Timonium Train Show Enjoys Good Turnout

By Chip Deyerle – June 23 2012

I never know what to expect when I head out for an area train show.  Sometimes  there is disappointment over collectables, other times there is an over abundance to check out and wonder what niche on my two layouts needs to be addressed. But as usual, the Timonium Fairgrounds is a very popular venue for the national capital region and always draws a big turnout..

The first things I grabbed going in the door were flyers for future train shows in the area. is the Great Lehigh Valley Train Meet – 9/15/2012 – 10 to 4 at Merchants Square Mall in Allentown, PA.  175 tables available  See www.lehighvalleytrainmeet.com.

Train Auction Wednesday June 27 at 6:00 PM at Caplan’s Auction Co., Check out www.caplans.com.

Greenberg Train Show will be in Chantilly Virginia on August 25-26 at dthe Dulles Expo Center off of Virgenia Rt 28. Check out Greenberg on line for tables available.

Model Train Show and Hi-Rail & Collectors Train Show. 10/27-28 at the Cow Palace, State Fairgrounds, Timonium, MD. Contact Howard Zane at 410-730-1036 or e-mail: hzane1@verizon.net.

One of the dealers I met and chatted with was Chuck Macklin, with perhaps the largest collection of books, both current and used, in any previous show.He’s from Bloomington, IN and has been in the book business for quite a while.  You can check out his offerings at www.railroadbooks.biz. I was amazed at the number of titles that he had on display. I noted, too, that there are a lot of books out there  on just about anything you wanted to know about railroading. Macklin didn’t claim any relationship to the European Macklin Company, makers of some really great model railroading trains and equipment.

In my estimate, Timonium offers quite a few dealers and a large number of customers.  As usual there are a lot of” optimists” trying to sell their equipment (and some junk) and models at exhorbitant prices.  I had to look very close to determine what was really collectable and what was just a jacked up price. Some dealers would trade, but most were looking for big bucks. I did manage to locate some N-Guage N&W coaches but now I need to locate new  3- axle (8) trucks for each of the four coaches and adding a knuckle coupler on each end.  The search continues-maybe Microtrains happens to have some. Please respond if you know of a source or happen to have some for sale.

I have worked out a strategy for most trainshows, as I am sure you have as well.  When I first walk into the main room, I start to my right and work the wall to the end, then turn and come back up to catch the tables on the inside.  I repeat this taking note of   things that are displayed  which I might want to check out.  I also listen as carefully as I can to dealer conversations as I compare prices,(when they are priced) and try not to make it too apparent that I am interested in a specific item.  Now, I have to admit that is doesn’t work at the York PA show -there are just way too many people selling things and every dealer has a price they want and won’t negotiate in good faith for true value. I believe a lot of dealers and inexperienced sellers go home with mostly what they brought with them. I could be wrong.

After making one strong circuit through the venue, I had a snadwich at the snack bar, and headed back to Virginia .

Comments appreciated.-






Days of Steam Report #2

Definitions from the N&W Rules and Regulations -1917

Prepared by Chip Deyerle – June 22, 2012

In the first report, we learned about the N&W’s safety objectives as well as the general rules for employees. This report looks at a few definitions from the N&W Rules and Regulations that describes definitions used in 1917 to define trains, time tables, track terms and yard definitions for that period. The definitions are found on pages 9,10, and 11 of the Rules and Regulations.

According to the N&W Rules and Regulations, the 1917 definition of an “Engine” was “a locomotive propelled by any form of energy.” Since this is a definition of engines related to railroads, steam engines, electric engines as well as gasoline or diesel engines pulling rail cars, this definition was reasonable for the time.

“Motor”, however, was defined as “a car propelled by any form of energy.”  Since that time, we have seen the word “motor” taking on a multitude of descriptions beyond a “motor’ car. We have to realize that in 1917 parlance, the term motor car was widely used among the railroaders to describe a conveyance for rail crews, track inspectors, and others, to perform a wide range of railroad duties and functions. Moreover, many were wrestling with the concept of a “motor car’, car, auto, automobile, coupe, sedan which described a vehicle powered by gasoline, steam, or electricity.

