Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Any aspect related to the prototype stock.
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lindsay_g
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Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by lindsay_g »

I can't help thinking I've posed my first query before but I can't find it at first glance!

Coach and NPCS were fitted with safety chains either side of the coupling hook, even on stock produced in 1921. Early goods stock seemed to be fitted with them as well. However, there is no evidence of anything to attach the hooks to on engines. So, why did the CR see the need to add these additional safety measures between stock items but not between engine and the remainder of the train (where the strain must have been greatest)? Also, was there any sort of logic as to when safety chains were deployed on goods stock?

Also, on some goods stock, there were rings attached to either side of the coupling hook as well as hooks inboard of them (as in the case of this from a loco coal wagon).
img051a.jpg
img051a.jpg (286.93 KiB) Viewed 11337 times
At first I thought that these rings (seen on some bogies at Grangemouth) were remnants of safety chains, but the plans for the loco coal wagon would suggest the single rings were fitted ab initio. There's a reference to a hook and shackle arrangement being replaced by a hook and link coupling on P45 of the Wagon Book but the loco coal wagon plans suggest both were to be present on new stock. So, what were these rings and hooks all about?

Lindsay
Alisdair
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Alisdair »

On the Highland certainly, and I would imagine on the Caley as well, locomotives were built with safety chains (at least into the 1890s). They seem to have disappeared in later years and I would be surprised if many existed by 1921.
Alisdair
Dave John
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Dave John »

Its a good question.

Looking at the length of safety chains I thought that they were coupled hook to hook. That might be wrong, but to couple to a ring on an adjacent buffer beam they would have to be twice the length of a buffer and they aren't.

So, as ever, one of my off the wall theories. Later wagons had a horse shunting loop attached via the W iron crown plate bolts, opposite end to the brake lever. Early wagons did not have one. Though why it would need a separate ring rather than a chain on the main coupling for horse shunting beats me.

As a side point has anyone ever come across any document or instruction about safety chains not in use ? I have seen pictures of them tidily hooked up to the top link, and many more of them just left dangling.

( To be fair my 4 mm ones dangle. They do actually work hook to hook. Takes about half an hour with binocular magnifiers, a good light and two pairs of tweezers but they really do)
Jim Summers
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Jim Summers »

On horse shunting, I'd welcome chapter and verse from anyone, but at the moment, my understanding is that it was not permitted to attach the rope from a horse to the wagon coupling. Iit was too risky.
Firstly, if the wagon ran away, it would pull the horse down and do the shunter no good either.
Secondly, it would mean the shunter going into the four foot to attach and detach the rope, which added more danger.
Thirdly, the rope was more easily controlled if around a properly designed towing hook on the side of the vehicle.

I've not found much specifically about horse-shunting in the rules, though the safety booklet stresses the need to release a horse in good time before it is trapped by close clearances on an adjacent road, and that in turn wold be made more difficult if the rope was attached to a centre coupling.

JimS
lindsay_g
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by lindsay_g »

The safety chains are just slightly shorter than the 3 link or screw couplings so I had assumed that they would have been hooked to rings on the adjacent vehicle. If they had been attached hook to hook there would be every chance of them being shaken apart in transit - which would also apply to the small hooks adjacent to the centre coupling in the image in the first post on this thread.

Since writing that first post, I have come across a tender engine at Auldbar Road with chains and possibly also on the rear of a tank engine at Methven (both in the Through Scotland book), on the tender of the Neilson (on the front cover of the Signalling book), and on the rear of a couple of other engines. All of them were elderly engines, so perhaps we can conclude that they were fitted to engines after all. There is, however, no evidence of chains being fitted to the front buffer beam no matter how ancient the engines were (barring one image of a tank engine used on the Oban line) - perhaps because of running at reduced speeds tender/bunker first there wasn't a perceived need for chains to be attached to the front end. Class 171 and later engines show no sign of chains having been there - which doesn't explain why many coaches being built right to the end of the Caley era had chains fitted from new.

