Use of the HORN?

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NP2626

Active Member
#1
I understand that when backing up, the loco is supposed to give three short blasts and when going forward, to give two short blasts of the horn. Let me explain a scenario, The switcher runs forward and hooks onto a string of cars with a caboose at the other end. The train will be running forward; but, the engine will be running backwards, what is the proper signal?
 
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Selector

Active Member
#3
The 'forward' direction for a locomotive is the direction adequately illuminated by the operating headlamp, or the lamp that can be seen by other operators and other traffic in and around the tracks. If the locomotive is shoving a string of cars, it is reversing because its headlamp does not illuminate the direction of movement and the engineer must rely on hand signals or lamp signals from the conductor or brakeman. Even if the engine is a switcher with the long hood facing toward the consist, the train is only moving 'forward' when the engineer has an otherwise unobstructed view in this direction of travel. That would be reversing in relation to the long hood.

Or, if a locomotive is generally assumed to be operating at the 'head end' of a consist, then it doesn't really matter which way the hood or boiler is facing. All observers and crew will know which end of the consist has the power, the 'head end' power as it were, and they'll understand that when the non-powered end of the consist is approaching them that the locomotive is 'reversing'.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#4
As I understand it Mark, a single short blast indicates that a moving train has come to a stop. With the Tsunami decoders I have in most of my engines you can set certain CV's to have all of those different sounds operate according to speed steps of the throttle and still retain the manual control via the buttons when required.
 
#6
Depends. Is it a train or is it a switch engine?

If its a switch engine then forward is the way the engine is facing.
If its a train then forward is the way the train is authorized and reverse is the other way.

If you look at a rule book two long blasts (not short) means release the brakes, proceed (doesn't actually say anything about "forward"). "Proceed" means in the direction authorized. Switch engines and work trains don't have a specified direction. Trains do.
Three short blasts means when standing back up. It is given in response to a back up signal from the conductor.

Two short blasts doesn't mean go forward, its just an answer to any signal there is no defined answer for.

On the other hand, if its a passenger train with a communicating signal hooked up through the train, two blasts means, when standing start, and three blasts means, when standing, back up. Sounds like you are confusing the communicating signal with the whistle signals.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
#8
Not sure how this applies to the push pull commuter trains where the power is on one end. It goes into the city with the loco leading the way but comes back out with the passenger cars leading the way. Would the engineer seat dictate what the front end is?
 

NP2626

Active Member
#9
Thanks, I will start using long blasts when going forward.

Depends. Is it a train or is it a switch engine?

If its a switch engine then forward is the way the engine is facing.
If its a train then forward is the way the train is authorized and reverse is the other way.

If you look at a rule book two long blasts (not short) means release the brakes, proceed (doesn't actually say anything about "forward"). "Proceed" means in the direction authorized. Switch engines and work trains don't have a specified direction. Trains do.
Three short blasts means when standing back up. It is given in response to a back up signal from the conductor.

Two short blasts doesn't mean go forward, its just an answer to any signal there is no defined answer for.

On the other hand, if its a passenger train with a communicating signal hooked up through the train, two blasts means, when standing start, and three blasts means, when standing, back up. Sounds like you are confusing the communicating signal with the whistle signals.
 

NP2626

Active Member
#11
How much longer is a long blast, than a short one? Are all movement signals long blasts? Per Toot, the all stop signal is a single short blast, is that correct?
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#12
How much longer is a long blast, than a short one? Are all movement signals long blasts? Per Toot, the all stop signal is a single short blast, is that correct?
The all stop (from either direction) is just a toot, same for each of the 3 reverse signals as well. On an NCE cab, the F3 button gives that short signal, quite a clipped sound. Forward, with my Tsunamis on throttle step control the two are not over long, but I would imagine it could be up to the driver in real life. Nothing to stop you giving longer ones for dramatic effect. Scaring little kids on the platform.
 
#13
Horn and whistle signals, are rarely used except at crossings or in MW work areas. In fact use of the horn is prohibited in certain areas, per Railroad policy, or local government operation. These signals were meant to alert crew and other railroad workers of the impending movement of a train. However, since the inception of automatic block, radio communication and other modern conveniences, the use of horns is situational, and less frequent.

The front of the locomotive is designated by a small F. That applies whether or not the leading end of the locomotive is the F end. Push pull cab cars are considered locomotives, even though the are generally not powered. They come under the same general rules and practices as locomotives, vs. passenger train cars. In practical terms, the direction of the locomotive for hand signal purposes is determined by the direction of the train, and / or crew job briefing, where points of confusion are resolved.

Being that we are talking about the railroad industry, all of this is determined by a complex intermingling of laws, regulations and policies that vary from location to location, road to road, and country to country. That's why all operating employees are required to be qualified not only on the rules, but the special instructions, that modify the rules to conform to local practices. When I retired, nine years ago, most railroads in the Northeast, used NORAC Rules, while Railroads in other parts of the us used either GCOR or Proprietary Rules established by individual carriers.

From a model railroad standpoint, do what suits you...
 

NP2626

Active Member
#14
WJLI26, You have assumed I model the modern era. I don't, I model the transition, so the rules that apply then, are in effect. There is no problem telling the front of Steam Locomotives and I was not asking what is the front end of a diesel as I know that it is marked with an "F". I'm interested in generally how things were/are done, as I am the Chief, Cook and Bottle Washer of this outfit, so I agree it is a model railroad and I can do it however I want! On the Northern Pacific, RS-1s ran long hood forward and on RS-3s, it was short hood forward. I say this to further confuse the issue. So, to be completely correct, I suppose I need an N.P. Rule book pertaining to the period I model, which is 1953. However, having things completely right, is sort off the screen for me!
 
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montanan

Whiskey Merchant
#15
When it comes to the use of the horn, I don't think there is a rule as to how long a short or long blast should be. I spent a lot of time riding with my relatives on the MILW and NP growing up and to me it seemed to be up to the engineer how long the blast were. After years of riding, with the help of my relatives, I could tell (sometimes) who the engineer was by the way he used the whistle or horn. Each engineer had their own "style" of using the horn.
 
#16
Mark: Hard to believe that nearly sixty years have passed since the "end" of the transition era. My entire 42 year career was spent in the "Modern Era". Generally, road switchers, had a designated F end, which varied by railroad. On the PRR and the Reading, RS3s were long hood lead, as were GP7s and GP9s etc. On Western Railroads, most lines operated "Short Hood lead" In most cases, the direction the locomotive faced was determined by the assignment, so the engine was turned to conform with the requirements of the job. Regardless of what end was designated as the F end, the engineer's controls were on the "Right" side, based on the F end, and he faced "forward". Ergo, all signaling was based on this premise, whether or not the engine was properly pointed for the job. The other point to consider is that back in the day, (prior to 1965), there were firemen employed on all assignments, so there was someone to pass signals, from the opposite side, when necessary.

If you can find them. It's always a good idea to get your personal copy of the rule book used by, in your case, the NP. It would also be helpful if could get your self a NP Employee Timetable / Special instructions, covering the district you are interested in. Items like that are useful in understanding operating practice.
 
#17
Living near, 1.5 miles away, I can hear in winter the CN trains and the locomotive horns. Each engineer has their own style of using the horn. Same applies to UP which is south of me about 2 miles.

On a time table almost everyday, I can almost recognize each local engineer by their use of the horn.

Greg
 
#19
A train is defined, as a locomotive, with or without cars, displaying a marker. The locomotive would consist of a steam locomotive and tender, or one or more diesel or electric engines, under a single control. If you have a copy of a Rule Book, these are found under the Definitions section. It makes for some interesting reading.
 



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