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
MThe WISCONSIN ENGINEER 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 EDITOI 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 ril - I w( or )f f In th, A 283 MAY, 1 929 ---8 " - - - 1- I-, --
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