Wondering about wild grapes

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Remembering One of My Old Jobs.

I have done a lot of things in my working life, but my 17 plus years at Pullman-Standard was my first job other than a summer job cooking Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Pullman-Standard was a railcar building company with its own diesel engines and rail system to move cars around.  A lot of the raw material came in by rail and of course the just built finished railroad cars were shipped out by rail, so there was a need for their own railroad.  Although I spent most of my time there working in the engineering department as a design draftsman, designing the dies, tools, jigs, and fixtures needed to make those cars, my first couple of years was spent in the labor gang and that meant I got to do a lot of different things.  You could say that one of my duties was working as a "Gandy Dancer" and then later as a brakeman on their railroad.  Today's post is about Gandy Dancers, well more so about their tools.  Here is a picture of a team of Gandy Dancers doing their jobs:

Before the large machines, which can lay track and ties all at one time, it had to be done by hand, and when I did it way back in the early 60's, we did it by hand, too.  So I know first hand how to do it.

Most important for any job is the tools, and so it was during my Gandy Dancer days.  The first thing that needed to be done was get the rails and the ties into position.  There were tongs that were designed to carry rails and others for ties.  In the picture below, the big tongs on the left were for ties and the other for rails.  Two men, one on each handle, were needed to handle those heavy items:

The most important item was the spike which held the rails to the ties.  A team of Gandy Dancers would drive these into the ties with the lip of the spike over the bottom flange on the rail:

And of course we needed something to drive them in with, and we had specially designed hammers that could drive the spikes very close to the rails:    

 So, I bet you never guessed that I was once a Gandy Dancer, did you?  Now tell us, what was oddest jobs that you or someone you know, had?  Yes, it is fun to reminisce, but I don't think. . no, I know for sure that I don't ever want to be Gandy Dancer again.  Now, you all dance a jig and have a great day, you hear?

12 comments:

  1. Years ago I was in Ann Arbor, Michigan... ate a restaurant that was an old railroad car... it was called The Gandy Dancer. Of course I had to look up the meaning back then... that's a hard job! Then a few years ago Bill & I were in Utah... saw where the Golden Spike is... where the RR crews joined up from their east & west routes. Hey, they didn't even have GPSs back then... how the heck did they even get close? I'll have to stop and think about my oddest job... sure worked at a whole lot of different ones.

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    1. I come from a railroad background. Both my grandpas worked for the RR. My maternal grandpa was an engineer on the PRR (Pensy) and my paternal grandpa was a conductor on the B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) and was known by the railroaders as the Beefsteak and Onions.

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  2. My oddest job was editing and splicing films from high school and college football games before all this video was available. Those high school coaches were ultra secretive about their films.

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    1. Wow, I guess you could splice in whatever outcome you waned, right? Dang, you could make a living winning bets on football games, but maybe not.

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  3. I don't have an interesting job to report, but I think the name "Gandy Dancer" is very evocative. I took the term "Dancer" literally when I first saw it!

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    1. No, I was a dandy dancer and a gandy dancer. Two different things. One is for pleasure the other is for work.

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  4. Hardest job was working bridge construction, pouring concrete uphill around the base of the piers to keep the bank from washing away. They call it the riff raff, but they might have been referring to we ugly bunch of crew doing the work. Good thing we was young, wouldn't last 15 minutes now.

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    1. "pouring concrete uphill", wouldn't it have been easier to pour it down hill or was it too far to drive around and up on the top of the hill (grin).

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    2. guess that's why I flunked plumbing

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    3. Oh, so your the guy that plumbed my home!!!

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  5. I had many many jobs and all were fun,except one of my first was working in a car wash, early 60's, in the cold Canadian winter, down in the "pit" washing wheels by hand, ice and snow getting me soaking wet and cold.

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    1. No, I don't think that I would like that job, either.

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