Radio Communications in Steam Era

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Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby richardspitzer » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:14 am

OK, I'm familiar with radio communication between diesel engine conductors and yardmasters or dispatchers. But I wonder how it was in steam era? How steam locomotive engineer of fireman comunicated with yardmaster or dispatcher? I doubt they have some walkie-talkie, maybe later in 1940s or 1950s.

Sorry for possible poor question, but I never had heard about anything about that :-) .
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Re: Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby Ken W2KB » Mon Dec 11, 2017 11:56 pm

richardspitzer wrote:OK, I'm familiar with radio communication between diesel engine conductors and yardmasters or dispatchers. But I wonder how it was in steam era? How steam locomotive engineer of fireman comunicated with yardmaster or dispatcher? I doubt they have some walkie-talkie, maybe later in 1940s or 1950s.

Sorry for possible poor question, but I never had heard about anything about that :-) .


Not by radio for the most part. They would stop at a wayside company telephone (private system, not connected to the public switched network). The telephone cabinets were located at stations, throats of yards, many signals, etc. Even well into the 1960's radio had not been adopted by many railroads as they continued to rely on the company telephones.
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Re: Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby richardspitzer » Tue Dec 12, 2017 4:45 am

Interesting, thank you for your answer :-)
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Re: Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby deadhead350 » Tue Dec 19, 2017 2:00 pm

Im not 100% sure specific to railroads - but going way back (30s,40s,etc) a part of what is now the AM radio band was actually used for two way radio
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Re: Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby Engineer Spike » Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:01 pm

Some places like yards had loud speakers where the person in charge could tell a switchman how to long up a movement. Out on the road the railroad telephone system was used, but there were also used the station agents and operators. Now days we get orders directly from the train dispatcher. In the old days the dispatcher would either phone or telegraph an operator. The operator would put out a red order board. The train crew would get the order hooped up to them.
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Re: Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby richardspitzer » Thu Feb 08, 2018 2:31 am

Engineer Spike wrote:The operator would put out a red order board. The train crew would get the order hooped up to them.


So the operator had several chances how to give an order to the train crew - at stations, yards, signals, etc. It also includes possible changes - to give a priority to other train etc...
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Re: Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby D Alex » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:28 am

how on earth would it even be possible to use a radio over the racket of a steam locomotive at full speed? You know, those guys stuffed cotton waste into their ears for a reason!
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Re: Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby richardspitzer » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:59 am

Isn't it the same question for engineers of diesel (especially the old ones) engines? ;-)
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Re: Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby RussNelson » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:13 am

Quoting from
https://www.facebook.com/groups/abandon ... 939411812/ :

One hundred years ago the first wireless messages were exchanged between stations in Binghamton, Scranton, and a train travelling 60 miles per hour between the two cities. Called aerograms at the time and sent in Morse code, in today’s terms they were text messages. The date was November 21, 1913, and the world’s first test of wireless communication between fixed stations and a moving train was a success. It was a great day.

http://nyslandmarks.com/treasures/13jan.htm
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Re: Radio Communications in Steam Era

Postby richardspitzer » Wed Apr 04, 2018 1:36 am

Interesting, thank you!
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