ADVICE TO YOUNG ENGINEERS
Transcript of Locomotive Engineers And Firemen: 
by Charles A Hoxie, 1876
 
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ADVICE TO YOUNG ENGINEERS



A word of advice to the young Engineer just entering upon his duties cannot be amiss, as oftentimes a good reputation is won or lost at the very start. The Fireman who is steady, minds his own business, aims to promote his own as well as his employer’s interest by faithfulness to duty,  and acts the part of a man in all his dealings with his fellow men, is worthy of promotion. If he fails in any of these points he is not worthy. When he is promoted he must keep his feelings in reference to his elevation within the bounds of good judgment, and never allow himself to become overbearing or to independent. His mind should be concentrated upon his profession, and he should understand and appreciate the fact hat he has a responsible part to perform, and determine to perform it like a man. He may be obliged to work many hours when other Engineers are apparently at leisure, but he should do it cheerfully, performing every duty conscientiously, and learn to care for his engine with pains-
 


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taking solicitude. It is not well to attempt to run faster than any body else. It is sufficient to make reasonable time. With a watchful eye to business, the Engineer should be kind to every body, and use respectful language at all times. He should never allow himself to get into a passion, or by cursing and abuse provoke the ill-will of those brought in contact with him, but he should so conduct himself as to secure the respect and regard of all, and thus render his daily duties pleasant, establishing meanwhile a lasting and honorable reputation.
 When a young Engineer is  placed on a strange engine, or one that is old, loose and about used up, he should never key up the rods until he has run one or two trips, and ascertained about where the lost motion is. The wedges should be set up all around, but not tight enough to stick. Then place the engine on the center forward and back, and key up the rods, leaving them loose enough to prevent them form running hot. Look to the lubricators, or fenders on the rods, and see that they have wicks in them, and are all right, and
 
 

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feed freely. In reference to setting the wedges and keying the rods, it is better to adjust them twice over than have the wedges stick or the pins cut. There is a great difference in engines in this respect, and, if the work is done by degrees, it will cost less trouble in the end. When the rods are keyed up, it is well for the Engineer to let some one move the engine ahead, while he is trying the rods. I they shake, it is an indication that they will not run hot. If they are firm, let up the key until they can be shaken. Sometimes the rod will be loose at one point and tight at another. Put the engine on the tight point, and let up the key until it is loosened. It is better to have all the lost motion in the back end of the side rods, and not have both ends loose and rattling. It will be impossible to get some engines exactly right, and about all that can be done, as to the working parts, will be to see that the wedges and rods work perfectly. The Engineer should also closely inspect the main box feeders, see that the oil holes are clear, and that the cellar is properly packed. The engine and tender trucks should also be examined.
 
 

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There will always be something to do when there is a leisure moment. When the rods bother, get them as near right as possible, and try them when the engine is working hard and slow. If they are loose at all points they cannot be bettered except by keeping them keyed up snug.
 By trying different plans, and finding where the lost motion is, new ideas will be learned that will ultimately be of value. If it be found, after the engine is all keyed up, that there is a pound somewhere, place it on the quarter stroke, and block the driving wheels. Then, by using a little steam, and working the reverse lever backward and forward, the Engineer can watch the side rods or main rods, and the main box, and ascertain where the trouble is. He must not be discouraged if the engine works badly, but ask the advice of more experienced Engineers, and keep on trying without complaining of the hard luck. The lesson will ultimately be a good one, and will not only strengthen the faith of the tyro in his own capacity, and give him substantial encouragement, but his superiors will note his struggles, and think the
 
 

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better of him for his efforts to master his difficulties. I may be up-hill work at first, but it must be remembered that no honors are won in any profession without hard work.

 The engine should always be moved around yards and stations with the utmost care and watchfulness. A good lookout should be kept at branches, and when leaving stations. It will be time enough to get satisfaction out of the engine when there is plain sailing ahead. The open road is a better place to show ignorance than the yard or station, and nothing will be more hurtful to the reputation of the beginner on the foot-board than leaving stations at a reckless rate of speed.
 Young beginners are usually placed on freight trains at first, and it may be that the first runs will be made in the night, but whether it be in the day or night-time, a close watch must be kept on the train that no breaks occur. The Engineer or his Fireman should look back at every curve, and when the start is made he should be certain that the entire train follows. It does not look well to see an Engineer running fifteen or twenty miles
 
 

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with but half of his train. It is not safe to depend upon the bell-cord.
 On most roads it is the practice to employ men for the purpose of packing tracks. This is all well enough, but it is nevertheless the Engineer’s duty to inspect the engine and tender journals, main boxes, etc. Serious trouble has often been occasioned by running trains with blazing journals, running them sometimes until they break off. It is a safe practice never to run by a station with a hot journal without remedying it.
 It is generally the case when a Fireman is promoted, that his first essay is upon a poor or worn out engine, sometimes the worst the company has, and the young Engineer is given to understand that hi is expected to do good work with it. Often the engine dispatcher will inform his that it will do good work when there is really considerable opportunity for doubt upon the subject. This unquestionably places the young Engineer in an embarrassing position, and it is very sure to show of what sort of stuff he is made. Indeed, it is usually the case that he is assigned to the poor engine with
 
 

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that very objet, and if he succeeds in doing good work with it, it constitutes positive evidence that he is able to run a good engine. The man who is placed in such a position should not wherefore be discouraged. He must make up his mind to do his best, and the victory will be worth the winning.
 

Chapter 1 - Introduction 
Chapter 2 - Locomotive 
Chapter 3 - The Fireman
Chapter 4 - Advice to Young Engineers
Chapter 5 - Tramming and Center Marking
Chapter 6 - Adjusting Side and Main Rods
Chapter 7 - Pumps and Pump Valves
Chapter 8 - Cylinder and Cylinder Packing

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