F3AA configuration

I was wondering if a railroad may have resorted to a back-to-back, F3AA arrangement at the rear of a train with the caboose in the lead for a local
freight run. Would this type of push scenario be OK to implement on a model railroad?
It would allow me some leeway in the track planning for a particular stretch.
Thanks! Matt
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It is your railroad - do as you please! :-) You don't need to look for prototypical excuses.
Peteski
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Matt B:
In the old days - and probably today, in remote areas - railroads that crossed mountains via switchbacks had to run whole trains in reverse for large parts of the run. I have also heard of locos being kept on the downhill side on rack railroads or other very steep lines for safety's sake, should a coupler break.
The NY&LE used to run local freight from Meadville to Corry with a pair of FPA4 cab units (until about two years ago) which were used in any conceivable way. Occasionally they would indeed run both on the tail end. Often the passenger excursion was run with a single FPA4 on the point and another on the other end!
Amtrak's Pittsburgh-bound locals from the east turn around somewhere near Pitcairn and must back several miles, slowly, into Penn Station, with a conductor watching, radio in hand, through the open door of the last car.
Of course we all know about push-pull trains, now that the TV is telling us how DEADLY DEADLY OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME it is to ride one.
In short, there is a prototype, especially on short lines, but with a typical small-pike train of 6 cars or so it's perfectly plausible. Just go very slowly.
On a semi-related note, it was certainly common on small lines to push one or several cars ahead of the engine to serve an industry with a facing spur. You don't see it so often on model RRs.
Shortlines are a modeler's friend...
Cordially yours, Gerard P.
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snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu spake thus:

Interesting; I miust have missed that coverage. Wha' happen?
Round 'heah, we have at least 2 lines that do that (push-pull): Caltrain on the Peninsula, and the Amtrak Capitol Corridor commuters between the Bay Area and Sacramento. Ooooooh, scary.
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I certainly agree, and my fictitious railroad layout is a testament to that thinking. However, I would like to stay reasonably accurate with respect to prototype practices. I feel that it makes sense to do what they did given their decades of invested time and effort into devising schemes that worked effectively. I also hope to [one day] invite other people to use my layout in operations, and I am sure that those sessions will run best if the layout and the theme are somewhat consistent with the prototype. But, I am not a rivet counter, and I also will not hesitate to stretch reality when it suits my fancy. Hopefully, I can reach a successful compromise.
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On Mon, 05 Dec 2005 23:57:02 GMT, "Matt Brennan"

There are rules covering such moves, get a copy of a UCOR or CROR book covering your area and time period. he rules specify such things as speed, whether the horn has to be sounding etc. The rules are different for CTC, ABS or unsignalled territory.
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On 12/5/05 6:57 PM, in article it4lf.2102$ew5.943@trndny04, "Matt Brennan"

Matt, Almost any configuration of engine and train can be prototypical. Your F3A units might start the trip in the lead with the caboose on the traditional rear end but along the way, depending on whether sidings are trailing or facing the caboose and diesels can end up anywhere in the train.
If the crew has to shove a train up a branch line to get to a customer or the crew has to run around a car because the next siding is a facing point siding three or four miles away from the nearest round around siding, for example, the caboose provides a safe platform for the crew to ride.
If there are no double ended sidings to use to run around the train the F units might be split and the crew may put one on each end of the train to facilitate moves at customers with facing point sidings.
If the crew has to drill a siding that is trailing point and then shove to a siding that is facing point then the engines could end up in the middle of the train and the caboose leading only rearranging the train at the next run around siding.
Anything is possible in the real world of railroading so anything is possible in modeling the real thing.
Steve
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Thanks everyone!
I will explore all the track options with the understanding that I can opt for a rear end F3AA scenario. I like the push option on branch line settings for variety. It just looks a bit odd [to me] when an F3AA is doing the push whereas an RS1 or a GP9 looks more at home in the push position.
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mc snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Matt B:
Another thought: if you use cab units for road switching, add large truck-style rear-view mirrors to them to make it easier for your crews to see. Also, if you have working or jeweled marker lights, remember to put red ones on the engine if it is in the trailing position, and if your train is an extra, the caboose should wear white ones. You may even modify the F3's road pilots to have footboards -- I am guessing your era is before they were outlawed.
I think the GM&O did this - this painting shows what (I am pretty sure) are footboards:
http://www.dingwersentrainart.com/ICGMODie.html
This also shows footboards, and mirrors:
http://www.photosbystevenjbrown.com/archive/metra/2644_gmo883A_052278_chicago.jpg
I remember reading about these additions, which were an attempt to make the Fs into road switchers - it was in an old, old issue of MR, and I think the RR referred to was the GM&O.
Cordially yours: Gerard P.
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On 12/6/05 10:38 AM, in article snipped-for-privacy@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com, "mc snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

