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Maurice Lewman

Tricky Air

February 27, 2004
We discussed tricky orders and now it will be tricky air.

As new brake valves on the engines and control valves on the cars came into use the train line leakage became less and in some cases was almost nill. This story is about the same problem at the same place.

Coming west from Crestline, OH to Avon, IN we were instructed to pick up 40 cars at Marion, OH making a total of 150 cars leaving Marion. After making the air test and every one on board we departed. The train went right along at 50 mph and any slow downs was made by reducing the throttle. After about 40 miles we started down the 3/4% grade into Bellefontaine, OH. Running in # 8 throttle position and 50 mph I set the air at the normal spot and noticed that the train did not seem to be reacting to the brakes. Glancing at the air pressure on FRED at the rear of the train it looked good so I made another reduction and by the response I knew we had a problem. Making another 10 lb. reduction FRED started showing a reduction and the brakes started taking effect. I knew the train would slow to the 30 mph through the curves ahead so I released the air and the train slowed to about 20 mph.

The air had to be applied again to keep the train to the 30 mph through the curve. After the final release the air came up on FRED and you could tell the brakes were released and away we go. Another 20 miles and we are bounding along at 50 mph and the train starts pulling down and a look at Fred shows a leak in the trainline. Notching the throttle down as the speed and pull of the train demands we come to a stop. The crew walked back and on the 17th the angle cock was turned closed. This was the problem with the air at Bellefontaine. The angle cock had been partly closed slowing down the movement of the air for the brakes. In the next 20 miles the valve had vibrated shut cutting off the air supply. After wiring the angle cock open we did not have anymore trouble. I have had this trouble before but never had one to close.

About 8 years later an engineer coming down the same hill did the same thing but the brakes did not apply and the air was still normal on the rear end and going to dynamic which would not slow the train down he went to emergency which did not do much good and went around the 30 mph curve at 60 mph. An angle cock 7 cars behind the engine had closed and he had no brakes on the rest of the train. What saved him was that he had a dispatcher riding with him or they would have blamed the engineer. Today the engineer can set the air from the rear end of the train from his station on the engine and now you know the whole story.

Maurice Lewman

Maurice worked the Michigan Division from 1947-1981. He then worked on the Bee Line from 1981-1992. From 1947 until august 1950, he worked on the section at Shirley and Markleville. In 1950 he started firing on steam and then on through the diesels. Maurice said, "I had the pleasure of working with C. C. Staley and Ron Buser many times."

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