EXAMINATION FOR LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEERS.
THE following examination code is partly made up from the manuals
in use for the examination of firemen on several of our most progressive
railroads and partly by the author of this book. Any fireman who
can give an intelligent answer to the greater part of these questions
is likely to pass for promotion. The wording of the answers is
not generally considered of any consequence so long as the candidate
for promotion shows that he understands the subject properly.
The form of questions is seldom closely adhered to, and the examiner
usually makes sure that the candidate has not merely committed
the answers to memory without understanding the matters they relate
to. A candidate studying these questions would do well, to read
carefully what is said in the body of this book about the different
subjects. The Table-of-Contents may be used as a reference-table
to direct where information can be found.
Ques. 1.What are the principal duties of an engineer
before attaching his engine to the train?
Ans.Report on duty in good season; examine the bulletin-board
where one is kept; try the water-gauge cocks, and see that the
water-glass gauge level agrees with that of the try-cocks. Examine
the fire-box and the boiler for leaks, and see to the condition
of the grates. See that the tank is filled with water, loaded
with coal, and that the sand-boxes are filled with sand; that
the necessary tools and signals are provided, and that the supplies
necessary for the trip are on the engine. Ascertain that the injectors
and air-pump are in good working order, that the rod-connections,
guides, cross-heads, eccentrics, links and other parts of the
machinery are in proper working order, that no bolts or nuts are
missing, and that all set-screws are secure. It is also the duty
of the engineer to know that all oil-cellars are properly packed,
and that all the rubbing surfaces are oiled, and that the-engine
and tender are securely coupled.
Q. 2.What are his duties before leaving with train?
A.Compare time with conductor or any authorized time-piece,
ask for orders, and if there are airbrakes on the train try them.
Q. 1.How should an injector be started?
A.Open overflow and water-valve, see that water passes
through overflow freely; open steam-valve gradually until the
water ceases to flow through overflow, but passes through check
Q. 2.How should an injector be stopped?
A.Close the steam-valve gradually and shut the feed-pipe
Q. 3.How should an injector be converted into a heater?
A.Open the feed-pipe cock, shut overflow, and permit
a little steam to enter the injector through starting-valve.
Q. 4.What is the proper height of water to carry in
A.Carry water and steam in the top gauge-cock when working
Q. 5.What should be the condition of the water supply
in the boiler when the locomotive ascends a grade?
A.It should be sufficiently high to prevent the front
ends of the tubes from being uncovered and exposed to the fire.
Q. 6.What should be the condition of the water supply
in the boiler when the locomotive descends a grade?
A.It should be sufficiently high to cover the back end
of the crown-sheet.
Q. 7.What do you consider the best and most economical
method of supplying water to the boiler?
A.To regulate the feed so that the amount of water delivered
is in proportion to the work which the engine is doing. On approaching
a steep grade, as much water should be fed into the boiler as
it is safe to carry without danger of priming. The condition of
the fire should be such also as to heat the water as hot as possible
before reaching the grade. The reason for this is, that as the
boiler is often taxed to its utmost capacity to generate the steam
required to haul a train up a grade, its work will be materially
assisted if any portion of the water to be evaporated during the
ascent has been previously heated.
Q. 8.Should it be necessary after pitching over a
summit to add water to the boiler, what should be the condition
of the fire?
A.It should be bright and burn freely
Q. 9.Why is this important?
A.To prevent chilling the flues, which would cause them
Q. 10.Should you have ample water when descending
a grade, what should be the condition of the fire?
A.If the grade is very long the fire should be leveled
over and covered over sufficiently with fresh fuel to prevent
unnecessary waste of fuel and steam. The dampers should also be
Q. 11.If the injectors and pumps fail to work, what
should be done?
A.Smother down the fire, see that there is water in
the tank, examine the tank-valve and strainer in the hose and
look for leaks in the feed-pipe between the tank and injectors;
and if these parts are found all right, take the injector apart
to see that there are no obstructions. Failing to get the injectors
to work, would endeavor to get the train on the side-track. If
necessary draw the fire, and notify the superintendent.
Q. 12.If the water in the boiler is too low to admit
of this examination, what is necessary?
