OFF THE TRACK.ACCIDENTS TO RUNNING
THERE is something pathetic in the spectacle of a noble
locomotive, whose speed capabilities are so wonderful, lying with
its wheels in the air, or sunk to the hubs in mud or gravel. Kindred
sights are, a ship thrown high and dry upon the beach, away from
the element that gives it power and beauty; or a monster whale,
the leviathan of the deep, lying stranded and helpless upon the
Few engineers have run many years without getting their engine
off the track in some way, over the ends of switches by
jumping bad track, or getting into the ditch through some serious
accident, collision or otherwise. Most of them have felt that
shock of the engine thumping over the ties, and momentarily wondered
in what position it was going to stop; doing all in their power,
meanwhile, to stop, and prevent damage.
DEALING WITH SUDDEN EMERGENCIES.
Of course, an engineer's first duty is to conduct his
engine in a way that will avoid accident so far as human foresight
can aid in doing so; but, when an accident is inevitable, his
next duty is to use every exertion towards reducing its severity.
The most common form of serious accident occurring on our railroads
is a collision. Rear-end collisions occur most frequently, although
head-to-head collisions annually claim many victims. When an accident
of this kind is impending, the engineer generally has but a few
seconds of warning; but these brief seconds well utilized often
save many lives, and impress the principal actor with the stamp
of true heroism. Rounding a curve at a high speed, an engineer
perceives another train approaching. Quick as thought he shuts
off steam, applies the brake, reverses the engine, and opens the
sand-valves and the throttle. This will take about ten seconds
time; and, if the engine is running thirty miles an hour, the
train will pass over forty-four feet each second. Assuming that
no reduction of speed has taken place till all the appliances
for stopping are in operation, four hundred and forty feet will
be passed over as a preliminary to stopping. With the automatic
Westinghouse brake, application and retarding power are almost
simultaneous. Until he has applied all means of reducing speed,
an engineer rarely or never consults his own safety, however certain
death may be staring him in the face. But after the brakes are
known to be doing their work, aided by sanded rails, and steam
working against the piston, personal safety is considered. A glance
at the position of the two trains tells if they are coming violently
together; and the engineer jumps off, or remains on the engine,
as he deems best. This applies to trains equipped with continuous
STOPPING A FREIGHT TRAIN IN CASE OF DANGER.
With freight trains where the means of stopping are
not immediately under the hand of the engineer, he must call for
brakes on the first indication of danger, and do all that a reversed
engine can achieve to aid in stopping the train. Where a driver
brake is used, the engineer will have to watch the reversed engine;
because the wheels will soon begin sliding, even on thick sand,
and their retarding power will be seriously diminished. To prevent
this, the engineer should let off the driver brake, and open the
cylinder-cocks, till the wheels begin to revolve, when the brake
may be applied again. Working and watching in this way greatly
assist in stopping a train, and preventing the flattening of wheels.
SAVING THE HEATING SURFACES.
Should the engine get into the ditch, the engineer's
first duty is to save the engine from getting burned, unless saving
of life, or protecting the train, demands his attention. If the
engine is in a position where the flues or fire-box crown will
be left without water, the fire should be quenched as quickly
as possible. Sand or gravel thrown over the fire, and then saturated
with water, is a good and prompt way of extinguishing the fire.
GETTING THE ENGINE ON THE TRACK.
It can be understood in a few minutes after derailment
whether or not the engine can be put back on the track without
assistance. Sometimes a pull from another engine is all that is
required: again, nothing can be done without the aid of heavy
tools to raise it up. In this case, no time should be lost in
sending for the wrecking outfit. It often happens that an engine
gets off the track while switching among sidings, and sinks down
in the road-bed so as to be helpless. In an event of this kind,
jacking up a few inches will often enable the engine to work back
to the rails. Before beginning to hoist with the screw-jacks,
some labor can generally be saved by putting pieces of iron between
the bottom of the driving-boxes and the pedestal-braces. As the
wheels begin to rise out of the gravel, pieces of plank or wooden
wedges should be driven under them to hold good every inch raised.
