Author Topic: Rail Sources/Funding  (Read 4519 times)

Ed Lecuyer

  • Administrator
  • Superintendent
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,591
    • View Profile
    • wwfry.org
Rail Sources/Funding
« on: September 15, 2010, 08:06:10 PM »
MODERATORS NOTE:
Rail Sources/Funding has been converted from the pre-July 2008 WW&F Discussion Forum.
Some formatting may have been removed or modified from the original postings that appear quoted in this topic.
Information contained within this post may be superseded by more recent postings and conversations.

Dana Deering wrote:
Quote
Hey Stewart,

Thanks for all of the kind words.  Prepping that rail was a challenging task but I am so glad we decided to tackle it.  Getting the saw, drill, and rollers from Seashore was a huge help (thanks, Ira!).  We had a few problems with joint bars but all's well that ends well and the railroad advanced another 420 feet!  We need to start lobbying the Board now to purchase rail for next fall.  Wayne has located a lot of 60 lb rail and joint bars in Florida with a price tag of 500/ton.  It's all stacked and waiting to go.  Even with trucking it would be less than buying from Kovalchik (sp).  But we need to act soon.  So start politicking!

Dana

Allan Fisher replied:
Quote
Politickin does no good when there ain't no money!

The $15,000 we all need for rail will not be available until the September fundraiser. (Remember - we promised no extra fundraisers as the biggest thing that can discourage members of a non-profit is to continually ask for money)

So- help the board by finding some sugar daddys who want to see us buy rail now

And - the BOARD is us - not them. We elect them - they are also all volunteers and want to see us get rail as early as possible.

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, let me add some details concerning this stash of 60-pound rail in Florida. The owner is a somewhat enigmatic and volatile character with no interest whatever in preservation or donation of the rail, only in what he can get for it, and my concern is that he may just decide to sell the whole lot for scrap sooner rather than later.

Based on what we have most recently paid for rail from Kovalchick, including trucking to Maine, I estimate the cost of the Florida rail at about $13,600 per 20-ton load, or $680 a ton delivered. That cost is probably higher now as the cost of fuel has gone up some since our last purchase. The last Kovalchick rail was about $800 a ton, delivered.

According to James, we are about 2200 feet from Top of the Mountain and about twice that distance from Route 218. That translates to five loads of rail -- $68,000-$70,000.

Allan has pointed out, and rightly so, that we won't have the cash in hand to make this purchase until next fall. I wonder, though, if some members would be willing to step up and lend the museum some cash until the operating funds come in next fall to help buy some rail now?

John McNamara replied:
Quote
Quote
Now that the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, let me add some details concerning this stash of 60-pound rail in Florida. The owner is a somewhat enigmatic and volatile character with no interest whatever in preservation or donation of the rail, only in what he can get for it, and my concern is that he may just decide to sell the whole lot for scrap sooner rather than later.

Based on what we have most recently paid for rail from Kovalchick, including trucking to Maine, I estimate the cost of the Florida rail at about $13,600 per 20-ton load, or $680 a ton delivered. That cost is probably higher now as the cost of fuel has gone up some since our last purchase. The last Kovalchick rail was about $800 a ton, delivered.
$13,600 for a 20-ton load would provide 1000 track feet. How does this price and availability compare to the previously mentioned (somewhere) North/South Carolina rail?

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
Speaking with an individual close to the situation at the South Carolina Railroad Museum, the reality is that the 60-pound rail they have may not become available for some years, if ever. The latest grant the museum received was not enough to fully rebuild a mile of track with new ties, relay rail, ballast and surfacing. They apparently do not rely on contributions from members and friends to the extent we do to finance such projects.

Believe me, I have spent quite a bit of time researching sources of 56- and 60-pound rail, and they are drying up fast. I've been disappointed on several occasions recently when potential sources dried up almost overnight.

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Kovalchek quoted us at $720/ton F.O.B. Penna, BUT offered us $200/ton for our 70# rail if it was loaded on the same truck.
I personally spoke to Joe, so this is direct information.
Ira

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
Do we know how much 70-pound rail we have? Is there a truckload? 20 tons is about 57 rails. If so, that could be a good start. We'd be looking at less than $12,000 for a load of 60-pound rail from Kovalchick. Does that price include joint bars?

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
I inventoried the 70# last summer for Dana and that is about the correct number of rails. There are some other, lighter rails, on that pile.
The 60# did include bars,IIRC.
Ira

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
What would scrap value net us from a scrapper for those rails. Maybe we could get more than the $200 from the local scrapper. We could round up all the scrap steel on the property to get the weight up if that is what they want. If we really want to part with those rails, this might be an option to raise some rail funds.
Mike

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
I believe the local scrappers want the rail "prepared," that is, cut into 3-4 foot lengths. There's a lot of work involved in doing that, not to mention the cost of acetylene and oxygen.

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Wayne is correctin that #1 scrap must be cut up. Not worth the cost.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
I was suggesting that because of a scrapper my company ocasionally uses. They cut up everything the size they want.  And have taken everything from railings for a stairway to a Cat 988 loader.
Mike

Dana Deering replied:
Quote
I understand that there may not be funding available right now to buy rail but if the railroad decides sooner rather than later to make it a part of the fund drive or if we publicize the need and opportunity now rather than in August, we might be surprised.  I have learned that with this organization you can make a plan or have a need with no means to carry out the plan or fill the need when you start out, then, if you build support and have faith, miracles happen.  That's why I am rarely ever pessimistic about making our long term goals, I've seen too much good stuff happen at the WW&F.  So now is the time to start talking or politicking, whatever you want to call it, so we can have rail to put down in the fall of 08.  On to the Top of the Mountain!

Dana

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
I would hate to see the 70 lb rail get scrapped for one good reason, that reason is because you never know when the museum may decide to use it, or go with a little bigger rail. There are other reasons as well, such as 70 lb might be a little easier to come by also. Just my opinions on the 70 lb rail. Talk to you guys later.

