Turntable Pits

An open forum to discuss all aspects of the New Haven Railroad.
rsullivan
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Joined: December 14th, 2016, 3:36 pm

January 16th, 2018, 2:37 pm #11

Mr. NH746EJO commented about ice and the switches. I noticed that in pictures of the switches on the New Haven RR, the ballast didn't go all the way up to the bottom of the rails. While pictures of the switches on other railroads showed the ballast even with the bottoms of the rails or tops of the ties in the same manner as the adjacent tracks. I always took the lower ballast on the New Haven as a winter proofing drainage method so ice dams didn't develop in the winter. The ice dam wouldn't need much if any snow. Just a cold snap with frozen water not able to drain off. The lower ballast levels at the switches allowed the water to drain even when frozen on top of the ballast. Now that is my observation, and I have not read that in any New Haven RR's maintenance publications or Shoreliner articles. It is a feature that I intend to replicate on all of my switches during ballasting.
Richard H. Sullivan, Jr.  member #3967
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NH746EJO
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Joined: November 24th, 2007, 7:18 pm

January 16th, 2018, 6:36 pm #12

Rick - I dated the photo of 0786 as 12/28/1959 but I was really bad at dating so I won't swear to it.

Mr Sullivan - It may not make sense, but I once heard that it was good practice to keep ballast below the rails to avoid negative effects on the signal circuit  -- take that with a grain of salt but it may be true.

Regarding snow in turntable pits, the Chicago & North Western had some old, short armstrong turntables in Michigan and Wisconsin that had their pits completely covered with a deck level with the track and pit top.  They used girder "wings" extending from the turntable to support the wooden plank deck.  If you visit the B&O museum in Baltimore you can see a turntable with a wooden deck that completely covers the pit and moves with the turntable.  The roundhouse was built as a car shop and the turntable is enclosed by the building.  The deck allowed workers to get around easily and prevented falls into the pit.  (Turntable pit sides were often painted white because it made the edge stand out and helped avoid accidents in engine terminals.)

Returning to the use of J-1 2-8-2 3020 to melt cleared snow during the March 1956 snowstorm in Providence, I've been told that it was used mainly because of the need to clear snow off the platforms at Union Station.  That is, it wasn't needed because the snow was so deep, but because snow was shoveled off the platforms and then cleared off the tracks with the conveyor/melter.  Given the relative lack of heavy snow in southern New England, it is understandable that it wasn't cost effective to maintain steam locomotives and the snow clearing apparatus for the remote possibility they would be needed -- experience showed they were not essential.
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rsullivan
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Joined: December 14th, 2016, 3:36 pm

January 16th, 2018, 7:18 pm #13

Thank you Mr. NH746EJO for the information regarding the signal circuit and interference caused by ballast. Wahtever the reason, I'm still planning on modeling that lower ballast at the switches.
Richard (short form)
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Noel Weaver
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Joined: February 18th, 2003, 2:23 am

January 16th, 2018, 8:05 pm #14

In Waterbury during a heavy snowfall we simply kept the turntable spinning at a rather low speed all the time.  With an armstrong turntable I am not positive just what they did but the B & B maintained the turntables so I suppose it was their responsibility.  There was a good space between the bottom of the bridge and the floor of the pit so maybe clearance for a foot or so of snow.  I don't ever recall snow being a problem with the 95 foot electric turntable at Waterbury.  
Noel Weaver
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NH746EJO
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Joined: November 24th, 2007, 7:18 pm

January 17th, 2018, 10:23 am #15

 BALLAST RULE
I found the ballast item I mentioned above:
From THE NEW YORK, NEW HAVEN and HARTFORD and the CENTRAL NEW ENGLAND RAILWAY COMPANY  RULES AND INSTRUCTIONS for the MAINTENANCE of WAY and STRUCTURES  EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 1, 1916.
RULE 389 (Page 80)  ----   Ballast must be kept from touching rails where they are bonded for rail circuit and under no circumstances shall cinders be used under rails carrying electric current.  A clear space of at least one inch between ballast and base of rail must be maintained.

I could find nothing specific about ballast at switches except that switches must be kept free of obstructions.

