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Yard Safety

Discussion in 'Metal Heads' started by cracked ass, Apr 16, 2000.

  1. cracked ass

    cracked ass Guest

    OK, here we go again, this stuff is worth the hassle of retyping for all you freight aspirants. Before you even consider the mission, lighting, and chillness aspects of your fr8 work you need to know what's up with yards so you don't get killed. I will post a bunch of sub-topics as I think of them.
    HUMPING. No, not that kind. In the fr8 world humping is a process used to break up trains and sort, or "classify", the individual cars and get them to the right tracks in a yard. Basically, the train is driven backwards a short distance, and they slam on the brakes. At the same moment a brakeman jogs alongside the moving train and throws a lever that uncouples a car or group of cars at the end of the train. These cars fly off on their own momentum down the track that has been selected for them, with no brakes, and they don't stop till they run out of inertia, or until they hit other cars parked on that line (the BOOM!!! sound you may hear from your local yard). Freight cars can safely collide at 5mph or less, they just lock onto each other at the coupler; sometimes a crew that's in a hurry to hump off a train will send them faster than 5mph, though.
    This raises several safety issues: One, a train that is backing up, or cars that have been humped off, can run you down without you ever hearing an engine. In a dark or foggy yard, those drifting cars (called "ramblers") can go a surprising distance, and sometimes are very quiet despite their size, so they can sneak up on you. The danger is magnified if you are standing in a noisy spot (near another locomotive, or one of those reefer cars with the loud compressor running all the time, or anything else) that could mask the sound of an approaching rambler.
    Two, you might be on or painting a car that gets hit by a line of ramblers. It will slam them into motion suddenly. If you're climbing on a car and don't have a good handgrip, you could become the next photo at www.deadtrainbums.com . When ramblers hit a motionless line, it's like a cueball hitting another ball in pool: the force gets transferred to the object ball, and when you're talking forty tons per car that translates into some serious slamming power even at low speeds.
    So in general: assume EVERY track is live, that something may come at any time. NEVER climb underneath a freight car for any reason. If you have to cross a line, assume it could slam into motion any second. Don't climb over the coupler, cross using the handy ladders and walkways at the ends of most cars. If the car you want to cross doesn't have a walkway on the back, cross somewhere else. Don't stand in between cars in a line, or less than twenty feet from the last car in a line. Basically, don't stand ANYWHERE you could be hit if ALL the trains around you started moving at the same time. (This very thing has happened to me twice, once in Milwaukee and once in Pittsburgh.) Don't climb onto the tops of railcars. Don't attempt a big project involving ladders, like an e2e or wholecar, until you are a veteran of A) yards in general and B)the particular spot you want to try something ambitious at (and those projects are best reserved for chill, lonely layups, not yards).
    A lot of this sounds pretty anal. You might already have prowled yards not knowing any of this and still not had a problem. The tricky thing is, 9 out of 10 times none of this shit will happen, but if you spend enough time in yards you will personally experience all of these things, and that 1 out of 10 can be fatal if you didn't know in advance. You can also get complacent after several uneventful trips. Don't do it. Be safe in the yards, and tell all your writer friends what you know about this.
     
    enteruncreativename likes this.
  2. cracked ass

    cracked ass Guest

    RUNAROUNDS. Many freight yards share trackage with Amtrak or another passenger line. There will be one track reserved for the passenger trains so they can bust right through the yard without stopping. This track is the "runaround". What this means is, in a yard where shit is moving slowly or not at all, a passenger train can rip through at 50 mph. You definitely want to do recon at your target yard and find out if they have a runaround or other "through" track, and avoid that part of the yard unless absolutely necessary.
    What's worse, passenger trains have some features that make them extra dangerous, namely, they are quieter than freights. Also, they often run backwards, because the engine can pull or push a light passenger train equally easily. Before I knew diddly about trains I was walking some tracks in Pittsburgh. For no reason at all I looked behind me and there was a baggage car doing about 40 coming right at me, quiet as a whisper. I had about three seconds to step off or I would have been the "train oops" series at www.rotten.com . The engine was in the back of the train so I heard nothing.
    The other thing contributing to the quietness of trains is ribbon or welded rail. Everyone is familiar with the clank-clank of freights as the wheels pass over the joint of regular jointed rail. Well, ribbon rail has no joints, it's all welded together when it's first laid, so there's no clanking whatsoever to warn you, passenger trains just glide quietly along. Beware!
     
