Table of Contents; Page 182; Index

Watching His Engine. While the engineer is attending to the matters just enumerated he must not neglect his engine. It would be a difficult matter to decide which of the numerous features to be watched are the most important but it goes without saying that the steam pressure and the water in the boiler are those which will require the most constant watching because they are liable to change, in fact are constantly changing unless foresight is used to keep them normal. In addition to these points, he must be eternally on the lockout for the condition of the working parts of the machine he is operating. To give a clear idea of the the conditions under which his machine is working, we will assume that he is running a passenger train and that his average speed between stations is 50 miles per hour and that the driving wheels are 5½ feet in diameter.

Oiling Parts. Now at a speed of 50 miles per hour the engine would have to make 260 revolutions per minute and all the reciprocating parts of the engine, such as the crossheads, the rock shaft, the pistons and rods, the valve stems and valves, the links and lifters, would vibrate just twice this number of times. This is very rapid motion for such heavy parts and there is a liability of great wear in these parts unless they are kept properly lubricated. The only time the engine man can get the opportunity of supplying them with oil is while his engine is standing, and usually the stops are short. Hence, he must see that these parts are provided with large oil cups holding a good supply of oil and feeding oil to the working parts of the machine in an exact and very regular manner. Lack of space will not permit a description here of the various devices in use, but whether the cups are made to feed through the medium of a spring, of reciprocating parts, or of capilliary attraction, the engineer must be thoroughly familiar with their operation; in his leisure time in the roundhouse he should see to it that the oiling devices are so adjusted that they will perform their required functions while the engine is on the road. Some of the moving parts require more oil than others and the feed of the various oil cups must be set to suit the requirements; if any cup should feed too fast, it will waste the lubricant and probably will run out of oil too soon, or if too slow the moving part will run dry and cut.

All engines are provided with two oils, one of a heavy body for such places as the pedestal boxes in which the axles of the driving wheels run and on the journals of which there is an enormous pressure, and the other a light oil for the connecting rods, guides, links, lifters, eccentrics, rock and tumbling shafts. The pedestal boxes have a large reservoir called a cellar and a means of keeping the oil always against the lower part of the journal and hence these parts do not require such constant watching. The other parts mentioned, however, have to be watched constantly and the amount of watchfulness required is not always the same for the different parts at all times, for weather conditions frequently influence them. For instance, certain parts—such as the eccentric straps, the guides, the links, and lifters—in ordinary weather or on damp cool days will run very smooth and cool while on a hot dry dusty day they will need careful watching; the dust raised from the roadbed by the rapid motion of the engine over it will be quite considerable and a large amount of it will settle on these parts in the form of grit which will cut the parts badly unless the oil feed is liberal and frequently replenished. For all these reasons, the careful man will, when his train stops at a station for a minute or two, jump down from his cab with his oil can and walk round his engine, touching the ends of the driving axles, the crank pins, etc., with the back of his left hand to ascertain if their temperature is normal and at the same time replenishing the oil cups if found necessary. He does not oil every part in this way each time but divides them up mentally into groups, oiling one group at one stopping place and another at some future time; nor does he go through the oiling process at every station unless these are quite far apart. Experience teaches him about how often to do it, a good maxim being to oil too often rather than sparingly until he has learned just how much is needed and how often. The back of the hand is used to try the temperature of the bearing because it is considered more sensitive than the palm or the ends of the fingers owing to the absence of calloused skin.

Very few engineers travel without a supply of flour of sulphur to use in case of a hot box.

On the Road. Starting. On starting out from a station the reverse lever is thrown forward into or nearly to the last notch in the quadrant. The cylinder cocks are opened and, when the signal comes to start, steam is admitted to the cylinders and the engine starts slowly. After running a short distance so that the train has acquired some momentum and the cylinders have become warmed, the cylinder cocks are closed and the reverse lever is pulled up several notches on the quadrant. This has the effect of making the travel of the valve shorter, of giving more lead to the valve, and of cutting off the supply of steam to each end of the cylinders before the end of the stroke; at the same time the throttle is opened a little wider. The effect of all this is to cause the steam to impinge on the pistons at the beginning of each stroke with more force and in greater volume, with the result that the engine picks up, or increases its speed; when this condition has been attained, the reverse lever is pulled up a few more notches and the throttle opened a little wider until the desired speed has been attained.

