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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Any 16 Hour Men Out There?

Date: 07/02/23 11:39
Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: ApproachCircuit

After working  a 7 day hold down at an outside point, you could get  Rum-Dum. You were not sure what day it might be!
I never could understand the Unions letting that 16 hour law last as long as it did. The Union were always good about going after the money
but they fell short on "working conditions" for many years.
AND we had those conductors that would tie you up in 15'59" which basically gave you no rest at  all when you subtracted your driving time
from what little time there was. I didn't like working for those guys- no consideration for the extra man.
Ever work 16 hours and you never got to the other terminal?
I did twice: Local called to work( SP)  Oakland to San Jose. Never made it the whole way. Hours of Service at College Park! Died twice on that  job
never quite making San Jose. Maybe it was on purpose; I was too young to know how " you worked the railroad". ( 16 hours for 47 miles)
Back then the Company was never in a hurry to get you out of the yard so it could be 3 to 4 hours after being called on duty before you turned 
a wheel.
And guess what, the 14 hour law wasn't a hell of a lot better.
Time for a Craft Beer!
Happy Forth.

Date: 07/02/23 12:11
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: eljay

best I can do is 14 hours. went DOL in Winslow, AZ yard July 1972

Date: 07/02/23 12:17
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: TAW

ApproachCircuit Wrote:

> AND we had those conductors that would tie you up
> in 15'59"

'Fifty-niners' aka 'richest man in the graveyard.'

One B&OCT conductor reported clear at Wood Street (Robey Street yard Chicago) and finished his timeslip for 15:59 as the hack was shoved to the cab track... and dropped dead.


Date: 07/02/23 15:00
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: SanJoaquinEngr

Yes remember working 16 hours. The worst calls you were up all day and the phone would ring for 7 pm on duty. Which meant you were good to 1100 am the next day. Yes, remember the characters that would tie up short of 16 hours. These people had zero life outside of the RR.

I remember the proposal to go the 14 hour law. The old heads would say hey kid you're just cutting your overtime. A few years later the law was changed to 12 hours and glad that it was changed.

Posted from Android

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/23 15:04 by SanJoaquinEngr.

Date: 07/02/23 15:10
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?

I called crews  on the NP at Mpls. One night I needed a fireman on #25 the North Coast Limited and called my friend Milt and had him go from the night hostler at Northtown to 25/26. He was very happy!

The afternoon hostler doubled and tied up at 659AM, not 7AM so he would work the next afternoon. One engineer was a "lawyer" and said that he could not do that, but he did. The lawyer was thorn in my side a few times.

Ed Burns

Date: 07/02/23 16:33
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: cewherry

In the summer of 1964 I "Doubled", (term for starting a second shift within 22 1/2 hours), 8 times during the
2nd half of July as a SP fireman in yard service at Los Angeles. Of course, at the time firemen were required
on all yard jobs and my total 'starts' for that same period was 20. On each of those 'doubles' I made sure to
tie-up short of 16 hours---to do otherwise meant I wasn't going to be rested for my regular job. Run home and 
sleep fast was the drill. 

My regular assignment was job 777, on duty at the "C Yard" at 2:30pm. The company was critically short of
men and I would call the crew dispatcher and volunteer myself by having them 'put me on the list' if they found
themselves out of men to work the 3rd shift.

At 'beans' I would check-in to see how the situation was developing. Invariably they would tell me to check-in when my
regular job had been told to 'throw a chain' under the engine---told to go home. One thing you never wanted to do was put
your name on the list and then fail to call-in; your reputation was at risk. The railroad was your extended family and over time
you developed a rapport with the callers; not calling after volunteering was a huge NO NO! 


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/23 17:12 by cewherry.

Date: 07/02/23 18:26
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: RetiredHogger

Marked up in 1977, by then the law was 12 hours. Twelve was plenty.... especially all night with no sleep.

Date: 07/02/23 18:44
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: engineerinvirginia

Of course I get a three hour call, might work all twelve get told to flip back three hours to home. That's 17 and I might be first or second out when tied up.....ain't  nothing changed. 

