Tamping machines were developed from the 1950s to mechanise the heavy and labour-intensive work of tamping, lining and levelling track. Before their introduction, track tamping (forcing the ballast beneath the sleepers) was carried out by hand, using track shovels or pneumatic air tools.
Tamping machines are normally self-propelled and powered by diesel engines, using hydraulic power for the vibrating heads (or tines) that are inserted into the ballast between the sleepers to consolidate it in order to provide a stable seating for the track. They are used for construction purposes, and thereafter for repair and maintenance work.
A variety of tamping machines have been used on the FR and WHR, always using second-hand units adapted for use on the narrow gauge.
- Stefcomatic Matisa
- Gullick Dobson
- Matisa A05
- Plasser and Theurer KMX95 CM
- Talyllyn Railway Matisa BL-09M
Further interesting information about mechanised track maintenance can be found at Ron King's site