It was said in the first chapter that the transportation ot freight is a more important part of the railroads' work than the transportation of passengers. The freight business of the railroads is much larger than the passenger business, and the railroads earn much more money by hauling goods than by hauling people. It takes a great deal more equipment to care for the freight which the railroads haul than it takes to care for the passengers. For every passenger car which our railroads own they have more than thirty freight cars. The locomotives used in the freight service far outnumber the locomotives used in the passenger service, and there are more freight trains than passenger trains on many of our railroads. Since the freight business is so much larger than the passenger business, it is not surprising that freight terminals and station facilities are greater in size and in variety than the terminal facilities required for the passenger service.
For receiving and discharging passengers the railroads have only passenger stations. They also have freight stations for receiving and delivering freight. But the greater part of the freight transported by our railroads does not pass through freight station buildings. Most of the shipments handled in freight stations consist of less-than-carload freight—shipments too small to require entire cars. While this less-than-carload business makes up an important part of our railroad freight, by far the larger part of the freight carried every day consists of carload traffic—shipments which fill one or more cars. Very little of this carload freight passes through the railroad freight houses. It is loaded and unloaded directly between the cars and the business houses receiving or shipping the goods, or directly between cars and trucks or wagons.
A great many of our factories, mines, warehouses, and stores have private railway tracks, connected by switches with the railroads. On these private tracks, or "industrial sidings," as they are usually called, the railroads can deliver and receive freight in the cars, just as a department store can
bring packages to your home in a delivery wagon. At nearly all stations the railroads have public "team tracks." These are sidetracks, along which are driveways for wagons and trucks. Shippers and receivers of freight, who do not have industrial sidings, but whose goods are shipped in carload quantities, use these team tracks, loading shipments directly into the freight cars, and receiving shipments directly from the cars.
Industrial sidings are very common. A factory which receives large quantities of raw material and ships away great loads of finished goods could not well get along without a railroad siding. The owner of a coal mine or stone quarry would find it even more difficult to do without a siding. In large manufacturing cities railroads often have several industrial sidings, and a single siding may reach several factories and warehouses. On most industrial sidings switching locomotives belonging to the railroads move the freight to and fro, "spotting" the loaded cars at the buildings or platforms where they are to be unloaded, placing empty cars at points
where they are to be loaded, and taking them away when the loading has been completed. Some industrial plants, however, have their own locomotives, and switch and "spot" their own cars. A huge steel mill, for example, may have dozens of tracks within its yard upon which dozens of cars are loaded and unloaded every day. At some point between the mill and the railroad are "interchange tracks," where the railroad locomotives receive and deliver cars. The movement of the cars between the interchange tracks and the mill yard, and the movements within the mill yard are performed by the steel mill's own engines.
Much of the carload freight delivered and received on industrial sidings is loaded and unloaded by hand. But many kinds of freight, such as coal, ore, grain, heavy articles of iron and steel, building stone, and logs, are loaded and unloaded by the use of machinery. Logs, for instance, are loaded by mechanical cranes.
In grain elevators wheat, oats, corn, rye, and other grains are stored in bins high above the level of the tracks. When loaded into cars the grain runs through long chutes or spouts reaching from the bins to the car doors. At the grist mills or elevators to which grain is shipped by rail, it may be un
loaded by pneumatic machines, which work much like a vacuum cleaner. Or it may be scraped out of the cars with huge wooden or steel shovels, guided by hand, but drawn by chains or ropes, which are pulled by steam or electric power. Some of the large grain elevators on the Great Lakes have machines which tilt and turn a box car so as to pour out its load of grain.
Coal and ore are loaded into cars much in the same manner that grain is loaded. At a coal mine there is usually a "tipple," which contains bins or pockets built above the railroad siding. Small cars from the mine dump coal into these pockets, from which it can slide into the cars below. Most of our coal cars have hopper bottoms, and can be unloaded by opening the doors at the bottom of the car. But in many places, where large quantities of coal are unloaded, and especially at places where it is unloaded into boats and barges to be transported farther by water, the railroads have car dumping machines, which
pick up a car of coal and empty it just as you would empty a bucket of water.
