W.W.&F. Discussion Forum

WW&F Railway Museum Discussion => Museum Discussion => Topic started by: Alex Harvilchuck on September 18, 2017, 08:23:04 AM

Title: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Alex Harvilchuck on September 18, 2017, 08:23:04 AM
The current plan is to hold off on mainline track laying till next spring or fall, depending on how filling goes this year. The hope is to lay 1,000' at a time again like we used to do. If we can build 1,000' of track in 3 work weekends we will be almost to 218, and across Trout Brook. We have 7 work weekends between now and the estimated timeline for being over the brook if everything goes well. All of this will depend on money, and a few other matters, but that is the anticpated timeline.

Any thoughts on simple innovations to help speed the track building process?

 
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Jason M Lamontagne on September 18, 2017, 08:42:22 AM
We have programming and equipment modifications to our track laying program which we keep in reserve, should the need to increase track laying speed and efficiency develop.  At this point there is no need to do so.

Thanks,
Jason
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Mike Fox on September 18, 2017, 11:59:48 AM
As crazy as it sounds, track building should never be mechanized. Not for us. We have a bunch of volunteers that love to help lay track. And when you tell the public it was all laid by hand, they find it remarkable.

Track maintenance, on the otherhand, should be. We don't want to be building track faster than we can maintain it.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Jason M Lamontagne on September 18, 2017, 12:24:12 PM
I agree with Mike.  The changes I refer to as nothing more than the expansion of current methods to their ultimate efficiency level.

Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on September 18, 2017, 02:14:42 PM
Laying track at our current levels may seem slow, however at 1,000 to 1200' per work weekend, our track laying crews keep right up with the excavating crew. We could be at Trout Brook currently in 3 weekends, our only hold back is the washouts that lay ahead.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Alex Harvilchuck on September 22, 2017, 01:37:19 PM
It doesn't mean full automation, but I was thinking of things along the lines of ....
 
I can see the "fun" part being laying the rail and spiking it down, but hand shoveling ballast off a flat car? Sounds like a sore back to me. It's just like tamping and the reason why Big Joe exists. It means more time can be spent on the art of spiking and aligning new rail instead of the drudgery of shoveling rock.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Jeff Schumaker on September 22, 2017, 02:16:48 PM
Alex,

I take it that you've never been up for a fall or spring work weekend. Although shoveling ballast may seem like tedious work, and can be at times, the sense of accomplishment once a section of track has been ballasted, lifted, and aligned completely by manual labor more than compensates for it. You also get an appreciation for the way things were done when the original railroad was built.

Jeff S.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Mike Fox on September 22, 2017, 03:09:23 PM
And that is what makes it so enjoyable. Plus during the idle time, you get a chance to chat with folks that you may only see once or twice a year. You don't really think of it as work. Rebuilding what once was, in a way similar to how they would have done, for just about the same pay.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Fred Morse on September 22, 2017, 03:45:46 PM
Believe it or not, our working members would be upset if they couldn't do all those things.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Alex Harvilchuck on September 22, 2017, 04:06:31 PM
And that is what makes it so enjoyable. Plus during the idle time, you get a chance to chat with folks that you may only see once or twice a year. You don't really think of it as work. Rebuilding what once was, in a way similar to how they would have done, for just about the same pay.

Since we have been talking about shop cats, does the supervisor at FWW/SWW have a period-correct cat o' nine tails? ;)
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on September 22, 2017, 04:27:10 PM
No, but he tells one heck of a moose story.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Alex Harvilchuck on September 22, 2017, 04:45:24 PM
No, but he tells one heck of a moose story.

Does that make him the "Fearless Leader"?
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on September 22, 2017, 05:25:13 PM
You'll have to come and see that for yourself.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Alex Harvilchuck on September 22, 2017, 08:06:07 PM
Although shoveling ballast may seem like tedious work, and can be at times, the sense of accomplishment once a section of track has been ballasted, lifted, and aligned completely by manual labor more than compensates for it. You also get an appreciation for the way things were done when the original railroad was built.

IMHO, Spreading ballast/crushed gravel is prime for mechanization, the lifting and aligning should be done by hand. I've flat & round hand-shoveled enough bluestone crusher run or anthracite coal or concrete over the years that any sense of "fun" is long past. As an engineer I appreciate it enough - that's why I bought myself a 60hp 4WD diesel bucket loader with a backhoe. Makes short work of the drudgery.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Alex Harvilchuck on September 22, 2017, 08:14:40 PM
You'll have to come and see that for yourself.

I'd bring my heavy equipment and spoil everyone's "fun".  ;D
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Carl G. Soderstrom on September 22, 2017, 11:47:46 PM
The WW&F is a Museum, so it is supposed to be done as it was "back in the day", otherwise
it would just be a railroad.

