Home Open Account Help 250 users online

Railroaders' Nostalgia > The Frozen Facing Point Lock


Date: 01/21/17 16:49
The Frozen Facing Point Lock
Author: TAW

And another comes to mind. Actually, I thought some time ago about writing it, and I'm sure that the note is still in the DWIL (Deal With It Later) pile, which is where the excess from the DWIN (Deal With It Now) pile is periodically is reduced to when there is too much of it.

Although I never had trouble with frozen pipelines, with the single exception, I did have related problem at 75th Street one night.

Wabash 121, the Bluebird, was due at 75th Street about 30 minutes ahead of 113, the Orland Park commuter train. It was a cold clear afternoon and everything was working well. The pots had been burning all day. There was no precipitation in sight. The gandys cleaned everything, put the pots out, and went home.

Belt Jct announced Wabash 121. 608 (PM/C&O No 8) was just by and I started to pull iron for 121. The last move Wasbash move was Southbound to the High Side Lead http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/attachments/fullsize/625000/75_2.jpg. I couldn't move the Facing Point Lock (FPL) lever (71) for the facing point crossover (72) and derail (68). If the switch was lined and the points fit, there was never a problem with an FPL (a bar attached to the switch point that had two notches spaced exactly correctly for a bolt to pass through only if the switch was lined fully normal or reverse). They were always an easy one hand pull/push. I couldn't budge it.

For those interested in minutia, the lineup I needed looked like this (the diagram link in the previous paragraph) with (22) a lever pulled out of the machine and [72] a lever in the machine: (68) [72] (71) (74) [99] [97] (98) [95] (92) (93) (22)...and of course, all of the BOCT and PRR signals and conflicting WAB signals in the machine.

121 pulled up to a stop. I looked out the window at the pipelines. They were all clear. Time to take a hike. By now, it's dark and getting really cold. I brought a switch broom and walked out to the crossover in front of 121. I looked at the switch on the Northbound side of the crossover then the Southbound side. The points were completely clear. That wasn't the problem, it was the FPL, but I wanted to be sure that I didn't have more than one problem instead of addressing one and thinking I was all set. By the light of a switchman's lantern, I could see that I had a big problem. The gandys had cleaned everything up ok, but left a snow dam around the switch operating rods and the FPL. The snow melt in the late afternoon sun was now a frozen puddle completely encasing the FPL mechanism. I needed to do something quickly. 113 was about to show up at 74th Street on the C&WI. It was going to take a lot of effort to free up either one of them. I would rather get the commuters going first. They were more time-sensitive than Decatur/St. Louis passengers.

I hiked back to the tower. It was a little hike, as you can see in the second picture here http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,1663716,1663716#1663716. That was out the tower window with a 135mm telephoto. It was about a dozen carlengths.

I called Belt Jct. and told him I needed 113 on the reverse (against the current of traffic - wrong main). That had to be done at 74th Street. Belt Jct. didn't have a crossover for that move. 74th had the right crossover, but the plant could not get a signal on that route, so the operator had to go outside and flag the train through the plant. I told the Wabash yardmaster to get the gandys and got ready to go back out. Yellow kerosene lantern, hammer, spikes, maul, claw bar, pliers, fusees. That should do it. B&OCT towermen were expected to be able to troubleshoot the plant enough to be able to move trains if at all possible and expected to do exactly that. To qualify on a tower, the towerman had to be passed by the signal maintainer as well as the towerman that was teaching him the job.

Out I went to try to get 113 moving.

Snow was about knee deep. The broom I left out at the switch was about useless where I needed to work. I walked in the gauge of the B&OCT to the Wabash crossing and in the gauge up to the crossover in front of 121. I threw the tools down on the switch, gave 121 a bad order sign, a 113 sign, and pointed to the Northbound track. The engineer answered (toot toot), figured out that I could use some light and put his headlight on bright.

I got down on my knees in the snow surrounding the FPL. I tried heating with a fusee and using a spike and hammer to chisel out the ice. That wasn't happening, at least not enough that I could go back to the tower, pull the iron, and get a signal. I could get the ice away from the lock rod on the switch enough that it could be moved, and got enough ice away from the bolt that I could move it by hand if I disconnected it. 113 pulled up. The fastest alternative was to line the route by hand and spike it.

121 must have told 113 what was up, because he pulled up to a stop next to 121 and left his headlight on bright. I pulled the cotters out of the pins connecting the switch and lock operating rods on the crossover to the pipelines, pulled out the pins, and disconnected the pipelines from them. The last move was the Southbound into Landers yard. The facing point crossover was lined for the crossover. I had to bar the points over at both ends and spike the switches. Then I had to go to the other end of the plant line and spike the trailing crossover, spike the switch to the Landers Yard High Side lead, and line and spike the derail. Having done that, because of the curvature, I had to walk back east of the diamonds so that 113 could tell that the yellow hand signal I was about to give was for him.