  3. cracked ass

    cracked ass Guest

    WORKERS. These guys can be your best friend or your worst enemy, and much of it is up to you.
    First off, rail workers are regular guys. They spend a lot of time in the yards, don't see too many friendly faces on the job, and have different personalities, from angelic to asshole. This means that with the right attitude, you can have a more positive encounter with workers than you think, although it will always vary by the individual worker, and the hotter the yard, the less friendly a reception you should expect.
    Workers know the dangers of a yard, so when they see a trespasser their first reaction is often of concern: they don't know whether or not YOU know anything about yard safety, and don't want to see you get killed in their yard. Even a cold bastard of a worker won't want to have to look at your dismembered corpse. So they'll all be concerned, not so much that you're trespassing, but whether you know what you're doing around freights. If you show that you know what you're doing that improves your chances to have a favorable encounter with a worker - nothing's guaranteed, but just remember that there's no reason to flat-out run from an ordinary worker, you may be able to reason with him. I know one cat who got caught painting red-handed (literally) by a worker, who said, "We can smell your paint three lines over." He came and looked at the piece in progress and said "That's cool. Just stay off the numbers." Then he left without further comment. There are a few art appreciators out there...rare, but it happens.
    I don't want to paint a rosy picture here, so let's talk about the difference between THE BULL (railroad cops) and regular yard workers. First off, in the old days and still today, rail workers are 100% unionized. They stick together like that. I don't know if anything has changed recently, but bulls have always been non-union. Surprisingly, the bull is often despised or barely tolerated by the union guys: he cruises the yard, eating donuts or whatever, and mostly just kills time, hoping not to have to do anything on his shift. Nowadays, with some yards heating up, there are more bulls, they are more sophisticated and somewhat less likely to be really lazy, and may get more cooperation from yard workers than before, but in general the union/nonunion thing is still a reason the worker might like you better than the bull, and not rat you out to him.
    A lot of this unlooked-for friendliness in workers is reserved for hoboes, especially discreet, respectful ones. You could walk up to a yard worker and ask him what time and what track you'd want in order to catch a ride on a freight to a certain city, and he'd tell you and then warn you what kind of car the bull drives so you could avoid him. Again, this hospitality varies enormously from yard to yard, and the big city yards are much more likely to be hostile, but there are still plenty of places in North America where you can do this today. That's for hoboing, though. Painting is a different story. More workers will be angry with you for painting. Some will be OK with it but will insist that you stay off the numbers. Rarely they will sic the bull on you, or in one case I heard of, beat the shit out of you. So, if you are seen painting the best bet is to try and get away; if you're surprised up close by a worker who is obviously not a bull, try to reason with him, showing him respect, pointing out that you're avoiding going over the numbers, and saying you're OK with leaving if that's what he wants, it's his yard. Some of these situations can be salvaged, other times you're just fucked and should run like hell. But if you're seen by a worker and there is no way he could know you're there to paint, say hi, start a conversation if it seems feasible. If he's cool you may be able to get information like chill times and places, whether there's a bull at the yard, etc. Don't mention graffiti unless you really hit it off great, or he brings it up.
    For a bull encounter: if seen painting, get the hell out. If you're just walking and he can't know what you're up to, approach his vehicle when he yells at you, be calm and reasonable. Pass the attitude test. Unless he's a real dickhead he won't do more than give you a spiel about how it's private property and you have to leave. Be agreeable and do it, and don't come back for eight hours, by then his shift will be over and any new encounter will be with a different guy. If the same bull catches you a second time on his shift you're fucked.
     
  4. cracked ass

    cracked ass Guest

    AIR. This is more of a timing issue than a safety issue. Any car you are about to paint should be quiet underneath, that is, no hissing noise. If the car is hissing steadily from underneath, the train will have a locomotive hooked to it and they are "getting up air", which means they will be leaving soon, so just bomb or do a hollow or save your paint for another line. If a line rolls up near you, stops, and then a huge blast of compressed air is heard, like a giant sneezing, that line just "dynamited" and will be there for a while, long enough to piece at least.
    Trains need to get up compressed air to release the brakes on each car. It is pumped back from the engine via those hoses you see connecting the cars by the coupler. It takes a while to get up sufficient or "legal" air on a long train. If you were painting a quiet train and then you hear that hiss, finish up quickly, it's gonna roll away soon. The longer the train the more time you have to finish but not by much so just get it done. In yards, sometimes a dead string needs the air bled out of it. If you hear a few distant hisses, one after the other at ten or twenty second intervals, and getting louder each time, get under cover. A brakeman is walking the entire line, letting the air out of each car as he goes.
     
