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From The Archives Conrail MofW part 8

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  • joseph Klapkowski
    I got bumped after a couple weeks and wound up going to T.E.Small s gang at 125th Street in Harlem. For those not familiar with the location, this is the
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 20, 2006
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      I got bumped after a couple weeks and wound up going to T.E.Small's gang at
      125th Street in Harlem. For those not familiar with the location, this is
      the elevated portion of the track from the Harlem River down to 96th Street.
      The track structure is essentially two tracks on a "bridge" which shares a
      large girder on one side that is the outer portion of a second set of two
      tracks on thier own bridge. If you are on the track structure you can move
      only between two tracks, the center girdrer being too high to climb over.
      The only place to get out of the way of an oncoming train on the viaduct is
      to stand right up against the side of the viaduct where you had about 30
      inches of clearance.

      So we are in Al White's gang and the foreman comes up to us one day and says
      we are being bumped. We did not really understand, (well I did but the other
      guys did not). It turns out that I actaully kept some notes on what happened
      that I did not remember I had.
      Tuesday June 23, 1980. "Worked at B&G again. Same old stuff but today I got
      bumped to 125th Street. So and so asked if I was leaving already. Tough luck
      but we'll see what happens."

      When we got to 125th street we wound up talking to the union rep and the
      Assistant Track Foreman. We thought that perhaps we could all get to the
      gang up in Brewster and after we reported to the Foreman we all went up to
      the platform to take a train to Brewster to see about a job there (I think
      there were three of us but at least two, myself and Chip, the ther college
      guy). Then the Assistant Foreman a real shiny shoes, came up and said we had
      to go downstairs. Now the gang lockeroom was in the basement of 125th Street
      station about two two stories below the street. My notes say that it smelled
      bad down there.

      The good news is that the lockers, which were almost all empty, were lined
      with blueprints of the right of way. More bad news. They were just bits and
      pieces except for one that was a full plate or the railroad around Croton
      Falls on the Harlem Division. I have it today.

      My notes indicate that all the tools at 125th street were worn and or

      Also according to my notes, often times if we were working on track 4, we
      would try and get track 2 out of service as well. This did not always happen
      and then it was much more dangerous. I spent some time describing the setup
      on the Park Avenue Viaduct so this would make sense. What we did on the
      Viaduct was dig out the cribs of ballast and all kinds of other crud that
      had hardened into a concrete like mass. Remember this is essentially a
      bridge but rather than just lay ties on I-beams there were long girders with
      cross-members. in between the cross members there was a trough that wa
      designed for the tie and into the trough went the ballast with the tie on
      top. the ballast helped reduce vibration between the rail and the bridge

      This is why we were lucky to do one tie a day. The process was that you had
      to get the tie out first. This was accomplished with a track jack. Next you
      started digging with a jack hammer. The hammer was powered by air and the
      center beam of the viaduct, besides being high was also about 24 inches wide
      and had an air supply running along the top with Chicago couplings every ten
      or twenty feet. We had to take the hose, and get it under the running rails
      on the adjacent track and then under the running rail on the out of service
      track and then to the worksite. If the adjacent track was out of servixce no
      problem. If it was not then the risk of an FL-9 or MU train with third rail
      shoes increased the likelihood that an air hose could get "picked" and start
      dragging it and the hammer down the right of way.

      It was a dangerous environment. More so than the normal railroad right of
      way because there was no place to run, M Form or not.

      And with that I will close. Next edition we will talk about T.E Small,
      getting to work on time, the time we started work, the man in the
      delicatessen, riding the train and other odds and ends.

      So let me ask.........What's in your archives???????????????????????
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