Author Topic: Tamper Car  (Read 2443 times)

Ed Lecuyer

  • Administrator
  • Superintendent
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,632
    • View Profile
    • wwfry.org
Tamper Car
« on: December 13, 2008, 05:17:05 PM »
MODERATORS NOTE:
Tamper Car 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Information contained within this post may be superseded by more recent postings and conversations.

Joe Fox wrote:
Quote
I think that before a hopper car gets built, a tamper car should be built, because it is easier to put down ballast than it is to tamp, and tamping requires a much larger crew. Somebody, in the near future should really look into buying a tamper, or two foot gauge tamper, or building one at the museum ourselves.

When the track gets to be about 3 miles long, which won't be to much longer, we will need to have more compressor cars, that can each have at least 4 air lines, and I think that about 4 compressor cars would be needed to tamp the entire line, each car having about 8 guys with it. Therefore a tamper car that does the tamping for you would only require, at the most, 2 guys to run it, and I am guessing that it can go about 1-2 miles per hour, so the entire line could be tamped before the first train even left the station.

Just my opinion that's all.

Joe

James Patten replied:
Quote
Joe, take a look at the Welsh Highlands Railway.  They purchased a used Plasser two-foot gauge tamper, from France I believe.  I think they had to go through a number of hoops with it, because it was inoperable.  If they mention any prices, remember to take pounds and double it to get US dollars.

A vehicle like this is a significant investment.  By that I mean well more than $100,000.  Brand new standard gauge ones I think cost $2 million or more.

It's possible that one could be found in Australia (they had over 1800 miles of sugar cane two foot roads at one time) but it's likely to be a) inoperable, b) expensive to purchase, and c) really expensive to ship overseas.

Keep in mind as well that we like to pretend it's 1910 or thereabouts.  We would need a place to hide the tamper when not in use.

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
Ok. I was just thinking of having something like that rigged up though, because if not, then it will take days to tamp the line, especially when Dana can only get 2 willing volunteers to go up and help tamp the line all day. Keeping the track in good working order will be a serious problem in the near future I think, because there aren't many people that like to do track maintenance.

Joe

sgprailfan replied:
Quote
Thats a neat Idea!

Josh Botting replied:
Quote
Joe,

I haven't seen you on the business end of the tampers.  We need to address the tamper issue between now and the spring track weekend.  It took my hands 2 weeks to recover.  Further while tamping the sideing thiss fall, it took much less time for my hand to cramp up.  I know others have faced similar problems.

We discussed options, we discussed adding pads to the handles.  Dana, BOB?

Anyway this may warrent a seperate thread, James?

jkb

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Though it would be nice to have a mechanical tamper, once we reach a stopping point for the railroad, the track work weekends could then be used to maintain the track that is in service. And there will be a need for work crews about every weekend to maintain that track. But that is all in the future.
Mike

Jason M Lamontagne replied:
Quote
I've envisioned one of the four wheeled chassis rigged to hold two or four of the hand held tampers on a sprung overarm, said arm doing most of the work holding the rig.  The spring would hold it up when not needed and down into the work when used.  Operators would follow this along.  the vibration issue is seperate as they would still need to be manipulated by hand.

In trying to keep an old-fashioned approach to track work, I thought this wsa a decent compromise as track would still be leveled using hand jacks, by eye and manual instruments.  This keeps the human element in the work as was the case in old-time railroading.  We need to cheat with the tampers, and therefore we ought to find a way to make handling them easier.

Such a rig could be built in little time (3-5 days), and would remove the weight aspect from moving the tampers.  It would run down a track lifted on track jacks, between the jacks.  With a bit more rigging, I think the operator wouldn't have to hold the tamper directly, but rather an arm which would control it.  With yet more rigging, you could have one operator run numerous tampers.  I've thought of ways to do all this stuff- it's a little unorthodox but it'd work I believe.  Rigging is old fashioned too!!

Dana?

see ya
jason

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
That would be a good way to start I think Jason. I'm not worried about the weight of the tamper, I am just tring to think of a way so that the tamping crew can go faster, and not worry about cramps as Josh said. Maybe we should try that idea Jason, and see how well it works out? Anything can work, when it is built properly.