Some of the most wonderful freight handling machinery in the world is that used in loading and unloading the iron ore shipped on our Great Lakes. Two-thirds of the iron ore of the United States comes from mines near the shore of Lake Superior in the States of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Very little of this ore is smelted in these States, nearly all of it being taken to blast furnaces in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania . The ore is carried by rail to ports on Lake Superior.
Duluth and Two Harbors are important ore-shipping cities. The ore cars are pushed upon high trestles built above a long pier which extends far out into the water. The cars drop their loads into huge pockets or bins. A steamboat comes alongside the pier, its hatches are opened, and the ore runs through long chutes into the ship's hold. Ten thousand tons of ore can be loaded into a ship in less than an hour. When the ore ship is loaded, its hatches are closed tightly, and the vessel steams away to a port on Lake Michigan or
Lake Erie. Perhaps it goes to Cleveland, for this city is one of the several ports on Lake Erie to which much of the Lake Superior iron ore is shipped. Here, on the waterfront, are monster iron machines which do the unloading. One of them reaches down into the hold of the ship, gobbles up ten or fifteen tons of ore at a bite, raises it, and moving back from the vessel, drops it into a hopper, which in turn drops it into a waiting car bound for some blast furnace at Youngstown or Pittsburgh or other steel manufacturing center. The machines which unload the ore can take ten thousand tons of ore out of a ship in about five hours. It takes a little longer to unload a vessel than to load it. But think how long it would take a man with a shovel to move ten thousand tons of iron ore.
The boats which transport iron ore to the ports on Lake Erie and Lake Michigan return to Lake Superior ports with cargoes of coal, which are shipped by rail to western markets. The coal, too, is loaded and unloaded by machinery, very much like the machinery which handles the iron ore. Another interesting kind of special freight handling equipment is that which is used for loading and unloading live stock. If you should ever ride on a train through the middle western and the western parts of the United States, you will see at nearly every railroad station a whitewashed pen for live stock. Each pen has an inclined chute up which cattle, or sheep or hogs, can walk into a stock car. The western cowboys who drive herds of cattle from the ranches to the railroad stations often have exciting times getting the bawling, frightened animals to walk into the cars. At the large meat packing cities. such as Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Omaha, there arc great stock yards in which the incoming live stock is unloaded. These stock yards are made up of row upon row of pens, in which separate shipments of animals can be held until sold to the agents of the neighboring meat packing plants.
Cranes are used to hoist and move into place the steel beams of large buildings. Have you ever been in a steel mill and watched a great overhead traveling crane carry a white-hot steel ingot? There are several different kinds of mechanical cranes. Some are operated by hand, some by steam power, and some by electric motors. One of the most interesting loading and unloading devices is the magnetic crane, used in handling steel rails, bars and billets, and scrap iron. This crane, instead of having hooked chains to fasten about the articles which it lifts, is equipped with a very powerhd electro magnet. The magnetism in the crane is provided by a strong current of electricity. The magnet picks up steel rails just as a little horseshoe or bar magnet picks up needles. Dipped into a carload of scrap iron, the magnetized end of a crane will come out with a huge cluster of rusty bars, bolts, nuts, rods and plates hanging to it, just as the cluster of iron filings will hang to a small magnet. After the crane puts its load of rails
or bars or scrap iron in its proper place, in a car or on a platform, or on the ground, the electric current is switched off, the magnetism immediately disappears, and the crane is free of its burden.
At the larger team tracks our railroads usually provide hand-operated cranes, which can be used to load and unload unusually heavy articles of freight such as engine boilers. crated automobiles, large pieces of machinery or blocks of building stone. The smaller team tracks do not as a rule have cranes. The receiver of a heavy article of freight, which requires a crane for unloading, must always be sure to have the car containing his shipment sent to a team track where a crane is provided.
Shippers and receivers of carload freight must load and unload cars promptly. Freight cars earn the railroads' living, and when they are not at work hauling goods, the railroads are losing money. A railroad gives a shipper a certain amount of "free time" in which to load a car, usually forty-eight hours, and the receiver of a car of freight has the same amount of "free time" in which to unload his goods. If the loading or unloading is not completed within the free time, the railroad requires the shipper or receiver to pay something for detaining the car. This charge is called "demurrage." The rate is not always the same. It is now S3.00 a day for the first four days and S6.00 a day for any further delay.
