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Railroaders' Nostalgia > The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post


Date: 01/23/21 15:08
The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: DocJones

I spent my first and last days as a train-order operator on the SP working 3rd Saugus. The train-order delivery post at every other station I worked on the Los Angeles Division was a sturdy affair permanently planted in the ground. It had rungs that allowed the operator to reach the top set of brackets for the delivery forks which were spring-loaded forks that held the orders in such a way the train crews took the orders string and all the the fork sprang back out of the way. For some reason the one at Saugus was a flimsy was a collapsable post that fit into a socket in the ground and could be completely removed from its socket. We usually handed up three sets of orders, one for the head end, one for swing helper and one for the caboose. I had a westbound  and rushed out to hang orders after the dispatcher took what seemed forever fo issue them and for me to repeat them. You had to hang the top set and then squeze a trigger sort of thing to extend the pole to hang the second and third sets. By the time I got out I could see the headlight of the approaching westbound. They always made a "run" for the Soledad Canyon Hill and carried good speed by the depot. I was so excited I pulled the entire post out of the ground and by the time I got the orders hung I had to just hang onto the damn thing while the train went by. I hated that post and I have no idea why SP did not install a permanent post at a location where so many orders were issued. Another time I had a westbound really cooking for a run up the hill and got the orders hung just in time. The train was making such speed that when the hoghead got his orders the post flailed back and forth and the conductor's orders sprang out of the fork. The swing helper hoghead got his and the conductor found an empty post. The radio came alive and the rear end said, "hey, I didn't get my orders!".  The hoghead came back and said, "don't worry, you're going the same place I am."  By the rules they should have stopped but no way was that engineer going to stop his train at the base of the hill and try to get it started again. 
 



Date: 01/24/21 09:08
Re: The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: trackplanner

That's funny, great story!



Date: 01/24/21 18:41
Re: The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: SanJoaquinEngr

I picked up orders at Saugus many times in both directions and never had an issue. Once you left Saugus westbound the next train order office was Palmdale. Thanks for the great story.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/25/21 17:00
Re: The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: Zephyr

Great story and great place, the depot at Saugus!  I, too, worked at Saugus while a summer train order operator on the Los Angeles Division.  Saugus was the western most station on the "Valley Line" that Los Angeles Division operators worked.  Prior to the building of the Cutoff between Palmdale and Colton in the mid 60s, Lang and Vincent remained as train order offices staffed by San Joaquin Division operators.  We could post another story here and name it "The Dreaded Eastward Saugus Annunciator".  Eastbound trains coming down the Soledad Canyon would show up very quickly at the Saugus depot after the annunciator came on.  If the San Joaquin Dispatcher was working with some other stations, especially the "dark" territory branches west of Bakersfield, we would have to get on the radio and tell the eastbounds to slow down if we thought they were going to get orders at Saugus.  The heavy eastbound trains, usually with a swing helper cut into the train that would cut out at Sylmar, wanted to get a head start on the grade out of Saugus up to Newhall, commonly referred to as the "Newhall Grade". Nobody wanted to stop them at the Saugus Depot!  Saugus was an interesting place to work as it had a small interlocking plant that extended from the east switch at Saugus to the west switch at Newhall, the next siding east of Saugus.  San Joaquin dispatchers knew how to use the rights of trains that would require trains to head in at Newhall or Saugus via use of the interlocking plant switches, saving the crew from manually lining any switches.  Both the Newhall and Saugus sidings had spring switches on the opposite end of the siding away from the power switch that the Saugus operator controlled.  Loads of fun to work at Saugus, and like Doc Jones says, having to deal with the dreaded train-order delivery post!

Pete 
Clio, California



Date: 01/26/21 15:01
Re: The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: SanJoaquinEngr

Its been many years since I have been over the territory. My memory recalls that the west switch for the eastward siding was a rigid switch. Another interesting point at Saugus the westward siding was westward of the spring switch for the eastward siding. Having that feature two long trains could meet without having a jackpot.

Posted from Android



Date: 01/26/21 19:15
Re: The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: TAW

SanJoaquinEngr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Its been many years since I have been over the
> territory. My memory recalls that the west switch
> for the eastward siding was a rigid switch.
> Another interesting point at Saugus the westward
> siding was westward of the spring switch for the
> eastward siding. Having that feature two long
> trains could meet without having a jackpot.
>

That's how I remember it. Folks talk about the short approach. There were OS buzzers at Lang and Ravenna on the dispatcher phone so we could sort of tell where trains were if we had a good picture of who was going where for who. From that we had to figure out when the east men would show at Honby. If I remember correctly, the M signal, a call on signal for an east man who ran out of rope at Honby to run to Saugus regardless of what he had and hold the main at Saugus was at the west switch of Honby. Yup, the approach was short. We had a split second (or so it felt) to tell Saugus M at Honby if they were out of rope and we aere going to pass out more at Saugus. That would also involve telling Saugus to head the west man in regardless of what he was holding. Nailbiter sometimes. I'd go back to it in a flash.

TAW



Date: 01/27/21 09:04
Re: The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: johnsweetser

SanJoaquinEngr Wrote:

> Another interesting point at Saugus the westward siding was westward of the spring switch for the eastward siding. Having that feature two long trains could meet without having a jackpot.

What is a "jackpot" In regards to train meets?

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/27/21 10:33
Re: The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: Zephyr

Yes, Jim, you remember correctly. The eastward siding at Saugus was indeed a rigid switch at the west end with a spring switch on the east end.  And the west switch of the westward siding at Saugus was a spring switch located beyond the east switch of the eastward siding at Saugus.  As a result, both a westward and eastward train could depart their respective sidings and not foul each other.  For TAW, I don't ever remember using an M signal when I worked Saugus in 1967 or later.  I do remember some dispatchers instructing me to head a westbound into the westward siding at Saugus when they had rights down the main at Saugus.  That always prompted a radio discussion about what was going on with a response that always ended in the instruction, "stop the head end at the train order signal for some orders".  Saugus was a great little interlocking plant that permitted dispatchers some flexibility to sort rights of trains if necessary.

 



Date: 01/27/21 12:40
Re: The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: TAW

johnsweetser Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> SanJoaquinEngr Wrote:
>
> > Another interesting point at Saugus the westward
> siding was westward of the spring switch for the
> eastward siding. Having that feature two long
> trains could meet without having a jackpot.
>
> What is a "jackpot" In regards to train meets?
>

Neither one fits.

TAW



Date: 01/27/21 13:46
Re: The dreaded Saugus train-order delivery post
Author: engineerinvirginia

TAW Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> johnsweetser Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > SanJoaquinEngr Wrote:
> >
> > > Another interesting point at Saugus the
> westward
> > siding was westward of the spring switch for
> the
> > eastward siding. Having that feature two long
> > trains could meet without having a jackpot.
> >
> > What is a "jackpot" In regards to train meets?
> >
>
> Neither one fits.
>
> TAW

Nearly had a three way jackpot last night...I was routed into a siding with nobody saying a word about how I could only get my engines through the switch....an other train already there! One who had a habit of being too long for any siding and his eastward counterpart on the way.....had the eastbound not bunched up tight getting stopped he'd not have fit between the switches...but it all worked out....



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