Topics

Retractable Brake Staffs on Flat Cars - An Operational Question


Nelson Moyer
 

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


Gatwood, Elden J SAD
 

Nelson;

 

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: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Nelson Moyer
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 12:57 PM
To: RealSTMFC@groups.io
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


Ed Hawkins
 



On Oct 7, 2020, at 11:57 AM, Nelson Moyer <npmoyer@...> wrote:

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,
A number of hand brake companies from the 1930s thru 1950s produced “drop shaft” versions for flat cars. While I don’t have any written procedures that involve the operation of them, it would make sense for the shaft and wheel to be dropped any time a load would potentially interfere or damage the hand brake in left in the up position.

As an example, on pages 1086-1087 the 1940 Car Builders’ Cyclopedia has photos and a description of the Superior Drop Shaft hand brake. The flat cars typically had a half-round section removed from the deck boards at the “B” end, such that the top of the brake wheel could be lowered flush with the top of the wood deck. 

RP CYC Volume 10 also illustrates various drop shaft hand brakes spread from pages 39 thru 54. 
Hope this helps.
Regards,
Ed Hawkins


Gatwood, Elden J SAD
 

Guys;

 

During the conversions of F30A and F30D to TT service, they put in long ramps to join the cars so they could roll the trailers off, elephant-style.  In doing so, they had to cut into the decks of the cars to allow the drop brake installation, so as not to catch on truck/trailer u/f’s.  I do not have good data or pics of the conversion, unfortunately, but you can see part of it in this pic.

 

Elden Gatwood

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Gatwood, Elden J SAD
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 1:27 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io; RealSTMFC@groups.io
Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Re: [RealSTMFC] Retractable Brake Staffs on Flat Cars - An Operational Question

 

Nelson;

 

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: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Nelson Moyer
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 12:57 PM
To: RealSTMFC@groups.io
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


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

Nelson;

 

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: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Nelson Moyer
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 12:57 PM
To: RealSTMFC@groups.io
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

Attachments:


Nelson Moyer
 

Thanks Elden and Ed for the drop-down hand brake information. All of my loads so far would not interfere with or threaten the brake staffs, so I guess modeling the staff raised is acceptable. If I do a pole or lumber load, I’ll model the staff in the lowered position, assuming the prototype car had a drop-down hand brake.

 

Nelson

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Gatwood, Elden J SAD
Sent: Wednesday, October 07, 2020 12:27 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io; RealSTMFC@groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Retractable Brake Staffs on Flat Cars - An Operational Question

 

Nelson;

 

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: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io> On Behalf Of Nelson Moyer
Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2020 12:57 PM
To: RealSTMFC@groups.io
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


Dennis Storzek
 

On Wed, Oct 7, 2020 at 05:52 PM, Nelson Moyer wrote:
All of my loads so far would not interfere with or threaten the brake staffs, so I guess modeling the staff raised is acceptable. If I do a pole or lumber load, I’ll model the staff in the lowered position, assuming the prototype car had a drop-down hand brake.
Coming into this late. I would postulate that any car with a hand brake not in the position specified in the ICC safety appliance diagrams has a defect and won't move past the first inbound inspection without having it remedied. Now, the remedy may be as simple as the car men raising it to operating position, but it will be raised. If it can't be raised the shipper has a problem, because the railroad is going to charge him for shifting the load. All cars are required to have an operable hand brake, the only exception is idlers where the brake staff would interfere with the load, and those cars are required to be permanently coupled to a car with an operable hand brake. Permanently coupled in this case means either chained together or the uncoupling mechanisms made inoperative.

Dennis Storzek


Nelson Moyer
 

Thanks for your definitive answer, Dennis. You just laid this thread to rest.

 

Nelson Moyer

 

From: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io [mailto:main@RealSTMFC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Dennis Storzek
Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2020 10:34 PM
To: main@RealSTMFC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Retractable Brake Staffs on Flat Cars - An Operational Question

 

On Wed, Oct 7, 2020 at 05:52 PM, Nelson Moyer wrote:

All of my loads so far would not interfere with or threaten the brake staffs, so I guess modeling the staff raised is acceptable. If I do a pole or lumber load, I’ll model the staff in the lowered position, assuming the prototype car had a drop-down hand brake.

Coming into this late. I would postulate that any car with a hand brake not in the position specified in the ICC safety appliance diagrams has a defect and won't move past the first inbound inspection without having it remedied. Now, the remedy may be as simple as the car men raising it to operating position, but it will be raised. If it can't be raised the shipper has a problem, because the railroad is going to charge him for shifting the load. All cars are required to have an operable hand brake, the only exception is idlers where the brake staff would interfere with the load, and those cars are required to be permanently coupled to a car with an operable hand brake. Permanently coupled in this case means either chained together or the uncoupling mechanisms made inoperative.

Dennis Storzek


George Eichelberger
 

Looking at various ads in different "Car Builder’s Cyclopedias”, “drop brake shafts” work in either the upper or lower position (their shaft is square) or rotated to the vertical or horizontal positions. Unless those functions were outlawed at some point, they could be arranged to clear loads wsith no problem.

Ike


Dennis Storzek
 

On Sun, Oct 11, 2020 at 08:17 AM, George Eichelberger wrote:
Looking at various ads in different "Car Builder’s Cyclopedias”, “drop brake shafts” work in either the upper or lower position (their shaft is square) or rotated to the vertical or horizontal positions. Unless those functions were outlawed at some point, they could be arranged to clear loads wsith no problem.
Seems to me that unless the drop staff has a detent to hold the wheel 4" above the deck, they violate the requirement for hand clearance when in the down position. Can't comment on the swinging variety, but they didn't seem to be very popular after the twenties, so must not have offered any advantage. Seems to me we went through this discussion not too long ago, in a thread about brake staffs on early piggyback flats, and Guy Wilber provided the definitive answer, but I don't have time to search for it.

Dennis Storzek


George Eichelberger
 

I expect so called “power brake wheels” made everything else pretty much obsolete as they came into wide use (probably outlawed?). The 1949/51 Cyc only shows only the (attached) vertical style with a square brake shaft.

Ike




Rich Yoder
 

Hi All,

  In as much as Dennis answered the question. I thought I would offer up a few photos that were used by the Reading Railroad to show customers that shipped  large items how their drop down hand brake feature worked on their gondolas.

Rich Yoder

_._,_._,_


Tony Thompson
 

Rich Yoder wrote:

  In as much as Dennis answered the question. I thought I would offer up a few photos that were used by the Reading Railroad to show customers that shipped large items how their drop down hand brake feature worked on their gondolas.

      Thanks, Rich! Superb photos, couldn't be more clear. And the whitewashing for instructional purposes certainly makes everything completely understandable. (Good pedagogy, you might say.)

Tony Thompson