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Branchline combine question

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Branchline combine question
Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, July 30, 2022 4:57 PM

My branchline runs a daily mixed passenger/freight train. Passenger service is provided by a lone combine. At the terminus, the passenger depot is on a stub track with no escape track. It makes sense to spot the combine at the depot, then back the freight portion of the train onto the combine. When the train returns to the terminus, it makes more sense to have the combine right behind the loco (a Ten Wheeler). The freight cars can be dropped off in a small yard and the loco then pulls the combine by itself into the depot. 

My plan is not to turn the combine at either end of the run. When running at the back of the train, the passenger compartment will be in the rear. On the return trip with the combine right behind the loco, the passenger compartment will be on the end nearest the loco.

My question is whether this would violate any regulations or standard practices. I don't want to resort to the "it's your railroad" excuse.

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, July 30, 2022 5:30 PM

Nope, no problem either way, they tended to put the passenger car on the rear of the train.  Less slack action while switching.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, July 30, 2022 6:02 PM

dehusman
They tended to put the passenger car on the rear of the train.

Another question...

Would a mixed train with a combine on the rear also have a caboose?

Always, often, sometimes, seldom, or never?

Would the caboose be in front of or behind the combine?

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by Little Timmy on Saturday, July 30, 2022 8:25 PM

Rust...... It's a good thing !

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Posted by Little Timmy on Saturday, July 30, 2022 8:26 PM

Sometimes the combine WAS the caboose. 

( don't know why I had to post in  2 halves...)

 

Rust...... It's a good thing !

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, July 30, 2022 10:52 PM

I understand at one time in some jurisdictions a caboose (passenger cars qualify) must be on the end of a train.  Conductor needed to monitor brake pressure at end of train, and a crew member needed to flag the end of train for an unscheduled stop or backup move.  It also places crew in both parts of a separated train.

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Posted by NorthBrit on Sunday, July 31, 2022 6:26 AM

Oh!  The beauty of railroad operations either side of 'the pond'.

Here in the U.K.  a Brake Second (Class)  passenger car would always be at the rear of a branchline combine;  either direction.

The use of a brake van (caboose)  is not neccessary  as the passenger car does the same job.

 

David

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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, July 31, 2022 7:01 AM

MidlandMike

I understand at one time in some jurisdictions a caboose (passenger cars qualify) must be on the end of a train.  Conductor needed to monitor brake pressure at end of train, and a crew member needed to flag the end of train for an unscheduled stop or backup move.  It also places crew in both parts of a separated train.

 

I thought about including this bit of information but didn't want to complicate the question. I plan to also have a caboose that will be at the opposite end of the train from the combine. The mixed train will be doing setups or pickups in either direction so I'm thinking it would have a crew member at both ends of the train to set switches. It would be behind the loco leaving the terminus and at the tail end on the return trip. If I were to use the combine as the caboose and keep it on the tail end in both directions, when the train returns to the terminus, it would have to pull into a yard track, the loco would uncouple, runaround the train and pull the combine off the year of the train and then push it into the depot. With a few more switching moves, it could get ahead of the combine and pull it in. It just seems like it would be a simpler solution to just drop the freight portion of the train in the arrival yard and then pull the combine to the depot. 

This leads me to another question. On a branchline or shortline train in the steam era, would there be a full five man crew of conductor, engineer, fireman, front and rear brakemen, or would any of them pull double duty? The typical consist for this train would be 4-8 freight cars. 

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Posted by DrW on Sunday, July 31, 2022 2:46 PM

John McCall's book "Coach, Cabbage & Caboose..." has lots of pictures of Santa Fe mixed trains. In nearly all of them there is a combine at the end of the train. The two exceptions have a caboose at the end and no combine at all; in these trains the rare passenger had to ride in the caboose. To me, the most interesting pics showed a "mixed" train consisting of five F units, 55 freight cars, and a combine.

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Posted by crossthedog on Sunday, July 31, 2022 3:47 PM

John-NYBW
If I were to use the combine as the caboose and keep it on the tail end in both directions, when the train returns to the terminus, it would have to pull into a yard track, the loco would uncouple, runaround the train and pull the combine off the year of the train and then push it into the depot.

