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Matthias, F. T. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 33, Number VIII (May 1929)

Lacher, Jack H.
Confessions of a chemical weed killer,   pp. 283-284

Page 283

Being The True And Complete
   Confessions of A Chemical Weed Killer
                                           (NOT A MACFADDEN PRODUCT)
                                             By JACK H. LACHER, ch3O0
TO begin with, it was rather surprising and inspiring
T    to say the least; here I was being sent out to Aber'
deen, S. D., to start working on one of our outfits and I
had never even seen anything but a picture of one. I
might add, that up to the time I got the job I was
unaware of the fact that there was such a thing as a
chemical weed killing outfit, and that railroads ever bothered
about keeping their ballast free from vegetation. My utter
lived, but it was a good two weeks
before I understood all the work
connected with keeping the outfit in
condition and running.
  We (we refers to Vic and myself.
I was very fortunate in being broken
in by a man as capable as Vic was
in this line of work.) arrived at
Aberdeen in time for breakfast, and
after locating a hotel, and changing
clothes we spent half the morning
l I- IF4- -I  + I f I Ia 14  1i-nhe I rI-A  AId
getting the yard master to move the car to the freight
house so we could load on our equipment. The rest
of the morning was utilized in moving the equipment onto
the car, and in waiting for the car to be moved to a
siding where there was plenty of room to put on the
booms. We hadn't more than gotten the header brackets
symmetrically located when we were hit by an all after'
noon rain. The next day with an early start and the
help of three men from the car department we practically
completed the setup.
  Chemical weed killing for the removal of vegetation
from road-beds has been used by railroads for a number
of years.  It is far superior to mechanical methods such
as the burner or steamer because it has no harmful effects
upon the rails, ties, or ballast; if anything, it is a preserver
of ties (there is an arsenical tie preserver on the market
today). The chemical killer not only removes the tops of
the weeds but destroys the roots as well, thus stopping
any further growth.   For a little more information I
might add that a clean road bed lowers maintenance and
renewal costs. Weed roots prevent a ballast from draining
properly, and a heavy top growth keeps a ballast from
drying between rains; this causes tie rotting, rough track,
and rails are soon hammered out of alinement.
  The Spray method of applying poison has been highly
perfected, and consists briefly as follows. The arsenical
weed killer is forced, under train line air pressure, from
the tank cars, forward to the flat car on which the
spraying apparatus is mounted. Here it is distributed to
the different nozzles across the front and to the nozzles
on the side arms, or booms, which swing out on either
side to cover double track work or sidings.  To cover a
                      regular ballast width and still enable
S NOTE             i  the outfit to pass cattle guards, switch
'tNOTE                stands, and narrow bridges, the out-
tten by a student     side nozzles on each side may be
Engineering, is an    raised to a vertical position to give
)rk done by him       clearance.  The  illustrations show
vacation of 1928.    how the double and multiple track
summer vacation      equipments have lowered the appli'
especial benefit to   cation costs by increasing the cover-
ets; giving them  a   ing area available to one forward
e practice of their   motion of the train.
Lates.                   The amount of chemical used per
                      mile varies between wide limits de'
pending cnicny upou the extent of the vegetation and also
upon how closely the train is held down to the proper
speed of 10 m. p. h. On unkept sidings we used as high
as 100 gals. per mile; while on well kept main line we
  s   as lowIXT a  15 5-0
gals. per mile. There
is considerable reason
to believe th a t the
arsenic in the ballast is
accumulative, and that
the number of gallons
used per mile decreases
with subsequent years
of application has been
shown by records for
track over a number
of years. The number        A view from the engine in
of miles of track which         Western Montana.
can be sprayed in a day depends largely upon the traffic;
we traveled as few as 45 miles on some short working
days and as high as 100 miles on several long days. These
figures would, of course, be doubled on double track work.
  There are always railroad officials on the outfit with us;
generally a roadmaster and a man from the division
  This article, w
in the College oj
account of the w
during the summ
It is that type *
work which is o f
professional stud
running start in
profession as gra
- I
MAY, 1 929
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