1621. At the first break up of winter the spring track work begins. The section foreman should plan his work so as to take advantage of each day as the season advances. As soon as the snow has disappeared from the track, which will always be a few days earlier than from less exposed places, he should set his men to work at cleaning up the station grounds and yard. All scattering track material should be collected and neatly piled at a place convenient to the hand-car house. All rubbish which may have accumulated during the winter must be removed and used either to fill up low places in the right of way, or burned, if necessary.

All switches should be thoroughly repaired and put in perfect line. Battered rails should be replaced by good ones; guard-rails and frogs examined and defects in them remedied, and all ties collected, loaded on cars, and distributed along the section, where they will be ready at hand when needed to put in the track. All breaks in fences should be repaired at the earliest opportunity. The approaches to highway crossings should be made safe, and everything done in the way of repairs which the season will permit of. As the frost begins to leave the track, settlement commences, and the track should be carefully watched, thick shims being replaced by thinner ones as the settlement goes on, and all shims removed as soon as it is possible to spike the rails to their proper surface.

Every joint throughout the section should be examined; all loose bolts tightened; nut-locks or washers supplied where needed, and broken bolts replaced by new ones. As the frost leaves the track, especially in wet cuts, soft places will appear. These must be reported to the train dispatcher at once. By keeping the side ditches clear and deepening them as the frost leaves the ground, soft places can usually be made safe until the ground settles, when thorough repairs should be made. Ifthe place becomes dangerous the fact


must be reported by telegraph to the roadmaster, who will furnish the necessary men and materials to make the track safe.

1622. Washouts.—The melting snow together with the spring rains greatly increase the volume of surface water, and as the frost comes out of the ground but slowly, ditches and natural water channels are taxed to their utmost capacity. It is at this season of the year that washouts and landslides are chiefly to be feared. All ditches, culverts, and bridges must be kept clear of obstructions, and the track watched night and day so long as danger is to be apprehended. In case of a severe storm, the section foreman should send a responsible man to one end of the section with the proper signals to stop trains in case of danger, while he goes to the other end of the section, leaving a man to guard any dangerous spot until the section is entirely covered. In case he lacks the means to repair any damage done, he must report the fact by telegraph to both the train dispatcher and roadmaster, in order that the former may hold trains at convenient points while the latter can rush a construction train through to the point of danger. The foreman should include in his report the location of the break or washout, the number of the bridge or culvert, the length of the break, the number of missing bents, and any information which will aid the roadmaster in making a correct estimate of the men and materials necessary to repair the damage. He can then set to work with his men, making such repairs as his limited force will permit of, and being ready to render every assistance in his power to the roadmaster, who assumes charge on his arrival. A foreman should never attempt any repairs of track until he has inspected his entire section, as two or more breaks may occur simultaneously, and while repairing one break an accident is liable to occur at another.

1623. Repairs of Track.—As soon as the frost has left the track and all shims have been removed, bringing the rails down to the surface of the ties, the section foreman should go rapidly over his section, making such repairs as will render the track safe and reasonably smooth. If the


track is well ballasted with gravel or broken stone these repairs will be quickly made, as such track will hold a good line and surface after the severest winter. If, however, the ballast is clay, the track will show many low places and an uneven line. The track jack, shovels, and picks are all the tools needed for the first repairs. A man is set to dig block holes for the jack at the lowest points in the sags. The track is then raised until it is in average surface with the track at either end of the sag. Dirt is then shoveled under the ties, care being taken to throw it well back to the middle of the tie. No attempt should be made to tamp the ties other than to fill up the cavities formed by raising them. A part of the force will follow, dressing up the track and filling block holes. The foreman should stop raising track about two hours before quitting time, taking with him sufficient hands to line up and gauge the track surfaced during the day. The line side of the track is then given a perfect line. Either rail may be taken as the line side, but the same rail should always be used for lining. A part of the force take the gauge and spike maul and spike the track to gauge, while the rest follow, dressing up the track. This work will put the track in perfect line and fair surface, and by the time the entire section is covered the ground will be thoroughly settled and the track in shape for permanent surfacing.

1624. Lining Track.—When lining track the foreman should stand with his back to the sun and as far from the piece of track which he is to line up as his eyesight will permit. This gives him a better view of the straight portions on each side of the crooked portion, all three of which are to be brought into the same straight line. A simple device, much practiced by trackmen when lining track, is to place small lumps of dirt on the top of the rail to be straightened. These lumps show plainly in contrast to the bright, unbroken surface of the rail, and when brought into range insure a good line.

With a strong section gang the foreman can readily perform any of the tasks which confront him; but when from


necessity his force is reduced to a minimum, he is obliged to resort to every expedient within his knowledge. He must not only direct the work, but lead in its execution. Frequently a foreman will have charge of ten miles of track, and have but four hands besides himself wherewith to maintain it. It is under such circumstances that ingenuity and energy count at their full value.

When a sag in the track has caused a crook in the line, and there is not sufficient force to throw the track to line, the following scheme will enable the foreman to straighten the track and hold it in place. He can only straighten one rail length at a time, and to do that he should remove the spikes from three or four of the ties under the rail. The ties so detached from the rail are called dead ties. The lining bars are then placed under the rail upon the dead ties, which afford a far firmer foundation and leverage than ordinary ground. The track is then thrown to line, after which the dead ties are shifted to their proper position. If the track has a tendency to slip back out of the line, the rails can be temporarily spiked to the dead ties, which, being securely bedded, will hold the rails permanently in place.

