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laid on ties with an average life of 5 years and costing 40
cents each. The track laid on the more expensive ties will
be superior from the start to that laid on cheaper ones, and,
besides requiring far less repairs, it will be in good condition
when the cheap track must be entirely rebuilt. The break-
age of spikes and angle splices is much greater where cheap
ties are used, and accidents more frequent and severe.

1631. Placing New Ties in Track. When renew-
ing ties, no more material should be removed from the
track than is necessary to allow the new tie to go into its
proper place. Where the track is mud ballasted, remove
the dirt from the sides and from the ends of the tie to a
depth a little below its bed, but without disturbing the bed
of the old tie. If two ties side by side need renewal, a
single trench between them will serve for removing both.
Remove the spikes and spring the rail up from adjoining
ties, slipping a spike under it. Then knock an old tie into


the trench and pull it out. Pull the new tie into the trench
from the opposite side of the track and have two men slide
it into place, keeping it well up against the rail until it is in
place. If the track is low, throw some fine dirt under the
tie and spike the tie to the rail. The ballast removed in
putting in additional ties should be thrown into the trenches
made when removing the first ties. When all the rotten
ties are removed from one rail length, fill in and dress the
track before beginning on another rail length. If, after the
ties are in place, the track proves to be a trifle high, the
defect will disappear after the passage of a loaded train.
This method of putting in new ties does away with most of
the labor of tamping, and the work is better done. A gang
can put in from one-quarter to one-third more ties in
this way than by any other method, but it is restricted to a
mud-ballasted track alone. If the ballast is gravel or
broken stone, all new ties must be tamped. The tie must
be held up against the rail with a bar while it is spiked, and
the ballast thoroughly tamped with a tamping bar. All
new ties must be placed square across the track, and if the
old ones are too widely spaced, additional ties must be put
in the track with selected ones at the joints. Never spring
the rails off the ties on stone or gravel-ballasted tracks, as
the ballast collects under the base of the rail and prevents
its proper bearing upon the ties.

The prime object of track repairs is to make the track
safe, and if some parts of the section are more needy than
others, the foreman should first make those places safe and
then go ahead with continuous repairs.

1632. Estimating IVew Ties for Repairs. The

proper time for estimating the number of new ties needed
for repairs is in the fall of the year. In the Northern States
the winter is the proper season for manufacturing ties, and
most tie contracts are let in that season. If the estimates
are made up and sent in to the roadmaster in the fall, he
can make more favorable contracts and be sure of having a
supply when needed.



In making his estimate, the foreman should walk over his
entire section, testing every tie of which he is in doubt and
reporting the actual number needed, and no more. The
renewing of ties is one of the great items of cost in the
maintenance of a railroad, and a careful foreman can do
much towards prolonging their life.

1 633. Disposition of Old Ties. All labor spent in
handling old ties is unremunerative, but they must be dis-
posed of. In sections where timber is scarce they can
usually be sold for fuel. If, however, fuel is abundant and
cheap, the best way to dispose of them is to burn them.

1634. Tie Account. The foreman should keep an
accurate tie account, which will show at once the number of
ties received, put in the track, and on hand. The following
is a good form for tie accounts:



Ties Received.

Ties Put in

Ties on Hand.
























1635. Cutting Weeds. On all mud-ballasted roads
the cutting of weeds is an important item in the cost of
track repairs. All weeds within a distance of 3 feet from
the rail should be kept cut clean to the surface of the ground.
It is important to prevent their getting an early start;
hence, when making track repairs early in the spring the
surface of the ground should be shaved over either with a
shovel or weed cutter. This will increase the labor of early
track repairs, but it will save much subsequent labor and
loss of time.

A heavy growth of weeds seriously checks the speed and
efficiency of a train, especially on heavy grades, besides

promoting decay of ties. For cutting weeds the blades of
shovels or weed cutters should be ground to an edge, and a
file kept handy for resharpening. The men should be dis-
tributed one to each rail length to prevent crowding and
insure an equal share of work from each.