Beside if you do it as a volunteer it is "fun", if you did it at a job there would be no end of complaints.

Just have fun doing what you all do best. 
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Paul Uhland on September 23, 2017, 01:22:37 AM
There are those who try to control situations they are convinced would become  better run and easier if, in their limited view,  more efficient, quicker ways to work are followed, paying no attention to, in this case, more  historically appropriate  labor enthusiastically accepted and enjoyed by unpaid volunteers doing the work at a WW&F-acceptable  pace who draw strong satisfaction from it as their compensation.

The last thing I'd do is try to "improve" operations of a successful organization from afar by critical advice aimed at its methods, especially when I have never shared their actual work and cared not about WW&F's  work history/methods. 
 





   
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Baskerville on September 23, 2017, 08:06:42 AM
As an opinion of one, I know I never do such physically demanding work at home as I do at the WW&F railroad. At home I pay for such arduous tasks and for all repetitive work tasks.

At the railway I do them for the pleasure of accomplishment and the joy of being part of a team.

Bill
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Stewart "Start" Rhine on September 23, 2017, 08:33:37 AM
It doesn't mean full automation, but I was thinking of things along the lines of ....

Laying out the ties before the 3-day work window with a smaller crew so the larger crew can get going immediately laying, aligning and spiking rail.

* This has been done a number of times, especially north of Sutter's Crossing in 1999 when the tie hauling was done with pickup trucks.  Using trucks only works when there is an enter and exit road for the grade.  Setting ties out from a work flat with a group of volunteers works better and is more enjoyable.   

Quote
Use an A-Frame Derrick with a roller to move/position the rail sections in place off of the work car - this is how they took the rails up on the Rio Grande Southern with a Goose and a trailer car. The derrick would be good for maintenance

* Using the crane on the flatcar has been done a few times but it is slower (with hook up and disconnect) than pulling sticks from the lower work flats.  The biggest problem with the crane on the flatcar is side clearance, it is difficult to work in cuts due to side swing.

Quote
A hydraulic dump car for spreading ballast on newly spiked track to work in tandem with the tamper.

* There is a set of drawings for a Portland Company hopper car that was designed for the WW&F around 1900.  The plans were circulated on the old forum years ago.  There was much discussion about building a car that was never produced.  In looking into the construction, the price tag was high for a car that would only be used once or twice a year.  Trucks alone are over $20,000 so the project has been dormant.   

 
Quote
I can see the "fun" part being laying the rail and spiking it down, but hand shoveling ballast off a flat car? Sounds like a sore back to me. It's just like tamping and the reason why Big Joe exists. It means more time can be spent on the art of spiking and aligning new rail instead of the drudgery of shoveling rock.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Jeff Schumaker on September 23, 2017, 09:35:59 AM
There are those who try to control situations they are convinced would become  better run and easier if, in their limited view,  more efficient, quicker ways to work are followed, paying no attention to, in this case, more  historically appropriate  labor enthusiastically accepted and enjoyed by unpaid volunteers doing the work at a WW&F-acceptable  pace who draw strong satisfaction from it as their compensation.

The last thing I'd do is try to "improve" operations of a successful organization from afar by critical advice aimed at its methods, especially when I have never shared their actual work and cared not about WW&F's  work history/methods.   

Well said, Paul.

Jeff S.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Alex Harvilchuck on September 23, 2017, 01:43:38 PM
Thanks Stewart for the information on the derrick and the prior attempt with laying ties out with the pickup! I had seen the old plans for the Portland Company Hopper Car, I completely agree about priorities consider the scarcity of trucks.

I just worry about someone throwing their back out or injuring themselves and suing the Museum. Look at the whole thing with the hot coffee cup and a McDonalds Drive-Thru. All it takes is one negative judgement against the Museum and it is all over.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on September 23, 2017, 03:13:58 PM
I'm a computer guy. Physical labor and I do not get along well.

That said, I actually enjoy being part of the "shovel ballast off the flatcar" team. You basically stand around and do nothing until the ballast arrives, the gravity does most of the work as you guide the ballast from the flatcar to the railbed. In 15mins, the car is unloaded and you are standing around chatting with about 20 of your newest friends until the next load arrives (which was loaded by a front end loader, and often is delivered via steam engine.)

That is part of the "fun" of the WW&F; everyone works at his/her own interest, speed, and ability. And if you want to try something new, you are welcomed and not ridiculed. (Also, the general lack of "railroader language" is pretty refreshing too.)

Do we worry about lawsuits - certainly. Everyone is always on the lookout for safety issues; and is encouraged to say something when the situation warrants.

