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RECOMMENDATIONS. The Board recommends,
1. That the railroad cause the trees, embankment and buildings which stand upon its land in the vicinity of the Main Street crossing to be removed.
2. That a flagman be placed at the State Street crossing.
be placed at By the RLLIAM
WILLIAM C. HUDSON.
This recommendation was not complied with. The receiver, while espressing entire willingness to do so, said that he was in possession of the road by order of the United States Circuit Court of the Western District of Pennsylvania and directly responsible to a master resident in Philadelphia, without whose assent no expenditures could be made. When counsel for the receiver was heard, he stated that proceedings for reorganization were pending and would probably eventuate by the close of the calendar year 1886. The Board then made order that until such time a flagman should be stationed at the crossing, and then the obstructing buildings removed.
IN THE MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT OF STEPHEN T. HOPKINS v. The
West SHORE RAILROAD COMPANY, WITH REGARD TO A GRADE CROSSING OVER THE TRACKS OF THE WEST SHORE ON THE ROAD LEADING FROM THE SAUGERTIES ROAD TO THE SWAMP ROAD JUST SOUTH OF THE RED BRICK SCHOOL HOUSE IN THE TOWN OF CATSKILL.
September 28, 1886. In consequence of the complaint with regard to this crossing the railroad company partially filled up the approaches to the track thereby materially improving it as compared with its condition at the time the complaint was made. As the improvements, however, did not meet the satisfaction of the complainant, a personal inspection was therefore made by Commissioner Rogers on September 22d.
The road, while a public highway, does not appear to be very much traveled; still a considerable amount of driving is evidentally done over it The view of the track. is unobstructed to highway travelers approaching from the east; from the west, however, trains approaching from the north could not be seen until the highway traveler was nearly on the track. Considerable danger therefore is run when ap. proaching the track from a westerly direction. This can be obviated by slightly further raising the highway on the west side of the track. The Board recommends that his action be taken by the railroad company.
By the Board.
WILLIAM C. HUDSON, Secretary.
The road has complied with the recommendations of the Board.
REPORT UPON TESTS OF AUTOMATIC CAR
COUPLERS, JULY 1, 1886.
By Commissioner Rogers:
On June 16th and 17th the Board made practical tests of automatic freight car couplers in accordance with the following circular, issued April 29, 1886:
ALBANY, April 29, 1886. SIR — Section 4 of Chapter 439, Laws of 1884, provides as follows:
§ 4. After July first, eighteen hundred and eighty-six, no couplers shall be placed upon any new freight car to be built or purchased for use, in whole or in part, upon any steam railroad in this State, unless the same can be coupled and uncoupled automatically without the necessity of having a person guide the link, lift the pin by hand, or go between the ends of the cars. The corporation, per. son or persons operating said railroad, and violating the provisions of this section, shall be liable to a penalty of not exceeding one hundred dollars for each offense.
On Wednesday, the 16th of June next, the Board of Railroad Commissioners will conduct practical tests of automatic freight car couplers, at the East Albany yards of the New York Central and Hudson River railroad, beginning at 10 a. M. None will be considered except when attached to at least two freight cars.
Cars thus equipped can be consigned to the East Albany yard of the New York Central and Hudson River railroad.
By the Board.
Secretary. Tne authorities of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company courteously put at the disposal of the Board every facility to make the trials as complete as practicable under the circumstances. The tests were made upon the curve of a side track and under such conditions as would most frequently occur in practical operation. Thirty-three different couplers were represented. The points and requirements particularly considered were as follows:
1st. Facility to couple with its own kind with same or different height of draw bar.
2d. Facility to uncouple under all circumstances.
3d. Facility to couple with common link and pin, and whether automatic or not.
4th. Certainty to hold on uneven track.
5th. Capacity to be set so as not to couple when “kicked" into side tracks, etc.
6th. Non-liability of obstruction by dirt, snow, ice, rust, etc.
9th. Position of device to raise pin so as not to be above floor of car, with reference to applicability to platform cars.
10th. Non-interference of uncoupling device with brakeman guiding link into old draw bar.
11th. Simplicity of construction. 12th. Cost.
The importance of the subject is shown by the fact that the average number of deaths from coupling per year in this State for the last two years has been 16 deaths and 380 injuries to person.
The Board had three principal objects in making the tests:
1st. To give an opportunity to inventors to display their devices in a public way.
2d. To see what devices presented fulfilled the requirements of the law quoted in the above circular.
3d. To take another step toward determining, if possible, what is the best coupler.
The first two objects were attained. Some, but not much advance was made towards the third. There are so many devices having merit, yet none without objection, that the Board would be greatly embarrassed were it required to positively recommend any one to the exclusion of all others. This may seem a somewhat disappointing conclusion, but it is the only one possible under the circumstances. If the merits of all could be combined in one, a perfect coupler would be the result, but it must be remembered that every little improvement is patented, and until sufficient essential patents are the property of one party, a perfect device seems impossible. In the analogous case of the Westinghouse air-brake a vast number of patents have been purchased by the Westinghouse Company in addition to the original invention of Westinghouse, and so with almost every other device which is in final successful operation.
The Board proposes to give this subject its continued attention. The impressions and views it now holds it gives with due caution, reserving the right to alter or amend them as circumstances and increased investigation and experience may warrant.
