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Nostalgia & History > Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979


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Date: 07/16/11 16:55
Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: eminence_grise

Here are some images of the main track at Avery, Idaho in March 1979.

It is my good fortune to know several ex-CMSt.P&P employees and supervisors. They all have a strong loyalty to their former employer, and while working, did everything they could to keep the "Puget Sound Extension" operating. It was not to be, but it certainly wasn't through lack of trying.

Back in 1979, a friend wanted a glimpse of the Milwaukee before it was gone. We both worked for the CPR, which had fairly good track. He was shocked at the condition of the Milwaukee. I wasn't. I had seen the B&M and the Rock Island and other US lines in financial crisis.

Years later, Vern Graham, an ex-MILW sectionman from Garcia WA. was appointed VP Operations , Western lines CP. Part of his duties was to assess the condition of all CP lines following the defective joint bar issue which caused the FRA to limit CP train speeds in the US.

He held a "Town Hall" meeting at many crew points on the CP in Canada to explain the issue. Knowing that he was from the Puget Sound Extension, I made some quip about Milwaukee road track standards. Did I get a broadside! His response was basically "We did the best with what we had".








Date: 07/16/11 17:02
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: eminence_grise

That's me prior to doing my rail inspection in March 1979 on a trainless, sodden day at Avery ID.

I hadn't been there for seven years but the lady in the general store/gas station remembered me!




Date: 07/16/11 17:29
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: rehunn

Defamation of the Milwaukee Road is both a sin and a crime.



Date: 07/16/11 17:31
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: 567Chant

With a dab of JB Weld -
...Lorenzo



Date: 07/16/11 17:31
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: miralomarail

I once saw a film done by the US Army, they tampered with some track to see what it took to derail a train. They took out sections of rail at least 3 feet long ! And the trains kept rolling, just like The Milwaukee Road did.



Date: 07/16/11 17:33
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: spnudge

Looks like mighty lite rail in the first pic. 110? if that. Thats an electrical traction bond.


Nudge



Date: 07/16/11 17:58
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: up833

Very similiar conditions found in the mountain crossings in WA state. The last trains barely made it out of town.
Roger Beckett



Date: 07/16/11 18:21
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: Out_Of_Service

depending on the class of track 2 bad ties in a row with 18 inch tie spacing with effective ties on either side does not make for bad track as per the FRA ... good for 80 ... now the deviation in cross level from the mud and pumping track may make a reduction of class to whatever the FRA specs are ... i've seen a train on 110 mph track at the time at Holmesburg Jct in Philly go over a huge gap in a frog that a welder working on the frog had cut out ... before he was done filling it in with new material a train was sent inadvertently up on the crew working ... another incident was an Amtrak Atlantic City train had an order for a 5 MPH restriction due to 9 inch head web seperation in the rail ... well the train blew the restriction at 80 ... the only thing that saved these trains from goin on the ground was their speed ... i hate typos 5 edits damn ... how many edits is this now



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 07/16/11 18:35 by Out_Of_Service.



Date: 07/16/11 18:49
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: Notch16

I was aboard a detoured Amtrak "Empire Builder" in February of 1978, from Spokane westward to Seattle over Milwaukee tracks. I never knew where exactly we picked up the MILW trackage, but I did look out the scratchy Lexan window of my 10-6 in the wee hours and see the old Hyak power substation, so I can vouch that we did indeed cross over former "Olympian Hi" territory.

The train was not grossly delayed into Seattle, as I recall. But the trip over that trackage was a tiptoe at best. I missed the great electrics by that much, but am grateful to be able to claim a little MILW mileage anyway, and very late in the game.

~ BZ



Date: 07/16/11 18:53
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: eminence_grise

spnudge Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Looks like mighty lite rail in the first pic. 110?
> if that. Thats an electrical traction bond.
>
>
> Nudge

I think the main line was 100 or 110 pound steel. Avery was the west end of the Rocky Mountain Div. electrification



Date: 07/16/11 19:07
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: P

miralomarail Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I once saw a film done by the US Army, they
> tampered with some track to see what it took to
> derail a train. They took out sections of rail at
> least 3 feet long ! And the trains kept rolling,
> just like The Milwaukee Road did.


Ha! I just saw this on a Netflix selection a couple of months ago. It was suprising to see that.



Date: 07/16/11 20:16
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: Out_Of_Service

eminence_grise Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> spnudge Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Looks like mighty lite rail in the first pic.
> 110?
> > if that. Thats an electrical traction bond.
> >
> >
> > Nudge
>
> I think the main line was 100 or 110 pound steel.
> Avery was the west end of the Rocky Mountain Div.
> electrification

i was always memorized by Avery ... so much went on in that tight light curving space along the river ...