Joe

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
I'll keep pounding the grass and brush looking for those long forgotten sidings. So far, nothing less than 80#. I have a few to check Saturday on the way to Albion. Probably the same result but doesn't hurt to look.
Mike

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Mike,
There is little 60# out there in the East. I have researched quite a bit and the only know quanity source is Kovelcek.
There is still some 60# out here in the Western Great Plains but transportation becomes an issue. I have found several small pockets of it but all owned by BNSF. None of it is in use, just disconnected sidings that have never been pulled up.

As far as our 70#, in my opinion, unless we use it to replace 60#, which requires comp joints, it is basically a bastard size with little resale value other than scrap.

With scrap prices as high as they are and no changes in sight on prices, we either, bite the bullet, pass, or change the rail to heavier weights which I am very opposed to.

There is still rail out there and we need to keep digging (no pun intended)to find it.
I am working with several rail brokers but nothing yet. I am rather sure they will all be in the same $/ton price range.
Ira

David Johnson replied:
Quote
Ira,
I agree on the 70 lb rail.  It is an odd size with not much out there and not much demand.  Check out the old Great Western yard at Longmont, CO to the west of the old sugar plant.  There are several tracks in there, all 60 lb and the place hasn't been used for years.  The rail looks decent but of course it is spiked down and not in a pile ready to be shipped.  It has been a little while since I was up there but I doubt things have changed.
Dave

Josh Botting replied:
Quote
IRA, et all,

Does anyone have an idea of what portion of the price is shipping per ton?

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Josh,
Price is a factor of many things including distance. On a milage basis for a full 20 ton load it can range from $2.50 to $4.00 per mile and up.
Weight is not much of a factor so we would want to load  as heavy as we could, legally.

Bill Reidy replied:
Quote
I know the Calais branch is/was mostly 80# rail on the main track, with some heavier.  Is there any 60# rail on sidings or as bridge guard rails?

I ask since I understand sections are likely to be lifted for conversion to a rail trail.  I also understand that if this does happen, it's likely to be years away.

Bill

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
I thought of the same thing Bill and asked Dana during one of our sessions. And recent photos on NERail show the size.
I was thinking more of Berlin, N.H. They have just Razed one of the old mills that was served by the railroad. The rails required a small engine like an SW to navigate the tight corners. I have not ventured that way with my tape yet but am in hopes too soon. The old Berlin Mills Railway must have had small stuff there someplace.
And the last I knew, there were miles of unused sidings on the old Bangor and Aroostock.
Mike

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
One thing to keep in mind when looking at rail still in track. It takes a lot of labor to carefully lift rail and haul it to Alna from wherever. It's not nearly as much fun to tear up track as it is to build it, and if people have to go up to Berlin or Washington County or someplace like that, they'll need to have a place to stay and eat. It takes quite a few days to pull spikes and unbolt joints on a thousand or 1,500 feet of track, especially if the bolts must be burned off. Consideration must be given to how much labor goes into track takeup that could be better used on other projects.

There's no harm in knowing what's out there, and if a scrapper is taking up track and can sell it after handling it just once, he'll usually give a pretty good price. However, the rail must be carefully inspected after it's been taken up to make sure it wasn't damaged. Some scrappers will lift track using a dozer!

Jason M Lamontagne replied:
Quote
My personal belief is that it is worth us, as an organization, making track construction enough of a priority that we buy the Kovalchick rail so we have a known, good entity.  Joe K. is very good to work with- and while he knows his value, he does not cheat people and treats his customers right.  In other words, he's a good source of consistent, good quality rail with appropriate joint bars.  Last I heard, he had an ample supply.

It would be lovely....  to find a chunk of money (grant?) to buy a large chunk of rail (several trucks?  a gondola?) from down there.

Of course this has to fit in with our other needs- but combining what is budgeted for several years worth of rail purchase may be consolidated to obtain a better value, and remove the rail 'stress' (the stress of dealing with the rail problem that is) for awhile.

Just thoughts- I'd be curious to hear if Allan thinks this is plausible, with some degree of planning.  Anyone out there think there are grant opportunities?

I think the idea also goes along with deciding on a specific obtainable destination, and knowing we have all needed arrangements in place to reach it.

see ya
Jason

elecuyer replied:
Quote
I've been searching for a grant for rails, I have a few leads. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

-Ed Lecuyer

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
With scrap prices going through the roof, is it time to inventory our rail piles and weed out rails we will never use in the foreseeable future?
We are trying to procure additional usable rail but one thing that will help
us is "trade-in" surplus rail.
I know it is time consuming, but this could save use considerable dollars in our quest for rail.

Stewart Rhine replied:
Quote
Wayne has a good point.  I have worked on lifting sidings.  It's hard work and time consuming.  Those who went over East to Hancock remember what we went through pulling spikes, cutting bolts and knocking everything apart.  Getting rail that way has to be worth the trouble i.e. the rail is a gift.  Otherwise a rail dealer is a good way to go.  You know what you are getting from people like Kovalchick.  We have solid prices from him so we can do a few things right now.

(1)First we need to create a Rail Fund.   About half of our members will renew their membership in the next 6 - 8 months.  The renewal card can have a line added for donations to the Rail Fund.   I don't think this will detract from the other items on the card.

(2) Another thing we can do is pass the hat at the Spring track meet.  This has been done before for things like Clarissa's birthday and it went very well.  Who better to ask than the folks that work so hard to extend the main line.  It is one of the top reasons people come to the WW&F.

I know it is more accounting work but we are a railroad and we need rail.  As Dana said, when you ask our members to do special things they respond in a big way.  I have seen some amazing things happen in the last 10 years and I think the rail fund would help us achieve our goal.

(3) The last idea is to make an unofficial request to members of the Forum.  Once there is a specific Rail Fund, people know that they can send funds for the purchase of rail to extend our mainline.  I will make the pledge right here - I will donate the first $100 if a rail fund is created.

