“POLING” CARS WAS DANGEROUS? IT SURE WAS!

FREIGHT CAR POLING POCKET @ CENTER

The “poling” of freight cars was a method of moving (pushing) the cars using a locomotive on an adjacent track when it was inconvenient to move the locomotive onto the same track as the cars to be moved. The “pushing” part of moving the cars was accomplished by the use of “pushpole” (see drawing) carried on the locomotive for that purpose. All locomotives and freight cars of the time had four “poling pockets” at the ends of the front and rear “end sills” (see photo  ). The “pushpole” was carried into diagonal place by two men and, at their signal, the locomotive moved ahead until the “pushpole” was secure in the “poling pockets” of the car and locomotive. After the two  men moved to safer position, the locomotive pushed the car to the desired spot. “Time saved is money saved”it is said; this was good. Or was it?

The use of a “pushpole” to move cars was VERY dangerous! Several very bad things could and did happen. The pole could slip as it was being placed in place injuring the men holding it. The pole could break, or worse, shatter with very adverse effect. Well, you get the idea! This is why the “poling” of cars was outlawed many years ago.

The next time you visit a railroad museum, take notice of the “poling pockets” on the older cars and locomotives and think of the money the railroads saved. Think also of the many injuries and lives lost in the lost art of “poling” cars in service to the dictum: “time saved is money saved”.

About THE OLD MACHINIST

I am 82 years old and wed for 65 years. I am a retired engineer and spent 35 years developing INS gyroscopes. I am a High School mentor in physics, mountaineer, model builder, machinist and have a degree in Physics. My interests include railroad history and photography, science history, cosmology, interesting people, and old engineering drawings. I place a high value on my friendships. I enjoy life and am looking forward to the future with my usual sense of anticipation and curiosity.

Posted on November 20, 2011, in ART AND CRAFTSMANSHIP OF THE DRAFTSMAN, TRIVIA FROM THE UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD DRAWING COLLECTION, UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD HISTORY IN DRAWINGS, UNUSUAL DRAWINGS IN THE UPRR DRAWING COLLECTION and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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