Could we do things faster - maybe. But just as the charm of the train ride is the journey more than the destination, so too is it as we rebuild Maine history.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Ira Schreiber on September 23, 2017, 06:18:31 PM
Ed has summed it up well.
We enjoying doing it "our way"
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Alex Harvilchuck on September 23, 2017, 06:30:22 PM
The last thing I'd do is try to "improve" operations of a successful organization from afar by critical advice aimed at its methods, especially when I have never shared their actual work and cared not about WW&F's  work history/methods.   

I seem to remember quite a few posts on how to pour concrete slabs better.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on September 23, 2017, 07:27:36 PM
[Moderator's Note]
Please, let's not get into a tit for tat match on sharing of ideas.

The point of the discussion forum is for discussion. We share ideas and (usually) the best ones somehow get implemented. The final say, of course, are the decisions made by our voted Board of Directors. If you really want to know the ins and outs of the railroad, feel free to attend a BOD meeting.

With over 1200 members, we have a LOT of expertise on almost every subject imaginable. I don't think there is anyone reading this forum that wouldn't want to spend more time at Sheepscot. Some visit on a daily basis, some once a year, and some may never even see the WW&F in person. However, we all share the love of the narrow gauge and want to see it thrive. Let's stay focused on that goal, and not get hung up on really minor details.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John McNamara on September 23, 2017, 07:31:01 PM
Well said, Ed. I was just in the process of sending you a message that things were getting a little out of hand here.
-John M
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on September 23, 2017, 07:50:23 PM
Ed and John,   Ditto ..............
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bob Holmes on September 23, 2017, 08:18:38 PM
Alex, the many ideas about pouring concrete slabs actually contributed to a better pour.  Many ideas feed in, and often the really good ones are followed on the fly.  That's the beauty of our railroad.  None of us ever expects to have the best solution, we just want to contribute to the end result.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on September 24, 2017, 07:37:48 AM
To see some negative comments on here astound me.

Alex, first off let me say that there is nothing wrong with trying to find easier, and maybe more efficient ways of doing things. So please don't let others offend you.

As far as building track everyone works at their own pace, and no one does what they feel uncomfortable with. And I think 1200' of track built in one weekend is amazing with an all volunteer crew, and no one pressuring anyone. 20 guys on a 30' rail makes it nice. And currently theres not much point in trying to lay rail any faster than normal because of the grade problems that lay ahead. When we go to build track next year, we can build around 1100', then the next track building will only be able to go as far as the next grade area needing attention, etc.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Stewart "Start" Rhine on September 24, 2017, 05:38:13 PM
Just a thought, here's an approach for anyone asking about changing a work situation: 

Hi, has the museum ever tried _______ to improve the _________ project? 
Those questions are well received because suggestions for improvement are a positive thing.  Don't condemn the work of others or the way a project is conducted in front of everyone, it doesn't help anything. 

Also, if questions are asked or suggestions made, don't be upset when someone replies "oh, we thought of it or we tried that 10 years ago and it didn't work".  Remember, many projects and varied types of work have been done at the museum in years past.  The fact that we have members who have volunteered for 5, 10 or 20+ years is a wonderful thing.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the first Work Weekend with planned goals.  In October of 1997, we spent Columbus Day Weekend building the first curve and grade crossing on the mainline.  It was a lot of work but the job got done and we were happy to have accomplished some "firsts".  After the track work, the train could be run far enough north that you didn't see it from the depot, that was a big thing. 

The spirit of that first Fall Work Weekend still lives in the excitement of what we can all do when a bunch of volunteers get together with a specific goal.  We will do the same thing in two weeks and I look forward to seeing everyone.       
   
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bob Holmes on September 24, 2017, 06:42:34 PM
Stuart, I like your suggestion.  As a relative newbie (about 18 months), I am always listening to the guys and gals I'm around.  Can't tell you how often I've heard how something was tried before and either did or did not work.  Another thing I've noticed is how often trial and error mistakes are made, and how promptly fixes are initiated.  That's how we learn and move forward!
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Jeff Schumaker on September 25, 2017, 10:05:35 AM
Well said, Stewart.

Jeff S
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on October 13, 2017, 09:49:28 PM
So in trying to find videos to show others how and why we build track the way we do a few thing occured to me. Not only is using man power when available faster than machine, but it brings us back to mind on the railways mission.... To recreate the original railway to the best of our ability.