The weed cutter shown in Fig. 511 does more effective
work, and is less severe upon the men than the shovel.

The handle of the weed cutter is considerably longer and
the blade lighter than that of the ordinary track shovel. In
using the weed cutter, men are not compelled to keep their
backs continually bent as when using the shovel, and they
can cover from one-sixth to one-fourth more ground in a


1636. Mowing 'Weeds, Grass, and Brush. If the

section force will admit of it, all weeds, grass, and brush
should be cut from the right of way. This work should be
commenced by July 20th, mowing first the grass and weeds
about all wooden structures and burning them as soon as
they are dry enough. This forms a barrier against fire, and
insures the safety of these structures while burning other
brush or weeds along the right of way. If possible, mow
the entire right of way, burning the grass and brush as fast
as they are dry enough. With the right of way clear of
combustible matter there is comparatively small danger of
fire being communicated to adjoining property. This as-
surance is well worth the cost of the work, and it is well
known that by keeping the right of way clear of weeds and
brush, grass is induced to grow, which is far easier to keep
in order than brush or weeds.


1 637. Combination Ballast. A track can be better
ballasted with a combination of stone and gravel than with
either of these materials separately. Each material has ad-
vantages peculiar to itself. Stone is more solid, more open,
and heavier than gravel, and, hence, better suited to form
the foundation of the track where solidity and drainage are
of first importance. Gravel is more abundant, more elastic,
and much easier handled than stone. It does not wear the
ties, rails, and rolling stock like stone, and is comparatively
free from weeds, and, hence, is well suited to form the top
course of ballast. Where stone is used only for the founda-
tion of the ballast, it need not be broken so finely as when
composing the entire roadbed.

Two carloads of gravel to a 30-foot rail length will make
a first-class track where there is a foundation of stone
12 inches in depth.

1638. Preparing Old Track for Ballasting.

When old track is to be newly ballasted with stone, gravel,
or cinders, all dirt should be removed from between and from
the ends of the ties down to the base of ties and placed on


the shoulder of the roadbed. This will considerably
strengthen the roadbed and afford a support to the ballast.
The engineer should set grade stakes 50 feet apart, giving
the elevation of top of rail for the finished track. Where
sags occur, if it is intended to fill them, the material
necessary for raising the track should be delivered, and the
track raised to the required grade before the ballasting is

1 639. Reserve the Best Ballast for Cuts. When
gravelis the best available ballast, and that of inferior quality,
select the cleanest gravel for the cuts, where drainage is most
difficult and the track most affected by the frost. All mud
ballast removed from the roadbed in cuts should be deposited
upon the adjacent embankments, which are constantly being
reduced in width by the action of rain and frost. If the bal-
last is a mixture of gravel, sand, and loam, it should be
raised a full 3 inches above the tie at the center of the track
and carried out flush with the tops of the ends of the ties.
All gravel beds contain streaks of clear gravel. With a little
care and calculation the clean gravel can be loaded on sep-
arate cars and the train made up with the selected cars by
themselves. The inferior ballast should be unloaded on the
embankment and the selected ballast deposited in the adja-
cent cuts. Make the track shoulders of equal weight. Track
with unequal shoulders is sure to work out of line.

Embankments should be made at least 14 feet in width at
the top before depositing the gravel ballast, and 16 feet in
width if the means of the company will permit. With a
16-foot embankment there is no loss of ballast from its being
crowded over the shoulder.

1640. Ballast Required for a Mile of Track.

Allowing an average length of 33 feet per car, 160 cars will
cover 1 mile of track. If the trains average 8 cubic yards
per car, they will form a continuous bed 12 feet in width at
bottom, 12 feet in width at top, and 6 inches in thickness.
Of this amount it will require about one-half to fill in between
the ties and dress the middle of the track. This will leave


a bed of 3 inches beneath the ties. By unloading two cars
in a place, the depth of the ballast under the ties is increased
to 8|- inches, which will make a first-class track, providing
the subgrade is compact and thoroughly drained.

