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#178972 06/18/08 09:17 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,445
Likes: 3
Cat Servant
One of our members has sent me the following pics, from his work at the railroad. He's somewhat new on the job, and doesn't want to draw attention to himself; so let's call him "The REAL Engineer." laugh

It's interesting to see how things are done in related fields. Some of you railroad buffs out there might want to chime in with some better explanations of what is pictured.

First, a 'battery vault.' It seems that rails used to go where the PoCo had not yet arrived, so they had banks of batteries for signal communication and to operate switches.
The vault itself:

[Linked Image]

On the (now empty) shelves sat banks of batteries that looked like this one:

[Linked Image]

Here's an example of one of the control cabinets the batteries powered:

[Linked Image]

Finally, ever wonder how rail workers got to the site? Remember, many of these sites are pretty remote, and lacking in roads or set in challenging terrain. Or, perhaps, you just wanted to find a way to beat the evening rush hour. laugh Well, this is the truck for you:

[Linked Image]

Please note the steel wheels, that can be lowered to ride on the rails directly.

Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 558
Those are weird looking batteries! Are they actual glass jars? They kind of look it for some reason.
Ya, I have seen trucks like those, the "CN" Rail system up here has trucks like that, as well as the odd pick-up and even special equipment for maintaining the vegitation and the banks along side the track that will ride right on the rails.


Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,498
Yeah, these 2-way-trucks are cool. The steel wheels keep them on the track and the rubber wheels are used to drive them.

Imagine standing on the platform, waiting for your train during morning rush hour and suddenly seeing a truck drive by on the track... I immediately had to grab my camera and shoot a picture.

Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 251
The trucks with RR wheels are called HI RAIL trucks. Most RR signal systems operate on batteries with charger. UP has a light on the outside of their signal cabinets that indicates AC power. Many have strobes that operate when power fails telling train crews so they can radio a signal maintainer. The old signal systems had glass jar batteries, most have been replaced by gel batteries. Newer signaling systems are less power hungry than older systems due to solid state controls. Robert

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 247
If you can find a copy (It's long out of print, but copies show up on the used market) the book Thirty Years Over Donner (Bill Fisher, 1990) is a interesting look at the life of a signal maintainer on the Southern Pacific over Donner Pass in California. It covers a 30 year career, spanning WWII, into the late 60's.

I'd love to find a copy, and read it again..

Last edited by techie; 06/21/08 08:21 PM.
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,935
Likes: 34
I see as many F250 pickup trucks on the rails as trains around here. I sometimes think they only do it to avoid the traffic.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 404
It's really neat to see the convoy of trucks, tractors, etc. that they use to maintain the tracks and replace rails. Probably 20 or so different pieces of equipment.

Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
Imagine my frustration, though, to be late for work yesterday as 3 of these trucks block the crossing while getting aligned, and men slowly getting out and checking everything, and then finally pull off far enough for the gates to rise, only for ANOTHER truck quick cuts off traffic to block the crossing again, ARRGHH!

Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 360
The law says I have to be able to hold my gates clear for 7 days without a/c power. So that means some serious reserve because my hold clear relays draw about 3/4 amp.

I use flooded NiCad cells in mine, there are sets out there that are 20 years old and still ticking. Edison NIFE cells, although they aren't NIckle (FE)iron anymore. Individual cells, at 280 A/H apiece.

Either that truck has two booms, or it's hiding one behind it.

Didja notice the "office" on the end of the boom?


aka Trainwire

Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 812
Newer signaling systems are less power hungry than older systems due to solid state controls.

LEDs in the signals help too.

Ian A.

Is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
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