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John LaCosta

Track Updates for September 27, 1998

John LaCosta    T uesday (9/22) Bob Krueger was Dispatcher with John Diefenbach and Paul Ritterhoff as crew for an evening tour.

     Saturday (9/26) With Dave Crow up for the weekend line work was on the agenda for Saturday. Along with Dave, Ed Amrhein, Dennis Yeager, Paul Ritterhoff and I filled out the crew. We continued to replace the old strain insulators with new ones on the 28th street loop.

     This task would be simple if it was straight track since there is at most two insulators every 100 feet. But the loop is a very tight curve and there is an insulator about every 5 feet. Baltimore always used trolley wheels to collect the power from the overhead wire. Wheels require that the wire be closely alligned to the trolley wheel at all time or the wheel will "jump" the wire. As the car goes around a curve the wheel is always changing it alignment and the overhead wire must be constructed to match this change. The tighter the curve, the more points that the wire must be held to form a curve. Actually the curve is a series of straight sections that change angle at each trolley ear. This constant need to align the trolley wire is what requires the extensive use of insulators.

     Since line poles are expensive, one pole is used to hold up to 6 trolley ears at the proper location. The original construction used a large (5/8" diameter) rod to hold the insulators at the pole. This means that the pole can have up to six span wires pulling at the same time. To replace the insulators the whole assemble must be removed from the pole at one time. This requires using a number of chain hoists to let out the span wires slowly so as not to break the other overhead connections.

     Putting the assembly back up can often be even more of a task. All of this work is done about 20 feet above the ground. By the end of the day the last pole on the east side of the loop had its insulators replaced, as well as some supporting span wires. One more day and the east side will be finished. The west side is not as complex and should be easier to do.

     By noon Carl Merson had taken over as Dispatcher from the line crew with the southern crew of Bob Cohen, Greg Thompson and Tom Philips as crew. The Dispatcher and crew did a fine job of working around the line crew by waiting for us to finish the task at hand and then move the Line Car out of the way on the passing track at the loop(no more than a one minute wait for the revenue cars).

     Sunday (9/27) John O'Neill was Dispatcher with Andy Blumberg, David Crow, Jim Robertson and Fred Schneider as crew. No report of any problems so I assume things went well with a somewhat smaller turn out.


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