Josh, I have opperated a tamper several times over the summer, and after a while your fingers hurt, and you can't even pick up the tamper.

Joe

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
Just a couple of weeks ago, I happened upon a very old tamper at a shortline railroad. This machine had eight tampers exactly like our jitterbugs mounted on outriggers raised and lowered by air cylinders. The tampers were mounted in pods of four. Each pair of tampers also had a smaller horizontal cylinder between them which provided the "squeeze" function. Everything was mounted on a small self-propelled vehicle. In a few weeks, I'll try to get back to that machine and take some detailed photos, especially of the pods.

I remember seeing a similar machine years ago with a single pod designed to tamp one rail at a time. Perhaps we could build a version for two-foot gauge with provision for the pod to slide from side to side to tamp both rails. I envision something that would be pushed along by hand, with a cart carryng a compressor following. It would be difficult to make something self propelled because of the need to stop and start every foot or so.

Dave Crow replied:
Quote
Wayne,

A fellow in Baltimore owns a switch tamper.  Unlike typical mainline tampers where the heads are fixed in place at track gauge,  the switch tamper has eight "guns" in groups of four, as you described.  The two groups can be hydraulically slid side-to-side along the mounting rail.  This allows the tamping groups to tamp around the rails of a switch as they diverge.  We use it in Baltimore at the streetcar museum since the track gauge there is 5' 4-1/2"; there is no need to rebuild the tamping heads for the broad gauge due to the mounting rail.

The monster is self-propelled; the only drawback for 2' use would be the fact the width of the machine would prevent the wheelsets from being moved in enough for WW&F use.

Dave Crow

Stephen Hussar replied:
Quote
How about an arm like this to hold a tamper? With one end attached to a railcar, and the other end holding the jitterbug out in front of you...

I'm half-kidding, but can anyone guess what this is? Those coils you see are in fact springs...


_________________
*                *                    *                   *
"Give me enough Swedes and whiskey and I'll build a railroad to Hell."
- James J. Hill

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
Something to keep in mind about tampers and track machinery in general: two hours of maintenance for every hour of operation.

These things all tend to shake themselves apart, no matter how stout they look. Just think about our fairly limited experiences with jitterbugs. I spent time in the shop snugging bolts up, cannabalizing one to keep others going, etc., and I know Dana and others have also had to tinker with them from time to time. Right now, at least one and possibly two of the ones we have are inoperative.

Over the next four months, it might be worth it if someone took the time to go over our machines. I'd also suggest a trip to the nearest Ingersoll-Rand dealer for some spare bolts, fittings, etc. and perhaps even a couple of new tamping tools. A repair manual/parts book would be useful, too.

James Patten replied:
Quote
Steve, I'm guessing that what you pictured is something used to hold/stabilize one of your cameras.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
I watched a standard gauge tamper in action and there was no vibration effect. The machine just set it's tongs into the ballast, gave a couple of squeezes and moved to the next tie. All hydraulic. I forget the manufacturer.
Mike

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
The Durango & Silverton has a standard gauge tamper, that has been converted to three foot gauge, and they go an average of 1 to 2 mph. If people can think of it, the next time they get near a tamper, no matter of what gauge, should take good photos of it, as to how it is set up. Hopefully, we can make Jason's idea work. The only thing the operator should have to do is turn them on and off. He the machine, should be able to keep the tampers in place, and they only have to be four wide, I think.

Joe

Ira Schreiber replied:
Quote
OK, guys, if we are really serious about a tamper, here's a deal.
Seashore Trolley Museum(Kennebunkport) as an old multihead production tamper. It is a monster, not unlike the Plasser unit in Wales.
It does not run but was offered to us last summer FREE if we want it.
It might be a good place to start and a parts source and the price is right, for starters.
Jason, what do you think?
Ira, (you will never catch me jitterbugging)
"The sound of one hand clapping is never as loud as two hands clapping"

Stephen Hussar replied:
Quote
Yes, our fearless moderator guessed it, it is a piece of motion picture equipment. It is the heart and soul of the device known as the Steadicam. The arm is connected on one end to a hardened plastic and metal vest, that you wear. The camera is connected to the other end. When weighted correctly, the camera appears to float (when in fact the weight of the camera wreaks havoc on your lower back!). A person can run at full speed wearing one of these and the image from the camera remains ultra smooth -- the arm absorbing most of the shock.

