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odd/strange railroad myths

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Posted by RedGrey62 on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 12:33 PM

R. T. POTEET

Paul3

Another "Mythbuster" episode had the ol' "peeing on the 3rd rail" myth that doing so will kill you.  At first, they "busted" it because they couldn't recreate the effect, saying that the liquid stream was too broken up to pass current.  Then, they revisited the myth by having Adam urinate on an active electric fence...and he got a shock.  They confirmed that a liquid stream can pass current, and therefore the 3rd rail myth may be possible after all.

I once saw a dog tangle with a "pig" wire hooked up to a pulser unit; I don't know how much voltage those things carried and I occasionally would get careless and get a pulse or two but it was a very "shocking" experience for this dog! To the best of my knowledge, it was a one incident infusion of knowledge and the experience was never repeated! I remember that yowl could have been heard three farms over.

I had a hold of an electric fence that sent out a pulse of electricty.  I also happened to be standing on wet ground which meant I was getting the full effect.  We were "horse setting" for a neighbor and the said electric fence was in the corral to keep their horse away from our ponies (and I just happen to be testing the fence).  The horse had a nasty habit of biting people and he decided to nibble on my elbow as I was grasping the fence that day.  When his mouth touched my elbow....well let's just say he was cured of his habit of biting!

Ricky

"...Mother Nature will always punish the incompetent and uninformed." Bill Barney from Thor's Legions
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Posted by CTValleyRR on Thursday, December 24, 2009 9:58 AM

As a child, I visited the East Broad Top RR frequently.  The Stationmaster (or some uniformed railroad employee) used to help kids line up pennies on the realhead for the loco to smash.  He did, however, insist that we stand back and to one side to avoid the potential of the pennies shooting out to the side.  He also never let us go under the loco to retrieve a coin.

The gasoline truck idea is interesting.  The thing is -- liquid gasoline isn't flammable; it will actually extinguish flame! The vapors however, are extremely flammable at certain partial pressures and in the presence of enough oxygen.  Even so, it requires an ignition source, such as a spark, to ignite.  But when you see a pool of gasoline burning, it's not the gas itself that's on fire, but the vapors evaporating from the puddle (of course, the heat from the fire speeds evaporation, feeding the fire, etc).  This is why firefighters use AFFF to form a foam barrier on top of liquid fuel. 

So the question is, would the collision of a locomotive with a fuel truck atomize and disperse enough fuel during the collision for any sparks caused by the collision to ignite the vapor cloud?  My guess is that, if the train is moving fast enough, it probably WOULD go right through without anything igniting initially (depending on how full the fuel truck was).  It would be sparks from the following cars that would ignite everything after the gas had a chance to dispurse and evaporate.  A matter of seconds, true, but a loco travelling at 80mph will go quite a few feet in those seconds (approximately 117 in each of them, or one locomotive lenght).

Hey Mythbusters!  I would really, REALLY like to see someone try this to see if I'm right.

Connecticut Valley Railroad A Branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." -- Henry Ford

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Posted by Vakharn on Thursday, December 24, 2009 12:39 PM
Yeah gasoline isn't nearly as volatile in liquid form as the movies want us to believe. That's why I think this would be a worthwhile myth to test, but when I posted it on the mythbusters forums all the responses I got were "Oh this is just a variant on previous speed/gasoline explosion myths" and "This is a horrible accident and wanting to replicate it for entertainment is ghoulish and juvenile". So... oh well.
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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, December 24, 2009 1:20 PM

Vakharn
Yeah gasoline isn't nearly as volatile in liquid form as the movies want us to believe. That's why I think this would be a worthwhile myth to test, but when I posted it on the mythbusters forums all the responses I got were "Oh this is just a variant on previous speed/gasoline explosion myths" and "This is a horrible accident and wanting to replicate it for entertainment is ghoulish and juvenile". So... oh well.

 

I don't know about that..One of our worst fears was hitting a tanker truck at a grade crossing the other fear  hitting a school bus.