Where the attempt is made to work an engine on the rails by means
of wrecking-frogs, wooden filling should be laid down crosswise
to prevent the wheels from sinking between the ties, should they
slip off the frogs. Where jacking up has to be resorted to, there
is often difficulty experienced in getting up the engine-truck;
as raising the frame usually leaves the truck behind in the mire.
The best plan is, to jack up the front of the engine to the desired
level, then with a rail well manned pry up the truck, and hold
it in position by driving shims under the wheels. An engine will
generally go on the rails easiest the way it comes off.
When a derailed engine is being pulled on the track by another
engine, the work should be done carefully, and with proper deliberation.
When every thing is made ready for a pull, some men act as if
the best plan was to start both engines off with full throttle;
and this often leaves the situation worse than it was at first.
When truck-wheels stand at an angle to the track, it is often
necessary to jerk them in line by attaching a chain or rope to
one side. A wrecking-frog should be laid in front of the wheel
outside the rail, and blocking before the inside wheel, sufficient
to raise the tread of the wheel above the level of the rail. Then
move ahead slowly, and the chances are that the wheels will go
on the rails. Sometimes the easiest way is to open the track at
a joint, move it aside to the line of the wheels, and spike it
there, then draw or run the engine on.
Having an engine off the track, is a position where good judgment
is more potent than a volume of written directions.
UNDERSTANDING THE RUNNING-GEAR.
The driving-wheels, axles, boxes, frames, with the
trucks and all their attachments, are somewhat dirty articles
to handle. The examination of how they are put together, and how
they are hanging together, is pursued under soiling circumstances.
Perhaps this is the reason these things are studied less than
they ought to be. To creep under a greasy locomotive to examine
wheels, axles, and truck-boxes, is not a dignified proceeding
by any means; but it is a very useful one. The running-gear is
the fundamental part of the machine, and its whole make-up should
be thoroughly understood. The builds of trucks are so multifarious
that no specified directions can be given respecting accidents
happening to them. There is, therefore, the greater need for an
engineer's familiarizing himself with the make-up of his running-gear,
so that, when an accident happens, he will know exactly what to
do. Disraeli said: "There is nothing so likely to happen
as the unexpected." This applies very aptly to railroad engineering.
Industrious accumulation of knowledge respecting every part of
the machine is the proper way to defy the unexpected.
The running-gear of some engines is so arranged, that,
in case a driving-spring breaks on the road, it can readily be
replaced if a spare spring is carried. With the average run of
engines, however, and the accumulating complication of brake-gear
attached to the frames, the replacing of a driving-spring is a
tedious operation, that would involve too much delay with an engine
attached to a train. Consequently engineers seldom attempt to
change a broken spring. They merely remove the attachments likely
to shake out of place, and block the engine up so as to get home
safely. When a forward driving-spring breaks, it is generally
best to take the spring out with its saddle and hangers. Then
run the back drivers up on wedges to take the weight off the forward
drivers, and put a piece of hard wood or a rubber spring between
the top of the box and the frame. Now run the forward drivers
on the wedges, which will take the weight off the back drivers,
and with a pinch-bar pry up the end of the equalizer till that
lever stands level, and block it in that position by jamming a
piece of wood between it and the frame. For a back driving-spring,
this order of procedure should be reversed. A back driving-spring
is often hard to get out of its position; and it sometimes can
be left in place, as it is not very liable to cause mischief.
Where a spring drops its load through a hanger breaking, the
mishap can occasionally be remedied by chaining the spring to
the frame. Should this prove impracticable, the same process must
be followed as that which was made necessary by a broken spring.
For a broken equalizer, all the pieces likely to shake
off, or to be caught by the revolving wheels, must come out; and
both driving-boxes on that side must be blocked on top with wood
or rubber. Where good screw-jacks are carried, it will often prove
time-saving to raise the engine by jacking up at the back end
of the frame instead of running it up on wedges. Where the wedge
plan is likely to prove easiest, it must be adopted only on a
straight track; and then too much care can not be used to prevent
the wheels from leaving the rails.
