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Railroaders' Nostalgia > With one hand on the (brake) wheel!


Date: 05/25/20 13:37
With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: santafe199

Here’s our hero, a senior Rock Island trainman observing his world from a slightly different viewpoint. Normally this conductor(?) would be sitting at one of the slot windows watching the world come at him. But with him standing on the back platform this image begs the question: what is he thinking about? Because right now he prefers to watch his world slip away behind him. With “one hand on the wheel”, no less!

I am a kindred soul to this man! During the early (Santa Fe) years of my career I was fortunate enough to ride back there quite a few times. Of course, we called them ‘waycars’, but no matter what you call them I still got to ride “back there” many times. And I consider myself very fortunate to have gotten that experience! There’s nothing quite as exquisite being a railfan getting paid to be bounced around in the confines of a 70 MPH cupola! If you were riding behind a rough handling hogger you would always prop your feet up against the forward window frame. And you were extra careful when you were down on the waycar floor. Sudden, severe slack action would knock you on your ass* in nothin’ flat! Even with the thrills, chills and occasional spills associated with riding in a waycar there’s something relaxing and almost serene in standing out on that back platform watching your world roll away from you backwards.

But this Rock Island man is obviously not concerned about hi-speed acrobatics. And it’s pretty unlikely he’s thinking about railfanning. But what can he be thinking about on this routine trip back home to Herington? Does he have a never-ending list of honey-do chores awaiting him? Does he have get the car tuned up for the upcoming winter? Does he have a kid or 2 or 6 getting ready to go back to school? Maybe he’s just back there for a breath of fresh air on a hot & muggy August afternoon. It’s 50 years later now, and I guess we’ll never know...

Maybe I should have made this thread a ‘caption this’ thing, instead of another RRer’s Nostalgia saga…

1. CRI&P caboose 17164 trails 2 more cabeese and a manifest around the connection from UP rails to its own rails at SJ Jct in Topeka, KS in August of 1970.
Photo by James W. Watson

Thanks for the memories!
Lance Garrels (santafe199)
Jim Watson (UP6900)

*Do I have time for a quick anecdote? (Here it is , anyway) It goes something like this:
This rear end crew on XYZ RR were riding behind an engineer who was having a tough time paying attention to his train handling. They were getting an exceptionally rough ride all the way across the division. The conductor watched as his brakeman got down from the cupola to go use a certain ‘facility’. Of course, the train slack came crashing in right about then. Now the conductor had taken all he was gonna take. He grabbed the radio and fired off a volley to his recalcitrant engineer: “Hey Ralph, you just knocked my brakie right on his can! He’s laying FLAT-OUT on floor!!!” Whereupon the hogger retorted: “You just tell him to STAY RIGHT THERE! Pretty soon I’ll stand him right back up!!!"




Date: 05/25/20 14:04
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: cewherry

Regarding your antic-dote, er aunty-dote, uh anadote, oh whatever its called; I once worked around a hoghead
that, when he was ready to move, called the guys "back there" and said: "Now shut the back door, sit down and
hold on cuz we're a-gonna move!!"
I didn't have to ride behind him but I'm purty sure it was for the 'theater' of it all.

Charlie



Date: 05/25/20 14:23
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: Railbaron

They always said the "bad hoghead" was the one who knocked the guys down back there; the "good hoghead" was the one who stood them back up again.  <G>

 



Date: 05/25/20 17:44
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: trainjunkie

I have to admit that being on the head end, or leading end of a movement, can sometimes be stressful. You have to be on the lookout for obstacles, mis-aligned swtiches and derails, signals, flags, errant rolling equipment, other trains, broken rails, inattentive employees, vagrants and other trespassers, and all sorts of stuff. If you are a trainman with a good engineer, it's a little easier. But if you are working with the "class clown" or Mr. Magoo, the slightest moment of inattention can land both of you on the carpet in the Superintendent's office, or worse.

So when departing the yard, a ride on the rear as you watch the world and all it's complications slip by, with nary a care in the world since someone else is now responsible for targets, signals, and such, provides a much needed, but always too brief, respite from one's duties. Of course, as soon as the yard is cleared and it's time to giddy-up, the break is over.

But I sure did enjoy those brief, relaxing moments watching the rails disappear behind me in quiet solitude. 



Date: 05/25/20 18:20
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: LocoPilot750

Lance, here's the difference between us forward thinking hog headed, engine service type guys. Were always looking into the future. Everything we see from out seats, ahead of us, out through the windshield is in the future. We haven't got to it quite yet. On the other hand, that conductor in the photo is looking back at the past, where he was a few seconds or minutes ago. Where he came from, not where he's going to.

