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Steam & Excursion > Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?


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Date: 05/18/17 12:38
Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: Kimball

A post 13 days ago on the Eastern board explored why some engineers like to close the front coupler. The argument was that it made the locomotive less likely to "couple-up" with a vehicle in a grade crossing collision.

This made me wonder, was this the real reason why some big, fast steam locomotives like the UP Northerns had "disappearing" couplers? A motor vehicle can't get caught on a coupler that is not there, right?



Date: 05/18/17 13:28
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: sptno

When I was with the steam train group here in Austin, it was considered 'back luck' to leave the front coupler open. When the engineers saw that it was open, they slammed it closed sating that it was bad luck to leave it open.

Pat
South Austin, TX



Date: 05/18/17 13:31
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: MaryMcPherson

I always figured it was an aesthetic preference more than anything. I just looks sleek.

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions



Date: 05/18/17 13:44
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: jointauthority

I've heard it's actually a FRA violation to have the front knuckle open, but then again we hear that lots of things are fra violations...but never see any proof.

I always close mine, if I can, that way if we ever hit a car it isn't as likely to get coupled up. Bad luck, never heard that before. People believe all sorts of things about 'luck', just never met anyone who believes that one.

sptno Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> When I was with the steam train group here in
> Austin, it was considered 'back luck' to leave the
> front coupler open. When the engineers saw that
> it was open, they slammed it closed sating that it
> was bad luck to leave it open.
>
> Pat
> South Austin, TX

Posted from Android



Date: 05/18/17 15:08
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: LarryDoyle

In the 1934 RR movie "Danger Lights", the first 15 minutes of the film establishes that my namesake, Larry Doyle, is a down on his luck engineer who had been fired for insubordination. Division Superintendent Dan Thorne gives him a second chance by offering him a roundhouse job as a cellar packer. Doyle walks over to the Mikado that is his first assigned task and notices the front knuckle open, which he closes, grumbling, "That's no way to leave an engine." A powerful symbol of his change of luck, setting the tone for the rest of the movie.

-John Stein



Date: 05/18/17 17:11
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: wcamp1472

What is the distinction between "dropdown" (PRR), swing-away ( COMMONWEALTH) and, vertically rigid, pivot-only copuplers with the knuckle 'open' ?

Seems to me the original post-person was asking about modernized , "disappearing ". coupler ...concealable, streamlined, etc, with the coupler well away from coupling...

Only trying for clarity...

W.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/18/17 17:14 by wcamp1472.



Date: 05/18/17 19:19
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: crackerjackhoghead

I've hit a lot of cars and never coupled to one. Not sure how that's even possible. Except for one, which actually went under the plow and ended up between the pilot and the lead axle, they've all gone flying well clear of the track!

Besides, how are you gonna catch a runaway car with it closed?



Date: 05/18/17 19:26
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: jointauthority

I say it all the time, but I must have horseshoes jammed up my ***, but I've never hit anyone. I'm just going off of what I've been told about the front coupler by many coworkers who have received the infamous 3 days off for trauma.

I believe them though, in certain situations I'm sure it could happen with an open knuckle. I could see it happening with it closed, depending on where it hit the car.

Just spit balling, haven't tried it yet.

Posted from Android



Date: 05/18/17 21:28
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: agentatascadero

Kimball Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A post 13 days ago on the Eastern board explored
> why some engineers like to close the front
> coupler. The argument was that it made the
> locomotive less likely to "couple-up" with a
> vehicle in a grade crossing collision.
>
> This made me wonder, was this the real reason why
> some big, fast steam locomotives like the UP
> Northerns had "disappearing" couplers? A motor
> vehicle can't get caught on a coupler that is not
> there, right?
In the early sreamliner era, any locomotive worth it's salt had a smooth pilot up front. I don't believe it had anything to do with safety, but rather was all about a clean STREAMLINED look. Both steam and diesel locomotives were so styled.
As with all railroad things streamlined, the maintainence forces and bean counters were the factors behind the demise of that very cool, but not practical, cleam streamlined look.
AA

Stanford White
Carmel Valley, CA



Date: 05/18/17 22:09
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: crackerjackhoghead

Suppose it did couple to a car? What bit of difference is it gonna make to squashed beer can anyway?