Of course all of this would have to be approved by the Board but it gives us a fresh approach to raising funds for rail.  All other avenues should continue to be explored but I think people will respond to a "sure thing"

Allan Fisher replied:
Quote
Some good ideas - but I thought that we were already begging for money for rail in this topic in the forum by just talking about the problems and expense of rail.

I'll get the donation form reprinted to add rail fund. Good idea.

We have 261 members due to renew in the next 8 months - remember - more than half our membership are life members and so don't get a dunning letter. Of these 261, probably 50 will be dropped for Non payment of dues - but 200 people giving an average of $100 each would pay for next year's rail.

As for accounting trouble - there is none. Every dime that comes to the museum gets a separate line in the Secretary's Report to the Treasurer, and a thank you letter already. And the treasurer can put each line item into any category with just one entry.

We have already received over $500 in the last couple of months for track construction and wehat was not used for fall work weekend is still available for future rail and tie purchases.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
The whole reason I am looking for rail locally is because I can arrange for transport at little or no cost. Local I mean Maine/ New Hampshire. We could get a 50,000 lb load delivered. I know it would be time consuming to remove old rails but if the price is right, then it might be worth it.
Mike

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Mike...
If we could buy a carload (60-75 tons)delivered to the Maine Eastern at Wiscasset, could your free trucking be to Alna?
The rail would have to be trucked the last five miles but the railroad freight could be cheaper or even partially donated.....

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Definately. The more local the better. Something like that though, if it were delivered to a location that had a crane or large forklift to off load from the car to the truck. But we could even rent one if we had to.
Mike

Stephen Hussar replied:
Quote
Be neat to get a load of rail...by rail. (Mike, does your expertise in heavy machinery include crane operation?)

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
Unless we get a full carload of rail (75-80 tons) as a donation, shipping it into Wiscasset by rail is a non-starter. The cost of handling it at both ends, if trucking is required as well as a crane, is the first strike. Secondly, rail is shipped in gondolas, so unloading is difficult. There is also a requirement that the car be unloaded in a specific period of time, general with 48 hours of its arrival, after which a demurrage charge f up to $100 a day is assessed. Finally, railroads today are not interested in single car lots and they price accordingly. Since each railroad involved in the move wants to maximize its revenue, a car moving over three or four different railroads is going to be pretty costly. Back in the day, railroads would give a rate break to non-profits, but nowadays, when there are fewer people handling rates and transportation costs, they don't have the time or the inclination to call their counterparts on the connecting lines to negotiate a reduced rate.

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
I got pricing yesterday on a quantity of 60-pound rail in Birmingham, AL, and based on the quoted price of $132/ton delivered to Alna in 23-ton loads, the freight works out to $2.27 per mile.

This quote if for 33-foot no. 1 grade relay rail at $560/net ton and matching relay bars at $15 a pair. The entire package, including 69 rails at $15,916, $1,020 for joint bars and trucking at $3,036 equals  $16,936 per 23-ton load FOB Alna. A load will yield 1,138 feet of new track.

One rail costs $245 with bars, delivered. Who'll be the first to donate toward a load? We need 69 donors each buying a rail for one truckload. Or any combination of donations that adds up to the right number: $16,936! This price is good for 30 days, subject to change after that. My check goes in the mail on payday!

Dave Buczkowski replied:
Quote
Wayne,
I'll put my check in the mail come payday as well. It will be worth it to work with good rail and joint bars once again. Perhaps James can put in one of those fund raising thermometers that show how much we have raised and how close to the goal we are. Thanks for finding a good source of rail.
Dave

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Wayne,
I like your breakdown and approach. If Allan could put that into the renewal notice, it would be great. Especially if it all came back. How long will this rail be available?
Mike

Stewart Rhine replied:
Quote
Allan,  Thanks for your input.  I thought that creating a new RAIL FUND would prompt members to donate to the cause.   I'm glad you like my idea of adding a Rail Fund donation line on the membership renewal card.  I know only half of our members hold annual memberships but we should see a fair income from donations once people know that there is a specific fund for purchasing rail.   The Rail Fund will help us in the short and long term - it can stay in place to be added to and used each year.

Wayne, That's good news on the search for 60lb!   I will change my pledge of $100 to $245 and send my check when I get paid Friday.  We will have rail to extend the mainline next year.

Josh Botting replied:
Quote
I do not think we should overlook the option of shipping by rail.  On our end, if handeling the rail is an issue, we may be able to convince the yard to off load with that, I can faciliatate that, or we may be able to get support from Dave Clark?  If Mike can help out with transportation to ALNA.

Also, we ought to try to get a brake on rail transit.  I just saw a comerical bosting of the cheap cost of rail transit.  Might it be worth approaching Maine Eastern.  If not, it may be worth getting the rail into a steel train coming to Bath?  As for the time to unload..... Let me tell you, the steel cars are scatered all over mid coast, and the unload time is many months...

If not, we may be able to pursue getting the rail to Northern Maine Junction, I know LANE, sorry Mike, has unloaded several WWII tanks and other things for various musuems ect.  We may be able to get support to unload the rail in yard there, they have a very nice new sideing... and mobile cranes stationed right beside the sideing!

It may be worth pursueing these options, not only because it would be neat to ship rail by rail, or anything else for that matter, but because it has to be cheaper and cleaner.  All we need is people to step up and look into the issues.  I can facilitate on the reception of the rail, if someone more knowledgable than I can do the, who maybe has contacts in the industry, can facilitate the transport.

I just think this is a good idea.  Call it my pet peive, sorry Mike again, but we would be a lot better off if we used inter modal transport for long distance transport of goods...........

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Don't apologize to me Josh. I agree with what you are saying. The more we can save on transport, the more rail we can afford.
Mike

Stephen Hussar replied:
Quote
Quote
All we need is people to step up and look into the issues.
Josh, people have been looking into this, behind the scenes. Wayne and others have been searching far and wide for sources of 60# rail for quite a while. They've put a ton of effort and "phone-time" into this, and this is a pretty nice find.  