Date: 07/16/11 20:48
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: ats90mph

spnudge Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thats an electrical traction bond.
>
>
> Nudge


Yea, and they kinda need it for the signals too, thats ok, the angle bar will probably carry the circuit, sometimes. I'm sure the signal was flopping over: green, red, green. What a fun time.



Date: 07/16/11 20:58
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: LarryDoyle

spnudge Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Looks like mighty lite rail in the first pic. 110?
> if that. Thats an electrical traction bond.
>
>
> Nudge


My April, 1970 Rocky Mountain Div profile shows Avery had a mixture of rail cross-sections but it was all 130#, 131#, 131.28#, 132#, and 132.25#, on the main. A small portion of the siding was 132# near the Depot and east siding switch, the rest was 112.28#.

Milwaukee never was afraid of compromise joints.

That is indeed part of an electrical bond for traction power, but since it's incomplete I'd suspect the picture was taken on the siding, since the main was ABS territory.

Larry Doyle



Date: 07/16/11 21:55
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: rob_l

eminence_grise Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think the main line was 100 or 110 pound steel.
> Avery was the west end of the Rocky Mountain Div.
> electrification

The track conditions in Avery Yard were always much worse than out on the main line. The limited budget was allocated to the main line outside yard limits.

In the 1970s the Bitterroot crossing was all 131-133 lb rail sitting atop McQuarry crushed rock ballast that was completely replaced 1972-1976. Ties had been replaced as well but there were so many derailments that a lot of them were cut.

The cause of the derailments in the Bitterroots was not so much poor rail or ties or lack of ballast but rather improper track geometry and improper train handling. When they reballasted the line, they unwittingly took out the spiral transition from many of the curves because of automation without foreman stringlining of the curves. And when they added 6 inches of new ballast it introduced breaks in grade at the tunnel portals (inside the tunnels they could not raise the track because of tight clearances). Combined with intermittent continuity experienced in Locotrol operations (i.e., they lost continuity in the tunnels, resulting in slack action), loaded 100-ton grain cars started flying off the rails at an alarming rate. Most of the derailments occurred just outside tunnels.

In October 1973 the use of electrics in the Bitterroots was stopped and Locotrol was much more extensively applied. The result: they had 21 derailments in 24 days. So electric operation was reinstated. Eventually, manned diesel helpers were instituted. But the damage was done: Milw lost much competitive traffic, and its market share was never again as high as it was in 1973.

Most accounts say the Arab oil embargo encouraged Milw Rd to continue electric operations beyond October 73 but I believe the Locotrol/track interaction problem was a more dominant reason. And most accounts also say Milw Rd could not compete against the mighty BN and steadily lost market share after the BN merger. That is false. From 1970 to 1973, Milw dramatically gained market share; basically, its share doubled. After that, they lost it all.

Milw Rd needed no help from BN or anyone else in losing the business they had.

Best regards,

Rob L.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/11 00:31 by rob_l.



Date: 07/16/11 22:09
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: Out_Of_Service

rob_l Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> eminence_grise Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I think the main line was 100 or 110 pound
> steel.
> > Avery was the west end of the Rocky Mountain
> Div.
> > electrification
>
> The track conditions in Avery Yard were always
> much worse than out on the main line. The limited
> budget was allocated to the main line outside yard
> limits.
>
> In the 1970s the Bitterroot crossing was all
> 131-133 lb rail sitting atop McQuarry crushed rock
> ballast that was completely replaced 1972-1976.
> Ties had been replaced as well but there were so
> many derailments that a lot of them were cut.
>
> The cause of the derailments in the Bitterroots
> was not so much poor rail or ties or lack of
> ballast but rather improper track geometry and
> improper train handling. When they reballasted the
> line, they unwittingly took out the spiral
> transition from many of the curves because of
> automation without foreman stringlining of the
> curves. And when they added 6 inches of new
> ballast it introduced breaks in grade at the
> tunnel portals (inside the tunnels they could not
> raise the track because of tight clearances.
> Combined with intermittent continuity experienced
> in Locotrol operations (i.e., they lost continuity
> in the tunnels, resulting in slack action), loaded
> 100-ton grain cars started flying off the rails at
> an alarming rate. Most of the derailments occurred
> just outside tunnels.
>
> In October 1973 the use of electrics in the
> Bitterroots was stopped and Locotrol was much more
> extensively applied. The result: they had 21
> derailments in 24 days. So electric operation was
> reinstated. Eventually, manned diesel helpers were
> instituted. But the damage was done: Milw lost
> much competitive traffic, and its market share was
> never again as high as it was in 1973.
>
> Most accounts say the Arab oil embargo encouraged
> Milw Rd to continue electric operations beyond
> October 73 but I believe the Locotrol/track
> interaction problem was a more dominant reason.
> And most accounts also say Milw Rd could not
> compete against the mighty BN and steadily lost
> market share after the BN merger. That is false.
> From 1970 to 1973, Milw dramatically gained market
> share; basically, its share doubled. After that,
> they lost it all.
>
> Milw Rd needed no help from BN or anyone else in
> losing the business they had.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Rob L.


