GSRM's tool car SRBX 23 is a unique piece of equipment. It's a 50 ft box car that Sperry Rail Service re-equipped as a shop car. Each door has a swing out boom with a chain hoist and a chain hoist runs the length of the car inside. The car is wired with outlets and lighted making it a decent, mobile shop.
Because GSRM doesn't have a shop building to work in at this time, volunteers were anxious to get SRBX 23 to the north end of the property where most of the work is taking place. Two problems stood in the way: no track to move on and an inoperative locomotive.
The locomotive will need to wait untill a future date, but the track problem was resolved during the course of 2012. Some of the sections are temporary, a sharp curve was required to avoid a corn field (GSRM rents much of it's property to a local farmer for the time being) and will be corrected at a later date.
A temporary transition was also needed between 80 lb and 112 lb rail. GSRM has a number of 90-112 transition bars, but none for 80-112 so GSRM made its own from heavy bar stock. Since only a few, slow speed moves will be made across this rail joint, it was a simple solution to the problem.
Since NSP 4 is currently inoperative, other means of locomotion were required in the form of good old fashioned car movers, a skid loader and later a Farmall Super C. It's not the preferred way to run a railroad, but it got the job done.
Click on any of the photos below to view them as a slide show.
The weather forecast for the weekend didn't look promising. Winter was late arriving in Central Minnesota, but now threatened to get here the same weekend GSRM planned to move SRBX 23.
A half inch of snow was forecast for Friday afternoon followed by 3-6 inches on Saturday afternoon.
Volunteers Chuck Tuma, Adam Kosel and Jeff Braun arrived at GSRM Saturday morning to about a half inch of snow on the ground, enough to be annoying, but not enough to deter moving SRBX 23.
After finishing making another pair of transition bars for the 80-112lb rail joint, it was on to connecting the brake rigging on SRBX 23.
SRBX 23 had been moved to GSRM by truck in 2008. The move required disconnecting the brakes and removing the trucks. Since the only track on the property was the track it was sitting on, the brakes hadn't been reconnected.
One snag was solving the mystery of the slack adjuster. It had fully retracted and no one was certian how to re-extend it. After some debate and careful study, the mystery was solved and the brake rigging was reonnected - we had brakes!
Good old fashioned car movers separated SRBX 23 from CB&Q waycar 14534. With one person riding SRBX 23 to work the brakes, two people on car movers moved SRBX 23 about a car length north.
Now it was time for the skid loader. Alternately pushing and pulling as the terrain allowed, the skid loader successfully moved SRBX 23 in spite of the snow and mud on the right-of-way for several hundred feet until the slight grade got the best of it.
We tied a good handbrake on SRBX 23 and decided it must be time for lunch.
Returning from lunch at the Dairy Queen, it was Farmall Super C to the rescue! We needed something with a little more tire tread and weight on drivers.
The Super C did what we asked an dhad no problem hauling SRBX 23 the rest of the way to the curve.
Ahh - the curve...
Since we had to lay the track out to avoid the corn field, a sharp curve was necesarry. It works, but looks like it belongs on a street railway. It also turned out to be our nemesis more than the snow and mud.
It probably would have been ok shoving with NSP 4 or a smaller industrial locomotive, but pulling with the Farmall didn't quite cut it. We don't know what degree of curvature we've built, but it's quite sharp as can be seen in the photos. Apparently sharp enough to stretch the brake rigging and apply the brakes.
We knew from the start it was going to be a problem, the curve is a concession and will eventually be corrected in the final track layout.
It took more than an hour of pulling with the Farmall, pushing with the skid loader. Pulling with the skid loader and Farmall. Pulling with the Farmall and using a car mover and finally pulling with the skid loader by digging the bucket into the ground for leverage and using the car mover at the same time to inch it ahead and through the curve.
Once SRBX 23 was through the curve and over the transition joint, it was all downhill literally and figuratively. It's a slight grade down to the parking lot level of the yard tracks and the roller bearing equipped car had no problem rolling to a smooth stop at it's destination.
It arrived just in time too. The sun sets early this time of year in Minnesota and by 4:30 pm it was already getting pretty dark. Sunday morning the second round of winter arrived, this time for real, leaving 16 inches of snow behind. Looks like Waycar CB&Q 15453 may spend the winter at the south end of the track with NSP 4.
At least we have access to our shop car now and can set that up for use. Slow progress, but progress just the same.
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