However, what you are about to watch may be disturbing to some viewers. Okay okay, just our mechanical engineers. Lol. It is an 8+ minute video of building the Canadian transcontinental railroad and has sone very interesting track building ideas.

https://youtu.be/W9dOcTFN5R4

Although this kind of track laying is far more than we need, it is fascinating to watch. Has anyone at the museum actually filmed track laying? Online all I can find is ligning, tamping, and ballasting. One simply can not appreciate all the work that goes on during a work weekend, the amount of coordination amongst everyone from train crews, to track workers, etc. This past weekend was no exception. To all who plan and coordinate such valiant efforts as a work weekend, and keep most everyone busy deserve a pat on the back. As volunteers and guests alike point out, the amount of progress in a short amount of time is amazing.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Dave Buczkowski on October 13, 2017, 10:50:39 PM
People tell me RowMow Mfg has one of those on the drafting table...
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John McNamara on October 13, 2017, 11:34:30 PM
It's called "MOR-ROW"  :)
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on October 14, 2017, 05:28:14 AM
I found it interesting how the ties are thrown down, then placed correctly with another team. Its a shame there are no pictures of the two footers building track, work trains, etc. I do remember reading somewhere that the most track built in a day was around a half mile.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on October 14, 2017, 08:27:22 AM
I do remember reading somewhere that the most track built in a day was around a half mile.

Challenge accepted.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on October 14, 2017, 09:27:21 AM
What would a schedule look like if we wait on further track laying on the mainline until Mike finishes with ROW repairs on sections 2 & 3 of the permit process?  Would we be looking at 1/2 mile plus?  Could this be accomplished for the 2018 FWW or 2019?  I realize this would require a large amount of material staging.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Wayne Laepple on October 14, 2017, 09:30:58 AM
"I do remember reading somewhere that the most track built in a day was around a half mile."

On April 28, 1869, during construction of the transcontinental railroad, crews built 10 miles in one day, a record that still stands.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on October 14, 2017, 11:48:57 AM
The WW&F's record was a half mile I believe.

As for FWW 2018, we hope to be able to lay at least 1200' of track. From the current EOT to Trout brook is just over 2700'.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Reidy on October 14, 2017, 03:14:07 PM
The WW&F's record was a half mile I believe.

Was that for the original railroad, Joe?

My understanding is our museum's record is around 1500 feet during a work weekend, done in the fall of 2001, when we extended the main from just south of the Sheepscot Mills crossing to just north of the new Humason Brook trestle.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Reidy on October 14, 2017, 03:19:30 PM
I should have said over the four days of the fall 2001 work weekend.

Although now that I think of it, did we lay more track in the push from Trask's crossing to Alna Center during the fall 2003 work weekend?

Once the roadbed down the mountain ready, we should be in good shape for the track building push northward.  We have plenty of rail with matching jewelry, and the ties.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on October 14, 2017, 03:31:44 PM
If I read Mike's posts correctly, with both permit sections 2 and 3 complete we are good all the way to the bridge.  I also believe he said we can't lay track in section 2 until 3 is done as the heavy equipment will have no means of access.  Did I get this right?
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Wayne Laepple on October 14, 2017, 04:09:04 PM
There may be a few particular challenges in laying track down the north side of the mountain toward Trout Brook. For one thing, with an embankment on one side and a drop-off on the other, there won't be as much room for people to move around. Since not many trees will be removed, there will be some narrow areas to contend with. Also, Mike plans to do some ditching, some of which will be barely beyond the ends of the ties. And the grade itself will be a challenge, to make sure everyone is safe while equipment is moving materials to the work site. But I know that the regular folks will have thought all this through and will have a plan.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Russ Nelson on October 14, 2017, 07:41:20 PM
On April 28, 1869, during construction of the transcontinental railroad, crews built 10 miles in one day, a record that still stands.
Yes, and then they had to go back and rebuild it, because it was done so shoddily. They were getting paid by the mile, not by the usable mile. I'm pretty sure that the rails we laid Saturday morning for Mill Spur won't have to be redone. Lined and tamped, yes, but we were running trains on it Saturday afternoon and Sunday.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Russ Nelson on October 14, 2017, 08:11:20 PM
My apologies for not being able to give credit where credit is due, but a fellow standing next to me suggested that if we had a chute that guided the stone from the side of the flat into the gauge, that would let us unload the stone flats in record time. I added a few suggestions, like the chute should have wheels and ride on the rail head, and should be repositionable from one stake pocket to another.

But on my way home, I reconsidered that. On a day when you're laying ties and rails, you've got a lot of people. They can empty the stone train faster than it can be loaded, with six people to a side. I agree with my anonymous maker friend that it would be faster, but in terms of the system as a whole, it's an efficiency that's not needed.

