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Locomotive placement

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, May 16, 2020 8:11 AM

I long had the impression that a pony truck was the pilot. Since engines of today do not have pony trucks, the railroad seems to have decided that the "thingy" is a pilot (which does not help pilot the engine around curves).

Johnny

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Saturday, May 16, 2020 10:00 AM

SD70Dude

It turns out that CN believes a "pilot" is a plow/wedge shaped thingy (not nearly as catchy as "yellow thingy" eh?).  Until a recent bulletin came out listing which locomotives have pilots came out, I and many others had believed that the flat, thick steel sheet met the definition. 

2599 has a rear pilot:

http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=18133

2528 does not:

http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=37831

Here is the worst type of locomotive to run backward, doing exactly that.  Note the lack of ditchlights, to go along with no pilot and half a headlight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmSl1d3VLLk

 

   I never would have noticed the difference.  The "pilot" extends a little lower and is angled out a little at the bottom and is slightly pointed.  A modern cowcatcher.

   As for your example of the worst, there's also the body type.  Terrible forward visibilty.  I can imagine running like that in rain or snow.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, May 16, 2020 10:59 AM

Paul of Covington
As for your example of the worst, there's also the body type.  Terrible forward visibility. 

At least it has a 'Draper taper lite'.  Can you imagine the fun running a typical US cowl unit 'long end first' for any distance?

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Saturday, May 16, 2020 12:05 PM

Overmod

 

 
Paul of Covington
As for your example of the worst, there's also the body type.  Terrible forward visibility. 

 

At least it has a 'Draper taper lite'.  Can you imagine the fun running a typical US cowl unit 'long end first' for any distance?

 

   Ah, I see what you mean.  I hadn't noticed that indentation before.

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Posted by MMLDelete on Saturday, May 16, 2020 12:47 PM

BaltACD

 

 
Lithonia Operator
What is the reason to limit the speed of an engine without a pilot on the leading end?

is it that pilot-less engines make for messier grade crossing accidents?

 

There is a theory that people don't perceive motion from a single point of light in the same way they perceive motion from multiple points of light and are therefore 'fooled' into thinking the single point of light is traveling slower than the multiple points of light and thus misjudge the distance from the road crossing and the time they have to cross over said crossing.  The FRA ascribes to that theory and has ruled that there must be ditch lights in addition to the headlight to warrant track speed operation.

My theory is the some people are just bad judges of moving objects at road crossings or highway intersections in the non-railroad world.  Needless to say there are many more collisions at highway intersections than there are at rail-roadway road crossings.

 

I understand that about ditch lights. But I was asking about pilots. I assumed that pilot meant whatever hangs down from the front platform, the modern equivalent of a steam locomotive's pilot (aka cowcatcher). What the front coupler protrudes through. Often just kind of a big flat vertical steel piece, but in many cases more of a plow shape.

On switch engines there used to be a step on either side at the bottom of the pilot, where a (brave) switchman could ride. I'm pretty sure those steps are illegal now.

It does seem to me that if pilots were not there, and an engine hit an automobile, the chances of the car being knocked aside would be lessened significantly. So grade crossing accidents would be more severe and more deadly.

 

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, May 16, 2020 2:27 PM

Lithonia Operator
On switch engines there used to be a step on either side at the bottom of the pilot, where a (brave) switchman could ride. I'm pretty sure those steps are illegal now.

Foorboards.  Yep.  Not allowed. 

 

Some US reading about pilots.  https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2012-title49-vol4/pdf/CFR-2012-title49-vol4-sec229-123.pdf

 

I've seen some yard engines with the stencilled heightened pilots, but that was years ago. 

   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 MMLDelete on Sunday, May 17, 2020 7:42 AM

Thanks for that, zug.

Could you post a link which goes to the section with all of the engine/car regs (that that linked page is part of)? I tried to get there by visiting the FRA's site, but I couldn't find the regs.

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Posted by MMLDelete on Sunday, May 17, 2020 8:02 AM

BaltACD

 

 
Lithonia Operator
What is the reason to limit the speed of an engine without a pilot on the leading end?

is it that pilot-less engines make for messier grade crossing accidents?

 

There is a theory that people don't perceive motion from a single point of light in the same way they perceive motion from multiple points of light and are therefore 'fooled' into thinking the single point of light is traveling slower than the multiple points of light and thus misjudge the distance from the road crossing and the time they have to cross over said crossing.  The FRA ascribes to that theory and has ruled that there must be ditch lights in addition to the headlight to warrant track speed operation.

My theory is the some people are just bad judges of moving objects at road crossings or highway intersections in the non-railroad world.  Needless to say there are many more collisions at highway intersections than there are at rail-roadway road crossings.