This is the same situation I'm facing at my terminus. I had pretty much decided to do the opposite. Keep the combine directly behind the loco going up the branch so that I could pull into the depot with it, disengage the loco, bring the loco back along the runaround/escape track, and then start pulling freight cars off the rear of the train. This way the passenger car would only come to a stop once and not be moved again until it was ready to go back. I had assumed the railroads would not want passengers to have to wait through a lot of end-of-the-trip switch-banging while they were travel sore and eager to use a decent restroom.

However, I have also considered having the combine at the rear coming in, and having passengers alight at a platform down-track from the station a bit, and then have the loco switch the car off the train "a few minutes later", after pax had disembarked. This would also solve another problem, the mixed train will be picking up stock cars at the terminus, and having the coach behind a load of cattle on the way back down the branch would be...ah... suboptimal.

So I'm paying close attention to this conversation.

-Matt 

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by ndbprr on Sunday, July 31, 2022 5:27 PM

regardless of how many crew members it took there won't really be any on a model train. good question though

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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, July 31, 2022 5:32 PM

John-NYBW
I thought about including this bit of information but didn't want to complicate the question. I plan to also have a caboose that will be at the opposite end of the train from the combine.

Not a typical arrangement.    No need for a caboose on the head end and combine on the rear.

John-NYBW
The mixed train will be doing setups or pickups in either direction so I'm thinking it would have a crew member at both ends of the train to set switches.

That's what the engine is for and why there are seats on the other side of the cab from the engineer.  The head brakeman rides the engine.

John-NYBW
With a few more switching moves, it could get ahead of the combine and pull it in. It just seems like it would be a simpler solution to just drop the freight portion of the train in the arrival yard and then pull the combine to the depot. 

What they would typically do is pull the ENTIRE train down to the depot, spot the combine in front of the depot.  Unload passengers, then do whatever they have to with the freight cars.  Unload passengers first.

John-NYBW
This leads me to another question. On a branchline or shortline train in the steam era, would there be a full five man crew of conductor, engineer, fireman, front and rear brakemen, or would any of them pull double duty?

They would have at least that many crew members and what do you mean "double duty".  The engine crew is not interchangeable with the train crew.  The brakemen are interchangeable.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, July 31, 2022 9:41 PM

dehusman
 

That won't work. The depot is at the end of the line. There isn't room to pull the whole train past the depot to get the combine in front of the depot. That's the reasn for putting the combine at the front and having a separatte caboose on the rear. 

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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, July 31, 2022 9:52 PM

John-NYBW
That won't work. The depot is at the end of the line. There isn't room to pull the whole train past the depot to get the combine in front of the depot. That's the reasn for putting the combine at the front and having a separatte caboose on the rear. 

The real railroad answer is move the depot, its in the wrong place.

Putting the combine right behind the engines would be too expensive.

 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Sunday, July 31, 2022 10:42 PM

One reason to run a combine behind the loco would be if the coach was steam heated, although the company might not want to spare a newer car on a mixed.

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, August 1, 2022 8:19 AM

When a train switches, there is lots of slack action and jolts as the couplings are made.  With the combine next to the engine, every time that happens, grandma back in the coach section gets knocked over.  It won't take more than a few injury lawsuits to pay for moving the depot or buying a coal stove to heat the combine.

Plus with the combine on the head end, you have to then shove the biggest, heaviest, longest car in the train, with longer wheelbase trucks into every ratty industrial track, hoping to clear every loading dock on the line, while carrying people.

On the line I model, in the 1930's and 1940's the local carried a combine on the head end, but it was only carrying express, and was not carrying passengers, it was not a mixed train.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, August 1, 2022 9:11 AM

MidlandMike

One reason to run a combine behind the loco would be if the coach was steam heated, although the company might not want to spare a newer car on a mixed.


