Volunteering

Volunteering — Blog Post #15

Volunteering, Niles Canyon Railway
Posted: May 21, 2017 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

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April 01 and 15, 2017

Track Building continued as we placed six more panels. These were the last panels of the 136 pound rail (136-lbs per yard) that we have. Next time we will have to ‘stick build’ the track, laying ties, tie plates, rails and then spiking it all together. The plan is to continue the gentle curve we are on using the 136 lb rail. After the curve we have about 400’ of straight (tangent) right of way where we will start using 132 lb rail. At that point we go back to placing panels as we have many panels of 132 lb rail. After the straight section, we enter another curve and more of the panels will be used.

Looking east before we placed more panels. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Closing the gap between the panels. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Each panel is 39 feet of track which doesn’t sound like much in the grand plan of miles of railway, but, when you have to walk back along all the panels we have installed to get something, you realize how much track we have built. Each time we go out, it takes longer to make that walk.

I was working the tag line on the panels we placed. The tag line is a rope tied to one of the corners of the panel to keep a rail or track panel from rotating while being transported. My previous experience with the tag line was when we had to move individual rails. Now, with a panel hanging from the Burro crane, I was trying to control two rails and all the ties that make up the panel. I’m guessing each panel is about 9400 lbs. As the crane moved, the panel would swing, and I found it challenging to control my end of the panel.

The 6th and last panel of the day. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Ties in place for next time when we will stick build more track. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Two weeks later we met again and headed west from Brightside to the Spot near milepost 32.5 where the recent storms had brought down a rock slide on the spur. The rocks had piled up right where a flat car and box car were stored on the spur. Some of the rocks were under the cars and all around the wheels. We were able to reach across the flat car with the backhoe and remove a lot of the rock slide, but then we had to go ‘old school’ and remove the rocks blocking the wheels by hand. For the larger rocks, we had to pry them up, place smaller rocks underneath, and repeat this process until we could roll the big rock out of the way. I wonder if this is what they used to move the huge rock statues on Easter Island.

The backhoe has started on the rock slide. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Clearing rocks around the wheels of the flat car. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

Once the wheels of the flat car could turn, we pulled the flat car from the spur. The backhoe could then move into position at the end of the boxcar where it could reach the rest of the rock slide. All the material we removed was put in the two side dump cars we brought with us with the WP 713 for power. When these cars were full we took them down the line and emptied them. It was impressive to see this process in action. I didn’t know compressed air could move something that large and that heavy. At the same time the Arboreros, moved the lift truck onto the spur and removed several overhanging trees.

As always, the more people we have, the more we can get done. Please join us, the few, the proud, the dirty on the first Saturday of each month.

Flat car removed, rock slide cleared out. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

This is why it’s called a side dump car. Photo by Brian Hitchcock

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