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Big Boy as a switcher

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Big Boy as a switcher
Posted by SouthPenn on Sunday, May 07, 2017 9:46 PM

I just noticed that the Big Boy locomotives had pole pockets ( push pockets ) on them. I just can't imagine using a Big Boy as a switcher. Wow.

South Penn
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Posted by Autonerd on Sunday, May 07, 2017 10:14 PM

Stranger things have happened. Like the time I brought an F40PH in Amtrak Ph III paint to a friend's op session, on his ATSF branch line set in the summer of '64. All the more so because my assignment was a local freight. He did say "Run what ya brung"...

ACY
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Posted by ACY on Sunday, May 07, 2017 10:17 PM

It's not likely that UP would set out to use a Big Boy as a switcher; but every road engine can be called upon to set out a car or perform some unusual move that could conceivably involve poling.

Tom. 

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Sunday, May 07, 2017 10:18 PM

Yeah, what Tom said.  I think it's mostly a case of "If we don't have 'em, you KNOW we're gonna need 'em..."

 

 

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, May 07, 2017 10:40 PM

Generally, the railroads bought what the builders offered. The builders bought what the suppliers offered.

If General Steel Castings manufactured pilots that could be used on many varieties of locomotives, they would sell more. The added cost of stocking "with or without poling pockets" was probably not worth considering. Although I notice the "Deflecting Pilot" (below right) is sans-poling pockets. I believe these were favored by the CB&Q, maybe others.

 

Standardization leads to economy. If several classes of locomotive share the same, interchangeable parts, many fewer parts need to be stocked and chances of having the needed part on-hand will get your engines back on the road faster.

Even railroads that "home-built" their locomotives would often favor "off-the-shelf" parts for the above reasons.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by "JaBear" on Sunday, May 07, 2017 10:46 PM

It's not the footage I was actually looking for, and while not a Big Boy, there is a large Mallet switching...

Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, May 08, 2017 8:13 AM

The assumption that only switch engines had poling pockets is very wrong. Switch engines would rarely need poling pockets to do yard switching.

The purpose of poling was normally to move a car on a parallel track to the one the engine was on, where for some reason it was difficult and/or a lot of additional work to get the engine on the same track as the car...like moving a mis-spotted car on a side track where there are other freight cars already blocking the siding. Things like that most often happened at some remote location 'out on the line' and not in a freight yard.

Besides, many railroads frowned on (and eventually banned) poling, so if it were going to be done it would be out in the middle of nowhere, not under the nose of management in a yard.

I suspect UP in the 1940's just ordered all it's engines to have poling pockets.

Stix
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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, May 08, 2017 3:55 PM

In THIRD RAIL territory, no less! Don't slip!

Only a 20 second glimpse but a good look into the operation.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by DS4-4-1000 on Tuesday, May 09, 2017 6:23 AM

Many railroads would keep a newly overhauled locomotive close to the shops for a day or two to shake out any problems.  So a Big Boy switching or on a local is not a stretch of the imagination.

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 12:18 PM

IIRC hump yards and Mallet / articulated engines came into railroading about the same time in the early 20th century, and several railroads bought early Mallet engines to work pushing cars 'over the hump' in a humpyard...not that UP was one of them, but it would qualify as an example of an articulated "switcher".  

Stix
ACY
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Posted by ACY on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 8:15 PM

Yes, Mallets were sometimes used as hump engines. NYC had some 0-8-8-0 Mallets that were used at large yards such as Elkhart, and on at least one location on their subsidiary P&LE. B&O owned the first Mallet in the US. When it was retired from mainline service, it spent some time working the hump at Willard. I believe C&O and N&W and others also used small drivered Mallets this way.

However, the Big Boy was built as a single expansion engine with large drivers, making it a terrible choice for a hump assignment. If it ever happened, it wasn't common.

Tom 

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Posted by Maine_Central_guy on Thursday, May 11, 2017 6:48 AM
very dangerous.
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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, May 11, 2017 7:51 AM

Yes, I can't imagine a Big Boy or Challenger ever being used in hump service. They were designed to haul long trains at track speed, and were even used on passenger trains sometimes. The railroads that bought Mallets / articulateds for hump service generally bought earlier 'drag freight' type engines with small drivers that would limit their speed to 20 mph or less.

Stix
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Posted by dknelson on Friday, May 26, 2017 5:35 PM

On the general subject of poling and poling pockets on steam locomotive pilots, this last weekend I saw a number of steam locomotives at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union IL and also saw the current status of the Chicago & North Western 4-6-0 #1385 (circa 1907) at a machine shop in Middleton WI.  The 1385's pilot has the standard two poling pockets at the front of the cast pilot, but a Union Pacific 2-8-0 at the IRM's steam repair shop has poling pockets on both sides of the pilot, so 4 poling pockets total.  I had never seen that before, or at least never noticed it before.   Other steam at IRM that I looked at had the usual 2, not 4, but I did not get a chance to examine every steam locomotive in their collection -- they have over two dozen. 

Dave Nelson 

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, May 26, 2017 6:29 PM

Back to the Big Boy.

I can imagine one with a train with some stock cars on the front.  And I can imagine running out the stock hours and having to water them.  Out near Nowhere Wyoming.  So the loco switches the cars into some pens.

Maybe.  Just maybe.

 

Ed

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