• Book: "Diesel-Electric 4030"

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by latonyco
In 1950 Viking Press published a book entitled "Diesel-Electric 4030." The author's name is Henry Billings. The book, written in juvenile format, describes the Hudson Division and the crew's operation of the NYC's locomotive as it moves train # 1 "The Pacemaker" from Harmon to Albany. The second section of the book gave an illustrated description of the new E7's components as well as how it operated. Back then, when I first saw this book, I felt as though it gave me more information about the workings of a diesel electric locomotive than I could have gotten anywhere else at that time. Being quite young then, this book had served to further stimulate my budding interest in the Central and their motive power.
The Hudson Division engineman was named John Clark and the fireman was Bill McCarthy. I have often wondered if those were the real names of the engine crewmen or if they were ficticious names made up for the purpose of the book. I know that this is a longshot since the original publishing date was over 55 years ago, but I was wondering if there is anyone who would have any knowledge as to whether those names were real or made up.
  by DocJohn
Tony, your post brings back many good memories. At that time I was growing up in Haworth, NJ, which was on NYC's River Division (now CSX River Line). Town Library was less than 100 yards from station and was open Friday evenings as well as other hours. My Dad was a mechanical engineer for the NYC and worked at NYC's office at 466 Lexington Ave. He traveled several days most weeks, but was home most Friday nights and took me to Library. It didn't take me long to find "4030". It was one of my favorite books. Do you have a copy?

Another part of Friday night at the Hawoth Library was the NYO&W would go by around 8 p.m. and local to Kingston would stop around 8:30 p.m.

Macon, GA

  by Noel Weaver
Both J.D. Clark and W. McCarthy were Hudson Division people on the old
New York Central.
Noel Weaver

  by DocJohn
Noel, thank you for your information. As I remember, the book started with 4030 replacing the electric locomotive at Harmon, and then detailed the events until the train got to Albany? Is my memory correct?


  by NYC-BKO
Ah, that's the name of the book, I couldn't remember, but as a kid I read it everytime I went to the school ( elem ) library. Growing up in SW PA along the B&O & WM mains it inspired me to become a NYC fan. It eventually led me to work the Hudson Division under Conrail and Metro North. I wish I had a copy or could find one.

Noel you should remember me I worked OPSE/SEOP, was Road Foreman for Metro North, Brian Ortman.

  by DocJohn
Hi Brian,

I put the title into the search line in Google and found a used book delaer with a copy. I want my Son (he will be seven in June) to have the chance to read it. Hopefully, the used book will be such that it will still be readable.


  by latonyco
Thank you all for your response to my initial inquiry about "Diesel-Electric 4030." I had a copy of that book when I was growing up on Long Island during thearly fifties, but it got lost over the years. Fortunately, I was able to recently find another copy online from a used bookseller. I always enjoy looking at the book again and seeing what mainline operations were like in the days of interlocking and automatic block signals on the then partial four track Hudson Division. It was also extremely intersting to get an idea of how the locomotive was operated by Mr. Clark and McCarthy.
Back during those growing years my parents used to send me to Michigan to spend the summers with my grandparents in Battle Creek. Of course, part of the fun of making that trip was being able to ride the Wolverine there to and from GCT. While there I would spend considerable time at the NYC depot watching trains arrive and depart. After a while I became acquainted with the engine crewmen on the eastbound Wolverine to the point that they would invite me in to the cab of the diesel units during the station stop. The fireman even took time to show me through the engine room a few times too. To say the least, that was an overwhelming but thrilling experience! I can remember one time climbing aboard 4030 when it was on that train. It seemed like quite a privilege to be aboard the same E7 that had been immortalized in its own book a few years earlier. To this day I still fondly recall the kindness of those men who helped me indulge my fascination with their locomotives.

  by tocfan
I bought a copy for my son 3-4 years ago, we read it for his class then, I think he was in second grade at the time.

Mike Fleming
Bartlett, Tn
  by Charles Lancelot
WOW! What a thread! My late beloved Dad worked all his life in Manhattan in the offset lithography business. (That was well before the book printing industry went first to NJ, then to the Far East.) For most of that time, he was VP Sales at Affiliated Lithographers, at 28 W23rd Street, across the square from and within sight of the old Gilbert Hall of Science.