Posted from Android



Date: 05/25/20 19:17
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: kenN

Back in the '60s when I was there, everyone picked up orders in front of the Topeka depot, just behind the train on the UP.  That may explain his presence on the platform.
KJN



Date: 05/26/20 11:18
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: 3rdswitch

Wish I would have taken more crummy shots :-(  Looks like he us passing throug a double slip switch. Wasn't aware there was one there?
JB



Date: 05/26/20 11:30
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: Railbaron

My problem is that I took lots of crummy shots, just not a lot of shots of cabooses (or vans, or cabins, etc.).



Date: 05/26/20 21:01
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: Shafty

In the good old days westbound trains on the U.P. arriving in Los Angeles went near the yard office on their way to 'A' Yard.  The rear end crew got off near the yard office.  It was a bit uphill, so I never heard much slack. 

One time when I heard slack, the engineer came on the radio immediately, apologizing.  T.D. O'Brien, the conductor, accepted the apology in his usual good natured manner, but did say that he and the brakeman would rather get off by themselves. 

Eugene Crowner



Date: 05/27/20 08:09
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: LocoPilot750

And, if we didn't know better, it looks like he's protecting a back up move.



Date: 05/27/20 18:08
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: TAW

LocoPilot750 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And, if we didn't know better, it looks like he's
> protecting a back up move.

I was thinking looking for derailment marks on the track. At least on the MILW, that's why we did that.

TAW



Date: 05/27/20 18:32
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: Railbaron

Doors and windows open, might be out there because the toilet stinks so bad - who knows. 



Date: 05/28/20 08:44
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: santafe199

LocoPilot750 Wrote: > ...  engine service type guys ... always looking into the future ... that conductor ... looking back at the past ...

Yes sir Dennis, my forward friend, that is all true. But here's an inescapable fact you were NEVER able to avoid: That conductor (me, in those days) can be on the ground with a lantern equipped with a 50 cent light bulb. And a conductor (or brakeman or switchman) can make motions with that lantern, motions YOU are by the rules compelled to observe. So in the end, you forward engrs cannot make a move without permission (a signal) from a 50-cent light bulb held by a backward conductor...

true story

;^)



Date: 05/28/20 20:06
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: LocoPilot750

Eddie Fisher used to tell me he could take a $2.00 lantern and back me and my engine into the river any time he wanted to.

Posted from Android



Date: 05/29/20 07:08
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: 3rdswitch

I guess I went into engine service a little too soon as the only lengthy ride I ever got in a caboose was when I was a teenager I used to "Hop" the regular train between Watson yard and San Bernardino, CA, and return. One day the only car to ride back to Watson from San Bernardino was a gon load of coiled wire and made the mistake of letting the Colton Tower operator see me after which the train came to a stop, rear brakeman walked up to have me depart the train upon which I told him I have to get home, if you start rolling again I will just have to hop on again. He brought me back to the caboose for a ride back but I had to sit on a bunk with all the curtains drawn seeing pretty much nothing the whole sevety five mile ride home. Oh well, got to run a lot of different engine types.
JB



Date: 05/30/20 14:58
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: mapboy

3rdswitch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... One day the only car
> to ride back to Watson from San Bernardino was a
> gon load of coiled wire and made the mistake of
> letting the Colton Tower operator see me after
> which the train came to a stop, rear brakeman
> walked up to have me depart the train upon which I
> told him I have to get home, if you start rolling
> again I will just have to hop on again. He brought
> me back to the caboose for a ride back but I had
> to sit on a bunk with all the curtains drawn
> ...

My uncle would let me ride on the caboose with him on SP around Ventura County, CA.  If we met a train on rthe mainline, he'd say get back inside the caboose in case there's some big fish on board.

mapboy



Date: 06/02/20 16:39
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: agentatascadero

LocoPilot750 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And, if we didn't know better, it looks like he's
> protecting a back up move.

I thought that myself.....in fact, it appears the Conductor is steering that reverse move......as though it were possible.\\


AA

Stanford White
Carmel Valley, CA



Date: 06/02/20 18:03
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: PHall

He's got a pretty good grip in the grab iron with his right hand too.
You're not going to surprise him with any slack action!



Date: 06/02/20 18:29
Re: With one hand on the (brake) wheel!
Author: kenN

I'm thinking he's not concerned with slack.  Most Rock Island traffic in Topeka was through freights, and if the cabeese were just heading into the big left-hand curve onto the Kaw River bridge (which is what this picture shows), most likely the head end was already off the other end of the bridge and curving just as sharply to the right, parallel to the river on the south bank.  I don't know what the timetable speed is--or was--but from what I remember from the '60s, it was definitely not more than 10mph or thereabouts.  It was slow going, for sure, so slack action would be minimal. KJN



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