1702. Inspecting a Section from a Car or Engine.Section
foremen should occasionally ride over their section either
on an engine, a caboose, or the rear car of a passenger train,
and note carefully the action of the car while passing over the
track. A defect in line or surface, which would scarcely have
any effect upon a car running 20 miles an hour, would cause one
running at a speed of 45 miles an hour to lurch violently. This
is owing to the fact that a speed of 20 miles an hour will permit
a car to become righted after passing one defect before coming
to a second, while a car running at a speed of 45 miles an hour
may encounter several defects in line or surface in a second of
If a car lurches badly when passing over a straight line, the
track at that spot is either low or badly out of gauge. If, in
passing over a curve, the car swings to the outside of the curve,
there is not sufficient elevation to the outer rail, but if the
car swings towards the inside of the curve, there is too much
elevation in the outer rail at that place.
An observing, alert man will soon become expert in detecting
the different movements of the car as it swings to either side
of the track, and should determine the cause by walking over the
track immediately after riding over it, and remedy the defects
in the track.
1703. Avoid Attaching Hand or Push Cars to Trains.Foremen
should never attach a hand or push car to a train to avoid
the labor of pumping or pushing the car to its destination. Many
serious accidents have resulted from such action. The sudden slackening
or stopping of a train is likely to throw the hand or push car
under the train in spite of every effort to prevent it, and serious
injury, if not death, is the sure result.
1704. Always Carry a Track Jack.Foremen should
never be out on their sections without a track jack. Keep it on
the hand car when not in use, so it will always be available.
In no way is time oftener wasted than in attempting to raise a
rail with a makeshift lever when the track jack has been left
behind at the section house. Frequently, the spikes are drawn
from the ties and the track marred both in gauge and surface by
The track jack is one of the best and most economical tools
in use upon a railroad, and every section should possess one and
make the utmost use of it.
1705. The Track Level.Always carry a track
level when going out on the section to pick up or surface track.
It is useless to attempt to surface track without a spirit level,
though low spots in a track which has once been put in good surface
may be put in proper surface by sighting.
1706. Rails of Different Heights.Where rails
of different heights meet at a joint, they should be connected
by a step splice, and an iron shim should be placed under
the low rail, to bring the tops of both rails to the same level.
The shim should be slotted at the sides, and spikes driven through
the slots, to hold the shim in place.
1707. Extra Men.When a section foreman is about
to largely increase his force for temporary work, he should take
time to carefully plan his work and the disposition of his men.
Work well organized is half done.
1708. Getting Acquainted with the Section.Every
section foreman should, immediately upon taking charge of his
section, thoroughly acquaint himself with everything connected
with it and his work. He should know the length of his section,
the location and degree of each curve, the number and location
of each bridge, trestle, cattle guard, crossing, and culvert,
the weight, brand, and age of all steel and its location, the
number of panels of snow fence, the height of bridges from the
ground, the location of whistling posts, the- numbers of all frogs,
and any information which can assist a foreman in making out correct
and prompt reports to the roadmaster.
1709. Drilling Rails.When it is necessary to cut
rails in putting in switches, or in repairing track, the rails
should be full drilled and bolted at every joint. A joint but
half bolted is sure to sag in a short space of time.
1710. Lining Disconnected Track.When lining
disconnected track that has been washed out, always commence at
the connected end, else it' will be practically impossible to
get the track in line.
1711. Cutting Steel.Section foremen should carefully
instruct their men how to cut rails. The cut of the chisel should
be a continuous line extending entirely around and square across
the rail. Iron rails require deeper cutting than steel rails.
To break off a rail at the cut, lift up the end nearest the cut
and let it fall across a piece of rail laid on a tie. If but a
short piece of the rail is to be broken off, a sharp blow from
a sledge is the surest way to break it. Hard steel, if cut too
deep, is liable to become softened by the battering of the chisel,
and in breaking leave a rough, unshapely end on the rail. A spike
maul should not be used to strike the head of either chisel or
punch, as it is
sure to destroy the face of the maul and split pieces out of
the head of steel tools. A sledge of suitable weight, made for
the purpose of striking hard steel tools, should be used instead.
Cold chisels when first dressed by the blacksmith are
not always well tempered at the point, and in using a newly sharpened
chisel, light and careful blows should be given first. If the
tool is well tempered, the edge will hold, but if poorly tempered,
the edge will chip slightly. The chisel should then be ground
to a true edge, which generally toughens it, and it will cut a
number of rails before it is necessary to send it to the shop
1712. Distance at Which to Place Danger Signals.Danger
signals should be placed at distances not less than 3,500
feet in each direction from the point where the track is impassable
for trains. The distance can be measured by counting 117 rails
of 30 feet each from the point of danger, or, where the telegraph
poles are 150 feet apart, place the signals 23 poles distant from
the point of danger. If the point of danger is at the foot of
a heavy grade, where it is difficult to stop a train, the distance
of the danger signal should be increased to even double the ordinary
distance, or the telegraph operator at the nearest station informed
of the danger, so that he may notify the train dispatcher, who
will at once warn all trains within danger, and they can be held
until the track is safe for their passage. Where there is a sufficient
force of men to make repairs, the flagman should remain with the
danger signal until the track is repaired or the train stopped.
