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Proper use of horn/whistle at grade crossings

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Proper use of horn/whistle at grade crossings
Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, April 11, 2020 10:30 AM

I have a transition era layout so I run both steam and diesel locos, most of which are sound equipped. My understanding that the proper signaling at a grade crossing is two longs, a short, and then a long until the loco is throught the grade crossing. What about when the loco is going to go through two crossings in a short space. In my case, I have a depot that sits between two streets that are about 3 feet apart in HO scale. For trains passing through the depot without stopping, would the loco stay on the horn/whistle until it has passed both streets or would there be a short break after passing the first grade crossing?

How would the signaling be handled for a loco that is stopped at the depot but short of the second crossing. How would it signal before starting up and going through that crossing?

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, April 11, 2020 10:48 AM

From my railfaning observation here in Bucyrus where there are three street crossings close together. The NS engineers gives the proper horn signals at the first crossing then several long whistles between the crossings and bell is constantly ringing betwwen crossings.

The passenger train wouuld give the proper crossing signal once it starts moving.

Back in the day a crossing watchman would lower the gates and flag the crossing as soon as the engineer started blowing for the crossing..

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, April 11, 2020 11:53 AM

John-NYBW
In my case, I have a depot that sits between two streets that are about 3 feet apart in HO scale.

Most of today's railroads use a "Whistle — multiple crossing" post to alert the engineer to multiple crossings with only one whistle post mounted. There may be a W on top with MX on a sign added below or sometimes a W-X sign.

Of course, there are "quiet zones" today as well. To satisfy the people that bought houses close to railroad tracks then complain about the noise?

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by dknelson on Sunday, April 12, 2020 11:47 AM

It's my recollection that years ago the horn for the crossing would be the proper two longs, a short, and a long, but the final long was not necessarily held until the locomotive was actually in a crossing.  I think that is a more recent refinement on the practice, perhaps within the last 30 years or so  I do have an aged LP recording of Pennsylvania Railroad steam locomotives and in one of them the engineer of the K4 Pacific gives a very gruff and abrupt - but "correct" -- two longs a short and a long, way too abrupt to have been held while the loco was in a crossing.  Even the notes to the recording mention how impatient the engineer seems to have been.

In towns where the crossings are very close together perhaps due to one street being at a diagonal to the regular streets, I have heard engineers blow for the first one and then just have bell ringing and perhaps a single horn blast for the next one.  

 

Dave Nelson

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Posted by OldEngineman on Sunday, April 12, 2020 9:00 PM

John NYBW asked: "What about when the loco is going to go through two crossings in a short space"

Then you make it sound as good as you can, perhaps abbreviating just a bit for the second crossing (or third, etc.). Depends on where you are, also the time of day...

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Posted by York1 on Sunday, April 12, 2020 9:19 PM

gmpullman
Of course, there are "quiet zones" today as well. To satisfy the people that bought houses close to railroad tracks then complain about the noise?

 

That's probably usually true.

In my small town, however, we finally got quiet zones on the BNSF line here.  We went from relatively few trains per day to between 70 and 90 trains per day on double track, mostly coal.

Most people in the town could tolerate a few trains per day. But four or five per hour, hitting the five crossings in town, meant we had continuous train horns blasting 24/7.

We started the quest for the quiet zones years ago and we just got them finished last month, now that the number of trains has dropped dramatically with the loss of the coal business.

York1 John       

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, April 12, 2020 10:29 PM

Let's take a ride Cool

Regards, Ed

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, April 13, 2020 6:16 AM

Very informative, Ed. Thank you.

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Posted by salty4568 on Friday, April 24, 2020 12:27 PM

FYI if you are modeling pre-1930 or so.... 

The grade crossing signal on most railroads used to be two longs then two shorts. Evidently the holding of the last short until over the crossing made it sound like two long, one short, and a long, and it was changed. 

 

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Posted by wjstix on Sunday, April 26, 2020 3:14 PM

I hadn't known that until it came up recently in MR about the whistle/horn signal having been two longs then two shorts. I wonder now - when I was a kid in the 1960's one of the engineers on the railroad by me (Minneapolis Northfield and Southern) used to blow the Hancock air whistle at the crossing as two longs, two shorts, then a long...wonder if he was an 'old head' who had started with the earlier signal and modified it when it changed. 

Stix

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