NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Sun Jul 25 18:47:12 EDT 2021

A long, long time ago when class Gs were the predominant life form and
ranged the N&W in their small herds, they sported a variety of pilots. In
briefly looking over some of the drawings from the archives, there appear
to be styles for passenger locomotives, different ones for freight, yet
others for yard work and even some that mounted to the rear of tenders.
Although their common name would seem to indicate that their purpose was
bovine entrapment, I suspect their main function was to protect railroad
equipment. What other uses might they have served? At least one style of
yard pilot had steps that I suppose could be used as a perch for a yardman
to quickly get from one place to another. I doubt OSHA would condone such
practices in later times. It seems that the pilot would present an
obstruction to coupling to cars ahead of it. In some of the drawings it
looks like the angled members started lower down on the front sill (is that
the correct term for the large timber that ran across the locomotive under
the boiler front?) than others. Did this allow for easier coupling
operations? A conceptually relatively simple device for plowing obstacles
off the tracks, but I wonder if there are subtleties here that warrant

Jim Cochran
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