Signal Gongs in Engine Cabs

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Sat Aug 12 23:08:43 EDT 2006

Has anyone found in the N&W literature reference to signal gongs (bells) in engine cabs?

These were saucer-shaped bells usually mounted on the underside of the roof of the engine cab, and connected to the "bell cord" which ran the length of the passenger train. "Two taps on the signal bell" was, in the industry, the Conductor's signal for the engineman to start the train, "three taps on the signal bell" was a signal to stop at the next station, etc.

By the very early 1880s, George Westinghouse had made the air activated "Communicating Whistle" a standard part of his air brake equipment, and the old rope-pulled signal gong went away.

Has anyone ever seen reference to signal gongs/signal bells in the literature of the N&W and its predecessor roads?

Yeah, yeah, I know... It's another Burnett search for the needle in the haystacks of history.

-- abram burnett
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