Sunday, June 11, 2006

Railfan delight

I've been in the Champaign=Urbana area this weekend for the wedding of two very dear friends of mine. As a matter of courtesy I won't be posting any of their wedding pictures online, but I did get a few other pictures while I was in town.

Being a groomsman, I didn't have to spend too much time getting ready for the ceremony. Unlike the bridesmaids it only takes 2 minutes to do my hair and 10 minutes to dress, so I spent a little time walking and driving around town.

While I was just south of town I was driving along the highway next to the Illinois Central tracks when I saw something unusual up ahead. At first I could only make out the headlamps of a slow moving train, but as I got closer I noticed some thick clouds of smoke drifting out over the road. At first I thought it was a locomotive with a bad turbo throwing up smoke, but as I got closer it became clear that the smoke was not coming from the top of the locomotive.

I pulled over into a field road and quickly snapped these pictures as the train went by.

That is a Loram rail grinder. The Loram company has several of these that travel around the country servicing various stretches of track. The basic idea is that a series of grinding wheels re-shape the profile on the top of the rail to it's original dimensions. This is important because only a small portion of the rail is supposed to make contact with the wheels on locomotives and cars.

Apparently this section of track gets some kind of work every year or so. I remember spotting a rail grinder on a siding about a year ago and the year before that, new rail was laid in many places the year before. It isn't particularly surprising as this is one of the main lines out of Chicago to the South, so it gets plenty of traffic.

But enough discussion, I'm going to go back and look at those flying sparks again!


Post a Comment

<< Home