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Go Back   Railway Forum > General Railway Discussion > Freight Operations and Observations

Loose coupled freight.

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  #1  
Old 9th March 2011, 10:41
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Loose coupled freight.

In my mind, the unsung heros of the railway world were those who were involved with loose coupled freight workings.

The extraordinary skills used by footplatemen and guards, particularly on gradients where wagon brakes had to be manually applied, or released seem largely ignored.

It would be nice to hear a few more stories about the exploits of these heros.


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  #2  
Old 9th March 2011, 13:01
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HM181 HM181 is offline
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When I went to HM in July 1982, nearly all the goods trains were loose coupled, as there was not many Air braked trains around.
The oil trains were AB such as 101ton TEA and 45 ton TTA wagons. These were Class 6 trains.
Most of the other trains were vacuum braked or loose coupled Class 9.
Most of the routine goods trains were those with a fitted head of brakes and a BV in the rear.
Most of the Satuday Night ballast jobs were loose coupled with a BV at either end.
All over the railways were trackside notices AWB, this meant the train had to stop and pin down brakes on the train.
Places that had AWB signs were going down from Miles Platting into Man Vic.
Some local AWB's were on the up road at Shepley Station on the Penistone line.
The train stopped in the station and the second man pinned down the brakes on about 10 waggons to help with the 1/50 gradient down to Springwood Junction at Huddersfield.
The first mile from Shepley was level through Stocksmoor Station upto Brockholes tunnel mouth.
The guard would apply the hand brake hard on the wheels, with just the BV wheels turning.
On arrival at Huddersfield the train would be signalled onto the Down Main Line to lift all the brakes.
By this time a few of the waggons wheels were red hot and giving off blue smoke.
When putting coal on the BV stove it was wise to get hold of something solid, cos when stopping a sudden loco brake application would set of all the trucks buffering up, and when it got to the BV it was like running into a brick wall at 20mph.
I have spent may happy hours at all times of the day and night in a BV in summer and in winter, all by myself with mi mashing can on a red hot stove, wearing my bullet proof BR issued black over coat.
Ask me owt you want regarding loose couple trains and I will seek to answer your questions.
I had ten good years riding the range in a BV, and my last journey was in a Shark BV from Turners Lane, Wakefield to Neville Hill Depot, at Leeds. This was Christmas Week 1991.
Send me my VC.
All the BV's Irode in were non smoking.


This link will lead to pictures on the up and down roads at Stocksmoor Station, showing the only level track between Springwood Junction, at Huddersfield and Clayton West Jct, near to Shelley., on the Penistone Line in West Yorkshire.

http://www.imagebam.com/image/39ff95122992745

Last edited by HM181; 10th March 2011 at 19:56.
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  #3  
Old 9th March 2011, 22:09
Barry Of Blackrod Barry Of Blackrod is offline  
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Claas 9 Trains

In the 70s i was at the front end on the engine. I worked from Springs Branch at Wigan and most of our work was on Class 25/40s with coal trains from the local pits.Various places on the network were quite dangerous if you did not get it right.eg dropping down the bank past Vulcan Foundry there was nothing between you and the WCML. you only approached the signal before the junction at 5mph or less otherwise you could do a spad and be on the junction. Greasy or wet lines made it evan more difficult as with a class 25 it was easy to lock the wheels and slide. Anouther bad place was coming off the Bickershaw branch. The signal was on the down hill slope so you would stop at the top of the hill and off the slope untill the signal pulled off. The signal men at Warrington PSB used to be exellant and if you told them it was bad rail conditions they would give you a clear road if they could.
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Old 9th March 2011, 23:12
Torquay Torquay is offline  
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Smile Vulcan, Warrington,& Bickershaw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Of Blackrod View Post
In the 70s i was at the front end on the engine. I worked from Springs Branch at Wigan and most of our work was on Class 25/40s with coal trains from the local pits.Various places on the network were quite dangerous if you did not get it right.eg dropping down the bank past Vulcan Foundry there was nothing between you and the WCML. you only approached the signal before the junction at 5mph or less otherwise you could do a spad and be on the junction. Greasy or wet lines made it evan more difficult as with a class 25 it was easy to lock the wheels and slide. Anouther bad place was coming off the Bickershaw branch. The signal was on the down hill slope so you would stop at the top of the hill and off the slope untill the signal pulled off. The signal men at Warrington PSB used to be exellant and if you told them it was bad rail conditions they would give you a clear road if they could.
Good one Barry, spot on, your correct with what took place in those areas whilst you were at Springs Branch, my stomping ground. Torquay.
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Old 10th March 2011, 00:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torquay View Post
Good one Barry, spot on, your correct with what took place in those areas whilst you were at Springs Branch, my stomping ground. Torquay.
I have been over that railway many times with the Ellesmere Port Gas Tanks in both directions.
We came through Vic, over the Moss and made a left turn through Newton Le Willows Station down past the Vulcan foundry, as I recall there was a signal near the foundry that protected the WCML.
One of the HM Drivers had a SPAD going in the direction of Warrington.
The Gas Train was 12x101T Air Braked Tankers run at Class 6.
By the way did you know David Dean, he is the Branch Sec. of the Wigan RMT.
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Old 10th March 2011, 11:24
Barry Of Blackrod Barry Of Blackrod is offline  
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Winwick Junction