1625. Straining of Track Bolts.—Reference has already been made to this serious fault, which is almost universal among trackmen and generally due to ignorance on their part. The rail splices on most American roads are fitted with nut locks of either metal or fiber, the object of which is to lock the nut and at the same time permit of the expansion and contraction of the rail. In order that expansion and contraction may take place, the nut should only be brought to a snug bearing on the nut-lock, whereas, the common practice is to screw on the nuts as far as the strength of the trackman will permit. This places the bolt, nut- lock, and nut under a severe strain, with the result that the rail can not freely expand and contract; the nut-lock is deprived of all power to act, and at the first abrupt change of temperature the nuts are liable to snap off on account of the sudden strain. One of the first duties of the section foreman is to explain to his men the object of the slots in the


rails, expansion shims, and nut-locks. In putting in track bolts, first bring the nut to a bearing, after which a half turn with the wrench is sufficient. Track wrenches should not be longer than 16 inches for ¾-inch bolts. Spike slots should always be made in the angle splice. These prevent the creeping of the rails and at the same time permit the free expansion and contraction of the rails.

1626. Removing Old Track Bolts.—In removing old track bolts they should never be battered with either hammer or wrench. The nut should not be entirely removed from the bolt until the bolt is loosened in the splice. When the nut is nearly off the bolt, give it a slight tap with the track wrench. This will loosen the bolt without injuring the thread. The thread of the old bolts should be oiled and the nuts well screwed on so that they will be complete and in readiness for service when needed.

1627. Loose Track Bolts.—Changes of temperature often cause the loosening of track bolts. These are most noticeable in the spring and fall of the year. Trackmen should watch for and promptly tighten all loose track bolts, as they are one of the main causes of low joints.

1628. Line and Surface of Bridge Approaches.—Special care should be taken to make the line and surface of the track on bridge approaches as nearly perfect as possible. Pile bridges are liable to heave, especially when the ice surrounding them is lifted by a spring freshet. Section men should not attempt to repair bridges unless circumstances require it. They have neither the experience nor tools for such work.

Bank sills (those resting upon the embankment and supporting bridge stringers) are continually settling, and cause a bump, or lift, in the track at the bridge, line. The sills should be raised and kept in perfect surface by hard tamping, and all bank ties kept well tamped. If possible, avoid placing a rail joint over a bank sill. It is almost certain to be low at times; but rather arrange the track so as to bring the center, of the rail at that point.



1629. General Repairs.—On Northern railroads, general track work commences with the month of May. By that time all frost has left the track and settlement has taken place generally.

The section foreman should go to the end of his section to commence track repairs, and work towards home, finishing as he goes, raising all small sags and low joints to a proper surface, tightening all loose bolts, relining the track, and correcting all defects in gauge. He should fill in the middle of the track and dress it down to the track shoulder. He should allow nothing short of actual compulsion to call him from his work until the entire section is covered. He will then be in readiness to put in new ties, lay new steel, surface track, or cut weeds according as the work demands. In going over the track, the foreman can correctly estimate the number of new ties needed and make early requisition for them in order that they may be on hand when needed. He should keep a record of the places where new ties are needed and distribute them accordingly.

1630. Track Ties.—Track ties constitute one of the most important items in the initial cost and maintenance of a railroad. The company should provide the best ties within their means, and, if possible, have them well seasoned before being placed in the track. Ties made from logs split in two parts should be laid with the sap side up. This brings the wide or heart side of the tie underneath, which is the position it would naturally take. Pole ties, those made from young trees, are more lasting than those made from large logs, as the older the tree, the more open and brittle the timber. Sawed ties are usually smaller than hewn ties. They are Also often cross-grained, and hence more easily broken. Tie specifications should always require uniformity in length and thickness and the removal of A bark. Tie inspectors should strictly enforce these specifications. Tie contractors are quick to note any


laxness in the enforcement of specifications and always ready to take advantage of it.

Ties in the roadbed should be not less than 8 feet in length, 7 inches in thickness, and show at least 7 inches of face and be hewn to a uniform thickness throughout their entire length. Winding ties should be promptly rejected. They are dear as a gift.

The life of a tie depends not only upon the kind and quality of its timber, but also upon the weight of the rails, condition of the roadbed, and much upon the climate. In Northern latitudes, decay is almost entirely suspended during the late fall and winter months, while in Southern latitudes decay goes on almost uninterruptedly throughout the year. The yellow pine ties of the South are best fitted to withstand the effects of the climate, and when of sound heart timber they are fairly lasting.

The loss sustained from the use of inferior ties is apparent when one considers the cost of repairs and renewals. A track laid on ties with an average life of 8 years, and costing 60 cents each, is vastly more economical than a track laid on ties with an average life of 5 years and costing 40 cents each. The track laid on the more expensive ties will be superior from the start to that laid on cheaper ones, and, besides requiring far less repairs, it will be in good condition when the cheap track must be entirely rebuilt. The breakage of spikes and angle splices is much greater where cheap ties are used, and accidents more frequent and severe.

