Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

UP transition-era steam crew size

1081 views
19 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    February, 2019
  • 21 posts
UP transition-era steam crew size
Posted by micktropolis on Sunday, March 24, 2019 5:56 PM

Hi everyone, as the title might give away I'm trying to find out the size of crews that were running FEFs, Challengers, and Big Boys, as in how many in the cab? Would it have been more than your standard engineer and fireman compliment or was it always just the two? 

I'm in the process of adding crews to some engines and want to reflect the crew size for these machines. Not trying to go too crazy with detail and accuracy but this was a detail I wanted to get right, and nowhere online seems to have a straight answer.

Thanks for any help

M

  • Member since
    June, 2014
  • From: Ohio
  • 138 posts
Posted by josephbw on Monday, March 25, 2019 9:31 AM

micktropolis

Hi everyone, as the title might give away I'm trying to find out the size of crews that were running FEFs, Challengers, and Big Boys, as in how many in the cab? Would it have been more than your standard engineer and fireman compliment or was it always just the two? 

I'm in the process of adding crews to some engines and want to reflect the crew size for these machines. Not trying to go too crazy with detail and accuracy but this was a detail I wanted to get right, and nowhere online seems to have a straight answer.

Thanks for any help

M

 

 

I found this on Wikipedia.

"On April 27, 1953, Locomotive 4005 was pulling a freight train through southern Wyoming and jumped the switch track at 50 mph (80 km/h), throwing the engine onto its left side and derailing its tender and the first 18 freight cars of the 62-car train. The engineer and fireman were killed instantly on impact and the brakeman died in a hospital a few days later from his severe burns. The cab of the locomotive was destroyed by the tender, and the loads from the 18 derailed cars were scattered near the site of the accident. After this incident, the locomotive was repaired by Union Pacific at its Cheyenne facility."

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,510 posts
Posted by dehusman on Monday, March 25, 2019 9:38 AM

A "typical" crew size would be an engineer, fireman, head brakeman, rear brakeman and conductor.  That would make three on the head end.

There could also be an additional brakeman as a "flagman" on the rear or additional brakemen depending on the territory and labor agreement.  Passenger trains could have additional rear brakemen to assist in the passenger cars.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • 3,847 posts
Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, March 25, 2019 10:06 AM

I had an uncle that was a Conductor for the UP in the 40s and he took my cousin and me with him on a run from Salt Lake to Pocatello and we had almost full run of the train.  It was pulled by an FEF and I sorta remember there being three men in the cab, I had just turned 11 and that was a long time ago but those things really stuck in my memory.
 
I had three great railroad experiences between 11 and 14, the ride with my uncle in 1948 then as a passenger on the UP City of Los Angles from Slat Lake to LA and the SP Golden State to El Paso TX in 1949. 
 
We moved to El Paso in 1949 and in 1951 the SP Yard Superintendent moved into the house next door.  For My 14 birthday he arranged for me to ride in the Cab of a Cab Forward going north and a return trip in the cab of an AC-9.  Those type of memories never leave your memory.    
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • 390 posts
Posted by NHTX on Monday, March 25, 2019 11:34 PM

     Up until the 1980s, the crew of most freight trains nationwide was engineer, fireman, and head end brakeman in the cab.  The conductor and hind end brakeman held down the caboose.  Some railroads were obligated to have a sixth man in the caboose as a flagman.  In many cases, crew size was dictated by local or state law, and, the type of service the train was engaged in.   The brotherhoods frowned upon crossing craft lines unless, it was an upgrade training scenario.

     In the transition era, handheld radios were not available and, visual signals were used during switching operations.  Depending on the track layout, there were times when two men in the cab, plus the three on the ground were not enough.  Also, there were still main lines that had hand throw switches at passing sidings.  Someone on the engine had to dismount and throw the switch to route the train into the siding.  Once the switch was lined for the siding, the head end brakeman climbed back aboard the engine and rode it to the far end of the siding.  After the caboose was clear of the main, the rear brakeman re-aligned the switch for the oncoming train on the main.  After the opposing movement  passed, the head brakeman opened the switch to let the train re-take the main.  Once the train was back on the main, the rear brakeman returned the switch to the main.