Lindsay

P.S. Dave - one of the images had the 2 safety chains on a buffer beam attached to one another, but in all others they are swinging free.
Dave John
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Dave John »

Well, ok, but look at the 3rd on p107 of the carriage book. The short safety chains shown would have to be hook to hook. Maybe that was practice earlier on, but changed later ?
lindsay_g
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by lindsay_g »

Mmm, these chains are a lot shorter than those in most other images. They only look long enough to attach hook to hook. Seems the more we delve into this topic, the more questions it throws up.

Lindsay
Barry Rhys
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Barry Rhys »

I do not remember seeing any clear photos of connected safety chains, or at least ones when I have been specifically looking for them, and have never seen any information in an article or anything as to how they would be connected. Just as with my lengthy forum threads on emergency passenger communication cords however, I am sure that someone somewhere must know! Just maybe not a Forum reader.

Looking at photos of unattached safety chains I cannot imagine that a hook to hook connection would be intended since the chains would be very unlikely to stay taught in all combinations of hills and curves, and as soon as loose the hooks would very likely part company. As pointed out above the chains are usually much too long to suggest a hook to hook connection. But why would one of the hooks not be simply hooked onto an intermediate link of the opposite chain? The hooks are very pointy and almost form a link in themselves, so would I think be unlikely to fall out if connected appropriately into an opposite link. If I remember correctly the hook points always hang facing backwards towards their own carriage so hooking one over an opposite link would keep the attached hook point facing downwards and therefore retained securely when the chains are connected but loose. Whether the chains were intentionally connected to be loose to prevent becoming taught in normal carriage operation instead of only in emergency (presumably if the main coupling fails) again would seem probable.

Spot the number of 'woulds', 'ifs', 'possiblies', 'mays' etc. Yes this is total speculation. But comment is encouraged.

Neil
Half Welsh, 100% Yorkshireman
Jim Summers
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Jim Summers »

I have resisted wading in on this topic until I had a fairly final draft of the relevant section of my book on operating the Caledonian. Here is what I have written, which I hope clarifies some aspects at least. Comments welcome of course, with references.
JimS

Here is what I have written:
Caledonian Rule 174 b)—Coupling of Carriages.
In the 1906 Rule Book, this rule explicitly stated that “side chains, where provided, must always be coupled, and the screw coupling not in use must be hung on the hook provided for the purpose”.

That was basically the standard RCH rule, and was valid on the North British Railway, for example, until 1922. Its Appendix for that year still required to draw the attention of North British crews to the Caledonian practice, which relaxed the use of side chains. The Caledonian Appendix of 1915 formally modified the standard rule, which now read thus:

“Except where instructions are given to the contrary, the side chains on Passenger Vehicles, fitted and worked with the Westinghouse or Vacuum Brake, must not be connected, but must be hooked up on each Vehicle, to be used only in cases of emergency, such as when the centre couplings, through breakage, are not available, or in the event of a Train having to be worked by hand brakes for a part of its journey, owing to the failure of Engines or continuous brake. When a hook is not provided for the spare coupling, it must be hung up on one of the side chains.”

Matters were not quite as straightforward in practice, because the introduction of the Grampian carriages brought back side chains. The problem was not so much one associated with running the trains but rather with shunting, deriving from the fact that the Grampians were equipped with gangway connections at each end. Operations superintendents throughout the years have wrung their hands over shunters omitting to uncouple these before pulling two vehicles apart, resulting in one gangway being torn off. In this case, there may additionally have been a tendency for the centre coupling link to lift off the hook, perhaps resulting from the confined space below the gangway, combined with the shape of the hook making it difficult for shunters to engage the link. Whatever the reason, the instruction in the Appendix was to ignore the earlier relaxation of Rule 174(b) “in the case of the Corridor Trains working between Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee and Aberdeen. The side chains of these Vehicles must be coupled up between each Carriage connected by gangways, and hooked in the third link in each case, so as to prevent damage to the gangways, in the event of the centre couplings slipping off the draw-hook during shunting operations.”

Nor were matters straightforward in the event of tail traffic on passenger trains. It was permitted for one vehicle (only) to be coupled outside the passenger vehicles, i.e. at the tail end, provided that it was equipped with the Westinghouse brake and side chains, all of three of which had to be coupled up. If the vehicle was without side chains, then it “must not be marshalled behind”. This instruction was published in the Supplement of October 1921 to the Appendix of 1915, so we can conclude that some accident had occurred in the intervening six years.
lindsay_g
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by lindsay_g »

Thanks Jim, that certainly answers some of the queries. It also answers a query I had regarding where horse boxes might have been fitted in - I couldn't really see them going to the hassle of unhitching, say, a brake third marshalling in the horse box then rehitching the coach at both ends of a journey. Will make life easier on Barnton if it ever sees the light of day.