1631. Placing New Ties in Track.—When renewing ties, no more material should be removed from the track than is necessary to allow the new tie to go into its proper place. Where the track is mud-ballasted, remove the dirt from the sides and from the ends of the tie to, a depth a little below its bed, but without disturbing the bed of the old tie. If two ties side by side need renewal, a single trench between them will serve for removing both. Remove the spikes and spring the rail up from adjoining ties, slipping a spike under it. Then knock, an old tie into


the trench and pull it out. Pull the new tie into the trench from the opposite side of the track and have two men slide it into place, keeping it well up against the rail until it is in place. If the track is low, throw some fine dirt under the tie and spike the tie to the rail. The ballast removed in putting in additional ties should be thrown into the trenches made when removing the first ties. When all the rotten ties are removed from one rail length, fill in and dress the track before beginning on another rail length. If, after the ties are in place, the track proves to be a trifle high, the defect will disappear after the passage of a loaded train. This method of putting in new ties does away with most of the labor of tamping, and the work is better done. A gang can put in from one-quarter to one-third more ties in this way than by any other method, but it is restricted to a mud-ballasted track alone. If the ballast is gravel or broken stone, all new ties must be tamped. The tie must .be held up against the rail with a bar while it is spiked, and the ballast thoroughly tamped with a tamping bar. All new ties must be placed square across the track, and if the old ones are too widely spaced, additional ties must be put in the track with selected ones at the joints. Never spring the rails off the ties on stone or gravel-ballasted tracks, as the ballast collects under the base of the rail and prevents its proper bearing upon the ties.

The prime object of track repairs is to make the track safe, and if some parts of the section are more needy than others, the foreman should first make those places safe and then go ahead with continuous repairs.

1632. Estimating New Ties for Repairs.—
The proper time for estimating the number of new ties needed for repairs is in the fall of the year. In the Northern States the winter is the proper season for manufacturing ties, and most tie contracts are let in that season. If the estimates are made up and sent in to the roadmaster in the fall, he can make more favorable contracts and be sure of having a supply when needed.


In making his estimate, the foreman should walk over his entire section, testing every tie of which he is in doubt and reporting the actual number needed, and no more. The renewing of ties is one of the great items of cost in the maintenance of a railroad, and a careful foreman can do much towards prolonging their life.

1633. Disposition of Old Ties.—All labor spent in handling old ties is unremunerative, but they must be disposed of. In sections where timber is scarce they can usually be sold for fuel. If, however, fuel is abundant and cheap, the best way to dispose of them is to burn them.

1634. Tie, Account.—The foreman should keep an accurate tie account, which will show at once the number of ties received, put in the track, and on hand. The following is a good form for tie accounts:


1635. Cutting Weeds.—On all mud-ballasted roads the cutting of weeds is an important item in the cost of track repairs. All weeds within a distance of 3½ feet from the rail should be kept cut clean to the surface of the ground. It is important to prevent their getting an early start; hence, when making track repairs early in the spring the surface of the ground should be shaved over either with a shovel or weed cutter. This will increase the labor of early track repairs, but it will save much subsequent labor and loss of time.

A heavy growth of weeds seriously checks the speed and efficiency of a train, especially on heavy grades, besides promoting decay of ties. For cutting weeds the blades of shovels or Weed cutters should be ground to an edge, and a file kept handy for resharpening. The men should be distributed one to each rail length to prevent crowding and insure an equal share of work from each.

The weed cutter shown in Fig. 511 does more effective work, and is less severe upon the men than the shovel.

The handle of the weed cutter is considerably longer and the blade lighter than that of the ordinary track shovel. In using the weed cutter, men are not compelled to keep their backs continually bent as when using the shovel, and they can cover from one-sixth to one-fourth more ground in a day.


1636. Mowing Weeds, Grass, and Brush.—If the section force will admit of it, all weeds, grass, and brush should be cut from the right of way. This work should be commenced by July 20th, mowing first the grass and weeds about all wooden structures and burning them as soon as they are dry enough. This forms a barrier against fire, and insures the safety of these structures while burning other brush or weeds along the right of way. If possible, mow the entire right of way, burning the grass and brush as fast as they are dry enough. With the right of way clear of combustible matter there is comparatively small danger of fire being communicated to adjoining property. This assurance is well worth the cost of the work, and it is well known that by keeping the right of way clear of weeds and brush, grass is induced to grow, which is far easier to keep in order than brush or weeds.



1637. Combination Ballast.—A track can be better ballasted with a combination of stone and gravel than with either of these materials separately. Each material has advantages peculiar to itself. Stone is more solid, more open, and heavier than gravel, and, hence, better suited to form the foundation of the track where solidity and drainage are of first importance. Gravel is more abundant, more elastic, and much easier handled than stone. It does not wear the ties, rails, and rolling stock like stone, and is comparatively free from weeds, and, hence, is well suited to form the top course of ballast. Where stone is used only for the foundation of the ballast, it need not be broken so finely as when composing the entire roadbed.

Two carloads of gravel to a 30-foot rail length will make a first-class track where there is a foundation of stone 12 inches in depth.

1638. Preparing Old Track for Ballasting.—When old track is to be newly ballasted with stone, gravel, or cinders, all dirt should be removed from between and from the ends of the ties down to the base of ties and placed on


the shoulder of the roadbed. This will considerably strengthen the roadbed and afford a support to the ballast.

The engineer should set grade stakes 50 feet apart, giving the elevation of top of rail for the finished, track. Where sags occur, if it is intended to fill them, the material necessary for raising the track should be delivered, and the track raised to the required grade before the ballasting is begun.

