Maintenance of Way Snippets

Items added: August 9, 2004


By putting on a reel 700' of 1 1/2" steel cable, the water service men completed Thursday, their share of a new ballast unloading machine, It will now be given over to the car workers who will enclose it then ready for service. This is the fourth of these unloaders to be built at Topeka shops since last Fall, and there is still another coming. One of the last two will be sent to Cleburne, Tx., and the other to the Western Lines of the road.

RAILROAD GAZETTE 11/17/1923 p.725

Motor Cars (section hand) first used on the Santa Fe in 1905. A section foreman privately purchased a small power unit and mounted it on a hand car frame. Since that date, individual and company purchases registered in 1921 showed a total of 1,450 cars showing evaluation of $365,000.00.

Ft. Madison Weekly DEMOCRAT (date?):

(refers to first Santa Fe Railroad Bridge across the Mississippi -Ellington note)

The sharpest curve on the Santa Fe System is at the approach of the local Mississippi river bridge. The terrific strain on the rails at that point from a passing train is quite damaging, so the company has put in a new set of rails, much more expensive, and a tougher composition, thought to withstand the strain longer than the previous style.

RAILWAY AGE GAZETTE, 9/ 9/1910 pgs 468-9.

"Converted Automobile Motor Car"

(With illustration accompanying article). Car put together by W.B. Chenoweth, roundhouse foreman of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe at Longview, Tx., who sent the following details:

The car was originally a Rambler automobile, two-cylinder, 24-h.p. We purchased the car second-hand for $250.00. The car is of the 1907 model; it had run over two years as an automobile and in purchasing the car we produced great joy in the camp of the auto dealer, for it was supposed to be worn out, but it wasn't.

As a motor car it has 24-in. steel-tired wheels on the rear or driving axle, and 20-in. steel wheels in the front. The wheels are pressed on both axles. The rear axle is solid steel as a differential is not necessary on a railway track. The engine has a 13-tooth sprocket on shaft, and the rear axle has a 24-tooth sprocket; hence it is geared to less than 2 to 1 on high gear and we have no use for the low gear on a track. In fact, the low gear band has been removed from the transmission drum. The rear wheels make 836 revolutions per mile, and being geared 13 to 24, the engine makes 1.540 revolutions per mile. As the engine will make 1,500 revolutions per minute, the speed is very evident on the face of the returns; at any rate, it is what the farmers term as "tolerably fast".

We can haul 18 men and 150 ties in case of washouts or accidents. To illustrate, in July we had a passenger train derailment 47 miles from Longview; we loaded four men and four Norton 35-ton jacks and were at the scene of the wreck in one hour and fifty minutes. Again, the arch bars broke on an engine tank 36 miles from Longview. This blocked the main line, as the wheels spread when the bars broke. We loaded a set of arch bars, four men and two Norton jacks and were on the ground in one hour. Again, if we see that a train and crew is going to be caught between terminals by the 16-hour law, we can take a train and engine crew and relieve them in short order. We therefore have no traffic delays from this cause.

On August 19 conditions required that our vice-president and superintendent see every employee on the line in person. Our line consists of 98 miles of track. We left Longview at 10:30 a.m., saw every employee on the line and were back in Longview at 9:00 p.m. same date. To have done this by train service would have taken four days.This is a saving of three days and $10 hotel bills.

A short time ago one of our pumps broke at a water station 45 miles south of Longview, which caught a train at this station without water. They could not run for water because of lack of water to run on. We arrived at the station with repairs for the pump in 1 hour and 25 minutes, with delay to the train of only two hours and thirty minutes.

The car was put in service on February 12, 1910, and has made 6,000 miles without a delay on the road for repairs. It is equipped with the Apple system of ignition. This consists of Apple dynamo run through eight dry cells on the spark coil, with two of the cells dead; this is to temper the current in case of high voltage as the dynamo has no governor. The car has run seven months with the same dry cells and the cells are today apparently as hot as they ever were. The car uses four gallons of gasolene and one pint of lubricating oil per 100 miles; this makes 25 miles for gasolene, or a cost of approximately one cent per mile. This is for the car loaded without the trailers; with the trailers it will make 18 miles per gallon of gasolene.

The car is operated by train order strictly; it is not allowed to go on the main line without first getting orders from the dispatcher's office. The cost to convert this car into a motor car was as follows: Labor, $36.20; material, $29.60; Apple dynamo, spark coil and headlight, $37.50; cost of automobile $250.

The brakes are operated by the exhaust from the engine; this is done by a cut-out which connects to the 8-inch brake cylinder. The exhaust is cut into this brake cylinder and the pressure is held in the brake cylinder by a 1-inch check valve. It is possible to put 50-lbs. pressure into the brake cylinder. The brake pressure is released by an independent lever. When the brakes are applied it also cuts the engine speed down on account of back pressure. This is an advantage on a motor car, as it keeps the engine from racing when the clutch is thrown out and brakes applied. End of article

SANTA FE MAGAZINE, July 1965 p. 15 (w 3 photos): "VOLCANIC CINDERS,,,for SFe"

Cinders explosively ejected from a volcanic vent, perhaps as far back in time as one million years ago, are being quarried in northern Arizona for use as ballast to smooth the way for Santa Fe Railway streamliners as modern as tomorrow.

