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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Dutch Drop

Date: 03/11/19 18:57
Dutch Drop
Author: yooperfan

I'm watching a WC video from 1994 and it refers to a Dutch drop and I'm not completely clear what they did. Does a Dutch drop require a slight grade to get the cars moving on their own after their hand brakes are released?  Is this maneuver now prohibited on most roads? 

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/19 18:58 by yooperfan.

Date: 03/11/19 19:58
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: cewherry

This is what Freeman Hubbard describes in his book Railroad Avenue, printed in 1945, regarding a Dutch Drop:
        "Rarely used method of bringing a car onto the main from a spur. The engine heads into the spur, couples head-on to the car, and backs out. When the car is moving fast 
         enough the engine is cut off, speeds up to get back on the main line before the car, then moves forward ahead of the junction between the main line and the spur so the
         car rolls out behind the engine."


Date: 03/11/19 20:49
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: KskidinTx

The term "Dutch Drop" would apply to both of the methods described.  Your description is using gravity to make it and Charlie's description is using momentum to make it.  I've been involved in both methods several times.  The gravity drop is much safer and I think is still allowed whereas the other is not..


Date: 03/11/19 22:15
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: wpamtk

As I understand it, a "Dutch" drop differs from a "regular" drop in that the engine changes direction once things get rolling. Since the engine ends up moving toward the rolling car(s) and has to get in the clear before they pass by, it's a much trickier proposition. While I've done many a drop, I've never done one of the Dutch variety. 

Date: 03/11/19 22:28
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: cewherry

KskidinTx Wrote:
> The gravity drop is much safer and I think is still allowed whereas the other is not..

When I retired from BNSF in 2014, the General Code of Operating Rules then in effect had amendments to both 7.7: "Kicking or Dropping Cars" and 7.7.1: Gravity Switch Moves placed 
by BNSF that in the case of rule 7.7 dropping of cars"...only at locations where specifically indicated by subdivision special instructions"  and in rule 7.7.1, "A gravity switch move 
is permitted only at locations where specifically indicated by individual subdivision special instructions or when approved by a supervisor due to circumstances such as mechanical
failure, etc.
" (emphasis mine). This last caveat allows trainmasters the discretion to authorize such a move in emergencies. 

To give an idea of how restricted BNSF was/is in permitting dropping of cars; on the entire Northwest Division, Timetable 5 effective August 31, 2011 lists no locations
where dropping cars is permitted.  As to gravity switch moves, the same timetable lists but 3 locations; in Bellingham yard on the Bellingham Subdivision, one location on
the Yakima Valley subdivision; Union Gap and one location on the Sumas subdivision; Lynden. 

It looks to me like the BNSF doesn't like the idea of gravity switch moves and really doesn't like dropping of cars.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/19 22:33 by cewherry.

Date: 03/12/19 02:00
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: wpamtk

Reduced crew size has made doing drops impracticable. When we did them, we had three guys working the ground and every one had an essential task to perform. I've noticed that railroads back East run locals with an engine on each end to do the switching so they never have to run around the cars. 

Date: 03/12/19 02:48
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

Now let's talk about a DOUBLE Dutch drop!  

Date: 03/12/19 06:13
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: DFWJIM

Back in the 1970s I would see dutch drops done at NWP's pocket yard in Ignacio.

Date: 03/12/19 08:32
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: ButteStBrakeman

wpamtk Wrote:
> As I understand it, a "Dutch" drop differs from a
> "regular" drop in that the engine changes
> direction once things get rolling. Since the
> engine ends up moving toward the rolling car(s)
> and has to get in the clear before they pass by,
> it's a much trickier proposition. While I've done
> many a drop, I've never done one of the Dutch
> variety. 

You are correct in your description of the difference in the "Dutch drop" and the regular drop.

Date: 03/13/19 05:15
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: atsfer

Used to work a industrial job west of Wichita, Kansas and we would make a "dutch drop" to run around our whole train which could consist of 20 cars or more.  There was a hill near a cement plant where we would kick our train up and then run down to the bottom and duck inside a spur and wait for the train to roll past, then we would run out of the spur and chase it down(usually it was going less than 10mph) couple in, stop and then cut in the air brakes.    However, it was very important that ALL the air be bled out of the cars before trying this or the cars would stop too soon trapping us inside the spur.  My first time on the job that was exactly what happened which made the foreman livid as the helper he had failied to properly bleed the cars.  Also, the man at the spur switch could forget to line the switch for the main and so the cars would run through it.....also saw that done.   Oh well, no one is perfect....and there were no road crossings west of the switch for over a mile so there was no danger there and we were the only train out there in yard limits.

Date: 03/13/19 08:00
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: trainjunkie

Even with the cars properly bled sometimes those old solid ("friction") bearings didn't roll well enough and a car would stall on a switch or in the foul.

You couldn't do any kind of drop today without breaking a dozen rules. Even so, as someone mentioned above, there aren't enough men on the ground today to do it. The last time I did a drop we had 3 on the ground. Now it's sometimes two, but often only one. No bueno.

Date: 03/13/19 08:37
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: Notch7

CA_Sou_MA_Agent Wrote:
> Now let's talk about a DOUBLE Dutch drop!  

Yep, gotta love those old moves with the engine in the middle and every car on the wrong end of you. The salvation of those moves was an experienced full crew and a good ALCO RS-3 to drop with.

Date: 03/13/19 09:23
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: EMDSW-1

On the Oregon Pacific at Canby our interchange holds 16 cars in the straight leg of the wye up to the bumper.With current train sizes we frequently have to make a drop with anything over the 16 cars and then shove them "up town" past the interchange switch. We do this with a two-man crew on almost a weekly basis and the main track is on a very slight downgrade making such a move a simple matter. Normally (depending on weather)  Conductor Craig will get them rolling far enough from the switch that he can drop off the engine and leisurely line the switch and catch the first car with an accessible handbrake (never wait until half the train has passed to find a good brake) and start tying them down. We call this a "straight drop" opposed to a "gravity drop".BE SURE TO BLEED ALL THE CARS!!!

In warm weather  it is possible to cut the cars off on the main clear of the switch and just let them roll by which we call a "gravity drop" or simply "sucking 'em by". Been doing it for over twenty years without a derailment or injury. Recently a UP Manager (who was sent out to observe how our operation could enhance PSR and take us to lunch (UP bought!) observed us making a perfectly-executed drop (he refered to it as "poetty in motion")  and when we met up with him he was on his phone describing to his cronies what he had just  observed and how much work the UP crews could get done if THEY could STILL do this!

If our track layout required a "Dutch drop" we would most likely do those too....but the term "flying switch" is never used on the OPR...only by foamers wanting to know when we will do another one for them to watch !!!

Dick Samuels
Oregon Pacific Railroad 

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 03/13/19 11:50 by EMDSW-1.

Date: 03/23/19 14:38
Re: Dutch Drop
Author: engineerinvirginia

There was only one local on my part of CSX where we could do a dutch drop without getting in trouble because we had to to do it when the customer we were at needed service on the day we were going east....we had to push the cars to the industry so zipping the engine past the switch after cutting the cars and then throwing the switch to let cars go onto the spur....then back up the engine and send it in behind the cars....it was only way to get into that industry going east and they paid us soooo much money that when they needed work we gave them our best. And it was one of the VERY few jobs that still had a brakeman...a very valuable asset on this job and the job I loved dearly to work.....of course now I am Engineer, and that line is gone to a short line....where they do pretty much the same thing. 

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