 

I think that theory is sound. As the train comes closer, the ditch lights will appear to get further and further apart. It's true that a single headlight will "grow;" but a single point of light "growing" is not as obvious as the ditch lights "spreading," particularly in daytime. In daylight, perceived light-intensity is harder to discern than perceived lateral distance.

Now, if the ditch lights are taking turns illuminating, it seems to me that that may partly defeat the "spreading" illusion. (I can't remember if when they alternate, whether there is a second or so of overlap while both are on; if so, that would help with the illusion. The alternating does create a sense of urgency, though that one would think would help intimidate motorists. But stupidity or inebriation are stout foes.

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Posted by zugmann on Sunday, May 17, 2020 9:48 AM

Lithonia Operator
Could you post a link which goes to the section with all of the engine/car regs (that that linked page is part of)? I tried to get there by visiting the FRA's site, but I couldn't find the regs.

Here's Cornell's page:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/chapter-II

   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 Overmod on Sunday, May 17, 2020 10:26 AM

The supposedly-daily-updated source for the material Zug provided is the Federal e-CFR, which can be accessed here.

https://gov.ecfr.io/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=222418f380a9deb92f00f2ed6d2ec4fc&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title49/49cfrv4_02.tpl#0

The 'title' for transportation is 49, and the general-system-of-transportation sections (as indicated when you go there) commence with 200.  (Note that NRPC/Amtrak has its own section, too.)

Something not immediately obvious is that the Government does make mistakes and walk some things back, and these are on an official corrections page which further links as noted to an official corrections archive.  

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=c56ce7d7bbe8d3a59b9495eeee68c149&mc=true&tpl=/correctionspage.tpl

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Posted by MMLDelete on Sunday, May 17, 2020 8:54 PM

Thanks, zug and OM.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, May 17, 2020 9:55 PM

Lithonia Operator
 
BaltACD 
Lithonia Operator
What is the reason to limit the speed of an engine without a pilot on the leading end?

is it that pilot-less engines make for messier grade crossing accidents?

There is a theory that people don't perceive motion from a single point of light in the same way they perceive motion from multiple points of light and are therefore 'fooled' into thinking the single point of light is traveling slower than the multiple points of light and thus misjudge the distance from the road crossing and the time they have to cross over said crossing.  The FRA ascribes to that theory and has ruled that there must be ditch lights in addition to the headlight to warrant track speed operation.

My theory is the some people are just bad judges of moving objects at road crossings or highway intersections in the non-railroad world.  Needless to say there are many more collisions at highway intersections than there are at rail-roadway road crossings. 

I think that theory is sound. As the train comes closer, the ditch lights will appear to get further and further apart. It's true that a single headlight will "grow;" but a single point of light "growing" is not as obvious as the ditch lights "spreading," particularly in daytime. In daylight, perceived light-intensity is harder to discern than perceived lateral distance.

Now, if the ditch lights are taking turns illuminating, it seems to me that that may partly defeat the "spreading" illusion. (I can't remember if when they alternate, whether there is a second or so of overlap while both are on; if so, that would help with the illusion. The alternating does create a sense of urgency, though that one would think would help intimidate motorists. But stupidity or inebriation are stout foes.

In my days as a Train Order Operator I got assigned to work the night job at Salem, IL on weekends.  The job checked the interchange with the M&I (Missouri & Illinois RR) to prove the interchange happened before or after midnight (the OLD per diem rules - no the hourly rules that are in effect today).

8 miles to the East of Salem was the passing siding at Iuka, about 8 miles to the West of Salem was the IC crossing at grade at Sandoval.  The announciator bells for Salem rang when trains passed the West End of Iuka or operated through the IC crossing at Sandoval.  If one was out on the station platform on a reasonably clear night - you could see the headlight of Westbound trains shortly before they hit the bell at Iuka, you could see the headlight of Eastbound trains before they went over the IC crossing at Sandoval.  You could also see the indications of the intermediat signals between Salem and Sandoval for Westbound trains, including the absolute signal that governed the crossing. (Both the Station and the signals were on the North side of the tracks).  Southern Illinois is  FLAT!

Personally, I have never had any trouble assessing the distance and speed of a headlight on a locomotive and therefore how much time is available before it gets to my location.

We have more than enough automotive incidents at intersections to say that in general - people can't judge the approaching speed of any oncoming vehicle, no matter how many lights it displays or at what speed it operates.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Monday, May 18, 2020 9:26 AM

Lithonia Operator

 

 
BaltACD

 

 
Lithonia Operator
What is the reason to limit the speed of an engine without a pilot on the leading end?

is it that pilot-less engines make for messier grade crossing accidents?