Stewart Rhine replied:
Quote
Steve's statement is right.  A number of members have been shaking the trees for 60lb rail for at least 5 years.  They have paid for the long distance calls from their own pockets.  Some have even gone to (out of service) railroads to check on rail.   That's why a Rail Fund is important.  Once a good source is found the Board can vote on the purchase and things can happen quickly before the price goes up.  Yes, stone and ties are vital but they are not hard to get.  Sixty pound rail is, and I think we should stay with 56 - 60lb for the mainline.  I would not go to a higher size of rail for availability.

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Both Wayne and I have been actively seeking 60# rail and Wayne's find seems to be the "Mother Lode" for the present.
I went on a 100 mile roud trip to investigate a 60# rail source in Longmont, CO on the Great Western railway, only to find:
a. the rail is 75#
b, it had several hundred boxcars stored on it.
This is what you run into.
We know of the Kovalchick source and AK also has 60# rail.
From there it is price, price, price!
Ira

David Johnson replied:
Quote
Ira,
For what it's worth, you weren't looking at the same track as I did in the spring of 2004 in Longmont.  I was shopping for 56-60 lb rail at the time and the rail I saw was 60 lb.  The Boulder group also had enough 55-56 lb. rail in a pile for about 2 semi loads.  We talked about a purchase but never negotiated a price.  They were willing to sell but you would have had to pick through it to get usable rails.  The bars weren't very good but there were plates to go with the rail.
Dave

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
A few days ago, it was asked how long the price was good on the rail from Birmingham. The quote is good for 30 days, subject to prior sale. That's standard language. If somebody else shows up with a check before we do, it's theirs. After 30 days, we'll have to get a new quote.

As I understand it, there is a considerable amount of this rail available, as in several miles of it, but I don't know whether there are bars for all of it.

I suspect if someone looks into the facts concerning all those cars of steel sitting around on the Maine Eastern, it will be found that someone is paying storage charges or demurrage on them. Unless there is a contract, as far as I know, demurrage must be charged to the customer. The owner of the car must receive compensation for the value of the car itself. Freight cars aren't free.

Josh Botting replied:
Quote
My point there was that not to take away from the efforts of anyone who has worked to secure rail for us.  I just cannot fathom that it is cheaper to transport rail over long distance, assumeing that we can afford a full cars worth, by rail as opposed to trucking it, and that there are other options out there that we can pursue.

James Patten replied:
Quote
I found some rail out in California a few years ago.  I forget the exact price to ship it on BNSF (to Chicago), but it was around the price of the rail itself.  And that was before shipping it over CSX or NS and Guilford to get it to Maine.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
A local source (New England) of 70# rail has just come up. The price is right and transportation might not be a problem. I know it is larger rail but we might want to consider transitioning to this. Anybody know a source for transition joint bars? Would need only 4.
Mike

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
This is Dana's call.

However, for the record, 70-pound is a "bastard" size, and finding joint bars if they are not included will be a problem. Also, if no 60/70 compromise bars are available, they can be made new, but they won't be cheap.

Jason M Lamontagne replied:
Quote
I hope we don't switch to 70 pound rail... There have always been a few reasons in my mind- enumberated as follows:

1.  Rails harder to handle.
2.  Railroad which is less like the original.
3.  Track structure which is proportionally too stiff for our equipment.
4.  A rail system with so many different sizes can be cumbersome to maintain.

Maybe the advantages of switching outweigh these.  I'd be curious to hear what Dana and others think of this subject also.

see ya
Jason

Bruce Wilson replied:
Quote
With the challenging grades and curves encountered on the old Edaville route, I always appreciated treading upon the heavy rail found between the station platform and the top of the grade at "Cranberry Valley". Also there was heavy iron from "The Woods" to "Mount Urann".

The 70lb. stays put as well, needing less maintenance.

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
There may be advantages to using 70-pound rail, on The Mountain, for example, but I'm with Jason on this. Unless someone can show me a compelling reason to change up to larger rail section, I favor staying with 60-pound.

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
As I have mentioned before, 70# is a very rare and extremely odd size. The profile does not lend itself well to matching up with 60# in transition.
Bars are even harder to find, although you can make or buy splice bars, which do not have nearly the strength of angle bars.
My vote, if I have one=NO

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
A thought...
If we can get 70# VERY cheap, it might be worth getting it to use as trade bait with Kovalchick, as Joe K. said he would give us $200/ton for our 70#.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
The rail is still in place and lifting would be up to us. I have forwarded an e-mail to Dana so he can have all the facts and contacts. The way I read it, there is possibly 4 miles with switches. That's enough rail to reach Head Tide and have some left over. And according to the height gauge, it is less than 1/2 inch taller than what we are currently using.  That little difference would hardly be noticable.
Mike

John McNamara replied:
Quote
Quote
A thought...
If we can get 70# VERY cheap, it might be worth getting it to use as trade bait with Kovalchick, as Joe K. said he would give us $200/ton for our 70#.
A nifty idea.

Bruce Wilson replied:
Quote
I agree with Mike that visually there is little difference and share Wayne's thought that laying heavier rail on The Mountain may be a good idea. Also, if a crossing is to be made someday on 218, heavier and taller rail would take highway traffic with less damage to the track structure.

James Patten replied:
Quote
All we need for the Mountain is a mile, at most, and probably more like 3/4 mile.  The rest can be shipped off to Kovalchick in trade.

BUT we have to weigh the pros and cons of needing to lift 4 miles of track.  When we lifted the rail from Sammis's line in Hancock (a mile long line, plus loose sticks in the woods), it took us about 5 years to do so, at one or two weekends a year.  Very few were left back at Sheepscot.  Granted our volunteer base has grown somewhat since then, but so has the scope of our Sheepscot operations.  And I'm quite certain we won't have 3 years (or 12!) to lift the rail.  So we're looking at dedicating a crew every weekend for several months - or finding a crew that's willing to spend a couple of weeks on it.  Or paying somebody to do it.  Are we willing to do that?

