Monster Garage

Inside of the CSX maintenance garage

Railroad machines of all shapes and sizes tower above the mechanics working inside CSX's Bryan Park Shop in Richmond, Virginia.

Talent runs deep inside this 152,000-square-foot facility. This "monster garage" is an incubator of innovation where CSX railroad maintenance machines are conceptualized and built by an industrious team of engineers and mechanics.

CSX is one of the largest railroad companies east of the Mississippi River, spanning 23 states, the District of Columbia, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Keeping its 21,000 miles of track fully functional requires a wide range of maintenance of way (MOW) equipment. The CSX fleet includes anchor applicators, ballast regulators, rail adjusters, rail pickups, spike drivers, spike pullers, tampers, and tie handlers — a lion's share of it powered by John Deere diesel engines.

Last year Bryan Park Shop designed and built 10 new tie handlers — their first with Final Tier 4/Stage IV engines. Ricardo Cortes Jr. is Bryan Park Shop's plant manager. He, along with several other managers and foremen, and their John Deere engine distributor, Bell Power Systems, collaborated on the design.

A central concept of the new design is simplicity. "We needed a machine that is easy to maintain and operate," says Cortes. In keeping with this goal, the team selected a PowerTech™ EWX 4.5L, which powers the pressure-compensated pump to drive the travel, boom, and grapple. An auxiliary drive also powers an air-conditioning pump and optional air compressor.

The 55-kW (74-hp) John Deere engine meets Final Tier 4/Stage IV emissions without the need for diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). "The engine works well with our system, because we don’t have to use urea, which is a big advantage for us. We upgraded the hydraulic system using a special pump that follows the profile of the engine torque chart and pulls horsepower from the engine when needed. We are still able to get the torque and power that we need with a smaller horsepower engine."

Bryan Park Shop and Bell Power Systems are now updating a metal scraping machine that will be powered by the EWX 4.5L engine. The rail-bound machine will be equipped with a large magnet with conveyors that will collect metal scraps, like plates and spikes, and convey them to a bin.

Cortes says the new scraper will attach to the rear of a spike puller, making it possible for one operator to control both machines simultaneously.

This multi-function capability falls in line with Precision Scheduled Railroading, a comprehensive operational model designed to improve efficiencies. "Maintenance equipment of the future will have the capability to perform multiple functions, and this will require reliable engines with more horsepower," says Cortes.

We are still able to get the torque and power that we need with a smaller horsepower engine.

Ricardo Cortes Jr.
Plant manager of the Bryan Park Shop