NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Dec 4 09:31:49 EST 2017

On 12/1/2017 10:26 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
> Jim,
> Certainly no need to apologize, you are welcome, and I hope all is 
> well. I split up your questions by topic.
> On 11/26/2017 10:44 AM, NW Mailing List wrote:
>> Grant,
>> First off, let me apologize for the long delay in responding/thanking 
>> you for the wonderful information; sometimes life gets in the way.  
>> Second, your descriptions inspired further questions that I have 
>> inserted below the pertinent part of your text and set off by ***.  
>> Thanks again for your insights.  Jim
> Like Algoma, Ashland and Crumpler were stub-end, but the empties were 
> pulled up the branch to Jones Siding, run around there, then shoved 
> ahead. Ashland was delivered first, leaving the loads for pick up on 
> the way back down from Crumpler.Crumpler, aka Zenith, was steep with 
> five, ten-car delivery tracks that made it particularly tedious and 
> dangerous. With no radios to stop him, the rear brakeman rode the 
> drawhead and jerked the angle cock open to stop. The middle brakeman 
> made the cut while the rear brakeman set brakes, watching for the next 
> cut to get on and stop them. Tipplemen, called "droppers", would help 
> set brakes. Every load had brakes on and if they were set out on the 
> main track, every brake had to be put back on.
> ***My impression of this is the following: The run would back out of 
> Ashland with a remaining 50 empties for Crumpler. It would shove these 
> cars past the sidings filled with loads below the tipple and someone 
> would set switches for the first storage track. The “rear 
> brakeman”(was this designated by where he rode relative to the motion 
> of the train upon its original departure) would mount the front of the 
> hopper furthest from the locomotive to give him clear view of the end 
> of the storage track. The engineman would then start shoving on the 
> other end of the 50 empties until the rear brakeman “shot the air” to 
> indicate the first ten empties were in position. He would then set the 
> manual brakes on the 10 hoppers to be left in this storage track while 
> the middle brakeman uncoupled the remaining 40 hoppers, I am guessing 
> that it would take a few minutes for the locomotive to pump the air 
> back up in the remaining cars to release the brakes so that he could 
> drop them down past the switch into the second storage track. 
> Meanwhile, as you mention, the rear brakeman would be woking his way 
> down the spotted 10 car cut setting hand brakes and watching the next 
> storage track over to see when he needed to board the “front” of the 
> next cut to be spotted. It sounds like he would not have a chance 
> between shoves to set the brakes on all 10 cars if the operation 
> required help from car “droppers”, being thus named because to fill 
> cars at the tipple they would cut cars loose from a string in the 
> storage track and by riding the cars and using the hand brake, they 
> would “drop” them down under the tipple by gravity to fill them. SIDE 
> QUESTION: If siding space were available, would it have been 
> better/safer to set the whole empty string off and then shove 10 at a 
> time up into the storage tracks?***
I've heard it referred to as Crumpler, Zenith, or United Pokey Coal. 
Like Algoma, empties were shoved ahead on a runaround past the outlet 
tracks and the tipple, but to the five, 10-car delivery tracks instead 
of one long tail track.

The middle brakeman was senior man, then rear, then head brakeman. 
Regardless of direction, the head brakeman worked from the engine, the 
rear brakeman from the other end of the train, and the middle brakeman 
where needed, but tended to ride the cab with the conductor. The middle 
brakeman called the shots, although some conductors would pull rank.

The cab was set off back at the passenger siding adjacent to the outlet 
tracks where the conductor would walk along the loads to take down car 
numbers and tonnage (regulars knew tonnage by the car number). The 
droppers would likely have lined the first delivery track. Riding the 
drawhead on the shove in, the rear brakeman would "shoot 'em" to stop 
and would start setting handbrakes with the help of droppers. The middle 
man would make the cut and line the next track after they pumped up and 
dropped down past the switch. The rear man would be looking for them to 
shove back and he would get on to shoot 'em, and so on, for five tracks.

Regarding your side question, I'm not aware of a situation involving 
multiple cuts where empties were cut and spotted instead of spotted and 
cut. Aside from all of the safety violations by today's rules, I suppose 
the latter's economy of moves has an element of safety, as well as 
efficiency. And all without radios.

Yes, droppers typically dropped cuts of empties from the delivery 
track(s) down short of the tipple, but dropped one or two cars at a 
time, depending on conditions,for loading under the chuteand spotting on 
the outlet tracks.

Grant Carpenter
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