The tem “Train” is defined as” an engine, or motor, or more than one engine, or motor coupled, with our without cars, displaying markers.”  While the word “markers” is not defined in the rules and regulations, it could refer to the special flags placed on the engine.

The description of “Regular Train” is defined as “A train authorized by a time-table schedule.” When referring to a train timetable, N&W trains were numbered and defined as either freight or passenger trains and made scheduled runs in accordance with the current time-table. This practice continues as a current practice. Time-tables govern the runs.

The term “Section” means “one of two or more trains running on the same schedule (and) displaying signals or for which signals are displayed.”  We will look into the term “Section” in later reports.

The term “Extra Train” is defined as a train not authorized by a time-table schedule.  It may be designated as Extra –for any extra train, except work extra; Work extra-for work train extra.” An “Extra“usually pulls rail cars that were beyond the limit for a scheduled freight train. An “extra” may have been necessary when hauling large shipments of coal to the Lambert Point Rail Yards in Norfolk, Virginia.


The term “Superior Train” was defined as “A train having precedence over another train.” This definition was followed by “Train of Superior Right”- defined as “A train given precedence by train order.” While this will be discussed further in subsequent reports, passenger trains usually had “precedence” over freight or coal trains, while, fast freights had priority over regular freights and coal trains. As the definitions above reflect priorities for the railroads, this anticipated the need to move troops and military shipping via priority precedence.

The precedence of trains was also set by time-table, as” Train of Superior Class” is defined as “a train given precedence by time-table.”

Going further, train superiority also included “Train of Superior Direction” was defined “A train given precedence in the direction specified by time-table as between opposing trains of the same class.” Evidently, trains traveling in one direction on a single track required governance to prevent a rear-end collisions between two trains.  We will revisit this topic in the section concerning automatic signal blocks.

A “time-table” is defined as “The authority for the movement of regular trains subject to the rules.  It contains the classified schedules of trains with special instructions relating thereto.”

A “Schedule” is defined as “That part of a time-table which prescribes class, direction, number and movement for a regular train.”

A “Division” on the N&W is defined as “That portion of a railroad assigned to the supervision of a Superintendent.” This definition defines the limit of corporate authority of a Division Superintendent.

A “Subdivision” is defined as “A portion of a Division designated by time-table.”

The “Main Track” is defined as “A track extending through the yards and between stations upon which trains are operated by time table or train order, or both, or the use of which is governed by block agents.”

A “Single Track” is described as “A main track upon which trains are operated in both directions.

A “Double Track” is described as “Two Main Tracks upon one of which the current of traffic is in a specified direction, and upon the other in the opposite direction.” Three or more tracks is defined as “upon any of which the current of traffic may be in either direction.”

The” Current of Traffic” is defined as “The movement of trains on a main track, in one direction, specified by the rules.

A “Station” is defined as “a place designated on the time-table by name, at which a train may stop for traffic; or enter or leave the main track; or from which fixed signals are operated.



A “Siding” is defined as “A track auxiliary to the main track for meeting or passing trains.”

A “Fixed Signal” is defined as “A signal of fixed location indicating a condition affecting the movement of a train.”  Whilethe use of the semaphore signalshad been in use for many years, the definition can be extended to the fixed locations of the automatic block electric signals used today on all railroads and light rail.  A note included with this definition was also more specific:

Note to Definition of Fixed Signal. The definition of a “Fixed Signal” covers such signals as slow boards, stop boards, yard, switch, train order, block, interlocking, semaphore, disc, ball or other means for displaying indications that govern the movement of a train.

A “Yard” is defined as “A system of tracks within defined limits provided for the making up of trains, storing of cars and other purposes, over which movements as not authorized by time-table, or by train order, may be  made, subject to prescribed signals and rules, or special instructions.”  This definition is broad and sufficient in defining the generally considered rail yard functions.