A.Draw the fire and send for assistance.
Q. 13.In case of shortness of water in tank what would
A.Try to reach the nearest siding to leave train and
run to water-tank, unless it were practicable to obtain supply
from stream near by.
Q. 14.If tank-valves become disconnected what should
A.Change the injector into heater, apply steam suddenly
and try to blow valve out.
Q. 15.Should the water in the boiler become disturbed
and foam, what would you do, and how would you ascertain whether
it was foaming or being over-pumped?
A.As soon as the water is discovered discharging from
the stack, would at once shut off and ascertain the height of
the water solid. Should the water drop below the second or third
gauge, would conclude there was foaming, and would again gently
open the throttle. Should the water again rise and discharge from
the stack, would put on both injectors, open the surface blow
when one is provided, and run carefully: allowing the bad water
to be worked off through the surface blow, being very careful
not to work the water in sufficient quantities through the cylinders
as to endanger knocking out the heads, and would occasionally
shut off to see that the water was not being thrown off faster
than the pumps or injectors were supplying it. By this means the
bad water would in most cases be worked out, and with gentle usage
would again settle.
Q. 16.What is the cause of foaming or priming?
A.It may result from various causes, the principal of
which is the mixing of the water with alkali, oil, grease, mud,
or other impurity. Priming often results from the supply of water
in the boiler being too great.
Q. 17.What effect has foaming or working very wet
steam on the coal consumption?
A.It causes great waste of fuel by carrying into the
cylinder hot water which does no work, and which tends to condense
the steam it touches. Super-saturated steam also causes excessive
back pressure in the cylinders, as it escapes with difficulty
through the exhaust.
MANAGEMENT OF THE LOCOMOTIVE.
Q. 1.How should a locomotive be started?
A.The reverse lever should be put in full gear, and
steam applied gently. As the speed increases, the reverse lever
should be notched back gradually.
Q. 2.After starting, how can an engine be worked most
A .With throttle wide open and reverse lever hooked
back as near the center of quadrant as can be done while maintaining
the required speed, thereby using the steam expansively.
Q. 3.What is meant by using steam expansively?
A.Cutting off the admission to the cylinder when part
of the stroke is completed, and permitting the steam admitted
to, do work by expanding itself.
Q. 4Why is working the steam expansively considered
A.Because by that means a given quantity of steam does
more work and therefore is used more economically. The higher
the pressure of steam on admission to the cylinder, and the lower
the pressure at the instant of release, the greater will be the
Q. 5.How does hooking up the reverse lever increase
the expansive working of steam?
A.Because hooking towards the center reduces the travel
of the valves, and causes them to cut off steam admission earlier
in the stroke.
Q. 6.What is the valve-gear of a locomotive?
A.The eccentrics, eccentric straps, rods, links, rockers,
and other parts used in moving the slide-valves.
Q. 7.What is the use of the valve-gear?
A.It regulates the admission and exit of steam to and
from the cylinders so that the required supply will push the piston
one way and escape before the piston begins moving in the opposite
direction. The valve-gear also enables the engineer to reverse
the motion of the engine, and permits him to reduce the travel
of the valve so that cut-off will happen early in the stroke when
that is desired.
Q. 8.By what means is the change of motion effected?
A.By means of four eccentrics secured to the main driving-axle,
two of which are used for forward and two for backward motion.
Q. 9.What is an eccentric?
A.It is a circular plate secured out of center, on an
axle, making it act like a crank, giving its connections a "reciprocating"
or to-and-fro motion.
Q. 10.How is the motion of the eccentrics made to
operate the valves?
A.By means of eccentric straps and rods connecting with
the link and through that to the rocker-arm which moves the valve-stem
Q. 11.What is a link?
A.It is a slotted bar provided with means for attaching
the ends of the eccentric-rods, the forward gear-rod generally
connecting with the top, and the back gear-rod with the bottom.
The slot is the segment of a circle with a radius about the same
as the length of the eccentric-rods. In the slot of the link is
secured a sliding block to which the lower rocker-arm is connected.
The eccentric-rod whose end is set nearest to the link-block controls
the valve for moving the engine.