1639. Reserve the Best Ballast for Cuts.—When gravel is the best available ballast, and that of inferior quality, select the cleanest gravel for the cuts, where drainage is most difficult and the track most affected by the frost. All mud ballast removed from the roadbed in cuts should be deposited upon the adjacent embankments, which are constantly being reduced in width by the action of rain and frost. If the ballast is a mixture of gravel, sand, and loam, it should be raised a full 3 inches above the tie at the center of the track and carried out flush with the tops of the ends of the ties. All gravel beds contain streaks of clear gravel. With a little care and calculation the clean gravel can be loaded on separate cars and the train made up with the selected cars by themselves. The inferior ballast should be unloaded on the embankment and the selected ballast deposited in the adjacent cuts. Make the track shoulders of equal weight. Track with unequal shoulders is sure to work out of line.

Embankments, should be made at least 14 feet in width at the top before depositing the gravel ballast, and .16 feet in width if the means of the company will permit. With a 16-foot embankment there is no loss of ballast from its being crowded over the shoulder.

1640. Ballast Required for a Mile of Track.—Allowing an average length of 33 feet per car, 160 cars will cover 1 mile of track. If the trains average 8 cubic yards per car, they will form a continuous bed 12½ feet in width at bottom, 12 feet in width at top, and 6 inches in thickness. Of this amount it will require about one-half to fill in between the ties and dress the middle of the track. This will leave


a bed of 3 inches beneath the ties. By unloading two cars in a place, the depth of the ballast under the ties is increased to 8½ inches, which will make a first-class track, providing the subgrade is compact and thoroughly drained.

Gravel may be loaded at the pit for 75 cents per car, making the cost per mile, 2 cars to a rail length, about $250. Under favorable conditions, gravel can be loaded with a steam excavator for considerably less than the above figures.

1641. Gravel Pits.—The cost of loading gravel at the pit depends largely upon the manner in which the excavation is conducted. The prerequisite for cheap loading is a long, high, and regular working face. In laying out a track to a gravel pit, the ground should be well considered and the track placed so as to meet the above conditions for loading. The switch should be so placed that the turn-out curve is passed before the gravel pit is reached. If the face of the gravel bed is uneven at the start, commence loading at the projecting points and continue until the face is uniform. With each movement of the track, excavate deeper if the depth of the gravel will permit, and so increase the height of the working face. Gravel is generally overlaid with a layer of earth. This earth mixes with the gravel in loading, and the proportion of earth grows less as the height of the working face increases. The grade of the track should be made as uniform as possible, and the track maintained in such order that an engine may draw a full train load from the pit. Under fair conditions, 10 loaded cars constitute a train. If a steam excavator is being used, there should be enough cars on hand to keep the machine constantly employed. The empty cars should be placed on a spur track, connecting with the track leading to the pit, and shifted by teams as they are needed. When a train of empty cars is returned to the pit, the cars are switched to the spur track, and, the loaded train hauled out.

1642. Raising Track.—When raising a track to a surface, the following method is recommended: Take a piece of board 1 by 4 inches and 5 feet in length. Cut two


notches, each 3 inches deep, to fit over the rails, the space between the notches being equal to the gauge of the track. Place this sighting board at a high place in the track, from 8 to 10 rail lengths ahead of the point where you intend to commence track raising. Shim up the sighting board to a perfect level, giving it the same height to which the top of the rail is to be brought in the raising. Then, go to the point where you intend to commence track raising and lift the track to a proper height, bringing both rails to the same level. The spirit level is then laid aside and the intervening track brought to a surface by sighting. When sighting, stand from 50 to 75 feet from the track being raised. Raise and tamp each joint about ¼ inch higher than the actual surface. In raising, two jacks, a heavy and a light one, should be used, the heavy one to raise the joints, and the light one to raise the centers of the rails. Do not attempt to raise a rail center until the jack is in place at the next joint, and then raise together. This prevents the springing of the rails and insures a smooth surface.

By sighting in the rails, a more uniform surface is obtained, and the delay occasioned by the repeated use of the spirit level is avoided. When the sighting board is reached, it is removed, and the track brought up to the proper surface by sighting.

In sighting in a curved track, sight along the inside of the rails. This permits of longer and better sights. The foreman should know the time when each regular train is due, and have the track safe for its passage. This is accomplished by a run off, extending from the new to the old surface. This should be 30 feet in length for each 6 inches of difference of elevation between the old and new track surface.

The amount and quality of work done will depend much upon the organization of the force. A good foreman will soon learn the good points of his men and distribute them accordingly. A gang of 14 or 16 men should be distributed as follows: Two with jacks; two to tamp the ends of the ties; four to tamp the centers, and the remaining men



equally divided, one-half to be employed in filling in ahead of the tampers and the other half in dressing up the track behind them. By dividing up the men equally, placing one-half the force on each side of the track, competition, both in amount and quality of work, naturally follows. With such an organization, a foreman can effectively employ a force within comparatively small limits, enabling him to give thorough inspection to all work, and to give directions wherever needed.

In raising track, both sides should be lifted together. The common custom of raising and tamping one side of the track at a time should not be permitted, as ties can not be given a uniform bearing.

The centers of track ties should not be hard tamped. The greater part of the train load comes upon the ends of the ties, and if their centers are hard tamped there is great danger of the ties being broken, especially if they are sawed ties. The ties should be hard tamped only 18 inches inside the rails. This will insure a firm bed and prevent all danger of breaking.

