the switch to create a spur where we can store our MOW equipment. This will save a lot of time that we now spend moving between Brightside and Verona. This spur is also where the original Verona station was located. As described in the March Club Car, we plan to rebuild this station in the future.

There was a stack of rail located on the side of the line right where we will be adding track for the spur. We had to move these rails to the opposite side of the line. The process of moving rail sections looks simple: the Burro crane lifts the rail while one person uses a tag line hooked to one end to guide the rail into place in the new stack. When my turn came to work the tag line, I found out how complicated the process really was.

We had measured and marked the middle of each rail, so it would be balanced when picked up by the crane. But once I had the tag line in my hands, and the rail was in the air, things got exciting. The rail is 39 feet long and weighs 136 pounds per yard. My math skills are not great, but that works out to about 1800 pounds which is about one half of an average car. As the crane rotated to move the rail to the east, the rail would swing and I was just able to hang on to the rope. Half a car is hard to stop once it gets moving. I had the urge to get my hands on the end of the rail to have more control, but, I thought about 1800 pounds of steel hitting one of the other rails in the new stack. If any part of my hand or fingers was between the two rail sections, I think I would be in a world of hurt. Once I had done a few sections, the rest went quickly. MOW keeps you on your toes, you just don’t know what you will be doing next and you need to be careful so you don’t lose any of those toes!

Thanks to everyone who helped, and as always, the more people we have, the more we can get done, please join us the first Saturday of the month.


New MOW push cars — Thank You TOL! Photo by Brian Hitchcock

The latest end-of-track, two more panels in place. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Creating more roadbed. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Moving rail from one side of the track to the other. Photo by Brian Hitchcock


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