A” Yard Engine” is defined as “an engine assigned to yard service and working within the yard limits.”

A “Pilot” is defined as “an employee assigned to a train when the engineer or conductor, or both are not fully acquainted with the physical characteristics or rules of the railroad, or portion of the railroad, over which the train is to be moved.”

A “Train Register” is defined as “A book or form which may be used at designated stations for registering signals displayed, the time of arrival and departure of trains and such other information as may be prescribed.”

In subsequent reports, we will look into these definitions to gain a better understanding and the considerations in making such a definition.



Days of Steam Report #1- Norfolk and Western Rules and Regulations – Published 1917

By Chip Deyerle

My quest to learn more about the days of steam railroading led me to Norfolk and Western Historical Society, located in Roanoke, Virginia.  It was there in their archives that I came upon a book of rules and regulations governing the operation of the N&W. While I was actually looking for rules published in 1924, the earliest I could find was dated April 1, 1917.  There were no other subsequent regulations in their collection between the years 1917 and 1930.  There were more recent copies dated in the 1950s, and 1960s.

Entitled Norfolk and Western Railway Company Rules and Regulations for The Government of the Operating Departments, this little green book was published April 1, 1917 and was issued along with a serial number to each employee and requiring the employee’s signature.

As I turned the small pages bound in a fading green cover, it became apparent trying to define rules and regulations for rail operations presented quite a challenge, evidence the few diagrams, tables and illustrations contained in this small booklet.

As I perused the index, it became apparent that the age of standardization was taking place by World War I.   While there were many rule books of this nature produced by each railroad, most rule books were self-serving for the rules affecting a particular railroad and not necessarily standardized throughout the industry.

The regulations affecting the employees of the railroad, and particularly employees of the Norfolk and Western Railway Company were my target of interest. What I wanted to learn specifically concerned the duties of the train crews and how they fit in the hierarchy of the railroad. I also wanted to learn about a day in the life of an engineer, be it on the line or in the railyard.

Finally, I was interested in the dangers posed by steam engine operations and how the railroads worked to reduce risk of injuries and death through effective safety programs and introduction of safe practices.

I noted that in the forward (found on page 6) to the rules and regulation placed emphasis on safety:

Safety is of the first importance in the discharge of duty

                Obedience to the rules is essential to safety.

                To enter or remain in the service is an assurance of willingness

                to obey the rules.

                The service demands the faithful, intelligent and courageous

                discharge of duty.

                To obtain promotion capacity must be shown for greater responsibility.

As do most rules and regulations for employees, the rules were specified concerning important areas of work performed by employees and the expectations to be met.  The first rule required that the employee whose duties are described in the rule book must be familiar with those duties and must also carry a copy of the rules and regulations when on duty.

The rule book also required employees to pass an exam, but I have not been able to locate such exams or details concerning how such exams were administered. Other rules included reporting violations of the rules by other employees.  Along with accidents, detention of trains, failure of water and coal supplies or track defects, employees were required to make reports of such.

Other rules affected personal behavior on the job, including intoxicants, was strictly prohibited.  This included frequenting places where such things were sold, which could lead to dismissal. Likewise, smoking while on duty or in or about a passenger station or on passenger cars was also prohibited.

Of interest as well was a rule that when the company’s property was in danger, the employees must unite to protect the company. This was obviously to require railroad employees to help railroad guards and police to deal with strikers on railroad property.

In my next report, we will consider some definitions from that era.



The Big Railroad Problem of the 1920s

By Chip Deyerle 

As a result of the impact of World War I on US railroads, Congress passed legislation to enable government control of the Nation’s railways by passing of the Transportation Act of 1920, also known as the Esch-Cummins Act.  As President Wilson had federalized the railroads in 1917 to ensure that war materials moved easily and quickly through the rail system, railroad management fought the federalization to set and maintained shipping rates on their respective rail lines. During the period of government operation, the tracks were obliged to carry a heavy volume of traffic with little attention to replacements or ordinary maintenance. While maintenance was not the fault of the Government, the war drained off manpower in the shop, depleted stocks and materials, as well as consuming skilled labor for the war effort. Thus the lack of manpower had significant impact on railway maintenance. The railroads descended into a state of poor conditions when, after a little more than two years, they were returned to private operation.