Dana Deering replied:
Quote
OK,  my initial reaction to 70 lb rail was that I really don't want to go that big if we can avoid it, for reasons already stated in other posts.  However, if finding 56-60 lb rail and raising the funds to buy it are going to be difficult to the point where we can't lay rail next fall then I may be more open to 70 lb rail.  I read the PM from Joe about this rail in MA but I need more details.  I am still hesitant but not yet completely against it.  Not a very decisive answer but there it is.  I would really hate to be forced to slow down or halt track building completely when we are so close to our goal of reaching 218.  During the last two sessions we have laid about 1050 feet when, if we had had the rail, we could have put down 2600 feet easily.  So we are 1600 feet behind where we could and should be.  I don't want to fall farther behind if possible.

Dana

Dave Buczkowski replied:
Quote
I think what Dana means is that you should send in your checks for 60# rail ASAP. Today is payday for many of you so dig deep!
On the same note, will my rail come monogramed or signed by Shack?
Dave

Dana Deering replied:
Quote
Good to have my lawyer on board to wade through my fine print!  Let's make an all out effort to stick with rail no heavier than 60 lb.  The best scenario would be to buy from Kovalchik and get good rail with the bars, delivered, so we can spend our limited time doing other work.  I'll be sending in my donation right after Christmas.

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
I have located 41,000' of #1 relay 60# rail! It is all stacked and ready to be loaded. This is about 4 1/4 miles of track. (Easy math) or about 400 tons. They also have matching bars.
The seller has indicated that rail transport is much cheaper than trucking and he is getting me prices and rates.
Details at 11:00.....
Ira

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
The message was originally sent to me, and the price is unbeatable no matter how you look at it. I don't want to say much about it, and in fact, I was hoping to keep it private, but it is obvious it is out now. I don't want to say too much, so all I will say is that the reason why the guy contacted me about it, was because of some things I said about the WW&F looking for rail. He said that the 4 miles of rail, including switches will be scrapped before long, and the town would really like to see another steam tourist railroad re-use the rail. I hope we can get the 70 lb rail, because like I said, it is 4 miles and is possibly a lot cheaper than 60 lb rail, even cheaper than 32 lb for that matter. That all I will say about it. If Dana wishes everybody to know anything else, well, that's up to him. The guy said it is in good condition as well. I understand the reasons against this, however, due to price, and the reason why we would get the rail, it can not become trade rail. If it does, than I am sure the town that we would be getting the rail from would be very mad at the WW&F. Talk to you guys later.

Joe

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
The 60# rail I am investigating is NOT the 70# rail Joe is talking about in his post.
Same distance,4 miles, but different locations.
Ira

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
It may be time for the BOD to look at borrowing funds to purchase all 4 miles of 60# rail. This would secure our future fo the next 5-10 years.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
I am sure if pursued, the entire length would not have to be taken. A deal can probably be struck for whatever we would like. But that can be left in Dana's hands. IMHO, free is pretty cheap.
Mike

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
There are a number of questions regarding the 70-pound rail that would have to be answered. For example, would we have to dispose of the old ties and smooth the roadbed? What sort of road access is there? How would we load rail on trucks? Has anyone inspected the rail and checked for wear? What about the joints? Would bolts have to be torched off? Would the municipality in which the track lies require us to have liability insurance? What about bridges?

Free may be cheap, but it isn't free.

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
I will ask the guy these questions for you Wayne, and reply back when I get the word. Talk to you guys later.

Joe

p.s. The rail is supposed to be in good condition, and has very little wear. There is also a few yard tracks that the town would like to have ripped up as well, however, I am not sure what they want to be done with that.

petecosmob replied:
Quote
I had a thought,...JUST a thought!
If the 60# supply looks good and it is decided not to use the 70#stuff, I wonder if MNGRR or the Sandy River guys might be interested in any of it? It's entirely possible that niether group has much use for it, however....it never hurts to ask!
Pete

gordon cook replied:
Quote
I'm slightly confused at this point. ( Not just my usual confusion, but in particular about the availability of 60#rail.)
I believe we have been working under the assumption that 60# rail was not likely to be available except from Kovalchick for a premium price. Indeed, I thought we grabbed the chair company rail because of the difficulty of locating rail locally, even though it was a PITA to fix up.
But, both Ira and Wayne apparently have found alternative sources, albeit not very close, plus the 70# stuff that Mike and Joe Fox have located not too far away.
I think we all appreciate that Mike and Joe have found some good rail locally at a fabulous price. However, if we need to dismantle and recover  it ourselves I believe that doubles the amount of work needed to use it, and that doesn't make sense if we can afford to buy rail.  I also second other's practical and aesthetic objections.

Questions:
Do we need to jump on buying all the rail we can ASAP because of the dwindling supply of 60# rail or can we just continue to buy as needed?
Could/should we buy the cheaper rail now but leave it in place until we need it, stretching out the cost of transport?
If we do need to secure a supply right now, is there an 'official' position on funding or fundraising to do so?
_________________
Gawdon

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
To answer a couple of Gordon's questions. There is plenty of 60-pound rail available, if you want to pay the price and the cost of transportation, both of which keep climbing. In addition to railroad use, 60-pound rail is favored for mine props and fence stakes. The demand for heavy melting scrap continues to increase, and we all know which way fuel prices are moving.

It is my belief that the best use of our resources is to buy the rail we need to reach a logical stopping point (Route 218, I presume) and stockpile it for now. It becomes an asset which appreciates in value. It is certainly possible (perhaps even probable) that in two or three years, we won't be able to afford the purchase of rail.

While I appreciate the efforts of Mike and Joe concerning the 70-pound rail relatively nearby, the logistical challenges associated with its removal and salvage are quite daunting. Even lifting a mile of track could occupy every warm body available every weekend for a couple of months.

