From The Archives Conrail MofW Part 6
- For those of you keeping count, part 5 was not numbered but it was dated
9/18/06. As I mentioned, I got "Bumped" quite a bit in the short stay I had
with Conrail. Unlike Sperry where I was not sure if I was going to stay, the
Conrail job was just for the summer.
I think we temporary summer help may have lasted two weeks in Big Al White's
gang. Then we were bumped to T.E Small's gang at 125th Street. Now where Al
White's gang was a production gang consisting of ten or twelve machines and
a half dozen trackmen supported by a cadre of mechanics and the omnipresent
signal department, the 125th street gang was a much smaller group. Big Al
White would see how many ties he could replace in one day. At 125th street
we hoped we could replace one tie per day.
I digress so you get an accurate picture.
In a production gang the gang is preceeded by a ballast dumping operation.
This would take place anywhere from a couple of months ahead of time to a
couple of minutes ahead of time. Basically a locomotive would be tied onto
some loaded hopper cars. The track dept would place a cum-along on the car
door and then knock the lock off allowing ballast to spill onto the track.
Often a tie would be placed accxross the tracks under the car to insure that
the ballast spread out evenly.
Next would come a whole bunch of machines. Sometiomes we would come first
with a nut runner and a machine that pulled spikes, then another that
allowed the rail top be lifted while the plate was removed. Then canme the
production. One machine chewed the tie into three parts. The next, aq tie
handler, took the parts and placed them along the ROW. Depending upon the
nu8mber of ties to be replaced there might be two tie handlers followeed by
a machine that literally dug out the bed that the new tie would slide into.
Next was another tie inserter to place the new tie in place. This was
followed by a spike driver, then a tamper/liner then a broom. And then me
again. My job was to pick up down ties and tamp em up then spike em up. It
was a very dirty environment. And you had to watch out for the track
machines, particularly the broom at the end of the gang. He would often back
up to get a good start on the ballast. If he backed up close enough you
might step out of the track you were working on to get out of his way BUT
you better not step into a live track or you could get smacked by the next
train. Remember the M Form!
Next part we will talk about about the bus (you will like the bus story I
promise) and then talk about T.E. Small's gang............