Reflective Engine Numbers

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Reflective Engine Numbers
Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, May 06, 2017 8:39 PM

During the late 40's and early 50's a number of railroads adopted the proactice of displaying engine numbers on the nose of the engine using reflective numbers.

The practice 'came out of nowhere' and disappeared and I know of no reason for either happening.  Anybody know?

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, May 06, 2017 9:14 PM

Probably just a brief fad that was eventually dismissed as a useless expense.  I mean, why would you have reflective numbers on the nose when you've already got them in illuminated blocks on either side?

It does look cool though! 

RME
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Posted by RME on Saturday, May 06, 2017 10:13 PM

There was a parallel 'fad' for glass cat-eye reflectors other places, for example on grade-crossings to show the number of tracks (I have one salvaged from a Shreveport expansion project) and at least one "AC Motor Stop" sign from the Gibbs and Hill PRR electrification.  There are plenty of advantages seeing a big bright nose number instead of having to peer at FT-style numberboards as a train whizzes past.

The replacement for that technology involved making the glass cateyes much, much smaller, and embedding millions of them in a self-adhesive polyester ribbon -- in other words, Scotchlite.  The question then becomes why large Scotchlite nose or side numbers didn't catch on -- a case could be made that UP adopted the stuff for cab numbers, but there is certainly little evidence for widespread number 'supergraphics'.

Suspect there is a rules component in there; for a while, something called for more legible cab numbers for some reason or combination of reasons, and then things changed.  Be interesting to see a timeline.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, May 06, 2017 10:32 PM

The original diesels - EA's etc, E6's, E7's and FT's all had small number boards which could be difficult to read when passing at speed.

In a Timetable & Train Order world confirming engine numbers is critical for all employees involved.

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, May 06, 2017 11:07 PM

 

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Railway Equipment Reflectorization Rules

Legislation (Rail Safety)

TC O-0-56

Approved on February 27, 2006
Amended on July 19, 2006



Printable Version: Railway Equipment Reflectorization Rulesis available in PDF format (file size 53kb) which will download in approximately 22 seconds on a 28.8 connection and may be viewed using Acrobat Reader (version 3.0 or higher).

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Table of Contents

  1. Short Title
  2. Purpose and Scope
  3. Definitions
  4. Applicability
  5. Qualifications of Railway Employees
  6. Implementation Requirements
  7. Characteristics of Retroreflective Sheeting
  8. Application of Retroreflective Sheeting
  9. Inspection and Replacement
  10. Renewal
  11. Harmonization with the Federal Railroad Administration


1. Short Title

For ease of reference, these Rules may be referred to as the Reflectorization Rules.

2. Purpose and Scope

These Rules prescribe the minimum standards governing the specifications and the application of retroreflective material on railway equipment. The scope of these Rules applies to all railway companies subject to the jurisdiction of Transport Canada pursuant to the Railway Safety Act.

3. Definitions

3.1 "Department" means Transport Canada;

3.2 "damaged" means scratched, broken, chipped, peeled, or delaminated to such an extent as to no longer be effective;

3.3 "freight car" means a car, designed to carry freight on rail and includes a caboose and a service equipment car;

3.4 "locomotive" means a rail vehicle, propelled by any energy form, other than steam intended for the propulsion and or control of freight, or service equipment;

3.5 "obscured" means concealed, hidden, or covered up so all incoming light is blocked;

3.6 "railway company" means a railway or railway company subject to the Railway Safety Act;

3.7 "railway equipment" means any locomotive, freight car, caboose or service equipment car operated by a railway company;

3.8 "retroreflective material" means material as specified by the chromaticity coordinates of the American Society for Testing and Materials' (ASTM) Standard D 4956-01a for Type V Sheeting "Standard Specification for Retroreflective Sheeting for Traffic Control, as amended from time to time", or by an equivalent standard. The words retroflective sheeting and retroflective material are equivalent.

3.9 "service equipment car" means rolling stock used to house employees at work sites, a material car used for transporting railway maintenance-of-way equipment or for railway company purposes other than revenue service.

4. Applicability

4.1 These Rules apply to all Canadian-owned railway equipment operated over a public or private highway-rail grade crossing by a railway company regulated under the Railway Safety Actwith the exception of:

  1. Equipment operated solely on tracks, inside a non-railway installation, that are not part of the general railway system of transportation; and,
  2. Cars and locomotives that are used exclusively in passenger service or tourist excursion trains.

5. Qualifications of Railway Employees

5.1 A railway company shall ensure that all employees engaged in the application, inspection or maintenance of retroreflective material are fully conversant with the requirements of these Rules and associated railway company instructions.

6. Implementation Requirements

6.1 Freight Cars

All freight cars subject to these Rules must be equipped with retroreflective sheeting conforming to these Rules within seven years of the effective date of these Rules by following a railway company implementation schedule. The schedule will ensure that not less than twenty-five (25) percent of the total fleet will be equipped within the first twenty-four (24) months following the coming into force of these Rules and that not less than an additional fifteen (15) percent of the total fleet shall be completed each twelve (12) month period thereafter for the duration of the implementation period.

