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The Car Inspector at Work

The car inspector is one railroad man who is always "looking for trouble." He is also looking for ways to promote safety. His job is to examine the cars to make certain that they are in good condition, or to discover defects which might lead to accidents or delays. He must have sharp eyes, keen ears and an alert mind as he goes up and down the train tapping wheels and axles and looking for defects.

This picture shows the car inspector examining the journal box to see if it is properly packed with oiled cotton waste. A journal box which is not adequately packed and oiled is likely to become overheated from friction, and this may make it necessary for the train to stop until it cools off.

Incoming passenger and freight trains at important stations and yards are examined carefully. Under, around, inside and on top of the cars the inspector clambers, his expert eye searching trucks, gears and other parts for signs of defects. Inside the cars, he notes the condition of roofs, walls, floors and doors. He reads the "air date" to see if the air-brake apparatus has been cleaned within the year. Tests are made before each train leaves its home terminal and when cars are added to or taken out of the train to see that the air-brake system is functioning properly.

At almost any hour one or more car inspectors may be seen about the station and yards of important terminals, carrying their kits of tools, and their lanterns at night, testing brakes and hose connections, examining journal boxes or listening for flaws as they tap their hammers against wheels, pipes and couplings. Cars which do not meet the severest service requirements are ordered out of the train for repairs. Every effort is made, however, to keep loaded freight cars moving and to avoid delays which might damage the contents of the cars or cause inconvenience to the consignees. Of course, many cars travel empty on their way to pick up loads. Such cars can usually be sent to the repair tracks without undue inconvenience.

Car inspection is a part of the daily routine of railroad operations. It is one of many precautionary measures which the railroads employ to promote safety, prevent delays and increase the efficiency of passenger and freight train operations. For many years "Safety First" has been the watchword of every railroad and every railroad employee. And today the railroads are providing the American people with their safest form of transportation.

Freight car repairs fall into three classes—(1) tinker repairs, (2) light repairs, and (3) heavy repairs. Tinker repairs are inconsequential repairs from the standpoint of expense and are usually made in the railroad yards without interfering with the service of the car. Light repairs consist of running repairs necessary to keep the car in service without material delay. They are usually made in the car repair yard. Heavy repairs consist of rather extensive overhauling and may include the renewal of one or more of the following: wheels, truck bolsters, flooring, sidings, roof, springs, air-brake equipment, couplings or draft beams.

Passenger car repairs are classed as (1) running repairs and (2) general repairs. Running repairs consist of minor work required to keep the car in service without material delay. General repairs call for more extensive work which may include renewal of wheels, air-brake equipment, seats or upholstery, springs, axles, or interior refurnishings.

Nearly every freight and passenger terminal has a repair yard for performing light or running repairs. Heavy or general repair work is performed at the larger car shops.

The railroads rely upon the expert eye or ear of the car inspector to locate defective equipment. When he finds anything wrong, he promptly notifies the foreman in charge of car repairs, and the latter takes immediate steps to have the repairs made. In this way, the railroads' great fleet of passenger, freight, express and mail cars is kept in good condition.

Among the workmen who are employed in keeping railway cars in good condition are: car foreman, car repairers, machinists, machinists' helpers, welders, riveters, blacksmiths blacksmiths' helpers, carpenters, carpenters' helpers, metal workers, machine operators and painters. In addition to those mentioned above, electricians, upholsterers and plumbers are employed' in the rebuilding and repair of passenger train cars.


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