Re: Do Not Hump Signs

Robert Gross

Were the "Do Not Hump" signs a standard sign or did each railriad
have their own font and style?

Robert Gross

--- In STMFC@..., "Robert" <riverob@...> wrote:

I'm not sure where the "do not hump" rule was written. But yes,
official could have nailed the yardmaster and switchcrew for
a DNH car. Especially if freight was damaged or nearby schools
evacuated due to ammonia fumes. Bad PR, very bad.

BUT, it was the terminal trainmasters who (nudge nudge wink wink)
urged expediency and smiled on high car counts.

Indeed we did some stupid, dangerous things.

Two cars per minute for flat switching sounds about right, but that
includes reaching in for the occasional car that stops short,
stopping to clear up a misprint or to ask the YM a question, etc.
When things were going smoothly with an "in sync" crew, you'd see
four cars or rolling down the lead & into their tracks at the same
time. Everyone had to be on the same page as it required thinking
ahead about where the field men needed to be in order to catch cars
down the tracks. If they had to cross-over cuts, etc. No one
to line a car into an empty track without someone on the brake
car into an empty track got a handbrake test before being cut
The engineer would also be synced with the foreman/pinpuller's hand
signals, almost to the point of anticipating his signals. Hand
signals would be prefered over radio, limiting the length of the
to due to visibility. A good switchman / engineer combo working
together was almost like the switchman having his hand on a no-lag
throttle & brake.

There were fixed tension retarders at the far end of the bowl, not
skates. They kept cars in the bowl unless you pushed or pulled
out. More or less. Squealed badly.

I don't know why the East Yard retarders had so many problems, but
crossed drawbars, broken knuckles, and thunderous joints were

I meant 3 or 4 man switch crews, not including engineer. Just
switchmen. And by men I mean mean person, as there were a few
switchpersons & engineers by the late '70s. But switchperson

Rob Simpson

--- In STMFC@..., Malcolm Laughlin <mlaughlinnyc@>

Posted by: "Robert" > I believe the rulebook says "do not
means do not let car roll

That was a UP rule and not a general railroad rule. Was that
actually in the book of operating rules, or was it the procedures
particular yards ?

Something else that makes me curious is that UP president John
Kenefick came from the NYC, as VPO, where I believe he was one of
officials who would have gone up in smoke if yard crews had given
those cars special handling.

> The hump retarders were more often than not out of
or otherwise not working properly. Not uncommon for cars to hit
standing cuts way too hard or to leave cars fouling other tracks.

That sounds like apretty poor operation. Did they neglect
putting the skates on the far end of the bowl tracks ? I've been
enough hump towers on different railroads to think that what you
describe is not usual.

A good crew could flat switch a cut almost as fast as the hump,
The best I've ever heard of for a flat yard, and that a well-
designed new yard, is two cars per minute, unless there are a lot
multiple car cuts. A hump can get up to four cars a minute when
operation is going well and shouldn't fall below three. Of course
they couldn't do that all day because the constraint in a hump yard
is the building of outbound trains.

> but that usually meant a four-person crew vs. three on the

In the steam era, even through at least the early 70's, it was
all five man crews.

Malcolm Laughlin, Editor 617-489-4383
New England Rail Shipper Directories
19 Holden Road, Belmont, MA 02478

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