INSPECTION OF THE LOCOMOTIVE.
ON railroads where the system of long runs
for locomotives prevails, there is a locomotive inspector employed,
whose duty it is to thoroughly examine every available point about
every engine that arrives at his station, and find out what repairs
are needed, and to detect the incipient defects which lead to
disaster on the road. Some roads that do not practice long runs
have an inspector who examines every engine. This plan is very
effectually used on the elevated railroads of New York, and has
much to do with the immunity from accident of their engines. These
inspectors are not employed to exempt engineers from looking over
their engines, but merely to supplement their care. In some cases
engineers are brought sharply to task if they overlook any important
defect which is discovered by the inspector.
GOOD ENGINEERS INSPECT THEIR OWN ENGINES.
The engineer who has a liking for his work, and takes
pride in making his engine perform its part, so as to show the
highest possible record, does not require the fear of an inspector
behind him as an incentive to properly examine his engine, and
keep it in the best running-order. He recognizes the fact, that
upon systematic and regular inspection of the engine while at
rest, depends in a great measure his success as a runner and his
exemption from trouble.
WHAT COMES OF NEGLECTING SYSTEMATIC INSPECTION
The man who habitually neglects the business of inspecting
his engine, and leaves to luck his chances of getting over the
road safely, soon finds that the worst kind of luck is always
overtaking him on the road. A careful man may have a run of bad
luck occasionally, but the careless man meets with nothing else.
Among great many men who have failed as runners, I can call numerous
cases where carelessness about the engine was the only and direct
cause which led them to failure. One of the most successful engineers
that ever pulled a throttle on the Erie Railroad was asked by
a young runner to what cause he attributed his extraordinary good
fortune. His reply was, I never went out without giving
my engine a good inspection. This man had been running nearly
half a century, and never needed to have his engine hauled to
CONFIDENCE ON THE ROAD DERIVED FROM INSPECTION.
When a locomotive is thundering over a road ahead a
heavy train in which may be hundreds of human beings the engineer
ought to understand that the this freight of lives depends to
a great extent care and foresight. As the train rushes darkened
cuttings, spans giddy bridges, or rounds curves edged by deep
chasms, no one can understand better than the engineer the importance
of having every nut and bolt about the engine in good condition,
and in its proper place. The consciousness that every thing is
right, the knowledge that a thorough inspection at the beginning
of the journey proved the locomotive to be in perfect condition,
give a wonderful degree of comfort and confidence to the engineer
as he urges his train along at the best speed of the engine.
INSPECTION ON THE PIT.
Between the time of an engines return from one
trip and its preparation for another, a thorough examination of
all the machinery and running-gear should be made while the engine
is standing over a pit. Monkey-wrench in one hand, and a torch
in the other if necessary, the engineer ought to enter the pit
at the bead of the engine, and make the inspection systematically.
The engine-truck, with all its connections, comes in for the first
scrutiny. Now is the time to guard against the loss of bolts or
screws, which leads to the loss of oil-box cellars on the road.
This is also the proper time to examine the condition of the oil-box
packing. The engineers of my acquaintance who are most successful
in getting trains over the road on time, attend to the packing
of the truck-boxes themselves. Nothing is more annoying on the
road than hot boxes. They are a fruitful source of delay and danger,
and nothing is better calculated to prevent such troubles than
good packing and clear oil-holes. The shop-men who are kept for
attending to this work are sometimes careless. They can hardly
be expected to feel so strongly impressed with the importance
of having well packed as the engineer, who will be blamed any
delay. He should, therefore, know from personal inspection that
the work is properly done.
When the engineer is satisfied that the truck, pilot, braces,
center-castings, and all their connections, are in proper condition,
he passes on to the motion. His trained eye scans every bolt,
nut, and key in search of The eccentrics are examined, to see
that set and keys are all tight. Men who have wrestled over the
setting of eccentrics on the road are not likely to forget this
part. Eccentric-straps are another point of solicitude. A broken
eccentric-strap is a very common cause of break-down, and these
straps very seldom break through weakness or defect of the casting.
In break all cases the break occurs through loss of bolts, or
on account of oil-passages getting stopped up. The links are carefully
gone over, then the wedges and pedestal braces come in for an
examination which brings he assurance that no bolts are missing,
or wedge-bolts loose. Passing along, the careful engineer finds
many points that claim his attention; and, when be gets through
he feels comfortably certain that no trouble from that part of
the engine will be experienced during the coming trip. The runners
who do not follow this are not aware of how much there is to be
seen locomotive when the examination is undertaken in a comprehensive
In going round the outside of the engine, the most
important points for examination are the guides and the rods.
Guide-bolts rod-bolts, and keys, with the set screws of the latter,
are the minutiae most likely to give trouble if neglected. In
going about the engine oiling, or for any other purpose, it is
a good thing to get in the habit of searching for defects. When
a man trains himself to do this, it is surprising how natural
it comes to make running inspections. As he oils the eccentric
straps, he sees every bolt and nut within sight; as he drops some
oil on the rods, he identifies the condition of the keys, set
screws, or bolts; while oiling the driving-boxes, the springs
can be conveniently examined; and, when he reaches the engine-trucks
with the oil-can, he is sure to be casting, his searching eyes
over the portions of the running-gear within sight.
