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Steam & Excursion > This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!


Date: 10/08/19 03:28
This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: LoggerHogger

The way that helper power was used in the days of steam was quite different than what we see today.  In these modern times, groups of diesel locomotives are simply added at the head and rear of most freights and are left intact until the train reaches its final destination.  A single crew on the lead locomotive controls all the power thanks to radio controls.

Things were quite different in steam days.  Each helper had it's own engineer and fireman.  This added expense limited the use of each helper engine so just the grade that they were needed to help conquer and no more.  This require the "flying cut-off" whenever the summit was reached and the helper's job was done.

We see that maneuver being performed here in this fine photo taken on the Moffat Tunnel line of the Denver & Rio Grande Western.  D&RGW #1526 had just successfully  completed the job of pushing this freight train up to the summit.  Rather than make the freight stop to uncouple #1526, the brakeman in the caboose has signaled the crew on #1526 to get ready for a flying cut-off as he lifts the pin on the coupler on the back of the caboose and allows them to slow their speed to release themselves from the freight as that train proceeds on it's way.

Here is but one more railroading tradition that has been all but forgotten in these days of modern diesel power.

Martin



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/19 03:46 by LoggerHogger.




Date: 10/08/19 03:52
DRGW Helper Cut Off at Winter Park, CO
Author: cozephyr

Martin-Appreciated your Denver & Rio Grande Western helper image.  The 1526 was cut off at Winter Park, Colorado, having pushed the eastbound train from Tabernash up to Moffat Tunnel.  Keep those images coming-! 



Date: 10/08/19 03:57
Re: DRGW Helper Cut Off at Winter Park, CO
Author: LoggerHogger

Thanks for the ID of the location!

Martin



Date: 10/08/19 04:18
Re: DRGW Helper Cut Off at Winter Park, CO
Author: PlyWoody

How did they close the angle cock on the locomotive?  I can understand the rear trainman closing the angle cock on the caboose and pulling the uncoupling lever.  Did the locomotive then stop and fireman walk up and close that valve? 

A pusher in that position will operate at its maximum power when shoving but I fail to believe they would be allowed to do that without being coupled to the train line and watch the air pressure gauge in the helper locomotive.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/19 04:21 by PlyWoody.



Date: 10/08/19 04:29
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: birdman

Although not steam, helpers shoving on the rear of westbound NS trains out of Altoona, PA sometimes cut off on the fly after reaching the summit at Gallitzin, PA. The actual cutoff usually takes place anywhere between Cresson, PA and Johnstown, PA at the discretion of the dispatcher.  Many, I'm not sure if all, of the class 6300 helpers on the hill are equipped with special apparatus that can accomplish the cut off on the fly. 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/19 04:30 by birdman.



Date: 10/08/19 04:51
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: CPR_4000

Cutting off diesel helpers on the fly was not uncommon. IIRC, D&H did it on Ararat Mountain. Usually the engines' angle cock was left open and they came to a stop while the train continued on.



Date: 10/08/19 07:14
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: Bob3985

Manned diesel helpers continued up into the 1990's when the more reliable DPU systems were designed. Some railroads tried the RCS systems back in the 60/70's but continuity was their problem.
I remember getting photos of a a westbound loaded Barnes soda ash climbing the Blue Mountains in Oregon back in the early 1990's with manned helpers midtrain and on the rear end with about 100 cars of loaded soda ash.
Sometimes when Three track was closed they called helpers to assist on Sherman Hill out of Cheyenne.
Heck, I even remember a manned helper assisting a stalled westbound freight train from west of Egbert, WY up to Archer in the latter 1990's.
Rio Grande ran helpers on Moffat and Tennessee Pass until late in life.
 

Bob Krieger
Cheyenne, WY



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/19 08:18 by Bob3985.



Date: 10/08/19 08:28
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: tomstp

The air was not connected between the caboose and helper engine. 



Date: 10/08/19 08:48
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: PHall

tomstp Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The air was not connected between the caboose and
> helper engine. 

That's a big, big no-no.



Date: 10/08/19 09:44
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: donaldcurtis

DRGW continued cutting helpers off on the fly until at least 1980.  I recall watching helpers cutting off on the fly at Soldier Summit on a visit in August 1980.



Date: 10/08/19 10:00
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: Earlk

When you cut off a diesel helper at speed and the automatic air goes into emergency, the PC will trip and the helper will drop its load, you can bail off the independent brake to keep from sliding the wheels and glide to a smooth stop.  Then one of the crew has to go out  and close the angle cock, and the engineer has to cut the automatic brake valve in to pump the air up and reset the PC.

On a steam locomotive, the air would go into emergency.  The engineer would bail off of the independent brake and use it to stop where ever he wanted to, the throttle still working as it always did.  The automatic brake valve would be cut out when helping the train.  Once they stopped at the place of their choosing, the fireman could go out and close the angle cock, the engineer would cut the automatic brake valve in, charge up the automatic air, and off they'd go.



Date: 10/08/19 10:04
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: sp4294

Helpers cutting off on the fly is still an everyday occurence on BNSF on the Powder River Division. The Belle Ayr, Crawford, Bridgeport, and Sherdian helpers all use what is known as "Helper Link". Every helper set carries the helper link and an End of train device. The helper link is an electric device with a winch that pulls the pin on the lead coupler of the helper set, it is accuated by the helper engineer punching in a 4 number code on the radio. The train being helped links into the helper sets EOT so if the train has to go in to emergency, emergency can be activacted on the helper set from the headend of the train with out having to cut in any air to the train. 



Date: 10/08/19 11:10
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: Kemacprr

The Conrail helpers had what they called Helper Link. It allowed the helpers to cut off on the fly with no brake application. ------- Ken 



Date: 10/08/19 12:14
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: DRGWK59

I recall the helper sets that worked up to the West Portal of the Moffat being cut off just as the caboose intered the portal on Sat afternoons waiting for the Ske Train to take the main.  Usually were coal trains and the helpers were F units in A-B-A or A-B-B-A sets.  The helpers then backed down the hill to await the next train.  Fun to watch!



Date: 10/08/19 12:55
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: PHall

Rio Grande had their steel cabooses set up for uncoupling on the fly.
There was a chain from the coupler lift bar to the end platform and the angle cock operating handle was up on the end platform too.
 



Date: 10/08/19 20:45
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: Fredo

I saw the Rio Grande do this on Soldier Summit. The guy on the rear pulled the pin and the helper enginer dropped the speed and the helpers were cut off. Then exactly like Earllk above said and they recovered the air and headded back down to Helper, Utah



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/08/19 20:46 by Fredo.



Date: 10/09/19 12:26
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: engineerinvirginia

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> tomstp Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > The air was not connected between the caboose
> and
> > helper engine. 
>
> That's a big, big no-no.

It is but that didn't stop anyone......



Date: 11/05/19 22:33
Re: This Maneuver Was Retired Along With The Steam Locomotives!
Author: DRGW5502

Fredo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I saw the Rio Grande do this on Soldier Summit.
> The guy on the rear pulled the pin and the helper
> enginer dropped the speed and the helpers were cut
> off. Then exactly like Earllk above said and they
> recovered the air and headded back down to Helper,
> Utah

While I carved my name in a bench

Posted from iPhone



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