Taking delivery of three or four truckloads of rail at Sheepscot or Alna Center, or even a carload delivery at Wiscasset, will not overextend our physical resources, even though it may stretch our bank account to the limit!

To my knowledge, the board has not taken a position on any of this. Ira has rquested permission to "trade" what 70-pound rail we have stockpiled at Alna Center to Kovalchick for a like amount of 60-pound rail, but I am unaware whether the board has acted or will act on this request. Even so,  a "trade" still requires about $12,000 to offset the $720/ton price of the 60-pound rail as compared to the $200/ton offer for the 70-pound rail, not to mention the cost of hauling the rail around.

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
I second what Wayne has said about rail. 60# is available for a price. As a
comparison, I have requested a price on new 60# rail from L.B. Foster for comparisons sake. This is rail from Poland and China.
The price we have from Waynes source is close to $200/ton less than Kovalchick.
As soon as I have firm numbers, I will relay the news.
My crystal ball is as cloudy as others, but I see rail prices climbing and sources getting harder to find. We can probabally borrow funds, if necessary, at favorable rates that would hedge against inflation and provide us a rail source. This would eliminate the annual search for rail and better utilize our track laying crew.
This may very well be a prudent move that we will be glad in later years that we bought the rail.
I have not formally requested the Board to consider the Kovalchick trade. This will be an alternate source for rail if the present source falls through.
Ira

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
So if there was such a supply of 60# rail around, I second Gordon's question of why we even bothered with the chair factory rail. Joe was the one contacted about the 70# stuff. I just brought it up here.
I guess if we are going to secure enough rail to reach 218, we need to know exactly how far that is. It would be too bad for someone to guess and we make it to Trout Brook only.
Mike

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Mike,
Because Wayne and I were not involved!
Seriously, I don't know why as I did not get involved in rail until last year.

It takes time to dig this stuff up, literally and figuratively.
We are competing for rail with mines, scrap dealers and a few other railroads. The huge demand for scrap has driven prices up 500% in the last six or seven years. It is tough to compete in that marketplace.
Thirty years ago I got a contract to scrap 11 miles of railroad. Based on my experience, it was barely worth the effort. The rail paid for all the labor costs and the only profit was in used tie sales. The only way to pull rail is one spike at a time or else you risk bending the rail. This is very labor intensive.
Ira

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Too bad you guys weren't pounding the rail all along. It would be nice to work with rail that we have matching joint bars for.
And there was never any doubt that the lift of rail was time consuming and Labor intensive. But thought it might be worth looking in to to keep our rail costs down while enabling the museum to grow elsewhere (restrooms, roundhouse, storage building) with the money saved.
Mike

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
Actually, Mike, I have had an eye open for 60-pound rail almost from the time I joined the museum in 2001. I was able to get the 60-pound rail we got from the Aberdeen & Rockfish in NC as a donation, and I've also been able to find bars and switch points. The problem is that 60-pound rail was obsolete 40 years ago, and most railroads got rid of it then because it was too light to support 100 or 120-ton freight cars. (Just for context, very little rail under 100-pound is now being installed on standard gauge railroads because cars are now approaching 150 tons gross weight and engines can be over 220 tons.)

I'm 500 miles away from Sheepscot and only get there a couple of times a year. I know my influence and opinions extend only so far, but I figured seeking out rail we can use is something I can do from afar.

Initially, I concentrated my efforts on finding appropriate rail in the Northeast so we wouldn't be faced with the expense of transporting it over long distances. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in finding any available at a price lower than what we have been paying. So I widened my search, and I was glad that Ira was interested expanding the search as well. What I have brought forward is the result of numerous phone calls and time spent. It's the best we have been able to find at this time, and if the board decides to stick with Kovalchick and/or go after the 70-pound rail you and Joe have located, I'm fine with that, too. And I'm also fine if the decision is to do nothing for the time being, to instead concentrate on restrooms, storage buildings or a roundhouse.

James Patten replied:
Quote
Putting on my Director's hat...

If anyone wants to propose something, write it down and present it at a board meeting - or present it to someone who will be at a board meeting.  Right now there's far too many unknowns and competing offers for me to make sense of any of it.  The Board of Directors meets the second Friday of every month at 4:30.

gordon cook replied:
Quote
Thanks to Ira and Wayne for their work and clarifications. I think I've got the picture now.
I didn't mean to criticize the purchase of the chair company rail: indeed, I was part of that and IIRC we had tried to get it a few years prior before the property changed hands, so it was known that it needed work to be used.
Anyway, as James noted, it seems like it's up to the BOD whether to reconsider funding priorities based on the current trends in rail price and availability so talk to your friendly director.
It would be nice to know that we have that vital part of the WW&F's future secured. We're all looking forward to that first train with #9 up and down the mountain.
_________________
Gawdon

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Thank you, James.
As soon as we get some firm numbers on the Birmingham rail, Wayne and I will put together a proposal for the Board to consider.
I consider that this will be a starting point, but we should have some realistic options.
Ira

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Wayne, I agree with you. Whichever way the board would like to go is also fine with me. But I think there should be one person or group to present the board with the findings. A rail representative, so to speak. That way the board does not have 2 or 3 different people approaching them about rail.
Also should have all the answers before we act. In the case of the 70#, I don't think your questions have been answered yet. And I came up with another. What about the crossings? Will we have to pull that rail and repair the holes? Or can we leave them in place. Maybe an organized trip there would be warranted before presenting any findings to the board.
Mike

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
That's an excellent question, Mike. I hadn't thought about it. Based on my previous experience, I'd say we would have to remove the crossings and repave -- another expense. In the bad old days, you could just torch the rail off on either side and slap a little blacktop in the flangeways, but those days are long gone!

Jason M Lamontagne replied:
Quote
I second James statement- I actually had something similar typed out yesterday- with my finger on the submit button- and my laptop battery died...