The railroad companies try to get shippers to load cars as heavily as possible. If cars are loaded lightly, more cars must be used. It costs but little more for a railroad to transport a heavily loaded car than to transport one lightly loaded. Heavier loading saves money for the railroads. Heavy loading is also helpful to shippers, because it means there are more cars to go around, and everybody has a better chance to get all the cars needed. In some seasons of the year when freight business on the railroads is very large, we may have "car shortages." At such times it is particularly important that shippers load all cars as heavily as possible and load and unload them very promptly.
Let us now turn to the railroad freight house where lessthan -carload shipments are loaded and unloaded. Some freight houses receive and deliver carload freight too, but as a rule only at places where it is not possible to have team tracks and industrial sidings. A large freight house is one of the busiest places on a railroad. Not only is it the place where many shipments are handled each day, but it is the "business office" of the railroad, where the shippers and receivers of the carload freight handled on team tracks and industrial sidings must come to transact business with the railroad's freight agent, ordering cars, making arrangements
for having their goods shipped, and paying their freight bills. You read in the chapter before this one that in the smaller villages and towns the freight houses and passenger stations are usually parts of the same building but that in the large cities the freight houses are separate from the passenger stations.
The most common type of freight house is a long, low building with one or more railroad tracks on one side. A platform, as high as the floor of a box car, running the length
of the building, reaches out from the freight house to the nearest track, and over this platform the packages are taken to and from the cars. On the other side of the building is a similar platform, and by it is a wide driveway for the motor trucks and wagons which bring shipments to the freight house and haul shipments away. When a freight house has more than one track at the side, box cars on the different tracks must be spotted so that their doors are opposite one another. Heavy gang planks are laid from car to car, and the freight going to and from the cars on the outer tracks passes through the cars nearer the platform.
Not all freight houses are of this type. Some have the tracks inside the building. Some are "double-decked," with two track levels, and a separate driveway for each level. Some freight houses are several stories high, the upper floors being used as warehouses in which shippers can have goods stored.
Some of the most interesting freight houses are the pier stations , such as the railroads have in New York City. These houses are built on long piers extending out into the river. They have no tracks at all. The freight cars come to them on car floats. The floats are tied alongside the pier, while the cars are being loaded and unloaded. Through the middle of the pier is a wide driveway for trucks and wagons.
Freight houses have two kinds of freight, "inbound" and "outbound." The inbound freight is that which arrives in the freight cars, the outbound is that which the cars carry away. Most freight houses handle both inbound and outbound freight, but in many cities, where the freight business of the railroads is very large, you will find some freight houses which handle only inbound freight and others which handle only outbound. The inbound freight takes up more space in a freight house than the outbound, because it must usually be stored for several hours before it is called for, while the outbound freight can be loaded upon cars very soon after the freight house receives it.
Let us see how freight is cared for at a freight house. Suppose you want to ship a box of books. You mark the box plainly with the name and address of the person to whom you are sending it. You must also put your own name and address on the box. Then you haul it to the freight house, and unload it on the platform. First of all the box is weighed, in order that the agent will know how much to charge for its transportation . Then a "bill of lading" is made out, which both you and the freight agent must sign. The bill of lading is a paper containing the "contract" between you and the railroad company . The company agrees to haul your box and to pay you for it if it is lost, stolen or destroyed while the railroad has it. The bill of lading shows that you are the shipper and it gives the name and address of the person to whom you are sending the books. You receive two copies of the bill of lading and the freight agent keeps one copy. His copy is known as a "shipping order."
Now your box is ready to be loaded, and a workman puts it on a truck, hauls it out to the platform, and wheels it into a box car. If the freight house is a small one your box will probably be carried on a two-wheeled hand truck. In the larger freight houses the railroads often use small four-wheeled trucks, drawn by electric tractors, to carry freight between the freight house floor and the cars.
The next thing for the freight agent to do is to make out a "waybill" for your box. The waybill is to a freight shipment what the ticket is to a passenger. Every shipment of freight must have a waybill. The waybill for your box will show your name as the shipper, and will tell where and to whom the box is to go. It will give the amount of the freight charges and show whether they have been prepaid by you or are to be paid by the receiver of the box. And what is most important, it will give the number and initials of the car into which the box has been loaded. The waybill for your box and for all other outbound freight will be given to the conductors of the freight trains upon which the freight travels, and the conductors can tell the destination of all the shipments in their trains, just as passenger train conductors can tell, from the tickets which I hey collect, the destination of passengers.