Gravel may be loaded at the pit for 75 cents per car,
making the cost per mile, 2 cars to a rail length, about $250.
Under favorable conditions, gravel can be loaded with a steam
excavator for considerably less than the above figures.

1641. Gravel Pits. The cost of loading gravel at
the pit depends largely upon the manner in which the exca-
vation is conducted. The prerequisite for cheap loading is
a long, high, and regular working face. In laying out a
track to a gravel pit, the ground should be well considered
and the track placed so as to meet the above conditions for
loading. The switch should be so placed that the turn-out
curve is passed before the gravel pit is reached. If the face
of the gravel bed is uneven at the start, commence loading
at the projecting points and continue until the face is uni-
form. With each movement of the track, excavate deeper if
the depth of the gravel will permit, and so increase the height
of the working face. Gravel is generally overlaid with a
layer of earth. This earth mixes with the gravel in loading,
and the proportion of earth grows less as the height of the
working face increases. The grade of the track should be
made as uniform as possible, and the track maintained in
such order that an engine may draw a full train load from
the pit. Under fair conditions, 10 loaded cars constitute 'a
train. If a steam excavator is being used, there should be
enough cars on hand to keep the machine constantly em-
ployed. The empty cars should be placed on a spur track,
connecting with the track leading to the pit, and shifted by
teams as they are needed. When a train of empty cars is
returned to the pit, the cars are switched to the spur track,
and the loaded train hauled out.

1642. Raising Track. When raising a track to a
surface, the following method is recommended: Take a
piece of board 1 by 4 inches and 5 feet in length. Cut two


notches, each 3 inches deep, to fit over the rails, the space
between the notches being equal to the gauge of the track.
Place this sighting board at a high place in the track, from
8 to 10 rail lengths ahead of the point where you intend to
commence track raising. Shim up the sighting board to a
perfect level, giving it the same height to which the top of
the rail is to be brought in the raising. Then, go to the
point where you intend to commence track raising and lift
the track to a proper height, bringing both rails to the same
level. The spirit level is then laid aside and the intervening
track brought to a surface by sighting. When sighting,
stand from 50 to 75 feet from the track being raised. Raise
and tamp each joint about ^ inch higher than the actual
surface. In raising, two jacks, a heavy and a light one,
should be used, the heavy one to raise the joints, and the
light one to raise the centers of the rails. Do not attempt
to raise a rail center until the jack is in place at the next
joint, and then raise together. This prevents the springing
of the rails and insures a smooth surface.

By sighting in the rails, a more uniform surface is ob-
tained, and the delay occasioned by the repeated use of the
spirit level is avoided. When the sighting board is reached,
it is removed, and the track brought up to the proper
surface by sighting.

In sighting in a curved track, sight along the inside of
the rails/ This permits of longer and better sights. The
foreman should know the time when each regular train is
due, and have the track safe for its passage. This is accom-
plished by a run off, extending from the new to the old
surface. This should be 30 feet in length for each 6 inches
of difference of elevation between the old and new track

The amount and quality of work done will depend much
upon the organization of the force. A good foreman will
soon learn the good points of his men and distribute them
accordingly. A gang of 14 or 16 men should be distributed
as follows: Two with jacks; two to tamp the ends of the
ties; four to tamp the centers, and the remaining men


equally divided, one-half to be employed in filling in ahead
of the tampers and the other half in dressing up the track
behind them. By dividing up the men equally, placing one-
half the force on each side of the track, competition, both in
amount and quality of work, naturally follows. With such
an organization, a foreman can effectively employ a force
within comparatively small limits, enabling him to give
thorough inspection to all work, and to give directions
wherever needed.

In raising track, both sides should be lifted together.
The common custom of raising and tamping one side of the
track at a time should not be permitted, as ties can not be
given a uniform bearing.

