Part 5: San Diego to La Junta, CO


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The Trip

Our objective was to get from San Diego to a friend's shop in La Junta, CO.  Normally, this would be a hard 3-day run with no allowance for downtime or problems.  We decided to allocate 4 days for travel to insure the sanity of the driver.  Our path would take us through Tucson, AZ and across southern Arizona into New Mexico and then north along the Rio Grande to Santa Fe. From Santa Fe, we followed the old Santa Fe trail (now called I-25) to Raton, NM and then over the mountains into La Junta.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Thor and Lance saddled-up and ready to roll east.

The trip to Tucson was uneventful.  We stayed at the Tucson KOA which is very nice by any standard, not just "nice for an RV park" standard.  After visiting a relative, we headed east into New Mexico.  Outside Deming, we stopped for lunch and spotted this ex-mil tractor that had been drafted into civilian service.

From Deming, we took the Hatch cutoff and headed north on I-25.  En-route, we passed these huge beams being hauled north.

We knew that we would encounter weather and it was right on schedule.  There were substantial thunderstorms along the Rio Grande Valley.

Past Las Vegas, NM the showers turned into a full-force blizzard impacting both travel speed and visibility.

We stayed in Raton and the following morning we headed east then north into La Junta.  Since we showed up on Sunday, we just setup in the parking lot of the shop in anticipation of actions on Monday.

The shop usually has a large selection of equipment in the parking lot outside the shop.  Above is a U500.

Unlike some of our previous visits, there were several older, gasoline-powered Unimogs in the lot.

On the left is a 419 diesel Unimog.  The red truck is a model 404 Unimog.

We spent Monday doing design actions at the shop.  After dark, we heard a really loud crash that I initially thought we due to "humping cars".  Humping, aside from the obvious meaning, is used in the railroad to mean assembling a train by letting cars coast into one another making crashing noises.  But, La Junta is a through-stop and trains are not assembled here.  In the morning we discovered that the noise had been due to a derailment.  Rob, our host told us that crews were in route to address the issue.  Kathleen took her camera and headed to the overpass to watch the events.  Above is a view of the situation.

As we headed to breakfast a large convoy of trucks and equipment showed up on site.  The two bulldozer cranes would be used to lift the derailed cars.

From the top of the overpass we could see Thor in the parking lot of the shop.

A panorama of the view from the top of the overpass.  Note that a coal train is heading into the yard.

The dozer-cranes finally made it to the area of the wreck.  Note that these cranes are mirror-twins.

In addition to equipment, the crews brought in several truckloads of track ballast that was spread by the loader to allow equipment to cross over the rails.  The loader is making a big dust cloud as the ballast is deposited to allow equipment access.  The yellow railcar is blocking BNSF's main lines in the yard.

Time is money in the railroad business.  The crews knew exactly what to do to get the cars off the active tracks.

The cranes were attached to the derailed cars and they were hoisted and moved to the side.  Note the "do not hump" sign on the brown rail car.

This crane's counterbalance is deployed during lifting.

When the cars were lifted they separated from the truck assembly underneath.  The wheel trucks were moved separately.  This operation was run like any other construction job: one person actually doing work and at least ten others watching.

This truck assembly was moved by hand by this crew.  They rolled the truck to the crane for lift-off.

Once the cars were off the tracks, the equipment was drive back to the staging area.

The work crew cleared the tracks in about 5 hours.  But, the rails suffered damage and required other actions to get the line functional.  Those actions were less interesting and looked more like "work".

Tomorrow, we engage in more computer-aided design (CAD) modeling for the tire mount.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2019, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.