Thursday, January 12, 2006

I've been working on the railroad...

Ever since I started getting a regular readership here, I've been asked on several occasions what I did for the railroad. I started working for a company out of Hamil, Minnesota in May of 2004 who contracts maintenance of way with major railroads in the US, Canada, Mexico & Australia. I was on a crew operating the machine pictured here, a Shoulder Ballast Cleaner. These pictures are of the very machine I worked on, Ballast Cleaner #15. It was hard and dirty work, but I job I really enjoyed.
What a ballast cleaner does is digs up the stone ballast that is in between the crossties (sleepers to those of you in the UK & Oz) which runs it through a huge screening plant, spits out the dirt (usually coal dust around here) and redeposits the cleaned ballast down a regulates it along the shoulder of the tracks.
For full specifications on the machine, go here:




It's a truly massive machine and a sight to behold as is works it's way down the tracks. It was here, in the spring and summer of 2004, my love of trains and desire to get on full time with a railroad as an engineer was rekindled.
Nothing is going to stop me from my dream... I may never do this kind of work again for a railroad, I will be an engineer...
Copyright 2006 Thomas J Wolfenden

11 comments:

berly02 said...

What is it about boys and trains . . . :)

Courtney said...

Good luck and I hope your dreams come true!!!

Lora said...

Thanks for sharing these pics and info...I had no idea that work was done on rail lines.

Our soon-to-be twelve year old son, Wylie, is enamored with trains and I showed him this blog. It rated a "SWEET!" from him. We scraped up some hard-to-come-by $$ and splurged on him this Christmas with a used Lionel train set, probably from the '70's. Pretty basic set...about 6 ft oval track and eight cars, including engine and caboose. He was thrilled and spends a lot of time turning carboard boxes, paper towel tubes, etc., into factories, farms, and tunnels with some paint, glue, and cotton balls. A very healthy and creative pasttime.

honkeie2 said...

Very cool, I have never had any pull to the train thing except I always found hobos interesting. Have you ever meet a real hobo in your train work? I have meet a few, they used to camp in a field by my house when i was younger. It just seemed kind wild to live like that.

Okie said...

I'm with honky on the hobos. One of these days I'm going to take a week of vacation time and ride the rails pretending to be one. In this part of the country they are mostly illegal Mexican immigrants so I better get better at my espanol first.

Sherri said...

You should definitely share about the hobo thing, I'm dying to know.

Ranger Tom said...

berly: Since I was a kid I've loved trains... Got it from my dad I guess

Courtney: I'm working on it!

Lora: I imherited my dad's first Lionel train set... Some day I'll blog about that...

Honkeie: Only one, a Mexican guy (probably illegal) in a frieghtyard outside of Vanceburg, Kentucky along the Ohio river... All I could get out of him was his Nombre (Juan) and he was heading 'Norte'...

Okie: Not only is hopping boxcars very dangerous, it's very illegal... Until you've actually worked around trains as I have and you get the real perspective on how very dangerous trains are... But it's good to keep a fantasy like that... Keeps the imagination going.

Lindsey said...

You know I was watching a train go by yesterday and I marveled that they still send things via the railroad. Wonder what kind of stuff though?

Lisa said...

My little man is droolling all over my computer. He's in love! heehee.

Okie said...

linny,
I work in the lumber business and most of the lumber I sell is shipped to me via rail from Canada or the NW U.S. Although slower, it is far less expensive than trucking it.

Ranger Tom said...

Lisa: I thought he'd like it. I'll have to post some of the picks from North Carolina. I've got some really good shots of a live steam locomotive and of a life-sized version Thomas the Tank Engine


Linny: Almost everything we buy in stores at one point was shipped by train. Like Okie says, besides lumber & coal... It's far cheaper to ship by rail.