Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Loram Ballast Cleaner in Winnipeg

Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg
I was driving on the Sterling Lyon Parkway here in Winnipeg on Wednesday afternoon, passing the future site of our IKEA, when I saw an odd contraption parked on the nearby stub track. It turned out to be a Loram ballast cleaner.

What does a ballast cleaner do? Well, Loram is glad you asked. It basically scoops up all the ballast from the ends of the ties outward, cleans it, and puts it back. It takes all the mud, clay, etc. that accumulates in the ballast and shoots it away well clear of the track. This mean looking contraption is what scoops up the ballast.
Closeup of Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg
From here, the ballast goes by conveyor to the next piece, where it is cleaned and put back beside the track in the profile specified by the railway. You have to have the right slope to allow proper drainage. I think the back end of the contraption below (left of photo) swings out to discharge the "fines" aka dirt and clay. Note the spare brushes on top. They also brush the ends of the ties to get the loose ballast off them.
Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg

Next comes a tank car. I assume this is for fuel. On Loram grinders they carry their own water for fire-fighting, but I can't see how a ballast cleaner can cause fires. Maybe I'm missing something.
Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg
Finally, a caboose. You can see that caboose SBC-9 has been modified fairly extensively.
Caboose SBC-9 with Loram ballast cleaner in Winnipeg

There are several videos of these babies on YouTube.

They sure make a lot of dust!


Robert in Port Townsend said...

Nice catch! Did you get to see it in action? The machine vibrates and cleans the ballast with water, before laying right back down behind the large collecting wheel.

That's why the water tank car...

Canadian Train Geek said...

Hi Robert, no, it was parked and lifeless. It would be cool to see it in action... from a distance.

Thanks for clearing up why they have a tank car!

Robert in Port Townsend said...

Distance is good! I love the scene in the top (longest and best YouTube) where a man suddenly appears out of the whirling dust cloud!

The angular shaker is where the water wash takes place. If you look carefully where the ballast is dropping back onto the road bed, you can see it is moist.

I wonder how many prototypes fell apart before they got it right!!

Unknown said...

Hey guys, don't know if you still read this. I just ran across it today. The water is actually to help with dust control. There are sprayers in front of the digging wheels. On BC-14 there are also sprayers at the conveyors at the top of those wheels and a couple more at each hopper spraying the rock as it lays back down. 14 and 9 are roughly the same model so I assume 9 also has all the same water sprayers.

Canadian Train Geek said...

Thanks, Jason! Dust control... now we know. :)