Date: 07/02/23 19:39
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: KskidinTx

1.  Way Yard:

     Had several experiences with the 16 hr. law.  In January 1964 I was furloughed from my fireman's job out of Emporia.  A few weeks later found out Way yards at Hutchinson needed yard fireman because of several extra jobs to take care of the Russian wheat movement.  Went to work there and doubled about half of the time.  That was good as I needed the money.  One day the crew office called and said they wanted me to resign at Way and mark up on the road fireman's extra board at Newton since I was a "road" fireman.  Stupidest move I ever made.  By the way, the road and yard engineman's seniority were separated on the Eastern Lines of the Santa Fe in the old days.  Made 2 trips in two weeks on the road and was cut off.  Did finally get back on at the Way yards till was recalled at Emporia.  These double shifts were only possible by tying up at 15:59 hours as mentioned in some of the above posts.

2.  Barstow CA:
      In May of 1964 Arbitration Award 282 came down and eliminated all fireman under 10 years seniority.  Except for California which had a state law requiring fireman on all jobs.  I packed up and went to Barstow.  Got marked up and was immediately forced assigned to a hostler position.  At Barstow both the hostler and hostler helper positions were covered by firemen and they were short handed.  They had 3 to 4 sets of hostler/hostler helpers per shift.  Doubled about half the time.  In July I doubled most every day except when I was called in work the 2:30 am extra job.  I would get time and a half for working it and also get a basic day for not being able to protect my regular 6:00 am job.  250 miles for an eight hour shift.  They needed that extra job to protect swapping power moves on the passenger trains as several would hit about the same time.  

I had an apartment at the south end of the bridge (is that 4th street ?) across from the depot.  The shanty they used for the crew clerks was only 2 or 3 blocks east (northwest of the big diesel shops) and they used callers who would personally come and knock on your door to give you a call if you lived within 1 or 1 1/2 miles of the crew office.  Since I was so close by I'm sure I got more than my fair share of calls for the 2:30 am job as I was always available.

They also had 4 bunk beds set up in the west end of the shanty for us to catch a nap between needed power moves.  The foreman would come in and just wake up whoever was first out, letting the other ones to continue sleeping.  One would most always get a 3 to 4 hour nap.  So............working a 16 hour shift wasn't bad at all.             When they rebuilt Barstow I really doubt that they installed bunk beds.                I had more fun working at Barstow than anywhere else on the railroad, but the full crew law got voted out and I got severed there in December..

3.  Wichita to Englewood:  

     In 1969 I am now working on the Plains Division out of Wellington as a brakeman.  Was told I needed to bid in one of their locals If I wanted to make some fast money (had been in collage for the spring semester and was broke).  I did bid in the Wichita to Englewood local.  We would pedal empties going west and gather up loads coming east.  Lots of action.  Worked the job for two weeks and we only made it to our designated final terminal once.  We would work 16 hours then start figuring where we could clear up at and if the town had lodging and food available.  Most always it was 17 to 17 1/2 hours on duty.  After 10 hours rest would go on in to the final terminal and come right back out and go as far as we could and clear the main track then tie up again.  Over and over we would do it.  I told the conductor the way I saw it we should be clear BEFORE the 16 hours were up but he disagreed.  I did lose 20 pounds during that 2 week ordeal.


Date: 07/02/23 20:56
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: mdo

Want to know about the sixteen hour law days; just scroll down to the bottom of the thread list for this forum. Then select the last page and start reading forward.  I experienced them both on the ground and as a young supervisor.  It all seems sort of nuts now but it was just the way life on the railroad was back then.


Date: 07/03/23 04:46
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: SanJoaquinEngr

Reading Charlie s response reminded me of one day that I tripled in one day. Was working on the extra board and temporarily assigned the Oxnard local. Showed up for work at 6am. The yard clerk told us that there wasn't any switching to do so at 630am the conductor said tie up and go home. 150 miles payment because Oxnard was one of the few terminals on the SP that certain locals were designated as a roustabout. Drove home and called the crew dispatcher with my tie up time at 730am. Hour later the crew dispatcher said am out of people would take the auto parts to Gemco? 14 mile trip . Took the train to Gemco and immediately returned back light engine and tied up in 3 hours. Now have a total time of 5 hours and 30 minutes on duty and 2 starts. Its now 100pm. All I needed was 8 hours off before being on duty again. At 900 pm the phone rang at was called for 1100pm for a Coast trip to SLO. luckily had a fast trip and was in bed by 700am. Total was 150 100 mile deadhead, plus 100 for the trip to Gemco and the Coast trip 218 miles total 568 miles in one calendar day. Now with the revised Hours of service law this will never happen again.