ACCIDENTS TO TRUCKS.
The breaking of an engine-truck spring which transmits
the weight to the boxes by means of an equalizer, requires that
the equalizer should be taken out, and the frame blocked above
the boxes. This blocking above the boxes is necessary to prevent
the two unyielding iron surfaces, which would otherwise come together,
from hammering each other to pieces. Wood or rubber has more elasticity,
and acts as a spring. Whatever may be the form of truck used,
if the breaking of a spring allows the rigid frame to drop upon
the top of one or more boxes, it must be raised, and a yielding
substance inserted, if the engine is to be run even at a moderate
speed, and the engineer wishes to avoid further breakage. Sometimes
truck-springs, especially with tanks, are so arranged that the
removal of one will take away the support of the frame at that
point. In such a case, a cross-tie or other suitable piece of
wood must be fitted into the place to support the weight which
the spring held up.
A broken truck-frame can generally be held together
by means of a chain, and a piece of broken rail or wooden beam
to act as a "splice." Should a truck-wheel or axle break,
it can be chained up to enable the engine to reach the nearest
side track where new wheels may be procured, or the broken parts
fastened so that the engine may proceed carefully home. The back
wheel of an engine-truck can be chained up securely to a rail
or cross-tie placed across the top of the engine-frame. If an
accident happens to the front wheels, and it proves impracticable
to get a sound pair, the truck should be turned round when a side
track is reached. An accident to the wheels or axle of a tender-truck
can be managed in the same way as an engine-truck, but the crossbeam
to support the chained weight must be placed across the top of
the tender. A bent axle or broken wheel that prevents a truck
from following the rail, can be run to the nearest side track
by fastening the wheels so that they will slide on the rails.
BROKEN DRIVING AXLES, WHEELS, AND TIRES.
Accidents of this nature often disable the engine entirely;
but sometimes the breakage occurs in such a way that the engine
can run itself home, or into a side track, by good and careful
management. Driving-axles generally break in the box, or between
the box and the wheel. When this happens to a main driving-axle,
or when any thing happens to the forward driving-wheel or tire
of such a serious nature that the engine can not be moved until
the wheel is raised away from the rail, the engineer's first duty
is to take down the main rod on that side, and secure the piston,
then to take down both of the side rods. Cases could be cited
where engineers have brought in engines with broken axles without
disconnecting anything, but these men did not take the safe side
by a long way.
The rods being disconnected, run the disabled wheel up on a
wedge or block of wood, and secure it in the raised position by
driving blocking between the axle-box and the pedestal-brace.
To get the box high enough in the jaws, it is sometimes necessary
to remove the spring and saddle from the top of the box. A wheel
may break and not fall to pieces, but still be dangerous to use,
except for moving along slowly. A tire may break, and yet remain
on the wheel, only requiring the most careful handling. On the
other hand, the breaking of a wheel or tire may render the wheel
useless, when it must be raised from the rail the same way as
was recommended for a broken axle, and the same precautions in
regard to stripping that side of the engine must all be taken.
In the event of an accident happening which disables both forward
drivers, they must both be raised from the rails, and the engine
pulled in, the truck and hind drivers supporting the weight. Both
side rods must come down.
The breaking of back driving-axles, or accidents to wheels
or tires, is very difficult to manage; because the weight must
be supported in some way. The first act when such a mishap occurs,
is to take down both side rods. If the engine can be moved to
the nearest side track without further change, take it there;
now jack up the back part of the engine, and fasten two pieces
of rail by chaining or otherwise to the frames of the engine,
their ends resting on the tank-deck, so that, when the jacks are
lowered, the tank will help to support the hind part of the engine.
I have seen a case where one piece of rail was pushed into
the draw-bar casting, and it held the engine up through a journey
of seventy miles. If one of the back driving-wheels can be used,
it lessens the weight that has to be borne by any lever contrivance.
When one wheel is disabled, it must be blocked up in the jaws;
and, should both wheels be rendered useless, they must both be
held up, so that as much as possible of the weight may be thrown
upon the forward drivers.
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