Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

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Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby philipmartin » Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:19 pm

In 1955 I got a job with the New York Central as a freight handler in the parcel post station in Manhattan, (the Morgan post office.) Here's a link to a photo it, (note the switcher at the entrance; box cab, dual power?) http://www.livinthehighline.com/wp-cont ... 47x800.jpg
We worked on the second floor, dragging mail sacks from the chute from the floor above, to cars going to different upstate New York cities. They'd get tacked on trains out of Grand Central at Spuyten Duivil.
I was working there one day when there was a huge bang. It was inside the building, so the sound was magnified. A light Alco switcher had hit the bumping block. It wasn't a case of a lone engineman needing help running his diesel as the cab was full of men. My idea is that they were enjoying themselves so much that the engineman forgot what he was doing.
No damage or injuries.

As a Manhattanite I can't recommend this group of blogs from "Trains" magazine too highly. http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/111/p/189592/2070806.aspx
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Re: Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby BR&P » Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:51 pm

Image

"That's far enough!"
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Re: Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby philipmartin » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:37 am

I mention the NYC's dual powered switchers. Actually they were tripowered: Diesel, third rail and battery. Here's a Wiki article on them - I saw two of them idling in the 60th Street yard at that time, but never saw them working.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/GE_three-power_boxcab

Below is a photo of an Alco GE road switcher on the high line. Note the third rail for the tripowered box cabs. And no, this road switcher isn't using the third rail. This picture must have been taken well north of 34th Street, judging by the position of the Empire State Building in it.
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Re: Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby philipmartin » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:06 pm

Here are articles on the oRiginal NYC west side line. Some of the material is from Tommy Meehan. http://www.kinglyheirs.com/NewYorkState ... ight1.html

Here's.a movie of the New York Central's cowboy preceding a train. http://www.livinthehighline.com/the-ori ... an-cowboy/

For the record, I worked all the freight stations on the west side, none on the east side and also Weehawken and North Bergen.
Bottom photo: bas relief on the St. John's Park terminal circa 1868. That's the likeness of commodore Vanderbilt on it.
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Re: Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby BR&P » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:39 pm

philipmartin wrote:
Here's.a movie of the New York Central's cowboy preceding a train. http://www.livinthehighline.com/the-ori ... an-cowboy/



Great movie footage! I notice those jobs did not bother lugging a caboose along - presumably the conductor rode the engine. Switching must have been difficult enough with limited sight distance and heavy street traffic, without also having to plan whether to hang on to the caboose or cut it off at each location.

Thanks for posting that, Phil!

(Ex NYC here also! Image )
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Re: Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby philipmartin » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:31 am

Thank you, BR&P. it's such a pleasure thinking of those days. At a couple of those freight stations, we went onto the car floats and hand trucked the freight onto the piers.
And the pay was great: $1.55 per hour.
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Re: Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby BR&P » Mon Jan 09, 2017 12:23 pm

philipmartin wrote:Thank you, BR&P. it's such a pleasure thinking of those days. At a couple of those freight stations, we went onto the car floats and hand trucked the freight onto the piers.
And the pay was great: $1.55 per hour.


You must have started before me, I think my first pay rate was about $2.90 and I thought I was rich! I recall the yellow time sheets we had to fill out, including your man number. The guys who served in the military say you remember your serial number until the day you die. Well, I was not in the service but I'll remember my NYC man number (which followed me through PC and CR) forever.

It was a different world back then, before OSHA, FRA and all the corporate mandates on how to tie your shoes and blow your nose that they have in place now.
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Re: Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby philipmartin » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:26 pm

I got my first railroad job on August 25, 1955, as a freight handler for the NYC at the Parcel Post station in Manhattan. The rate ofmpay there was $1.65 per hour, ten cents higher than the other freight handler jobs because you worked harder. No matter how fast you worked, there always was another mail sack coming down the chute.
We got a shape card every month. If you wanted to work you went to any freight station wanted, and "shaped up." If the foreman needed you, he signed your card and you worked. I did that for a very pleasant year, then went to the round house in North Bergen as a round hose laborer.
Then after a few months I got furloughed, and went to the Pennsy reservation bureau on the seventh avenue side of Penn Station. That was a bit of the old Penn Station that was still standing. The eighth avenue side was still standing also. the division operator and Forty Office, where the dispatchers worked, was there, as was the railroad YMCA. Besides railroaders we also had Greyhound drivers there. Greyhound had a terminal across 33rd Street from Penn Station. Pennsylvania Greyhound was owned by the PRR and drivers, train and engine personnel could use each others mode of transportation, legally. So naturally every one else on the Pennsy did it too.
After a few months the reservation bureau was moved down stairs into the new ticket office that was located in the circular seating area that exists there now. After a few more months, I was furloughed again, and was hired as a PRR block operator. That was July 18, 1957 and that's the seniority date I still have on NJ Transit. After some months in towers, the draft board sent me an invitation I couldn't refuse. It was Fort Dix, then Fort Holabird in Baltimore for my army career. When I left, the Pennsy gave me two trip passes, which train crews never picked up. I still remember my army serial number: US51426493. Two years later, back to work for the Pennsy, and up to Belvidere, (a lovely place.)
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Re: Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby BR&P » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:08 pm

If anyone had told you back then, what the railroad would be like today, you would have had them committed to the loony bin!
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Re: Hitting the bumper block or the big bang theory

Postby philipmartin » Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:34 pm

Actually, railroads were shrinking even then. I remember seeing empty passenger trains running on the West Shore.
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