February
05
Posted on 05-02-2012
Filed Under (Alberta 1970s, CPR) by Broken Rail

Most elevator tracks on the CPR were equipped with a wooden platform made out of heavy timbers, and a mound of dirt that was level alongside the timbers, and was sloped into banks on each end, the clearance between the timbers of the platform, and the elevator track were very close, this created a restricted clearance so trainmen had to be aware of their location when riding cars into the elevator tracks, especially at night, and remember to ride onĀ  proper side to avoid personal-injury from being crushed between the platform, and the cars that they were hanging onto. Information on where restricted clearances were located were marked in timetable special instructions, and by signs made out of pipe that was flattened on one end and a double diamond was cut through, these signs were painted bright yellow and were positioned on elevator tracks, spurs, and other industrial complexes where restricted clearances existed as a visual reminder. The purpose of these wooden platforms was to help farmers, and agricultural implement dealers to load and offload farm machinery, such as tractors, and combines that were shipped from the factory or farm on railway flat cars.

One trip North to Wimborne we had a flatcar loaded with combines for the town of Beiseker that was next to our engine, the unloading platform was located on the south end of the elevator track, there were about a dozen other grain empties on spot, and rather than go in from the north and having to couple up all the grain empties including some that were being loaded, which would be a hassle as we would have to get the elevator operator to stop loading so we could pull all the cars out and couple onto the combines to spot it at the platform. So we decided to make a quick move, the elevator track at Beiseker was shaped like a dish, and cars would roll towards the middle from each end, we stopped our train south of the south switch, and cut off the combines from the train, uncoupled the car from the engine that put the airbrake into emergency to hold the car there, and ran the engine up the mainline past the south switch clear of the fouling point of the elevator track, with the derail removed, we lined the switch towards the platform, I got on the north end of the flatcar were the horizontal handbrake wheel was located, the headend brakeman bled off the air from the brake cylinder from the bleed lever located on the side of the car, and it started to roll by gravity into the elevator track, there was a good incline and it picked up speed quickly, I in the meantime was tightening the brake wheel to slow the car down and bring it to a stop at the platform, but with all my strength I could not control the speed and the car kept on rolling past the platform and we plowed into a couple of stationary boxcars spotted at the Parrish and Heimbecker elevator, I held on for dear life and fortunately was not thrown off the car and the combines remained secured, it moved the stationary cars two car lengths northward before everything came to a stop, fortunately the cars were not being loaded at the time, and we came in with the light engine re-spotted the grain empties, and the machinery car at the platform, bracing the wheels with wooden wedges to keep the car in place, the conductor advised car control in Medicine Hat to have the Car Department come out and repair the defective handbrake, and notify the farm implement dealer that the car was not safe to unload until the repairs could be made.

Photos:

1.) OTTX 91955 flatcar loaded with combine TTX or the Trailer Train Company was formed in 1955 by three owners: Pennsylvania Railroad, Norfork and Western Railroad, and the Rail Trailer Corporation, the Companies goal was to standardize rail equipment of railway piggybacking, and other rolling stock in the 1960s the first flat cars equipped with auto racks for loading and unloading automobiles were developed, and 89 foot flat cars with heavy duty tiedown chains entered service for loading heavy machinery.

2.) Farm machinery unloading platform in the yard at East Coulee, Alberta

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