Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.

Moderator: MEC407

Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby yppak » Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:02 am

Not sure if this correct forum for this, if not please move it.


I live next to some of the old B&M row in Southern New Hampshire, this part is now owned by the state and has been rumored to be converted to rail train for quite a few years. I’m not a huge rail fan, but am in the transportation business and have interest in rail.

In any case, I was walking the rail yesterday and came across a metal post on the side of the rail that has an arm that goes across the rail with metal rods hanging off it. Was with my kids and we were all very interested in it. We usually walk the other direction since it cleared better and this side is very overgrown so this was first time we saw it.

Here are some really bad cell phone photos of it:

http://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll26 ... Image2.jpg
http://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll26 ... Image3.jpg
http://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll26 ... Image1.jpg
http://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll26 ... Image4.jpg


I think it’s a cat-tail post as it’s not far from were line goes under a bridge, my questions are:

Is it a cat-tail, is that the proper name, or if not what is it?

How old do you think it is?

Can or should it be saved and if so by who?

I’m very surprised it’s still there and has not been stolen by a scrapper yet, as some of the rail close by has already been taken. I will try and go back with a camera and get some better pictures.
Last edited by yppak on Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
yppak
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:46 pm
Location: Revere

Re: Cat-tail post?

Postby DutchRailnut » Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:57 am

a tell-tale post, the chains dangeling would alert the Conductor that one of cars was to high.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

Retired Triebfahrzeugführer
User avatar
DutchRailnut
 
Posts: 21176
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:02 pm
Location: released from Stalag 13

Re: Cat-tail post?

Postby ferroequinarchaeologist » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:16 am

It''s a low clearance tell-tale. It is very old, possibly even 19th century. It goes back to the days before air brakes, when manual brakes were "tied down" car by car, with the brakeman walking along the tops of the cars to get to the brake wheel, and turning it with a large club (also useful in bars or early union organizing drives) to slow the train. If he were facing in the opposite direction from the danger, the rods hitting him on the back or the head (or the back of the head) would give an instant warning to duck or scramble down the end ladder.

PBM
ferroequinarchaeologist
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:12 pm
Location: Darkest Atkinson, NH

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby yppak » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:39 am

Thank you for correction on the proper name, I've updated the subject title to show it.

I know you can't see in the pictures, but it still has most of the metal rods hanging down, they are just real thin and did not show up on those photos. I will get better pictures this weekend.
yppak
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:46 pm
Location: Revere

Tell-tales

Postby Otto Vondrak » Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:04 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:a tell-tale post, the chains dangeling would alert the Conductor that one of cars was to high.


Since most freight cars were equipped with roofwalks into the early 1970s, these chains were hung to alert someone one top that they were approaching a low clearance situation and they better get flat, fast. I'm fairly certain that most railroads had rules in place forbidding anyone from riding the top of a moving train as early as the 1950s, but I could be wrong. Since the roofwalks remained, the tell-tales remained along the right of way.

See also: http://trn.trains.com/en/Railroad%20Ref ... tales.aspx

-otto-
----------------------------------------------
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At
User avatar
Otto Vondrak
 
Posts: 20141
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby trainsinmaine » Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:43 pm

I still see tell-tales now and then, sometimes in surprising places. There are at least a couple of them, fully intact, on the B&M's old Eastern ROW, in the Wells-North Berwick area. That track has been gone since 1944!
trainsinmaine
 
Posts: 516
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2004 8:23 pm

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby Manalishi » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:57 pm

trainsinmaine wrote:I still see tell-tales now and then, sometimes in surprising places. There are at least a couple of them, fully intact, on the B&M's old Eastern ROW, in the Wells-North Berwick area. That track has been gone since 1944!