If your box of books is going to a nearby station it is likely that the car in which it is loaded will carry it directly to that station. But if your box is bound for a town hundreds of miles away, it will probably have to "change cars." There may not be many shipments for that town in the freight house that has taken your box, and of course the railroad can not use a whole c ar just to carry your little box of books, and maybe a few other small packages, to a town hundreds of miles away. Your box will therefore be loaded into a car with a lot of other freight bound in the same direction. Somewhere along the road at a "transfer house," your box will be taken from the car in which it started, and put into a car with shipments sent from other freight houses, all going toward the destination of your box. Perhaps your box will have to be "transferred" three or four times, before it reaches the person to whom
you are shipping it. Each time it changes cars its waybill will be delivered to the agent of the transfer house. He will put on it the number and initials of the new car, and it will be given to a freight train conductor again. Finally, your box will get into a car bound for the town to which the box is addressed. When the car reaches the freight house in this town, the box will be unloaded. The waybill will be given to the freight agent.
Your box is now "inbound freight." All the inbound freight which comes to a freight house must be unloaded, "checked" against the waybills, to see if there has been any loss or damage, and carefully piled on the freight house floor. From the waybills the freight agent gets the names and the addresses of those who are to receive the freight. To each receiver he sends an "arrival notice" telling him the freight has come and asking that it be promptly called for. If any shipments have been sent "collect" instead of "prepaid" he makes out "freight bills" for the charges due. The receivers of the freight come with their wagons and trucks, pay their freight bills, and haul away their goods.
In many towns and cities it is not now necessary for you to deliver a small shipment to a railroad station, nor is it necessary for the receiver to call for it. Our railroads have established a "pick-up-and-delivery" service for freight, similar to the collection and delivery service you have when goods are sent by express. The shipper telephones to the railroad freight office and asks that his package of freight be called for.
The railroad company sends a truck, which hauls the package to the freight station. When it reaches its final destination another truck carries it to the receiver. For many years the railroads of the United States were reluctant to provide collection and delivery of freight shipments, though these services were given by nearly all the railroads of Europe. The competition of motor trucks in the United States finally became so active, however, that the railroads were obliged to give the "door-to-door" service. The shipper and the receiver of freight may still do their own trucking to and from the railroad freight station, if they prefer to do so. Many of the railroads ' customers, however, make use of the pick-up-anddelivery service. It has enabled the railroads to retain much less-than-carload freight business which might otherwise have gone to the motor vehicles operating over our highways. Before your box of books started on its journey, of course, the car which carried it had to become a part of a freight train. We must now see how this car got into a train.
Freight trains are "made up" in the "freight yards" of railroad terminals. A freight yard consists of a large number of tracks, connected by switches, and so arranged that they can be used for sorting and distributing cars. In nearly any large city you will find railroad freight yards. Usually they are located in the outlying parts of the city, where there is plenty of room, and where land is not so expensive as in the business center.
It is in the freight yards that the journeys of all freight trains begin and end. The freight yard is the place where the
incoming trains are received. The cars are sorted. Many of them, loaded with inbound freight, are distributed to team tracks, industrial sidings and freight houses. Some of them have destinations farther along the railroad. These cars stay in the yard and as soon as possible are placed in outgoing trains to continue their journey. The freight yard is also the place where the cars of outbound freight are collected, to be made into trains and sent to their destinations. Each day, switch engines travel to and fro between freight yards and industrial sidings, team tracks and freight houses, leaving cars of inbound freight and collecting the cars of outbound freight. A large freight yard usually has two complete "units," or sets of tracks, each set being used only by the trains and cars bound in a single direction. Each unit of the yard consists of three parts, a receiving yard, a classification yard, and a departure yard. Think of the yard of a railroad running east and west. At one end of the yard we find the eastbound receiving tracks and the westbound departure tracks, next are the westbound classification tracks and the eastbound classification tracks, and finally, the eastbound departure tracks and the westbound receiving tracks.