Q. 12.What was the link first used for?
A.As a simple form of reversing motion.
Q. 13.What other functions does it perform?
A.It puts in the hands of the engineer an easy means
of regulating the cut-off of the steam.
Q. 14.How does it provide the means of changing the
point of cut-off ?
A.When the engine is in full gear and the end of the
eccentric-rod opposite the link-block, the valve will have full
travel and the steam will follow the piston the greater part of
the stroke. When the links are notched up, so that the link-block
is drawn away from the end of the link, the oscillating, or fore-and-aft,
motion imparted to the block is reduced and in like degree the
travel of the valve is reduced. This causes the valve to cut off
steam earlier. Chapters XVII and XVIII give detailed information
about this subject.
Q. 15.What is valve-lap?
A.The extensions of the valve beyond what are necessary
to cover the two steam-ports when the valve is on the middle of
Q. 16.What is outside lap?
A.The extension of the valve on the outside of the steam-ports
when the valve is on the middle of the seat.
Q. 17.What is inside lap?
A.The extension of the valve inside beyond the steam-ports
when the valve is on the middle of the seat.
Q. 18.What is valve clearance?
A.The distance which the inside edge of the valve comes
short of covering the steam-port when the valve is set on the
middle of the seat.
Q. 19.What is outside lap used for?
A.It provides the means of cutting off steam at different
points of the piston-stroke.
Q. 20.What is inside lap used for?
A.To protract the period of valve-opening for the release
of the steam, therefore to give the steam longer time to act on
Q. 21.What is the effect of inside clearance?
A.To accelerate the time of release, and to delay the
valve-closure for compression.
Q. 22.What is lead?
A.The amount of port-opening made by the valve when
the piston is at the beginning of the stroke.
Q. 23.Explain the distribution of steam in a locomotive.
A.Steam enters through the throttle, dry-pipe and steam-pipe
into the steam-chest, and through the admission port into one
end of the cylinder, forcing the piston to the other or opposite
end. When the piston has nearly completed its stroke the valve
is in a position to permit the escape of the steam through the
exhaust passages to the atmosphere. For every stroke of the piston
four distinct events occur: the admission, the cut-off, the release,
and the compression.
Q. 24.What is back pressure?
A.Back pressure is the resistance of the steam to be
exhausted to the movement of the piston, and may be due to the
exhaust passages, or exhaust nozzles, being too small. The area,
or size, of the nozzle is often reduced by accumulation of dirt
and grease which, when ejected from the cylinders, adhere to the
inner surfaces of the nozzle.
Q. 25.How may back pressure, due to contraction of
the nozzles, be detected?
A.Mainly from a very sharp exhaust, the effect of which
is to act strongly upon the fire, tearing it and carrying the
fuel through the flues. This condition involves a waste of fuel,
and when it exists it should be reported to the round-house foreman.
Q. 26.What is compression?
A.The vapor compressed in the contracting space in the
cylinder by the piston after the valve closes before the beginning
of the stroke.
Q. 27.What is important to observe in setting up or
A.To have them so neatly adjusted that there will be
no thump of the boxes, and, at the same time, not so tight as
to cramp and not allow them full and free play on the pedestals.
Q. 28.How would you go about setting them up?
A.Would place the engine at half-stroke on the right
side, block the left wheels, admit a little steam, and thump the
boxes hard away from the wedges. Would then get under and put
the wedges up solid with a short wrench, and make a side mark
on the pedestals at top of wedge, then draw them down equally
a scant one-eighth of an inch. Go over the left side in the same
Q. 29.How would you keep up or adjust the side rods
of a ten-wheel or a consolidation engine?
A.Would place the engine on a level and straight track,
and on a dead center, then slack off all keys on that line of
rods , would then key the main connection first, leaving it sufficiently
free on the pin to be moved laterally by hand, then adjust the
front and back ends in the same manner; before starting to key
up rods, would see that wedges were properly set up.
Q. 30.Why would you place the engine on exact dead
center, and begin by keying the main connection first?
A.In order to insure keying the rods of proper length
to allow them to pass the dead or rigid points without strain.
