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RAILROAD, RIP TRACK, or Repair Track

By Walter Parks

Photo of the front of the Atlants Repair Track Shed
Click to enlarge Photo of NS Atlanta Repair Track

What is or was a Rip Track

I use the term what is or was a Rip Track, because it depends on what part of the Railroad you work on, whether or not it still exist. It apears that Rip Tracks are being phased out. It certainly was in Atlanta Georgia, and I'm sure other Railroads and towns as well. That being said, I will tell you some of the things I know regarding the matter.

The Rip Track, is railroad slang, for Repair Track. It really isn't just one track but a series of tracks, that are refered to in the singular, rather than the plural term, for a particular place at the railroad, designed for repairing and maintaining, not only, that Railroads rolling stock, but all rolling stock that my be running through that location.

All Railroad Car repairs, are governed, by the Association of American Railroads, as to the methods and material used in those repairs, and if the repairs are not preformed up to their standards, the railroads can be held responsable for, and they can be subject to loss of revenue from said repairs and monatary penalties can be emplemented. I don't know all the legal mumbo jumbo, but thats about the drift of it. Detailed records of Foreign and System car repairs were kept and the various companies that owned those railcars were billed accordingly, unless it was determined that we were responsable for the damage such as in a Derailment. In those case, I think Insurance companies were extensivly involved.

The Rip Track we worked at in Atlanta, consisted of a large shed 4 tracks running through it, and a couple of other tracks that were adjacent to it, and the cars that were Bad Ordered for repairs or maintainance, were rolled through those tracks one right after the other, and were repaired by at least two carmen on each track. I cant list all the repairs made there, due to the extensive length the list would entail, but I will list just a few of them to give you a better idea of what took place there. We replaced defective and worn out wheels, and couplers, and Air Brake Parts, and a whole list of running gear. There was extensive welding and cutting torch work involved, especially when we had to act more like a Blacksmith, and manufacture the parts needed. Virtually any part of a railcar was repaired there. Like I said the list is long.

A few years back the Rip Track in Atlanta was shut down and repairs are usually sent elsewhere for attention. There are a whole list of Private companies making repairs on railcars now, although there are still some small repairs being done in the Trainyards. There are far fewer Carmen employed now than there were. Those still working are kept busy 24 hours a day. There is a lot of repairs attended to out on the road now, at the various trainyards, especially cars that need attention due to FRA defects. FRA stands for the Federal Railway Administration. The FRA is your government at work assuring that Safety Apliances and Standards are observed by the Railroads.

I will if at all possable, show a picture of the Rip Track on this page as soon as I get around to taking a picture of it. Im alway's telling my wife when she ask me to do something, that I'll get around to it. I havent found any "round tuits" yet though.

The Rip Track Shed is still there, but mainly used for parking locomotives. The equipment that was there like the huge hydraulic Jacks and other equipment is now gone. There is a lot of repairs that are repaired out on the road now.

I am not sure what else I will be putting on this page of Perhaps I will get into detail about how various jobs are done. I'm sure some of you Rail Fans would be intrested to know what is involved in replacing a pair of wheels or a coupler, or rebuilding a set of trucks or something. For now I will just show some photo's and maybe stick a few stories here. What ever it will be, I'll get a round tuit.

UPDATE: 8-23-05   I may have spoke too soon regarding the future of the Atlanta Repair Track. On a recient visit to there, I found the place in excellant condition and it apears to be revamping to return to some operations. The place was cleaned up and in neat order. The floor Jacks have been reinstalled on track two. So, the future of the Atlanta Shop, looks brighter. I took some photo's to add to this page. Here's hoping, that I am right and that, they are on the right track, when it comes to repairing railcars.

Photo of the Back side of the Atlanta Shop
Click to enlarge Photo of Norfolk Southern Atlanta Rip Track

View inside the shed
Click to enlarge,
When its enlarged click the picture again to make it even larger.

Visit My Home Page @Carknocker.Com

Before you leave this page, take a minute and read this article from the archives of the New York Times, Printed in May 4-1902. It goes into some detail about the duties of a Carknocker, and in my opinion, it is just as true today. I cant repost it on this site, but, I see no reason I can't show you this link to it. It is Tittled:     Repair Work On Railway Trains.   When you get to the page, click to read the full article. You may have to click the plus sign at the top of the page to increase the magnification. Then just scroll down to read it.
    New York Times, Repair Work on Railway Trains.

This page is only one page of   Carknocker.Com.   There are many others, so if you came in throught the back door, visit our home page. Below are just some random photo's, that do not pertain to the Rip Track at all. I just stored them here untill I get around to storing them elsewhere.

1st Boxcar Photo
Click to enlarge

Over my 34 years as a Carknocker, I repaired lots of Freight Cars. This was the first one I ever worked on. It was at Southern Tech. in Marietta Ga. and was used by the then Southern Railway to train Freight Car Repairmen. Many of us, I am sure will remember this box car. This was cropped from a big picture that was too big to put on this page all in one picture.

Myclass1 Photo
Myclass2 Photo
Click Pictures to enlarge

Above is the group of men that was in the same class as myself, at Southern Tech. I had to crop it to get everyone on the page. These men, went to places all over the Southern Railroad. I don,t think many of these men stayed with the railroad, but some of us did. Yes the Carknocker is among this group, shown here at the tender age of 23. That was in 1969.

This Page:  ©  Copyright 2005, 2006. and 2007, by Walter Parks, "Carknocker" and Retired Railway Carman: