I'm back again

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by old trackman, Apr 9, 2003.

  1. old trackman

    old trackman New Member

    Before we lost our internet on saturday, i was going to describe my job as a trackman underground. HomeStake Ming Co. was the largest in the western hemisphere. We mined for gold and my job was to maintain the many many miles of track. The gauge for the track was 18" gauge. We had 6 ton electric motors and pulled up to 20 ore cars. They even had trolley motors with the real electric wires overhead. Every level was spaced 150 ft. apart. I've work from the surface to the 8000 ft. level. They lowered 30 ft. sections of rail down the shaft and we pulled them out to the level and loaded them on little trucks. The first thing before working on the track would be to clean the mud and lower the water level. I'll say more but this is maybe too long. I loved it and loved my job.
  2. billk

    billk Active Member

    No way, tell us more! I've heard that after a certain depth it actually starts getting hotter (closer to the core) - is that true?
  3. old trackman

    old trackman New Member

    Believe it or not, some places on the 8000 ft. level was so HOT, You could barely breathe. Some place in the upper country like the 2000 ft. or the 1700 ft. was cold. When you walked thru the tunnel, it was all rock both sides and above you. Along the trackline was a ditch, called the piss ditch. You can imagine what I mean. Pumps pumped the water from the 8000 ft to the surface or we would have too much on the track. I worked in some pretty hot places and in some awfull COLD places. Some places were just right. I've put in switches all by myself and done layed 30 ft of rail myself. I was payed contract. That means I got payed so much per ft. and so much for a switch. So, I made some pretty good extra money. I was there 26 yrs. More later.
  4. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Fasinating! Got any pictures? :cool:
  5. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Excellant reading! I bet you never thought that people would think your job was interesting. :) :)

    I'm up for pictures too. But remember to post them in the Photography forum. ~~ Thanks!!!
  6. jimmybeersa

    jimmybeersa Member


    Hi Trackman.......Having worked down some of the deepest Gold mines in the world I can tell you that I know what you mean when you say HOT !! I worked as an Elevator Engineer servicing elevators installed in mines..Yes.. ordinary every day types of freight elevators One particular one was at the deepest place a man could stand in the world at 120 level (thats 1200 feet below sea level,and thats three levels past the Devil ) LoL !! At the Western Deep Levels Gold mine in Carletonville South Africa.
    They had a brass plaque fixed to the wall saying " You are standing in the deepest man made spot in the world " but they were wrong, the well of the elevator shaft was 8 feet lower than that plaque and I stood in that well many times. That shaft is being deepend to 1500 feet. A person has to travel in three different shafts systems to get there and it takes more than an hour of traveling time.Interesting Life to have lived When you collected your cap lamp you were given aprefrozen ice jacket to wear
  7. interurban

    interurban Active Member


    Please Henry and Jimmy, Dont stop there it`s like getting to chapter 3 and losing the book.;) :D :D
    Educate us PLEASE.
  8. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    I suggest...


    A) No.1- Do not lose your Internet.

    2) Keep it coming!

    I edited this so that the story will continue- point- Yes- We want to know all!

    Mark :)
  9. old trackman

    old trackman New Member

    I have no pictures, I'm sorry to say. But I can continue a little longer. We got on a cage that held 48 people and went from the surface to the 4850 ft. and then went to a different shaft to the 8000 ft. level. The mine is now closed due to gold prices and the cost of hoisting it to the surface and crushing the rock and going thru the process. We showered each day because of the heat and grease and dirty conditions. This why I love to build a layout, I have one now, but I need to downsize. My wife said I could put it in the upstairs porch. By being a trackman for 26 years, I can pretty much figure out any derailments. So, I want to build a door layout. I want two trains to run at one time. I want a few bridges and I'm not cool on tunnels, because they are hard to clean. I'll write more soon.
  10. jimmybeersa

    jimmybeersa Member

    To to keep the story going.....We once installed an elevator 6000 feet below surface built to carry 120 persons on three decks, and it ran at 1000ft per minute. It was called FRED (Frigging Rediculous Electical Device) One Easter weekend a mate and myself went underground
    on Thursday evening to do an essentual modification and arrived back on surface on the following Tuesday afternoon, biggest pay check I ever received, as well as a letter of thanks from the Mine Manager( the only one I ever got )
    Trackman you might still enjoy laying track on your layout but there will be no elevators on mine not even a grain elevator.
    I was many years ago involved in the flooding of a mine, but thats another story
  11. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Jimmy, please tell that story, too!

    And Henry - was your job to do track maintenance only, or did you also run those mine trains? Could you tell us something about those train operations?

    Thank you both for sharing your stories with us. It is very interesting to hear somebody passing on his first hand experience - from a 'world' where almost none uf us ever will have a chance to visit!