How are cars sorted and distributed in a freight yard? An incoming train enters the receiving yard. The road locomotive which has pulled the train is uncoupled and it steams away to the engine house. A switch engine moves the caboose off to a caboose track, where it stays until needed for another train. The work of sorting the cars then begins. They must be divided up according to their destinations, and each car placed on its proper track in the classification yard. Perhaps you have watched a postmaster sort letters in a post office and place the letters in mail boxes. Cars must be sorted in just the same way. This classification track receives the cars for certain industrial sidings, this track the cars for other sidings; this track receives the cars for one freight house, this track the cars for another; this track gets the cars for a team track, and this track the cars that are to go on to another town.
There are various ways of moving the freight cars from the receiving tracks to their proper tracks in the classification yard. In smaller yards the cars are pushed and pulled into place by switch engines. The larger yards, however, have a "hump" or low hill between the receiving yard and the classification yard. A powerful switch engine pushes the train of cars slowly up this hump. At the top each car is uncoupled and let run by its own weight to the proper classification track.
If the switches which guide the cars to their tracks are of the hand-thrown kind, they are operated by switchmen stationed in the yard; if they are power-thrown switches, moved by electricity or compressed air, they are controlled from a small switch tower on the hump. As each car rolls down from the hump it is mounted by a car rider, who controls its speed with the hand brake, and brings it to a stop in the right place. You know of ever so many things once done by hand that are now done by machinery. One of the latest railroad inventions is a machine that will do the work of car riders in a
freight yard. A "car retarder" it is called. It is a machine operated by compressed air which reaches above the rails of the classification tracks, and pressing against the sides of the turning car wheels, checks or retards the speed of the car so that it will come to a stop at the proper place.
The loaded freight cars collected by switch engines from team tracks, freight houses and industrial sidings, and brought to a freight yard, are classified in the same way that the cars> from incoming trains are classified. The waybills of these loaded cars are sent to the yard with the cars. After the classification is finished, a switching locomotive pushes or pulls the cars for certain destinations to a departure track, where they are coupled together to form a train. A caboose and an engine are "hooked on," the conductor receives the waybills for all the cars, and the train is ready to go.
The work of a freight yard is under the supervision of a yardmaster. He does the planning and gives the necessary orders to switchmen, car riders, and crews of yard locomotives. The operation of a freight yard is one of the most difficult parts of railroad work. Cars may come into a yard at all hours, both day and night, and they must be sorted, made into trains, and sent on their way. If for some reason the work is delayed, the yard soon becomes filled with cars. There are no empty tracks to hold more trains, and it becomes necessary to hold cars at other yards along the railroad. The "choking up" of one important yard may in a very short time seriously delay the movement of freight over an entire railroad system. You can see that a yardmaster has a position of great responsibility. The work of a yardmaster becomes particularly difficult if his yard is small and the number of cars which it must handle is large. Sometimes it is impossible to increase the size of a yard as freight business grows. The yard becomes crowded, the work must go at full speed day and night, and it must be planned so that everything moves like clockwork.
The work in some American freight yards is being facilitated now by the use of radio-telephone or some other kind of wireless communication between the switch engines and the office of the yardmaster. Unlike road engines of freight and passenger trains, switching engines do not move on a regular schedule. They are the taxicabs of the yard, going wherever they are directed to go. Since all yard operations can not be predicted in advance, it is often very helpful if the yardmaster may change his orders to switching engines, or call them on short notice to do work of an emergency nature. The man who directs the operation of the hump—a hump conductor he is sometimes called—may find it convenient to communicate directly with the engineer of the switching engine that is pushing a long line of cars over the hump. There are many ways in which the radio can be of help in yard work.
The freight yards of some of our cities are very large. One great yard in Chicago has tracks to classify ten thousand cars a day, enough cars to make two hundred freight trains of fifty cars each.
You have all noticed that a freight train usually contains cars belonging to many railroads. A railroad does not use only its own cars. When a freight car is loaded on one railroad with goods bound for a station on another road, the loaded car is sent through to that station, passing if necessary, over two or three railroads before it gets to its destination. If the railroads did not exchange cars, if each railroad used onjty its own cars, it would be necessary to transfer freight from car to car every time it passed from one line to another. This would make the transportation of freight much slower and much more expensive.
