Diesel class lights?
NW Mailing List
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Tue Sep 13 17:22:20 EDT 2016
Thank you very much for the reply and your help! Interesting reading.
Good excerpt for the NWHS mag.
From: NW-Mailing-List [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On Behalf Of
NW Mailing List
Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 9:01 AM
To: N&W Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Subject: RE: Diesel class lights?
Mr. Stephen Rineair -
Simple answer to your question: Front end only.
More full explanation:
The explanation which follows addresses CLASSICAL railroading. I give not
fig for how the weenies are doing things today.
Generically, lamps and flags displayed upon the front of an engine are
called "Classification Signals." By day, classification signals consist of
flags of the proper color. By night, classification signals consist of both
flags and lamps of the proper color.
A train running on a Time Table schedule does not display any classification
If a train is operated Extra, i.e. without a schedule, a Train Order is
required for its operation, and WHITE classification signals are displayed.
These signals serve as a notice to all persons and other trains along the
line that the train is not representing a schedule in the Time Table.
If a train is operated in sections (e.g. First, Second and Third No. 3,) all
sections except the last display GREEN signals. This is to call the
attention to all other trains on the road that another section is following.
Jack Fields, the Road Foreman of Engines on the Shenandoah Division in the
1960s, and a 1920s-hire, told me that he had seen No. 84 operated in as many
a NINE sections over the Pocahontas Division ! The New York Central
regularly ran it's flagship Twentieth Century Limited, No's 24 and 25, in
eight and nine sections.
Around 1953 (IIRC,) the N&W issued a Time Table Special Instruction stating
that the display of classification signals was no longer required in double
track territory where Automatic Block Signal Rules were in effect on both
tracks. (The tracks involved did not have to be operated under CTC
[Centralized Traffic Control] rules - they just had to have Automatic Block
Signal Rules in effect.) This meant you saw the coal and empty train extras
running without white flags on the east-west main stem of the N&W. This also
followed the logic double track territory signaled for movement in one
direction, Rule 251, which stated, "On tracks so designated in the Time
Table, trains will proceed on signal indication for movements with the
current of traffic" (various roads tweaked the language just a bit.)
I can remember in the mid-1950s, when No. 3 and No. 4 were operated in two
sections due to heavy Christmas traffic, seeing First No. 3 and First No. 4
"carrying green" (i.e. displaying green classification signals,) even in
double track Automatic Block territory. I believe it was around 1960, or
shortly therebefore, when the display of green signals was dispensed with in
double track Automatic Block territory, but I do not recall how the T.T.
Special Instruction was worded.
The Punkin' Vine was operated by this classic "Time Table / Train Order"
method of operation into the 1970s, when CTC was installed. In CTC
territory, train schedules really count for nothing, as all trains just
"proceed on signal indication." Which is to say that the signal indications
give them the authority to use the main line, not a Time Table schedule.
Let's take the case of the Punkin Vine, since that was probably the last
place on the [old, real] N&W where trains were operated on the classic TT/TO
principles. At both ends of the road (Roanoke and North Winston) were
located "Train Registers." The Conductor of a train was required to
"register" his train when he left his initial terminal and when he arrived
at his final terminal, and one column in the Train Register book was headed
"Signals Displayed." In that column he wrote either White, Green or None.
Conductors of all other trains were required to check the Train Register and
be aware of whether or not "all overdue superior trains have arrived or
left." In the very old days, I suspect there was also a Train Register at
Price, NC, as that was considered a "terminal" at one time and probably the
most important point mid-divsion, sporting a 24-hour a day telegraph and
Train Order office. The operators at places where Train Registers were
located were required to "transmit the Tra in Register to the Train
Dispatcher" (i.e. transmit information on trains which have registered in
and out of terminals.) On this territory, the Conductor always delivered to
his engineman a small form called "Conductor's Check of Train Register,"
stating whether or not "overdue superior trains have arrived or left."
When I hired on the Radford Division in 1964, when a Conductor handed the
Engineman his Train Orders and Clearance Card, he would also hand him a
Conductor's Check of the Train Register. How a Conductor at "DO" West
Roanoke, or at East Bluefield, knew whether or not "overdue superior trains"
had arrived or left, is a question for another time.
Continuing with the case of the Punkin Vine, a question now comes to my
mind. Extra trains were regularly put on duty in the middle of the
territory, at Payne (the Martinsville Shifter, the First and Second Bassett
Switchers, and work extras,) and there was no Train Register at Payne. These
trains received only Train Orders and a Clearance Card before departing
Payne. By rights, the Train Dispatcher should have informed these extras
about the status of "regular" (i.e. scheduled) trains operating over the
territory, but he did not. He could have done this in one of two ways: (1)
By a Train Order stating "All overdue trains have arrived or left Payne as
of XX.XX AM/PM," or by a message giving the same information. In retrospect,
it strikes me as curious that this was not done. But retrospect also teaches
me that the N&W took a lot of short-cuts. Sometimes they got away with it
for years without incident, and sometimes they did not.
One of the questions which arose over the years was this: When an assisting
engine is coupled ahead to assist a train, are the classification signals to
be moved ahead from the road engine to the assisting engine? The AAR Train
Rules Committee never issued an binding ruling on this, but said something
like, "They should be, but the display of classification signals on any of
the engines will have the same meaning." This was probably a moot question
for the N&W, except perhaps for some instances on the Pokey where helpers
Once CTC signaling (or "TC," as the N&W preferred to call it) was installed
on a territory, classification signals became a dead issue, as all trains
simply "proceeded on signal indication" without regard to the schedule (if
any) of opposing or following trains. And thus railroading went from a fine
art form to a trite and mundane procedure.
Here endeth the disquisition. Here endeth the rant.
-- abram burnett
old order curmudgeon on-the-loose
Sent to You from my Telegraph Key
... better than AT&T 4G LTE
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