The centers of track ties should not be hard tamped.
The greater part of the train load comes upon the ends of
the ties, and if their centers are hard tamped there is great
danger of the ties being broken, especially if they are sawed
ties. The ties should be hard tamped only 18 inches inside
the rails. This will insure a firm bed and prevent all danger
of breaking.

Uniformity of work is the secret of a smooth track, and
the more alike the men work, the better will be the results.

1643. Yard Work. All yard tracks should be uni-
formly surfaced throughout their entire length. The grade
for all yard tracks should be given by the company's engin-
eer, and should practically conform to that of the main line.
If possible, yard tracks should be level. Cars are then
much more manageable and easier handled. Where the
yard and main tracks are of the same level, the main line
should be put in perfect surface first. The adjoining yard
track may then be given an equal height by a level and
straight-edge. In the same way, any number of side tracks
can be brought to the level of the main track. It is, how-
ever, much the better practice to have all elevations given
with an instrument.

1644. Gravel as a Destroyer of Weeds. One of

the great advantages of gravel ballast is the saving in the


cost of weed cutting. Although ballasting with gravel is a
heavy initial expense, the outlay ceases when the work is
complete. Weed cutting, on the other hand, is a constant
and heavy expense, and one of the great arguments in favor
of gravel ballast is that gravel discourages the growth of
weeds and thereby saves to the company a large annual ex-
pense. A railroad company should commence ballasting
with gravel at the earliest possible moment, even though it
is done in a fragmentary way, as every rail length of gravel
is clear gain.

1645. A Day's Work. Two rail lengths, or GO feet
of finished track, ballasted and dressed, per man, is con-
sidered a fair day's work. Foremen should stop raising
track long enough before quitting time to line up, fill in, and
dress all the track raised during the day. Track left with-
out the ties being filled in and the shoulders properly dressed
is easily thrown out of line. A heavy shower falling upon
track which has not been properly filled in and dressed is
certain to do great injury. In all cases, track should be
left in a finished condition.


1646. Importance of Fall Work. On Northern
railroads, the prime object of fall track work is to prepare
for the ensuing winter. One day's work in the fall expended
in intelligent track work is worth an entire week of repairs
in winter. The section foreman should lay out his work
according to the needs of his section, and, as far as possible,
adhere to his program.

1647. Surfacing and Lining Track. The most
important part of the fall work is the surfacing and lining
of track. In addition, the track must be put in perfect
gauge and dressed down.

In dressing the track, give as much strength to the
shoulders as the available material will permit. With
drainage provided for, the heavier the shoulder, the longer
the track will hold its line and withstand frost.



1 648. Seeding and Repairing Embankments.

It is the severe frosts of winter, followed by heavy spring
and summer rains, which destroy embankments. After a
heavy spring freshet, embankments are furrowed with deep
gulleys, though the usual effect is the gradual wasting of the
slopes. The only protection against these destructive agents
is a good sod, and foremen should be supplied with grass
seed of suitable variety to seed embankments whenever the
conditions are favorable.

Until embankments are protected by grass they must be
repaired from time to time. Narrow embankments give
insufficient support to the track, and sags are the result.
The fall of the year is the best time to repair embankments.
All the material obtained from cleaning ditches, widening
cuts, or from any other source, should be deposited upon
the embankments where there is greatest need of repair.
This material the section men can transport on a push car,


'"TTTTT' ^"Tirr

FIG. 512.

which should be fitted with sideboards so as to carry a full
load. A section foreman can do much towards keeping his
embankments in proper shape, especially if he be well pro-
vided with men. If there are bad sags on his section, he
should not attempt to take them out until he knows how
much material is required for raising the roadbed to the
proper height. He can determine the necessary amount of
filling by the following approximate method (see Fig. 512).
Drive a stake at C against the rail at the middle point of
the sag until its top is on line with the track surface at
A and B. Measure the height C D of the stake above the
rail. Multiply one-half the distance A B by the top width
of the embankment and by the height C D of the stake
above the rail ; divide the product by 27. The quotient is
the number of cubic yards of material required.