The oil-cups should be carefully examined, to see that
they are in good feeding-order. A great many feeders have been
invented, which guarantee to supply oil automatically; but I have
never yet seen the cup which could long dispense with personal
attention. And this does not apply to locomotives alone, but to
all kinds of machinery. The worst sort of oil-cup will perform
its functions fairly in the hands of a capable man, and the most
pretentious cup will soon cease to lubricate regularly if the
engineer neglects it. The oil-cups should be cleaned out at regular
intervals: for mud, cinders, and dust work in; and they sometimes
retain glutinous matter from the oil, which forms a sticky mixture
that prevents the oil from running. The eccentric-strap cups and
the tops of the driving-boxes should receive similar attention.
In looking round an engine, it is a good plan to watch different
oil-cups to see that they are not working loose. Many cups that
are strewed over the country be saved by a little more attention.
A cup flying off a rod when an engine is running fast becomes
a dangerous projectile. I have known several cases where cups
went back through the cab-window. I have also seen several cases
where cups worked off the guides or cross-head, and got between
the guides, doing serious damage. One instance was that of an
engine out on the trial-trip. It smashed the cross-head to pieces,
and let the piston through the cylinder head.
INSPECTION OF RUNNING-GEAR.
A sharp tap with a hammer on the tread of the cast-iron
wheel will produce a clear, ringing sound if the wheel is in good
order. The drivers can generally be effectively inspected by the
eye. If oil be observed working out between the wheel and axle,
attention is demanded; for the wheel may be getting loose. Moisture
and dirt issuing from between the tire and wheel indicate that
the former is becoming loose, and this is a common occurrence
when the tires are worn thin. When a wheel is running so that
the flange is cutting itself on the rail, something is wrong,
which also demands immediate attention. Oblique travel of wheels
may be produced by various causes. If the axles of the driving-wheels
are not secured at right angles to the frames, and parallel with
each other, the wheels will run tangentially to the track, according
to the inclination of the axles. Violent strains or concussions,
such as result from engines jumping the track about switches sometimes
spring the frames, and twist- the axle-box jaws away from their
true position enough to cause cutting of flanges without disabling
the engine. Tires wearing unevenly in consequence of one being
harder than the other, produce a similar effect. Where there are
movable wedges forward and aft of the boxes, the wheels are often
thrown out of square by unskillful manipulation of these wedges.
Engineers running engines of this kind should leave the forward
wedges alone. Sometimes the center-pin of the engine-truck gets
moved from the true central position, leading the drivers towards
the ditch. Diagnosing the cause of wheel-cutting is no simple
matter, and it is a wise plan for engineers to allow the shop-men
to devise a remedy.
ATTENTIONS TO THE BOILER.
On our well-regulated roads, engineers are not required
to inspect their boilers; as expert boiler-makers, who can readily
detect a broken stay-bolt, or broken brace, have to make periodical
examinations. But a prudent engineer will keep a sharp lookout
for indications that show weak points about any part of the boiler
or fire-box. This department can not receive too much vigilance.
A seam or stay-bolt leaking is a sign of distress, and should
receive immediate attention. Leaks under the jacket should never
be neglected, although they are hard to reach; for they may proceed
from the beginning of a dangerous rupture. A leak starting in
the boiler-head should make the engineer ascertain that none of
the longitudinal braces have broken. I once had some rivet-heads
on my boiler-head start leaking, and presently the water-glass
broke. After shutting off the cocks, I found that the boiler head
was bulged out. I reduced the pressure on the boiler as quickly
as possible. When the boiler was inspected, it was found that
two of the longitudinal braces were broken, and the head-sheet
was bent out two inches.
If an engineer is going to take out an engine the first
time after it has been in the shop for repairs, it is a good plan
to examine the tank to see if the workmen have left it free from
bagging, greasy waste, and other impediments, which are not conducive
to the free action of pumps or injectors. Keeping the tank clean
at all times saves no end of trouble through derangement to feeding-apparatus.
The smoke-box door should be opened regularly, and the petticoat-pipe
and cone examined. These things wear out by use, and it is better
to have them renewed or repaired before they break down on the
road. A cone dropping down through failure of the braces makes
a troublesome accident on the road. I have known of several cabs
being badly damaged by fire through the cone dropping down, and
closing up the stack. Where engines have extended smoke-boxes,
the nettings and deflectors must be inspected at frequent intervals.
REWARD OF THOROUGH INSPECTION.
To go over an engine in the manner indicated, requires
perseverance and industry. The work will, however, bring its full
reward to every man who practices the care and watchfulness entailed
by regular and systematic inspection. It is the sure road to success.
He who regards his work from a higher plane than that of mere
labor well done, will experience satisfaction from the knowledge,
that, understanding the nobility of his duties, he performed them
with the vigor and intelligence worthy of his responsible calling.
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