Old and new bolster springs. Elaine Stahl photo.

You never know what's going to happen when the night shift is almost over and its time to "move that car out". Poor ride quality was a clue that the equalizer springs used were 1-1/2" too long (as seen in this comparison between the existing and the replacement springs), and needed to be replaced by a proper set, made for the car. Elaine Stahl photo.

Correctly positioned floor jacks. Elaine Stahl photo.   There's the right way to jack a railway car and there's the wrong way. Correctly positioned jacks are important because you'll really hate yourself if you drop one. Here, a piece of 3/4" plate has been placed on the floor, to prevent the jack from pushing itself through the asphalt (a good idea, if no jacking pads were poured) and a block of hardwood is used for friction, to prevent the jack from slipping off the jacking pad. Elaine Stahl photo.
Preparing for a test lift. Fred Stahl photo.

Once the jacks are set up, the next step is to make a test lift of only a couple inches. Jack both sides of the car until the springs are just unloaded and then check everything twice. While you're working on the trucks, note that proper lubrication of bearings is also an important maintenance item. Fred Stahl photo.

Jacking the car with the tie bars off. Elaine Stahl photo.

To replace equalizer springs, the pedestal tie bars are removed and the car is jacked up enough for the wheel sets to drop down in the pedestals, thereby releasing the pressure on the springs. Elaine Stahl photo.

Jacking the truck sideframe. Elaine Stahl photo.

At this point, the truck sideframe is loosely sitting on top of the equalizer springs and will tend to follow the wheelset and equalizer downwards, keeping some pressure on the equalizer springs. A six ton hydraulic jack is positioned underneath the pedestal and used to jack the truck frame up enough to release the equalizer springs from the pockets. It's much easier putting the new, shorter ones back in. Don't forget the Fabreka pads and any shims, if needed. Elaine Stahl photo.

Adjusting cross-level. Elaine Stahl photo.

Side to side cross-level should be checked on flat track and any adjustments made by shimming the swing-hanger cross-bar at the spring plank seat. The car is jacked with the center pin locked and a nice pile of lumber is then placed under the spring plank on both sides of the center. As the car is lowered, the bolster springs are compressed, allowing the shims to be inserted. Swing hangers can be removed with this technique too, before the truck is rolled out. Elaine Stahl photo.