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Locomotive Firemen's Magazine Educational Charts

Copyright 1903, by W. S. Carter


Entered December 4, 1902, at Indianapolis, Ind., as Second-class Matter, under act of Congress of Murch 3, 1879.


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Vol. 34,
No. 3.

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Subscription Price, $1.50 per year

Plate III-Nine-and-One-half-Inch sequent loss of many lives, has given Pump (Side View). occasion to a discussion in the columns of the technical and popular press that has created a desire to turn from old

LATE III of the Westinghouse

PSeries of the Locomotive Fire- methods and adopt something new. The

men's Magazine Educational Charts is a sectional and perspective view of the exhaust side of a 92-inch air pump. The pistons have just reached the upper ends of the cylinders on the upward stroke. The reversing rod 71 has been moved upward by the reversing plate 69 above the ascending piston, moving with it the slide valve 72, which has caused the main valve to move to the extreme left in chamber A, and has permitted the steam to exhaust from the lower end of the cylinder upward through ports and passage b', b1 and b, through the cavity under the valve 83 and downward through passage d, d and d to the exhaust pipe connected at Y (see Plates I, II and III). Thi shifting of the valve also permits live steam to pass from chamber A downward through port and passage c into the upper end of the cylinder, which starts the pistons on their downward stroke.

British writers protest that the American system of train dispatching is defective; that the many accidents and appalling loss of lives is "only what might be expected from a system that depends entirely upon man's memory." The Railway Gazette, a leading authority on such matters, is constrained to say: "We have had occasion to remark sometimes that the American dispatching system' of managing trains on single track is inferior to the block system. This is not news; but like the great truths of religion and morals it has to be stated often or folks stop thinking about it. Just now some astute railroad men are coming to put the case even stronger; are even calling the dispatching system a failure."

The passage of the compressed air from the upper end of the air cylinder is indicated by the arrows-passing from the cylinder through passage r and r under the upper right-hand bushing 87, upward and out under the seat of valve 86, back and downward through passage G and to the discharge pipe Z leading to the main reservoir.

Train Dispatching and Railway

The frequency of train collisions during the past few months, and the con

The Gazette then calls attention to the many accidents reported in the Accident Bulletins issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission and refers specifically to a recent wreck occasioned by the forgetfulness or neglect, or misunderstanding of an operator.

The block system of protecting signals makes it possible to dispatch trains with a greater degree of safety, but even with the protection of semaphores disastrous collisions occur. To paraphrase a familiar saying, "Eternal vigilance is the price of safety" in the movement of trains, and it is a well-known fact that nothing makes vigilance less "eternal" than the absence of danger, or the presence of supposed protection. Men in train service on roads where a block system has been established are less vigi

lant than on roads where every man knows that his fate depends upon himself. When men are exhausted from long hours of service, or from a neglect to take rest when the opportunity was presented. it is easier to pass a danger signal unnoticed than to forget a train-order. A moment's nap with the block system sometimes disastrous wreck while the same "resting of the eyes" where the movement of trains are regulated entirely by orders seldom results in harm.



The Jersey Central wreck on the evening of January 27th, near Cranford, N. J., is a mysterious affair. The Philadelphia express crashed into the rear end of the Easton express notwithstanding that the latter was "protected" by two semaphores and a flagman with his red light. More than twenty passengers in the telescoped coaches were crushed or burned to death, as was also the engineer on the Philadelphia train; while the fireman and many passengers were injured. The colliding train was ascending a slight grade and had an unobstructed view for miles. The train passed the "distant" signal 3,000 feet and the "home" signal 900 feet before the crash came, and yet it is said that both of these signals were in proper position to protect the Easton train, which had stopped to cool a hot box.



eliminate it, or it would have been unhesitatingly and promptly made. It is well to record the fact, however, that every contrivance which modern ingenuity has devised for the safety of the traveling public, and every means that experience has shown to be useful for its protection, has been provided by the railThere can be no present answer to the psychological problem which this extraordinary and terrible lapse affords, except that beyond a certain point the utmost caution and mechanical perfection will not avail. The human factor must still play some small part, at least, in the most precise and elaborate system, and no one can foresee all of its future operations. Yet, happily, the vigorous hands which grasp the throttles on the thousands passenger trains that daily carry their freight of American humanity are controlled by nerves of steel and ordered by cool brains, whose action is in but the slightest danger of becoming in any degree abnormal."

