Caboose Signal Valves


Paul Hillman
 

In the process of building some caboose models, I've noticed, on the end-platforn railings, there are some small valves with a vertical handle. I thought that I'd read long ago, that there was an air-valve in the caboose for sending signals to the engineer using the train air-line.

 

I Googled "Caboose Signal Valve" and it came up as a caboose-valve for setting the brakes from the caboose if in the case of an emergency, or for braking the caboose if it's been uncoupled and free-rolling. It said that this valve was inside the caboose and was used by the conductor.

 

In one caboose photo there are 2 such valves on a pipe "Y" with one air-pipe coming up from the end-beam.

 

What would have been the "real" purpose of these end-hand-rail valves?

 

Thanks, Paul Hillman


Charles Peck
 

It was usual on many railroads to have a whistle on both ends of a caboose
for backing movements across grade crossings and such. Handy to warn
people or livestock as well.  From the caboose one could make a full emergency
brake application.  I suppose a normal brake pipe reduction could be made as
well but might cause a fight with the engineer in pre-radio days.
Passenger cars were set up with a separate signal line for the trainmens use.
I can't say it was not possible to signal using the trainline air but I would think
that by the time the engine got enough air drop to notice, the rear of the
train might be in full application.
Chuck Peck


On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 1:53 PM, <chris_hillman@...> wrote:
 

In the process of building some caboose models, I've noticed, on the end-platforn railings, there are some small valves with a vertical handle. I thought that I'd read long ago, that there was an air-valve in the caboose for sending signals to the engineer using the train air-line.

 

I Googled "Caboose Signal Valve" and it came up as a caboose-valve for setting the brakes from the caboose if in the case of an emergency, or for braking the caboose if it's been uncoupled and free-rolling. It said that this valve was inside the caboose and was used by the conductor.

 

In one caboose photo there are 2 such valves on a pipe "Y" with one air-pipe coming up from the end-beam.

 

What would have been the "real" purpose of these end-hand-rail valves?

 

Thanks, Paul Hillman



Richard Hendrickson
 

On Apr 27, 2014, at 10:53 AM, chris_hillman@... wrote:

In the process of building some caboose models, I've noticed, on the end-platforn railings, there are some small valves with a vertical handle. I thought that I'd read long ago, that there was an air-valve in the caboose for sending signals to the engineer using the train air-line.
 I Googled "Caboose Signal Valve" and it came up as a caboose-valve for setting the brakes from the caboose if in the case of an emergency, or for braking the caboose if it's been uncoupled and free-rolling. It said that this valve was inside the caboose and was used by the conductor.
 In one caboose photo there are 2 such valves on a pipe "Y" with one air-pipe coming up from the end-beam.
 What would have been the "real" purpose of these end-hand-rail valves?
Paul, I think what you are referring to are the valves and piping for air whistles.  These were on all passenger cars as well, and their purpose was to enable the rear end train crew to sound whistle signals and grade crossing warnings from the rear platform when a train was backing up.  Obviously, in most cases the locomotive engineer could not sound those signals because he was too far away to see what was going on at the rear of the train.

Richard Hendrickson


Schleigh Mike
 

Back-up whistles----Stand on the platform while backing up.  Sound whistle as needed/necessary.   Mike

On Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:19 PM, Charles Peck wrote:
 
It was usual on many railroads to have a whistle on both ends of a caboose
for backing movements across grade crossings and such. Handy to warn
people or livestock as well.  From the caboose one could make a full emergency
brake application.  I suppose a normal brake pipe reduction could be made as
well but might cause a fight with the engineer in pre-radio days.
Passenger cars were set up with a separate signal line for the trainmens use.
I can't say it was not possible to signal using the trainline air but I would think
that by the time the engine got enough air drop to notice, the rear of the
train might be in full application.
Chuck Peck


On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 1:53 PM, <chris_hillman@...> wrote:
 
In the process of building some caboose models, I've noticed, on the end-platforn railings, there are some small valves with a vertical handle. I thought that I'd read long ago, that there was an air-valve in the caboose for sending signals to the engineer using the train air-line.
 
