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Author Topic: link and pin  (Read 2998 times)
Davy

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« on: April 29, 2009, 01:30:32 PM »

About 25 years ago, while playing with my kids by old riprap fill on the Illinois River shore, I found a couple of pins from the link and pin days.  One of them has "ICRR" indented in it.  Anyone know the time frame when these were discontinued in favor of knuckle couplers?  Were there, for a while, trains of links/knuckles mixed?
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richG
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2009, 02:47:24 PM »

Here are a bunch of links on the subject. Getting away from the link & pin saved many a railroaders hands and fingers.

http://www.google.com/search?pz=1&ned=us&hl=en&q=link+pin+janney+couplers&btnmeta%3Dsearch%3Dsearch=Search+the+Web

Rich
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ebtnut

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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2009, 01:16:05 PM »

Just a bit of a summary if you don't want to go through all those Google links.  The knuckle coupler gained rapid acceptance in the late 19th Century, and by the early 1900's most major railroads had converted.  In that transition time, the couplers were available with a slot in the knuckle and a hole drilled through from top to bottom so that cars with link and pins could be used in a train.  Federal law eventually outlawed link and pins in regulated service, but a lot of private roads (quarry lines, especially logging lines, etc.) used link and pins right up to recent times. 
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Davy

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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2009, 08:31:42 PM »

Thank you for the info.  I am a lot more familiar with recent history than with 100+ years ago.  I remember reading that one could tell if someone had railroad work experience by the number of missing fingers.  Years ago I worked at the East Peoria Caterpillar complex.  They had an extensive 30 inch gauge system with flat cars to move parts through the buildings. which used links and pins.  There were no track locos; all the track was paved and used "Mercury Pettibone" jeep-like vehicles to tow the cars.  I remember the guys using hooked handles to hold up the links and pins so their hands wouldn't be smashed.
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CNE Runner


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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2009, 09:52:29 AM »

Given the amount of research I have had to conduct to learn more about the era my model railroad is based in (1889), I have come across many stories of the dangers involved in link and pin couplers. 19th century railroads did provide a long hardwood stick to make the operation easier - but it did little to offset the urgency of switching out cars, the lack of reliable instantaneous communication between the brakeman and the engine, and the lack of good lighting when switching at night (try this operation holding a flickering coal oil lantern and a coupling stick AND shouting orders to your backup brakie who was located on the top of the car!  Yes Martha, 19th century railroads ran all night...or at least the Class 1 varieties did).

Another, not yet mentioned, problem was the frequent breakage of the links due to inordinate amounts of slack in the system. Now picture yourself as a brakeman, standing on a swaying, ice-covered box car (at night) and suddenly the linkage between your car and the engine parts. There may or may not have been air brakes at this time so you were in for a wild, deadly ride unless you could gain control of the runaway. Gaining control involved ratcheting down the brakes on your car and then jumping across to several more to apply enough braking force to bring things to a successful halt.

Someone once wrote that this era of railroading was the time of "iron men and wooden cars"...never a truer phrase has been uttered.

Ray
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"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
richG
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2009, 11:58:49 AM »

On my 1900 era layout, I have a link & pin coupled work train. It can be a real pain to use if you want to uncouple the cars. The HO scale ones I have, the couplers are over size. The HO scale pins from Alexander Scale Models measure 2.61 " in diameter and 26.361" long. I won't even mention the size of the link.
Another reality check is the size of a HO scale code 100 spike since I hand lay track, measures 33" long, 2 in diameter.

It is only a hobby.

Rich
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ebtnut

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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2009, 12:59:23 PM »

The other great danger to the brakemen during the link and pin era was having to get between the cars to handle the couplings.  A misunderstood hand signal could result in the engineer moving the train while the brakeman was still beween the cars, a recipe for disaster.  I might note that hand and lantern signals between brakemen and engine crew were SOP until the late '50's or early '60's when reliable portable radios came into general use. 
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CNE Runner


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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2009, 10:07:24 AM »

Ebtnut - You are correct about the light and hand signals between train crew and the runner (19th century 'engineers' were called runners). The effectiveness of this system relied heavily upon the number of brakemen (to relay signals to the cab) and the visibility at the time (allowing the engine crew to see the signal). In my earlier post, it was assumed the coupling brakeman is between cars...making any hand or light signal irrelevant. Oddly most train crew deaths did not result in being crushed between cars whilst coupling. Most brakeman deaths resulted in falling off (or between) cars while applying/releasing brakes. Added to the danger of slick, rocking cars was the danger of hypothermia. The only place a brakeman could get out of the weather (while on the top of the car...otherwise they would stay in the caboose) was between cars. Try that for an hour or so with raw, wet and cold hands.

Ray
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"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
ebtnut

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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2009, 01:09:33 PM »

Ray:  Yes, I can't really imagine how tough it was back in the hand-brake days.  The only plus was that trains were much shorter back then, and it usually took winding down only a few cars to stop the train.  And, I don't think it so much the prospect of being crushed between the cars.  It was more a matter of being knocked down onto the rails if the train made an unexpected move, putting the brakie right in the path of the wheels.
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richG
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2009, 02:03:00 PM »

A little more about link and pin. Many of the cars also had buffer blocks on either side of the coupler which could get a worker.

Many people now forget this had to be done in the winter, at night, really bad weather. Ice and snow along the track/ties.  Some workers used a stick to support the link as the couplers came together but could be scorned by co-workers. Any of the  male species will understand peer pressure. You no doubt have applied peer pressure at one time.

http://www.nps.gov/archive/gosp/tour/link.html

http://cprr.org/Museum/Ephemera/Link-Pin_Couplers.html

The Back Shops has link & pin for The Coupler Boxes Used by Bachmann, McHenry, Kadee #5 plus ON30 locos.

In the 1860s, locomotives had manual brakes on their tenders (fuel and water cars) and each freight car had a hand brake consisting of a mast-mounted hand-operated wheel that a "brakeman" turned to force iron blocks (shoes) against the treads of the wheels. When the engineer whistled for brakes to be applied, brakemen hurried from the locomotive and caboose - or their positions on the roofs - scrambling over the tops of the swaying, bucking freight cars to tighten a hand brake wheel on each car. Brakemen leapt from car to car of the moving train to apply brakes until the train was halted. This was extremely hazardous, and too often deadly, work. Men who lasted more than seven years on the job were considered the exceptions. In the 1880s, Scribner's reported that each year 1,000 brakemen were killed and as many as 5,000 were injured, mostly from falls.
A lot of the track in the USA railroads at the time was kind of rough, some main line roads of the late 1800s might have been the exception. There were many railroads companies during that era.

Rich
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 02:34:15 PM by richG » Logged
Johnson Bar Jeff

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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2009, 03:12:00 PM »

In the 1860s, locomotives had manual brakes on their tenders (fuel and water cars) and each freight car had a hand brake consisting of a mast-mounted hand-operated wheel that a "brakeman" turned to force iron blocks (shoes) against the treads of the wheels.

And I believe at that time locomotives proper had no brakes of their own. The only way to stop in a hurry was to throw the engine into reverse--and pray. ...
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richG
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2009, 03:45:57 PM »

You are correct but the tenders had brakes like the rolling stock.

Rich
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