A better efficiency, having laid track on both the Mill Spur on Saturday and the Main Line on Sunday, would be to get the grade as close to lined as possible. The Mill Spur was pretty darned flat. The Main Line was not, having had recently been culverted and filled with rip-rap.  I realize the world is not a perfect place, and that some improvements are already understood even if not always implementable. I'm just voting for a smooth railbed as my favorite.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on October 14, 2017, 10:08:30 PM
Bill, yes I believe to original railroads record was a half mile.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Carl G. Soderstrom on October 16, 2017, 12:07:47 AM
To read more about the track laying race read:

"Nothing Like It In The World"

It was a bet between The CP & The UP. There was considerable staging.
The CP waited till the UP had less than 10 miles to the meeting point so they could not
duplicate the feat.
The CP even took an hour for lunch.

Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Sample on October 18, 2017, 10:19:21 AM
Somewhat related to Russ Nelson's comments on directing ballast into the gauge - occasionally we have had one or two ballast handlers on the flat car - usually after it's partially emptied - pushing stone off the side with someone on the ground holding a shovel up in front of them to reflect and direct the stone under the car. This does make life easier for the ground crew.  It does take coordination and doesn't work where the car's trucks are located.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Mike Fox on October 18, 2017, 02:54:25 PM
I had thought of a simple deflector that hung on the stake pockets, but never got any further than the design in my head. Very simple.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Dave Rossi on November 02, 2017, 04:45:46 PM
As I have been fond of saying about track laying in the past: "You couldn't pay me enough to do this work, but, I'll volunteer!"

Been a long time since I've been up...  Hope to remedy that over winter. 

Countdown: 604 days -till I retire...
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on November 09, 2017, 07:03:57 PM
As Russ, and many other often say during a work weekend, they would love to build as much track per day as possible any day, rather than shovel stone. A new way to ballast would be very helpfull for both track building and maintenance. Shoveling, even at my young age, kills the wrists and finding an easier way to ballast would not offend any of our volunteers.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Baskerville on November 09, 2017, 07:15:26 PM
In reviewing our track activities, setting ties and moving and laying rail are both team tasks.  Joint bars is hard on those who have trouble getting down and back up, but not physically tiring.  Unloading ballast from the flat cars, to me, isn't that difficult or exhausting, again a team effort.  I think the hardest thing we do with new track is driving spikes.  Second would be dressing the ballast.  Digging out old ballast to change a tie is probably the most difficult task we routinely take on.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on November 09, 2017, 11:24:24 PM
Spiking is exhausting, but I am voicing what is commonly heard from the workers. My favorite comment, "you know Joe we wouldn't feel hurt at all if your dad or others build us a hopper car"
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Ira Schreiber on November 10, 2017, 01:02:59 AM
I had started a push for a replica Portland Company hopper car over 8 years ago. I still have not pushed hard enough.
Ira
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Scott on November 10, 2017, 05:49:53 AM
Ira, do you know of a drawing or photograph?
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Jason M Lamontagne on November 10, 2017, 06:27:31 AM
We have Portland Co drawings for the hopper.  I’ve wanted this for a good 15 years; in fact as originally envisioned, flatcar 126 was going to be a PoCo hopper.  Needless to say, the project changed direction.

We’ve turned down a handful of steel hopper proposals in favor of a WW&F historically based hopper- someday.

See ya
Jason
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on November 10, 2017, 07:01:05 AM
Looking at all the trackwork upcoming, I would think that the hopper construction would get bumped up the priority list.  Maybe the BOD should take a fresh look at this requirement.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Baskerville on November 10, 2017, 08:31:44 AM
In thinking of John's comment, perhaps the hopper car should move ahead of the tank car.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Jason M Lamontagne on November 10, 2017, 08:47:15 AM
There is more at play which would affect this decision, including desired fire protection on the Mountain extension (and entire line), and the availability of components which are more conducive to the tank car project.

All are relevant topics...

Jason
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Wayne Laepple on November 10, 2017, 05:00:51 PM
The side elevation and other plans for the Portland Co. WW&F hopper car were on this forum at one point, but I can't seem to find them now.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on November 10, 2017, 05:06:20 PM
Part of the discussion is in the Museum Archives section but the blueprint is no longer visible.  Maybe one of our Moderators would be able to resurrect it.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Reidy on November 10, 2017, 06:58:15 PM
I'd like to see a hopper car built to the Portland Company design, but I am much more excited to see the work the past few months on what I understand will be a tie inserter.  We have a much greater need to mechanize track maintenance than track building.  Usually we have lots of people who generously volunteer their time for work weekends when track gets built, but as time goes on, we will have a growing need for track maintenance outside of work weekends.

Big Joe has been a good start -- a tie inserter would be a great addition.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on November 10, 2017, 07:15:24 PM
The "official" thread for the hopper does include the blueprints:
http://forum.wwfry.org/index.php/topic,2705.0.html (http://forum.wwfry.org/index.php/topic,2705.0.html)
(thanks for reminding me of that thread.)

