Re: Poling Pockets

Richard Hendrickson

On Aug 31, 2012, at 2:28 PM, midrly wrote:
The TH&B carried poles on some of their switching loco's into the
late 1970's. Scroll down to find one of their loco's fitted with
one in 1973--

Yet other roads prohibited "poling" or "staking" cars.

I've done it informally a couple of times at the carrier that I
work for, and never been comfortable with it...
You were justified in not being comfortable with it. It was a
hazardous procedure - I'm sure that doing it today would give any
OSHA representative a major coronary attack. It wasn't all that
unusual for the poles to split or even explode into fragments, to the
possible detriment of anyone who happened to be in the immediate
vicinity, and even having a pole slip could be serious hazard. The
Santa Fe stopped putting poling pockets on its new freight cars ca.
1944 and began removing any poles that remained on its switchers and
branch line locos at about the same time (road engines were never
equipped with poles). Santa Fe crews were strongly discouraged from
poling, though some did it anyway when the alternatives would have
taken a lot of time and effort. Poling gradually died out elsewhere
as well, even on railroads that were less safety oriented, but I know
it was done occasionally through the 1950s and into the '60s (and
even, as the TH&B example shows, into the '70s).

Richard Hendrickson

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