Anyway- there is a lot of information here.  As a board member- I'd love to see the board consider some options- several choices would be great.  A truckload from here- a truckload from there- a several year's supply worth or get by year by year.  We've never evaluated such options because we've never had them.  It seems that now, due to a number of efforts, we have some of these options.  We just need information "packaged and shipped."

I think projects like the search for rail are the perfect way for members like Wayne and Ira (i.e. who are too far away to be here as much as they'd probably like) to add a lot of value to our efforts.  A lot of us who are dug in the trenches at Sheepscot Station are usually too focused on keeping up with things that it's tough to think outside the box and search out new possibilities like this.

see ya
Jason

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Very well put,Jason.
Wayne and I are gathering up all the information we can. Once we have it,we will digest it, refine it, and present it as a number of options. This should make a BOD decision relatively easy as they will have all the options in front of them.
As an aside, our Birmingham source indicated that a 90 ton shipment (.8 mile of track) would be a fraction of the trucking cost, which would be four trailer loads. Rail should win out.

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
Ok, here is the recent info on the 70 lb rail. The ties are compost now he says, and don't need to be torn up. No trains have run on the track since 1938. Some pictures I have seen, show the rail in good condition, by good, I mean a lot better than the chair factory rail. The bolts would need to be cut off, but no big deal. I hope the museum goes with the 4 miles of 70 lb in Mass. versus the 60 lb rail in Colorado where Ira is at, because the price is better, and no matter how you try and look at it, it will be cheaper to go with the 70 lb rail. Reading all of the comments here on the forum, it seems like there is no interest in this rail. The rail seems to come up easy enough, because this guy managed to load four rails onto a trailer attached behind his pickup truck. I know it is heavier, but look at the bright side, it is 4 miles, and includes complete switches. The guy just told me that if the museum is interested in the 70 lb, there is still a lot more down there that needs to be torn up.

Joe

Stephen Hussar replied:
Quote
But where could 4 miles of rail even be stored... I would guesstimate that there must be about 300 sticks per track mile. So that means approx 1,200 sticks to salvage and store somewhere...

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Joe,
The 60# that Wayne and I are looking at is in Alabama, not Colorado. I am also checking some potential sources in Colorado.
I realize the closer to Maine, the cheaper the transportation.
As a comparison 60# rail is 4 1/4" high and 70# rail is 4 5/8" or 3/8"difference.
Steve,
Storage is not really a big problem as there are several accessable locations and potential for others. They key is road access for semi's.
Jason,
Is the 70# really a no-no?
It is physically not much larger than 60# and weighs 100#/30'more. I am sure the original railroad would have jumped at the chance to get a heavier cross section rail especially in the China Bog area. Four miles of any rail assures our future and takes a big question mark out of our future planning.
Ira

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Hello Ira,
I have been reading with interest about various options to get rail for the WW&F.  I believe there are many miles of abandoned or railbanked rail lines in the Northeast which may over time become available for salvage, like the 70 lb rail in MA.  Therefore it makes sense to me that a resourceful group such as the WW&F would find a means to acquire such rail.

I recall that a large salvage project by IRM (Illinois Ry Museum) in the 1980s involved using a small dozer or backhoe, a welded "sled" which was chained to the end of several lengths of rail, and then pulled forward to a salvage area where a team worked on it with the tools necessary.  Something like this could be figured out by you clever folks I am sure, after all laying rail has become something of a production line.

I am sorry I have not figured out my setup to post this online.  Please share this thought with Wayne L. and others. I hope you guys will take advantage of your local opportunities.  Logical endpoints for extension of the WW&F are Wiscasset and Albion (why hold yourself back?).  A shorter term endpoint would be Rt 218.  Near term endpoints may be the highway bypass to the south and Head Tide to the north.  An more longer term endpoint... half way to Albion?

Good luck,
Olin Anderson

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
If this track in Mass. has lain unused since 1938, a major logging operation will be necessary to salvage the track materials. Even if it's been sitting since 1983, that's still 24 years, long enough for some good-sized trees to have grown up. Just take a look at the East Broad Top, which closed in 1956. I can show you places where tree roots have actually encapsulated the rail! I still have a lot of questions about who owns the track and their authority to give away this material. We're talking about nearly 500 tons of heavy melting scrap, probably worth something like $90,000.

elecuyer replied:
Quote
I know where this 70# rail in Mass. is...

The good news is that it has been untouched since the 1930s, and is in great condition. There are no trees whatsoever obstructing its access or the right-of-way. Certainly, all the ties have rotted away. As a bonus, there are no active grade crossings to contend with. And, we don't have to clean up the roadbed when we're done.

It is, infact, on a single swath of publicly owned land. Permission to salvage will not be a problem.

The bad news is that it is the former Athol branch of the Boston and Albany, and it is lying at the bottom of the Quabbin Reservoir.

:-)

Josh Botting replied:
Quote
If by some small miracle, we come up with funding for a rail car of rail, someone let me know, and I will get offloading services.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Joe showed me the pics and in the guage looked open. But as Wayne had noted and I saw, a tree root had grown against the rail. Probably no big deal unless it grew all the way around the rail. Also in his email he recieved, it stated there was also some 80# rail. How much is not known but that might make for trade in rail or leave for someone else. Perhaps a road trip is in store to have an Idea what the entire site looks like and get an idea what would be needed and what to be done.  Any takers? We can arrange something.
Mike

petecosmob replied:
Quote
I wish I was back "home" in CT right now! I'd GLADLY drive out to look at the rail! so,....is the actual location THAT much of a risk to National Security that the town at least remain secret?? I could always GoogleEarth the location-best I can do from here in Iraq.
OH! I meant to clarify in my last post,...I was wondering if the museum decided to go with the 60# stuff if MNGRR or SRRP would be interested in the HEAVIER stuff! I think that may have gotten muddled.
Pete

John McNamara replied:
Quote
Quote
Perhaps a road trip is in store to have an Idea what the entire site looks like and get an idea what would be needed and what to be done.  Any takers? We can arrange something.
Those wishing to go on the trip will be tied up and blindfolded while Joe and Mike drive them to an undisclosed location in Massachusetts. The routing will be exceptionally circuitous to prevent the blindfolded riders from guessing the route. Arrival at the destination will be at night so that the travelers' views will be limited to only the in-place rails spotlighted by Joe and Mike.