Yes that signal has allways been a bad one to stop at.It was moved back farther up the hill in the late 70s to give more overlap towards the junction.This was after various concerns raised about this signal.I personaly have never liked this junction as up trains from Earlstown have to run on the down fast line for about 75-100yrd before croossing back to the down lines.
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Old 10th March 2011, 18:02
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Originally Posted by Barry Of Blackrod View Post
Yes that signal has allways been a bad one to stop at.It was moved back farther up the hill in the late 70s to give more overlap towards the junction.This was after various concerns raised about this signal.I personaly have never liked this junction as up trains from Earlstown have to run on the down fast line for about 75-100yrd before croossing back to the down lines.
It always amazed me when coming through the platfom at Newton Le Willows how tight it was with the loaded gas tanks screeching on the rails.
As we came back pass from Warrington BQ, we went via NLW's it also shocked me how many wooden rail chocks were missing on the track we had just come through.
A derailment with this train of LPG could be a bit hairy to say the least.
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Old 10th March 2011, 21:34
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Pure nostalgia, although the BV that I remember had enough smoke from the stove for anyone.
The mention of a derailment/accident with the LPG tanks reminds me of the nuclear flasks that we worked on a regular basis.


Davat

Having a good week in Belgium.
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Old 11th March 2011, 05:12
Seabrook Seabrook is offline  
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A point that was very important, was you could not go slow enough at the top of a steep incline. Drivers would bring the speed down to sometimes as low as 5 mph even under clear signals to control the train down the banks. If the train started pushing the engine then you had no chance of stopping in difficult areas. Some notable problem areas were Billericay - Shenfield, Shenfield - Harold Wood and Haringay - South Tottenham. Cross London was always difficult and I remember the Southern being the first region to abolish loose coupled trains. For me as a Secondman I remember driving a Cambridge - Temple Mills loose coupled train. On arrival at Temple Mills the elderly and very experienced Guard enquired who was driving. When the Driver informed him it was I he complimented me on a very good journey. I always remember that small gesture with pride.
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Old 11th March 2011, 16:03
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THE SHUNT POLE
The first thing I learned to do when going out of the yard loose coupled, was to learn how to use a shunt pole
It was my job to couple all the trucks up and make sure they were all fit for going.
As these wagons came over the hump at HM, they would have been cut on the hump top in blocks of 3.
This meant coupling up every 3rd truck. To do this you had to go under the buffers to lift the coupling onto the other truck.
As railwaymen were a bit lazy someone invented a shunt pole.
This shunt pole speeded up the process of preparing a loose coupled train.
In expert hands you could hook 2 trucks together in a very quick minute.
This saved going inbetween the trucks and the effort that it took.
Some guards used the shunt pole under the buffers, and throwing the shackle onto the hook by manual strength.
My way was to hook on was place the shunt pole on the buffer casing and use that as a pivot to lift the shackle and place it on the hook of the other vehicle
Then with a quick flick of your arm deposit the shackle on to the other hook.
The SP was used for hooking off as well, also you could lengthen and shorten instanter couplings with the SP.
If you look at buffers you will see on the buffer casing a raised lip at the end where the actual buffer comes out of the casing. This lip is used to stop the SP from slipping onto buffer assembly, on some of the newer OLEO buffers there is a pin at the end of the casing which stops the SP sliding onto the buffer.
You see a lot of old steam engines with a shunt pole over the front buffer.
All the 08 350 shunters had a place for the shunter to ride on and a place to stand a shunt pole upright.
All brakevans had to have a shunt pole, a brake stick 3 tail lamps and 2 sets of Track Safety Operarting Clips(TCOC's) and enough coal and paraffin for the journey.
I carried at tin of detonators for years in my guards bag.
They came in handy for clearing the ash and soot out of the BV fire.
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