Q. 31.If the side rods are keyed too long or too short
what will be the effect?
A.They will strain the pins when passing the centers
and cause heating.
Q. 32.How can it be discovered when a rod is out of
A.If the rod cannot be moved by the hands on the pin
when the engine is on the center, the probability is that the
rod is too long or too short.
Q. 33.How would you detect a blow in the piston-packing?
A.Place the engine on quarter, admit steam in front
or back end of cylinder, open the cylinder-cocks, and if the steam
blows through both cylinder-cocks then the packing blows.
Q. 34.How would you detect a blow in the main valve?
A.Block the wheels, place the valve centrally on the
seat, admit steam to the steam-chest, and if the steam escapes
through the exhaust or cylinder cock, the indications are that
the valve leaks.
Q. 35.What is important to secure the proper lubrication
of an engine?
A.To see that the holes in the cups or other oil-vessels
are not obstructed by dirt or cinders, and to see that the oil-feeders
are regulated to supply the requisite oil without wasting any
Q. 36.What are the engineer's duties before leaving
his engine after finishing a trip?
A.The boiler should be left well filled with water and
the fire as low as circumstances will permit. The dampers should
be left closed, the cylinder-cocks open, the lubricator-feeders
closed, the reverse lever in the center notch, and the tender-brakes
set. The fire-box, flues, and boiler should be examined and any
leaks found reported. The running-gear and machinery of the engine
should be minutely inspected and any defects reported.
Q. 1.What are the principal points to be observed
in firing a locomotive?
A.To regulate the supply of fuel to suit the work to
be done, and to apply it in such a way that the greatest possible
volume of steam will be generated from the fuel used.
Q. 2.What kind of a fire will make steam most freely?
A.A clear white (incandescent) fire.
Q. 3.How is a fire of this kind best maintained?
A.By supplying the quantity of fuel to suit the quantity
of air passing into it, thereby maintaining the most valuable
form of combustion.
Q. 4.What thickness of fire is most economical?
A.The thickness that the engine will steam with most
Q. 5.What is the advantage of running with a thin
A.It will permit the air to reach all parts of the fuel
and tend to burn up all the gases in the coal. There is little
smoke with a thin fire.
Q. 6.Why is it sometimes impracticable to use a thin
A.If the exhaust nozzles are small and the grate area
contracted, the rush of air through the grates is so violent that
holes are torn in a thin fire and sparks sent out with the currents
of gas. Cold air also passes to the flues, preventing the engine
Q. 7.What are the advantages and drawbacks to carrying
a heavy fire?
A.When the engine causes a violent rush of air through
the grates, a heavy fire prevents the suction from making holes
in the fire, and the large body of coal acts as an obstacle to
the free passage of air and prevents the supply from being sufficient
to chill the fire-box. The drawbacks to this kind of a fire are
that the gas escaping from the upper layers of the fuel does not
receive the air necessary for combustion, and it passes through
the flues in the form of smoke and uncombined gas. The smoke makes
the fire cloudy, and that obstructs the heat-rays so that they
do not strike the fire-box sheets, part of the heat force being
Q. 8.What are essential conditions for causing perfect
combustion in the fire-box?
A.That the fuel be kept up to the igniting temperature,
and that the air necessary for supporting combustion be supplied.
Q. 9.What is the igniting temperature of fuel?
A.It is a little higher than that of red-hot iron.
Q. 10.If part of the fire-box falls below the igniting
temperature, what happens?
A.The fuel-gases and air that pass through such a part
do not unite, and consequently they do not produce any heat. If
a thin part of the fire gets below the igniting temperature, cold
air passes through and chills the flues, causing leaks to start.
Q. 11.How can part of a fire-box be reduced below
the igniting temperature?
A.By throwing in a large quantity of fresh coal, or
by letting clinkers and incombustible refuse accumulate, or by
permitting the fire to burn too thin.
Q. 12.How should fuel be fed to a fire-box?
A.In small quantities, not to exceed three or four shovelfuls
at each firing.
Q. 13.What should be the condition of the fire when
at a station?