They look a bit odd because it would be a bit odd. F units were road engines but not road switchers like the RS1 or GP9. The difference is the visibility accorded the engineer with road switchers.
Shoving cars with an F unit while looking in the mirror is a safety issue even with the advent of radios due to the vibration of the mirror and the mirror's relatively small viewing area. It is very hard to distinguish signals from the crew in a mirror.
An engineer on a road switcher, on the other hand, can rotate his seat and look out over the train while shoving to watch for wayside signals and the hand signals of the train crew (F units, RS1s, and GP9s came into use before portable radios were in wide spread use).
I know F units look really neat and stuff but think of your tiny crew having to shove cars and hanging off the front or rear of an F unit in an awkward position (notice where the stirrups and grab irons are placed in the pictures) without the engineer being able to see his hand signals or tell if the tiny trainman should fall off the engine.
I mean, what would you tell his family? Would you want that responsibility as his supervisor?
Steve
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Steven Kay wrote:

Steve:
Well, it's an A-A set. The crew could use the other cab. And the footboards were put on the GM&O units, I think, in an effort to solve the stirrup problem. It may not be good practice, but it was done.
Cordially yours, Gerard P.
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Those pictures were a great help to visualize the issue we're discussing. Thanks for bringing them into the thread!
Now that I have seen the images, I am in complete agreement with Steven that rear view mirrors and looking backwards from the cab of an F3A would not be a safe choice. However, as Gerard pointed out, in the F3AA, back-to-back arrangement, the crew can move to the other engine cab and enjoy forward vision for all of their switching maneuvers. I would think that would be more than adequate and very safe.
As for the foot boards, might this have been the starting point for on-the-job, life insurance? Yikes!
I have never heard or seen an F3A under power, but I would think that the vibration, alone, would be significant enough to be a fast deterrent to the foot board option. I think I like the cab change for these maneuvers.
Thanks for sharing really terrific thoughts on this matter. I still hope to avoid the F3AA in a push scenario, but I could see it happening. I just need to work in some type of a run around in the space provided to overcome this complication.
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Matt Brennan wrote:

Matt B. :
I have no F3 experience, either, but I have been shown around the cab of those FPA4's I spoke of. It was pretty loud inside, especially with the engine-room door open, but I wouldn't expect vibration of the footboard to be a serious problem. The footboards, anyway, are for the brakeman to ride on when dropping off cars - this is why locomotives that do a lot of switching (steam or diesel) used to be equipped with them. The trouble with them was everything you'd expect from a wood or metal step in icy or wet weather (one of my old Pop. Mech. mags has a tip from a switchman who fitted his engine with strips of tire rubber) and a man who slipped was quite in harm's way. This is why the footboards were outlawed (sometime in the 1960's?) and replaced by an extended lower step, accompanied by different coupler cut levers which could be operated by a man on that step. For your F3's, though, footboards and mirrors might be those little details that tell your viewers, "This is not just a road engine."
I might be mistaken on some of this, since I don't have any real RR experience -- anybody out there care to add something?
Cordially yours, Gerard P.
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Matt Brennan wrote:

