Internet Horology Club 185
Hand Signals - Back in the Day

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February 22, 2013, 14:57
Lorne Wasylishen
Hand Signals - Back in the Day
This should keep you thinking for a while. Post an answer if you think you know it, there are a lot of these I never saw at work.

Railway Hand Signals

I'll bet that most of you had NO IDEA about the hand signals that
AREN'T in the rulebook! You can go to your copy of the UCOR (1962) to
find out how to use a hand signal to cause the engine to move forward,
or backward., and even what to do to make it stop. You can give a
signal to set up the brakes and to release them.., but what do you do
if you want the engine to go to "the house track", pull 3 cars and
take them to the weigh scale to be weighed??? Come on.., no
cheating! Don't reach for your 2-way radio.., it's not there because
the year is 1965, not 2013.

This video was put together by Bob Sipos, former Rule Instructor and
Dale Field who, I'm sorry to say I don't know.The presentation that Bob
and Dale have presented herein is a real trip down memory lane for old-timers.
February 22, 2013, 19:25
Larry Buchan
Every summer at Calgary's Heritage Park they hold a special weekend called Railway Days, I used to help out and every year we would do our show for the public called Roundhouse Theater on both days in the afternoon, while both steam locomotives would be running trains around the track at the park, we would use the yard switcher CPR 2018 that had spent its career switching the coal mines at Canmore, Alberta 60 miles to the west of the city in the Rocky Mountains, when retired the locomotive was brought to Ogden for restoration and use at the park, but the repairs necessary were too expensive so it was converted to run with a diesel engine and chain drive from the smoke box at the front of the engine, I was assigned to run it for the demonstrations and we would back it out of the roundhouse onto the turntable using hand signals, which I acknowledge with proper whistle signals, when I had it properly centered retired roadmaster from Alyth yard, August Coleman would hook up the air from the front of the locomotive to run the turntable and demonstrate how it worked, we would turn the locomotive 360°, then retired locomotive engineer Walter Kot would proceed to give the public seated in the grandstands on each side a demonstration of all the proper hand signals used on the railway for communicating, and questioning the audience in getting them to participate especially the children to see if they knew the signals, and could relay them properly. There were other railway skills shown including spike pounding contests where section men would compete with each other, being timed with railway grade watches of course to see how long it would take them to drive spikes into the railroad ties on the panel of track we had earlier set up that is visible in front of Walter behind the volunteer in the white jersey. These photos are from the summer of 1998.


February 22, 2013, 19:31
Larry Buchan
On the turntable, or merry-go-round that is used in railway slang.

February 22, 2013, 19:33
Larry Buchan
A wave to the audience, my wife Anita took the photos from the grandstand.

February 22, 2013, 19:38
Larry Buchan
August connecting the air to run the turntable, steam locomotive air pumps were used by the railways to operate the geared drive mechanism that turns the turntable, some were operated with electric motors. Some of the older turntables were called Armstrongs as they were turned manually by the crews using brute strength and a wooden pole to turn the locomotive, the key of course is to have the locomotive properly balanced in the center of the turntable.

February 22, 2013, 19:42
Larry Buchan
Walter giving hand signals using an electric battery-operated switch lamp, I actually posted the pictures out of order. This one should have been first as Walter is giving me a backup signal to come out of the roundhouse and onto the turntable, in the old days coal oil lanterns would be used at night, and hand signals by day.

February 22, 2013, 20:01
Lorne Wasylishen
Those are some wonderful things you were able to do Larry and a great experience for the children as well. I have never been on or even seen a live working steam locomotive. I do remember the electric turntable in Jasper AB in the 70's.

I watched the hand signal video again but could only identify the most basic and guess at the rest. I think they are specific to yard crews.
February 24, 2013, 17:44
Edward Kitner
Great presentation Larry! There is nothing like getting the information first hand.