     For more fluid operation, railroads invested in CTC, power switches, and radio communications.  Railroads won the argument that firemen were not needed on locomotives that didn't have fireboxes.  No one had to dismount to tend to switches controlled by a dispatcher hundreds of miles over the horizon.  By the 1980s, railroading was far removed from the era of full crews and, we saw crew sizes shrink down to two indivduals, both in the cab of the lead unit, making cabooses unnecessary.  Some railroads have one person operating locomotives, with the hope of eventually eliminating that one.

      The short answer to your question on crew size during the transition era would be three up front, and two in the caboose on most class ones.

 

  • Member since
    November, 2015
  • 1,161 posts
Posted by ATSFGuy on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 12:10 AM

I also model the transition era (1947-1960) I have ATHG F3's for SF and MKT. Were the labor rules written so it was the engineer and fireman or conductor up front in the locomotive, while a second conductor, brakeman, and sometimes a third brakeman rode in the caboose?  

Or did each road have it's own set of rules?

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 16,834 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 7:00 AM

ATSFGuy
Were the labor rules written so it was the engineer and fireman or conductor up front in the locomotive, while a second conductor, brakeman, and sometimes a third brakeman rode in the caboose?

First there was one conductor and he rode in the caboose..He was the foreman.

Head end crew would consist of Engineer,Fireman and Head Brakeman.

The rear end crew would be Conductor and Rear Brakeman..Some roads also used a Flagman for a six man crew but,most used a 5 man crew. roads. Some Company/Union work agreements required a third brakeman if a local exceeded 30 cars.This varied between railroads and to some degree divisions.

Let's add another charactor..A ARF getting his require monthly throttle time.Pity the poor sap that didn't get his monthly throttle time because questions would be asked by his boss the Road Foreman of Engines. 

A engine cab could become crowded place.

I could tell the story of a strict by the rules ARF that manage to stall a  227 car coal train with three SD40s and two SD35s on the Chessie. It was hard for us to keep a straight face since he was telling a  engineer with 38 years of experience the proper way to accend a grade..

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,424 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 7:21 AM

Larry, I like the way you can add the "realism" to many of these situations.  I get the RF being Road Foreman, whats the A part?  Area?

Anyway, one my favorite videos, about the Southern, and the Saluda Grade, the road foreman boards the train, and he, along with the engineer, navigate a loaded coal train down the grade.  He gets off the train at the bottom of the grade.

Not transition period, but interesting stuff anyway.

Thanks,

Mike.

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 16,834 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 7:34 AM

Assistent Road Foreman of Engines. These was the guys that love to report engineers and crews for operation and safety violations.

Some was former engineers or Fireman so,they winked and looked away if it was a minor infraction of the rules..

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,510 posts
Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 8:07 AM

ATSFGuy
Were the labor rules written so it was the engineer and fireman or conductor up front in the locomotive, while a second conductor, brakeman, and sometimes a third brakeman rode in the caboose? Or did each road have it's own set of rules?

The engineer and the firemen were a team.

The conductor and the brakeman were a team.

The engineer had authority over what happened as far as handling the engine and the fireman reported to the engineer.  If required the fireman could be used to line switches or flag ahead if the brakeman wasn't available.

The conductor had authority over what the train did and the engineer had to follow his instructions regarding train movements.  The brakemen and flagmen reported to him.

Obviously the engineer and the firemen rode on the engine because that was what they were working on, the labor rules didn't say were they had to "ride".

The labor rules said how many people were on the train, it didn't say where they had to ride because circumstances change.  Originally, the brakemen didn't spend most of their time in the caboose or engine, they were BRAKEmen and were on top of the train setting handbrakes.  The only guy who might be required to be on the caboose by railroad operating rule was the "flagman".

There were "national" labor agreements, that covered an entire craft of a national union over all the railroads that employed that craft of that union.  There were different unions that covered the same craft, for example some engineers belonged to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) and some engineers on the same railroad might belong to the United Transportation Union (UTU-E).

There were railroad specific agreements that only covered a craft of a union on that railroad.

There were "local" agreements that only covered a craft of a union of a railroad on a specific territory (division or subdivision).