 
Yes, if the car was steam-heated it would have to be behind the engine so it could get steam from the engine, followed by the freight cars and a caboose. If it was an older car with it's own stove, it could run at the rear of the train, either in place of the caboose or just ahead of the caboose.
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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, August 1, 2022 10:15 AM

dehusman

When a train switches, there is lots of slack action and jolts as the couplings are made.  With the combine next to the engine, every time that happens, grandma back in the coach section gets knocked over.  It won't take more than a few injury lawsuits to pay for moving the depot or buying a coal stove to heat the combine.

 

Moving the depot would not be practical even if this was a real railroad. The last couple of blocks leading to the depot requires street running. Beyond that is the engine servicing, small freight yard, and industrial spurs. The tracks follow a meandering creek coming into that area on a fairly steep grade. Moving the depot would require moving it well out of town which makes no sense. The terminus of the branch is at a lake resort town. Passenger traffic consists of tourists and commuters. Morning and evening commuters ride a doodlebug. In addition, during the summer there is a Friday evening passenger only train bringing tourists into town and a Sunday evening one for those returning home. There is (or will be) a large resort hotel across the street from the track bumper and a smaller hotel a half block away. It would be terribly inconvenient for the tourists to have the depot out of town. The depot is where it needs to be. 

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, August 1, 2022 12:17 PM

John-NYBW
Moving the depot would not be practical even if this was a real railroad. The last couple of blocks leading to the depot requires street running.

Which ironically has set up the situation you were trying to avoid, because with the options and constraints presented, it's down to you invoking your own .....

John-NYBW
.... "it's your railroad" excuse.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, August 1, 2022 2:50 PM

rri-glattenberg-mixed-1.jpg (800×450) (railroadsillustrated.com)

The above photo seems to show one of two things are true

1. The combine is at the rear of the train with the passenger section toward the front.

                                                   OR

2. The combine is at the front of the train with the passenger section to the rear and either the loco has uncoupled from the train or the train is waiting for the loco to hook up. 

I'm going to search through some more photos to see if I can get a definitive answer to my original questions.  

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, August 1, 2022 2:52 PM

p_mixed_davidw21feb09a.jpg (1024×693) (bluebell-railway.co.uk)

This one from the UK shows two coaches at the front of a mixed train.

C&O Mixed .jpg (1024×1271)

This one shows what I think is a C&O Geep with a combine right behind it, a single hopper, and a caboose. This is pretty much the consist I had in mind for a train moving up the branch toward the terminus. I don't know how common this arrangement might be but it looks like it was not unheard of. There might be times in my operating scheme the mixed train would have a single freight car but that would be unusual. Besides passenger, mail and express service, there are four industries in the town at the end of the branch and four more at the intermediate town.

EDIT: On closer look, the combine doesn't appear to have windows so this might be a combine that was converted to a mail & express car only. I guess I need to keep looking.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, August 1, 2022 3:07 PM

F117_0198.jpg (1920×1280) (wongm.com)

Not sure what to make of this photo. It appears to be a mixed train with a coach at the front end but the people poking their heads out of the car behind it suggest it might be some sort of excursion.

13448745024_415c8ef5c0.jpg (500×321) (staticflickr.com)

Here's a mixed train with two coaches toward the front but the freight cars appear to be more modern than one would expect on a mixed train.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, August 1, 2022 3:36 PM

John, Note the smoke jack - no steam heat on this car, which would mean its intended use is at the rear of the train. I say "intended" because, obviously, it could be used just as easily right behind the locomotive in warmer weather. 

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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, August 1, 2022 4:21 PM

BEAUSABRE

John, Note the smoke jack - no steam heat on this car, which would mean its intended use is at the rear of the train. I say "intended" because, obviously, it could be used just as easily right behind the locomotive in warmer weather. 

 

My first guess was it was a tail end car and that clue you picked up seems to indicate that. Normally when I think of a mixed train I picture a short freight train with a coach or combine on the end. This seems to be a fairly lengthy train. I'm wondering if it is actually a mixed train or the railroad just decided to repurpose an old combine as a caboose for a regular freight train.

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Posted by cx500 on Monday, August 1, 2022 5:28 PM

John-NYBW

rri-glattenberg-mixed-1.jpg (800×450) (railroadsillustrated.com)

The above photo seems to show one of two things are true

1. The combine is at the rear of the train with the passenger section toward the front.

                                                   OR

2. The combine is at the front of the train with the passenger section to the rear and either the loco has uncoupled from the train or the train is waiting for the loco to hook up. 