I Googled "Caboose Signal Valve" and it came up as a caboose-valve for setting the brakes from the caboose if in the case of an emergency, or for braking the caboose if it's been uncoupled and free-rolling. It said that this valve was inside the caboose and was used by the conductor.
 
In one caboose photo there are 2 such valves on a pipe "Y" with one air-pipe coming up from the end-beam.
 
What would have been the "real" purpose of these end-hand-rail valves?
 
Thanks, Paul Hillman




Paul Hillman
 


Thanks, Charles, Richard and Mike. Sounds like I got that mystery answered. This is a great group!!!
 
Paul Hillman
 
 

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:13 PM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Caboose Signal Valves

 

Back-up whistles----Stand on the platform while backing up.  Sound whistle as needed/necessary.   Mike
On Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:19 PM, Charles Peck <lnnrr152@...> wrote:
 
It was usual on many railroads to have a whistle on both ends of a caboose
for backing movements across grade crossings and such. Handy to warn
people or livestock as well.  From the caboose one could make a full emergency
brake application.  I suppose a normal brake pipe reduction could be made as
well but might cause a fight with the engineer in pre-radio days.
Passenger cars were set up with a separate signal line for the trainmens use.
I can't say it was not possible to signal using the trainline air but I would think
that by the time the engine got enough air drop to notice, the rear of the
train might be in full application.
Chuck Peck


On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 1:53 PM, <chris_hillman@...> wrote:
 
In the process of building some caboose models, I've noticed, on the end-platforn railings, there are some small valves with a vertical handle. I thought that I'd read long ago, that there was an air-valve in the caboose for sending signals to the engineer using the train air-line.
 
I Googled "Caboose Signal Valve" and it came up as a caboose-valve for setting the brakes from the caboose if in the case of an emergency, or for braking the caboose if it's been uncoupled and free-rolling. It said that this valve was inside the caboose and was used by the conductor.
 
In one caboose photo there are 2 such valves on a pipe "Y" with one air-pipe coming up from the end-beam.
 
What would have been the "real" purpose of these end-hand-rail valves?
 
Thanks, Paul Hillman




Bill Vaughn
 

There are a whistle and an emergency valve on the both ends of a caboose railings.  Also an emergency valve inside the caboose.

Bill Vaughn

On Sunday, April 27, 2014 12:21 PM, Paul Hillman wrote:
 

Thanks, Charles, Richard and Mike. Sounds like I got that mystery answered. This is a great group!!!
 
Paul Hillman
 
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:13 PM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Caboose Signal Valves

 
Back-up whistles----Stand on the platform while backing up.  Sound whistle as needed/necessary.   Mike
On Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:19 PM, Charles Peck <lnnrr152@...> wrote:
 
It was usual on many railroads to have a whistle on both ends of a caboose
for backing movements across grade crossings and such. Handy to warn
people or livestock as well.  From the caboose one could make a full emergency
brake application.  I suppose a normal brake pipe reduction could be made as
well but might cause a fight with the engineer in pre-radio days.
Passenger cars were set up with a separate signal line for the trainmens use.
I can't say it was not possible to signal using the trainline air but I would think
that by the time the engine got enough air drop to notice, the rear of the
train might be in full application.
Chuck Peck


On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 1:53 PM, <chris_hillman@...> wrote:
 
In the process of building some caboose models, I've noticed, on the end-platforn railings, there are some small valves with a vertical handle. I thought that I'd read long ago, that there was an air-valve in the caboose for sending signals to the engineer using the train air-line.
 
I Googled "Caboose Signal Valve" and it came up as a caboose-valve for setting the brakes from the caboose if in the case of an emergency, or for braking the caboose if it's been uncoupled and free-rolling. It said that this valve was inside the caboose and was used by the conductor.
 