Running at Speed. Now while this is being done the engine man does not for one moment take his eyes off the right of way; he is watching the track, the semaphores, and everything before him. Having gotten safely away from the station yard and out on the main track, he then has time to look at the pressure and water gages, etc., a glance being sufficient to show him if everything is as it should be. He may seat himself or he may stand on the foot board, as suits his convenience, but the careful man will, in either position, keep his hand almost constantly on the reverse lever; this is his means of knowing if his motion is working right. By this term is meant that part of the mechanism which operates the cylinder or distributing valves, such as the eccentric rods, the links, the lifters, etc. Should anything happen to any of these parts it can be instantly detected if his hand is on the reverse lever. In addition to this, the engineer's attention is directed to the main and side rods on his side of the engine and to the beat of the exhaust steam as it escapes from the smokestack. An experienced engine man, listening to the exhaust of his own engine or of an engine at a distance, can tell at once whether the valves are working square. He can discern at once by the pulsations of the engine he is riding on, if all the parts are working in unison.

The attentive and careful man never allows his mind to wander for a moment from these symptoms for it is imperative, in case of emergency, that he act quickly. To this end he devotes a portion of his leisure time to thinking up what will be the best course of action in certain emergencies, going over carefully every possible occurrence that might take place and what should best be done under the circumstances. These matters he commits carefully to memory so that when the emergency arises he will act instantly without reflection, for when the time arrives to act there is no time to reflect or consider, and unless he is prepared beforehand he will be lost. Consequently, whenever a fellow craftsman meets with a casualty he is interested to learn all the details, including the course of action taken under the circumstances and the criticisms of those who are experienced in such matters. This gradually educates his mind to such a point that when anything happens to his engine he acts automatically much more quickly than anyone can think.

Making Adjustments En Route. The pedestal boxes, brasses on the connecting rods, eccentric straps, and other moving parts are usually adjusted by the engineer while en route because these matters cannot be attended to in the shop. A knocking connecting or side rod must be tightened up a very little at a time until the knock is all taken out; if tightened up all at once it would heat, so it is adjusted a little at a time until it runs quietly. The side, or parallel, rods can never be made to run as closely keyed up as the connecting rods because they do not need to be and because a certain amount of looseness is desirable. These rods are always fitted with about 1/16-inch side play between the collars on the pins because in rounding a curve, the driving and trailing wheels are not exactly in line and if the brass boxes in these rods fitted snug between the collars on the pins they would jam and become sprung. Hence, when the engine is standing and he sees that on one side of the engine the pins of these wheels are in a horizontal position, he takes hold of the rod in the middle and tries it to see if it will move freely sidewise.

The proper length of a side rod, between center and center of boxes, should be identical with the distance between center and center of the axles of these wheels and if a little adjustment is required for the pedestal boxes, the centers of both rod and axles should be trammed to see if they agree. But this is a job for the shop man.

Any other derangements noticed by the engineer are reported by him to the shop foreman for attention by his staff.

End of Run. At the termination of his run the engineer should come into his last station with a thin fire on his grates and just enough steam to make the roundhouse. Whether he leaves his engine at this point depends on the relative locations of the depot and roundhouse. In some localities the engineer must take his train into the yards and shunt it into a siding before he leaves it; in others his engine is taken charge of by a man from the roundhouse, called a hostler, who takes the engine direct to the roundhouse while a switching engine does the shunting of the train.

When, however, the engineer returns to take out his train again he carefully looks the engine over to see that everything is in adjustment—all oil cups filled and working, fire in good shape, steam and air pressures right, and the hose couplings properly connected. He should also look into his sand box (this should really be done in the roundhouse) to see that his supply of sand is sufficient and dry enough to run out if required. When he has tried his air to see if the brakes are working, he is ready for another start.

Table of Contents; Page 182; Index

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