When is a train backing?

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Ash Pit

Active Member
When is a train backing? I can see a case where a train has a car on the front of the locomotive and needs to back-up (going loco frontwards) to spot the car, disconnect from the car and then move towards the back of the locomotive (Backing-up). Does the loco toot three times for both manuvers?
 
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Selector

Well-Known Member
A train does not need to follow it's locomotion. It can precede its locomotion or trail it as the need arises. Therefore, the locomotive's designated axis of movement is always relative to its front and rear, and that is determined by the road or by federal regulations. If it's long hood forward, then the cab must signal when it is going to move in the direction of the short hood with three blasts. If toward the long hood's direction, only two blasts.

A Southern Pacific AC cab forward would have been an exception for obvious reasons. The cab is intended to offer respite from smoke inside tunnels, and its designers hardly intended for the cab to follow the smoke box into the tunnel....right? So, the cab IS the front of the AC type steamer.
 

Rico

BN Modeller
As George stated locomotives are marked with an “F” on the front end to let the crew know which way it's intend to travel. This is from back in the days when locos could be long or short hood forward, or in the case of center cabs, confusing.
No matter which way the train is travelling you go by the way the loco is facing.
Think of a pickup with a boat trailer backing into the water, if you have a ball hitch on the front like some you’d still be going to the water but going forward.

When I started working for a coal power plant the loco faced south at the shaker house and pulled cars north to unload. The normal direction of travel was clockwise from there around the loop pushing the empties. You’d have to call the loco to reverse to “go forward” thru the pit and around the loop and go forward to “reverse” back to the load track.
One day I took the loco out on the wye and spun it around to face forward for the direction of travel. You’d then call for it to go forward to travel forward, which was the way the engineer faced in the seat.
The old guys didn’t like it but it greatly simplified it and was much safer.

Hope that helps and doesn’t add to the confusion?!
 
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tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Diesel locomotives, as NYC_George has mentioned, have that F to indicate which is the designated front by the railroad it serves, usually the cab and and short hood end, but there was at least one exception and the F was positioned at the long hood end.

Steamers, I don't believe used that system but mostly, the front was the boiler end, even switchers and the engineer would face in that direction as well unless reversing, although his body would not as his controls would be out of easy reach.

SP's Cab forward, by it's very name, indicates which end was regarded as the front.

Any direction of travel, whistle or horn signals would have applied as to the direction the locomotive was about to move, as determined by the locomotive's front or rear, regardless of which end the cars were coupled to it.
 

2Tracks

Ol' School
The locomotives in this part of the country run short hoods forward, and that is were the F located, at that end of the engine, towards the bottom of the side sill. There is mainline operation, yard operation. Mainline is a lot more restrictive on making movements, than yard movements. After all, the mainline is for 6500 ft loaded freight trains to get from point A to point B, in the least amount of time, non stop. To Move Freight! So on the mainline, these trains most generally have a directional warrant, that is, permission to travel in one direction (forward,) only. That warrant does not give them permission to back up, or more appropriately, make a reverse movement. IF, they have to make an unscheduled reverse movement, say to set out a bad order car, they have to get permission from the dispatcher. If they get permission, and they start the reverse move, (pushing the car,) they're doing a "shoving" motion. Now, the "point", (the end of the car that's leading, into the side track,) must be protected, (somebody must watch the leading end of the car the entire movement start to finish, so that something doesn't happen.) Radios and hand signals are used in setting out the car. No horn is sounded when the engine goes to move, not needed. (But there are special circumstances.) A lot of rules/processes for movement on the mainline. IT IS VERY DANGEROUS!
The "local", serving industries along the mainline has different rules/procedures for reverse movement.... as does the switch crew in yard limits moving cars around......
 

2Tracks

Ol' School
An F, "A" unit in the lead position is by design, made to run in one direction, forward. It can't run in the lead position with the "B" end first. The crew can't see. The rest of the power consist doesn't matter what direction they'd facing, only the lead unit.
A "B" unit will never lead a train, not designed to.
With todays freight loco's, they have the capability to run the "B" end (long hood) first in the lead. If they did that, and had to make a reverse move as pointed out above, then the "F" end would be the lead in that move. Most railroads have mandated that they run the "F" end (short hood) in the lead position.
But, back in the day, GN ran their Geep power long hood first.......
 

Ash Pit

Active Member
I don't model modern era stuff, my year of operation is 1953. Also I model the Northern Pacific in this year, so Steamers, F-units, GP-7s, RS-1 & 3 and switchers are available fo service.
 
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NYC_George

Well-Known Member
Diesel locomotives, as NYC_George has mentioned, have that F to indicate which is the designated front by the railroad it serves, usually the cab and and short hood end, but there was at least one exception and the F was positioned at the long hood end.
When I hired out on the railroad in 1969 our main freight engines on the Harlem Branch were RS-3s.
The F was positioned on the long end. I leaned early on that a crewman giving you a forward movement signal meant you moved the engine in the direction of the F no matter the position of anything else in the train. This had to be otherwise someone's getting hurt.
George
 

2Tracks

Ol' School
My time span is slightly larger late 40's to 1953. Freight & logging. I'm doing the GN in Southern Oregon/Northern Cal., same power what you have, no steam. No passenger. Only steam is a Heisler on logging RR.
Have been back in to model RR'ing about six years now. Tore first layout down, going to do second one, bigger.
 

dave1905

Well-Known Member
Direction when running is determined by which way the train is authorized. If the train is authorized to run eastward from A to Z, then when they move towards Z they are moving forward. When they move westward towards A they are making a reverse move. Doesn't matter which way the engines are pointed.

Direction switching is relative to the engines.
 

Rico

BN Modeller
Ok to clarify a bit, the occupied locomotive designated as lead unit runs forward or backward as required in relation to its designation, ie the F on the frame. The number displayed in the illuminated boards is taken as the lead position regardless of which way the loco faces or the number of locos together.
A train, which by definition is a track unit coupled to one or more other track units, however runs forward or backward according to its designated direction.
Clear as mud!
An example would be a loco running in reverse that’s pulling a train east. The crew still calls instructions as per loco orientation so if it had to reverse thru a switch west the loco would be called to move forward to reverse the train direction.
I've been thru this myself and believe me everyone better be on the same page here!


Here’s a piece from my old rulebook, doesn’t explain the loco facing question but still might be useful?

308.1 CHANGING DIRECTION – PROCEED CLEARANCE
Unless otherwise provided by rules or special instructions, when authorized to proceed by clearance, a train or transfer must move only in the specified direction.
Provided the track to be operated over has not been released or a block in ABS is not re-entered, a train or transfer authorized by clearance to proceed may reverse a distance of 300 feet or less. In ABS a crew member must be in position to see the section of track to be used is clear and will remain clear of equipment or a track unit.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
I agree, George. It's the locomotive that does the moving, whether it is light or coupled to tonnage. The locomotive thus determines which way is forward and which is in reverse. Simple, no confusion.
 

Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
IMHO - Everything was answered except the OP's original question?
I even think that was answered, but now - I am confused?
 




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