After reading Jason's post I started to imagine how a seriously beefed up Steadicam-type of arm would be ideal for this application -- if such an animal actually existed.
Neat video of the Seadicam in action for the engineering minds. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5057903224391696452&q=steadicam&hl=en
_________________
*                *                    *                   *
"Give me enough Swedes and whiskey and I'll build a railroad to Hell."
- James J. Hill

Dave Olszewski replied:
Quote
Quote
I think that before a hopper car gets built, a tamper car should be built, because it is easier to put down ballast than it is to tamp, and tamping requires a much larger crew. Somebody, in the near future should really look into buying a tamper, or two foot gauge tamper, or building one at the museum ourselves.

When the track gets to be about 3 miles long, which won't be to much longer, we will need to have more compressor cars, that can each have at least 4 air lines, and I think that about 4 compressor cars would be needed to tamp the entire line, each car having about 8 guys with it. Therefore a tamper car that does the tamping for you would only require, at the most, 2 guys to run it, and I am guessing that it can go about 1-2 miles per hour, so the entire line could be tamped before the first train even left the station.


Just my opinion that's all.

Joe

Hi Joe,

It will be  good to have hopper. Before you voted on combine instead of hopper car . It will reduce time and labor. Only  one engineer and one crew run it. The engineer move the hopper and one crew control the gate with lever. Oop I forgot they don't use radio like modern train. Maybe they need one flagger there. 

We need four air line to run four tampers so we will work on them faster. I don't want to lose volunteers from hard work on ballasting.

See you soon.

Dave

Josh Botting replied:
Quote
In order to be effective a tamper must be heavy.  The mass dampens the vibration which is why the standard gauge tamper vibrates very little.  Also the arms are stiff enough to have a natural frequency well outside of the range of the tampers.  If we were to build/ design one, it would need to be a massive stucture.

We would also have to do a better job of placeing ties in a consistant perpindicular.

For a immeadite short term, we need a differant handel arangement from the one we currently have.  Weather it is rubber pads to save our hands, or differant handels, we can do someting.

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
Hi everybody,

Dave, I am not trying to take away from the ballasting crew or anything, but I have worked with Dana and a few other on tamping one day, and out of 15 volunteers in the yard, only three or four were willing to help tamp. A tamper car would only require two people to run it, and there for requires a less crew. The rest of the crew, can be doing some other type of track work, such as ballasting or laying track.

We can't make the car to heavy though, because if it becomse to massive, then it will cause the rail web to spread, causing the rail to become deffective, and eitehr causing a derailment, or replace the rail. Depending on when the spreading rail is caught, depends on which senario is chosen. Personally, I would rather have neither, but if I had to chose one, I would chose the second one, and I am sure, that a lot of people would agree with me on that one.

Talk to you guys later.

Joe

Joe

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
The reason you don't see vibration on modern tampers is they are vibrating at very high speed. If you're standing near to one that's tamping, it feels like you're standing on a motel bed equipped with "Magic Fingers." Most modern tampers use electric motors to provide the vibration and hydraulics to provide the squeeze-raise-line and propel functions. That interface between electric and hydraulic is where much of the maintenance is concentrated.

The earliest mechanical tampers were very primitive efforts to increase production, sort of like when we went from tamping with bars to using the jitterbugs. Over the past 60 years or so, they have been improved in a variety of ways, but all those improvements still have not solved the problem of keeping the machines from shaking themselves to pieces.

As for using the jitterbugs, if you have sore arms from the vibration, you are not letting the machine do its job. One should allow the machine to penetrate the ballast by its own weight, and it should not be necessary to force it under the ties. The only things one should have to do is lift the machine from one work point to the next, and when the machine is out of the ballast, the vibration should be tolerable.