I'm going to search through some more photos to see if I can get a definitive answer to my original questions.  

 

It is clearly on the rear of the train, since the marker lights are in place.  Many of the other photos you have referenced show tourist type operations which bear no relationship to a regular mixed train in the classic era.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 8:59 AM

John-NYBW
My plan is not to turn the combine at either end of the run. When running at the back of the train, the passenger compartment will be in the rear. On the return trip with the combine right behind the loco, the passenger compartment will be on the end nearest the loco. My question is whether this would violate any regulations or standard practices. I don't want to resort to the "it's your railroad" excuse.

That wouldn't be a problem, no need to turn the combine. In some cases a short local passenger train (say engine-combine-coach-coach) would get to the end of the line and they'd just put the engine on the other end and run back the way they came (engine-coach-coach-combine) without turning any cars.

Plus, as long as it's either summertime (assuming you don't have an air conditioned combine!) or the combine has it's own heat source, it can run at the front or back of the train - but if it's at the front you would normally need a caboose on the rear. Mixed trains with a passenger car and a caboose were quite common.

It would be nice if the passenger station had some type of house track, even just a spur next to the depot, so the combine could be spotted there for loading and unloading passengers and express while the train does it's freight switching.

Stix
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 9:16 AM

Another question:

Why does the combine take the place of the caboose?

My understanding of cabooses is that they provide a workspace for the conductor, a cupola to watch the train, a place to store the crew's personal items, and a place for the crew to bunk if necessary.

How does a combine, maybe loaded with freight and passengers, do all of this? Why wouldn't the caboose be back there with the combine?

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by cv_acr on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 11:34 AM

SeeYou190

Another question:

Why does the combine take the place of the caboose?

My understanding of cabooses is that they provide a workspace for the conductor, a cupola to watch the train, a place to store the crew's personal items, and a place for the crew to bunk if necessary.

How does a combine, maybe loaded with freight and passengers, do all of this? Why wouldn't the caboose be back there with the combine?

-Kevin

 

If the conductor has space in the passenger car to do his work, no need to have the caboose for that.

If the train is a out-and-back "turn" job with no overnight at the "away" terminal OR there's a crew bunkhouse at the away terminal, no need to bunk in the caboose.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 11:56 AM

Why a combine and not a caboose or a combine and caboose - because many railroads were required to provide passenger service between certain points as a condition of its charter (you may have absorbed that rickety short line, but the obligation passes to the successor railroad and Public Utility Commissions did not look kindly at the idea of depriving some voters of the their train). And operating and maintaining two cars is more expensive than one. Some railroads sold tickets to ride the caboose on lighty traveled lines and a few even fielded what I call "passenger cabeese" like this beautiful example on Calfornia shortline McCloud River (note - I differentiate from a drovers caboose as they were intentioned to carry the general public as opposed to ranch hands accompanying the stock cars of a live stock shipment)  and a model of a  SLSW car  . On a conventional combine, though,  you can provide a desk and chair for the conductor and a space for the crew...or just have them occupy some of the passenger seats (I doubt many mixed trains maxed out their passenger capacity). You can watch the train out the windows and as was mentioned above, most mixed trains weren't so long that the crew wouldn't immediately notice a problem like a hotbox - you could smell it burning for one thing (there were even "extra smoky and smelly" catridges (sometimes called "smoke bombs") sold that you could install in journals). "Haven't seen the original HBD mentioned here - the conductor's nose (in the caboose). Hot boxes had a rather distinctive smell, IIRC. Seems like I read somewhere once that roller bearing cars were (at one time) being equipped with something that would either smoke or smell bad if they overheated, allowing those in the caboose to pick up on the problem."

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 12:08 PM

BEAUSABRE
A few even fielded what I call "passenger cabeese" like this beautiful example on Calfornia shortline McCloud River.

I love those. I have a couple I plan to put into service on my railroad.

-Photographs by Kevin Parson

There is a nicely preserved Passenger Caboose at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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