To attain the main object of an automatic coupler, i. e., to save the lives and limbs of trainmen, it is most desirable that but one device should be in universal use. If there is diversity it will increase rather than diminish the present dangers.
There appear to be but two ways for this to be brought about, one by the operation of the law of the “survival of the fittest," the other by the creation by Congress of a commission to determine upon one coupler and compel its adoption by all companies engaged in interState commerce.
The first method, it would seem, will be slow beyond all computation from present indications. There appears to be no good reason, however, why the second could not be done.
Under its powers to “regulate commerce among the several States Congress has already prescribed rules for the inspection of hulls and boilers of steamships, for the examination of engineers as to their competency, for vessels being provided with boats, life-preservers, and for many similar things to insure the safety of travel by water.
It would seem that the same power could and should be exercised to insure safety in the operation of railroads.
From the diversity of the recommendations made by the States which have already acted on the coupler question, it seems to be hopeless to secure unanimity from them acting separately.
One is embarrassed at the outset of this subject with the fact that there are two rival and irreconcilable classes to deal with. 1st. The 80-called “vertical plane couplers,” and 2d, the link couplers.
VERTICAL PLANE COUPLERS.
1st. None of them, as at present manufactured, with the exception of the Cowell and Janney, couple automatically with any other.
This difficulty could be remedied to a great extent, by having the movable knuckle universally on the right side, and of the same size. But positive objections are made by the Hein Company, for instance, to altering the proportions of the coupler upon the ground of destroying its strength. , 2d. None of them undertake to couple automatically with the old link and pin except the Cowell.
This is a most serious objection for the reason that the slot into which the link goes is much smaller than in the old drawhead, and the danger to the brakeman of getting his hands caught correspondingly greater.
The cars with which many of them are equipped are not provided with dead woods, so there is no protection for the trainman in case of the drawheads being broken by concussion. Deadwood blocks should be provided in all cases.
The device to couple and uncouple is frequently in the way and adds another danger.
In the case of the Cowell a throat is cut in the face to take a link. There is a dog moved by a spring to hold the pin up. This dog is intended to be pushed back by the link and the pin to fall automatically. The difficulty is two-fold.
First. The link 'would only be pushed in by a drawhead having a solid throat. (This difficulty is common to a great many.)
Second. The throat in the Cowell is so shallow that the link strikes before the drawheads come in contact, so the link would take the whole force of the blow in coupling, and would bear the whole strain pushing - conditions which would bend or break it.
3d. Almost all of the vertical plane couplers appear to be more or less liable to become fouled by dirt or rust if left standing for some time exposed to the weather, although there is quite a difference in
them in this respect : the contrivance to catch the arm and hold it in Į place being quite complicated in some and simpler in others.
LINK COUPLERS. Link couplers as a class present certain obvious advantages. They are simple in construction, cheap, not so liable to get out of order, conform better to the present method of coupling, and afford more “slack,” thus allowing a long freight train to be more easily started than if conpled with the closer “vertical plane” type. The Board does not propose to discuss the question as to which class forins “mechanically” the more perfect union. It is suflicient to say that either forms a sufficiently perfect union. The advantage which many of the link class possess of coupling automatically with the old drawhead the Board deems of great importance. It will be many years before the latter is entirely discarded from the railroads of the country, and therefore, forms an important factor in the problem.
A serious difficulty, however, with this type is that none of them will couple automatically with the old drawhead unless the latter has & closed throat, so that the link will be pushed on to the hook or against the dog to allow the pin to drop, as the case may be.
All those familiar with the subject will recognize that this requires a link of a standard length, and a throat both in the old drawhead and in the automatic drawhead of a standard depth, shallow enough to insure the link being pushed so as to secure connection, and deep enough to permit the drawheads to come in contact after connection.
Inasmuch as a very large proportion of the old drawheads are either “skeleton" or hollow too far back, this requirement makes an automatic coupling with them impossible.
It is desirable that a standard link be adopted and that all drawheads be provided with a stop in the throat so as to permit the link to enter but half an inch beyond its middle point. This could be done at a trifling expense.
It is quite obvious, therefore, that any automatic coupler requiring a link longer than the standard (say 101 inches inside measurement) is essentially defective. This is equally true with regard to any fixed link coupler.
It is also asserted that any hooked coupler (such as Archer, etc.) is apt to have hook wear away, thus rendering uncoupling liable—this fact gives an advantage to a pin.
The law of the State as it exists to-day is very broad. It provides that no coupler shall be placed upon any new freight car *** * “unless the same can be coupled and uncoupled automatically without the necessity of having a person guide the link, lift the pin by hand, or go between the ends of the cars.”
Such coupler might be defective, however, in many of the respects heretofore pointed out. The strict legal duty of the Board would be fulfilled in seeing that the railroad corporations adopt such devices as come within the law, however defective in other respects; and indeed it is the only positive power vested in the Board in the premises. It has deemed it better, however, to call attention to the matters hereinbcfore mentioned and to make the following recommendations:
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS. The Board of Railroad Commissioners recommends:
1st. That the standard height of drawbar of the Master Car Builders' Association, viz. : two feet, nine inches from top of rail to center of drawhead when car empty, be adopted by all railroad corporations; that new cars be made to conform thereto, and that old cars when repaired be made to conform as nearly as possible.