  5. ibtease

    ibtease Guest

    great info man,
    keep it up....
    tease
     
  6. Ski Mask

    Ski Mask 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Apr 11, 2000 Messages: 11,114 Likes Received: 209
    glad to see this thread started again, this is all essential info. Just to add to what cracked has said, dont underestimate the danger of humping. Humping doesnt just occur in large yards, I've watched crews hump cars (through a controlled crossing no less) at a small lay-up at WAY more than 5mph. And this was a lay-up small enough that neighbourhood residents would wander through walking their dogs, it can occur anywhere, so keep alert.
    For those of you not familiar with yards, if you have the chance the best thing to do is just watch what happens in the yard, find a chill place (on the legal side of the private property line) and see how things work. Thanks for posting the info again cracked.

    ------------------
    ESE - Nothingbutfreights
     
  7. HESHIANDET

    HESHIANDET Guest

    Cracked is on point. I've spent much time in yards and this shit is no joke. The pictures at rotten are crazy,we dont need that stuff happening to one of us.
    stay up.
     
  8. Vanity

    Vanity Veteran Member

    Joined: Apr 11, 2000 Messages: 7,673 Likes Received: 6
    ummm, cracked.. you say that seein a worker is no reason to run,, but then you say yer best bet is to get outta there if you see a worker...
     
  9. cracked ass

    cracked ass Guest

    I said seeing a worker is no reason to run IF he can't know you're there to paint. If there's paint on you, on the car next to you, or he might have seen the cans, I'd get gone. If not though, be chill like I said. I have to stress again that the reaction you'll get could vary widely by yard and by individual worker. I'm only trying to show a little of the worker's point of view, how they are not always going to chase or hate on you for trespassing in the yard. You have to use your head and your instincts in any encounter, and if it looks bad just get the hell out of there. I'm relying on my experiences in yards from Anchorage to Chicago to Philly to Montreal to Newark NJ, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Seattle/Tacoma, Montana, Buffalo, and all of New England. I first check out a yard with nothing on me, and explore more thoroughly than I would if I had paint. In all my encounters with workers, and my half dozen or so encounters with bulls, none of them knew I was there to paint, and the worst case was being told to leave by a bull who appeared pissed off (Delaware), the others looked calm and bored while telling me I had to leave. One bull gave me a CSX calendar on my way out, thinking I was a straight railfan. (It helps to be able to talk intelligently about railroads; bulls will usually show just enough patience with railfans not to bust them, just tell them to leave; some workers think railfans are a little nutso, so don't lay it on too thick with workers about how much you like trains.) None of the straight workers ever gave me any trouble, and some were friendly and talkative; others (Newark) looked at me warily but said nothing. The few times I think I've been seen painting I've just gotten out of there without waiting around to make contact with anybody.
     
  10. guise

    guise Senior Member

    Joined: Apr 17, 2000 Messages: 1,026 Likes Received: 0
    i tried getting into that deadtrianbumbs and its asking me for a password, does anyone have one?
     
  11. MESTHREE

    MESTHREE Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: Apr 11, 2000 Messages: 2,902 Likes Received: 35
    thanks cracked I wanna print this shit out and shove it down a few peoples throtes!....man that dead rail bums site scared me for life.. unless you like feeling queesy I recomend you dont look at it...its more severe than you think *PEAs*
     
    |SK.AMOK| likes this.
  12. cracked ass

    cracked ass Guest

    I don't know how to get in deadtrainbums anymore, it's kind of a weird site anyway. For hardcore, straight-up pictures of people run over by trains and other really sick photos, rotten.com has it nailed down. It's not a very nice site.
     
  13. Vanity

    Vanity Veteran Member

    Joined: Apr 11, 2000 Messages: 7,673 Likes Received: 6
    defvac.com is yer one stop shop for shit pics and necro pics.. anus.com has some pictures i don't understand
     
  14. guise

    guise Senior Member

    Joined: Apr 17, 2000 Messages: 1,026 Likes Received: 0
    I looked at that rotten site, those guys are real sickos! they had pictures of this dead bum from every angle, I'm surprised they didn't have a quicktime 3d virtual environment for it to, you know, TO REALLY GET THE EFFECT!
     
  15. HESHIANDET

    HESHIANDET Guest

    i got the p.w. for deadtrainbums.com if anyone wants it-hit me back.
     
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