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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Frozen pipelines


Date: 01/20/17 23:39
Frozen pipelines
Author: TAW

After http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?18,4207051 spnudge asked about frozen pipelines.

Pipelines were generally well above the ground. The tops of the foundations were several inches above the ground, and the carriers above that (top picture).
The carrier has a large roller under each pipe, the bottom roller. There is a small roller above the pipe, the top roller, to prevent the pipe from lifting instead of moving longitudinally.

There were cranks for changing direction and for compensating for temperature change. These were also typically well above the ground. The only place that the pipelines got down to below rail level was crossing under the rails or connecting to a switch operating rod or facing point lock.

When pipes needed to cross under rails, they typically were run in a space between ties using transverse pipe carriers bolted to the ties (second picture).

When a pipe had to cross under a road or through an embankment, a stuffing box was used. (third picture). A stuffing box was a two inch pipe through the embankment, with end caps that allowed the one inch pipeline to pass through, and oil seals to prevent debris and moisture from entering.

(Pictures from Railway Signaling, Everett Edgar King, McGraw-Hill, New York 1921)

I never had a pipeline freeze up, with one exception. The signal maintainer kept snow away from the pipelines. All of the various joints were well oiled. There was nothing to freeze. I never had a problem with ice on the pipelines, either. Even in freezing rain, there wasn't enough accumulation to prevent throwing switches and signals.

I had a pin break in the clevis connecting the pipeline to a semaphore because the semaphore was so heavy with ice: http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?18,3765408,3765408#msg-3765408

However, I did have a pipeline freeze at McCook.

The Consumers quarry at McCook had its own engine. They had a few tracks of their own, connected to the IHB with a switch connected to the East Passing Track (wish I had my diagram, but it's in storage somewhere). Their track also connected to the Chicago & Illinois Western (The Wobbly) track. When the Consumers engine needed headroom, he'd whistle four times (call for signals) and we'd line them to The Wobbly for room.

It was a cold Sunday morning, probably something like December of 1967. The Consumers engine whistled for the signal. The route was one switch, one lock, and one signal. The signal was color light. The same lever would line the signal for the Wobbly or the Harbor, depending upon which way the switch was lined. If the Consumers switch was in the machine (normal) and the East Passing Tack switch was out of the machine (reverse), the signal would line for the Harbor. Since it was a mechanical plant, the model board had no lights for switch position, just lights showing that the color light signals were cleared (not at stop).

The Wobbly switch from the Consumers track was usually a little hard to throw, but this morning, I had an awful time getting it. I had to jerk and jerk it because if I used the usual technique of jerking to get the iron moving then use the momentum with repeated jerks, when I let up, the lever would spring back into the machine. I compensated for the way I was pulling the iron and got it out of the machine. I pulled the signal off and went back to the table (desk). The Consumers engine whistled four again. I turned around, looked at he model board and saw the signal lined. A glance down the machine showed me that the switch was right. The Consumers engineer whistled again. What's up?

I walked down to that end of the tower and looked out the window. What I saw was difficult to believe, but there it was. The pipe for the Wobbly switch had a long, high arc between the tower and the stuffing box that took it under the Santa Fe mains. The top rollers were missing from the pipe carriers between the tower and the stuffing box. I took down the signal on the Consumers track and ground out (run the time release, a spring-wound timer known as the grinder because it sounded like a coffee grinder), unlocking the route.

The stuffing box pipe had rusted through somewhere under the Santa Fe mains. It filled with water and froze, immobilizing the pipeline that was inside of it. In working at throwing the switch, I had managed to break all of the cotters holding the top rollers in place. I needed to get that switch back into the machine. I knew what would happen and was prepared. I pulled the latch on the lever with both hands, one each side of the lever. I made sure that I was entirely out of the way except for my hands. I simultaneously turned loose with both hands and moved both hands outward from the lever. It slammed back into the machine. There was no way I would be lining up that move. The Consumers engine was not supposed to get room toward the Harbor main, but that is what they were about to do.