Uniformity of work is the secret of a smooth track, and the more alike the men work, the better will be the results.

1643. Yard Work.—All yard tracks should be uniformly surfaced throughout their entire length. The grade for all yard tracks should be given by the company's engineer, and should practically conform to that of the main line. If possible, yard tracks should be level. Cars are then much more manageable and easier handled. Where the yard and main tracks are of the same level, the main line should be put in perfect surface first. The adjoining yard track may then be given an equal height by a level and straight-edge. In the same way, any number of side tracks can be brought to the level of the main track. It is, however, much the better practice to have all elevations given with an instrument.

1644. Gravel as a Destroyer of Weeds.—One of the great advantages of gravel ballast is the saving in the


cost of weed cutting. Although ballasting with gravel is a heavy initial expense; the outlay ceases when the work is complete. Weed cutting, on the other hand, is a constant and heavy expense, and one of the great arguments in favor of gravel ballast is that gravel discourages the growth of weeds and thereby saves to the company a large annual expense. A railroad company should commence ballasting with gravel at the earliest possible moment, even though it is done in a fragmentary way, as every rail length of gravel is clear gain.

1645. A Day's Work.—Two rail lengths, or 60 feet of finished track, ballasted and dressed, per man, is considered a fair day's work. Foremen should stop raising track long enough before quitting time to line up, fill in, and dress all the track raised during the day. Track left without the ties being filled in and the shoulders properly dressed is easily thrown out of line. A heavy shower failing upon track which has not been properly filled in and dressed is certain to do great injury. In all cases, track should be left in a finished condition.



1646. Importance of Fall Work.—On Northern railroads, the prime object of fall track work is to prepare for the ensuing winter. One day's work in the fall expended in intelligent track work is worth an entire week of repairs in winter. The section foreman should lay out his work according to the needs of his section, and, as far as possible, adhere to his program.

1647. Surfacing and Lining Track.—The most important part of the fall work is the surfacing and lining of track. In addition, the track must be put in perfect gauge and dressed down.

In dressing the track, give as much strength to the shoulders as the available material will permit. With drainage provided for, the heavier the shoulder, the longer the track will hold its line and withstand frost.


1648. Seeding and Repairing Embankments.—It is the severe frosts of winter, followed by heavy spring and summer rains, which destroy embankments. After a heavy spring freshet, embankments are furrowed with deep gulleys, though the usual effect is the gradual wasting of the slopes. The only protection against these destructive agents is a good sod, and foremen should be supplied with grass seed of suitable variety to seed embankments whenever the conditions are favorable.

Until embankments are protected by grass they must be repaired from time to time, Narrow embankments give insufficient support to the track, and sags are the result. The fall of the year is the best time to repair embankments. All the material obtained from cleaning ditches, widening cuts, or from any other source, should be deposited upon the embankments where there is greatest need of repair. This material the section men can transport on a push car, which should be fitted with sideboards so as to carry a full load. A section foreman can do much towards keeping his embankments in proper shape, especially if he be well provided with men. If there are bad sags on his section, he should not attempt to take them out until he knows how much material is required for raising the roadbed to the proper height. He can determine the necessary amount of filling by the following approximate method (see Fig. 512). Drive a stake at C against the rail at the middle point of the sag until its top is on line with the track surface at A and B. Measure the height C D of the stake above the rail. Multiply one-half the distance A B by the top width of the embankment and by the height C D of the stake above the rail; divide the product by 27. The quotient is the number of cubic yards of material required.


EXAMPLE.—A B is 200 ft., C D is 1 ft., and the top of the embankment is 14 ft. in width; how many cubic yards of material are necessary to take out the sag?

SOLUTION.—Number of cubic yards = 200/2 x 14 x 1 divided by 27 = 52, nearly.

A push car with sideboards will carry 1 cubic yard of material. If the men and material are at hand, commence by raising the sag near the middle, extending the raising on both sides until the ends are reached. Raise the track at the middle of the sag about A higher than the total depth of the sag, to allow for shrinkage of the material.

1649. General Repairs.—Carefully examine all joints, tightening loose nuts and renewing bolts where they are broken or stripped of their thread. See that proper provision is made for expansion, and that all ties are full spiked. Rotten ties left over from the work of the previous spring should be replaced with new ones. If new steel is required, see to it that it is laid early in the fall and the track well settled before winter begins.

Thoroughly repair the right of way and snow fences. The winter season puts all fences to the test, and they should be in thorough repair if they are to do service the following summer.

1650. Building New Fence.—Though the spring is the most favorable season of the year for building fence, the more urgent track repairs fully occupy the time of every section man. Consequently, fence building is deferred until the late summer or fall. The one disadvantage to building fence when the season is well advanced is the hardness of the ground, which makes the digging of post holes much more laborious than in the early spring, when the ground is soft and yielding. There are, however, the following advantages in favor of building fence in the fall season. Posts and lumber are usually much better seasoned in the fall than in the spring; streams are low, and swampy places are either entirely dry or at least accessible. It is


important that posts should be peeled and well seasoned before setting; and as they are usually cut in the winter season, by delivering them at the section house in the winter or early spring, the section men can peel and pile them on stormy days; they will thus be thoroughly seasoned when needed the following fall.

