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 Post subject: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:05 pm
Posts: 82
Over on the OGR forum there is a discussion on "bottling the air" with the Strasburg RR cited as a specific example:

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/help-from-a-real-railroader-what-is-bottling-the-air?

Some who have responded claim the Strasburg is doing this illegally. Being SRS is primarily a passenger hauler I doubt they are engaged in illegal practices being 'Safety First' is of great importance. So is much of the comments in the above thread just assumptions made by railfans who don't know better about prototype railroad operations/practices?

And yes, I refrained from posting anything in that thread since I'm not qualified to comment on SRS operating practices. Also thought you'd like to be aware of this thread in case it is spreading misinformation about SRS operations.


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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:22 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 954
Location: Tucson, Arizona
At TVRM, we never permitted bottled the air as a general practice-illegal and unsafe. Whenever the locomotive was uncoupled to run around the train, the only angle cock closed was on the locomotive. The practice was for the fireman to uncouple the locomotive, connect the conductor's back up hose, run around and uncouple the back up hose at the other end before coupling.

The only time that we would bottle the air was to perform a replacement of a glad hand gasket. Once a leak, the rule was to contact the engineman to establish protection, then close the angle cocks on both cars. Once that was done, we would examine the condition of the gaskets, pop the damaged one out and snap a new one in place. Once the glad hands were reconnected, each one was slowly opened. The cars were left coupled during the process with the locomotive supplying air to the cars ahead of the defective gasket.

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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:32 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I specifically remember pumping up the train every time after run around, 30 years ago on the Strasburg. I remember because the pump drafts the fire, and it was part of my firing strategy. I don't think the air bottling claim is true.

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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:25 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:08 pm
Posts: 97
Location: Alberta, Canada
Here is a procedure from my carrier (Canadian National) that we are supposed to follow when uncoupling the locomotive(s) from a train when the temperature is below freezing.

1. Engineer makes a full service application of the automatic (train brake) and waits for the exhaust to cease. He then tells the Conductor that it is "ok to cut".

2. Conductor closes BOTH angle cocks, then has the Engineer pull the locomotive(s) ahead one car length.

3. Conductor opens the angle cock on the first car slowly until it is fully open, thereby venting the brake pipe without the train going into emergency.

If we are running around the train we are allowed to have both angle cocks closed, but only after any exhaust from the train's brake pipe has ceased and the angle cock has been left open for at least two more minutes. This exception is only for the time we are running around the train.

Actual bottling the air (leaving the train with the full service set and both angle cocks closed) is against the rules, and on modern freight equipment can easily cause a unintentional release.

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 Post subject: Re: Automatic vs straight air.
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:56 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 3:04 pm
Posts: 117
Location: San Jose, CA
I volunteer at a miniature park train that uses a straight air system on its equipment.

We "bottle-the-air" on our passenger cars during the run around move after each trip. Bottling air with straight air equipment sets the brakes. During the engine run around, passengers are loading/unloading the cars so "bottling the air" is done for safety to ensure the equipment does not roll during this time.


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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1701
Location: Strasburg, PA
To save time, I have copied and pasted my reply to the same question posted on the O Gauge Forum in 2014.

"Our equipment uses P1 and P2 triple valves, which became obsolete about forty years prior to the introduction of ABDW’s and their self releasing feature. The engine is uncoupled from the train for about five minutes, during which time the train crew is in attendance.

quote:
But being a passenger train that carries the public I certainly would not bottle the air in these litigious times.

We also carry the public in open platform wooden cars, heated with coal stoves, riding on plain bearings, and pulled by steam locomotives , all things that make ambulance chasers salivate. It’s all part of preserving an era of (as my boss puts it), “when railroaders weren’t afraid to railroad.” If your procedures are time tested (sixty years in our case) and your staff is well trained, and you are still afraid of your own shadow, what’s the point of getting up in the morning?

BTW, our FRA inspectors have observed our uncoupling, runaround, coupling, and brake test procedures many times with no complaints."

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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:23 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 617
Robert J wrote:
Over on the OGR forum
Because there is so much disinformation on that site, a lot of modelers refer to it as "NK", which is short for North Korea.


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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 7:26 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 882
The tone of the OP is disrespectful, IMHO. It sounds like an answer is being demanded.


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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:44 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1173
I have a question, too. I see Kelly has the PM feature activated. This is a shining example of a question that could, and I think should, have been asked in private, in which case furthermore the wording or implied tone wouldn't have mattered.

Why was it not sent as a PM?