I pulled off the signal again. The route was still lined from the Consumers track to the IHB Eastbound. He whistled for the signal. Yup, still the wrong route. I went to the window, opened it, leaned out and gave a hand sign to come to the phone. The switchman came to the phone, I explained the situation, and they made their move toward the IHB.

I called the signal maintainer. The good part for him was that wasn't a maintainer problem, it was a signal gang problem. He was more than happy to call the signal supervisor and have him send the gang to McCook to fix it.

TAW








Date: 01/21/17 08:03
Re: Frozen pipelines
Author: spnudge

Thanks. Those Armstrong's always interested me. I have seen some pictures where the pipes are a long, long way from the towers. My guess is it would take a lot of elbow grease to get them to move. That would be something to watch, the handle slam back into the position where it started. I guess it was an easy way to get hurt if you didn't watch what was going on.

Nudge



Date: 01/21/17 10:20
Re: Frozen pipelines
Author: lynnpowell

I can't find where a photo of the Consumers Quarry locomotive (what model of locomotive was it?) has ever been posted on TO.  Can somebody please post a photo of it (or them).



Date: 01/21/17 10:41
Re: Frozen pipelines
Author: ghemr

lynnpowell Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I can't find where a photo of the Consumers Quarry
> locomotive (what model of locomotive was it?) has
> ever been posted on TO.  Can somebody please post
> a photo of it (or them).

Over the years they used various center-cabs and oddball critters----later EMD-types such as an NW2 or SW7.......

Later the quarry was owned by Vulcan Materials  (VULX reporting marks on RR Picture Archives)



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 01/21/17 10:49 by CSX_ENG.



Date: 01/21/17 10:45
Re: Frozen pipelines
Author: lynnpowell

Did Consumers become part of Vulcan Materials?



Date: 01/21/17 17:42
Re: Frozen pipelines
Author: TAW

spnudge Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks. Those Armstrong's always interested me. I
> have seen some pictures where the pipes are a
> long, long way from the towers. My guess is it
> would take a lot of elbow grease to get them to
> move.

Not really if the pipeline runs were straight, level, and well-lubed. The worst were typically both ends of a crossover on the same lever and those that had several direction changes in the pipeline. There could be a lot of resistance in a pipeline run following curved track, but in general, it wasn't all that hard. I could throw most of the switches with one hand at the places I worked, but most also had a switch or two that everybody hated.


> That would be something to watch, the handle
> slam back into the position where it started. I
> guess it was an easy way to get hurt if you didn't
> watch what was going on.

...and if you didn't know how to do it. I have heard about and seen guys putting their feet up on adjacent levers in order to pull the one between. That is not the way to go. I had to do an accident report one night on a short guy who used to throw the IHB North Lead switch at North Harvey (B&OCT IL) that way. After years of being hard to throw, the signal gang came around and straightened the pipeline. He put his feet up on the adjacent levers as usual, pulled the latch and jerked the lever. It came rocketing out of the machine, resulting in a debilitating injury, the details of which are easily imaginable.

There was a body builder guy working at Dolton. He was always on about his great strength, but he didn't know how to pull iron. He had a bad habit of pulling rough ones sort of from the side, off center. That is a no no no no. The levers are designed for a lot of force front to back and virtually none side to side. One night, he broke a lever. He took a quick, involuntary trip backwards followed by a painful sudden stop. Dolton was tied up for hours because the lever was part way out of the machine and had many routes locked up. Replacing a lever is not a trivial task.

TAW



Date: 01/22/17 09:58
Re: Frozen pipelines
Author: nkp759

>TAW wrote:
> I could throw most of the switches with one hand at the places I worked, but most also had a switch or two that everybody hated.

Yep, Ivanhoe tower in Gary, IN had one of those.  Take a look at the Ivanhoe page on http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?18,3818035.



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