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Editor's note: In the second part of a series, seven companies share information on ballast-related products and equipment. Part 1, which was published in our June 2016 issue, features information from eight companies.
Brandt Road Rail Corp. recently launched the RTB 130, a hi-rail back hoe mounted on a John Deere 710 base chassis and powered by a 130-horsepower engine.
“This unit is truly a powerful and highly productive Swiss army knife for the railway,” says Shaun Gettis, sales manager. “It is capable of being a one-man spot maintenance machine that has the ability to handle ties, undercut and even brush cut.”
With the RTB 130, operators can get on and off the rail in less than three minutes, company officials say. And the unit is “gear is designed for the ultimate in ride and stability,” Gettis adds.
“With our front counter weight system, you can use the heaviest attachments with increased stability and safety,” he says, noting that customers have been “very happy with the performance and power” of the RTB 130.
Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc. provides an array of ballast maintenance services solutions designed to fit a range of customer scenarios and budgets. The company offers a specialized staff, and a wide range of on-track production and spot/switch undercutters — as well as Railroad Asset Scanning Car ballast and trackbed inspection technologies.
As a result, Balfour Beatty is “uniquely positioned to provide the railroad industry with a holistic solution for ballast management that is driven by condition assessment,” company officials believe.
Using condition-based information enables railroads to “cost effectively and efficiently target their investment in ballast maintenance, including selecting the correct solution — whether it be production undercutting, shoulder cleaning, spot undercutting or surfacing,” the company adds.
Balfour Beatty’s approach saves customers time and money, and can “significantly reduce” the risk and costs associated with derailments, the company says.
“Maximum flexibility” is the key to managing ballast issues, officials at Ballast Tools Equipment (BTE) believe. No matter the cause, from flooding to erosion, quickly fixing the problem and getting the track back in service is what matters most, they say.
“This approach is why BTE has developed flexible machines to handle any spot ballast maintenance situation in a variety of conditions,” says Sales Engineer Matt Weyand.
“Our hi-rail backhoes, hi-rail excavators and the new BTE-318 Hi-Rail Rubber Tire Excavator can handle a full array of ballast and track service attachments, including undercutters, tampers, cribbing buckets, tie handlers and tie dragons, while operating on or off track,” he adds.
Ballast conditions vary greatly, even within small geographic areas, and BTE’s “fast and flexible equipment” are designed to handle a variety of situations, Weyand says.
“Our customers need to be productive, safe and operate at the highest value possible,” he says, noting that the company has more than 40 years of engineering and fabricating experience. “BTE’s lineup of machines, attachments and wear-proofed parts lets our customers be ready to operate in any ballast or track situation.”
Knox Kershaw Inc.’s Ballast Regulator models are “continually improved upon” based on feedback from customers and field observations, says Chief Operating Officer George Pugh. The most recent enhancements include an improved entryway to the operator’s station, better operator station ergonomics, and high-visibility labeling for certain machine functions.
Knox Kershaw continues to expand its inventory this year, including complete plow and broom assemblies for ballast regulators. “Rebuilt components including complete engine assemblies, propel pumps, transmissions and differentials also have been added to our inventory in order to offer options to our customers, as well ensuring speedy delivery,” Pugh says.
Last year, the company delivered a KYC 550 yard cleaner that featured a newly designed folding conveyor to facilitate the transport of the machine by truck. “This machine has been very successful due both to its latest redesign and the addition of the folding conveyor feature,” Pugh says, adding that the company plans to include this feature on future machines as well as rebuild units.
So far this year, the company’s business has been “moderate,” so it has “taken advantage of opportunities to train new operators and mechanics for several of the railroads in the U.S. to help maintain a constant workforce,” Pugh says.
For the rest of this year and into 2017, the aim is “to maintain the business level we currently have and grow by promoting alternatives to the railroads for the MOW equipment they need,” he adds.
The Montana Hydraulics LLC Center Mounted Bi-Directional Plow has “gained momentum” in the marketplace since it was showcased on a new ballast car displayed by FreightCar America at Railway Interchange last fall, Montana Hydraulics officials say.
Key features of the unit include: • a center mount, floating bi-directional plow; • use of the car’s existing power source; • fully integrated controls; • bypass valves and a dual-acting cylinder; • counter-balanced valves for safety; • positive down pressure during unloading; • blades that fold/ lock within Plate C during transport; and • manual releases for the safety lock from either side.
“Our plow design was based on feedback provided by our ballast field technicians,” the company says. “Because our field team works with, repairs and maintains ballast delivery products every day, they understand what can be done to improve efficiency, minimize repairs and maintenance and how to keep things safe.”
As of early August, nearly 200 units were in operation on ballast dumping cars. “The flexibility of the bi-directional self-articulating blades, the significant increase in safety features and the single-man operation have made the plow a big hit with ballast crews that are using it,” the company says.
The maintenance-of-way equipment lineup at NMC Railway Systems now includes a multipurpose machine that company officials say is “built to work hard and easily withstand the toughest working conditions” — the versatile Huddig Rail backhoe loader system for both on- and off-track maintenance.
“The addition of the Huddig Rail machine to our product line complements our commitment to providing the rail industry with innovative and efficient railroad maintenance-of-way equipment,” says Sales Manager Mark Anderson.
The specialized articulating center pivot system of the Huddig — along with a power output of 157 horsepower — enables the operator to run multiple attachments to handle tie replacement, ballast regulation, material handling, vegetation management, snow management, utility work and other MOW projects.
NMC Railway Systems also manages site support, maintenance and parts for the Huddig machine. Customers also can purchase, rent or lease the equipment, the company says.
With the introduction of the RoadReady™ Ballast Regulator and RoadReady Production Switch Tamper, Nordco Inc. expanded its roadway work equipment product line to include what the company terms as “the most mobile ballast management surfacing equipment in the industry.” The RoadReady Surfacing Team is designed to provide maximum flexibility in equipment deployment while achieving similar productivity levels as rail-bound tampers and regulators.
No highway transportation permits are required with the RoadReady Surfacing Team; all of Nordco’s surfacing equipment can be moved day, night, weekends and holidays to work locations with no added costs, and no scheduling of trucks, trailers or cranes.
Machines deploy quickly and easily at most road crossings to get to work immediately, the company says.
“Our aim is to provide the industry with a ballast management solution that maximizes flexibility, reduces costs and enhances productivity,” says Product Manager Brian Cumbridge. “RoadReady offers our customers this solution and gives them an excellent alternative to the traditional rail-bound equipment.”
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