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Discussion in 'FAQs' started by roryglasgow, Mar 30, 2002.
Is that a specific type of caboose?
I imagine that some were crummier than others, but "crummy", "hack", "cabin car", all are different terms for the caboose.
Its a regional thing...in Canada they called them vans, around here they called them cabs, around New York City they called them hacks...the Pennsylvania called them cabins...depends on where you are Bill
Rory, an extra bit of superfluous information is that a four wheel crummy is more often than not called a bobber (Conductors who rode them often had scrambled brains)
I seriously thought they were called crummies because they were crummy looking cabooses
I always thought the caboose (sorry, crummie ) was a rolling workshop for running repairs on trains.
The burning question is ..... Why are they no longer used on trains?
Are the mechanics/design of cars etc so good that they don't breakdown? ... ie, couplers don't break, hoses don't part, and mu cables never disconnect , have "hot boxes" a thing of the past and minor derailments just don't happen?
Or is it just a way of revering the mighty $$$ their demise saves?
This is a question which could take a book too answer, I will try to give a fairly concise accurate answer, others may add other facts. From relatively early steam days, the conductor and rear end brakeman rode in a caboose. The conductor was able to do his paperwork, the brakeman was able to perform setouts and pickups, and throw switches, without walking the length of the train. En route, one or the other would be in the cupola, watching for smoke from overheated journal boxes or the starting of fires from sparks from exhaust. One reason cupolas located on top began being replaced with designs with side mounted bay windows was that height of freight cars increased and the view of the train was blocked. When diesels replaced steam and journals with better bearings became available. the railroads really no longer needed the caboose. Union opposition to eliminating them, as well as government regulations, kept them on trains for some time, but eventually the railroads were permitted to drop them. Some "local" freights which do a lot of switching still use them.
And to add to Gary's comments, they have been replaced with FREDs (Flashing Rear End Devices) - look at the end of almost any train today and you will see one. I'll take a crummy over a FRED anyday.
Back in the early days of railroading, before the advent of air brakes, a trains crew consisted of an engineer, fireman, conductor, head brakeman, rear brakeman, and several swing brakemen. The number of swing brakemen varied, with one man assigned for each 5 cars in the consist. The swing brakemen rode the rooftops at all times;freight train speeds averaged 10 mph back then. When the engineer wanted the brakes applied he blew a certain 'tune' on his whistle, and the brakemen, or 'shacks' ,ran from roof top to roof top applying the brakes. When the engineer whistled for 'off brakes ', the shacks went back and released them. The head and rear shacks also served as flagmen when the train stopped to switch towns, etc., with the conductor giving the orders and the other shacks throwing switches and uncoupling cars. The head brakeman rode the loco; the rear brakeman rode the caboose with the conductor. The conductor was the boss of the train; he sat at a desk doing paperwork while the brakeman sat in the cupola, observing the train. The caboose, back then, was assigned to a single conductor or crew. It was their office, lounge, kitchen and bunkroom. But cabooses were located at the end of increasingly long trains. There is play in the couplings...this is called 'slack'. On a long train, there can be as much as 6 or 8 feet of slack. This means, when starting a train, that a caboose can instantly jump 8 feet or more from a standstill when the slack runs out. If a crewman is not prepared, he can be violently thrown around, suffering severe injuries. Elimination of the caboose has eliminated those injuries. Since the invention of air brakes, the swing brakeman job has been eliminated; the use of diesels have done away with firemen; they dont need two brakemen to ride on the train doing nothing for hours; so today's train crew consists of a conductor and engineer. On certain jobs, brakemen are included if they are needed to switch along the way. There is plenty of room in the loco cab for the conductor , he no longer needs an office. A FRED is used on the rear car to monitor air brake pressure and transmit info to wayside recievers about the train's passing. There are regulations requiring a man to ride the first car of a train being pushed ahead of a loco, and a mile is considered the limit. It is unsafe for a man to ride a freight car more than a mile. In this case, cars that look like cabooses are still used as 'pushing platforms' to provide a safe place for the man to ride during long back up moves. Usually the doors are welded shut...one must ride on the end platform. This makes the car technically a rider car and not a caboose, so the interior does not have to be maintained (cleaning, servicing toilet, lights, etc). HTH Bill
Thanks for the knowledge guys, when you mentioned the brakeman it reminded me of a writeup in MR or MRC in the '70's of operations on the "Virginian" (I think that's what it's called).
It took me back to my book "Ma and Pa", that was the book that got me started on USA outline modelling. Can one be nostalgic for something one never experienced? Then I got the book "Fiddleton and Copperopolis", fabulous humour in there.
Geee, I love the old times depicted in those books.
I WANT THE CRUMMIES BACK ON THE RAILS!!!!