Such legislation was badly needed.  That resulted in the Transportation Act of 28 February 1920. The Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Albert B. Cummins, and the House bill was proposed by Rep. John Jacob Esch, wit a conference committee making a compromise measure, which became effective on 1 March, a little more than three months after President Woodrow Wilson returned the railroads to private operation.

To help the railroads financially, the bill authorized consolidations, established a six-month guarantee period, and authorized extensive loans for a variety of purposes. Congress provided for arbitration without power of enforcement and established voluntary adjustment boards to settle labor disputes. These provisions were to be enforced by the Railroad Labor Board, consisting of nine members and having national jurisdiction. Hotly contested in Congress, the Transportation Act of 1920 engendered controversy for years thereafter. Advocates contended that favorable terms were necessary to avoid a shutdown of the national transportation system; detractors claimed that railroads had economic interests and dictated terms to their own advantage.

It is against that background that the N&W Railroad continued to conduct investigation into the events and circumstances of all railway accidents.  This was supported by two driving forces:  Federal Law and Shipper’s liability for damaged and missing goods.  Such investigations were conducted at the direction of the Superintendent, especially in cases where there was bodily harm or fatalities.  It is in this process that once presented with the facts surrounding the accident, liability could be assessed, processes improved, and safety activities undertaken to educate the employees on safe practices.  

Note: We will explore this topic in greater detail througout the coming weeks.  Your comments appreciated.


Interest In Railroading Begins Early In Life

Article by Chip Deyerle

At some point early in the last century, it must have been written that when a child is about five years old, he or she should be given a train.  This seems to be true as I look back on the time when I was given a brand new Lionel Train set (# 2026 which still runs strong today) for Christmas of 1950.  It was something I never knew I really wanted until Christmas morning, and there it was, set up and running under the Christmas tree.

For me, my railroading interests started shortly after I arrived on the scene, with a very long train ride to Lakeland, Florida and a new home Mom and Dad sought following World War II among the orange groves.  Six months later, I got my second train ride back to southwest Virginia when things in Florida did not quite work out for my parents the way things were planned.

Back in Roanoke, waking hours for everyone were largely influenced by the N&W shop whistle that could be heard all over the Roanoke Valley.  Add to that the constant noise of coal cars and freight cars running the Hump on a 24 hour cycle in the 16th Street yard, train movements signaled by the shrill whistles of yard engines, freight engines and passenger engines, and the drone of many industries located in the valley, and oversleeping did not ever seem to be a problem.

Where I come from, the railroad is a large part of the social fabric as the chief employer for almost 100 years.  Relatives on both sides of the family had long and successful careers working for the N&W or the Virginian.  This extended into the 1980s when other technology seemed to take the place of railroading careers.  But things began to change when the N&W merged with the Southern.

My love of the railroading continued through childhood and was heightened by riding the famed Powhatan Arrow and the Pocahontas on three occasions.  It wasn’t until 1966 that I again rode the rails, but that time it was hauled by diesel during the great airline strike of 1966

Since that trip, I’ve been a rail fan, riding excursion trains where I can find them from the eastern seaboard to the California coast and in several places between the coasts.  Last summer,  for instance, I rode another steam engine at the, Canadian Railway Museum, near Montreal, Canada.

Living in Northern Virginia, I have quickly become a fan of the Virginia Railway Express, a very successful commuter line with great potential for expanded service throughout Northern Virginia and the region.  Perhaps one day we will ride by train from Bristow, Virginia, to Bristol, Virginia, by way of Roanoke on Amtrak.

Until then, I will recall those days of steam through model railroading and keeping the memory alive about those days.