Santa Fe engineers have established a highly efficient quarrying operation at a point north of Darling in Coconino County. Use of volcanic cinders for ballast on the Santa Fe isn't new. More than half a century ago the company worked a small cinder cone near Bellemont to obtain material for ballasting the right-of-way east and west. Only recently, however, has the operation been developed to its present high state of efficiency.

North of the mainline in the vicinity of Darling and Angell there lies a widespread lava sheet on which are visible many topographically prominent cinder cones in an area 15 miles wide and 70 miles long.

Santa Fe recently installed a "jaw" type crusher and a device called a "vibrating grizzly" for screening cinders to obtain a uniform size of minus 2 1/2 inches. Previously, cinders were removed from the cone and passed over a stationary grizzly having 4 1/2 inches openings. Since 15 percent of the material was over 4 1/2 inches, this amount was normally wasted, according to John G. Fry of Los Angeles, chief engineer for the Santa Fe's Coast Lines. By means of the new operation, cinders are raked down hill by a Sauerman dragline bucket, and the material passed over the vibrating grizzly. Oversize material is diverted into the crusher for further reduction. This product is then mixed with originally screened material to give minus 2 1/2 inch ballast. It is estimated that the cone holds a 200-year supply of material at the present rate of production.

Topeka DAILY STATE JOURNAL 12/05/1906:

Santa Fe has 1,326 miles of 'dirt track' oiled, remainder is ballasted with rock, slug or cinders. Total is bigger than a pyramid. 480,000 car loads of ballast used on the System. 12,200 cars of rails strung across the continent. We have before us a blueprint, a yard long, filled with figures. It is called the "Rail & Ballast Statement", and is a page of the records of the Santa Fe showing the construction of that railway up to date. Through its painstaking tabulations may be traced the composition of every mile of mainline and branches, the material used for ballast on every mile, and the kind and weight of rails used. In Texas, Arizona and California, 1,326 miles of track are laid on bare earth, ditched on either side, and sprinkled with crude petroleum, which packs the sand or clay and effectively prevents dust. There is a quality of resiliency about this sort of roadbed that reminds one of the automobile touring, it makes the finest roadbed in the world. There are 1,524,524 miles of gravel-ballasted road, and 1,254 miles of rock ballast. Engine cinders are used to ballast 385 miles of track, and volcanic cinders from an extinct crater in Southern California, ballast 381 miles. Slag or 'gumbo' (burnt clay) screenings, cemented gravel and disintegrated granite and mixed ballast are employed on 436 miles, making altogether 3,980 miles of specially ballasted track, mainly on main lines. The rails use are chiefly the standard steel bar, 85-lb. to the yard, though there are 4 miles of the ponderous 101-lb. rail in New Mexico. There are 1,658 miles laid with the standard rail, and 1,462 miles of 75-lb. rail.On the level prairies of Oklahoma and Kansas, there are still some of the lighter rails used for branch lines, which are rapidly giving place to those of the standard weight. It is difficult to form an idea as to the magnitude of these figures. Take the ballast for example, nearly 4,000 miles of material, or 480,000 carloads of 25 yards (each).The great pyramid of Cheops is probably the largest mass of material ever brought together by human hands. The ballast, laboriously quarried, crushed, spread, and tamped for the track of the Santa Fe would build a pyramid a third higher than that of the Egyptian king. Or take the rails. The 1,658 miles laid with the standard 85-lb. rail, carry an aggregate of 248,700 tons of steel, and the 1,462 miles of 75-lb. rail carry 243,000 tons; a total of heavy rail in round numbers, of 490,000 tons of finished steel. Loaded on the heaviest platform cars, 12,200 cars would be required to carry the burden.

TOPEKA STATE JOURNAL 10/19/1901 (Newton Kansas item):

As soon as the factory at Bay City, Michigan, can fill its contract for the Santa Fe, there will be set up at Newton, the first rail saw of its kind on the Santa Fe system. The principal difference between it and the one now in use somewhere down south, is that the new machine will be stationary, whereas the old one is portable, being moved about on a car. Steel rails that have been in service a good while become battered and bent on the ends by the incessant pounding of numbers of swiftly moving wheels, and they have to be taken out and a piece of the end removed. It is for this purpose that the rail saw is designed. The most interesting fact about this machine is the saw proper is nothing more than a circular piece of steel, similar to an ordinary saw, except that it has no teeth. It is not made up of unusually hard steel either, but, having a square edge and running at a rapid speed, it soon eats its way through the piece of railroad iron. Occasionally the edge has to be dressed down, but this is not often. The capacity of the machine now being put in will be about 600 rails per day. It will probably be delivered before long.

Back to Ellington's Santa Fe Snippets

Back to Santa Fe Subjects