The most effective fence is of barb wire with one board at the top, as shown in Fig. 513. Posts are spaced 8 feet between centers and set 2 feet 6 inches into the ground. At intervals of 500 feet on straight lines, and at every angle, braces A B should be built into the fence. The brace is mortised into the post at the top and gained into the post at the bottom. The wires are spaced as follows, beginning at the bottom wire, which is 9 inches above the ground: The first and second wires are 9 inches apart; the second and third, 10 inches; the third and fourth, 10 inches apart, and the fourth is spaced 10 inches from the top board or rail, which is 6 inches in width. This makes the total height of the fence 4 feet 6 inches, which is a lawful fence in most of the States, and the total length of the posts 7 feet. In laying out a fence, measure from the center line of the track, one-half the width of the right of way, and set a temporary post. Place these posts from 50 to 80 rods apart on tangents and from 50 to 100 feet apart on curves. Then stretch a light wire between these posts, with tags at intervals of 8 feet for spacing and lining the posts. A man then takes a lining bar and spade and plumbs down from each tag with the bar, making a mark with the point of the bar. He then removes the sod from around the hole made with the bar.


The hole marks the center of a post and guides the men who dig the post holes. The wire is removed while the holes are being dug, and replaced to give line for setting the posts. The diggers should be provided with a gauge giving the proper depth of hole. Those nailing on either boards or wire must be provided with a gauge giving top of fence and the spacing of each strand of wire. A handy gauge for spacing wires is shown in Fig. 514. It consists of a foot piece of pine 2 feet in length, 6 inches in width, and 1 inch in thickness. Another piece of pine 3 inches wide and 4 feet 6 inches in length, equal to the height of the fence, is nailed to the foot piece at its middle, as shown in the figure. The spacing of each wire from the ground is marked by a notch cut into the edge of the upright piece. The foot piece, besides giving the height from the average surface of the ground, helps to keep the gauge in an upright position.

In building the fence described above, judgment should be used in distributing the force if first-rate progress is to be made. With a force of a dozen men, the following distribution is recommended: Two men to lay out the work, four digging holes, three setting posts, and three nailing on boards and stringing wires.

A wire stretcher is necessary to first-class work and progress, though good work at stretching wire can be done with a crowbar if sufficient care and strength is used.

At highway bridges and culverts, the fence usually returns to the ends of the abutments. The angles made in the fence by these returns must be thoroughly braced. Effective braces for such returns are shown in Figs. 515 and 516.

In Fig. 515 the angle of the return is 90 degrees, and a brace in each panel abutting on the angle is sufficient, but in Fig. 516, where the angle contains 150 degrees, an inside brace is added.


This brace abuts against a short post set in the ground to receive the thrust of the brace.

Braces must be placed at each opening, such as farm and road crossings, and at all points where changes in direction require it.

At streams crossed by pile bridges, it is customary to make a return in the fence on both sides of the stream, and to string the wires across the stream, fastening them to the piles.

On tangents, and on the outside of curves, place boards and wire on the farmers' side of the posts, but on the inside of curves place them on the track side of the line of posts.

1651. Material for One Mile of Fence.—It will require 661 posts spaced 8 feet between centers to build one mile of fence. One fence board 16 ft. long, 6 in. wide, and 1¼ in. thick contains 10 sq. ft. of lumber, and 330, the number of boards required for 1 mile of fence, will contain 330 x 10 = 3,300 sq. ft.

Barb wire, of average weight, weighs 1 lb. per rod of single wire or 4 lb. per rod of finished fence. Hence, for 1 mile, or 320 rods, it will require 320 x 4 = 1,280 lb. Adding 10 lb. for splices, we have 1,280 + 10 = 1,290 lb., the amount of barb wire required for 1 mile of fence. It will require one-eighth lb. of staples for 1 rod of fence, and for 1 mile, or 320 rods, it will require 320 x 40 lb., and we have the following:


When barb-wire fences were first introduced, the posts and braces were the only wood material used, but they proved very injurious to live stock, which, failing to see the wire, continually came in hurtful contact with the barbs. This objection is removed by placing a single board for the top rail. This board clearly marks the fence line, and, together with the barb wire, makes the most effective fence known.

1652. A Day's Work at Fence Building.—From 12 to 14 rods per man is a fair day's work at fence building, though much depends upon the hardness of the ground, the quality of the work, and the skill and industry of the workmen. Fence building requires intelligent industry. A poorly built fence is little better than no fence.

1653. Distributing Emergency Material.—In the late fall, but before any snow falls, place at each mile post, and well up from the ground, a number of rails and joint splices to be used in case of emergency, and known as emergency material. Such supplies are available when most needed, and are constantly near at hand.

All track material lying about the yard should be collected and piled well off the ground. Piles of ties must be placed far enough apart to avoid catching fire from one another in case of fire. All loose spikes, splices, bolts, and nuts should be collected and placed under cover, and everything about the station made snug and safe for the winter.




1654. General Repairs.—As winter approaches, the entire section should be gone over carefully, tightening up all loose splices, correcting defects in gauge, and closing up joints which the contraction of the rails has left too open.


The joints of switches are most liable to be open and the rails battered. Close up these joints and renew the rails if necessary. See that switch joints, rods, and frogs are in proper order, and that guard-rails are properly spaced and well spiked.

Keep all spikes driven home, clear the snow from yard tracks and switches, flange out the main track after every snow storm, and remove ice from the ditches.

