“The cobbler’s children are always the worst shod.” It is a common saying that can be applied to several trades, and the saying was beginning to hit close to home in TRAM Construction’s Garrison, KY yard. To remedy this, we jumped at a recent opportunity to make a few track improvements to our own rail siding.
Railroad tracks are made of three main parts: the long steel rails that the trains run on, wood (or concrete) ties which the rails are spiked to, and the track ballast (loose rock) that helps bear a train’s weight and keeps the track clear of plants.
Railroad ties hold the track at the right width and help distribute the weight of trains onto the ground. Over time, the wood of the ties will decompose. As part of a regular track maintenance program, these wood ties need to be replaced periodically.
Since ties have a shorter lifespan than the steel track material it supports, how do you get them out without pulling up the track and disturbing the rails? First, our track crew pulls out the spikes driven into the old tie using a claw bar. A machine is then used to push ballast away before grabbing the tie to replace with a new one.
Once the new tie is in place, it is time to reassemble the track. Tie plates, which are flat pieces of steel, are placed underneath the rail so as not to crush the wood. We use a ballast tamper, which has giant vibrating claws that plunge into the rock and squeeze it underneath the tie, to form a stable support for the rail. When the ballast is compacted, it is time to drive the spikes in to hold the track into place.
And just like that, 70 ties were replaced and this cobbler’s got the best shoes in town.
TRAM Construction is available for track inspection, track construction, and track rehabilitation. We also sell relay rail and other track material. For more information on the services we offer, contact 606-757-4874 or send an email our way.