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Track Work - Then and Now

253 ratings | 23865 views
Take an inside look at how track work has changed over the decades.
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Text Comments (22)
Nicole Howard (1 month ago)
My dad worked for 40 yrs and I admire the hell out of any railroad employee regardless of the job. Takes true grit to be dedicated and safe. Thank all ya'll for keeping everyone safe!
Aaron Kohn (4 months ago)
I miss railroading
Aaron Peavler/Geomodelrailroader Railroad Photography (1 year ago)
we have come a long way since the gandy dancer.
G Kess (1 year ago)
I’m amazed that the gauge is to the half inch for such a heavy system of tracks and rolling stock. What is the tolerance, in inches, allowed for the track width to vary? Such as 4’ 8 and 1/2 inches, plus or minus how much? 1/2 inch? 1 inch?
david baker (11 months ago)
58" max gage.
Stan Patterson (1 year ago)
I don't know the honest answer of what the tolerance is,  but I do know that if the track maintenance dept. isn't paying attention to those details, the rolling stock will quickly and violently advise you that the track needs work.  I would think that a half an inch wouldn't be a big problem, but by the time you get to an inch, you'd be playing with fire.  The risk of spreading the rails apart under heavy loads or high speeds could lead to a derailment.  Under some circumstances, they can also tend to flop over inward, leading to the same problems.  I have seen poorly maintained spur rails cause low-speed derailments,  the spur line being neglected, old lighter-gauge track in place,  rotten old ties that offer little support,  ballast that is reduced to mud and weeds, spikes that long ago wiggled up and out of the holes they were in.... and despite the incoming shunt crews' best intentions and precautions,  eventually the rails can no longer bear the abuse from heavy loads coming in around a tight curve.  You end up with a loco and a car partly derailed,  and guys standing around getting no work done,  with equipment that is now held hostage at the scene until it can be safely re-railed and removed.  Calls get made, blame gets passed around,  but eventually someone must invest money into the spur if the customer is to continue using rail service.
repoman (1 year ago)
then it was with hands and maybe machines. today its hands free all with multiple machines. tomorrow it will be completely automated with only one machine.
Hendo 85 (26 days ago)
@Rusty Williams yeah brother still hard work in rail.
Rusty Williams (11 months ago)
They will never replace the local gangs and general maintenance. A broke rail, a low joint, a bad switch point, they aren't bringing a T&S gang in to fix it. Still plenty of hand work involved.
manga12 (1 year ago)
well one or two the machines are exceptionaly large so there is only soo much you can put into a single one, and there are still times when it takes a bit of finnessing the rail or special situations that things are still done by hand, there are things that are one off sometimes that a machine just cant adapt fast enough to do or justify running an entire automated thing, like replacing one or two ties, thats where a couple of people come in with heavy equiptment and fix it, and there are places that are smaller like historic railroads where the automation in minimal so it is still done the old way, I know I have held ties up with a railroad spike puller at the fort wayne railroad when we were working on the tracks after the spread in the rail that dropped 765 on the ground, about 3 years ago at the open house, we put in a bunch of new ties and where the jackhammer could not drive the spikes it was done with a spikemaul, we are a not profit though
Victor Bozich (2 years ago)
Gandy Dancers were artists! Started out on the UP as part of a three man Survey Party in 1977. Later transferred to Engine Service as a 'Hoghead'.
Russell Dye (3 years ago)
When I left in 1990 section gangs still did most of the work with the normal track tools! We used claw bars,picks,shovels,tie tongs and spike mauls to put in an average of 18 ties a day and replaced sections of rail the same way! The big gangs such as steel gangs,tie gangs etc. used large track machines but there was still plenty of hard work to go around!You can still see M.O. W. Workers doing it by hand on YouTube!
Shane Stewart (1 year ago)
I worked on a section gang from 2008 to 2014 we used hand tools all the time . I went back to a section in 2016 and guys with a year experience we’re oblivious to basic techniques and the do do not when using basic hand tool. I was even told it was unsafe to dig a tie in by hand. I resigned from the railroad in 2017 and I don’t regret it.
Sean Martin (1 year ago)
I'm a MoW guy and we still do lots of jobs by hand. Especially if it's short industry spur tracks and such.
L K (1 year ago)
Russell Dye I think they still do tons of small jobs by hand. It's probably faster to get a some guys out there with good old hand tools and get it done faster than hauling the equipment all the way for a little work.
Talesin- God of the Internet (7 years ago)
1:37 Did people really do track work in a suit, tie and hat?
It's Me Again (27 days ago)
I was respectful to wear a suit tie and hat, Even poor people wore a suit when going to town. To bad we have lost respect for others and our selves.
exiarules (2 years ago)
talesin- god of the internet I don't think he's doing any hard work, just pushing a button, but yes men did go to work in suit and tie
Joe Nichols (8 years ago)
an awesome look at the history of MOW work
SD457500 (8 years ago)
Awesome video! Thanks for posting this!
bullfrog1954 (8 years ago)
Really like the old clips!
deputysheriff100 (8 years ago)
Love it. I went to work for Southern Railroad (now Norfolf-Southern) in 1969 at Inman Yard in Atlanta, Ga. I remember those old days well. We didn't have computers so we had to physically walk the in-bound train to record the car numbers on a switch list by hand. Walked MANY trains in my life. Retired from N/S and went into law enforcement. Norfolk-Southern Railroad (I still call it Southern Railroad) will always have a place in my heart. It was a good living.Very good video. Thanks.