A typical labor agreement would have the national agreement followed by a series of "letters" that would amend or supplement the national agreement for the railroad and local area.   So yes they all had the same national agreement, but no they didn't have the same agreement on a local level.  You can have crews on the same train out of the same terminal that have different crews.  The Missouri Pacific (MP) negotiatedd an "interdivisional run" between New Orleans and Dequincy, LA.  That involved crews from the previous Texas Pacific (TP) and MP, each had their own agreement, so the railroad alternated TP and MP crews.  Occaisionally, if something happened, we would end up with a TP engine crew and a MP train crew (or vice versa).

However, regardless of the agreement, there was and engineer, a fireman and a brakeman on the head end and a conductor and a brakeman on the rear end because that was where common practice had them ride. 

Ralroad labor agreements never expire.  A railroad union is never "working without a contract".  Up until roughly the 1990's, a typical labor agreement might have clauses that date back to the 1920's that were still in effect because they were agreed to and never changed.  Once an contract is made, it remains in effect until the union or the railroad notifies the other group they want to change it.  They might agree to renegotiate after so many years, but the contract/agreement remains in effect until changed.  Then there is a Federally mandated process of negotiations.  At the end of that whole dance, if the railroad didn't get what they wanted, they have the right to lock out the union or if the union doesn't get what they want they have the right to strike.  Then the Federal goverment has the right to end the strike or lockout and force negotiations or impose an arbitrated contract (which usually isn't what either party wants).

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 16,834 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 8:21 AM

dehusman
Originally, the brakemen didn't spend most of their time in the caboose or engine, they were BRAKEmen and were on top of the train setting handbrakes.

Yes,the era before Westinghouse Air Brakes..There was a whistle signal for brakemen to leave the caboose and apply the handbrakes. Many a young lad fell from those swaying cars.

 

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 11,131 posts
Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 8:46 AM

I grew up across the street from a shortline that, in steam days, had "doghouses" on the tender deck for the head brakeman to ride in. The railroad went all diesel c.1951, by the early sixties I know there were only four man crews - engineer & fireman in the engine (or lead engine of a consist), brakeman and conductor in the caboose.

Stix
  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,510 posts
Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 6:49 PM

wjstix
by the early sixties I know there were only four man crews - engineer & fireman in the engine (or lead engine of a consist), brakeman and conductor in the caboose.

Why wouldn't they put the brakeman on the head end?  If they had to make any set out or train inspection they would have to wait for the brakeman to walk all the way up from the caboose.  The trains that had conductor and 1 brakemen where I worked had engineer, maybe fireman, brakeman  on the head end and conductor on the rear.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 16,834 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 9:25 PM

Dave,To be fair Stix is talking about a shortline so,maybe they used 4 man crew or that "fireman" was a brakeman?

A lot of shortlines dumped the fireman along with the fire or retrained him as a fill in engineer or brakeman. This was done on nonunion shortline railroads .

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Central Iowa
  • 4,756 posts
Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 10:30 PM

BRAKIE

Dave,To be fair Stix is talking about a shortline so,maybe they used 4 man crew or that "fireman" was a brakeman?

A lot of shortlines dumped the fireman along with the fire or retrained him as a fill in engineer or brakeman. This was done on nonunion shortline railroads .

 

There was a national contract from the early 1960s that allowed railroads to eliminate a brakeman's position on branch line locals.  It also applied to locals that used a portion of a mainline to get to the branch line.  There was a stipulation that any trainman working at the time the contract took effect would be able to work the second brakeman's position if there was no other available work on his district.  Someone hired after that date could not fill the otherwise blanked position, but a "protected" person could.

Jeff 

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • 390 posts
Posted by NHTX on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 12:33 AM

     Another factor in crew sizes were state laws.  Before the air brake became mandated, brakes were applied manually on each car by brakemen. As trains got longer, there were more brakes to apply and, it is not hard to figure out why some states passed such laws for railroads operating within their boundaries.  Like many laws, long after the need for them has passed, they remained on the books.  Couple this with labor organizations protecting their "turf", and you will understand such things as firemen on locomotives that didn't have fireboxes, two brakemen on air braked road freights that operated from crew change point to crew change point without a pick up or setout, and cabooses with a FRED stuck in the rear coupler bringing up the hind end of a freight train.   There were states that mandated full crews right up until the caboose came off.  If my memory is correct, the state of Indiana had antiquated laws on the books requiring large crew sizes that Monon accommodated by putting cabooses on both ends of the ttrain.  Maybe one of the Monon folks can give us more info on that.

