There are a number of maintenance issues that must be remedied prior to full operation this spring. The biggest is the track through the tunnel. The steel track has rusted through is several spots, the photo on right shows one example; yes, the web is gone.
The decision was made to pull the track and install new rail. The track through the tunnel was always wet so correcting drainage issues are a high priority. The track was also pretty steep from the top of Wilson Siding to the start of Tower Siding. Lowering the track through the tunnel would help that situation. The lips at the bottom of the end of the tanks that form the tunnel unnecessarily raises the track and restricts draining through the tunnel.
Brody and Chris spent a number of evenings (nights) before the first work weekend removing the dirt, gravel and ballast from the tunnel. Photos at right show the clean tunnel. Great job guys! Next step will be to cut out those lips at the ends of the tanks.
Had a big crowd on the first work weekend Saturday, fourteen total. One of the projects was to lower the gas line between the tunnel and the north end of Tower Block. Dick dug a trench beside the gas line and they pushed the line into the trench and dropping it about a foot. That in turn allowed the hump in the track at the gas line to be removed. Photos show the new grade with some of the track reinstalled.
The next major task is to devise a drainage arrangement to keep the runoff out of the tunnel.
Last fall a large drain pipe was installed across Barney Yard. The tracks were reinstalled but ballasting was deferred waiting for the soil to settle over the winter. The crew ballasted five of the track over the weekend. They look really great! That area of the yard was always a bit rough as demonstrated by the five tracks on the right that are not yet tuned up.
A cache of strange eggs was discovered on the hillside above Sandhill Block. The shells are soft. Some have speculated that they are turtle eggs. They aren't colored so we can probably rule out the Easter Bunny. Other possibilities are an alligator or a biggggg snake.