A few comments ...
Yes, having back to back "A" units allows the crew to switch cabs, and improve visibility for operation in either direction.
BUT ... visibility from the cab of an "F" unit, when pushing and coupled to an adjoining full height car, is still substandard. That's one reason why the road-switcher ("Geep") design was developed. You can plainly SEE what the problems were in looking at a BL2 (a highly modified "F" unit) ... the cut away corners improved visibility.
Still, such had to be done sometimes. It was just far from ideal.
And, yes, riding footboards (or roofwalks) was unsafe too, and has now been outlawed. Still, riding footboards was standard practice for MANY years. Riding the footboards on an "F" unit would have been little different in that regard than those on a Diesel switcher, or a steam loco for that matter. A few "F" units had footboards, but most just had a 'step' in the pilot shroud ... pretty much the same in either case. Vibration was NOT much of an issue. Sudden stops and jerks (coupler slack, etc.), icy conditions, often inadequate handholds, and a precarious position between the cars and near the wheels were the big problems.
Dan Mitchell ===========
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Matt,
The vibration I was referring to in my post was not a vibrating stirrup but a vibrating mirror which would reduce the vision of the engineer who was trying to see signals passed by a trainman.
Because of the position of the engineer in the cab of an F unit he would, by necessity, have to use the mirror to see signals in order to be able to also reach the throttle and brake handles.
While you tiny trainmen will "do what they are damned well told", from practical experience, I would not be happy to work off an F unit if there was an alternative. Depending on the period modeled you could have a five man crew available (Engineer, Fireman, Head brakeman, Rear Brakeman, and Conductor) so switching on a local freight might not require a lot of riding.
In a more modern era, assuming your railroad has bought F3 A units because of a cheap price and aesthetic appearance rather than a more practical, operational reason then you might be working with a three man crew (Engineer, Conductor, and Brakeman) in which case a lot of riding on freight cars or engines would be required when switching out cars to get them in the proper order or to set out and pick up at an industry. Thus the danger aspect of working off an F unit comes into play (climbing up into the cab of the trailing unit to ride back to couple cars is far too time consuming and tiring to be a practical alternative to riding the stirrup).
Anyway, you are the executive-in-charge on your miniature railroad and your employees will do what they are told or go look for work at a railroad that uses road switchers for local drills. The loss of your employees is offset by your knowledge that your little train guys will most likely have to relocate to a distant state, lose their seniority, sell their little plastic (or laser cut company houses), take their, even tinier, children out of school in the middle of the school year, and say good bye to all their tiny friends... And all because you insist on using F3 A units to switch your industries.
With the reduction in labor costs the railroad's stockholders will be overjoyed and will, most likely, vote you a huge bonus...enough to buy more F3A units for your expanding roster.
Steve
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Steven Kay wrote:

Steve:
Heh heh. I like this thread.
Okay, let's suppose you have a different reason for running F3's. Let's suppose it's the late 1960's, and a lot of rusty old western cab units are selling cheap. Your locomotive roster is made up of a handful of old Ford 120 ton switchers that are beginning to show their age badly. You, the management, are aware of the shortcomings of cab units -- that's why they're selling cheaper than the same horsepower in road switchers -- but from your window in the second floor of the old station that is generously called a headquarters, you see a need for power at the lowest price possible...and the road survives a few more years.
Or what if your line is one of the diesel pioneers? The hood diesel hasn't been made popular yet, but the diesel's advantages over your battered old steam power has your eggheads racking their brains for a solution. This solution, for which you are probably universally cursed, is the improvised F-unit additions I spoke of earlier..
Let's not forget that Matt's pushed train is not necessarily a peddler freight. Perhaps, somewhere in Australia maybe, there was a main line that had to switch back and push for a few miles.
We could build models that represent only the best prototype practics, but if we did, we'd miss out on probably 2/3 of real railroading...
Cordially yours, Gerard P.
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Great insights and questions with Steve's humor have made for a very enjoyable thread. Thanks everyone!
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On 12/7/05 7:51 PM, in article CsLlf.5708$Yh2.3816@trndny01, "Matt Brennan"

Matt,
Hold on, we're not done yet...and this is all your fault.
Steve
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On 12/7/05 5:28 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com,

Good points, Gerard P.
The old F units were fairly simple to maintain and you could probably waggle a boxcar full of parts that the selling railroad isn't going to need anyway. This happens in real life. The Morristown and Erie Railway bought some ex-NYC C-430s and a boxcar full of Alco parts as part of the deal.
It is also possible that a Class 1 was getting rid of some excess trackage and Matt's railroad just happened to be in a position to pick up some of the rationalized track and needed some cheap motive power quick and these F units were low hanging fruit. Perhaps Matt could encourage customers back to the rails with some persuasive arguments for great service and, perhaps, a tidy kickback to the decision makers.

Matt could have worked out a deal to sample a pair of F unit demonstrators after they had made the rounds of the Class 1s and never bothered to send them back and since the salesman from EMD got fired shortly after the lease agreement was signed EMD never knew where the engines disappeared because the salesman tore up their copy of the lease agreement in revenge.
Maybe Matt simply stole the engines and repainted them into his railroad's colors. Matt, shame on you!

It is possible that Matt's railroad didn't have the funds or room to build a run around on the property and had to shove from the far end of the line back to the interchange. That is also why he stole the engines in the first place.

Like sex, model railroading is 85% mental and 15% of anything is next to nothing. Enjoy the mental scenarios. They add some much to the enjoyment your hobby.
Steve
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