One of his biggest publishing customers was Viking! And he specialized in juveniles. I wonder if he printed 4030, though he would have mentioned it if he had. He collaborated with Merle Armitage in 1952 and produced "The Railroads of America", at Duell, Sloan and Pearce. That book, of which I have a copy autographed by Armitage, does specifically credit Affiliated Lithographers. If you read "Make Way for Ducklings" as kids, or have read it to your own kids or grandkids (it's still in print!), that was one of his many medal-winning juveniles, as well as all the Wm. Pene duBois books (incl. the Otto series -that huge dog!)

He also did the well-known cardboard cutout models with England's Wallis Rigby. If any of you out there remember any of them (trains, planes, ships, etc.), they included the Dreyfus Century J3a, which was a real challenge with steam to form the hemispherical nose from flat cardstock. Anyway, part of the deal with NYC was that Dad and Mr. Rigby were invited to view their prototype at Harmon. And then, my father and his coworker got a cab ride from the ready track into the station around the loop.
  by Engineer Spike
I remember my first Trains Magazine was the January 1984 edition. I remember because my grandmother brought it to me, as I had a bad case of pneumonia. The feature article was about CR 4022, the OCS engine. The article started off quoting parts of the 4030 book. It then went on to say that the unit came from Erie, but Conrail renumbered the ex EL E units into the old NYC E7 series. This one just avoided going to Amtrak, NJT, or scrap. It made the point by pointing out ports of call that a Central engine would have never gone to on the Erie/EL, as well as on Conrail line which never had E units. CR 4022 did call on all of these places.
Last edited by Engineer Spike on Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by FullParallel
I also remember reading that book in grade school in the 70's. I was already hooked on trains & finding the book in our school library in New York Cuty was a bonus. Dad actually caught 4030 on an Eastbound at Oscawanna NY in Nov of 1966:

http://3rdavery.rrpicturearchives.net/s ... id=1435822

Steve Loitsch
  by Tegularius
I remember getting this book from the public library and reading it at age 12 or so in the early 1960s. The descriptions of the safety features were particularly interesting, although I might not have understood them completely at the time.

Whatever happened to the forestalling lever? According to the book, it was a standard feature. The engineer needed to pressed it when passing a signal. The train would automatically stop if he failed to do so, or if he did so and then held it down too long, or if the train was going too fast according to the signal at the time. If the train stopped for any of these reasons, he would need to get out of the cab and go outside in order to reset a control before the train would move again. The book didn't say so, but it is highly conceivable that some kind of record would be kept of this occurrence, and one can imagine the reprimand he would get later. (I recently found a copy in a library and re-read it just to make sure I hadn't been dreaming in my youth).

In other words, it sounds from this description that our grandfathers had an almost foolproof way of preventing locomotive drivers from "texting" on the job, seventy years before "texting" was even heard of. Recent headlines have revealed that a driver can be tempted to be inattentive-- as if that were anything new-- and safety boards are scratching their heads over what to do about it. The best idea they seem to be able to come up with is the Big Brother panacea: surveillance of locomotive cabs with video cameras. (And who is going to keep the eyes of the surveillors from glazing over, I wonder).

All this makes me quite angry. All this time, I was assuming that passengers were protected with the forestalling lever and the other safety measures described, and it turns out not to be generally true. Too good to be true? Hasn't anyone in charge of railroads nowadays read Diesel-Electric 4030??

It now seems from Googling that the forestalling lever was never a universal feature, but was confined to the New York Central and a few others (including the Crocodile engines in France). Dammit, if trains in California had had them today, wouldn't many lives have been saved? It ought to be easier to implement now than it was in the thirties, yet the bean counters saw fit to provide them.

Maybe someone here knows why it was not more widely used and has apparently been abandoned?
  by DocJohn
Was not the forestalling lever part of Automatic Train Stop?

  by onder
Yes it was. I suspect this sort of thing was removed due
to costs. Im pretty sure that is why they took off speedos
on some equipment as well.
This is second hand stuff I got from guys who are dead now so
may a couple of our retired runners can comment.