In foggy or stormy weather, the flagman must always remain
out with the signals until all danger is passed. As soon as
the track is safe for the passage of. trains, flags, torpedoes,
or other signals should be removed at once.
Foremen should always carry flags and torpedoes on their hand
cars, and fully instruct their men in the use of them. They should
be fully posted on the time of all
regular trains, and should be on the watch for signals carried
by regular trains.
1713. Signals.In setting a signal
requiring a train to run slowly, called a slow flag,
place the flag on the engineer's side of the track, the
right hand side, slightly leaning, so that most of it can be seen,
and just far enough from the rail to clear the engine and cars.
A slow signal is set out one-half mile, about 17 telegraph
A red flag or light, which is a stop signal, should
be placed in the center of the track. Two torpedoes should be
placed on the same rail, about 60 feet apart, between the stop
signal and the approaching train.
1714. Location of Whistling Posts and Signs.Station
whistling posts should be placed one-half mile outside the switch,
not the depot, and on the engineer's side (the right side) of
the track to one approaching the station. Station mile boards
should be placed one mile outside the switches. If the
post were placed but one mile from the station, it would, in large
yards, often fall inside the switches. The object of these signs
is to warn trainmen of the near approach of a station in order
that they may have the train under control before reaching the
Whistling posts for highways should be placed one-quarter of
a mile from the crossing, and on the engineer's side of the track.
Whistling posts or other signs should never be placed in a cut
where they will not be readily seen. If on a descending grade,
place the sign outside the cut, increasing the distance; if on
an ascending grade, decrease the distance. This rule also applies
to sharp curves. All signs carrying a cross-board should have
the board placed at right angles to the track. Highway crossing
signs should be placed parallel to the rails, so that they may
be distinctly read by persons approaching the track. All posts
carrying signs should be vertical, and securely set in the ground,
and so placed as not to come in contact with either trains or
1715. Obstructing the Track.The track should
never be so used as to obstruct a regular train, nor should any
work be undertaken which can not be finished, and the track made
safe, fully 15 minutes before the train is due. In case of a delayed
passenger train, the track must be kept constantly safe and clear,
and if repairs must be made, a responsible man, preferably the.
foreman himself, should remain out with signals until the track
is safe and clear.
Some foremen have a habit of leaving the hand or push car on
the track while repairs are being made. This is a dangerous practice,
and contrary to the rules of any well-managed railroad. The hand
car should not only be kept clear of the track when not in use,
but should not be left in the way of road or farm crossings.
1716. Hand-Car and Tool Houses.Hand car and tool
houses should be placed outside the switches at yards and stations,
so that trains standing on the side track will not deter section
men with their band car from going to work. Tool houses must be
far enough from the track to prevent obstructing the view of passing
1717. Throwing Switches.Foremen should
not throw switches for trivial reasons. An empty hand car or push
car should always be carried from one track to another, and, if
carrying a light load, it can be handled without throwing a switch.
Most foremen carry a switch key, but it should be used with proper
discretion and never in the absence of the foreman. The
person tending to the switch should always remain by it until
it is set for the main track and locked. Any foreman who makes
a practice of throwing switches where it is unnecessary' should
be discharged at once.
1718. Care of Tools.The section foreman is responsible
to the railway company for all tools and other supplies issued
to him. The systematic use and care of tools will greatly increase
their efficiency and prolong their
service, and it is evident that the foreman can not better
serve his company than by instructing his men in the proper handling
and care of tools.
Hand cars and push cats should be oiled regularly, the axle
and other boxes kept tight, and the cars kept always ready for
service. Hand cars should not be used to carry steel except in
emergencies, and then only a light load should be taken, the rails
being placed on both sides of the car so as to balance. Both rails
and ties should be transported on the push car.
Shovels figure largely in the tool account chargeable to track
repairs. On most sections this account is unnecessarily large,
owing to the many improper uses to which the shovel is put. A
shovel should never be used to hold up the end of a tie for spiking,
nor driven into a tie in place of a pick to pull the tie into
its trench in the track. As soon as the edge begins to turn, it
should be straightened, and, if necessary, trimmed with a cold
chisel. Proper care will often double the life of a shovel.
Claw bars should never be used to pry up the track, and, above
all, in frosty weather, as the claws are then easily broken, and
are always difficult to repair.
1719. Care of Material.A sure test
of a good foreman is his care for all material placed in his charge.
Whenever track repairs of any kind are made, all loose material
of every kind should be collected, and, with the exception of
rails, should be carried to the section house, where it may be
sorted. Much old material, such as splice bolts and spikes, may,
with a little straightening, be made to serve a second time and
be as serviceable as new material. All old iron should be piled
in places convenient to the track, whence it may be shipped at
the direction of the roadmaster.
