Loading, Blocking, and Bracing on Rail Cars


The title of this post is from an Army Subcourse TR 0690 - Loading, Blocking, and Bracing on Rail Cars. If anyone wants to prototypically do that .. blocking and bracing then this is a good guide since it is an instruction course for soldiers to do just that - for real. On page 29 it talks about 'Spanners' .. used to bridge the gap between flat cars. They make it sound easy. I was on a Rail-Load Team once .. we loaded an entire Brigade .. tracked and wheeled vehicles. There was a string of at least 50 flat cars .. and we had to carry the spanners and set up for each two cars. HEAVY aluminum plates .. THEN .. try driving a tank off of the loading dock at 90° to the rail car and then when half-way across you pivot the tank so you are facing long-ways on the flat-car. This is all done using a guide .. since from the driver's compartment you can't see anything but sky and distant ground. THEN .. you are ground guided down the flat-car .. and across those spanners .. to the next flat-car and then the next .. perhaps twenty cars at first. That is when you HOPE the guy directing you knows what the heck he is doing!
About 30 years ago I got to help load, then ride along with part of the 24th Inf. Div. from Ft. Stewart to Camp Drum and back. Most fun I had in the Army.



Followed the link. 1980 .. that wasn't too far off from my little story .. which was in 1988. That was right at the 'cusp' 87-88 .. in the change over from the M-60 to the M1. We got in kids from AIT that had trained on the M-60. They came in as 19E .. and we said .. "you're a 19K now!". The M88 are still being used .. even though they have to strain dealing with the heavier M1. The M113A1 are still in use .. NOTE: They SUCK in sand (saw that in Desert Storm)
As far as 113s go, I've seen them slide sideways in deep mud also. But, over all, they have served well and for a long time. I was a Chaparral crewman at the time, the carrier was based on the 113 chassis. They were fun as heck to drive.

More important to this thread, we had about 32 cars I think, with a guard car spliced in the middle. We traveled with a cook and six solders from E2 to E5. When ever the train stopped we had to get out and walk the train. But when moving we could ride in the caboose or locomotive if we wanted. It took a week to get from Ft. Stewart to Camp Drum. Even though it was January and we were going north for cold weather training, that may be the only part of my Army career that I would do over tomorrow if given the chance.

Here is a shot when we arrived in NY.