Lindsay
dumb buffer
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by dumb buffer »

Jim's input is very helpful and of course authoritative.
It has exercised my mind for years -- where would a horse box be likely to be found in a train? Looking at it as a driver, faced with the need to insert a box into his train (and perhaps later remove it) and assuming that a shunting engine was not available -- likely to be the case at many, if not all, stations where horseboxes might be attached / dropped -- then, if it was me I would keep the box next the engine rather than mess around trying to tie it on to the other end (thinking of the manoeuvering required).
Very, very few photographs show a horsebox in a train under way and all those I have seen show it immediately behind the engine. I know, photographers rarely photographed the backs of trains; but of the few photographs showing the backs of trains none that I have seen show a horsebox at the end. This certainly proves nothing, but it does suggest a line of thought.
I don't know whether a horsebox would be attached to the train at the beginning of the journey, and collect the horse en route; or would the horse be loaded in the box at it's originating station, and attached to the train later, when it came by? (Nobody has been able to tell me!)

Allan F
Alan K
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Alan K »

So does Jim's Rule Book quote resolve the issue of how the safety chains were used? Does that mean that each vehicle carried 2 screw couplings per end. When the chains were attached, one screw coupling per vehicle would be used (which explains the conundrum about how the two hooks were attached to one another) leaving one coupling left per vehicle which had to be hung up in the proper place? Or have I got it wrong?

Alan
jimwatt2mm
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by jimwatt2mm »

I understand it as each vehicle having one screw coupling and two safety chains. When two vehicles are coupled together, one screw coupling is used and the other one is to be hung up on the hook provided (not the coupling hook). The safety chains are then coupled together by having the hook of each safety chain placed in the third link of it's opposite number on the other vehicle so that the hooks of all four safety chains will be in use.

Jim W
Jim Summers
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Jim Summers »

We Jims stick together. I saw it as Jim Watt has described it.
Wait till you see my paragraphs on double-coupling!

JimS
Jim Summers
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Jim Summers »

This from the 1889 Appendix may help to understand what was hung on what.

"In coupling up the Vehicles on Passenger Trains, the screw coupling must be made as tight as possible, so that the buffers of the Carriages may be kept close while the Train is running, or while the continuous brake is being applied.

The spare coupling must never be hung in the drawbar hook along with the coupling in use, but must be hung on the hook provided for the purpose. When there is no hook provided for the spare coupling, it must be hung- up on one of the side chains when they are coupled together.

Side chains must always be connected hook-into-hook, so as to give their full length."

The spare coupling is the one not in use, which you do not want dangling down and catching on things.
The chains are coupled hook to hook. My earlier posting about using an intermediate link was purely in regard to the corridor stock, where too much slack would defeat the object of the instruction.

JimS
Dave John
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Re: Safety Chains & Other Headstock Items

Post by Dave John »

Add a Dave to the Jims, that seems the way it would be done.

I have just had a close look at the carriage book, particularly drawings.

D98, D18, 57' and 30' brake (p 213, 214,222,265) all show a hook. Its to the left of the coupling bolted to the headstock and extends down to a bit below the axle. I think that was the hook intended for the coupling which was not in use, effectively the open link would sit back towards the vehicle.

However the 45' coaches shown on p173 don't have a hook for the unused coupling. Looking at the drawn lengths of the safety chain and the coupling it seems that the safety chain would hook the coupling up out of the way.

So why was the hook on later vehicles? My guess would be that screw coupling got longer to fit corridor connected stock and were therefore more prone to dangling too low if no hook was provided.

Perhaps the reason that in so many photos everything was just hanging down is that they are photographed at works. The darkness between coaches makes it very difficult to photograph those regulations being applied in service.

(Interestingly the pic p193 shows a WCJS coach with the coupling hooked to something under the rh buffer)
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