 

There is a theory that people don't perceive motion from a single point of light in the same way they perceive motion from multiple points of light and are therefore 'fooled' into thinking the single point of light is traveling slower than the multiple points of light and thus misjudge the distance from the road crossing and the time they have to cross over said crossing.  The FRA ascribes to that theory and has ruled that there must be ditch lights in addition to the headlight to warrant track speed operation.

My theory is the some people are just bad judges of moving objects at road crossings or highway intersections in the non-railroad world.  Needless to say there are many more collisions at highway intersections than there are at rail-roadway road crossings.

 

 

 

I think that theory is sound. As the train comes closer, the ditch lights will appear to get further and further apart. It's true that a single headlight will "grow;" but a single point of light "growing" is not as obvious as the ditch lights "spreading," particularly in daytime. In daylight, perceived light-intensity is harder to discern than perceived lateral distance.

Now, if the ditch lights are taking turns illuminating, it seems to me that that may partly defeat the "spreading" illusion. (I can't remember if when they alternate, whether there is a second or so of overlap while both are on; if so, that would help with the illusion. The alternating does create a sense of urgency, though that one would think would help intimidate motorists. But stupidity or inebriation are stout foes.

 

It also helps indicate that there is a machine coming your direction and not some random light source that happens to be aligned with the railroad tracks.  A single point of light could be almost anything, like a reflection on a car windshield or a distant light on a house.  That triangle of lights is definitely a locomotive.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 8:32 AM

NittanyLion
Now, if the ditch lights are taking turns illuminating, it seems to me that that may partly defeat the "spreading" illusion. (I can't remember if when they alternate, whether there is a second or so of overlap while both are on; if so, that would help with the illusion.

This belatedly reminded me of something that came up years ago in practical critical systems.  IBM text terminals had a couple of 'blink modes' for display, in which bright or reversed characters or lines could be made to blink on and off for 'emphasis'.  This is tiring for many people to read as the lines disappear during the blink -- the solution being, simply, to revise the blink code so the letters remain either baseline or dim illuminated in the interval between the emphasis blinks.  Implementing the same thing on ditchlights would be technically trivial and preserve at least some of the spatial perception of expanding triangle.

This begs the whole question of whether the dazzle effect of too brilliant illumination, particularly at night in people with certain kinds of 'visual issues' including corrected high myopia or cataracts, outweighs the practical effects of the triangle.  Or whether for some the expansion of the triangle is little different from the expansion of the locomotive's image as the train approaches (which we all recognized as a stated concern in judging speed or distance to moving trains long ago).

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 11:15 AM

CSX around here operates most of their waycross & JAX IM and Manifests as one or two leading with one mid train.  (1x1x0 )  Occasionally DPU on rear 1x1.  The IM and manifest to New Orleans or beyond on UP and locals usually 2 some times 3 on front only. 

The BNSF hauage trins from Birmingham alsways has 3 - 5 locos all on the front.  Unconfirmed that BNSF add / removes the mid train units and cars behind those remotes at BHM leaving BNSF units only on front.

Around here we are in a sag so the engineers seem to always have the remote unit in full run or full dynamics both directions . That is unless slowing for a stop signal. The front loco seems to be run at slower run numbers depending on the train load.  Have actually observed front unit at idle with remote full run 8.

 

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Posted by cv_acr on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 11:50 AM

SD70Dude

It turns out that CN believes a "pilot" is a plow/wedge shaped thingy (not nearly as catchy as "yellow thingy" eh?).  Until a recent bulletin came out listing which locomotives have pilots came out, I and many others had believed that the flat, thick steel sheet met the definition. 

2599 has a rear pilot:

http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=18133

2528 does not:

http://www.railpictures.ca/?attachment_id=37831

Here is the worst type of locomotive to run backward, doing exactly that.  Note the lack of ditchlights, to go along with no pilot and half a headlight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmSl1d3VLLk

 

 

I'm not sure I agree with that definition, but maybe I'm off...

Those engines don't have a plow on the pilot, but they still have a solid pilot sheet.

If that's not the pilot, what is it exactly?

*This* is an engine with no rear pilot, completely open below the coupler:

http://mountainrailway.com/Roster%20Archive/CP%204500A/CP%204508-2.jpg

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Posted by MMLDelete on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 12:56 PM

Chris, that's the way I look at it also.

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Posted by Cwoodruff75 on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 5:56 AM

I know that lately with the addition of precision scheduling railroad, CSX is running one engine upfront and one engine mid-train for their intermodal trains. I've also started seeing Canadian National do it with their intermodals as well. With PSR we are going to start seeing fewer engines with them in different locations of the consist.

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Posted by KEVIN BUFFEL on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 8:48 PM

My understanding is that locomotive placement decisions are done by computers based on complicated algorythms on Class 1's and not by workers.  

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