 I knew  a Chessie engineer and head brakeman that was killed in a train/gas truck collision...I was told the fireball went 100 feet in the air..I saw the unit(a GP40-2) sitting at the Huntington,WVa shops with a tarp over the cab and low hood.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


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

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Posted by Vakharn on Thursday, December 24, 2009 1:54 PM

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm certain this is far more likely to be fatal to the train crew than not, but there could be a possibility of survival. Even if there is no way to survive this, I still think it would make for a good mythbusters episode, and possibly even help Operation Lifesaver's goals of spreading awareness of the dangers of railroad crossings (albeit in a somewhat overly dramatic fashion - and if any tanker truck driver is stupid enough to stop on the tracks seeing a mythbusters episode showing what anyone can figure will likely happen isn't going to deter him).

Anyway, there's no sense in beating the proverbial dead horse about it. Given the response this idea has gotten on the mythbusters site there's no chance it will be used in an episode. Perhaps that is for the best. It would be a shame to destroy a locomotive before its' time, and I'm sure those who know or are related to someone who had been in this sort of accident might consider this to be in bad taste.

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Posted by Packer on Thursday, December 24, 2009 2:38 PM

I've never actually heard about the open/closed coupler one.

As for the fuel truck vs. locomotive one, they could get (read afford, or find someone who'd let them have it) a junker loco and several spacer cars and push it with a working loco, or better yet, a radio-controlled loco.

Here's one I though about; if a rotary plow hits a car does the car get knocked out of the way (like all other impacts) or does it gett chewed up? Mischief

twhite

There is an L-131 Rio Grande 2-8-8-2 buried in the original Tennessee Pass Tunnel that was left there during a cave-in after the alternate tunnel was built. 

Let's go dig it out.

Tom Tongue

If I could get a ticket out to Colorado and get my pick-axe, sledge hammer, shovel and rock drill I'd go too...

Vincent

Wants: 1. high-quality, sound equipped, SD40-2s, C636s, C30-7s, and F-units in BN. As for ones that don't cost an arm and a leg, that's out of the question....

2. An end to the limited-production and other crap that makes models harder to get and more expensive.

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Posted by duckdogger on Thursday, December 24, 2009 3:19 PM

The loco vs tank truck discussion is similar, in a very broad sense, to the Myth Busters take on the speeding auto vs moose.  Can a car go fast enough that it will be clear of the now legless moose torso before the torso crushes the car hood/roof/driver.

As I recall, the bottom line was that if you hit a moose in a car, or even SUV, it was going to change your life in a most negative way.  I think the same outcome would apply to the train vs truck scenario.

Trains. Cooking. Cycling. So many choices but so little time.
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Posted by teen steam fan on Monday, December 28, 2009 3:46 PM

what is the closed/open coupler myth?

If you can read this... thank a teacher. If you are reading this in english... thank a veteran

When in doubt. grab a hammer. 

If it moves and isn't supposed to, get a hammer

If it doesn't move and is supposed to, get a hammer

If it's broken, get a hammer

If it can't be fixed with a hammer... DUCK TAPE!

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Posted by Flashwave on Monday, December 28, 2009 8:47 PM

teen steam fan

what is the closed/open coupler myth?

Old stuporstition about leaving the coupler open being bad luck, possibly draining out.

I have seen news vids of engines hitting tankers, the fireball appeared right about the time the cab window was passing the edge f the trailer. Now, which spark set it off, the impact or the nose, and is there really enough time delay to make a useful distinction?

My concern is that speeding up with ether a commuter, museum, or AMtrak puts the fireball closer to the passengers, or a freight cargo that shouldn't be near a flame. I know Tanlers have to be so far back, but what about other stuff, like coal, which can combust? I mean no disrespect for the crew who have to suffer, but would it be better to let the  engine take the hit rather than the commodity, especially with the cabs re-inforced nowadays?

The engineers in the above fireballs I've seen on the news survived. Maybe others didn't, but some did.