The places where railroads connect with one another are called "junction points." At all junction points freight cars are switched from the yard of one road to the yard of another. A city served by several railroads may have a "belt line" running around the city, connecting all the roads together. Such a belt line makes it easier for the railroads to exchange cars with one another.
A railroad company's own cars on its own line are known as "home cars," while the cars of other lines are called "foreign cars." Each company must pay other companies for the use of foreign cars. This payment is known as a per diem charge. If you know any Latin, you know that this means a charge by the day. When one railroad receives a car from another it must ordinarily pay a dollar a day as long as it holds the car. Every railroad company has a "car record" office which keeps a record of the whereabouts of all the freight cars on its own line and of all its own cars that are on other lines. When a car moves from one railroad to another the agent at the "junction point" reports the fact to the car record office of both railroads, and to the car record office of the railroad which owns the car, if the car does not happen to belong to one of the lines between which it was exchanged. Every road regularly sends out bills for the cars which are in use away from "home." Each road endeavors to return "foreign" cars as quickly as possible, to avoid expense. The prompt return of empty foreign cars is one of the things that a yardmaster must look after.
Nearly all freight yards have "track scales" for weighing carload freight. The scales are much like the big wagon scales which you may have seen in a coal yard or at a country grain elevator, except that they are longer, have tracks for cars, and are built to weigh much heavier loads. The weight of all freight cars is stenciled plainly on the cars. A car and its contents are weighed together. The weight of the car is subtracted from the total to get the weight of the freight. In some freight yards you will see icehouses, icing tracks and icing platforms, for the icing and re-icing of refrigerator cars. A refrigerator car traveling for a long distance with a load of fresh meat or fresh fruit does not start with enough ice for the entire journey. A carload of oranges going from California to New York is iced before it starts, but it may
have to be re-iced two or three times in the course of its trip. When more ice is needed the car is stopped in a yard having an ice house and icing track. The icing platform is as high as the roof of the car. It takes but a few seconds to open the hatches of the car and fill its bunkers with ice, or if the freight must be kept very cold, with crushed ice and salt. Every freight yard has "bad-order tracks"—tracks upon which damaged cars can be repaired. It frequently happens that cars must be taken from trains because some part breaks or wears out. These "cripples," as the yard workmen call them, are switched to the bad-order tracks. If a car is damaged but slightly, it may be repaired without being unloaded, and quickly sent on its way. If the damage is such that making the needed repairs will take several days, the load must be transferred to another car.
Connected with every freight yard is an engine terminal, where the engines coming from their journeys on the railroad are taken care of. In the engine terminal are the ash-pit, where the locomotives drop their ashes and cinders, the water tank, the coaling station, the sand house, the oil house, and most important of all, the engine house.
Many years ago the engine house was the place in which locomotives were stored when their day's work was done. The early engines were painted in bright colors and had ever so much shining brass trimming. Nobody would think of letting locomotives stand out of doors. When not working they had to be sheltered like horses. But today there are so many locomotives that railroad companies do not always try to keep them under a roof when they are not working.
Engines do not now wear bright colors and fine brass trimmings , and they can stand out of doors without being damaged. The engine house of today is primarily a light repair shop. In small terminals the engine houses may be used as locomotive shelters. But in most of the larger terminals a locomotive enters the engine house only when some of its parts have broken or worn out and need immediate mending.
The engine house is usually a "roundhouse," though some engine houses are rectangular. The most common type of roundhouse is a semi circular building with a number of locomotive "stalls." Between the rails in most of the stalls is a long pit, which enables workmen to get beneath an engine when repairing and cleaning it. The rounding rear wall of the engine house has many large windows, to let in plenty of light for the workmen. In the roof, over each stall are "smoke jacks," which let out the smoke of the locomotives. When a locomotive enters an engine house it stops with its smoke stack directly under the flaring opening of a smoke jack.
Just in front of the roundhouse is a "turntable," which is used to turn locomotives around. It is a long platform bearing a single track. It sets in a large round pit. At the bottom of the pit, close to the wall is a single-rail, circular track. The turntable is pivoted at the center of the pit, and it has under each end one or two wheels which run on the circular track.
Some turntables are turned by hand, but most of them are operated by electric or gasoline motors. When entering the roundhouse a locomotive must cross the turntable. On the side of the turntable pit next to the roundhouse the tracks leading to the stalls spread out like the sticks of a fan. A locomotive runs on to the turntable.