It had been an exhausting ordeal, but after only about 30 minutes of delay, the trainload of commuters was on its way. Anyone who works in commuter service knows that commuters are often some single minded folks who don't really care about anything else except their mission. They are typically not terribly understanding about anything that interferes with it. Now, US commuters are tame. In South Africa, they have been known to set trains on fire, attack crew members, and burn down stations because their train was delayed.

I gave 113 the yellow highball and stepped back into a knee-deep snowbank. 113 always ran with the vestibule doors and traps open. The vestibules were filled with disgruntled commuters. I got scowls and some single finger salutes from the folks. A guy on the rear vestibule made it a point to lean out and make a big, obscene, hand signal. Yup, glad you appreciate the effort.

Now it was time to extricate 121. I had to go back down to the trailing point crossover, unspike it, bar it over for 121, and spike it again. I gave 121 a yellow highball and he started moving. The engineer waved, the cars went by, full of passengers who never really noticed the events that had just unfolded. The conductor was out on the step in the vestibule of the rear car. He gave me a hand sign that showed that he understood that was a lot of work. 121's markers disappeared into the night. I went about unspiking and reconnecting switches, collected the tools, and walked back to the tower. Fortunately, 75 was well-heated because I was freezing.

(Oh, and imagine the mess I had to untie after being outside for almost an hour.)

TAW




Date: 01/21/17 22:10
Re: The Frozen Facing Point Lock
Author: Lark

Great story -- Thank you!



Date: 01/22/17 11:21
Re: The Frozen Facing Point Lock
Author: spnudge

Again, thanks. Not just an operator but a jack of all trades. I know some roads though where guys  would have timeslipped you instead of thanking you for doing their work.  I suppose management never said thanks. Thats a lot to retain. Not just being an operator but knowing the guts and feathers of a working  armstrong interlocking.  


Nudge



Date: 01/22/17 11:36
Re: The Frozen Facing Point Lock
Author: TAW

spnudge Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Again, thanks. Not just an operator but a jack of
> all trades. I know some roads though where guys
>  would have timeslipped you instead of thanking
> you for doing their work.

Unless it was something really simple, if we had to troubleshoot, we were expected to call the maintainer. Our job was to move traffic the best we could until the maintainer got there.

In this case, the problem was obviously gandys not signal, so I only called them and not the maintainer.

> I suppose management
> never said thanks.

Not in so many words, but you could tell because they treated us with respect. I have mentioned the Asst Supt showing up at 75 one night, taking less than a minute to assess the situation and telling me to handle the phones and the other end of the machine and call out lineups for him to pull. Need an extra day off? The Chief would fix us up unless it cost overtime, in which case he'd tell you and ask if it was really really needed. If yes, it was yours.

> Thats a lot to retain. Not just
> being an operator but knowing the guts and
> feathers of a working  armstrong interlocking.
>  

Kind of like being a fireman when you started.

TAW



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/17 11:48 by TAW.



Date: 01/22/17 13:43
Re: The Frozen Facing Point Lock
Author: 3rdswitch

Visited 75th Street tower on vacation one afternoon in summer '72. Very nice fellow told how busy it was and that it used to require two operators and many days still should.
JB



Date: 01/22/17 13:56
Re: The Frozen Facing Point Lock
Author: TAW

3rdswitch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Visited 75th Street tower on vacation one
> afternoon in summer '72. Very nice fellow told how
> busy it was and that it used to require two
> operators and many days still should.

When I left to hold a regular dispatcher position, the job was advertised and nobody bid on it. An extra board guy was assigned.

One night soon therafter, there were no trains moving and the operator wasn't answering phones or the intercom. Wabash sent a trainmaster over to check on him (the Wabash trainmaster was the closest such official). He had a breakdown and was sitting on the far end of the locking bed crying. He had to be relieved and sent to a doctor.

It got a lot easier when the passenger trains (except the Wabash commuter) and the Panhandle went away.

TAW



Date: 01/22/17 16:00
Re: The Frozen Facing Point Lock
Author: tomstp

Did they let min return to work or retire him.?



Date: 01/22/17 16:10
Re: The Frozen Facing Point Lock
Author: TAW

tomstp Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Did they let min return to work or retire him.?

If I remember correctly, he quit after that.

TAW



Date: 01/22/17 19:18
Re: The Frozen Facing Point Lock
Author: tomstp

Thanks



[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.1194 seconds