Saturday, December 11, 2010

Speno Rail Grinding Train

Speno Rail Grinding Train, SRGX 209, Auburn Washington, August 14 1960. What an unexpected surprise to find the Speno Rail Grinding Services train working south on the NP Main through Auburn.

Dormitory car, diesel-electric power car, and rail grinders – 96 precisely angled pneumatic grinding wheels, 48 to a rail. Quite an engineering accomplishment, to set dozens of individually numbered grinding wheels mounted on several cars, to precisely restore the rail profile!

Not so dramatic
in daylight, but what a cacophony of screeching sounds, and smell of burnt metal!That's my Dad posing beside a grinder set.

Have you ever really thought about what keeps a train on the tracks? I have! The first time I rode a GMD GP-9 up the Skeena River as a mere lad of 14 years old, I was absolutely petrified by the yawing, pitching and lurching of the locomotive, wondering what magic was keeping us from plunging into the muddy Skeena River!

There is an entire body of science behind the interface between a wheel flange, and the profile of the rail. That’s why these grinder trains are in constant use, maintaining the rail profile to prevent derailments and extend the life of the rail.

Rail Grinding trains, by their very nature, are not thought of as "trains" moving at track speed over a right of way. But such is not the case when moving from one location to another.

Harsco suffered a fatal derailment in 2006, which brought their operation under close scrutiny by the Feds, and prompted a refined look at operations other than rail grinding.

There is a "dark side" to rail grinding, one that turns out to be a very touchy subject between the railroad and track-side residents. KING-TV Channel 5 in Seattle completed a lengthy investigative report last November (2009), strongly suggesting that rail grinding trains may be wreaking havoc in Washington State and elsewhere.

Click KING-TV Logo for video clips
Password: fire

Part 1 was the first of an investigation into the legal liability BNSF may face in view of more than 60 suspect fires attributed to rail grinding operations, shown on this fire summary as "Track Maintenance" being the source of ignition.

At least one fire resulted in the death of a farmer, trapped by a wall of flame that surrounded his combine as he worked a field. The fire was allegedly ignited by a passing grinding operation.

As you may detect in the on-camera interview, the spokesman for BNSF seems defensive. About what a mega railroad would be expected to act.

In Part 2, the investigation reports a recent drop in track side fires attributed to rail grinding, may be the result of the Skamania County commissioners enacting a new ordinance that imposes fines against grinder crews who start fires.

It may be the only ordinance of it's kind in the nation.

Railroad Stuff: Speno Rail Grinding, based in East Syracuse New York, was unusual in that they pioneered the use of on board living for grinder train crews, complete with dormitory and dining cars.

Speno was absorbed into Pandrol-Jackson in the 1990’s, which in turn was absorbed into Harsco Track Technologies.

1 Comments - Click here:

Unknown said...

I worked on the 200 train in 1971 thru 1973

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