Let's please engage in hopper-specific discussions there, and keep this thread for mechanization in general.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Baskerville on November 10, 2017, 11:56:49 PM
Bill is correct.  Track maintenance when ties need to be replaced is actually much harder than new track work.  A working tie remover/inserter would be a boon to that aspect of our maintenance.  As time goes by, and our main line and years continue to grow, we will need more and more track maintenance, which like ROW mowing is growing more difficult to keep up with.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Mike Fox on November 11, 2017, 08:24:57 AM
We do have a mower for the Kubota. Just need a finishing touch..
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Wayne Laepple on November 11, 2017, 09:14:52 AM
The discussion of track construction vs. track maintenance has been going on for years. Let's just agree that building new track is way more fun than replacing ties, raising joints, tightening joint bars and cutting weeds and brush. Mechanization of that work will help but it goes only so far. So we need to figure out how to make those maintenance tasks more fun.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Jeff Schumaker on November 11, 2017, 10:55:57 AM
The discussion of track construction vs. track maintenance has been going on for years. Let's just agree that building new track is way more fun than replacing ties, raising joints, tightening joint bars and cutting weeds and brush. Mechanization of that work will help but it goes only so far. So we need to figure out how to make those maintenance tasks more fun.

Have Fred sing to us, while we work :o???

Jeff S.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Reidy on November 11, 2017, 05:34:00 PM
Having Fred sing is about all the fun I can handle.    :-\

For me, it would help to know in advance (at least a couple of weeks) when we plan a track maintenance day.  During the warm weather, we generally can't take a main line section out of service on a weekend for maintenance without affecting our public trains, so we're largely limited to weekdays.  I have a better chance of getting a weekday off if I know a date well in advance.

I happened to be on vacation in August when we had a very productive maintenance weekday, working the main line between Jayne's Way and Brook crossing.

I understand Joe (who has been pushing track maintenance this past summer) has the opposite situation -- he doesn't know his work schedule until immediately before a given date.

Would we consider publishing a calendar for 2018 listing planned track maintenance days to see if that brings out more volunteers?

Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Stephen Hussar on November 11, 2017, 05:44:39 PM
I'm in the same boat...
I understand Joe (who has been pushing track maintenance this past summer) has the opposite situation -- he doesn't know his work schedule until immediately before a given date.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on November 11, 2017, 06:04:14 PM
Maybe we should consider a couple of 3 day workweeks during the year to do mainline work exclusively.  (M-W or W-F)  Schedule it several months in advance so that some of the folks who have to travel a distance a chance to participate.  Just don't schedule it during black fly season.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on November 11, 2017, 06:17:04 PM
Hopefully the new DW will help speed up tie changing next summer. As for scheduled track work, there is always several smaller tasks that can be done such as tighten loose bolts, replace worn out joint bars, etc that is listed in the track inspection/work book. I wanted to get to the museum last month several times, however I only had 4 days off for the month and of course did not realize till it got to the 24 hour mark when the phone would ring thus starting 5 more days. What a hectic month October was.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Wayne Laepple on November 13, 2017, 08:46:25 PM
A couple of thoughts on track maintenance, if you please. The first train of the day is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. So if a track gang can get out to a designated work site between Sheepscot and Alna Center by 8 a.m., they have two hours plus to work before they have to clear up for the train. If a crew is doing spot tie work, it is not necessary to spike up individual ties before the train passes. For example, in order to clear up for the train, any track-mounted equipment would either return to the North Yard lead or take the siding at Alna Center in the clear 10 minutes before train time while a few people stay behind to spike.

After the northbound passes, work can continue, or other tasks can be done until the southbound run passes, depending on the location of the work. This sort of routine requires advance planning and setting up work limits so the train crew knows what to expect and it is incumbent on the foreman of the track gang to be constantly aware of the time so the train is not delayed. This is how it's done every day on working railroads all over the country.

If it were me, I would concentrate working from the center of each area between sidings toward the sidings, i.e., Sheepscot Mills and Rosewood, so that as work proceeds, the distance to the siding, whether it's Sheepscot, Alna Center or Top of the Mountain, is progressively shorter. After the last train of the day has run, take the tamper out and tamp each new tie inserted. The rule of thumb used on most railroads when hand tie changing takes place is one tie per hour per man, i.e. a four man crew should be able to change out four ties per hour. With mechanical assistance, better production should be achievable.

It may take some experimentation to get all the pieces to work well together, but it can work. As stated above, planning and coordination are what makes it all work.

I appreciate John Kokas' suggestion of a couple of three-day mid-week work sessions to concentrate exclusively on track work, specifically tie renewal and surfacing. With some advance scheduling, I'd make an effort to get to Maine for at least one such session.

Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Bill Baskerville on November 13, 2017, 10:24:51 PM
Wayne's plan works.  I worked with a team of three and used this method to replace missing joint bar bolts (usually where the bolt was missing due to hole misalignment.  We could usually remove a pair of joint bars, drill the hole, and reassemble the connection with plenty of time to spare.  If there were two pairs of joint bars near one another we could usually do two between trains and still have plenty of time to remove the red flags (we left the yellow ones up) before the time expired to clear the rails for the next train.  This was on the old schedule when the trains ran every hour.

The plan did require the train crew and the track foreman paying attention to necessary communication between the two groups so it could be relayed to dispatch after each train returned.

A lot of small projects could be accomplished on weekends with a little planning and coordination.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on November 13, 2017, 11:01:55 PM
All of this taken into consideration, we can try for better schedules. Next spring I hope to have a set schedule, which I could have right now if I wanted to work nights again, but right now I am chasing the money. There was hopes of regular track days this summer, but too many projects kept popping up, equipment issues, etc.

We can try for Saturday track crews, but this year was lead to too many other weekend projects and lack of interest by volunteers. And by 8:30 I tend to lose ambition for trying to recruit guys. Best bet in reality is to continue planned week days coordinated with and or around shop help. Jason and I had discussed earlier this year that two days a month for 5 months and we could surface almost all of the rough spots along with other select work in those areas at the same time.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Wayne Laepple on November 14, 2017, 07:09:44 PM
Here's the bottom line, Joe. If you really want to concentrate on trackwork, you have to assemble a crew of four or five guys who are willing to show up early and do trackwork to the exclusion of anything else that comes up at Sheepscot. You have to have a dedicated schedule that is inviolable except for heavy rain or some major crisis, and you have to stick to it no matter how much hassle you get from others. You have to be willing to start early so you can get some good track time without any interruptions, and you have to stay late so you can wrap things up after the last train has run.

Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on November 14, 2017, 07:53:14 PM
Unfortunately, it is hard to get a crew together on any day ready to leave before 9a.m. On a normal day now very few arrive before 8 which is why weekday track work is critical. Thus allowing a normal departure time of 9:30, back for lunch, and then go out again to be back by 4. Many of the weekday crew said they would be willing to bring a lunch if we get to the point of being further away from Sheepscot, and or leave a vehicle at Alna Center. On days when we advertise a weekend track crew no one shows up or ready to go till 9. Which doesn't work well. After the last few years we have gotten away from weekend maintenance and just this year started weekday work or non operating weekend day. Which I think works very well.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Richard Cavalloro on November 14, 2017, 08:38:32 PM
I could make a weekday but someone would need to teach me what to do.....
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on November 15, 2017, 03:11:25 AM
We are always eager to teach people. Sharing knowledge is always fun, and enjoyable with those willing to learn.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on November 15, 2017, 06:11:39 AM
Joe,  the reason I suggested work weekdays is so "out of towners" like myself could come up and work without dodging trains.  Also, there are other experienced hands with trackwork that can lead teams.  Both Wayne and I have done more than our share during our careers although we're not as fast as we used to be.  At the least we can teach others how its done.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Jason M Lamontagne on November 15, 2017, 08:15:47 AM
John,

I appreciate your offer and agree on weekday work, though the plan Wayne suggests for weekends has worked for us in the past and is still viable. 

I want to bring a little emphasis to the fact that we aren’t looking for a lesson here.  We’ve been doing this for a while too.   We’ll listen to new ideas and implement them when they make sense.  Experienced help is great- we want it and will happily add it to our collective. 

Thanks,
Jason
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Paul Uhland on June 15, 2020, 09:39:38 PM
That tip car sure looks handy.
Advanced Culvert Fix, Ditching, Dirtwork---A++
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on June 16, 2020, 11:14:39 AM
For the ditching work they seem to be fine.  Maybe we should reactivate more of them.  That and hi-rail gear for the kubota or finding a mini-excavator to hi-rail.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Paul Uhland on June 16, 2020, 11:50:02 AM
I'd help Mike  retro-fit the Kubota with his salvage hi-rail wheelsets, rebuild the super-handy tip cars. If nothing else, they make great trash/ballast/fill mini-haulers,
 
