District Lodge 19

where it all begin

Traveling Mechanics/Roadway Equipment Mechanics/Pump Repairmen

Traveling Mechanics/Roadway Equipment Mechanics/Pump Repairmen


District Lodge 19 is proud to spotlight IAM Brothers who Maintain Maintenance of Way Equipment on the Rail.


It takes a special breed of Machinist/Mechanic to work as a Traveling Mechanic, Roadway Equipment Mechanic or Pump Repairman.  It is a flashback to the days of Thomas Talbot and the boomers who traveled the rail in the line of duty. In an excerpt from the book 'The Fighting Machinists: A Century of Struggle'

     The boomers were part hobo, part skilled craftsmen. Many years later one of the original boomers, Pete Conlon, recalled that in expanding west the railroads desperately needed good mechanics. 

      In Conlon’s words, the boomers were machinists with a love of adventure and sightseeing who “could make good anywhere.” 

These Brothers work on Tie Equipment - Spike Drivers and Pullers; Ballast Maintenance Equipment - Ballast Spreaders, Ballast Regulators; Surfacing - Tampers, Track Lifters, Stone Blowers; Hy-Rail Trucks; Specialty and Utility Vehicles - Inspection Equipment as well as support vehicles like Cranes, Tractors and Fork Lifts. These are just a few of the amazing pieces of equipment they work on.

They are independent workers who when called to duty work in any weather condition, anywhere on the rail, supporting the Maintenance of Way (MOW) works and territories they cover. They are an integral part of the Operating Department.  Unlike the Shop Machinists or Rapid Responders who work under the Mechanical Departments, they are a distinct group.  Their work is directly on Mainlines, any long disruption there, is not cost effective to the Carrier's they serve.  So it is there duty to keep the equipment in working condition.  When not working on equipment on the Mainline, you can see them working on sidings doing anything from general maintenance to major repairs. They also work as support to the Maintenance of Way crews when traveling along the rail, as safety - looking out for any safety issue from the wild life or stranger that may come along.

As Union members they miss out on Local Lodge meetings, but they are a very tight and united group.  When called upon they rally as no others. Long hours and time away from home and family, they are a hearty bunch of men. Currently there are no woman working in this part of the industry, nor has there every been a woman in these positions.  Life in a hotel and out in the rural areas or completely out in the country,  anywhere the job takes them into conditions that are as hostile as any can get.  Very few jobs compare in these modern times. There is no refuge of buildings or cover when weather conditions, be it winter or summer, and mother nature shows no mercy.  They go in areas where fires have ravaged tracks such as the fires in California, Oregon and Montana or floods after Harvey in Texas and devastation from Irma in Florida.

For the next several segments we will honor those Members who work in these areas from the Traveling Mechanics of BNSF, Roadway Equipment Mechanics of CSX-Transportation and Union Pacific to the Pump Repairman of Norfolk Southern.

Track Equipment