Article From the Winter 2002 Issue of
The Journal of the New York Museum of Transportation
TRACK WORK VITAL TO OUR FUTURE
A lot of effort went into salvaging rail and ties from the Rochester Subway and creating the northern half of our shared rail line, and our popularity with visitors wouldn’t be the same without the track car rides that all that work made possible. But the fact remains that subway track that was already long in the tooth has spent 25 more years exposed to the whims of weather and the wear and tear of track cars, diesels, and most recently trolleys. Keeping up with at least the most serious problem areas, not to mention running a planned program of upgrading and replacement, has largely been in the hands of our friends in RGVRRM, led for many years by Rand Warner. However, NYMT’s Randy Bogucki has also been a part of this effort over the past few years, and he recently wrote a report on his activities. It gives some credit where it’s due, but also lets our members in on just some of the details of keeping the track in good condition and the track car rides functioning safely.
Randy reports that he started getting involved in track work in the fall of 1999 when he was between jobs. He focused on one of the museum’s priorities for that year which was to clean up from earlier work that had, thankfully, leveled out the track coming into the new passenger loading platform. That effort had left the track in a smoother gradient out to the mainline, but had not been fully ballasted. There were also several piles of the scooped-out, former-Lehigh Valley mainline ballast/dirt/cinder mix that needed to be disposed of for housekeeping reasons. Randy points out that this trackage, and the area around it, is the first thing the visitor sees as the ride departs, and a good impression there is important.
He built a ballast sifter and began running the piles of undercut material through it. Randy says, "With the equipment I had—buckets and later a wheel barrow—I couldn’t move all the material to the dirt pile in the alcove where the calliope is kept." So, sifting out the stone made his disposal job easier, and it reclaimed ballast for re-use. The "fines" from sifting ended up being used in various places nearby to fill low spots in the lawn, etc.
"Progress was made from the starting point, at the corner of the building, down to the platform by sometime in August, 2000", Randy says. "By fall of that year, I made the determination that the first sifter was too small, and that the mesh was too. A bigger sifter was built." He had already taken down pile #1 and now started work on the second pile. While work proceeded beyond the corner of the building to straighten and level the track (Dale Hartnett and RGVRRM’s young railroaders), Randy and Rick Israelson continued to sift. Late in the year, ballast was being stockpiled to fill the straightened and leveled track, and Randy started using our Jacobson tractor and trailer to carry the stone. He even did some additional undercutting for drainage improvement. Randy worked under floodlights as the days got shorter, and finally shut down his work when the weather got too bad.
One of Randy’s main goals, as noted above, was to "make that small stretch of track somewhat of a showpiece", and he was certainly succeeding. In the relatively dry spring of 2001, he started work early and had pile #2 sifted by Easter. Doug Anderson gets credit for helping for several hours during a routine stop at the museum on Gift Shop business. Working solo most of the time, however, Randy could see that, at two ties per week, it would take all summer to undercut the rest of the siding, so he cut back on that effort and concentrated on cleaning the ballast, trimming the edges, and helping Rand and Mark Pappalardo with a major effort to replace switch timbers in the platform switch. The disturbed ballast from that work lead to more cleanup and trimming.
In late summer and fall, Randy began carting in new ballast with the Jacobson. As he filled the track, he raised the rail level "over an inch, to provide a graceful curve with some super elevation". Leveling was also done south of the platform switch on the main line to put some fit and finish to the switch work. He notes that, "More work needs to be done at the areas immediately to the south of the platform switch on both tracks, to ensure smooth transitions with level track." He also wants to keep at the continuing task of cleaning up the removed ties, miscellaneous tie plates, spikes, etc. that eventually accumulate in the work areas, to keep a neat, safe appearance. The barn leads need work, especially important as P&W 161 work nears completion, and there will be attention given to the main line parallel to the platform track all the way to 168’s current location at the end of the electric overhead.
Beyond the day-to-day needs, Randy is interested in developing a defined code for our track work, specifying standards and procedures for rail joints, hardware, rail and ballast profiles, etc. A big task, but an important one as we move from relatively light track cars to 30-ton interurban trolleys. We’re confident that with people like Randy Bogucki staying interested and involved, our rail line will continue to improve and serve our museum needs.