In one caboose photo there are 2 such valves on a pipe "Y" with one air-pipe coming up from the end-beam.
 
What would have been the "real" purpose of these end-hand-rail valves?
 
Thanks, Paul Hillman






Dennis Storzek
 

The proper answer is "all of the above." Cabooses I'm familiar with had three brake valves, one that was within reach of the seats in the cupola, and one on each end railing.

The one in the cupola was for emergency use... back in the days before radio, if the conductor realized they were passing the station where they were supposed to wait for a meet, this is how he "pulled the air" on the engineer.

The ones on the end railings were used while backing, they gave the trainman the ability to set the brakes RIGHT NOW. These weren't a full brake valve like the engineer had, and were typically refered to as "dump valves", because justopening it full had the same effect as a parted air hose, and would put the brakes in emergency for sure. It was possible, however, to open the valve slowly to the point where it was exhausting more air than the locomotive could pump against it, and a gradual application would result. If this was done during the normal course of operations, meaning the engineer was expecting to be stopped from the rear end, it did serve as a signal of sorts, as the engineer could see the result on his air gauge.

When backing, the man on the tail end had to be able to sound all the appropriate whistle signals, so the caboose end railing also was equipped with an air whistle. The slickest one is shown in this photo:

http://www.bridge-line.org/blhs/images/nonrev/Caboose/whistle.jpg

This is a combined brake valve and whistle. The opening that the brake pipe exhausts from is faced away from the camera; the exhaust port is elbow shaped so the man operating it doesn't get a blast of air in the face. The main valve handle is hollow and serves as the whistle, operated by a poppet valve behind the button on the pivot.

A more common arrangement was to build all the functions out of pipe fittings, such as in this photo (Ihave no idea who the kid is):

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y143/tylerandryan/TylerAge7/080707TyleronCaboose.jpg

The pipe with the cap on top is a shop made whistle, you can just see the notch on it's right side just above the pipe coupling. It's operated with a standard cut-off cock. The pipe leading down from the tee connects to the trainline, and the cut-out cock below that's just open to the atmosphere is the dump valve.

Dennis Storzek


---In STMFC@..., <chris_hillman@...> wrote :


Thanks, Charles, Richard and Mike. Sounds like I got that mystery answered. This is a great group!!!
 
Paul Hillman
 
 

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:13 PM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Caboose Signal Valves

 

Back-up whistles----Stand on the platform while backing up.  Sound whistle as needed/necessary.   Mike
On Sunday, April 27, 2014 2:19 PM, Charles Peck <lnnrr152@...> wrote:
 
It was usual on many railroads to have a whistle on both ends of a caboose
for backing movements across grade crossings and such. Handy to warn
people or livestock as well.  From the caboose one could make a full emergency
brake application.  I suppose a normal brake pipe reduction could be made as
well but might cause a fight with the engineer in pre-radio days.
Passenger cars were set up with a separate signal line for the trainmens use.
I can't say it was not possible to signal using the trainline air but I would think
that by the time the engine got enough air drop to notice, the rear of the
train might be in full application.
Chuck Peck


On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 1:53 PM, <chris_hillman@...> wrote:
 
In the process of building some caboose models, I've noticed, on the end-platforn railings, there are some small valves with a vertical handle. I thought that I'd read long ago, that there was an air-valve in the caboose for sending signals to the engineer using the train air-line.
 
I Googled "Caboose Signal Valve" and it came up as a caboose-valve for setting the brakes from the caboose if in the case of an emergency, or for braking the caboose if it's been uncoupled and free-rolling. It said that this valve was inside the caboose and was used by the conductor.
 
In one caboose photo there are 2 such valves on a pipe "Y" with one air-pipe coming up from the end-beam.
 
What would have been the "real" purpose of these end-hand-rail valves?
 