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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2473
Location: Northern Illinois
Niceties aside, this subject does deserve some discussion. I'm by no means an expert on air brakes, but also recall that SOP at IRM back when I was qualified to operate, a good forty years ago (and I do not know what their current policy is) was to "bottle" the air on the passenger train when doing station switching, to save pumping time and wear on the locomotive air pump.

I'm also a model railroad hobbyist who lines to replicate railroad operations, and in discussions with working railroaders, was surprised to learn that bottling cars with the brakes set is absolutely forbidden on today's railroads. "Look in any railroad's air brake rules", these guys said. So, I looked in my copy of the 1962 Soo Line air brake rules, and didn't find any prohibition of the practice. Hmmm... Keep in mind that any railroader working today likely has a hire date in 1970 or later. So, I dug a little further.

It appears that with the steam era P-1 and P-2 equipment that Kelly mentions, and the P-2 and UC-12 equipment I worked with, once an application has been set, any brake pipe leakage will only increase the application, or, on the case of the UC-12 equipment, initiate an emergency application, although our cars typically took two or three days to reach that point. HOWEVER, with the introduction of the ABD freight service valve in the early sixties, that changed. The ABD introduced a Accelerated Release function that, sensing a rise in train line pressure, dumps the contents of the emergency reservoir into the train line, to speed the propagation rate down the train. In theory, a pressure transient traveling down the "bottled" brake pipe could initiate the Accelerated Release function of one of the valves, and once that happened, other valves would go off in succession, with the result that the brakes can release on the "bottled" cut. This, I believe, is the basis for currently prohibiting the practice of "bottling" the air.

Which puts Strasburg in an interesting position, because on the freight side of their operation I'm sure the cars they handle are 100% equipped with ABD, ABDW, or ABDX equipment, all of which have the Accelerated Release function. With as tight a ship as Strasburg runs, however, I wouldn't doubt that they have different freight and passenger procedures that take this into account.

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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:46 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:08 pm
Posts: 97
Location: Alberta, Canada
Since we are talking about this publicly, I have another question for the experts. In the past I have read/heard (can't quite remember where) that at least some of the early triple valve designs contained some very sensitive components that could be damaged if the brakes went into emergency. Is this true and if so, what type(s) of valves does this apply to?

If the equipment is properly secured with handbrakes or sitting at the bottom of bowled terrain (as many yards are designed) one can release the air brakes completely and the equipment will not move. We have some locations where a smaller number of handbrakes than normal are required, and others where no handbrakes are required at all, even if cars are being left for days.

I can even think of at least one yard where crews can be instructed to leave the air bottled for the Carmen, and another yard where kicking cars into clear tracks with no one riding the handbrake is allowed, as long as a certain speed is not exceeded. Both of these locations are bowls, and the cars will not roll out either end on their own.

What I said in my earlier post is true, bottling the air is against the rules, but as with many of our rules there are exceptions to it.

The most notable exception is this: If the portion of the train we are leaving behind has a DP remote locomotive in it we are now specifically instructed to bottle the air, while leaving the DP unit set up to maintain a brake application. If the DP unit detects a increase in brake pipe pressure, a sharp increase in airflow, movement above 1 mph or a emergency brake application on the lead unit it will put the train into emergency.

The moral of my ramblings is this: Always read the rules before assuming anything, they may surprise you.

Also, Dennis' understanding of the accelerated release feature of modern freight car brake valves is spot on. And all it takes to initiate a release is one car with a leaky valve.

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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:29 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:26 pm
Posts: 101
We have been told by the FRA that we have to tie down a handbrake while doing a run-around with the engine with the air line exhausted but both angle cocks closed. My question, is pulling the train up on a skate on the downhill side just as good if not better than using a handbrake?


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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:18 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 7:05 pm
Posts: 204
Quote:
It appears that with the steam era P-1 and P-2 equipment that Kelly mentions, and the P-2 and UC-12 equipment I worked with, once an application has been set, any brake pipe leakage will only increase the application, or, on the case of the UC-12 equipment, initiate an emergency application, although our cars typically took two or three days to reach that point. HOWEVER, with the introduction of the ABD freight service valve in the early sixties, that changed. The ABD introduced a Accelerated Release function that, sensing a rise in train line pressure, dumps the contents of the emergency reservoir into the train line, to speed the propagation rate down the train. In theory, a pressure transient traveling down the "bottled" brake pipe could initiate the Accelerated Release function of one of the valves, and once that happened, other valves would go off in succession, with the result that the brakes can release on the "bottled" cut. This, I believe, is the basis for currently prohibiting the practice of "bottling" the air.

