Author Topic: Track availability  (Read 57224 times)

jockellis

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Track availability
« on: August 21, 2008, 07:23:44 AM »
How is the amount of track in the necessary weights holding up. Will we make it to Albion?
Jock Ellis

Ira Schreiber

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2008, 08:26:09 AM »
I speak only for myself but I can tell you that:

#1 We have presently no rail for expansion north, although this will change next  month when  2400' of rail will arrive.

#2 We do not control or own the ROW on over half the distance to Albion, about 36 miles total. That said, at the current rate of expansion, if the millions of dollars were available, it would be about 100+ years before Albion was reached.

#3 Head Tide is a more realistic goal and that appears to be over five years away.

For reference, see the long range plan posted on the WW&F web site.

James Patten

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2008, 01:33:17 PM »
Although I am eager to see us expand, our rate of growth is such that it keeps people interested and keeps them coming back.  In order to lay track to Albion in a realistic fashion, it would require a level of effort such as seen on the Welsh Highland in Wales, both in terms of volunteer crews (working every day of the week) and available money (they won a heritage lottery).

Right now we build between 1000 and 1200 feet of track a year, or between 4 - 6 years a mile.  It would take us nearly 200 years at that rate to lay to Albion (38 miles)

Realistically the level of business that keeps us going really only requires a few miles of track. 

Steve Klare

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2008, 02:21:15 PM »
Slow but steady!

In many cases the original two footers were doomed by growing very fast and picking up a ton of debt along the way (as in all the debt the SR&RL carried which their revenue couldn't support at the end). They also developed an infrastructure that was excess when times got hard and it was tough for them to cut back their expenses (as in the big forneys on the B&H).

-better a little railroad that will survive!

Steve Zuppa

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2008, 02:37:43 PM »
Personally, I'm thrilled at our rate of growth. We do enough to keep the people (members and just plain folks, alike), who can't get there that often, interested. Yet, we rarely bite off more than we can chew and then, have to deal with the consequences, i.e.: excessive debt and volunteer burnout. No, we just go along at our own leasurely pace and produce something we can all be proud of.
Steve
Don't ask me. I only cut the grass. Oops, I don't even do that anymore.

Ken Fleming

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2008, 05:54:54 PM »
While Head Tide is years away, it is time to buy or contract to buy enough rail to cover the five or so years in our plan.  The price of rail has increased about 40-50%, since the spring.  It also time to re-think the weight of rail that we use. 60 lb/yd rail carries a $300 per ton premium over 50#/55# rail per ton.  I offered to buy 80 tons of rail this past spring and "lend" it at no interest until paid back.  The by-laws prevented that from happening.  But, it is time to build up our stock before prices get completely out of sight.  Just because we would rail on-hand, doesn't mean we have to lay it all at one time. A quarter of a mile is a reasonable goal.

Allan Fisher

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2008, 07:05:56 PM »
We have this problem of trying to remember that the Discussion Forum only represents 5% of our members, and answering every concern only informs that 5%. That's why we use the newsletter to tell everyone what is going on six times a year.

Let me assure you that the Board has had me hunting rail constantly for the last two years so that we can "buy " ahead. Leads in South Carolina (two) and New Hampshire are currently on the front burner.
With the annual capital campaign letter due out next week, you will see that we are providing enough money to buy extra rail if it becomes available.

In the meantime, we believe we have an assured source of rail for this October, that with trade-in credits  will not break the bank. Stay tuned!

Allan Fisher

Stewart "Start" Rhine

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2008, 07:23:37 PM »
Ken,  To bolster what Steve said - there are a number of things to consider with each piece of track expansion .  First is tree cutting which depends on the crews that show up and the weather they have to deal with in the winter.  Next is grade preparation - stump pulling, wash out repair and leveling which is mostly done by a contractor.  That's the first big expense.  Of course ties, rail, spikes, bolts and joint bars must be purchased too.  Another big expense is the stone ballast which must be purchased and trucked in.  

We have done all these things over the last 12 years I have been going to Sheepscot.  The basic rule has been to build 1,200 feet of new track each year or two.  I won't say (as some do) that we are just limited to running between Sheepscot, Alna Center  and eventually Head Tide but that's a real good start.  I think we will make up our minds about further expansion once we have those three stations to run between.  The deciding factor is that we must maintain every foot of track we put down.  It's more fun building new track than maintaining the older parts of the line.  My point is that I have seen our mainline grow over 2 miles since I've been going and I never get tired of going back to help build more.  I think our present formula works well for our size and financial situation.   

Stewart
« Last Edit: August 21, 2008, 07:30:11 PM by Stewart Rhine »

Ken Fleming

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2008, 08:06:21 PM »
Stewart,

I didn't not say lay all the rail. I only want to insure a supply of rail before the prices increase another 50% or more.  A paced expansion, as currently done, make sense, but October 2009 may see only 1200 feet of rail at this years price.

Ken

Dana Deering

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2008, 12:12:51 PM »
We are not going to Albion.  We're making a left turn at Weeks Mills and heading for Farmington ;D

Seriously though, I think our rate of growth is about right and the big headache is maintaining what gets put down and that gets tougher with every new section of track.  I agree that we need to think about future rail supply and I think the Board is doing a good job making sure we have rail without jeopardizing other financial needs.

It is hard to beat the fun of track laying!

Dana

Duncan Mackiewicz

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2008, 09:48:33 PM »
Aw cmon Dana, you must admit that jacking and lining is way more fun than laying track.   

Duncan 

jockellis

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2008, 08:54:57 AM »
Hi, guys,
A hundred years, huh? Good. That gives us a long term goal. Wonder what steel will be going for then.
Jock Ellis
PS
I understand they make boats in Maine. Place can't be all bad even if developers are tearing down all the quaint, old places and putting in huge condos in their places.

John Kokas

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2008, 10:05:57 AM »
Agree that current pace is about right but the issue of supply is a valid concern.  Recent #1 steel scrap has been as high as 15 cents/lb but in currently 9 cents.  I have it on good authority (scrap dealer) that Sept-Oct rates are again climbing to the 12-13 cent range.  Food for thought...........

Also concur that maintenance is a pain but necessary evil.  Hand work is even more taxing.  Has anyone thought of finding or getting plans for a tamper from WHR or others?  That would make life a lot easier.

jk
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Mike Fox

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2008, 12:06:51 PM »
A mechanical tamper would make things a lot easier. But if we could get a crew every Saturday morning for track work, the current method would work fine also. I am hoping to devote more time to this next year, and am hoping I can get some to join me. Work this year kept me away. Next year I may not be as busy.(I hope)
Mike
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Josh Botting

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Re: Track availability
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2008, 05:22:48 PM »
Getting a crew for maintainance is difficult at best.  Its hard to go all day with a crew of 4.