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 Post subject: Crew training - Verbal? Books? Multimedia?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:05 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:46 am
Posts: 1894
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Here is a question for "not part of the general system" museums and tourist lines, which must meet less than the full universe of FRA regs.

How do you train operating crews? Is it all verbal classroom and on-equipment work?
Do you have a "textbook" or study guide? Do you give homework?
Do you have multimedia sort of content (photography or drawings, Youtube videos, Flash games) etc.?


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 Post subject: Re: Crew training - Verbal? Books? Multimedia?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:37 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 10:24 am
Posts: 23
One-on-one OJT between the student and the qualified conductor, fireman, or engineer is the most effective balance b/t good training and low overhead costs. I learned to fire this way working 3 to 4 days per week, 10 hours per day for one month before qualification. Railroad timetables, safety rules, NORAC documents were provided & qualification was oral and written tests.

If your organization is willing to invest the resources: annotated power point presentations with full screen photos of equipment pointing out inspection points and operating methods will be helpful. Also, published documents of procedures will maintain continuity across all operators on how to use the equipment.

The problem here is document maintenance and control. All operating procedures will change, and several times. Equipment will be bought and sold, thus, updates required here as well. In large organizations, someone's job is defined by this work. On tourist lines, people are typically stretched and this type of work will fall through the cracks.

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- Michael J. Muldowney


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 Post subject: Re: Crew training - Verbal? Books? Multimedia?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:48 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:46 am
Posts: 1894
Location: S.F. Bay Area
muldow70 wrote:
One-on-one OJT between the student and the qualified conductor, fireman, or engineer is the most effective balance b/t good training and low overhead costs. I learned to fire this way working 3 to 4 days per week, 10 hours per day for one month before qualification. Railroad timetables, safety rules, NORAC documents were provided & qualification was oral and written tests.

If your organization is willing to invest the resources: annotated power point presentations with full screen photos of equipment pointing out inspection points and operating methods will be helpful. Also, published documents of procedures will maintain continuity across all operators on how to use the equipment.

The problem here is document maintenance and control. All operating procedures will change, and several times. Equipment will be bought and sold, thus, updates required here as well. In large organizations, someone's job is defined by this work. On tourist lines, people are typically stretched and this type of work will fall through the cracks.

What bothers me about verbal-tradition training is the inconsistency. Case in point what happened at Gettysburg where the proper techniques did not get passed forward. The grandfather could blow down a glass, the father and son could not. A textbook or youtube is a "gold standard": it says exactly the same thing every time. It can also be handed to the FRA man.

The other issue that concerns me about one-on-one is that it takes a lot of staff time to handhold and educate. I'm not saying there's no substitute for apprentice-like experience; but I'd like the student to set foot on the locomotive already knowing what everything is, so you don't have to explain what a headlight switch is.


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 Post subject: Re: Crew training - Verbal? Books? Multimedia?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:38 am 

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 6:16 am
Posts: 1054
For information, new equipment deliveries in the industry generally use the technique that Michael has identified with the description "If your organization is willing to invest the resources". The students are put through an instructor taught course with a PowerPoint program that illustrates and identifies the locations and explains the proper operation of all controls on the equipment. Generally, every device on the equipment that requires operation or inspection is illustrated in slides with text callouts. It is "backed up" by an operators manual that presents the same information for their future reference. Occasionally video is used, but usually not as the primary program (it is less flexible for teaching than PowerPoint and requires more time and effort to produce). Then the students are taken to the equipment to each demonstrate that they can locate and properly explain and operate the controls, and finally their understanding is evaluated with a written test.

PC


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 Post subject: Re: Crew training - Verbal? Books? Multimedia?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:27 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 10:24 am
Posts: 23
Robert,

I am not intimately familiar with what's required by the FRA to satisfy training minimums. Therefore, I can not answer your original question.

I do know what's required to avoid drift in O&M practices on heavy machinery. I doubt most tourist railroads have the resources to 100% prevent incorrect knowledge transfer in a fashion I observe in power generation.

The O&M problem is solved by doing as PCook has suggested. In fact, I was recently involved with the commissioning of a new auxiliary boiler (200k pph, 325psi, 511F). The operator training for this boiler & future use documentation was exactly as PCook described. This boiler was installed at a large electric generation facility.

At face value, one-on-one training consumes significant resources, as it does in many applications. For the training of a student fireman or conductor on-the-job, it does not. If I am assigned a "new" student fireman. He follows me the whole day, watching and learning. Task-by-task, that student will learn to function on this own. By the end of training, the student will do all the work simply under the eye of the trained fireman/conductor. A written & oral exam with questions created by management is passed and the student is qualified.

The additional time is minimal at the beginning. After just a few days, working on the locomotive goes easier & faster having an extra set of hands on-board. I enjoy having students.

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- Michael J. Muldowney


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 Post subject: Re: Crew training - Verbal? Books? Multimedia?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:38 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:40 am
Posts: 30
Location: Illinois
At Monticello Railway Museum we use a combination of classroom, field training, and on the job training with qualified crews.

Rules classes are presented with Power Point followed by written examinations. Training for trainmen includes some field training with instructors and on the job with qualified crews.

We produced instruction manuals for our steam locomotive fireman and engineer training. These contain information on the construction of the locomotive and appliances, instructions for operation, air brakes, train handling specific to steam locomotives, troubleshooting, and safety precautions.

Training for firemen begins in a classroom using the instruction manual. Students then work on the job with qualified crews and must pass a final written examination to become qualified firemen.

Steam locomotive engineer trainees must be qualified firemen and qualified diesel locomotive engineers before beginning the steam engineer training program. This may seem a little contrary to the traditional steam to diesel progression but it is felt that this allows the students to learn the operating procedures, air brakes, and train handling in a somewhat less demanding environment. That knowledge transfers fairly directly and the student then must only learn the operation and eccentricities peculiar to the steam locomotive itself. Students may have some classroom training using the instruction manual as a textbook although we prefer to have them work in the shop helping to maintain and repair the locomotive. On the job training with a qualified engineer is followed by a written examination and a final check ride with an SLE.

I feel that classroom training is useful but limited in what it can accomplish. For example, operating rules are necessary for the safe operation of trains but may not make sense until you get out on the train and see how they are actually applied. The best way to learn to fire or run a locomotive is to sit in the seat and just do it, under the supervision of a qualified instructor, of course.

A problem that has been discussed on this board previously and that many museums and small tourist railroads face is the limited amount of time available for crew training. For those who operate only on weekends or a few days a month it may take months or even years for a single person to accumulate enough throttle time to really become competent, not to mention maintaining those skills. This can be very frustrating for those who are interested and awaiting their chance to become part of the operating crew.

Russ Fischer


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