Unit 101 – North America’s First Mobile Flash-Butt Welder

Unit 101 – North America’s First Mobile Flash-Butt Welder

January 5, 2022

We’re starting this incredible year to come with a throwback to our original mobile welding unit. Initially debuted in Railway Track and Structures magazine in March of 1972, this unit was created from an old Pullman rail sorting car. The original use of this rail car was for sorting mail while it was moved by train from city to city. This made for faster delivery before it arrived at its next destination.

After the rail car’s legacy, it joined a new one as the first mobile welding unit in North America.

The car’s internal features were cleaned out and replaced with a diesel engine, large generator, and hydraulic pump. This pump was not only used for the welderhead, but to move the car as well. Hydraulic motors were added to the axles and controlled by a pilon in the front of the train to move by rail from welding location to welding location.

As for welding on track, this required the insertion of a boom into the rail car connected to a large mast which rotated to position the welderhead over either of the rails for welding. Once in position, the welderhead would be lowered by a pulley hoist down onto the rails.

Just like that, our history of mobile flash-butt welding had begun! Over the last 50 years, we have moved from rail car based units to our modern-day units with greater welding capability and other technological advancements such as the Intelliweld Control SystemHolland’s Automated Manganese Refurbishment and more.

Stay tuned all year long for interviews and behind-the-scenes features of our history celebrating the 50th anniversary of Holland’s mobile flash-butt welding.