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Railroadforums.com is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.

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    Railroad Watch Question

    MODS: If this doesn't belong here, please feel free to move it. I am a new trainee at the Northwest Railway Museum for a train crew position. I was told I needed an accurate watch--as their rule book states, "with a sweep second hand and that is able to display the correct time with a...
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    Changing Class/Marker Light Colors?

    Hello. I am curious to see how train crews changed the colors of classification and marker lights in the steam and early diesel eras, but I am a bit puzzled. Photographs of steam locomotives suggest that the class/marker lights were removable, thus when it was necessary to change the color of...
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    Op/Ed: Another use for HEP Generator cars

    Hello. In the world of modern North American passenger trains, Head-End Power is used to supply electricity for the cars' lighting, heating and air-conditioning systems. Introduced after the introduction of Amtrak, it supplanted the use of steam heat and electrical systems powered by...
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    Questions Re: Stock Cars in Winter

    Hello. Although the era of the railroad livestock car has been over for more than 40 years, they are still interesting cars. However, I have some questions regarding their operation, specifically in Winter. Stock cars are slatted to give the critters ventilation. However, what did railroads...
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    Should NS Restore a PRR Steamer?

    I like the news that NS is resuming steam excursion service (especially with talk of the N&W 611 returning to service), but I've always wondered--now that NS "owns" the Pennsylvania Railroad, should they restore a Pennsy steamer like a K4s or M1b? What do you guys think? Imagine--a K4s in...
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    The Future of US Passenger Rail...?

    It is a fact that America's auto obsession killed passenger train popularity. However, with the economics of car ownership becoming impractical in this day and age, fewer people are driving and America's obsession is beginning to wane. One source claims that America's love affair is shifting...
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    What Commodities Could Return To The Rails?

    Hello. It is a fact that with the coming of Interstate Highways in the 1950's, railroads began to lose many once-valuable commodities to trucking. However, in this day and age the combination of rubber tires and long distances are becoming uneconomical, and some commodities may return to the...
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    Passenger/Freight Trainline Pressures Question...

    It is a fact that passenger trains have higher brake pipe pressures than freight trains (for safety reasons nonetheless). However, I have a few questions: 1) Considering the pressure differential (which is 20 PSI) between freight and passenger trains, how are/were freight locomotives able to...
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    Average Locomotive Service Life...?

    I still want to know one thing--how long is a typical service life for a locomotive (steam or diesel) before it is withdrawn or scrapped? 20 years? 30? Obviously service lives can get as high as 40 or 50, considering all the 40- and 50-year-old Geeps and SD's that are used in yard service...
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    Op/Ed: I Hate Misused Railroad Jargon!

    Hello. I bet I'm not the only railfan who is embarrased or offended when people with no knowledge of railroading whatsoever misuse railroad jargon. Here are some examples: The Term "Train" In its true definition, the term "railroad train" refers to a series of cars (note the plural!) pulled...
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    "Exempt" Signs...Should They Be Mandatory?

    Commercial vehicles are required by law to treat grade crossings as if they were four-way stops: after coming to a complete stop at the near side of the crossing, and making sure that no trains are approaching, they may proceed across the tracks. When a railroad decides to abandon a line...
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    Of "Bio-Coal" and Stokers

    I suppose some of you have heard of of the Coalition for Sustainable Rail's attempts to rebuild Santa Fe Hudson #3463, an oil-burner, into a coal burner burning a special kind of "Bio-Coal." But I have one question: Assuming that fuel consumption is high enough to demand a mechanical stoker...
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    Steam Engines: Vestibule Cab Weight??

    I am designing an "imagineered" locomotive (for eventually modelling in Blender)and have a question--if one were to add a fully-enclosed "vestibule" or "all-weather" cab to a locomotive, without changing anything else, how does this affect the engine's (and tender's) weight? I have tried...
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    Oil Burning Steamer Starting Question...

    Recently I have been adept at correcting people who assume all steam locomotives burn coal by explaining how an oil-fired locomotive works. But to make my knowledge complete, I want to check my facts, specifically regarding starting up a dead engine for the first time: I always thought this...
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    Freight Car Brake Pipe Pressures?

    I remember reading in Model Railroader Cyclopedia Volume 1: Steam Locomotives that during the steam era, brake pipe pressures were 70 psi for freight and 90 psi for passenger trains. However, today, freight train brake pipe pressures have increased to 90 psi. Around what year was this change...
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    Op/Ed: America's Rail Renaissance--My Views

    NOTE: Mods, if this topic does not belong here, feel free to move it. Greetings. As a railfan, I have noticed that after decades of decline, America’s railroads are experiencing a renaissance. However, one must consider the damage that has been done to the industry—can it be reversed? In my...
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    Loco Windshield Wipers Question...

    SOrry if this sounds like a silly or stuipid question but... I was watching trains in the rain one day and I always wondered--do locomotives' windshield wipers have an intermittent setting (like a car) or are they simply on/off?
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    Help with Valve Gear Sim?

    Hi. I designed a freelanced locomotive with 70" drivers, 21" by 32" cylinders and Baker valve gear. But I am having trouble with the valve gear sim created by Charlie Dockstader--I have a condition where I am getting even exhaust beats going forward, but uneven beats going backward. I am unable...
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    Articulated Valve Gear Question

    Hi. I am a steam buff who is thoroughly familiar with the anatomy of a locomotive, but while looking through Model Railroader's Cyclopedia Volume 1: Steam Locomotives, I was baffled by something: In looking at pictures of some articulated locomotives, I often see the reachrod/power reverse...




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