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Author Topic: Prototype Operations  (Read 4648 times)
Bill Baker

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« on: February 08, 2007, 10:56:46 AM »

To All,

Last night I went to what I think will be my last meeting of the model railroad club I'm a member of.  It's comprised of bunch of disfunctional know-it-alls who do nothing but argue and very little operation. The argument last night revolved around the issue of why did the prototype railroads place the baggage/express cars right behind the engines. Specifically, if a baggage or express car had to be cut out of the consist, did the road engine disconnect from the consist, spot the car, and reconnect to the consist, OR did a switch engine approach the consist from the rear, disconnect the passenger cars, spot them, then return to baggage/express car, remove it and then reconnect the passenger cars? This argument went on for 1 1/2 hours before I left and went home.  I would just like some outside opinions not that I will even go back and tell them.

This is a sad bunch that argues and argues all the time...that's why I'm thinking of dropping out.


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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2007, 11:07:34 AM »

arent there at least one or two club members who could simply run trains and just "tune out" the know-it-alls and their inane debates?

or is the group so small that if the majority are involved in the "debates" then no trains can run at all?

If so, I would quit..not worth the aggrivation.

but if you could run trains with one or two like-minded club members and just ignore the debates, it might be worth staying.


Jonathan MacCormack

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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2007, 11:11:49 AM »

I would go on my way. Save the dues money for something more productive.

Wade Colyer


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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2007, 11:29:21 AM »

Hi All:

Today they are there as buffer cars in case of a head-on. If they have empty pass. cars they are on the rear.


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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2007, 11:38:03 AM »

The original configuration of a passenger train or mixed train came from the smoke of a steam locomotive.  Baggage and mail is not affected by smoke, so it went first.  Next came the coaches as the passengers there paid less money.  Than the Pullmans, probably in order of the number of open sections as opposed to rooms they had and finally the observation car.  The diner, when included, was between the coaches and the Pullmans, generally with the kitchen towards the Pullmans. 
I'd assume that switching done for baggage/express, diners, and Pullmans would be dictated by the composition of the train and the yard. 
Do you have a key and ready access to the club?  Can you go there anytime to run trains, or is it open only at certain times? 
This is probably a phase.  My club has had such periods, too.   It could be this is temporary and you'll be back down on flat land with high balls all the way.

Chief Brass Hat
Virginia Tidewater and Piedmont Railroad
"Only coal fired steam locomotives"

I like BIG steam.

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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2007, 11:40:03 AM »

Sad to not operate but argue.


Modeling UP, SP, and D&RGW in colorado between 1930 and 1960.


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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2007, 12:12:51 AM »

Does it really matter? After all, this is a hobby. Hobbies are supposed to be fun, right?

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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2007, 02:12:31 AM »

RPO and Express Mail cars were staffed and operated by postal employees, not R.R. personal, not even the conductor would be allowed into these cars during operatiion or when transporting mail, and like some today, the postal workers were heavily armed!!!! Grin
the rpo and express cars would normally be right behind the loco, before
the other passenger cars, to avoid cutting off access to any "public" cars while the train was moving.
suppose Mrs. Vanderbuilt wanted something from her trunk stored in a baggage car?
if that car was foreward of the rpo or express in the train, the conductor would have to;
stop the train,
he and the headend brakeman would have to get off the train and walk around the rpo to get to the baggage car,
open it,
the porters would have to carry that trunk back, on the ground, around the rpo back to the rear section of the train.
Mr  Vanderbuuilt may be able to make that happen, owning the R.R. goes along way, but that's about it.  the average person would have to wat for the next extended station stop to get their bags.

Anyway, a station stop that involved dropping and picking up the rpo or express cars normally would be long enough that the loco(s) would disconnect and move off for servicing during that time.
If that station stop was during the night the the dining car would probally also be cut out for restocking and returned or replaced depending on time.

one more note on the diners, they would normally follow the coaches and be in front of the pullman cars, with the kitchen end of the car towards the coaches. 
This arrangement placed the larger entrance to the dining room toward the 1st class section of the train, if you sat in the cheap seats, you would have to go down the narrow hall past the kitchen to reach the dining area.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2007, 02:29:42 AM by r0bert » Logged

Bill Baker

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« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2007, 11:12:19 AM »


That makes very good sense.  I think I'll try one more meeting and explain these procedures.  I honestly don't care how the car spotting is carried out...I just want to run some of my engines and have a good time.  This bickering is the reason why the group had about 20 members at one time and now is down to about 4 or 5 regulars.  There are other groups in my area that are not so hope remains.

Thanks to you all for your input.


Atlantic Central

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« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2007, 11:56:11 AM »


To ad a little to the good info from others, yes in many cases the road loco would switch out RPO, express or baggage cars as needed while the other cars sat undisturbed in the station. Usually the sidings these cars needed to go to, or come from, where close by and arranged for the ease of these moves. If not, the cars may just be set on a siding until the train pulled out, then moved to the Post Office, REA warehouse, etc, by a switcher.

This is particluarly true of along the line stops, but could also be the case at the beginning or end of the line for that train. In fact, train crews prided themselves on their ablity to uncouple and couple to the train in the station without the passengers ever feeling the slightest bump. You can still watch this daily at the Strasburg Railroad.

I don't know if I would call a .38 revolver "heavily armed" but r0bert is right, RPO workers where ALL armed, up to the vary last day, an no one other than Post Office employees where allowed in the RPO while there was mail in it. The end doors where bolted from the inside and this is the main reason they would be at the head end. No one, not even the train crew, could get through there for any reason.

BUT, many railroads put sealed REA express cars, be they baggage cars or express box/reefer cars, in front of the RPO in a case where the RPO would stay with the train, but the express cars would need to be switched out. These cars would not have any passenger baggage, just th3 equal of the UPS tractor/trailer today.

And yes head end cars did help isolate paying passengers from the noise and smoke. But the big irony of that is that in the east, most of the fanciest trains had little or no head end equipment. Usually just a combine that was passenger baggage and crew dorm and maybe one RPO.


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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2007, 09:55:35 PM »

When it comes to clubs, I could care less!!!..Oras it's been said by one mr Groucho Marx "I wouldnt belong to a club that would have me"   Grin

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