6.2 Locomotives

All locomotives subject to these Rules must be equipped with retroreflective sheeting conforming to these Rules within four years of the effective date of these Rules by following a railway company implementation schedule. The schedule will ensure that not less than twenty-five (25) percent of the total fleet will be equipped during each 12 month period following the coming into force of these Rules.

6.3 Records

A record of the railway equipment that is equipped with retroreflective material must be filed with the Department annually.

7. Characteristics of Retroreflective Sheeting

7.1 Construction

Retroreflective sheeting shall consist of a smooth, flat, transparent exterior film with micro prismatic retroreflective elements embedded in or suspended beneath the film so as to form a non-exposed retroreflective optical system.

7.2 Colour

Retroflective sheeting applied under these Rules must be white or yellow.

7.3 Performance

Retroreflective sheeting applied under these Rules shall, when initially applied, meet the minimum photometric performance requirements specified in Table 1.

    Table 1: Minimum Photometric Performance (Coefficient of Retroreflection (RA) in Candela/Lux/Meter²) Requirement for White or Yellow Retroreflective Sheeting.
Entrance Angle(degree)Observation Angle 0.2 (degree) YELLOWObservation Angle 0.2 (degree) WHITEObservation Angle 0.5 (degree) YELLOWObservation Angle 0.5 (degree) WHITE
-4 400 600 100 160
30 220 350 45 75

7.4 Certification

The manufacturer's certification that the sheeting is a retroreflective sheeting and conforms to the requirements of Construction, Colour and Performance of subsections 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3 herein shall appear at least once on the exposed surface of each sheeting in the final application. The characters shall be a minimum of 3 mm high, and shall be permanently stamped, etched, molded, or printed within the product and each certification shall be spaced no more than four inches apart.

7.5 Alternative Technology

Upon filing with the Department by a railway company, an alternative technology may be used providing it meets or exceeds an equivalent level of safety as established through a comprehensive scientific analysis. Such alternative technology will result in conspicuity and durability at least equal to sheeting described in Construction Colour and Performance of subsections 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3 herein, and be applied in accordance with these Rules so that it will present a recognizable visual target that is suitably consistent with railway equipment equipped that is retroreflective sheeting meeting the technical requirements of these Rules.

7.6 Sheeting Dimensions and Quantity

Retroreflective sheeting shall be applied along the length of each freight car and locomotive side. Retroreflective sheeting shall be applied in strips 4 inches wide and 18 or 36 inches long, unless otherwise specified. The amount of retroreflective sheeting to be applied to each car or locomotive is dependent on the length of the freight car or locomotive and the colour of the sheeting. For the purposes of these Rules, the length of a freight car or locomotive is measured from end sill to end sill. Each side of a freight car, including each unit of multi-unit cars, and each side of a locomotive must be equipped with at least the minimum amount of retroreflective sheeting specified in Table 2.

    Table 2: Retroreflective Surface Area Per Side
Length of Freight Car, Service Car or Locomotive (Ft)Minimum Area of YELLOW Retroreflective Sheeting Required (Sq Ft)Equivalent Number of 4 x 18 in. ReflectorsMinimum Area of WHITE Retroreflective Sheeting Required (Sq Ft)Equivalent Number of 4 x 18 in. Reflectors
Less than 50 3.5 7 4 8
50 to 60 4 8 5 10
60 to 70 4.5 9 5.5 11
70 to 80 5 10 6 12
80 to 90 5.5 11 7 14
90 to 100 6 12 7.5 15
Over 100 ½ sq ft for each additional 10 ft of length   ½ sq ft for each additional 10 ft of length  

7.7 Location of Retroreflective Sheeting on Railway Equipment

Retroreflective sheeting applied must be located clear of appurtenances and devices such as ladders and other safety appliances, pipes, or other attachments that may obscure its visibility. Retroreflective sheeting need not be applied to discontinuous surfaces such as bolts, rivets, door hinges, or other irregularly shaped areas that may prevent the sheeting from adhering to the car sides. In addition, retroreflective sheeting need not be applied over existing or required car stencils and markings. If necessary to avoid appurtenances, discontinuous surfaces, or existing or required car markings or stencils, a 4 by 18 inch strip of retroreflective sheeting may be separated into two 4 by 9 inch strips, or a 4 by 36 inch strip may be separated into four 4 by 9 inch strips, and applied on either side of the appurtenance, discontinuous surface, or car markings or stencils.

8. Application of Retroreflective Sheeting

8.1 Freight cars

On freight cars, retroreflective sheeting shall be applied in either a vertical or horizontal pattern along the length of the car sides with its bottom edge as close as practicable to 42 inches above the top of the rail. The application of the retroreflective material must be in accordance with AAR Standard S-910 and Rule 66 of the AAR Field Manual. Sheeting shall not be applied below the side sill.