I know the one you mean and I was surprised to see it there too. It's so close to where the bridge used to be I wonder that if a train was going 30-40 MPH if the brakeman would even have time to lie flat after the "tell tale" hit his back. There are a a few where Rt. 1 crosses the Eastern in Hampton and where the old Dover and Newington (?) went under Silver St. in Dover.
Manalishi
 
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:59 pm

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby jaymac » Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:43 pm

After air-brakes became standard, tell-tales primarily protected crew members who went topside to either pass along hand or lantern signals in the pre-radio days. This would have been for pick-ups or set-outs and the movements would be at slow speed. Movies to the contrary, not much roof-walking was done at road speed.
Off topic but on the subject of brake clubs, I did get to witness them being used at the Yard 8 hump on occasion in the very late '50s. If a car was placarded "Do Not Hump" and things did not permit flat-switching, the car would be braked by a rider with a club instead of using the retarders. I should have been studying, but not every life-lesson is contained between the covers of an Allyn and Bacon Latin grammar.
"A white SUV with a roof antenna just might not be a company van."
jaymac
 
Posts: 3390
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:08 pm

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby jwhite07 » Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:31 pm

After air-brakes became standard, tell-tales primarily protected crew members who went topside to either pass along hand or lantern signals in the pre-radio days. This would have been for pick-ups or set-outs and the movements would be at slow speed. Movies to the contrary, not much roof-walking was done at road speed.


That makes more sense. I was just thinking that getting whacked by a bunch of chains all over the head, shoulders, and back at road speed wouldn't just be a warning to get down - it would knock you down, if not clear off the roof!
User avatar
jwhite07
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 7:39 pm

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby CarterB » Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:49 pm

The actual tell-tales themselves weren't "rods" were they??? That would have knocked someone right off the car roof and/or killed him.

What material were the telltales made of?
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
User avatar
CarterB
 
Posts: 2541
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:19 am
Location: Bergen County, New Jersey

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:55 pm

Manalishi wrote:
trainsinmaine wrote:I still see tell-tales now and then, sometimes in surprising places. There are at least a couple of them, fully intact, on the B&M's old Eastern ROW, in the Wells-North Berwick area. That track has been gone since 1944!


I know the one you mean and I was surprised to see it there too. It's so close to where the bridge used to be I wonder that if a train was going 30-40 MPH if the brakeman would even have time to lie flat after the "tell tale" hit his back. There are a a few where Rt. 1 crosses the Eastern in Hampton and where the old Dover and Newington (?) went under Silver St. in Dover.


I walk by this one every day:

http://g.co/maps/89y68

Walden St. bridge, Cambridge, MBTA Fitchburg Line. Hard to see on Google Street View, but the tell-tale is strung between two poles across what once was a 4-track ROW through here...maybe 40 feet from the bridge. Nearly all the hanging rods are still intact. It must pre-date B&M absorbing the Central Mass, because the Fitchburg clearances are so meager here that nearly all freight was routed over the Freight Cutoff. Commuter rail trains pass under it with ample room to spare, so they must've pushed the limits on tall loads through here in the days before they acquired the CM and Cutoff.

Looking in the opposite direction off the same bridge there's an impressive-looking disused B&M signal gantry a couple hundred feet away before the Porter Sq. underpass.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7111
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby kilroy » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:39 pm

CarterB wrote:The actual tell-tales themselves weren't "rods" were they??? That would have knocked someone right off the car roof and/or killed him.

What material were the telltales made of?


I'm not sure but the one's Ive seen in Brunswick ME looked like they were made out of light weight chain.
Why do we drive on parkways and park in driveways?
User avatar
kilroy
 
Posts: 829
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 9:51 am
Location: Central Jersey

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby ferroequinarchaeologist » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:58 am

The ones I have seen on the B&M were made of iron rods, about 1/4 inch diameter and about 3 feet long - enough to get your attention, but not enough to cause injury.

PBM
ferroequinarchaeologist
 
Posts: 531
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 8:12 pm
Location: Darkest Atkinson, NH

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby CarterB » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:42 am

I'd think a 1/4" steel rod at even 15mph might do more that "nudge" someone.
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
User avatar
CarterB
 
Posts: 2541
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:19 am
Location: Bergen County, New Jersey

Re: Tell-tale / Cat-tail post?

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:42 pm

CarterB wrote:I'd think a 1/4" steel rod at even 15mph might do more that "nudge" someone.


They're more like glorified coathangers straightened out into rods. The only serious injury risk is catching one in the eye.
F-line to Dudley via Park
 
Posts: 7111
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:26 pm
Location: North Cambridge

Next

Return to Boston & Maine/Maine Central

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests