Re: Retractable Brake Staffs on Flat Cars - An Operational Question

Mont Switzer

And of course there were the piggy back flat cars that were loaded circus style.  A bridge plates would most likely lay right over the vertical hand brake after it was retracted.  Another reason that made side loading with cranes more efficient. but that was not common in our era.


Mont Switzer

From: [] on behalf of Gatwood, Elden J SAD [elden.j.gatwood@...]
Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 2020 1:26 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Retractable Brake Staffs on Flat Cars - An Operational Question



Every RR may have done it differently, but when they started encountering problems with loads interfering with brake staffs/wheels, some RRs came up with the idea of removable, or in some cases, pivoting brake assemblies (think USRA gon).  Obviously in the case of temporarily removable brake staffs, you couldn’t set the brakes, so you had to couple to other cars, in a string, to have brakes.  The pivoting brake was designed to be used pivoted, although in practice this may have been problematic (the take up spool was 90 degrees off).


Retracting brake shaft/wheel assemblies were another way.  The idea was to drop the staff and wheel down out of the way of an interfering load.  There was a spring loaded button in the cases I know of, that you pressed to release the staff from its high position.  The staff had to be somewhat shorter to not drop into the roadbed or rail (crossovers).


If, for instance, you had a flat with a load that interfered with the brake staff/wheel, you dropped it for the duration.  Otherwise, maybe just during loading/unloading.  LOTS of brake staffs were bent during loading, or by shifted loads.


Sometimes forgetful crew left the wheel down, and those folks setting the brake had to lift it up to do so.


The attached shots of PRR F49 show it in high and lowered positions.  Note how close the staff is to roadbed in the last photo


Elden Gatwood


From: <> On Behalf Of Nelson Moyer
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 12:57 PM
Subject: [Non-DoD Source] [RealSTMFC] Retractable Brake Staffs on Flat Cars - An Operational Question


I don’t recall seeing prototype or model photos of loaded or empty flat cars with the brake staffs in the retracted position during operation. What was prototype practice for retractable hand brakes? Were they lowered only during loading and unloading?


Nelson Moyer


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