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