1720. Care of Station Grounds.It is particularly
to the section foreman's interest to keep the station grounds
in perfect order. By a little thought and planning, he can find
time to grade the approaches to the station, plant a few
shade trees, and do some sodding where it will tell. This work
must not be done at the expense of regular track work, but a spare
hour is often available, and the results, if the time has been
wisely expended, amply pay for the outlay. Neat station grounds
'encourage travel, and are sure to win the approbation of superior
1721. Work-Train Service.The foreman in charge
of a work train should make it his business to keep his men at
work whenever the train is delayed. There is always plenty of
work to do along the track at any point, and by proper forethought
and planning, these unavoidable delays may be turned to full account.
Every work train should be in charge of a thorough trackman,
who should, in addition, be thoroughly competent to run a train.
Work-train conductors and foremen in charge of gravel pits
or of steam-shovel outfits should receive their orders from and
be responsible to the roadmaster of the division upon which they
are working. They should send in a daily report to the roadmaster,
and every evening after quitting send in to the dispatcher a
lay-up report, stating where they will work the following
day. Work trains should always lay up at a telegraph station.
Conductors in charge of work trains should see that all axle
boxes are properly packed and oiled, and any accidents to cars
or any part of the outfit should be promptly reported to the roadmaster.
1722. Track Inspection.There should be a well-organized
system of track inspection on every railroad. The amount of inspection
should be in proportion to the excellence of the track and the
amount of traffic. Whatever the amount of traffic, the entire
section should be inspected each day. In ordinary weather this
work may be entrusted to a careful section hand, but in stormy
weather the section foreman should give his entire section
a careful inspection. It is best that the track inspection, especially
at the more dangerous points, should be made before the passage
trains. On double-track roads where the traffic is heavy, track
inspection is performed by regular track walkers. They should
always carry a track wrench, to tighten loose bolts, and a flag
and, torpedoes for signals. During the winter months, when the
ground is frozen solid, the frost, which hinders many kinds of
general track work, is constantly heaving the track out of line
and surface, and greatly increasing the danger of accident. A
rule requiring the section foreman to see his entire section daily
should be strictly enforced. During extremely cold weather the
track requires constant watching. During heavy storms, it is a
good plan to go by train against the storm, to the end of the
section, and inspect the track while returning on foot. Two or
three inspections in a day are none too many for severe, stormy
1723. Methods of Work.Every foreman should be
on the alert to learn new and approved methods of work. By careful
thought he may devise time and labor-saving methods himself. Work
slowly done is not necessarily well done. In fact, expedition
is an adjunct to excellence, as no man can do work rapidly without
giving it his full attention, and any work, however simple, that
has heart put into it, will show it by superior excellence.
1724. Discipline.A foreman to succeed must be
superior to his men both in knowledge and in force of will. Abusive
and profane language will soon demoralize men, robbing them of
all respect for their foreman and for themselves. Patience in
teaching men their duties and habitual fair treatment will make
an enviable reputation for any foreman. He will always receive
prompt and efficient service from his men, can always count on
a full gang, and can readily increase his force for an emergency.
Railroad companies always prefer to fill their important offices
with men who have been tried and promoted in their own service.
The young foreman may be sure that competence and faithfulness
will not go unrecognized or unrewarded. He should take advantage
of every opportunity to increase his know
ledge of his craft, and do all in his power to make it rank
as a profession.
1725. Section Records.Every section foreman
should keep a record of everything connected with the track under
his charge. This record should be neatly and clearly arranged
and should contain all information which may be used as a basis
for estimates, for the location of structures, or for the distribution
The following will suggest suitable forms for such a record:
1726. Average Day's Work for One Man.The following
is a list of the various kind of labor connected with track work,
and gives the amount of each which a good man can perform in one
day. This will serve to show the relation existing between the
labor of one man and a gang of men at any of the different kinds
of work specified:
One man can
Place on a grade one-eighth of a mile of ties.
Spike one-tenth of a mile of track laid on soft ties.
Spike one-fourteenth of a mile of track laid on hard ties.
Splice and bolt one-sixth of a mile of track.
Clean with a shovel one-eighth of a mile of average weeds.
Unload 10 cars of gravel.
Unload 8 cars of dirt.
Load upon cars, 18 to 24 cubic yards of gravel.
Load upon cars, 20 to 25 cubic yards of dirt.
Load coal into buckets for engines, 15 to 20 tons.
Unload coal into sheds, 25 to 30 tons.
Put into dirt ballast track, 20 new ties.
Put into gravel ballast track, 15 new ties.
Put into stone ballast track, 8 to 10 new ties.
Do labor equal to ballasting 60 feet of gravel ballasted track.
Do labor equal to ballasting 35 feet of stone ballasted track.
Chop 2 cords of 4 ft. wood.
Make 15 to 25 hard wood ties.
Make 35 to 40 soft wood ties.
Sixty men can lay one mile of track in a day.
1727. Tables of Material Required for One Mile of Track.
Tons of Rail
Rails, Splices and Bolts
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