8.2 Locomotives

Locomotives shall be equipped with at least the minimum amounts of retroreflective sheeting required by Table 2 of these Rules. Sheeting is to be spaced as uniformly as practicable along the length of the locomotive sides as close as practicable to 42 inches above top of rail.

8.3 Existing freight cars with retroreflective sheeting

Freight cars previously equipped, with at least one square foot of retoreflective sheeting, uniformly distributed over the length of each side shall be considered to be in compliance until seven years after the effective date of these Rules.

8.4 Existing locomotives with retroreflective sheeting

Locomotives previously equipped, with at least one square foot of retroreflective sheeting, uniformly distributed over the length of each side shall be considered to be in compliance until four years after the effective date of these Rules.

9. Inspection and Replacement

9.1 Freight Cars

Retroreflective sheeting on freight cars must be visually inspected for presence and condition whenever a car undergoes a single car air brake test. If at the time of inspection, or at any other time a designated railway company employee determines that more than 20 percent of the minimum amount of sheeting required on either side of a car is damaged, obscured or missing, the railway company shall promptly notify the Canadian car owner of the damaged or missing material. That sheeting shall be repaired or replaced within nine (9) months.

9.2 Locomotives

Retroreflective sheeting must be visually inspected for presence and condition at least once every twelve months. If more than 20 percent of the minimum amount of sheeting required on either side of a locomotive is damaged, obscured, or missing, that damaged, obscured, or missing sheeting must be repaired or replaced.

If conditions at the time of inspection are such that replacement material cannot be applied, such application must be completed not later than when the identified equipment is taken out of service for repairs or other maintenance.

10. Renewal

10.1 Retroreflective material must be renewed within 10 years of its original application. For cars and locomotives with existing retroreflective sheeting meeting the requirements of these Rules, the renewal date must precede November 29, 2015.

11. Harmonization with the Federal Railroad Administration

11.1 All equipment owned or leased by a Non-Canadian railway or private car owner, subject to the Federal Railroad Administration, may operate in Canada, if the equipment is in compliance with the Federal Railroad Administration CFR 49 Part 224, "Reflectorization of Rail Freight Rolling Stock" in effect on the date of the approval of the Canadian Rule.

 
Date modified: 
2014-03-10

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, May 06, 2017 11:12 PM

Dang...didn't fit! Seen them done in dots as well back in the day. 

Reflective numbers seemed like a really good idea. CN numbers are definitely reflective.

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, May 07, 2017 7:44 AM

Miningman
Dang...didn't fit! Seen them done in dots as well back in the day. 

Reflective numbers seemed like a really good idea. CN numbers are definitely reflective.

Reflector rules from the 21st Century are not for primarily 'railroad benefit' they are for public benefit at road crossings at grade - lights from automobiles hit the reflectors on the locomotive and car sides and identify to the automobile driver that there is a train passing over the road crossing at grade.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

RME
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Posted by RME on Sunday, May 07, 2017 7:49 AM

Miningman
Dang...didn't fit!

Just scroll down to the left-hand end of the link to download the PDF.  That works nicely and is easier to read.  I was amused at their providing the helpful waiting time expected for a 28.8 connection -- seems like just yesterday that was cutting-edge fast for "onliners".

Here is the corresponding FRA section, as indicated at the end of the Canadian reference.

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, May 07, 2017 11:23 AM

Thanks RME- Thats a great link to keep in my library. Take a century to read all that but what great references for a wide range of topics. 

BaltACD- I did not mean to confuse the 2 issues of modern day with your initial question. Perhaps the "Scotch lite" or whatever they used did not hold up to rugged conditions, but it was a great idea and much easier to see, daytime or night. Love those photo's. 

RME
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Posted by RME on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 1:50 PM

Miningman
Perhaps the "Scotch lite" or whatever they used did not hold up to rugged conditions, but it was a great idea and much easier to see, daytime or night.

The Scotchlite held up just fine, and continues to hold up to this day.  What Balt noted was that his original question concerns use of reflective numbers for internal railroad purposes, like more easily recognized locomotive numbers when out in the boonies on a dark night with high speed involved.  I have seen pictures of F units with very large 'cat-eye' equipped numbers (these numbers apparently didn't persist long); see also Strapac's picture of Cotton Belt 927 in original 'black widow'.  I suspect there were some applications where 'reflectorized' backdrops were used for printed information.  But most of the existing use of reflectorized material, as described in both the Canadian and FRA standards, is as Balt said to help the public recognize and avoid colliding with or running under trains.

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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 8:45 PM

Well yes, that is what I meant, or at least its intent. Did not want to mix up visibility for the public with that designed for railroad use by its employees. 

Still think its a great idea as it must have been beneficial for anyone trying to identify a locomotive number. The number boards on some locomotives, as in Canadian Pacifics Baldwin built switchers and those Milwaukee Road FT's in the photo were tiny. 

So the original question remains...why was the practice seemingly discontinued?

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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:00 AM

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