Monday, May 5, 2008

Track Gang #1

Track Gang, Prince Rupert, September 5, 1959. All summer long, maintenance of the main line has been taking place on the Skeena Subdivision. Out at Kwinitsa, major repairs were taking place on a short bridge, with pilings being replaced, and new ballast was being laid.

Re-ballasting began with a locomotive set working a short string of Western dump cars, discharging new ballast onto the track, to be spread and profiled with a Jordan Spreader.

Next, this colorful gang of workers comes along with their track leveler. The machine grabs the rails, and two pistons are driven down between the ties, lifting the ties and rail up out of the old ballast.

A track gauge – the white beam lying across the rails has a big glass leveling bubble. By maneuvering the two piston rams, the rail can be leveled.

This crew seemed to be Eastern European, speaking broken English. But I soon discovered that friendly nods and smiles were reciprocated in kind. This was a fantastic adventure for me, a mere lad of 16 years old.

I had taken a photography class at the Civic Centre, and was really trying to concentrate on composing my shots. Being on a slim allowance, I shot black and white film, and had learned how to do my own processing at the Civic Centre photo club.

I was lucky to have had this experience, as in two months, we were moving back to Seattle.

This crew has a long way to go! Behind them two McWilliams Multiple Air Tools, will finish the job, firmly seating the gravel ballast around the ties.

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