1655. Shimming Track.—There is no work connected with track repairs requiring more care and judgment than shimming. All mud-ballasted tracks are bound to heave from the action of the frost, and heaving spoils the surface of the track. Inequalities as small as ¼ inch should be corrected by shims placed beneath the rail. Shims should be made of hard wood, slightly wedge-shaped, and driven crosswise under the rail. All shims over ¼ inch in thickness should have a hole bored in them to receive the spike. They are easiest made by boring a hole through the end of a straight-grained plank and cutting off a piece to the required length, after which the plank maybe split into shims of the required thickness. If the rail has cut into the tie, the edges of the groove must be adzed smooth before placing the shims, in order that the rails may have a solid bearing. If the track continues to heave, thin shims must be replaced by thicker ones. Where a number of ties side by side require shimming, a plank should be placed lengthwise under the rail and spiked to the ties with boat spikes and track spikes driven through the plank to hold the rail. Where shims exceed 1 inch in thickness, spikes 7 or 8 inches in length should be used.

For 4-inch shims use 1-inch shims on top of 3-inch plank, and for 5inch shims, use 5-inch timber. Where shims exceed I inch in thickness; old rail splices should be set with one end against the outside of the rail and the other end spiked to the tie to serve as rail braces. These braces should be spiked to every second, third, or fourth tie, according to the height of the shim.

All high-shimmed track should be closely watched, and


as the frost leaves the track and the track settles, thinner shims must be substituted for the thick ones. The last shim must not be removed until the frost has left the ground. When the shimmed rail is higher than the rest of the track by the thickness of the shim, you may know that the frost has left the track. All good shims, spikes, and braces should be stored in the tool house, to be in readiness when needed the following winter.

1656. Heaved Bridges and Culverts.—Pile bridges and pile culverts require careful watching during the winter season, and whenever they -are found to be heaved out of surface or line, the bridge carpenters should be promptly notified. Pile foundations, when heaved by frost, unlike earth foundations, do not resume their original position after the frost has left the track. Neither does the frost affect them equally, as one or two piles in a bent may be heaved out of surface while the others are not stirred. This places the track in a dangerous condition. To remedy the evil, either the track must be shimmed to the surface of the heaved piles or they must be cut down to the original surface. Where piles are driven in deep water, the ice should be cut away from them whenever a thaw is imminent, as a sudden rise in the water may lift the body of ice, and the piles, being frozen fast in the ice, must rise also.



1657. Its Prevalence and Effects.—
Nearly all roads in the Northern States are obliged to contend with snow, and, in the Northwest especially, the keeping of the track clear of snow constitutes one of the main items of cost of track maintenance. Snow, must be contended with in many forms, the most common of which is drifted snow; but it is almost equally difficult to contend with it when it fills the flanges of the rails with ice, or in melting and freezing it fills the track ditches and flows across the track, covering the rails with ice and threatening derailment to the first passing train.


1658. Snow Reports.—Immediately after every snow storm, the section foreman should ascertain the condition of his track, noting which cuts are clear and which are blocked, and how much snow is in each cut, and the lengths of the drifts. These facts he should report immediately by telegraph to the roadmaster, in order that preparations may be made to clear the track. If the section is clear of snow, it should be so reported.

1659. Preparing Track for Snow Plow.—After a storm, as soon as the condition of the section has been reported to the roadmaster, the foreman should take all his force and put his section in shape for the snow plow. In all cuts where the drifts are over two feet in depth, the track should be cleared of snow and flanged out to where the snow has a depth of at least IS inches, leaving a clean face to the drift. Both ends of the cut should have the same treatment. Snow is most apt to cause derailment when it is of slight depth and hard, and so ground into the flanges that the engines mount the rail. By clearing the track of snow at the commencement and ends of drifts, this danger is avoided.

1660. Clearing Switches and Flanging Track.—As soon as the track is ready for the snow plow, the men should clear the switches of snow from heel of switch to frog, special care being taken to clear the switch rails, rods, and switch stand. The platform, track, and approaches to the station should also be promptly cleared.

The section foreman should next give his attention to flanging out the main track, beginning near the summits of the hard grades, and at all points where the work upon the engines is most severe.

1661. Clearing Ditches and Culverts.—If possible, keep the ditches and culverts clear of snow. If, in the fall, a tall stake is driven at both ends of a culvert opening, there will be no trouble in locating it when the culvert is completely covered with drifted snow. By keeping the ditches open, all snow water can run off instead of accumulating and flooding the track, where it is bound to freeze, making


the track not only hard to operate, but a continual menace to the safety of trains. The ditch for snow water should be fully 6 feet from the rails to insure the safety of the track.

1662. Snow Fences.—All railroads exposed to severe and repeated snow storms should have some protection

against drifting snow. This protection is best provided in the form of fences. Their efficiency will depend upon their strength, height, position, and distance from the track. The fence should be placed at such a distance from the track that, when drifted full, the snow will not reach within 30 feet of the track. To effect this, the distance of the fence from the track should be 12 feet for each foot in height of fence. When the fence is placed too near the track, the snow will be carried to the track before the fence is drifted full; if, on the other hand, the fence is placed too far from the track, the wind, after clearing the fence, will fall and gather up all the snow between the foot of the drift and the track, and carry it into the cut. Usually but one side of the track requires protection from snow, viz., that side from which snow storms most prevail. Most railroads in the snow belt of the United States run in two general directions, viz., east and west, and as most of the severe storms prevail from the north, northwest, and northeast, the north side of most tracks is the only one requiring protection from snow. At some exceptional points on the line, the topography of the country may cause complex currents of air which may produce results at variance with general rules. At all points, fences should be built to meet the existing conditions. In general, snow fences are built parallel to the track. For fences of ordinary height, the following rule can be safely followed: Place the fence 75 feet from the nearest track rail, extending it parallel to the track the entire length of the cut. Change the direction of the fence at both ends of the cut, gradually approaching the track until the ends of the fence are 100 feet from the ends of the cut and 50 or 60 feet from the track.

