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Thermite gong goes to locals

Updated Friday, 4 May, 2012

LOCAL Queensland Rail workers have been celebrated for their unique talent in the century old process of thermite welding.

The workers, who specialise in pouring molten thermite into moulds, were among the winners at this year's Permanent Way Institute Awards which recognise major achievements in the rail industry.

Thermite welding involves joining two separate bars, typically rails, end to end, by fusing them together with superheated molten metal which is poured into a mould assembled around the joint.

The Toowoomba Welding Team, comprising of Ian Shakespear, Andrew Homer and Bill Edmondstone, took out the Thermite Welders Award for best achievement in minimised defect weld rates.

The Thermite Welders Award was presented by Queensland Rail Network Regional Trackmaster Colin Grealy who has specialised in this form of welding for more than 30 years.

"Thermite welding has been around for more than a century but the process has come ahead in leaps and bounds over the years, as new products are invented," Mr Grealy said.

"On our regional network, thermite welding is the preferred method for ensuring seamless repairs to our train tracks but it takes a team of experts to ensure the job is done properly.

"Timing and attention to detail are of the essence with this kind of work. The slightest gap in the mould or inadequate preheating, and a whole weld preparation can go to waste.

"Over the years Queensland Rail has established a great team of thermite welding experts and as the only qualified trainer in this area, I am very proud to see the Toowoomba team honoured with this accolade."

The PWI awards program aims to highlight outstanding achievements across the industry, including individual and team contributions to rail engineering, technology, construction and asset management.