I am pleased to report that our major track work weekend, April 14th – 15th 2012, was a huge success. We had a fantastic volunteer turnout: Brian Durham, Hans Brandes, Griffin Bourassa, Dakota Dumont, Colby Miles, Jeff Ferland, Hansel Van Fardon, Kyle Collins, Bill Piche, Joe Fox, Mike Fox, John Mcnamara, Corey Boucher, Tim Averill, Vincent Lerow, and Mike Moulison. Thank you all for your help. Additionally, we hired Railworks Inc. to lead the major work, provide equipment, and train some of our volunteers. There crew of Tom, Ryan, and Wayne were a huge help, and many of us walked away have gleaned some new skills and knowledge for having worked with them.
The work for the weekend was divided into three categories: tie replacement, stone work (leveling, tamping, lining, etc.), and joint bar work. Crews replaced 15 switch timbers total on the coach track switch, yard switch, and both switches at bridge siding. Additionally, Railworks was able to do some grinding and welding on the points and frogs to improve their condition.
Over the weekend, we managed to change out an additional 25 mainline ties, improving gauge along the way. Another crew spent the majority of the weekend picking up the once listing and leaning track on the west side of Cutter St. After a great deal of lifting and tamping, plus about 2.5 flatcar loads of ballast, I’m pleased to report that all of the major dips and leans on that stretch of track have been nearly eliminated. Finally, a group worked both days tightening and replacing track bolts. On Sunday, with the help of Railworks’ rail drill, we replaced 2 broken joint bars, inspected and tightened over 100 joint bars, and improved the sharp corners that had developed at Fish Point. While not perfect, the curve around Fish Point has been improved a great deal.
Safety, as always, is first and foremost, and besides a few sunburns everyone went home safely. We got a major head start on this year’s track improvement campaign, and we learned a great deal from working with a professional track crew. We had what must have been one of the greatest turnouts of young volunteers in MNG’s history, and all of the veterans did an outstanding job teaching and encouraging our younger, newer volunteers – this has been a major area of improvement recently at MNG.
Of course, this track work weekend would not have been possible without grant money received from the Morton-Kelley Charitable Trust: thank you! I would also like to thank our wonderful executive director, Allison Tevsh Zittel, for both her work securing this grant and for all her support coordinating the actual track work weekend. Thank you Arthur Hussey for allowing me to cancel most of the revenue runs so this track work could happen with minimal interruption and for taking pictures of the work as it was in progress. Finally, thank you Jerry Angier for delivering pizza without anchovies to our crews!
Moving forward, the track crew plans to use the rest of the new 5ft. ties on the mainline between Fish Point and Cutter St. and also between Trails West and the bridge. We will also be doing a lot of stone work in those areas. I will keep you posted here on the news blog and also on our facebook page regarding dates and times for track work this season. Even if you aren’t physically able to help the track crew, we are developing a wish list of track tools that we would love to acquire; a donation of one of the tools on our list or some funds to be used towards purchasing one of these tools would also go a long way in helping us maintain a safe railroad for the public enjoyment of our historic trains. Remember, track work is as important at MNG as cleaning the toilets, so thank you for your effort. Once more, thanks again to everyone who helped make this weekend a success.