There are also gasoline powered jitterbugs, which are used by a number of transit agencies on this side of the Atlantic as well as by many railways in Europe, because they can quickly be brought to bear in a work area and just as quickly removed when the next high-speed train comes along -- no hoses or cables to drag out of the way. The problem with them is they are smelly (two-cycle), hot, and very maintenance intensive. I've talked to contractors who have them, and in general, they much prefer jitterbugs.

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
The so called jitter bugs are fine, as long as you get a big enough crew to swap out. This would require a four or five man crew to do tamping, and a person can only stand to do it for about 20 minutes because the vibration, even letting the machine do the work, is hard on the fingers, and sore on the arms. There aren't many people that can stand to run a tamper all day, and most people that were on a tamper once, and never got a chance to swap out, have never touched a tamper again. All of these things, are what a tamper car would remove.

Joe

Josh Botting replied:
Quote
The problem that some I have is not sore arms, but sore fingers and hands from gripping the tampers.

As for the tampers, modern tampers may use servo drives to increase the frequency of the tampers, hoewever the weight of the tampers used is still significant.

I have also noted that the a MK IV on the the Maine Eastern lines hear seems to have hydraulic hoses driving the tampers.

Wayne Laepple replied:
Quote
Nobody ever said building a railroad is easy. And as we have observed many times during WW&F Track Meets, "You couldn't pay us enough to do this!"

I'm not sure there is a way to easily or inexpensively redesign the handles on the jitterbugs to include some sort of shock absorber. There are work gloves available with rubber pads to cushion vibration, and that might be a good starting point. In the meantime, perhaps the engineers and riggers among us can start trying to figure out a way to make this essential part of track construction less punishing to our volunteers.

Bill Reidy replied:
Quote
Wayne said:

Quote
As for using the jitterbugs, if you have sore arms from the vibration, you are not letting the machine do its job. One should allow the machine to penetrate the ballast by its own weight, and it should not be necessary to force it under the ties. The only things one should have to do is lift the machine from one work point to the next, and when the machine is out of the ballast, the vibration should be tolerable.

I've learned to not grip the handle too tightly.  If I do, after a while it kills my hands especially and also my arms.  I hold on just tightly enough to guide the tamper, and let its weight and vibration drive itself and the ballast down.

I find the tamping work is most difficult on sections where we have raised the track a significant amount and little or no hand tamping has been done after the track was raised.   When we hit a section where there are big voids under the ties, it doesn't take long before my back starts to ache.  The power tampers just drop into the holes and I'm constantly pulling the tamper out of the holes.  Rigorous hand tamping isn't needed here -- just enough to get some stone into the voids.  The power tampers can then pack the stone in.

For tamping crews, I like to see four tampers (assuming tampers four are operating) and two shovelers, plus folks to trade off occasionally (every 15 - 30 minutes or so).  The shovelers are critical.  They're needed to keep the tampers supplied with stone and to keep the hoses untangled.

Bill

James Patten replied:
Quote
Whenever I'm on the tampers I wear my heavy insulated gloves which I usually wear in the winter.  This makes for sweaty, uncomfortable hands during warmer weather, but it helps protect my hands.  Note that after some amount of time, I too get cramped hands and they start to swell a bit.

Joe Fox replied:
Quote
What I have found, is that it is easier on your hands if you open up your fingers once you get the tamper started. Then just kind of hold the tamper in line, the I pick it up and open my fingers again, using my palms to help guide the tamper. Your fingers won't cramp up, or swell as soon I have noticed by doing it this way.

Joe

MikeW replied:
Quote
How about this rig?  This would make quick work of the WW&F!


Photo by Robert Aspinall.  Used with permission.

Mike Fox replied:
Quote
Wow. Where is it at?? Not around here by looking at the road sign behind it. A nice looking machine but we would have to disguise it as a boxcar. Could definately get rid of any slow orders that would pop up.
Mike

MikeW replied:
Quote
It's a 2' gauge track machine used by three sugar plantation mills north ("Nawth") of Queensland Australia.  I came across this photo quite by accident on the http://www.narrow-gauge.co.uk site.

Josh Botting replied:
Quote
Joe,

I have several pictures of a Brandy Spanking New looking machine on the main line in Bruniswick....
Ed Lecuyer
Moderator, WW&F Forum