Track work east of Spokane

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#1
I don't claim to know much about track work and the machines that do a lot of it, except to say that I have a lot of respect for the men and machines that do it. Their good work ethic and attention to detail keep the rest of us safe!

So I am sitting at the computer when I hear strange sounds coming from the BNSF mainline next to my home about 15 miles east of Spokane WA. This is the double-track "funnel" between Spokane & Sandpoint. Both tracks have concrete ties.

The first machine that appeared, moving west, was this one. I think it is called an undercutter. The big wheel rotated clockwise and it made a lot of dust. After the machine went by, I made a quick trip up to trackside (ROW is on a fill here) to see what it had done.
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#3
Track work east of Spokane #2

A look to the east showed that more machines were following.

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I figured I should beat feet off of the ROW, so I picked a nice tree for shade on the side of a hill well to the south of the tracks, and used the telephoto to get up close. The next machine was a tamper, or "Dynamic Tamping Express" according to the lettering on the side. It appeared to tamp 2 ties at a time. The thing moved about 1/4 mph and sounded like a hundred air tools running wide open. The blue carriage would move to the front, the tamping fingers would drop and the carriage would be stationary while the machine moved forward. Then the fingers would come up, the carriage move to the front and repeat the tamping action on the next two ties.

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This tamper appeared to be a two unit device. I couldn't determine the function of the second (rear) unit and am assuming that it is the power car.

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#6
Track work east of Spokane #4

After all 3 machines were by, I made another trip up to the track for a couple of "after" pictures.

Looking West:
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Looking East. The track just processed is on the left.
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Shortly after passing, the tamper appeared to break down. It stopped and gathered several men looking at it. then it went forward at a higher speed, not tamping, then came back, then finally left. I turned on the scanner and it sounded like there were problems and they were calling it a day.
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Those of you who know more about this equipment, please feel free to make corrections and add any additional information.
 
#7
I did a quick Google search and found that the official title is Shoulder Ballast Cleaner. Fairly slow moving I take it?
Ya, none of them would set any speed records. The "Shoulder Ballast Cleaner" kept moving at a steady pace, maybe 3/4 mph, and was out distancing the Tamper. The Tamper was the slowest of the three and it stopped several times before it apparently broke down.
 

Eastern Railfan

Ferroequineologist
#8
Ya, none of them would set any speed records. The "Shoulder Ballast Cleaner" kept moving at a steady pace, maybe 3/4 mph, and was out distancing the Tamper. The Tamper was the slowest of the three and it stopped several times before it apparently broke down.
Certainly not a job for people with Type A personalities.
 

Train Guy

UP Washy and S.I. Cond.
#9
Bruce,
The tamper you saw is a Plasser 09-3X Dynamic Tamping Express. The machine is a three tie (sleeper) continuous action tamper. The tamping work head continually keeps working and leaps ahead indexing itself as the machine creeps along. The second machine that's coupled to it is the dynamic portion. It performs what's called dynamic track stabilization by lowering the bogie seen underneath in the middle of the machine. It has vibrating gears that settle the track after tamping is performed. This ideally reduces the need to put a temporary slow order on the track that the work was performed on that normally tonnage would have to run over to settle the track. The third machine the BDS 100 is normally used to deliver ballast to the ROW after tamping to fill in the spaces created by the tamping action and then groom and profile the track. The small ballast wings move ballast to the middle of the track and then its profiled and plowed off the shoulders. The second piece, the BDS 200 houses the brooms to clean the excess ballast of the track. Keeping in mind all this work is done in one pass.
 





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