A.The fuel should be burned sufficiently to prevent
the raising of smoke, and there ought to be enough coal on the
grates to last while the engine is starting the train, so that
the fire-door need not be opened till the links are hooked up.
ACCIDENTS AND EMERGENCIES.
Q. 1.Should your engine break down on the road, what
are your first duties?
A.To see that engine and train are properly protected
by sending flagmen in both directions, if on a single track; and
if close to a siding, to get on it as soon as possible if it can
be done without disconnecting engine.
Q. 2.Should the blow-off cock be blown out, or be
broken off, or a hole be broken in the boiler in any way, what
would you do?
A.Quench out or draw the fire promptly and send a messenger
to the nearest telegraph office for assistance. Would then disconnect
and get the engine ready to be towed in when assistance arrived.
Q. 3.How would you detect a broken valve-yoke?
A.Place the engine on a quarter, open the cylinder-cocks,
admit steam to the steam-chest, then reverse the engine two or
three times, and if the steam flows alternately from each cock,
then the valve-yoke is not broken; but if the steam flows only
from one cock, then the yoke is broken.
Q. 4.In case a valve-yoke breaks, what should be done?
A.Cover the ports with the valve and fasten it in that
position, disconnect the valve-stem and the main rod, block the
cross-head, and proceed with one side working.
Q. 5.Should a severe blow develop, to what would you
A.To a cocked or broken valve, or broken valve-seat.
If after moving the valve or jarring the yoke, it cannot be remedied,
the steam-chest lid should be taken off to determine the cause;
first having determined that it was not caused by the packing
Q. 6.In case of a main valve being broken, what course
should be pursued?
A.Remove the valve and place a block of wood over the
ports, replace the steam-chest lid, disconnect the valve-stem
and main rod, block the cross-head, and proceed with the engine
working on one side.
Q. 7.In case of a broken steam-pipe or steam-chest,
what should be done?
A.If the steam-chest and steam-pipe are badly broken,
it will be necessary to disconnect the engine and have it towed
Q. 8.If the forward-motion eccentric slips, what should
A.Place the engine on center, throw engine in full back
gear and mark the valve-stem flush with the gland, then throw
the reverse lever in full forward gear, and move forward-motion
eccentric opposite to back-motion eccentric until the mark on
the valve-stem appears flush with the gland.
Q. 9.When an eccentric strap or rod breaks, what should
A.Take down eccentric straps and rods on broken side,
cover the ports with the valve, disconnect the main rod, block
the cross-head, and proceed with one side working.
Q. 10.If a reverse-lever, reach-rod, link-hanger,
saddle, or lift-shaft breaks, what should be done?
A.Insert a block between the top of link and link-blocks.
Q. 11.Should the cylinder-heads break, what should
A.Cover the ports with the valve, disconnect the valve-stem,
main rod, and piston; block the cross-head, and proceed with the
Q. 12.Should the piston-rod, rocker-arm, shaft, or
valve-stem break, what should be done?
A.Disconnect and proceed as in case of broken cylinder-head.
Q. 13.In case of broken cross-head, what should be
A.Disconnect and proceed as in case of broken cylinder-head.
Q. 14.In case of broken gib, what should be done?
A.If the cross-head is not broken, fit in a piece of
wood of proper thickness and proceed.
Q. 15.If a side rod or back crank-pin on an eight-wheel
engine breaks, what should be done?
A.Take down both side rods and proceed.
Q. 16.If the back side rod or crank-pin breaks on
a ten-wheel engine, what should be done?
A.Take down the broken rod, also corresponding rod on
the other side, and proceed.
Q. 17.Should a front side rod or crank-pin on a ten-wheel
engine break, what should be done?
A.Take down all the side rods on both sides and proceed.
Q. 18.Should a back or front section of a side rod
on a consolidation engine break, how would you disconnect?
A.Would take off both back or front connections, as
the case may be, and run in with two-thirds of train.
Q. 19.Should a middle connection on a consolidation
engine break, how would you disconnect?
A. Would take off all side rods and run in with train engine
Q. 20.If a main crank-pin breaks, what should be done?
A.Take down the side rods on both sides and main rod
on broken side, disconnect the valve-stem, cover the ports with
valve, block the cross-head on disabled side, and proceed with
one main rod working only.
