Money Isn't The Only Thing We Pour Into a Hole And Burn
February 16, 2024
Thermite welding, ever head of it? Some call it "TW", some call it "Exothermic Welding", but no matter what you call it, it's some real hot stuff. Thermite welding is used to join two length of train rail together. It involves pouring iron oxide and aluminum powder into a crucible and setting that mixture on fire, much the same way some have accused Metro of treating money on the new Suburban Light Rail line. Metro's budget might seem interesting at first, but watching our crews direct the flames of a blowtorch up and down the rails during the preheating stage is going to be a little more compelling don't you think? Crews need to get the rails nice and hot before they even think about welding them. The weld just works so much better after the rails are properly warmed up. So watch those flames lick the sides of that steel rail and never mind about the dollars and cents. Still worried about the consultant Metro hired 10 years ago to study a single bus stop who recently came back with a request for more funding? Sure, but after all that preheating, crews light the thermite on fire, and you're not going to want to miss that! White hot fire mere feet from where our crews are standing. Sure it's dangerous but don't worry they'll keep you safe. What's that babe? You're saying Metro has been accused of requesting money for pedestrian infrastructure and instead using those funds to widen roads? Well when you watch that molten slag come gushing out the sites of that crucible, you're not going to feel like walking much are you? But what about the cost of an environmental impact report for fixing potholes in an already-existing bike lane? Sure we can talk about that, but the next step involves some real heavy duty machinery. Budgets are just number and paper babe, this is a hydraulic ram. This is serious equipment. You need lots of training to use it, hell you might even need a license. As first it just clamps onto the rails, surrounding that thermite weld, nice and tight. That rail isn't going anywhere is it? Then when crews are ready, they push a button and send it's blade into the fresh hot metal. It peels that steel off like caramel, like it's carving up a red-hot sugar daddy, leaving behind an almost perfectly formed rail. Maybe Metro spends a little extra on a tunnel being 100 feet deeper than it needs to be, but next time you're worried about a few bucks, come down to the yard, because the last step in thermite welding is rail grinding, and you're not going to want to miss that.
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