Dave Olszewski replied:
Quote
Hi,

I learned about new volunteers rebuild Downeast Scenic Railroad between Ellworth and Brewer. I think it would be 26 miles. I checked their website. Oh it show they got $80,000.00 grants from MDOT. They are going to run new excurston train trip there. See copy artices here.

<span style="color: blue">The S.T.A.R. Center, railhead, trailhead, rail museum and multimodal facility has received a $80,000 planning grant from the Maine Department of Transportation.  The four partners on the project, the Downeast Rail Heritage Preservation Trust, the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce,  the Sunrise Trail Coalition and the City of Ellsworth will combine to raise the needed 20% match.  This study will focus on locations and access and further the development this facility.

I was wondered how come WW&F RR did not get grants from MDOT?

Dave

Stephen Hussar replied:
Quote
Dave, each year the MDOT provides $6-7 million in community enhancement grant money to a variety of projects. While I'm sure certain museum projects qualify, the general concensus seems to be that the amount of paperwork and oversight would require full-time project management by one or two volunteers. This is one of those things that several volunteers have been brainstorming behind the scenes for years.  http://www.maine.gov/mdot/community-programs/enhancement-program.php

James Patten replied:
Quote
Harry Percival was always leery of government programs, and wanted us to avoid government grants because of any strings that may be attached.  However, like George Washington's wishes about the US not becoming involved in Europe's wars, that view of things will change in time.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
I guess it really is no big secret to the location. But I'm still not telling. Some place in Mid-eastern Mass. Just want to get some more facts on it before really revealing. And either a yeah or Nay from Dana if he thinks it should be persued.
Mike

petecosmob replied:
Quote
Ok,...I just put 2+2 together...but it's OK!! I won't tell! I Promise!
Well, I have an idea where it COULD be,...but I may be wrong.
Anyway, in typical Militairy fassion...I can niether confirm nor deny...

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
The first thing I'd be doing is going to the location "in mid-eastern Mass." with a pair of calipers to measure the rail. I'd be taking along a piece of chalk to highlight the information on the web of the rail to confirm it is 70-pound. I have been told that a lot of it is 80-pound, not 70.

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
The rail, from what I understand, can be pulled out by an ATV and some rope, or chain. The guy said that the town has told him that it is mostly 70 lb, however, there is also 80 lb if the museum should ever become interested in the 80 lb. He also says that there are other major sources of 70 lb rail in that area as well.

Joe

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
While relaxing after the turkey feast, I went into my "what if" mode.

If we are able to secure 300-400 sticks of rail, which is about a mile of track, where would we store it?

From the current end of track, where would a mile of new track put us in relation to Trout Brook and highway 218?

I have some suggestions, but I would like the answers before I go forward with my after dinner ideas.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Ira, for rail storage, perhaps something could be built at Alna Center. Someplace we could get a truck into. This would enable us to only have to handle it again when it is time to use it. But most likely a new stack will be built farther up the line, perhaps close to MP 7, and all rail hauled to there.
As far as the 70# rail goes, Steve H. did a little research and found one stick of 60#, some 80# and took a picture of 107#. All on the same line. So with this and other new information, I am dropping any interest in that line unless there is enough concern to look it over again. The proof was in the photos. Looks like easy access but entirely the wrong size. But I'll keep my tape measure handy to check anything I find during my travels.
Mike

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
Thanks for your help, Mike.
We will find good rail, I just don't know where or when.
Far up the line for rail storage makes sense.
Should we start planning on the Trout Creek bridge?  Permitting, plans, etc. all take time as well as money.

o anderson replied:
Quote
So they ripped up maybe 1.5 to 2 miles of the Edaville loop in recent years.  Is that rail just sitting there?  Would be a worthwhile acquisition - and maybe even be historic rail from Maine....
O. Anderson

Bruce Wilson replied:
Quote
Some of the rail removed at Edaville was worn out and sold for scrap. The vast majority of the rail is stored pending re-use.

Stephen Hussar replied:
Quote
Bruce, as I recall there was a very long section near Mt Urann where both rails had their base narrowed by approximately 1 inch. It looked like these strips had been removed to allow these "newish" looking rails to be slid into existing spike lines from perhaps the original rails that had been removed. Sounds crazy, but that's how it looked. Was this the case? Also in the area of the sawmill each joint had weld on it. Was this done to smooth the ride...or was there another purpose?


Bruce Wilson replied:
Quote
Stephen,

I was told that the heavy rail on the approach to Mt. Urann had been used for street running and that the base of the rail machined to allow for a gaurd rail.

The welded joints that you saw in "the woods" were largely to take up for end batter wear and to repair broken rails.

During a morning track inspection in December of 2000, I was operating the Edaville "track inspection critter" (which was a riding lawnmower with fairmont wheels welded to homemade hubs) and on approaching "the woods",  I could see the early morning sunlight glinting off a broken steel rail down the far end of the stretch, down by the sawmill. The broken rail had occured the night before and was the result of the rail having a notch torch cut in its base years earlier (for a spike or bolt) and the tie under that spot disintergrating. Continual pounding set up a crack that grew from the torch cut and ultimately the rail broke.The shop crew came out upon my radio call in and torch cut bolt holes on either side of the break and attached a new set of joint bars.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Sounsd like a Joint bar I found on the WW&F my first trip down. There are 3 bars and one piece of rail. The rail is only about 6 inches long.If it was a break in the rail there, it was a clean break. Still interesting to see how they patched up something to get by until more time or money was available.
Mike

o anderson rep
Ed Lecuyer
Moderator, WW&F Forum