[N&W] Re: Hagerstown

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu May 6 22:57:48 EDT 2004

  [Rick Morrison wrote:]
  >The 1960's brought a lot of unit coal trains on the scene, with frequent
  >helpers.  This was not so much for horsepower needs, but to prevent
  >slack action from pulling the trains apart.  The Shenandoah Division
  >has a sawtooth profile, and slack would run in and out of lengthy trains
  >breaking knuckles.

     The main purpose of the pushers is to get the tonnage up the heavy grade.
You don't necessarily need them going down hill, on the flats or lesser
grades. So what do you do with them? You don't want them back there doing
nothing, that's dead weight running in and out. So they push, keeping the
slack in and providing power to get up the road. The head end controls the
speed using the dynamic brake and air brake. This tends to keep the train
bunched, so you should not get knuckles.
      If the track profile does not require a pusher for a long way, like from
Lofton to Shenandoah, they are turned back. Now the head end has to do it
all, and the engineer better know how to get over the road without breaking
the train apart.
     Now I will admit that I'm not as familiar about the track from Shenandoah
to Hagerstown (I never ran a double up there) as I am from Roanoke to
Shenandoah, but if I thought I needed a pusher to just to keep slack in the
train and not get a knuckle, I'd give up my license, that's before the Road
Foreman took it away because I couldn't do my job.
     If the pushers went through to Hagerstown, there was a reason (probably
tonnage) and they might as well be of some use doing it.
Jimmy Lisle

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