The turntable is moved until its track is in line with the track leading to the desired stall, and the locomotive is run into its place in the engine house. Some large roundhouses are true to their name. They are complete circles except for a break on either side for entrance tracks. The turntable occupies the center, and the tracks to the stalls radiate from the pit like the spokes of a wheel. At some of the largest engine terminals you will find two and even three roundhouses, with stalls for more than a hundred locomotives.
After a locomotive has drawn its train into a freight yard, it is uncoupled and moves to the engine terminal. It goes to the ash pit, where the ashes and cinders are dropped from
the ash pans beneath the firebox grates. The engine is carefully inspected to see if it needs any repairs. The engineer who has driven the engine on the road reports any defects that he has noticed during his trip. If no repairs are needed, the engine, after a thorough washing and wiping, receives a fresh supply of coal, water, oil and sand, and moves to an engine track, to wait with banked fires until called on for further duty. If repairs are needed, or if the boiler must be washed out, the engine goes into the roundhouse for cleaning and mending.
Every engine terminal must have a coaling station. In very small terminals coal may be shoveled into the tender by hand, either from a coal car or from a coal pile on the ground. In some terminals the coal is poured into the tender from a large bucket, lifted from coal car or coal pile by a crane. But most terminals have specially built coaling stations. Large coal bins or pockets are erected above the coaling track, and the coal runs into the locomotive tender from these pockets through long chutes or spouts. A tender can be filled in a few seconds.
The coal is put into the pockets of coaling stations in different ways. In the older types of stations a long inclined trestle leads up over the pockets. A switching locomotive pushes the cars of coal up the trestle, and their hopper doors are opened, letting the coal fall into the pockets. Where there is not enough space for a long, gently sloping trestle, up which the cars of coal can be pushed with a locomotive, a short, steep trestle is erected, and the loaded cars are pulled up to the coal pockets by means of a stationary engine and a steel cable.
The most modern type of coaling station is a steel or concrete building, which is operated like a grain elevator. The cars of coal are dumped into a large hopper contained in a pit beneath the track at the foot of the building. From this hoppei the coal is "elevated" to the high pockets by buckets carried on an endless chain. Many coaling stations are equipped with scales for weighing the coal as it is delivered. The sand house of the engine terminal is often a part of the coaling station. If not, it is usually built very close to the c oaling station so that the locomotives can take sand and coal at the same time. All sand houses have driers, in which the heat of steam or of a coal fire takes all moisture from the sand before it goes to the sand box of a locomotive.
All engine terminals have huge steel, concrete or wooden tanks, which hold a supply of water for the locomotive tenders. A water tank is usually equipped with a spout by which the tender tank can be filled directly. Underground pipes lead from the base of the tank to "water columns" or "penstocks," located at other points in the terminal. A water column is like the hydrant in your yard except that it is much bigger and taller, and has a long movable spout through which the water flows into the locomotive tenders.
Water tanks and water columns are located at numerous places along a railroad, because locomotives use lots of water, and their tender tanks must be filled frequently. No doubt you have all seen railroad water tanks and water columns, and perhaps you have watched a locomotive fireman pull down the spout of a tank and fill the tender tank of his locomotive with water. But did you know that in some places locomotives take water "on the run," take it from track tanks, while going at a speed of forty or fifty miles an hour?
A track tank is just a long shallow trough in the middle of a railroad track. It is always kept full of water. As the engine passes over the tank, the fireman lets a kind of scoop down into the water, and the speed of the train forces the water up the scoop and through a pipe into the tender-tank. To be sure a lot of water splashes out of the track tank, but the tank is long enough so that there is time for the tender to get a full supply. Track tanks are found only on railroads that have many fast passenger trains. The use of the track tank makes it unnecessary for the fast trains to stop for water for the engines. The track tanks are a little troublesome in winter, for the water in them must be warmed to keep it from freezing.
