Movement between Fs, Nose-to-Nose or 'Elephant' Style : LUSENET : Southern Railway : One Thread

On the Southern, did train crews pass through F units on-the-move or were they prohibited unless stopped. It looks a little dangerous to pass through nose-to-nose or nose-to-back end of F units doing track speed.

-- Turner McCarley (, December 07, 2003


It was dangerous crossing in and out of the noses of Southern E's and F's, but it was done at high speed. Railroad men of that era were bolder. No one wanted to be labeled a "panty-waist" or worse. Some railroads like the RF&P had written prohibitions posted in bulletins and in the cabs about not leaving the operating cab of a covered wagon at speed, but they were largely ignored. The SR in my time and to my knowledge never posted anything like that. Prior to the time Brosnan de-emphasized the worth of the fireman, on-board troubleshooting was taught and expected to be done. Going in the nose of an E or F was complicated because these doors were seldom lubricated and were hard to open. You usually had to kick them in. Steel toed boots can in handy. On the SR you had another problem - lack of crosswalk chains or chain attachments on the noses. Other railroads like SCL and RF&P had them. Chains like this between the nose and rear of adjacent SCL E7's saved my life one night when I feel between engines at speed. Oil was often present on your feet from walking through the engine rooms, and this made crossing over tricky too. When I joined SR and became part of the Greenville SC safety committee, I lobbied to get chains and attachment rings put on the noses of the E's and F's, but to no avail. You could still take the one chain on the rear of a covered wagon and and loop it around the nose handrail of the adjacent nose, but it was not as good as having two secure chains of proper height. When going from nose to nose, it was best to do a two hand approach- one hand on the hanrail of one nose and one hand on the other nose handrail, til you had a good grip and footing. Still I dearly miss those days, and I'd trade the newest SD70M for a SR F unit anytime.

Ben Lee - engineer-North Charlotte District

-- Ben Lee (, November 25, 2004.

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