Posted from Android

Date: 07/03/23 07:28
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: NS4271

I worked 16 hours many times, 
Hired on the PRR and retired from NS. 
In between, I worked some Amtrak too - Phila. to Harrisburg.

Date: 07/03/23 09:25
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: Drknow

The Old Heads when I hired on were all 16/14 hr. men.

They all remembered the OLD Heads back then crying about “Taking milk out of my children’s mouth” when the new HOS laws came into effect.

Not one man I talked to ever wished for the 16 hr. day to ever come back.

On the 12 hr. law I have been awake for 24-36 hours enough to know that I would probably be dead if I had been working 16 the last 26 years.


Posted from iPhone

Date: 07/03/23 10:35
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: Notch7

I worked for two years under the 14 hour law after I went firing on the SCL.  During that time on my district we practiced trying to make a trip under 12 hours.  The last 16 hour man I knew of retired in 2021.  As I remember he went firing on the SAL in 64 and got severed under the 282 Board Award, but came back firing in the latter 60's and stayed a long time.

Date: 07/06/23 17:07
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: march_hare

And remember, there are still working people who have to work double shifts at least occasionally, sometimes frequently. Nurses, for example, get hit with this.  I have a sister who was an intensive care nurse for years, pulled many unplanned 16 hour shifts.

Personally, I'd rather not have my life in the hands of somebody who's been on duty that long.  But I'd rather not have a passing train, hazmat and all, in similar hands either.

Date: 07/06/23 18:06
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: PHall

march_hare Wrote:
> Personally, I'd rather not have my life in the
> hands of somebody who's been on duty that long.

Then I suggest you never go to a teaching hospital then. Resident Doctors are routinely on 24 hour shifts. (They may be able to get a power nap or two if the work load allows.)

Date: 07/17/23 06:25
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: joeygooganelli

Carmen, non hos Yardmaster’s, and clerks still work forced 12’s on csx.

Posted from iPhone

Date: 07/23/23 18:27
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: gbmott

Drknow Wrote:
> They all remembered the OLD Heads back then crying
> about “Taking milk out of my children’s
> mouth” when the new HOS laws came into effect.

I was at North Yard in Ft. Worth on the FW&D in 1969/70 and we'd always be asking the 2nd Trick jobs "who wants to double over?".  I can't ever remember failing to get whatever we needed.  There truly was unhappiness among some when the law changed.


Date: 07/24/23 11:05
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: Notch7

gbmott Wrote:
>  There truly was unhappiness among some when the
> law changed.

Yes, it was that way on my part of the SCL too.  Some guys on locals were dedicated and worried they wouldn't be be able to get the work done as the HOS limit dropped 16 to 14 to 12.  Some guys were crying or worried because they were eternally short of money - whether they blew too much money on something, marked off too much, or whatever.  Some, like me, knew you had to make big money when you could on the railroad

Date: 08/06/23 01:04
Re: Any 16 Hour Men Out There?
Author: aronco

Ah, back in the days.....in 1967 I was working as a trainman for SP in Los Angeles.  I was called to deahead to Yuma on a Greyhound (ugh!) bus at 12:15am, to protect a passenger special figured at Yuma at 9:30am.  The bus ride was not pleasant at all, but it paid 251 miles and we had time for breakfast before the special passenger train arrived.  The train consisted of one SDP-45, a Shasta coach for the crew, and business car Sunset, with Mr. Russell and family aboard.  By 10:15am we are on the way!  Strangely, we had nothing but green signals all the way to Colton, where we swung onto the brand new Palmdale Cutoff, zipped over Cajon Pass, across to Mojave, over Tehachapi, changed engine crews at Bakersfield, and we're off lad a mad man for Fresno.  By 730pm or so, we detrain in Fresno, and wander ofver to the Grayhound depot right behind the SP station, and find there is a 10:00pm scenicruiser to LA.  Time for a dinner and a beverage at the brau house, and we are on the way home, having bagged 1085 miles in one 24-hour period, including luch on the business car.  Russell always had the train crew come back for lunch.....Total time on duty - 12 hours 15 minutes....deahead time didn't count...


Norman Orfall
Helendale, CA
TIOGA PASS, a private railcar

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