• NYC P2-b Question

  • 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 jkrail

On the A end of the P2-b motor, there is what looks to be a large box. Is this for MU cables, tools or something else?


Jerry Kelley
  by Tommy Meehan
I think the box you're referring to is the one on the No. 2 end of the locomotives. (A and B are used to designate the sides. The B side was the 'fireman's side,' the left side as you faced forward.) I asked some former NYC employees and others if they knew what it was. There were various answers but I thought the best was that it probably housed a battery. You can see the box in this photo (from the George Elwood site, a Wm.Curtis photo from the collection of Gary Stuebben) but what you can't see is that there was apparently a cable going into the bottom of the box. You can see what look like vents and a small housing (which might've covered receptacles for charging the battery). Other answers ranged from storage for MU jumper cables to a beer cooler! :-)

I was sent a page from an NYC equipment diagram book which I'm inserting below. It shows the box above the lead axle on the No. 2 end of the motor. It also shows the B designation and which ends are No. 1 and 2.

  by R Paul Carey
Tommy, I seem to recall a story told by the late Bob McKeand, relating a trip on the Harlem Division with a disabling failure of his P-2, at or near the peak of rush hour, in which the problem was temporarily solved with his fireman and a shoe paddle, on the deck, at the "box"...

The fireman, as I recall, rode all the way into GCT, on the deck, drawing a LOT of attention, to say the least!

Based on this, I would speculate this box may have contained some control relays, including a line switch.
  by Tommy Meehan
I hope that fireman, whoever he was, was wearing insulated-sole shoes! :-D
  by R Paul Carey

Yes, indeed...

As Bob told the story, the fireman was on the rear deck and he (Bob) made certain (pointing "aft" for all to see) their situation was "widely" known! I wish I could have identified the fireman. Bob had a wonderful sense of humor and certainly told the story to great effect!

  by Tommy Meehan
There was a somewhat similar story written first-person in Central Headlight some years back. Only this concerned the third rail jumper cables NYC used when motors got gapped.

Al Hassett was the author and he was recalling the rainy night, back in the 1940s, when he was a young trainman working a West Side job. They were coming west and were stopped at the home signal at the Spuyten Duyvil draw bridge. The freights coming off the West Side were frequently crossed over from West Side Track 1 to Hudson Track 3. That's what the dispatcher intended this night. But this move completely tied up DV and there were passenger trains approaching, so they were held east of the bridge.

When they finally got going they were routed off Track 1 to cross over 4-2-1 to Track 3, tying up the entire plant. Now the problem was, as Hassett saw it, the engineman had stopped too close to the bridge, he had pulled right up to the home signal instead of laying back -- as most engineers did -- in order to get a running start on the crossover move. Object being not to stall on the crossovers and get gapped. Only this night that's exactly what happened.

The plan was for the fireman to get the jumper cables and I think for Hassett to hold one end on the third rail while the fireman applied the other end to a pickup shoe on the R2 motor and 'walked' them off the gap. Except Hassett refused to do it. He wrote that standing in pouring rain holding a jumper cable on the third rail while an R motor pulling a long freight drew current did not seem to him to be a very good idea.

I don't remember exactly how it played out except they did finally get headed west again. Someone else assisted the fireman, not Al Hassett. I do seem to recall Hassett saying the fireman didn't really blame him for not wanting to get involved. Like Hassett, the fireman was chiefly annoyed that the engineer had stopped so close to the bridge.

There were no dire consequences for Al Hassett, either, at least not of the kind that affected his employment. He continued working for Central as a trainman on up into the Conrail-MTA era. :-)