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Duration of locomotive bell

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Duration of locomotive bell
Posted by tstage on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 10:47 PM

Hopefully these are questions that aren't too dumb:

  • How soon or how long would a locomotive engineer sound the bell when entering or exiting a passenger station?  Is it contingent on the length of the train?  Or, are there indicators/signs (like the "W" for whistle) for when to activate and deactivate the bell?
  • Are bells generally only used in passenger service?  Or, are/were they also used in yards and/or freight service?

Thanks,

Tom

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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 11:35 PM

 

An old thread here has some information, but you have to sort through to find it Whistling

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/13/t/46269.aspx?page=1

 

Flickr is down for maintenance or I could post some rule book pages but they pretty much follow what has been discussed above.

I doubt an engineer has been written up for ringing the bell too often, but you could be written up for not ringing the bell enough (or at the right times). Alot was left up to the discretion of the engineer. IF there are people around or potentially could be, ring the bell. Train length wasn't a factor. When approaching a station or track crew, tunnel, snowshed or crossings it was up to the engineer to judge hearing distance, earlier better than later.

Modern locomotives (ditch light era) mainly have solenoid operated bell valves (switches) and are activated automatically any time the horn is blown, then manually cancelled.

Keep the bell ringing for the entire duration of the passenger platform. There's often crossings in town near the station so the bell would probably be left ringing through the crossings anyway.

The only railroad I was ever aware of that had "R" posts for ring signs, was the Pennsylvania (Tichy recenbtly made "Ring" signs available).

 

 

There may be others and I have seen photos of hand painted signs in the "early" days to "Ring Bell"

Out on the road, there's no difference — passenger or freight. In the yard, where a switcher is making constant back and forth moves the bell can be kept silent unless other employees are around or when near shop or fueling areas.

This page has some very interesting data on locomotive bells:

http://www.bellsandbirmans.com/bells/bellfacts.php

 

Good Luck, Ed

 

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Posted by OT Dean on Thursday, May 23, 2019 12:39 AM

I know it's off subject, but I have a pet peeve about Hollywood sound men.  For a couple of decades, they've been sticking in the air horn signal, Bee-bee-beep" at odd moments, for everything from subway trains to section speeders--well, almost.  It's a lot like the engineers of tourist steam trains, who whistle all over the place.  I understand: the tourists like to hear it and it's the tourists who spend the bucks to ride so us railroad nuts can watch real steam engines live or in videos.  I don't mind that, but that **** "Bee-bee-beep" for no apparent reason always gets to me.  In reality it means, when standing "I'm going to back up!" or when moving "Stopping at next station."  Ah, Hollywood...

Deano

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Thursday, May 23, 2019 3:28 AM

Engineers generally turn on their bell when they want people to be aware of their train. For example in yards there are a lot of crew members walking around and it is important that they are aware of other trains so they don’t get run over.

When engineers come to a grade crossing they are required to blow two longs, an short, and then a final long (Morse code for W EDIT* I meant Q) Engineers usually turn on their bell about the time they blow the first long.

Regards, Isaac

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, May 23, 2019 5:10 AM

SPSOT fan
For example in yards there are a lot of crew members walking around and it is important that they are aware of other trains so they don’t get run over.

One of the things I was taught in my safety classes is to be aware of your surroundings at all times and expect a standing cut to move at any time!

With that in mind remember a yard shove doesn't need to be protected so,a engineer shoving a cut of cars into a yard track can not see you and the bell is of little use.  There will be no bell warning from rolling kicked cars either.  This is one reason railroads doesn't suffer fools or carelessness. Be alert at all times!

With todays remote controlled engines I suspect that doubles or may even triple the risk. 

 

Larry

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, May 23, 2019 4:32 PM

I seem to recall in that 1946 GN "Safe Switching" film (which is on the internet now) that the rule of thumb was that if you had to walk by the end of a cut of cars, always allow at least 15 feet distance. That way, if the cars suddenly started to move (because there's an engine on the other end for example!) you would have time to get out of the way.

Stix
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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, May 23, 2019 6:13 PM

Stix,15 feet is what I was taught in both PRR and Chessie safety classes although my training conductors on the PRR and Chessie advised me to make it at least 20 feet and still double check to ensure the the cut is still stopped.

Larry

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, May 23, 2019 7:36 PM

SPSOT fan

Engineers generally turn on their bell when they want people to be aware of their train. For example in yards there are a lot of crew members walking around and it is important that they are aware of other trains so they don’t get run over.

When engineers come to a grade crossing they are required to blow two longs, an short, and then a final long (Morse code for W). Engineers usually turn on their bell about the time they blow the first long.