  12. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    My apologies to Henry and Jimmy-
    When I first read this thread it seemed too fantastic and I thought it was all April Fool's.
    I had no idea we could dig that deep, but was I wrong! :eek: :eek:
    The Western Deep Levels is now somewhere beyond 4Km or over 13,000 ft, and I'm sure they do need ice suits or whatever to work down there!!

    As usual, you've taught me something new on The Gauge!
    Thanx, guys! :D :D
  13. old trackman

    old trackman New Member

    When we got as low as the 6500 ft. level and on down, we had air conditioning. When it broke down, you would know it. My clothes would be soaked all day. We all wore bib overalls. We had a belt which held our mine lamps and a apparatuss to help us breathe in case of fire. The motors which ranged any where from 1 ton to 8 tons were all electric. We had forward and reverse and three speeds. I did run these sometimes when we were short of help, but my job was to fix the track and I also put track in where we did not have any. I bent the curves with a JIM CROW. This was crancked with a bar by hand and then they upgraded to a hydraulic one. If you crancked a little too much you snapped the rail and it broke. I have changed the curve on many places to where it was too much curve to where it was very gradual. Which allowed them to go alot faster. More later.
  14. jimmybeersa

    jimmybeersa Member

    You asked for it so here goes.......Deep level mines now use huge fridge plants to make ice water which is pumped underground. they then blow air through a heat exchanger, lowering the rock temperature 6t o 8 degrees makes the enviroment comfortable to work in.
    The flooding of the West Driefontein GM( at the time the richest gold mine in the world )took place in the early 60's due to mining into an underground lake, which resulted in million of gallons of water pouring into the mine. As the mines workings stretch over a vast area it was decided to allow the lower levels to flood whilst a plug was build into the tunnel where the water was coming in. There is a process called Cementation which is fast drying cement and sand slurry pumped at high pressure, this was to be used to build the plug. First the water was diverted into 6 30" pipes fitted with valves that are used to cap oil wells. walls were build and 200 meters of the tunnel was Cementated, after the cement dried the valves were closed , this took a week and the mine was then pumped dry a process taking many months. My involvement was to keep the elevator transporting the cement working,many hours of overtime during that week
  15. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Most interesting!!! Learned something too!! :) :) Keep 'em coming - whenever you feel like it.. :D Thanks!!!!!!!!!
  16. old trackman

    old trackman New Member

    We had front end loaders underground and they were taken apart on the surface and then put together when they reached the level they were going to. Anywhere from 1 yard all the way to 4 yard loaders. I also mined for gold for a short time, and set up bore hole machines to drill tunnels from one level to the next. The best job i enjoyed doing was the track work. Had to go to the 4250 ft. level for a great while to replace a lot of track that rusted and collapsed. I put in 60lb. rail. Someplaces I would go, I would just FREEZE my tush, and some places were AWFUL HOT. I'll write more again as my memories come to me. I have everything I need I just need to buy track. Which I am debating between Kato unitrac or just plain track. Please help me out.
  17. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    This is a good thread. I 've never been a miner, but worked at a company that made mining machinery, for 37 years, so was underground quite often.
    We mostly dealt with hardrock mines[gold, nickel & copper were the big 3 for customers].

    Homestake did have a bit of our equipment, a grizzly mounted rock breaker.And they bought drill parts from us as well.

    Up in Sudbury, INCO's Creighton #9 shaft was the deepest I ever was down, it's 7000 feet deep.
    The rock is very hot to the touch, and it is a stifling atmosphere, regardless of the vent fans.
    Up at the 1100 foot level, there is an underground "greenhouse" with plants grown under flourescent lamps. There are of course zero bugs, and zero airborne diseases down there.
    INCO reforests their properties with pine and spruce trees started underground in these "greenhouses".
    regards / Mike:D
  18. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    This is a very interresting thread. To give you some help on the question of whether to use Kato Uni-track or regular track. The Uni-track is quite a bit more expensive. It is easy to put down and take up, but the cast plastic ballast doesn't look as realistic as ballasted flex track. I think the main disadvantage to Uni-track is that it comes in fixed radius'. If you use flex track, you can bend it to whatever radius you need. The fixed radius may or may not be a problem for you.
  19. jimmybeersa

    jimmybeersa Member

    Mentioning a greenhouse reminded me of mate of mine ,a mechanical Fitter,took a dozen eggs underground put them in a box on his work bench ,turned them every day and hatched 10 chicks. This story appeared in the local paper,which incurred the wrath of the mine manager and resulted in an inquirery by the Inspector of Mines into his working conditions. his Union then forced the mine to install an Air conditioner in his workshop. I have fried an egg on a big Pump motors caseing. Talking about cooking underground ,barbequed some sausage on a shovel(like the old engineers did on the Steam loco's footplate) as the smell drifts into the workings you get a lot of visitors.
    Some fun !!!!
  20. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Jimmy, if I hadn't joined the SAAF South African Airforce then onto Canada to join the RCAF my second option was to work the gold mines so who knows we may have met then. But having met you on your visits here I always enjoy listening to you talking about your interesting experiences.

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