Q. 21.Should one of the forward tires on a ten-wheel
engine break, how would you manage?
A.Would Jack the wheel up the thickness of the tire,
take out the oil-cellar, and cut a block to fit the bottom of
the box and journal sufficiently thick to hold the axle up in
its place when resting on the pedestal brace; would then run in
without disconnecting, provided the rod had not been bent or damaged
by the broken tire.
Q. 22.Should you break a main tire, how would you
A.Would block up the axle and wheel the thickness of
the tire, slack off the side and keys, and run in carefully without
Q. 23.Should the back tire break, how would you manage?
A.Would take off the back section of rods, block up
the axle, run very carefully, especially around curves, to nearest
telegraph office, report and ask for orders.
Q. 24.If the main driving-axle of an eight-wheel engine
should break, what should be done?
A.Disconnect side rods, block up wheels belonging to
broken axle, and send for assistance.
Q. 25.Should the back driving-axle of an eight-wheel
engine break, what should be done?
A.Disconnect side rods, block up wheels, transfer part
of engine weight to tender by means of lever, and proceed slowly.
Q. 26.If the main driving-axle on a mogul or consolidation
engine is badly bent and cannot turn, what should be done?
A.Take down the main and parallel rods, and block up
under the boxes until drivers are clear of the rail, so that the
engine can be towed to shop.
Q. 27.If a main driving-axle is broken just inside
of the wheel-fit, what should be done?
A.Block between pedestal cap and driving-box, also between
frame and spring saddle, take down all side rods on both sides
and main rod on broken side, disconnect the valve-stem on broken
side, and proceed cautiously with one main rod.
Q. 28.If the main driving-axle is broken between the
boxes, what should be done?
A.Disconnect the same as when the axle is bent so that
the wheels will not turn.
Q. 29.If a front driving-axle on a mogul or consolidation
engine is broken close to wheel, what should be done?
A.Jack the engine up sufficiently to take the weight
off the wheels, then block on top of the equalizer that passes
through the slot in the cylinder casting, also block between the
top of driving-box and the frame on second pair of wheels, then
raise the forward wheel sufficiently to clear the rail and place
a block between the bottom of driving-box and pedestal cap sufficiently
thick to hold them in this position, and proceed slowly.
Q. 30.If a front driving-axle is broken between the
boxes, what should be done?
A.Block up engine as in preceding case, and proceed
Q. 31.In case the back driving-axle breaks, what should
A.Block up the driving-box on both sides, take down
both back side rods, and proceed slowly.
Q. 32.In case the axle of the second pair of drivers
of a mogul or consolidation engine should break close to the wheel,
what should be done?
A.Block up the driving-box on both sides, take down
all side rods, and proceed slowly.
Q. 33.In case of broken tires, what should be done?
A.Proceed as in case of broken axles.
Q. 34.If a driving-spring, spring-hanger, or equalizing
beam breaks, what should be done?
A.Insert block between the top of driving-box and frame,
Q. 35.If the back axle of a four-wheel engine truck
should break close to the wheel, what should be done?
A.Chain the corner of the truck up to the main frame
of the engine, and secure the disabled corner of the truck with
a chain to the opposite engine frame, care being taken to allow
enough slack to permit the truck to curve properly.
Q. 36.Should the pony truck break on a consolidation
or mogul engine, what should be done?
A.Block up between top and front driving-boxes and frame,
and chain broken truck to both main frames, and proceed with caution.
Q. 37.If a driving axle-box were running hot and were
not inclined to cool down by increased oiling, how would you proceed?
A.Drive a wedge tightly between saddle and frame over
hot box, relieving it of part of the load.
Q. 38How would you proceed to stop your engine on
her power at night, when working with one side?
A.When the train was nearly stopped, would release the
brakes and reverse the engine, giving her a little steam, then
working the lever to-and-fro as when trying the boxes. This will
stop the engine with the crank-pin near one of the quarters.
Q. 39.In case of getting stalled in a snow blockade
and the fuel getting exhausted, what should be done?