Rob do you happen to know if they droped the speed limits after they took out the spirals ... what were the superelevation limit(max allowed per degree of curvature) on curves was ... tangent to an 1 inch is doable albeit a lil bit of a bump but anything higher and that IS a recipe for disaster expecially going into curves ... coming out of the curve would'nt be as critical but still derailment prone as they would've been coming off the hump not running into it and of course degree of curvature in concert with speed plays a big factor in all of that too



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/16/11 22:22 by Out_Of_Service.



Date: 07/16/11 22:28
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: rob_l

>
> Rob do you happen to know if they droped the speed
> limits after they took out the spirals ... what
> were the superelevation limit(max allowed per
> degree of curvature) on curves was ... tangent to
> an 1 inch is doable albeit a lil bit of a bump but
> anything higher and that IS a recipe for disaster
> expecially going into curves ... coming out of the
> curve would'nt be as critical but still derailment
> prone as they would've been coming off the hump
> not running into it and of course degree of
> curvature in concert with speed plays a big factor
> in all of that too

They did not drop speed limits. They did not intentionally take the spiral out of the curves, i.e., they did not realize they were doing it. I do not know if they adjusted the superelevation, and I don't know how much there was to begin with.

I suggest you direct your questions to Milw Yahoo List. The threads there are quite illuminating. The head guy for the Bitterroots re-ballasting project is sometimes on the list.

Best regards,

Rob L.



Date: 07/16/11 22:32
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: Out_Of_Service

rob_l Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > Rob do you happen to know if they droped the
> speed
> > limits after they took out the spirals ... what
> > were the superelevation limit(max allowed per
> > degree of curvature) on curves was ... tangent
> to
> > an 1 inch is doable albeit a lil bit of a bump
> but
> > anything higher and that IS a recipe for
> disaster
> > expecially going into curves ... coming out of
> the
> > curve would'nt be as critical but still
> derailment
> > prone as they would've been coming off the hump
> > not running into it and of course degree of
> > curvature in concert with speed plays a big
> factor
> > in all of that too
>
> They did not drop speed limits. They did not
> intentionally take the spiral out of the curves,
> i.e., they did not realize they were doing it. I
> do not know if they adjusted the superelevation,
> and I don't know how much there was to begin
> with.
>
> I suggest you direct your questions to Milw Yahoo
> List. The threads there are quite illuminating.
> The head guy for the Bitterroots re-ballasting
> project is sometimes on the list.
>
> Best regards,
>
> Rob L.


GOT IT !!! <looking at my cell phone telling me i shudda known that>



Date: 07/17/11 00:15
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: bradleymckay

rob_l Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The track conditions in Avery Yard were always
> much worse than out on the main line. The limited
> budget was allocated to the main line outside yard
> limits.

> Best regards,
>
> Rob L.

Same thing at Beverly, WA. too. I remember looking at the main line in front of and west of the depot in 1975...all 100 pound rail on (basically) dirt/gravel ballast. I recall it changed to 110lb rail west of the west switch at Beverly. Might have been even heavier on the Columbia River bridge.

UPDATE

I just found my note about the track conditions at Beverly, dated 8/3/1975. This is what I wrote: "Track is in fair condition. Ties very old and worn. Little ballast. The 100 pound rail is also old and fairly worn out." Too bad I didn't write down the roll date but I was just a dumb teenager then...


Allen



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/11 00:28 by bradleymckay.



Date: 07/17/11 01:51
Re: Milwaukee Road rail conditions, Avery ID. 1979
Author: bradleymckay

eminence_grise Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That's me prior to doing my rail inspection in
> March 1979 on a trainless, sodden day at Avery ID.
>
>
> I hadn't been there for seven years but the lady
> in the general store/gas station remembered me!

I got to thinking that the Avery operators job may have been abolished by this time (March 1979) and all the trainorders were being issued from St. Maries via radio. Rob do you know?? I don't recall...


Allen



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