EXAMPLE. A B is 200 ft., CD is 1 ft., and the top of the embank-
ment is 14 ft. in width ; how many cubic yards of material are necessary
to take out the sag ?

SOLUTION. ^-Number of cubic yards = -~- X 14 X 1 -5- 27 = 52, nearly,


A push car with sideboards will carry 1 cubic yard of
material. If the men and material are at hand, commence
by raising the sag near the middle, extending the raising on
both sides until the ends are reached. Raise the track at
the middle of the sag about y 1 ^ higher than the total depth
of the sag, to allow for shrinkage of the material.

1649. General Repairs. Carefully examine all
joints, tightening loose nuts and renewing bolts where they
are broken or stripped of their thread. See that proper pro-
vision is made for expansion, and that all ties are full spiked.
Rotten ties left over from the work of the previous spring
should be replaced with new ones. If new steel is required,
see to it that it is laid early in the fall and the track well
settled before winter begins.

Thoroughly repair the right of way and snow fences.
The winter season puts all fences to the test, and they
should be in thorough repair if they are to do service the
following summer.

1650. Building IVew Fence. Though the spring is
the most favorable season of the year for building fence, the
more urgent track repairs fully occupy the time of every
section man. Consequently, fence building is deferred
until the late summer or fall. The one disadvantage to
building fence when the season is well advanced is the hard-
ness of the ground, which makes the digging of post holes
much more laborious than in the early spring, when the
ground is soft and yielding. There are, however, the fol-
lowing advantages in favor of building fence in the fall
season. Posts and lumber are usually much better seasoned
in the fall than in the spring; streams are low, and swampy
places are either entirely dry or at least accessible. It is



important that posts should be peeled and well seasoned be-
fore setting; and as they are usually cut in the winter
season, by delivering them at the section house in the win-
ter or early spring, the section men can peel and pile them
on stormy days; they will thus be thoroughly seasoned
when needed the following fall.

The most effective fence is of barb wire with one board at
the top, as shown in Fig. 513. Posts are spaced 8 feet between
centers and set 2 feet 6 inches into the ground. At intervals
of 500 feet on straight lines, and at every angle, braces
A B should be built into the fence. The brace is mortised
into the post at the top and gained into the post at the bot-
tom. The wires are spaced as follows, beginning at the
bottom wire, which is 9 inches above the ground : The first

and second wires are 9 inches apart; the second and third,
10 inches; the third and fourth, 10 inches apart, and the
fourth is spaced 10 inches from the top board or rail, which
is 6 inches in width. This makes the total height of the
fence 4 feet 6 inches, which is a lawful fence in most of the
States, and the total length of the posts 7 feet. In laying
out a fence, measure from the center line of the track, one-
half the width of the right of way, and set a temporary
post. Place these posts from 50 to 80 rods apart on tan-
gents and from 50 to 100 feet apart on curves. Then stretch
a light wire between these posts, with tags at intervals of
8 feet for spacing and lining the posts. A man then takes
a lining bar and spade and plumbs down from each tag with
the bar, making a mark with the point of the bar. He then
removes the sod from around the hole made with the bar.



The hole marks the center of a post and guides the men

who dig the post holes. The wire is removed while the

holes are being dug, and replaced to give line for setting the

posts. The diggers should be provided with a gauge giving

the proper depth of hole. Those nailing on either boards or

wire must be provided with a gauge giving top of fence and

the spacing of each strand of wire.

A handy gauge for spacing wires is

shown in Fig. 514. It consists of a

foot piece of pine 2 feet in length?

6 inches in width, and 1 inch in

thickness. Another piece of pine

3 inches wide and 4 feet 6 inches in

length, equal to the height of the

fence, is nailed to the foot piece at

its middle, as shown in the figure.

The spacing of each wire from the

ground is marked by a notch cut FIG - 514 -

into the edge of the upright piece. The foot piece, besides

Online LibraryInternational Correspondence SchoolsThe elements of railroad engineering (Volume 2) → online text (page 32 of 35)