In many of our railroad yards there is a train fully made up and ready to go at a moment's notice. Though the railroad officials are careful to have this train always ready, they do not like to give orders for it to move, and they would be much happier if it never had to leave its yard. For this train is the wreck train, and when it starts out on the line it means that an accident has occurred. There has been a collision, or a train has been derailed, and perhaps somebody has been killed or injured. Cars or locomotives have left the track, the rails have been torn up, and traffic has stopped. Out goes the wreck train. Its crew gets the derailed equipment out of the way and repairs the track so that trains may run again. The most important car of the wreck train is the crane car, a squat, heavy car bearing a crane, with a long arm that is powerful enough to raise an overturned locomotive. Another car in the wreck train carries a supply of steel rails and car trucks. A tool car contains a complete assortment of sledge hammers, axes, picks, shovels, crowbars, steel cables, and other equipment needed in clearing away wreckage and mak
ing track repairs. A boarding car contains a kitchen, dining room, and sleeping bunks for the wrecking crew. The men may have to spend several days and nights in clearing away a wreck, and they live on their train until the task is finished. Another interesting and important train which a railroad operates for itself, though it does not keep it ready for service at a moment's notice, like the wreck train, is the supply train. Every railroad must keep on hand at all times a large volume of supplies for the repair and for the replacement of equipment , and for the renewal of those articles which are in daily use on all parts of the system. These supplies run from paper drinking cups, stationery, pencils, ink, and blank books, to car wheels, locomotive tires, and all kinds of grease and oil.
The railroad maintains a stores department, which has a huge building in which an ample supply of materials for current needs is kept. At regular intervals a supply train is sent out, and from its several carloads of materials the supplies at stations , roundhouses, and other local operating buildings are replenished. Each agent or foreman on the road notifies the superintendent of supplies with regard to his needs, and it is from these reports that the supplies department knows what to load on the supply train when it starts out on its journey over the railroad.
Every railroad company has to do a lot of repair work on its cars and locomotives. You have read in this chapter that tracks are set aside in freight yards for the repair of crippled freight cars, and that the engine house is a light repair shop. In addition to these facilities for ordinary repairs, every railroad company has somewhere on its line a large repair plant, where its rolling stock is taken when in need of heavy repairs or complete overhauling. Some large railroad systems have several such plants. They are the railroad "shops." The shops usually have three parts, one for locomotives, one for freight cars and one for passenger cars.
A steam locomotive needs a thorough overhauling about once every three years. When an engine enters a locomotive shop it is taken to pieces and its parts distributed. The boiler and firebox, the wheels, the cylinders, the rods, the frame, the cab, the tank and all the various parts are worked upon in different sections of the shop. When all the work is done the
parts are assembled in the "erecting shop" and put together again, and the locomotive is once more ready for duty. The car shops are usually not so large as the locomotive shops and they do not have so many parts. The repair of freight and passenger cars is somewhat simple, compared with the repair of a complicated locomotive. An interesting part of a freight car repair plant is the paint shop. Passenger cars are usually painted by hand, but freight cars and some passenger cars too, get a shower bath of paint from a paint spraying machine.
Many railroad shops not only repair cars and locomotives, but build new ones as well. Some of the largest and finest locomotives in the United States were designed and built
in railroad shops. Our railroads not only manufacture the great service which we call "transportation," but some of them also manufacture the equipment which gives us this important service. The shops and roundhouses of many of our railroads have had to be altered extensively during the past decade to make provision for the maintenance and repair of the numerous Diesel-electric locomotives which have come into such wide use both in switching service and in road service. It has been necessary also to provide facilities for fueling the new kind of engine. There is almost as much difference between the mechanism of a Diesel-electric locomotive and a steam locomotive as there is between a farm wagon and an automobile. The problems of maintenance and repair are entirely different . But our railroad mechanics have had little difficulty in meeting their new tasks, and the manufacturers of Diesel engines have been prompt in helping arrange training programs for the men who have assumed new duties. In the chapter about railroad tracks something was said about the large number of power driven mechanical devices that have been developed in recent years to facilitate the work of track maintenance and repair. The same kind of progress has taken place in railroad shops and roundhouses, where literally hundreds of machine tools of novel design have been installed to relieve workers of a part of the burden of manual labor and to enable repairs to be performed with greater speed and a higher degree of accuracy. A visit to nearly any railroad shop or roundhouse would have shown that, even before the war, American industry was highly mechanized, though it was not until the war came that we learned what astounding results mechanization could achieve.