A.Empty boiler and tender, take out cylinder-cocks,
and break all joints where water would be likely to accumulate
and cause damage. Would start washout plugs to let water out of
Q. 1.What is your duty regarding air-brakes before
coupling engine to a train?
A.The air-pump is to be started and lubricated for the
trip, maximum pressure pumped up with which to charge the brakes,
and those which may be set should be released.
Q. 2.What is your duty as soon as engine is attached
A.First, charge the brakes; second, apply brakes at
full force and hold them on while brakemen or inspectors go over
train to make sure that all brakes are set; upon their signal,
brakes are released. Then wait for report regarding number and
condition of brakes before starting out.
Q. 3.How would you start your pump?
A.Slowly and increase speed gradually, and thereby not
force out the water of condensation, which would be injurious
to the pump.
Q. 4.How would you lubricate your air-pump?
A.Lubricate steam-cylinder with cylinder-oil, and air-cylinder
sparingly with a small quantity of engine oil; would not use tallow
or lard oils in air-cylinder.
Q. 5.What is meant by "automatic air"?
A.The term "automatic air" is applied to the
modern Westinghouse system in which the auxiliary reservoir (air
storage on cars) and the triple valve come into operation. The
brakes are applied by releasing the pressure of air in brake-pipe.
Q. 6.What is meant by "straight air"?
A.The term "straight air" is used to designate
the original Westinghouse system, which operates the brakes by
applying the air-pressure from the engine reservoir directly through
the pipes to the brake-cylinders of cars.
Q. 7.How should brakes be applied in making ordinary
stops for stations?
A.The brakes should be applied lightly, by opening engineer's
valve and closing again slowly until the pressure has been reduced
on the gauge from four to eight pounds.
Q. 8.When are brakes fully applied?
A.When pressure, as shown on the gauge, is reduced twenty
Q. 9.Should brakes be held fully applied until train
comes to a full stop?
A.No, because it causes a reaction in the motion of
the train which is very disagreeable to passengers.
Q. 10.How can this be avoided?
A.By releasing brakes gradually before a full stop,
so that all the air will be off at the moment stop is made.
Q. 11.If some brakes are sticking after the train
has started, how may they be released?
A.If all the excess pressure has been exhausted, or
the amount is not sufficient to release brakes, the engineer's
brake-valve is put at "lap" and speed of air-pump increased;
as soon as 15 or 20 pounds additional pressure has accumulated
in main reservoir, brake-valve is thrown into releasing position,
and kept there from ten to twenty seconds. If this does not release
brakes the proper signals (two short blasts of whistle given three
times) are used, calling attention of trainmen, and they release
brakes by hand.
Q. 12.With a passenger train of from twelve to fifteen
cars, what air-pressure would you keep the brake charged with,
and how would you handle the brakes in making a stop?
A.Would carry regulation pressure. In making a stop,
would apply breaks gently, reducing the pressure from four to
eight pounds, as might be found necessary, and then gradually
increase the pressure on brakes until train is brought nearly
to a stop, without releasing the brakes more than once. See questions
10, 11, and 12.
Q. 13.How much pressure would you carry on a passenger
train of two to four coaches, and why?
A.Would carry same pressure for all passenger trains,
regardless of the number of cars. Because, with the automatic
air-brake, each car carries its own reservoir charged with a pressure
to be used for a given stop, and is therefore subject to the same
braking power, regardless of the number of cars on the train.
Q. 14.Given a freight train of thirty to forty cars
from five to fifteen of these in front end of train are equipped
with air-brakes and can be used to aid in stopping the train;
at what pressure would you keep the brakes charged, and how handle
the brakes in making a stop?
A.Would carry the regulation pressure. In making stop
would apply the brakes gently by reducing pressure from four to
five pounds; this will be sufficient to let the cars run together,
with only a slight jar on any of them. As soon as all slack is
taken up, would gradually increase the force of brakes as circumstances
required, being careful to reduce the pressure on train pipe gradually,
so as not to use full braking power until absolutely necessary.