You are confusing (or improperly mixing) two different situations. Yes, brake pipe leakage can cause the application to increase (even in a moving/working train) - the control valves are doing their job responding to an implied service rate brake pipe reduction, but that has nothing to with 'bottling the air', which is a term for an intentional sealing of both ends of a trainline without a locomotive attached. Regular brake pipe leakage in a complete automatic brake system (engine with cars) was addressed with later brake control systems that have a pressure maintaining feature (that's what it's called, and found on most 24 brakes and integral to 26L/30 systems) to keep the brake pipe at the set equalizing reservoir pressure. This is particularly to address brake pipe leakage and not to be confused with feed or regulating valve setting. And I should point out here that if you think about it, any ready-to-go train air brake system has the train air technically bottled - you can't maintain a trainline with the end angle cock open.

Accelerated release is a normal function of a control valve - you described the basic function correctly, but incompletely. Accelerated release dumps air from the car emergency reservoir into the trainline to increase propagation speed of the release signal and speed up charging of the train (with bigger trainline reductions the relatively higher pressure emergency portion air serves as additional charging air for the depleted service portions). It will speed a release from any source, including an unintentional release caused by a valve leaking into a bottled trainline with no other controlling factor (the equalizing system on the locomotive), but it is not a direct relationship to bottling. Most any control valve needs only a 1.5 lb increase in brake pipe pressure to start a release, which is why bottling the air is seriously frowned on by most RRs. The accelerated release feature just makes the whole runaway thing happen faster once a leak puts more air in a bottled pipe. The locomotive controls let air out as well as in to keep the pressure steady, which means a properly set-up attached loco eliminates the 'bottled air' scenario.

What sd70dude is referring to with leaving a DP set up is not what we're talking about when we say 'bottling the air'. He is talking about setting up an attached automatic brake valve so that it maintains proper brake pipe pressure in the train, just as the lead loco would normally do.

As for legality of bottling the air, there is nothing I know of in 49CFR or USC that prevents bottling, because there are situations where bottling is advantageous and even necessary and it can be done with proper attention and control. It does, however, require strict attention and adequate precautions, which is very much subject to human failure. I suspect that most RRers have had the notion that bottling is a serious no-no drilled into them by the big-corporates so hard for so long that it has taken on a stigma and the even less-informed fans on OGR forum have gotten the trickle -down. Like many other old-school practical solutions that have gone the way of the dodo, bottling the air is always in danger of one catastrophic failure that could cause the usual knee-jerk regulatory ban. I would think all good operations will always have provision for static or immediate hand-brake use and/or require constant crew presence to cover any unintentional releases while bottling is in use.

Note - I have no knowledge of Strasburg's procedures and haven't been there in quite a few years, but I think Kelly's statement speaks for itself, and Overmod has a very good point about posting.

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Last edited by TrainDetainer on Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:09 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:45 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 7:05 pm
Posts: 204
Stationary Engineer wrote:
We have been told by the FRA that we have to tie down a handbrake while doing a run-around with the engine with the air line exhausted but both angle cocks closed. My question, is pulling the train up on a skate on the downhill side just as good if not better than using a handbrake?

From my experience, and I've used a bunch, skates have their uses but are problematic. They don't have the braking power that a whole car has, are not capable of restraining heavy loads, particularly on grades, are very susceptible to slack interference, and not nearly as reliable as handbrakes. They don't really even have the advantage of being more difficult for vandals to remove than releasing hand brakes (depending on design). If you read the literature on them they are usually restricted to holding just a few/couple of cars, not for use on grades, and any number of other vagaries, depending on type and who wrote the paper. They can be just as time consuming (sometimes much more so) as winding on a hand brake or two. And have you ever taken the pointed end of one hard when it suddenly pops out at high speed from under the wheel or the heavy end in the shin, or side of your head? Hand brakes are still standard equipment after 160+ years for a reason.

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 Post subject: Re: Question for Kelly Anderson of the Strasburg RR
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:24 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1709
Location: Southern California
TrainDetainer wrote:
As for legality of bottling the air, there is nothing I know of in 49CFR or USC that prevents bottling, because there are situations where bottling is advantageous and even necessary and it can be done with proper attention and control. It does, however, require strict attention and adequate precautions, which is very much subject to human failure. I suspect that most RRers have had the notion that bottling is a serious no-no drilled into them by the big-corporates so hard for so long that it has taken on a stigma and the even less-informed fans on OGR forum have gotten the trickle -down. Like many other old-school practical solutions that have gone the way of the dodo, bottling the air is always in danger of one catastrophic failure that could cause the usual knee-jerk regulatory ban. I would think all good operations will always have provision for static or immediate hand-brake use and/or require constant crew presence to cover any unintentional releases while bottling is in use.
In today's world, It often becomes easiest to tell not to do something than to explain and teach now to property do it.

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