Packer
As for the fuel truck vs. locomotive one, they could get (read afford, or find someone who'd let them have it) a junker loco and several spacer cars and push it with a working loco, or better yet, a radio-controlled loco.

No they couldn't. They couldn't even afford the plane for "frozen chicken" What they could afford is to fly to here and let someone else do it. I could see TTCI doing demo tests

Packer
Here's one I though about; if a rotary plow hits a car does the car get knocked out of the way (like all other impacts) or does it gett chewed up? Mischief

 

I believe that the shround extends further than the blade does, so likely the car would be pushed until the tires grabbed a tie and flipped it, as normal. The question becomes, how far does it co, sonce the shroud is only gonna be to vertical posts and maybe a horizontal one, not a flat surface with a coupler.

Unless, it';s one of Half-Moon's SNow Monsters, which will have temporary coupler mounts for trips out to the snow, which can then be removed and allow the blade free reach. Hee hee. I'll be quiet now 

-Morgan

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Posted by PASMITH on Monday, December 28, 2009 10:48 PM
Note the 100 foot high water tank in the middle of a 400 foot fire ball that was created by the train wreck. This is known as a BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion. Peter Smith, Memphis.
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Posted by grizlump9 on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 12:51 AM

at first, i thought it was neely's bar-b-q.   seriously though, see why some commodities don't belong on the highways?   remember the lpg truck years ago on hwy 40 that tried to take the curve too fast?  a bunch of people got fried in their automobiles.  i missed that one by about 5 minutes.

grizlump

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Posted by Frisco Ryan on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 1:29 AM

twhite

There is an L-131 Rio Grande 2-8-8-2 buried in the original Tennessee Pass Tunnel that was left there during a cave-in after the alternate tunnel was built. 

Let's go dig it out.

Tom Tongue

Don't I wish! I'd be up there with a shovel if that's what it would take!

Oh well, we can dream...

Ship it on the Frisco!

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, December 29, 2009 8:32 AM

teen steam fan

what is the closed/open coupler myth?

 

A open front coupler on a locomotive or a open coupler on the caboose was a bad omen which would bring bad luck during the run.I worked with a old PRR conductor that would check the coupler to ensure it was closed.

 

 

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


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

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Posted by KissMeKate on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 9:52 PM

I've heard of a few cool train superstitions - 

1. Never enter a carriage with your left foot.
2. Blow across each shoulder before crossing rail tracks for good luck
3. If you see a rabbit from a train it's bad luck.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 10:19 AM

KissMeKate
I've heard of a few cool train superstitions.

Welcome to the Model Railroader magazine discussion forums. We are very glad that you have found us. Your first few posts will be delayed by the Kalmbach Media moderators, but that ends soon enough, usually after just a few posts. Please stick around through the delay and become a permanent part of the discussions.

This was an interesting old thread to read through. Lots of talk about coins on tracks.

When I used to go to YMCA camp outside of Gainesville, FL when I was a kid. We would put pennies on the train tracks in the morning. After the train passed we would go mack and look for them. They were always very hard to find. We might recover 10% of what was placed on the track. Some were thrown quite a distance.

No trains were ever derailed.

-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 wjstix on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 11:06 AM

There's a scene in the old movie "Danger Lights" (1930) where the fired engineer (played by Robert Armstrong) gets a job working in a roundhouse and is assigned to work on an engine. First thing he does when looking over the engine (a Milwaukee 2-8-2 IIRC) is close the front coupler and yell something to no one in particular about "that's no way to leave an engine!"

(BTW earlier in that scene a character refers to the 2-8-2 as "the big boy" - a decade before that generic term for a large engine was assigned to a specific type of engine.)

Railroaders way back when were supposed to be very superstitious about bird nests. If a bird built a nest on top of a  freight car and laid eggs in it, railroaders would leave the car where it was until the baby birds had hatched and flew off - even if the car was in the middle of a yard track. They'd work around it.

Stix

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