    As far as one road's labor agreements affecting its merger partners, a problem arose with the Penn Central over cab seats.  Yes, these things were part of negotiated working conditions!  New York Central had installed a comfortable brand of seats on their locmotives but the Pennsylvania engines had a lesser seat when compared to the NYCs.  Everything went to Hades when an NYC crew was called for a train led by an ex-PRR unit.  NYC crews were promised a certain set of working conditions in their negotiated agreement and, the new company had not negotiated a new one with the NYC guys so, the NYC agreement had to be honored until Penn Central negotiated a new one.  NYC crews refused to take trains led by PRR units, PRR crews were not yet qualified in NYC territory.  There was a lot of thought given to building power consists that would cross from one territory to the other and a lot of locomotive shuffling before some trains left town.  Of course, the PRR guys liked the NYC seats too, so one can imagine one of the demands when the new labor agreement was negotiated.   

 

 

 

 

l

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,510 posts
Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 6:32 AM

There were cases where a state had a "full crew" law, the trains would pick up a brakeman at the first crew change before the state and drop them off at the first crew change outside the state.

One state had a bill up to require cabooses in the state.  One of the railroads that operated through the state didn't like that idea and decided to show thier displeasure by rerouting every train they could through routes that bypassed the state.  Since there were fewer trains running through the state, the railroad furloughed train crews and cut off clerks and mechanical forces accordingly at facilities in the state.

Ended up with a situation that had the trainmen testifying that cabooses were needed and a dozen other unions testifying they weren't.  

The bill was defeated and the moment the vote was in, the railroad put the rerouted trains back on their "normal" routes.  I had to stop a couple trains running on alternate routes, have the crews run around them and bring them back to their origin in order to put them back on their original routes through the state.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    February, 2019
  • 21 posts
Posted by micktropolis on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 5:51 PM

You all have been most helpful and informative, I think I've learned much more than I ever expected to on crew sizes! Much abliged, now to invest in some engineer figures.

M

  • Member since
    February, 2018
  • 111 posts
Posted by OldEngineman on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 11:28 PM

NHTX wrote: "As far as one road's labor agreements affecting its merger partners, a problem arose with the Penn Central over cab seats.  Yes, these things were part of negotiated working conditions!  New York Central had installed a comfortable brand of seats on their locmotives but the Pennsylvania engines had a lesser seat when compared to the NYCs."

If you ever had to spend 12 hours in one of those little round "toadstool" seats with fixed armrests like the PRR had, you'd understand why the Central guys preferred their "square seats", that had backs that were adjustable for comfort.

I remember working on Amtrak CF-7's (former Santa Fe) that had those PRR style seats. They were nothing less than AWFUL. I challenge anyone to sit in one of those for more than 30 minutes without being completely uncomfortable. Then try doing it for 8, 10, 12 hours.

The "seat example" is but one more reason why the New York Central guys regarded the PRR as "the SUBstandard railroad of the world" !  Angry

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • 390 posts
Posted by NHTX on Thursday, March 28, 2019 9:02 AM

     As long as we are on the subject of cab seating and crew size on diesels, another situation affecting locomotive purchases comes to mind.

     When the New Haven received their first 30 FL-9s, because they were late model F units, they came with nose MU and, three seats in the cab.  Remember, the FL-9 was bought to replace the worn out DL-109s and, eliminate the diesel/electric engine change at New Haven CT.  NH took one look at the FL-9 and their new features and figured here were their newest dual-service locomotives.  Unfortunately, NH's financial condition could not support the purchase of new locomotives so, creative financing was employed.

     Because the passenger oriented New Haven served the northern end of what was becoming the Northeast Corridor between New York and Boston, the feds stepped in and secured the loan for the 30 passenger locomotives.  They were not intended to pull freight trains, although they did.

     When NH went back to the well to finance another 30 units, again the feds stepped up, to back the deal.  There were some changes in 2030-2059.  No nose MU, and only two seats in the cab.  NH would have loved to have gotten 30 additional dual-service locomotives but when somebody else's cash is used, they get to dictate the conditions.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!