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  Trip Report: A Look Inside the TTC - Chapter 1
  In and Around the RDL
Around the grounds and near the Rail Dynamics Lab
  From: A Look Inside the TTC Dates: Apr 26, 2008 Author: Nathan Holmes


Photo 1
On very rare occasions, the American Association of Railroad's Transportation Technology Center is opened up to non-employees. On 19-Apr-2008, employees were allowed to invite friends and family out for an open house event, celebrating 25 years of AAR ownership and 10 years of contract operation by TTCI. Needless to say, I didn't turn down the invitation!
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Photo 2
As any good railfan would do, I hit up the free food first, then immediately headed over towards the equipment. Freshly painted GP40-2 203 was providing power for the day's rides around the main 13.5 mile test loop.
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  Report Chapters  
   1 - In and Around the RDL
   2 - In and Around the CSB
   3 - Various Equipment on Display
   4 - Riding the Test Loop
  Site Navigation  
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Photo 3
Another look at the new paint on 203.
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Photo 4
Looking west down the tracks leading out of the core facilities towards the testing loops - Pikes Peak is visible on the right.
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Photo 5
The first building north of the main offices is the Rail Dynamics Lab, where equipment can be run through a variety of testing, including accelerated testing of the vibration and dynamic stresses on equipment incurred during use, but in a controlled laboratory environment.
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Photo 6
The cavernous bay inside the TTC's Rail Dynamics Lab.
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Photo 7
This machine is known as the VTU - Vibration Test Unit. A full-sized railcar can be mounted with one truck on each of these blue stands, and a computer will then subject it to all of the bouncing and jarring of a real journey across the country.
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Photo 8
Some of the controls for the VTU. The units in the racks on the right should be the electrical drivers for the hydraulic valves that actually create the shaking. Much of the RDL was off-limits to the public, so the VTU is really all I can show you from the inside.
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Photo 9
And what would you do with a VTU? Testing auto racks like this one is one possible option. Having a controlled environment allows the railroads and auto manufacturers to test new methods of securing cars to minimize damage in transit. These are all new but pre-damaged cars and trucks, donated by the manufacturers for destructive testing.
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Photo 10
Outside the RDL was the Federal Railroad Administration's newest test car for their Automated Track Inspection Program - DOTX 220. The car was built by Colorado Railcar in Ft. Lupton back in early 2007, and was originally sent to the TTC for proving as part of an Amtrak special on the Joint Line on 11-Feb-2007.
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Photo 11
It sure is easier to get a good look at the car when it's not flying down the Joint Line at 50+ mph.
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Photo 12
Inside DOTX 220, looking towards the rear. The two consoles each have a large display above showing items of note in the track (switches, signals, crossings, track defects), and the bottom screens show running graphs of things like gauge, grade, curvature, etc.
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Photo 13
From the same position, looking towards the front of the car.
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Photo 14
A closer shot of one of the top screens.
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Photo 15
Looking back the other way, we see the car's galley area off to the right. The next area up holds a workshop, and the final area at the end is where the actual computer hardware lives. Crews work in three week shifts on the car (staying at hotels during the night), with a week off at home in between runs.
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Photo 16
One of the displays from the opposite end of the car.
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Creative Commons License This work is copyright 2008 by Nathan D. Holmes (maverick@drgw.net), but licensed under a Creative Commons License. This allows and encourages others to copy, modify, use, and distribute my work for non-commercial purposes (only), without the hassle of asking me for explicit permission or fear of copyright violation. I encourage others to consider CC or other Open Content-style licensing of their original works.

Most photographs in this trip report were taken with a Canon EOS 40D using either a Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS/USM, Sigma 18-50mm, or a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS/USM. A small number were taken with a Canon SX100 IS.