Thanks, Paul Hillman




Jim Wolf
 

To add to the answers about caboose whistle valves and as someone who rode cabooses for a living during the first 10 years of my career, it should be noted that use of the whistle, especially on long trains, was discouraged due to the fact that a small brake pipe reduction from the rear end could cause sticking brakes in the train.

Also, as noted by someone, many railroads had different components on their cabs in addition to the whistle and brake pipe valves.  For example, the B&O had a rod and lever attachment that allowed the conductor and/or flagman to close the angle cock from the rear platform of the cab as well as a chain that was connected to the operating lever and ended on the platform cross-rail.  These were used to cut helpers off on the fly, common on the B&O that used helpers extensively east or Pittsburgh (all the way to Philadelphia).  Other railroads required the rear-end train crews to get down on the steps to lift the cut lever, and lay down on the rear platform to close the angle cock. 

With regard to the brake pipe valves (both at the ends and inside near the cupola or bay window), these were used extensively in pre-radio days in order to stop a train if a defect was seen from the rear-end.  For example, sticking brakes, hot journal, shifted load, etc.  They were not used to put the air in the emergency position except when the reason for stopping the train dictated an emergency application.  Many crews liked to use the valve on the rear platform because it was not "stepped" like the ones inside the cab.  This was because the "stepped" valves were subjected to a greater effort in applying the brakes, and could result in an accidental emergency application.  Brake applications from the rear end were done for a number of additional reasons.  For example, when entering the receiving tracks at Potomac Yard, we would stop the train from the rear end as soon as we were in the clear because the RF&P wanted the trains as near the north end of the tracks as possible; also, our motel was right across a field from the north end of the receiving tracks, so the flagman had a short walk over to where we stayed.  Usually moves like this were known by the engine crew, so they would handle the train accordingly (i.e. slow down around the middle of the receiving track, refrain from using the automatic brake, etc.).

Jim Wolf
Belen, NM


Paul Hillman
 


Jim, Very beautiful stories and facts and history. Wish I could have been there too. Never got to work for a RR but applied to the SP twice. Always missed their hiring dates.
 
Thanks for all the details.
 
Paul Hillman
 
 

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2014 7:11 PM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Caboose Signal Valves

 

To add to the answers about caboose whistle valves and as someone who rode cabooses for a living during the first 10 years of my career, it should be noted that use of the whistle, especially on long trains, was discouraged due to the fact that a small brake pipe reduction from the rear end could cause sticking brakes in the train.

Also, as noted by someone, many railroads had different components on their cabs in addition to the whistle and brake pipe valves.  For example, the B&O had a rod and lever attachment that allowed the conductor and/or flagman to close the angle cock from the rear platform of the cab as well as a chain that was connected to the operating lever and ended on the platform cross-rail.  These were used to cut helpers off on the fly, common on the B&O that used helpers extensively east or Pittsburgh (all the way to Philadelphia).  Other railroads required the rear-end train crews to get down on the steps to lift the cut lever, and lay down on the rear platform to close the angle cock. 

With regard to the brake pipe valves (both at the ends and inside near the cupola or bay window), these were used extensively in pre-radio days in order to stop a train if a defect was seen from the rear-end.  For example, sticking brakes, hot journal, shifted load, etc.  They were not used to put the air in the emergency position except when the reason for stopping the train dictated an emergency application.  Many crews liked to use the valve on the rear platform because it was not "stepped" like the ones inside the cab.  This was because the "stepped" valves were subjected to a greater effort in applying the brakes, and could result in an accidental emergency application.  Brake applications from the rear end were done for a number of additional reasons.  For example, when entering the receiving tracks at Potomac Yard, we would stop the train from the rear end as soon as we were in the clear because the RF&P wanted the trains as near the north end of the tracks as possible; also, our motel was right across a field from the north end of the receiving tracks, so the flagman had a short walk over to where we stayed.  Usually moves like this were known by the engine crew, so they would handle the train accordingly (i.e. slow down around the middle of the receiving track, refrain from using the automatic brake, etc.).

Jim Wolf
Belen, NM