The mine at Rio, a history lesson

Like most railroads in the Andes the FCPyF’s prime reason for being built was to enable the extraction of precious minerals from the mountains.

A brief glimpse of the mine loco as it emerges from the adit.

One of the earliest mines served by the railway was, and still is, at Rio Paleta. The mine has an 18″ gauge tramway using a battery electric loco and side tipper wagons to haul the ore to the surface and dump it in the tipple. In earlier times the tipple straddled the main line and whole trains had to wait while one or two cars were loaded.

The second tipple, clear of the main line.

This was inconvenient as the railway got busier so a new tipple was built spanning a short spur off the main line where the FCPyF can spot empty gondola or hopper cars and pick them when they have been loaded.

Remnants of the trestle.

A short section of the trestle that carried to tramway to the original tipple remains as a storage track for spare trams, bearing witness to the changes that have taken place over time.

A Muir-Hill dumper is used to bring ore out of the mine when the loco’s battery needs recharging.

On the subject of railway history, many years ago (1970s) I used to work as a volunteer on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. At the time the track which is now platform 4 at Grosmont was a loop line behind platform 3 and the lady who lived in the post office used to hang her washing across the track regardless of whether trains were running or not. She had a love/hate relationship with the railway, happy to sell trinkets to the tourists it attracted but thoroughly miffed off with her washing getting covered in soot.

Her way of thinking was that she was there before the big boys’ toy trains so loco crews had to carefully unhook the washing line and move it out of the way every time a loco needed to run round its coaches. At the moment there’s a load of wet laundry hanging across the station at Grande, the washing line was there before the layout.

Back to today’s activity on the layout…

Loco #29, the GE Shovelnose diesel, has previously only been used on the low level section of the layout but I’d like to assign it to the Grande to Cuarto local. The loco’s cab steps fouled the point motors so the easy solution was to remove them. The point motors that is, not the cab steps, as the points are hand operated anyway.

Next job, again a clearance issue, was the steps on the big caboose. This car was previously limited to use between Grande and Centrales but now needs to run through to either San Fernandez or Cuarto. In this case the solution was to remove the bottom step from each corner of the car.

Then followed an hour of track cleaning. A necessary chore but one that involves close scrutiny of the track, the model equivalent of walking the line. It became apparent that the bridging section between Frog Rock and San Fernandez (staging) was damaged.

The track had become detached from the wooden base at both ends and was only held on by the glue in the middle. The section was removed to allow it to be worked on and fresh glue was applied at each end, supplemented by track pins, then fitting the section back into place once the glue had dried.

Two minor rewiring jobs are still outstanding. The first is reconnecting the local controller at Cuarto de Pulgada to the layout, both wires have snapped and need replacing. The second is a bit more complicated, again broken wires but this time on the DPDT switch feeding the turntable at Grande. All six wires are detached and need some careful soldering to get the job fixed.

I’m not in the mood for soldering this afternoon so these jobs will have to wait until Sunday (I have something else, non-railway related, to do tomorrow).

That’s enough working on the railroad for today, time for a dog walk, and a pint, or three, or five, I do like the odd pint. The even ones are OK too.

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About Bob Hughes

Ex railwayman, life long railway modeller, lover of real ale and spicy food.
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