Freight Switching and Communications

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Freight Switching and Communications

Postby nyandw » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:56 pm

Any insight into communications of what the crew would say on a daily freight run, working Yard A or sidings at Degnon Terminal?

For example: "We have 2 cars to drop off at Sunshine Biscuits. Or would they just say the siding or business number?" Or was it all handled via paperwork handled between the conductor, engineer, brakeman, etc.

I guess by 1977 they were using radios to/from Harold Tower for communication between crews and the tower?
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Re: Freight Switching and Communications

Postby LIRR RETIRED » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:22 pm

In the early 1960's everything was done using hand signs. At night you would use a RR lamp to pass the signs. In the winter it was very cold loading the float bridges at Bay Ridge and Long Island City when standing on top of the freight cars passing a sign but the views of the Manhattan skyline at night was something to see. The road freight jobs would call the tower and tell the operator where they were going and ask permission to enter the main track. It was up to the crews to clear the main tracks for all regular time table trains. The road freight crews would spot all the cars on the sidings using hand signs, if the engineer lost sight of the hand signs they would stop the train immediately. After the radios came along, the crew was on the engine with the engineer. When you arrived at the siding the train would pull up to clear the switch. After opening the switch you would tell the engineer, "shove west, 4 cars to the hitch, 1 car to the hitch, 10 feet to the hitch, stop your train." After you made the hitch, coupled the air, removed the hand brakes, you would tell the engineer, "take the train east, we will set the empties on the main then spot the loads." Then off to the next siding.
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Re: Freight Switching and Communications

Postby Publius Plunkett » Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:23 pm

Well into the radio equipped era, there were some Conductors who refused to switch with radios. They resented the reduction in crew sizes that the radios allowed for. They had all these crazy hand signs that you had to learn to follow along with them. It was an interesting operation back then and sadly, gone forever.
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Re: Freight Switching and Communications

Postby nyandw » Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:14 pm

Thanks for the inputs thus far guys! Along the same lines post 1977, as in an MP-15AC, for example.

1. How did they determine deliveries and empty’s at a specific industry, like Sunshine Biscuits – What did they say as to the above? Drop off 2 and pick up 1?

2. Also, any chatter such as: Did the Mets win last night?
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Re: Freight Switching and Communications

Postby LIRR RETIRED » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:25 am

Steve,
The answer for No.1 All of the road freight crews worked with a freight clerk. The clerk would have a sheet with the information of what sidings were getting loads and or what sidings had empty's to be picked up. Before leaving the terminal the crew would switch out their train. The order of the cars to be placed on the siding would depend on if they were going to be serviced eastbound or westbound. Before coupling up to remove the empty's you had to make sure that no one was working in any of the cars. On the main line there was a clerk at Pinelawn with the crew. The crew at Pineaire received their work faxed over from the clerk at Pinelawn.

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Re: Freight Switching and Communications

Postby nyandw » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:31 pm

Thanks LIRR Retired :-) Perhaps you might discuss specific switching locations, problems, or stories about spotting freight?
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