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Assists the Marion Union Station Association

By Ben Swope
Fritz-Rumer-Cooke Co. Safety Director

Photos by Author - June, 2020

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Erie-Lackawanna caboose No. C306 at the Marion Union Station with the Fritz-Rumer-Cooke construction crew.

        The Marion Union Station Association is the current caretaker of the historic Marion, Ohio union train station, once serving passenger trains of three railroads; Erie RR (later Erie-Lackawanna), New York Central RR and the Chesapeake & Ohio Ry.
        Our 29th US President, Warren G. Harding, a former resident of Marion, was a frequent visitor to this train station.
        During World War-II, Marion Union Station maintained a Servicemen’s Canteen. This free service for members of the armed services offered fruit, sandwiches, and lots of fresh popped popcorn to thousands of servicemen on the many troop trains that passed through Marion daily.
        The current role this 1902-built station serves the Marion community as a railroad artifact museum, including the former “AC” Tower structure, once used to control the passage of nearly 100 freight and passenger trains a day over four railroads, all crossing one another at-grade within the close area surrounding the station grounds.
        Among the hundreds of large and small artifacts on grounds or within the museum structures, is a former Erie-Lackawanna caboose. Donated by Conrail years ago, this bay-window design caboose sits on its own short section of track between one of the station structures and the current Norfolk Southern Ry (ex-PRR) mainline.
        Due to unstable roadbed footing, the caboose atop its short track section, was slowly leaning into settling soil. And, prior to a planned restoration of this caboose, a request was made to re-level the railcar and the railroad track it sits upon. Here is where Fritz-Rumer-Cooke stepped up to donate labor with equipment to help support the Marion Union Station Association and this local community.
        On June 12, 2020, the re-leveling work started by jacking the caboose car body from its leaning side, to tilt the opposite direction, removing some weight off the sunken side of the track.
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Ben Swope is taking a turn on the pneumatic crosstie tamper.
        Next were set two track jacks near to each railcar truck axles, lifting the track and railcar truck together, just past level. Lifting past level allowed for some immediate settlement in the installed and tamped track ballast.
        New track ballast (donated also by Smith Trucking Co., of Marion OH) had been stored in the center of the track beneath the caboose. Transferring the stone from under the railcar to the outer track edges required some ducking and reaching, but given all things, was close enough for the need.
        Consolidating the track ballast stone into the voids under the crossties created by lifting the track required a pneumatic crosstie tamping tool. With voids up to 5-inches deep in some areas, it took quite a bit of stone to fill these cavities.
        Once the track was tamped off, the track jacks were released, leaving a perfectly level caboose car body, ready for next repair project to correct the ravages weather and age the caboose has endured since it was placed into retirement many years ago. With the preservation assistance of Fritz-Rumer-Cooke Co., soon a new generation of railroad enthusiasts will learn of the important role cabooses such as this once played in railroad safety and operations.

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The first step was to raise the car body weight off the track.

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Next the track was raised leveling the caboose.

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Finally cavities under the ties were filled with stone and tamped to provide a solid base to hold the ties in place and the track level.

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A job well done by (left to right) Bill Conway, Bud Lykins and Shaun Low with Ben Swope taking the photo.

        For a short peek inside C306 click here