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 Post subject: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 8:53 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2004 12:27 pm
Posts: 157
For the past year and a half Volunteers at the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie, WA have been funding and restoring an RMC-Portec "Zapper" Automatic Spike Driver. Built in 1979 for British Columbia Railway it was purchased by the museum in 1988 and was initially used to spike the trackage at the east end of the railroad at North Bend. After this project it sat in storage until work was begun to return it to service so it could be used to construct the new trackage at our Railway History Center.

Returning the Zapper back to service required considerable work. Externally the roof needed to have a rusted panel replaced and overall the machine needed a good cleaning and repainting. The engine, a Detroit 3-53, needed the blower replaced as well as the injectors. The operating system consists of 12 volt solenoids which control air and hydraulic circuits and this required new push button switches. Bit by bit the systems came back to life and finally on April 30, 2011 the machine reliably was used to drive a considerable amount of spikes.

The sequence for driving spikes consists of spotting the machine over the tie needing to be spiked and buttons are pushed so tie nippers can pull the tie tight against the rail. Using a joystick the spikes are lined up over the holes in the tie plates and another set of buttons are pushed to insert the spike by an hydraulic ram. After inserting the spike the ram retracts and new spikes are automatically fed into jaws ready for the next tie. While originally built with spiking mechanisms on both sides of the machine the chutes on one side were removed by BC Rail and now after spiking on one rail the built in turntable is used to turn the machine to spike the other rail. Plans are to fabricate new spike chutes so both sides are operational.

After swinging a spike maul, which was a lot easier 20 years ago, it is now nice to go home with sore fingers from pushing buttons all day.

To see a short video of a spike being driven go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44ZJPG9TCIc

Richard Wilkens

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Side view of the restored "Zapper"

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Positioned over the tie ready for spiking

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With tie nippers holding the tie tight the spike is lined up over the tie plate

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The spike has been driven home and a new spike is in the jaws ready for the next tie

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A very happy Brandon Crews. Brandon did a lot to get the machine back in service


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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 9:11 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2277
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
Now THAT is nice!!! I am absolutely envious of youse guys! What a great machine you have there. And nippers, too....boy, that saves a lot of grunt work.

Nice to see track stuff getting it's due here.

Us old, fat guys need machines to do track work; we're not in our 20s anymore! Although one of our 50-somethings, Lou Edmonds, can still drive 200+ spikes in a day, using the maul. Our air gun spiker is much-beloved by RMNE track crews. And so is our tie inserter.

Howard P.

Claw Bar, CT

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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 9:36 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:07 pm
Posts: 1071
Location: Leicester, MA.
Howard P. wrote:
Now THAT is nice!!! I am absolutely envious of youse guys! What a great machine you have there. And nippers, too....boy, that saves a lot of grunt work.

Nice to see track stuff getting it's due here.

Us old, fat guys need machines to do track work; we're not in our 20s anymore! Although one of our 50-somethings, Lou Edmonds, can still drive 200+ spikes in a day, using the maul. Our air gun spiker is much-beloved by RMNE track crews. And so is our tie inserter.

Howard P.

Claw Bar, CT

But what about the Portland Co crane?

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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 10:27 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 9:05 pm
Posts: 836
Location: MA
daylight4449 wrote:
But what about the Portland Co crane?

Cranes don't put spikes in.


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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 6:55 am 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:07 pm
Posts: 1071
Location: Leicester, MA.
RCD wrote:
daylight4449 wrote:
But what about the Portland Co crane?

Cranes don't put spikes in.

True, but don't they make lifting heavy objects easier? How can one guy lift a Bloomberg truck, unless they're superman.

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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 8:19 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:09 am
Posts: 34
Location: Deep River, Connecticut
Usual procedure to replace ties by hand is to pull the spikes with a long bar like a claw hammer end, set jacks on each rail after digging out a spot for them, digging out the ballast alongside the tie to allow movement, this is very tough in stone ballast especially, jack the rail slightly to remove the tie plate and provide clearance to slide the tie out, this means the end of the tie also has to be dug out, tie tongs (like big ice tongs) are used to grab the tie a pull it out these are man powered by the way,a mainline tie is very heavy and the resistance of the rough tie and the ballast require some strength to pull out the old tie. The old spot where the tie was gets cleaned up with a shovel or ballast fork (looks like a finer hay fork) and then the new tie is slid into place tie plates reinserted and jacks dropped. If all worked well the tie won't be too high or too low. If the tie is low the tie might be barred up while the tie is respiked. The ballast is then replaced . BTW the maul used for this may weigh between about 8 to 12 lbs. As you may see, a crane is almost useless here short of actually loading and unloading the ties which in many cases would be more trouble than doing it by hand. A crew of 3 to 4 of us used to do about 80 to 100 ties per day by hand in light gravel ballast, but we were young and dumb. We'd have killed for some machinery like this BUT we were also doing this on live rail ie when trains were running which precluded the use of track machines. I miss anything Howard?


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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 8:26 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:56 am
Posts: 175
Location: St. Joseph Illinois
I hear Ya' JR!! I worked on the L&N exC&EI back in 1975 & we did it all by hand on our section. I hear on some roads they are NOT allowed to spike with a maul. To dangerous! Wish they had told us that! LOL

Dave Huffman


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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 9:58 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:00 pm
Posts: 812
Location: NJ
The first time I spiked rail, I was hitting the spike about 95% of the time (after some practice) and got pretty good with the small end in the places it was needed. I felt very good about my abilities. Then the pain set in and I had to have the torn rotator cuff repaired in the left shoulder. Guess who doesn't spike rail any more. So now we use a jack hammer with a modified blade. Works very well indeed!

Later!
Mr. Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 10:47 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 8:45 am
Posts: 26
Location: Upstate NY
Quote:
I hear on some roads they are NOT allowed to spike with a maul. To dangerous!

Which reminds me - is the Buckingham Lining Bar Gang still together? I know that when I last saw them, they still had some members who had worked on the track gangs. That was a few years ago, and a quick internet search this morning did not turn up anything recently posted.

Still above water in the Adirondacks,
Melanie


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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 9:03 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:56 am
Posts: 175
Location: St. Joseph Illinois
In 1980 after I got out of the Navy I ran & repaired track equipment for Marmon Transmotive & while we were working on the Chessie System in Balt. Maryland, I saw a guy set a spike then drive it all the way in a oak tie in 3 hits & he could do this for quite a while. This guy had arms like tree trunks.

DBH


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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 9:25 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 27, 2010 12:24 am
Posts: 291
Location: H2O-town, CT
daylight4449 wrote:
RCD wrote:
daylight4449 wrote:
But what about the Portland Co crane?

Cranes don't put spikes in.

True, but don't they make lifting heavy objects easier? How can one guy lift a Bloomberg truck, unless they're superman.


You missed RCD's point, this thread was about spiking, not lifting. If you're curious about any RMNE equipment you can post it in the loco thread, doesn't have to be a loco, and someone will answer it. Try to keep the threads on track (pun intended).

The PTM 198 crane sees service often. After being used to place rail for track extension at the shop site it was given a well deserved rest and became the center piece of the Xmas display at the station with lights set up as a giant tree from it's mast to the ground.


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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 10:06 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:18 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Washington
I am very glad to see it working and driving spikes again.

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 Post subject: Re: Zap Them Spikes
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 11:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:56 am
Posts: 1330
Location: Roanoke Va.
The Buckingham Lining Bar Gang is appearing this Saturday at the "Christiansburg Depot Day" in Christiansburg Va. No website, the contact # is 540-382-6431

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