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 Post subject: A day of switching on bad track
PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 12:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:17 am
Posts: 614
Location: Taylors, SC
This post contains a bunch of photos. The photos are stored on my home webserver. I've been having problems with my connection dropping lately; if the pix don't load it probably means that I need to reset my cable modem again. I usually notice such problems in the evenings, so try again around suppertime EDT if the photos come up "broken."

This past weekend (March 10, 2007) The SC RR Museum moved the equipment that has been stored on the Greenbrier Siding for years. The purpose of the move was to clean off the siding so it can be rebuilt. Over the next few weeks, Museum volunteers will rip up the old track, laid mostly with 60# rail (there's some bigger stuff mixed in as well, we just discovered -- naturally without comp joints). A contractor will rebuild the siding with the 85# rail that was recently removed from the old Rockton & Rion main line at Rockton when we upgraded that track for freight service to Guardian Fiberglass. The Greenbrier siding will be moved over about 8 feet for more clearance between the siding and main line.

I predicted that it would be a miracle if we got everything off the siding without going on the ground with at least one wheelset. Well, we accomplished the miracle! I'm not sure how, what with the broken joint bars, garden mulch ties, and the rail wobbling all over the place as stuff moved over it. I think it actually helped that there wasn't a tie plate in sight -- the rail had cut deeply into the ties, which helped hold gauge. What kept it from rolling over under the weight of the heavily loaded baggage car SOU 135 I can't think, though (someone else here said not too long ago that Nature abhors an empty boxcar -- the same applies to baggage cars). One of our volunteers has worked for several shortlines all over the country. He said the track wasn't that bad, he's run over worse on some shortlines. I asked him if he managed to keep the train on the rails on said shortlines -- he said no! :o)

I was operating our White Machinery Switchmaster "No. 1," formerly of the Savannah River Site (no, it doesn't glow in the dark), seen here coupled to the 135 after I had carefully and rather nervously eased it off the siding -- I was waiting for John Parker to finish getting transfer caboose SOU XC-5 out of the other end of the siding with SW8 #2015 and the train we were assembling to go to Rion.

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John brought the train back to couple up to the 135, then pulled the 135 clear of the east switch so I could go back into the decrepit siding to move two other SOU cars, coach #800 and caboose X-645 -- both of which lack working air brakes.

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It was a pretty funky looking train with every other car a caboose of some sort. We temporarily pushed everything together in the siding for our lunch break so we could take the engine back to Rockton light. I wasn't too sure about putting that stuff BACK on the siding -- it seemed like pushing our luck a bit too much -- but the alternative was shoving five cars with unreliable brakes 3 miles back to Rockton. So back on the siding the stuff went during lunch. After lunch, the train crept out onto the main and started down the hill to Rion Quarry.

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This was the first time I had ever seen the Greenbrier Siding with nothing on it.

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John had deliberately put the two cars without brakes on the rear of the train with the engine on the west end, because it's all downhill from Greenbrier to Rion. We rode in the coach. This pic is just west of Rion Road:

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We had to stop at the east end of the Rion Quarry yard to throw the switch. I took advantage of the stop to get a picture:

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We eased down the North Main through the yard, then shoved up the South Siding to spot the stuff out of the way. We had to shove the stuff we'd already spotted down there up the hill a bit to make enough room. Since we'd left No. 1 back at Greenbrier, I had nothing to operate. Therefore I tried out my new $365 brake stick. I went down one side of the train and John went down the other. After taking off a half-dozen hand brakes, using a SW8 to shove sixteen and a half cars (the old R&R dump car doesn't really count as a full car since it's so small) up a 2.5% grade, then putting the hand brakes back on about a dozen cars, John and I agreed that not only was the brakestick worth every penny I'd paid, I should have spent the extra money and bought the longer deluxe model! The standard model will almost, but not quite, reach the wheels on the newer 40' boxcars like L&C #1010. I had to stand on the cut lever to spin the wheel -- still better than climbing the end ladder! I was pretty busy during this maneuver so I didn't get any pix.

Next, the volunteer working on our ex-Winnsboro Granite American crane asked that the crane be moved back and forth a bit to exercise the gearboxes. So, the 2015 ducked into the track that will soon (we hope) be the Rion Quarry yard ladder, grabbed the crane, and ran it up and down the South Siding one time.

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Our work done, we set all the switches for future passenger movements and for the brush cutting that's supposed to happen this week (a contract), and set out with the light engine for Rockton.

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We stopped at Greenbrier to let another volunteer who wanted some throttle time in No. 1 off. Back at Rockton, we did some switching of pushcars to get ready for next week's track destruction, then settled down for the afternoon bull session on the trailer porch. All in all, a pretty good day.

_________________
Matt Conrad -- scrmcurator@yahoo.com
Join the secret world of trains.
Feel the pleasure, touch the pain.
Drift into yesterday. --Jethro Tull


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