Many have been the comments upon the cause of this wreck; some based upon technical knowledge and others simply the wild guesses of the newspaper reporters. The true cause will probably never be ascertained. The Railway World says it "is clearly one of those inexplicable instances of the failure of the inevitable human element in the elaborate and apparently perfect system of provision against every contingency that might occasion loss of life. Just why Engineer Davis should have disregarded the signals that were set to warn him against his own destruction, as well as of the danger to the train in his charge, will probably remain forever undiscovered. All that can ever be said is that in the mechanically perfect system for the protection of the lives of passengers which was in use there was of necessity one human link, and that no provision could absolutely guarantee this one element against failure. In the law of chance there was one remote possibility in millions that precisely the psychological lapse which did happen would occur; no method could guard against it, and no expenditure, however great, could


The Railroad Gazette expresses the following editorial opinion: "The rear collision of passenger trains which killed twenty or more passengers at Cranford, N. J., lately, is distressing enough in itself; but to railroad men it comes with particular significance because it is the fourth of a series of such collisions within a few months, all occurring on lines worked by the block system: Menlo Park, N. J., in October; Quaker Valley, Pa., in December; Ada, O., in January, and now Cranford. At Ada the block signaling was nonautomatic, but at the other three places the signaling equipment (automatic) was complete, distant signals being provided, and there being no question about the proper location and visibility of the signals. The discussion of the causes of this last collision by the public authorities, so far as there is any discussion, and also, perhaps, that by the railroad officers, will probably deal, as in similar cases before, with the usual questions about the difficulty of seeing signals (the engine of the Philadelphia express was leaking a good deal of steam), the lack of strength in the wrecked cars, the reason why the train was not traveling on its regular track, the promptness or lack of promptness in getting fire engines, and other well-known details. But it is important to bear in mind that these are secondary matters. All of them are important, but they should not be allowed to obscure the main question. Not even the question of brake power-a de

ficiency in which may at any time be the second of two causes, almost equally important, of a disastrous collisionshould blind any one to the fact that the observance of the signals is the main issue. The engineman in the Cranford case is reported fatally injured. If he dies, that settles some of the questions that otherwise would weigh on the superintendent's mind. But his death does not preclude inquiry as to his character, temperament and training. Is it a fact that enginemen on very fast trains take risks where with an ordinary train more caution would be observed? This is not

cautionary signals, depending on the flagman to prevent disastrous results from such recklessness? The collision records indicate that it would be a good use of money to spend thousands of dollars to test this point. All these questions are crying for attention. We are increasing the use of the block system to cure the evils of the time interval and flag; but our English cousins will begin to wonder whether we have men competent to operate any system. And Englishmen will not be the only persons who can ask unpleasant questions; the men who advocate the use of automatic apparatus to apply

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a trivial question; repeated collisions have made it a serious one. What about the rule requiring firemen to observe fixed signals and shout them to the engineman? It ought to be declared a good rule and adopted, or an impractical or useless one, and definitely thrown aside. If the fireman is not to aid in the lookout, an added importance attaches to the engineman's function. If the fireman is to aid when it is convenient to do so (that is, partially), the trainmaster has a duty to see that, relying on two stools, he does not fall to the ground. The question of flagging also comes in for investigation. Do enginemen deliberately maintain speed past

brakes and shut off steam will find increasing favor with legislatures and the public."

The journal last quoted in another article comments upon the recommendation of the New York Railroad Commissioner, that all trainmen on electric interurban railways be subjected to an examination on rules at least once each month, and says: "This decision or opinion of the inspector is of interest to railroad superintendents and trainmasters generally. Such frequency is unheard of, so far as we know, in steam railroad practice, and yet practice is not so uniform or so well settled that any one would be willing to

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