Date: 05/18/17 22:52
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: spladiv

From a train operations perspective you should always have the knuckle open. The first thing a new head brakeman (or pin puller if you're a switchman) was taught was keep the knuckle open on the engine. Obviously for pool freight this wasn't important but I always did and never had any engineer "slam it shut". Coupling to an auto? Maybe, but I can't see how you could get any part of any auto coupled up in the coupler, that would be an extreme fluke. There absolutely is no FRA reg about this.



Date: 05/19/17 03:58
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: ecoyote

<Suppose it did couple to a car? What bit of difference is it gonna make to squashed beer can anyway?
Nothing at all to the car, it's a total loss anyway. BUT you don't want the coupler to latch onto something like burning wreckage and drag it down the track in front of the engine. Better to knock it off to the side. I always close the front knuckle for that reason. Might work... might not? But if it saves my life just ONCE in my career, it's worth all the effort to close them!



Date: 05/19/17 04:30
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: LocoCam

We keep it closed in case we .... um ... unexpectedly contact something in front of us we have less likelihood of coupling up & have to ask them to stop so we can uncouple.



Date: 05/19/17 06:40
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: LocoPilot750

On Christmas eve morning,1979, I was deadheading home from Newton, riding the 2nd unit on #4, eng 521. At "79" MPH,  we hit a van parked dead center on the track at Walton, putting two in the cemetery. When I looked it over, it was stuffed in under the anti-climber, but had bent in half in the middle, and the coupler horn had penetrated the impact side, and actually put dents in the opposite side. It crushed it sideways so bad, the coupler hit both sides before it relaxed back. The front seat was bent in half, and the center of it was pushed out where the windshield used to be. Not sure if the knuckle was open or closed, I can't see that it made any difference. I was never asked about the knuckle in any crossing accidents, and never saw a line for it on any report forms.



Date: 05/19/17 07:28
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: BigSkyBlue

LocoPilot750 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> eng 521. At "79" MPH, 

How fast were you really going? :) BSB



Date: 05/19/17 08:42
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: wingomann

LarryDoyle Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In the 1934 RR movie "Danger Lights", the first 15
> minutes of the film establishes that my namesake,
> Larry Doyle, is a down on his luck engineer who
> had been fired for insubordination. Division
> Superintendent Dan Thorne gives him a second
> chance by offering him a roundhouse job as a
> cellar packer. Doyle walks over to the Mikado that
> is his first assigned task and notices the front
> knuckle open, which he closes, grumbling, "That's
> no way to leave an engine." A powerful symbol of
> his change of luck, setting the tone for the rest
> of the movie.
>
> -John Stein

The knuckle was open but the knuckle pin was not in. Larry sifts the knuckle back and forth to get the pin to drop then he slams it closed. Leaving the pin out "That's no way to leave an engine." I also like how he does a rolling inspection as the locoomotive backs past him out of the roundhouse.



Date: 05/19/17 12:37
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: Kimball

Thanks Wes! Yes, I was not looking to re-hash that other thread.

Mary, I had always ASSUMED that appearance and streamlining was the reason for their existence, but when I read that other thread, it occurred to me that the coupler probably reduced the ability of a nicely-rounded pilot to deflect objects hit by the loco. Many early diesels (FT's F-3's etc.)also had rounded pilots.

Modern bulldozer pilot diesels are a different thing altogether.

Interestingly, only Mary addressed my question.



Date: 05/19/17 12:57
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: CPRR

Ok now that this was discussed, I will look at every photo that gets posted to see if the knuckle is open or closed.



Date: 05/19/17 13:14
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: wcamp1472

Ok.
In my opinion, the original poster was asking about concealable front couplers, as a design consideration.

The operating preferences of differing RRs regarding the open or closed knucles hijacked the original discussion and intent.

So, ( concerning the era of concealable front couplers) it is safe to say that when in the "concealed position,", the knuckle , associated with that coupler, is ALWAYS closed.
.
W.



Date: 05/19/17 16:18
Re: Real reason for drop-down, hidden front couplers on Steamers?
Author: LocoPilot750

BigSkyBlue Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> LocoPilot750 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
>
> > eng 521. At "79" MPH, 
>
> How fast were you really going? :) BSB

Let's just call it Lickity-split.

Posted from Android



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