 

The whistle/horn sequence has nothing to do with Morse code.  The original sequence was two longs and two shorts.  Engineers started extending the last short until they reached the crossing.  The rule was changed to reflect the practice.  This happened around the 1920s.

 

Our current rules (GCOR and our interpretation) requires ringing the bell at crossings when going by the whistle post.  Depending on speed, one can delay blowing the horn at the post, but the bell should be started at the post.  Also ring the bell when on a main track when going past stopped trains or cars on an adjacent track.  When passing yards where people are working and when passing through passenger stations.  I don't have to worry about the passenger station part, freight only in my area.

Now, how well the bells work sometimes is another matter....

Jeff

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Posted by tstage on Thursday, May 23, 2019 11:27 PM

So, what would the speed window be for sounding the bell at a grade crossing?  20 MPH and < ?

Tom

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Posted by tstage on Thursday, May 23, 2019 11:37 PM

SPSOT fan
When engineers come to a grade crossing they are required to blow two longs, an short, and then a final long (Morse code for W)

Try again.  International Morse for "Q" is long, long, short, long and "W" is short, long, long.  Don't quote something as fact if you don't know for sure...

Tom

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Friday, May 24, 2019 1:19 AM

tstage

 

 
SPSOT fan
When engineers come to a grade crossing they are required to blow two longs, an short, and then a final long (Morse code for W)

 

Try again.  International Morse for "Q" is long, long, short, long and "W" is short, long, long.  Don't quote something as fact if you don't know for sure...

Tom

Oops, I knew that, just mixed things up!

And to prove I know what I am talking about let me give some background in the use of the Morse code for Q at grade crossing.

Back in the old days, the queen of England used to travel by ship, and when her ship got into port, the ship would blow the Morse code for Q in order to tell everyone to get out of the way. When thet queen switched to rail travel this tradition continued. Now somehow this tradition applied to all trains once railtravel spread to the US, so that is why Q is blown at grade crossings (unless your an Amtrak engineer, they don’t always seem to know what they are doing Big Smile, once I heard one blown a short, short, long, short instead of a long, long , short, long at a grade crossing!)

Regards, Isaac

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Posted by tstage on Friday, May 24, 2019 1:49 AM

Well, I'm afraid I ain't buying that one either, Isaac...

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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, May 24, 2019 2:19 AM

Well, maybe there's something to it...

http://www.trainsandtravel.com/2015/06/07/a-train-whistle-mystery/

Long ago lost in folklore —

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Friday, May 24, 2019 3:34 AM

tstage

Well, I'm afraid I ain't buying that one either, Isaac...

Well, that’s the way it was told it to me, it may be coincidence, or not, who knows! You can buy whatever you like, but I’m just saying what I have heard to be the story. As with many things in history we really don’t know the exact origin of everything. Ed’s article says that it used to be long, long, short, short, and that also makes sense to me.

Regards, Isaac

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, May 24, 2019 7:02 AM

I worry about the amount of misinformation in general on the Internet and specifically in some cases on this forum. What I notice is that some forum members tend to reply to nearly every thread without any substantive purpose.

Sometimes, it is merely a subjective comment of a whimsical nature. Other times, it is simply a rah rah comment from what I call, The Peanut Gallery. No harm there because the comments are harmless and the only result is an increase in post counts.

What does concern me is erroneous information, almost always unintentional, provided to be helpful but, in fact, misleading and counterproductive for those forum members looking for accurate responses to their questions and concerns.

I would encourage all of us to restrain ourselves from replying to threads with specific advice unless we are sure that we know our replies to be accurate.

Rich 

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, May 25, 2019 2:13 AM

BRAKIE

Stix,15 feet is what I was taught in both PRR and Chessie safety classes although my training conductors on the PRR and Chessie advised me to make it at least 20 feet and still double check to ensure the the cut is still stopped.

 

Our rules are 10 feet around equipment.  I try to give more, though, esp. around cars with cushion drawbars.  I've seen those things release and pop out on their own. 

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Monday, May 27, 2019 1:18 PM

richhotrain
What does concern me is erroneous information, almost always unintentional, provided to be helpful but, in fact, misleading and counterproductive for those forum members looking for accurate responses to their questions and concerns.

Rich,Some things in this hobby can be done in different ways while other techniques from 50-60 years ago still works and if one lacks that understanding it can become misleading to some.

As far as bell ringing I worked with a engineer that rang the bell for thirty seconds near grade crossing and passenger platfoms and then shut it off. While approaching a station platform it was a short toot or two on the horns and the short bell warning.

My quess is he didn't like the da-thump,da-thump,da-thump the bell made in the cab. 

Larry

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Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.

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