Checking a couple of railroad engineering books I found that ballast should not cover ties in order to allow for the inspection of the ties with the exception that in arid areas ties may be covered to protect them from sun damage.
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rsullivan
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Joined: December 14th, 2016, 3:36 pm

January 17th, 2018, 11:01 am #16

    Thank you Mr. NH746EJO for taking the time to look that up. It seems that the switches may have had a little more than a one inch clearance in most of the photos, as there appears to be a slight dip in the ballast levels at most switches in most pictures. That is probably to accomodate changes in the distance between the ballast and the bottom of the rail when the train is negotiating the points of the switch since they are connected with a metal rod that sits below the bottom of the rail and don't rest on the metal tie plates to keep them elevated above the ties and ballast. Now I know my belief the lower ballast was for drainage was incorrect, but actually was for a more important safety reason. Thanks again. 
    I apologize to the thread drift police before they start writing their citations. But, in mitigation, this is a truely an eroded stream from the original thread when you consider the correlation of snow build up in a turntable pit hindering the turntable's movement and ice dams hindering a switch points movement. Albeit I was incorrect in my assumption for the reason for the lower ballast to begin with.
Richard H. Sullivan, Jr.  member #3967
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NH746EJO
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Joined: November 24th, 2007, 7:18 pm

January 17th, 2018, 11:15 am #17

RULES FOR SNOW AND ICE
The 1916 book of rules for the maintenance of way cited above has several pages regarding snow with one item mentioning turntables.  Rule 852 states that "Unless otherwise directed, section foremen will attend to the removal of snow and ice from switches and frogs, interlocking and signal pipe and wire lines, sidewalks, overhead foot-bridges, flangeways at crossings, water stations, track scales, the sides, roof and bottom of tunnels, rock cuts, etc, and give all necessary assistance to remove snow and ice from station platforms, subways, buildings, turntable pits, ash pits, etc."    (Note that the section crews don't seem to have primary responsibility for turntables.)  Rule 849 states "All employes of the maintenance of way department are subject to call for duty in handling snow and must perform the duty assigned to them.  In severe storms the forces of the supervisor of bridges and buildings and others may be called upon for assistance."  Rule 1010 states: "Supervisors of bridges and buildings report to and receive instructions from division engineer.  They are responsible for the safe condition and proper maintenance of structures, including ...... turntables ........"

Here are are few more items from the snow and ice pages --  Track supervisors may increase their forces for handling snow, as, in their judgement, is required......During long continued storms men will be worked in relays, so that one gang can be resting while the other is working........Ample arrangements shall be made for feeding the men during storms so that they can work to their full efficiency......

Also  --- "Supervisors of track and supervisors of bridges and buildings shall see that maintenance of way equipment, including ....snow plows, flangers .....are maintained in proper condition and are ready at all times for use. ...... Track supervisors shall see that all snow equipment is in first class condition  ...... assign men to operate plows and flangers, and be fully prepared for handling snow storms. "
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NH746EJO
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Joined: November 24th, 2007, 7:18 pm

January 17th, 2018, 1:14 pm #18

Steam 10050.jpg
TURNTABLE IN SNOW  -- I shot this during a fan trip behind Reading 4-8-4 2102 on February 27, 1972 at the CNJ engine terminal in Bethlehem, PA.  The snowfall was significant but the photo shows why a modern 100 foot turntable isn't bothered much by snow.  However, 2102's trailing truck derailed at a switch in the background that had a spread gauge -- use of some wooden blocks soon got the truck back on the rails.  
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nhhe52
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Joined: March 26th, 2004, 12:19 am

January 18th, 2018, 6:06 pm #19

NH746EJO wrote:
Steam 10050.jpg
TURNTABLE IN SNOW  -- I shot this during a fan trip behind Reading 4-8-4 2102 on February 27, 1972 at the CNJ engine terminal in Bethlehem, PA.  The snowfall was significant but the photo shows why a modern 100 foot turntable isn't bothered much by snow.  However, 2102's trailing truck derailed at a switch in the background that had a spread gauge -- use of some wooden blocks soon got the truck back on the rails.  
Very cool image!

Ed
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Bill Sample
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Joined: June 21st, 2003, 4:26 am

January 30th, 2018, 12:13 pm #20

The classic lines of the PAs looked good even in the Trustee's scheme although green and gold was my favorite.
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