When youz get time  ;D
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on June 16, 2020, 08:37:33 PM
Has anyone given any thought to make a hopper and ballast chutes on a tip car frame?  May not work for big jobs but for spot work they may be just what we need.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Vincent "Lightning" LeRow on June 17, 2020, 10:00:03 AM
It's not hard to imagine the Kubota fitted with hy-rail gear and link/pin couplers, taking a couple tip cars out and ditching... all with one operator.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Mike Fox on June 17, 2020, 10:43:22 AM
It's not hard to imagine the Kubota fitted with hy-rail gear and link/pin couplers, taking a couple tip cars out and ditching... all with one operator.
Exactly. Our problem will be where to dump out the ditchings. There are a few places that could use the extra fill, but hopefully not too far from the ditching project. All in due time...
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Wayne Laepple on June 17, 2020, 11:11:41 AM
Concerning using a tip car or two for spot ballast work, adding a couple of sliding gates similar to those seen on the rear of a dump truck to the slopes of the tip car would place ballast where needed. Something like this.....
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Mike Fox on June 17, 2020, 11:20:38 AM
We had one that would tip onto the tracks, but someone unmodified it to try and use the frame for something else..
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on June 17, 2020, 01:04:54 PM
Wayne, you must have been reading my mind - that's exactly the type of slide gate we need - maybe you, me, and Mike should get together (hopefully) during FWW and draw up a prototype unit.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Mike Fox on June 17, 2020, 10:12:28 PM
Jason should also be involved because he will have some thoughts on the subject as well..
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Joe Fox on June 22, 2020, 06:40:49 AM
Dealing with extreme heat this past weekend, and our average volunteer age ever increasing, we really should have a "ballast" car and a suitable tamper that can tamp more efficiently then our current tamper.

Now I know this will highly irritate some, and say we do not have a need for a ballast car. However, as you ride along the railroad we should have ballast in several areas of in service track. I know that trucks and couplers are hard to come by, but man wouldn't it be nice to try to minimize our huge labor efforts, with our increasing volunteer shortages?

And much of the entire line could stand to be lifted and tamped, which naturally also means you need to reballast those areas or ballast ahead of time. 
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: ALAIN DELASSUS on June 22, 2020, 08:16:42 AM
I do agree with you Joe. When you are ageing trackworks especially spreading ballast and tamping it are gruelling tasks. Sticking to history and working on the line like in the  30's is of course a good thing that is actually the WW&F signature but times have changed  and volunteers are not getting any younger or more numerous so for such a task  a  bit of efficient machines wont do any harm. I was a regular track crew member in decades  at AMTP but  shoveling ballast and tamping it with a mattock really puts me off when I was over 55 but then again I was more used to working with a pen or a laptop everyday, but still.  WW&F has long proved it has many other realms in which it can comply with the historical truth and rebuilding Maine History. You could keep the traditionnal historical way to work on the line for SWW and FWW but  in other occasions it seems to me that introduce a bit of modernism may get things easier and speed them up like the rail gantry whose everyboby sounded satisfied with and , above all, you'll save your back.  My French two cent's worth of course.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Rick Rowlands on June 22, 2020, 09:44:36 AM
When Richard Craig passed away a few years ago and the Alvada Two Footer was disbanded, someone bought his ballast hopper car at the auction.  I have seen it listed from time to time for $4,500 and have not heard that it had been sold.  The car is a fully functional ballast hopper with air operated doors, and while not prototypically accurate for the WW&F, it would partially solve the problem of getting ballast out where it is needed. 

Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: John Kokas on June 22, 2020, 10:15:44 AM
Rick & Joe,

Wayne and I have been discussing and searching on this very subject.  Rick - if that ballast car still exists, please let me know.  If it's still available, I and a couple of other members would gladly shell out the $4,500.00 for it.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Ed Lecuyer on June 22, 2020, 12:28:45 PM
We (Jason and I) investigated that (or a similar) ballast car that was available for sale about a year ago. In short, it would have required too many modifications (especially with the trucks/wheels) to be usable for the WW&F (or similar two-footers.)

They do come up on occasion, but are usually scaled for backyard, mining, or amusement park 24" gauge railroads. The only true solution is to build one scaled properly for the Maine two-footers (like the one the Portland Co. designed, but never built.) That means new (or rebuilt wheels, trucks, and couplers) which are high-priced and rare commodities.

In reality, we are almost done (relatively speaking) with this current sprint of track-laying. Any further (large scale) expansion should probably be predicated by construction of a suitable ballast hopper.
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Dag Bonnedal on June 22, 2020, 03:01:23 PM
Two side tipping historic iron ore cars (blt 1912) and home built side tipping ballast car and ballast spreader.
https://museijarnvagenimariefred.se/banarbete-14-oktober-2018/

We also have one home built ballast car tipping between the rails, not needed that day.

Dag
Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Carl G. Soderstrom on June 23, 2020, 12:21:17 AM
Dag

Trevlig Midsommar!

Title: Re: Improved Efficiencies & Mechanization for Track Building?
Post by: Dag Bonnedal on June 23, 2020, 03:10:59 AM
Tack,
det samma

Dag