If the cut ends abruptly at the beginning of a high embankment, the turn in the fence must be made before the end of


the cut is reached, in order to protect the cut from head and quartering winds. Cuts which are lined on the storm side by brush or heavy timber do not require fencing, as the only snow which reaches the track is that which falls directly upon it. The brushwood and timber prevent the blowing of the snow. Cuts made in a side hill where the ground slopes off abruptly into a valley do not require fencing. But where there is a long level or gently rolling stretch of ground on the storm side of the track, the cut is liable to drift full unless properly fenced. When a fence becomes drifted full, its height may be readily increased by adding a wall of blocks of snow taken from the inside face of the drift. So long as the weather remains cold a snow wall will serve the full purpose of a fence.

A first-class snow fence, kept in perfect repair, will not last above 10 years, and it becomes a question whether to build a snow fence or grade down the cut so that it will not hold snow. The items of cost to be considered are the first cost of the fence, the annual repairs, the interest on each charge for the time it is to serve in the fence, and if these combined items equal or exceed the cost of grading down the slopes so as to keep the cut clear of snow, the grading should be done.

1663. Bucking Snow.—The clearing of the track of snow belongs to the Roadmaster's Department, but it is essentially track work and at times of vital importance to a railroad.

A man should be thoroughly familiar with the best methods of bucking snow before taking charge of an outfit to open up a road for traffic after a blockade.

Before starting out on the road, he should be as thoroughly informed as possible as to the condition of the road, the location, length, and depth of drifts. He should have strong, live engines and willing engineers. The snow plow should be of the best make and able to throw snow out of a 10-foot cut. There should be two engines in the outfit. The second engine follows closely, with a car, conductor, train


crew, and shoveling gang. When heavy drifts are encountered too deep for one engine to successfully buck, the second engine is coupled to the first, and besides doubling the momentum, serves to pull out the head engine and plow in case they are stalled. The pilot should be removed from the second engine, and the coupling made short and very strong, No car or caboose should ever be placed between the engines, as they are likely to cause a wreck. When the drifts are more than 10 feet deep, the top of the drift must be shoveled out down to that depth, and a space, made wide enough that effective work may be done by the plow.

When the snow is reported hard, each drift must first be carefully examined and its length and height noted. If the drift has not been faced by section men (that is, shoveled out from the end of the drift to where its depth is from 15 to 18 inches), the gang of shovelers must do the work before a run is made with the plow.

Unless the drifts are properly faced, the plow is liable to mount the rails, especially on curved track, and often the engine is derailed along with the plow. All cars attached to the helper engine should be left behind while bucking snow. If both engines are not necessary to buck a drift, it is better to do the work with one. The helper engine should only be used, where necessary. If the snow is not too hard, a good, heavy engine will clear a drift from 3 to 5 feet deep and from 500 to 800 feet in length at one run. There is comparatively no danger in bucking soft, deep snow with an engine at top speed.

The engines with a snow-plow outfit should take fuel and water to their utmost capacity at every point reached where a supply can be obtained. Unforeseen delays and mishaps may be encountered, and there must be no risk of a short supply of fuel or water. When the road is badly blockaded, the helper engine should carry an extra carload of coal. The water supply can be readily replenished by shoveling snow into the tank.

Each engine in the outfit should carry a piece of steam hose, which can be attached to the siphon cock, and reach


from it to the water hole in the tender. When the water supply needs replenishing, by shoveling snow into the tender and turning on the steam, a tank full of water can be quickly made. The steam hose can also be used to thaw the snow and ice from the machinery and track rails.

In plowing snow the speed of the engine should always be regulated by the length and depth of the drifts. When the drift is deep and long, the engine should back up far enough to attain full speed before striking the drift. An experienced engineer will so regulate the speed of his engine as to leave but little work for the shovelers.

The engineer of the plow engine should always sound the whistle when approaching a cut, in order that section men, if working there, may be warned in time to get out of the cut. Failure to sound the whistle has been a frequent cause of accident. When it is necessary to buck a drift a second time, the engineer must sound the whistle and be sure that all hands are out of the cut before entering it. It is almost impossible for men to climb up out of a snow cut when first opened up.

When the snow drift is of such depth and length that two runs are likely to not clear it, it is the better policy to shovel out from both ends until it is certain that two runs will leave a clear track.

When the snow is both deep and very bard, the crust should be broken up and shoveled out before any attempt is made with the plow. Bucking deep, hard snow with the crust unbroken is very severe work for a locomotive, and is often attended with danger to trainmen. It is far better to insure safety even at the price of delay. It is not advisable to start out to clear a track of snow during a heavy storm, but everything should be in readiness to start the moment the storm abates.

The invention of the rotary snow plow has practically solved the snow problem, especially for clearing the track of hard snow. Many roads which suffer, little from snow do not yet possess rotary plows, and the old custom of bucking snow is still practiced when occasion requires it.

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