The object is to gently bring the slack against the air-brake
cars, and to hold the brakes on until the train comes to a full
Q. 15.Given a full train of freight cars all connected
with air-brakes, what air-pressure would you carry and how would
you handle the brake in making a stop?
A.Would carry the pressure prescribed for freight trains.
In making stop would reduce pressure slightly, just enough to
set brakes over entire train simultaneously, and gradually increase
braking power until train is brought to a stop, releasing the
brake, after once set, as seldom as possible. If the engineer's
brake-valve be opened wide, allowing the pressure to escape quickly,
the brakes on a long train will set on front end some time before
those on rear end, causing the cars to jam together with destructive
force; then, if the engineer's brake-valve be closed quickly,
without giving time for the pressure to become equalized throughout
the entire train, the forward brakes will become released, resulting
in a severe jerk that will perhaps break the train in two. In
any case, the use of brakes so released is lost. Failures to observe
this rule have been a serious cause of accidents.
Q. 16.Give essential points to be observed in holding
a train of air-brake cars while descending heavy grades.
A.1. Have train charged with maximum pressure before
bringing brake into use.
2. Regulating the force of brakes so as to maintain a regular
and steady speed of train; also make as long a distance as possible
to each application of the brakes. By doing this the pressure
is used economically, and the pump is given more time to accumulate
the necessary pressure for recharging.
3. Always keeping brake-valve in releasing position while recharging,
thereby giving the brakes the greatest advantage in recharging
4. Making no new application of brakes until the full amount
of pressure consumed in previous application has been restored.
5. Reducing the pressure as shown on gauge not more than fifteen
to twenty pounds from one recharging to another, as it would be
difficult to replenish the full amount in so short a time. Moreover,
when the pressure, as shown on gauge, has been reduced twenty
pounds, the brakes have been fully applied, and any further reduction
is a waste of pressure.
Q. 17.What is the object of the pressure-retaining
A.To hold a portion of the pressure in brake-cylinder,
while the brake is being recharged when descending heavy grades.
Q. 18.What are the two positions for handle of the
pressure-retaining valve, and what is action of valve in each?
A.1. Perpendicular, handle of valve is turned down; this
allows the entire pressure to escape from brake-cylinder when
brake is released.
2. Horizontal, handle is turned up; this retains a pressure
of ten pounds in brake-cylinder, but permits all pressure over
that amount to escape when brake is released.
Q. 19.When "double-headers" are run, by
whom and how should air-brakes be used?
A.(a) By head engineer alone; second engineer closes
stop-cock in train-pipe under his valve, or, in absence of this
stop-cock, he places engineer's valve in the "lap" position,
in order to give forward engineer complete control of brakes.
(b) Second engineer also keeps his air-pump working, and thus
has air-pressure ready for any emergency, such as failure of air-pump
on forward engine, in which case forward engineer proceeds as
second engineer would in (a) above.
Q. 20.Would this apply in cases where "helpers"
are used for a short distance only?
Q. 21.The second engineer having assumed control of
the brakes, how long should he retain charge of same?
A.Until the end of the trip, except in a case of necessity,
which may again reverse the operation.
Q. 22.Is it proper to make any experiment with the
brakes when on mountain grades?
A.No; this must be done at other times.
Q. 23What should always be borne in mind when on mountain
A.To keep train well under control.
Q. 24.Should descending at high speeds be practiced?
A.Descending at high speed must not be practiced with
any train, for there may come a time when some part of the machinery
may fail, and, while practicable to control speed by hand-brakes
at eight to ten miles per hour, it may be impossible at twenty
to thirty miles per hour to regain its control.
Q. 25.How do you apply driver-brakes?
A.I apply the brakes gradually in order not to bring
a too sudden strain on the brake-rods and lever.
Q. 26.What would be the probable result of reversing
engine with driver-brakes set?
A.The effect would be to lock and slide the wheels,
resulting in flat tires.
Q. 27.In case of failure to any part of air or driver-brakes
during the trip, what would you do?
A.Report it promptly to master-mechanic or foreman for
inspection and repairs.
Q. 28.What extra air-brake parts should you always
carry on your engine?
A.I should always have on engine one extra hose for
connection between engine and tender, and one hose for between
tender and car.
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