The Rubber & Rawhide Railroad

Progress Report for 13th January 2009

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This Page Created on January 13th, 2009
Daddy, they moved our Bridge!

Daddy, they moved our Bridge!

New visitors to the Rubber and Rawhide always "OOOH and AAAH" at the sight of our rustic wooden bridge. That's not been the same reaction we've received from train engineers and the Railway Maintenance folks. The former are in fear anytime they run a train with a longer unit, and the latter always have their fingers crossed for any future incidents.

Finally, after one too many sessions combining both types of complaints, our roadbed crew worked with Railway Maintenance to find a viable solution. One idea had been to move the bridge downstream on the second switchback, where the track is straight on both approaches to the Skeletal Stream. Unfortunately, both our Arborist and the Diver's Deep folks complained. We think the divers had been testing exotic gear from the bridge, and the greater height above water was going to be quite a shock. The arborist's complaints were not as evident, but he did point out that the last switchback on the Serpentine happened just downstream of the bridge's current Diver's Loop location, and "didn't we think that it would be straight enough?" Well, we looked, and we hoped and we acted.

Grade Crossings Work Continues

Now that the Operations Department has finalized plans to officially split the Rubber and Rawhide into two independent but readily combinable lines (more about that later), they returned their attention to the poor condition of the Rubber and Rawhide's grade crossings. After their initial excitement at the work done on the porch division, progress had seemingly slowed while other issues were pressed. With the success in treating the grade crossings on the West side of the house, the crew was turned loose to start attending to crossings on Phases II, III and V.

The first tackled was perhaps the most difficult, as the track connecting the Phase II House Perimeter Route with Phase III Lot Circumnavigation (the so-called North Garage Cutoff) begins at a turnout, and is curved throughout its crossing of the main garden path. Seven segments of slotted crossing treatment were required, each carefully tailored to the curve of the rails.

Note the second track diagonally crossing the path behind the North Garage Cutoff. This will be the Sago Route to House Perimeter Connector. Final grade adjustments cannot be made until this Phase V-B project is completed. At that time, gravel and soil fill will be introduced to bring both crossings up to grade.

North Garage Garden Path Crossing
Marshy Path Grade Crossing

Marshy Path Grade Crossing Work Begins

The team today completed grade crossing treatment for the second location on the North Garage Cutoff. Again, there will be a second track when the Phase V-B Sago to Beyond the Briars project is completed. The two pipes adjacent to the partially-completed roadbed call to mind that this is also a flood plain area. In heavy rains, a sheet of water can flow down both sides of the garage, converging on the marshy path. It is envisioned that a combination of pipes and gravel will be employed to minimize ponding in the area. Another reason for the concern is to keep excessive runoff from infiltrating the Rubber Creek headwaters.

In the background is the Lot Circumnavigation and Beyond the Briars Interchange with the Sago Route.

Sago Route Grade Crossing Completed!

The most eagerly anticipated grade crossing must be the one connecting Phase III with the beginning of the Phase V-A Sago Route! Ever since Horse relocated out here, interest has been at a fever pitch. In a previous newsletter, we detailed how the roadbed had been carefully embedded into the crushed limestone path's surface. The reason for that extra effort will be evident now, as the two photos reveal the finished grade crossing close conformance to the path's surface!

The first photo views the crossing from the West, looking back towards Neptune. The linked photo is from the opposite direction, and perhaps shows the neat work even better. There will be some minor smoothing and tamping of the path to help settle the limestone around and under the grade crossing timbers.

Sago at Horse Grade Crossing

House Perimeter and Lot Circumnavigation Routes Gain Their Independence!

It wasn't a revolution, no brass bands played, but yesterday marked a significant development in the Rubber and Rawhide Railroad's short history. For the first time, it became possible to independently operate two trains on two completely separable routes. Track changes made in the last few weeks had held out the promise of this ability, and our electrical department finally, with many hours of unpaid overtime, made it a reality! Late yesterday afternoon, the last insultated rail joiner was installed on the North Garage Loop to House Perimeter route. Electrical tests were completed to assure that either the House Perimeter or the Lot Circumnavigation route could be powered separately. Field tests were made with one Union Pacific S-4 pulling a short consist of cars. There were a few anxious moments, but all in all the test was a success!

Lessons Learned

Electrically, there was only one surprise, and that was the failure of one joiner in an early part of Phase I trackage, strangely enough at the East Discobolos Station Switch. The electricians will look into replacing the friction-type joiner with a bolt-on unit.

Mechanically, the uninstalled grade crossings over concrete surfaces continue to be a serious operational hazard! While there were some derailments from inadequate policing of the tracks before the deepening dusk time of the field tests, most of the serious problems were from headlong impact of our test engine with these unsecured timbers! Now that our roads and crossing department has demonstrated the viability of their fabricated solution with an unbroken stream of successful manufactured roadbed grade crossings, we're discovering that we can no longer hope for a simpler solution for the concrete (Sidewalk, Driveway, and Porch) crossings.

Despite everyone being eager to see further progress in building more roadbed, laying more track, even running more trains, management has called for a cessation of all other activities until the concrete grade crossings have been safely and securely installed. Make sure you have your hearing protectors, guys!