Why are air break hoses completely exposed at the front of locomotives?

 
  chris155au Station Staff

Strange take? Like watching a (deliberately dramatised) TV show and then deciding to re-invent the Westinghouse Air Brake?
BrentonGolding
Asking why brake pipes are exposed is tantamount to re-inventing the Westinghouse Air Brake? Now there's yet ANOTHER hot take from you! And I think that you give me too much credit as someone trying to invent something! Have I even offered any alternative's to the Westinghouse Air Brake?

Did you try Google? It is REALLY useful for this sort of thing Twisted Evil
BrentonGolding
"Dummy coupling" returns no useful Google results.

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  YM-Mundrabilla The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
As a number of current enginemen have posted the Brake Pipe (not break, as in destroy or separate) is the one obvious in KRAviator's photo, which actually shows two brake pipes, for ease of connecting hoses. The brake pipe is connected all the way through the train to apply and release the brakes, hence brake pipe, ignoring newer EP braking. There is another large pipe, termed the main reservoir pipe, at least in my days (back in the 80's) which is used to connect all of the locomotive main reservoirs together. Then there are two more small ones, apparently labelled differently depending on where you work, but in my time on the VR they were called no.3 and 4 pipes. These allow release, or application, of the loco brakes, independent of the trains' brake.
I had one level crossing accident in my almost 5 years and one suicide. In neither case did the hoses suffer any damage at all. You were more likely to damage a hose by not using the dummy couplings, or pockets now appearing, and having the hose drag on something, but even that was rare. Since the hoses are not filled with air beyond the cocks, damaging one is only a problem when you want to couple that end of the loco to something, which required you to replace it before that could happen. Damage of this nature will not apply the brakes as the hoses are isolated from the active braking system at the cock, which is close to the pilot, or now being protected, as has been commented on previously.

Neil
What's a "dummy coupling?"
chris155au
It is a 'blank' fitting attached to a length of chain secured to the headstock of the loco or wagon etc to which the air hose is attached when not in use. It keeps dirt out of the pipe whilst securing it away from harm by dragging on high ballast or level crossing pavements etc.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Did you try Google? It is REALLY useful for this sort of thing Twisted Evil
"Dummy coupling" returns no useful Google results.
chris155au
My profuse apologies, you must be using a different version of Google to me. When I google "what is a dummy coupling" the very first thing that pops up is this

https://greysham.com/dummy-coupling/#:~:text=Dummy%20Coupling%3A%20It%20is%20used,last%20vehicle%20of%20the%20Train

Even before I click the link I see on the screen "Dummy Coupling: It is used to Dummy the Vacuum Hose Assembly of the last vehicle of the Train"

The Vacuum brake system is not the same as the Westinghouse system but the principal is identical when it comes to dummy couplings
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
Strange take? Like watching a (deliberately dramatised) TV show and then deciding to re-invent the Westinghouse Air Brake?
Asking why brake pipes are exposed is tantamount to re-inventing the Westinghouse Air Brake? Now there's yet ANOTHER hot take from you! And I think that you give me too much credit as someone trying to invent something! Have I even offered any alternative's to the Westinghouse Air Brake?
chris155au
I refer to your original post and I quote "It seems to be the case with every single locomotive that has ever existed! It make no sense to me.  I have heard that air break hoses can get totally destroyed by animals strikes. Isn't this a massive safety risk? Why can they not be covered by a panel?"

As other posters including some VERY experienced railwaymen have pointed out to you the actual problems caused by the hose bags on the front of a loco being "exposed" are so miniscule as to not have warranted anything more than tinkering around the edges of the design since their invention.

Many other things have been radically changed in the world of the railways over the years. Anyone who has had the pleasure of coupling up using Hook and Screw couplers can only be eternally grateful to the inventor of the Automatic. But when it comes to brakes for most practical purposes the current system is just fine and relatively uncomplicated

As an aside I seem to recall that you said earlier that you started this thread as a result of watching a TV show. As I have already alluded to if you are watching a show like one currently screening on C7 then take it with a mountain of salt. I have it on good authority from someone who was involved in the filming of one of the eps that there is a fair degree (read a whole bloody heap) of dramatization going on. ie half that $h!t didn't actually happen.......
  YM-Mundrabilla The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
All these sort of documentaries contain the key words where everything is contrived to be:
  • massive
  • catastrophic
  • disasterous
  • et al
They contrive/create problems for reasons either known only unto themselves or in the hope of impressing the uninformed. Nevertheless in the process they end up making the entire industry look to be amateurish, incompetent and stupid.

If I was the operator involved I wouldn't have a bar of them.
  ngarner Deputy Commissioner

Location: Seville
A dummy coupling is a small metal forging attached to a short chain. The forging matches the hose coupling so they lock together and the chain then holds the hose above its natural fall height, out of the way. If you look at an older loco, photo or the real thing, you will see one dummy coupling for every hose. If done right, the hoses will all be drawn up and away from rail level, reducing the likelihood of damage.
As Brenton says, the Westinghouse brake has been used for over a century with brake hoses fully exposed during that time and at no point did anyone see a huge problem with it. If they had, I'm sure a change would have happened decades ago. Even the vacuum system used in the UK in steam days, and elsewhere, had a hugely obvious pipe fully exposed to potential damage, albeit usually mounted higher than the Westinghouse, and it was never changed either, before being replaced by the Westinghouse, mounted as here and the elsewhere in the world; i.e. "exposed".

Neil

Also, where the hell else would you mount these hoses that need to reach between rolling stock, without making them metres long, inconvenient to work with and just frustrating? They are easily replaced as they screw into the base of the cock, necessarily so, since they deteriorate over time.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
A dummy coupling is a small metal forging attached to a short chain. The forging matches the hose coupling so they lock together and the chain then holds the hose above its natural fall height, out of the way. If you look at an older loco, photo or the real thing, you will see one dummy coupling for every hose. If done right, the hoses will all be drawn up and away from rail level, reducing the likelihood of damage.
As Brenton says, the Westinghouse brake has been used for over a century with brake hoses fully exposed during that time and at no point did anyone see a huge problem with it. If they had, I'm sure a change would have happened decades ago. Even the vacuum system used in the UK in steam days, and elsewhere, had a hugely obvious pipe fully exposed to potential damage, albeit usually mounted higher than the Westinghouse, and it was never changed either, before being replaced by the Westinghouse, mounted as here and the elsewhere in the world; i.e. "exposed".

Neil

Also, where the hell else would you mount these hoses that need to reach between rolling stock, without making them metres long, inconvenient to work with and just frustrating? They are easily replaced as they screw into the base of the cock, necessarily so, since they deteriorate over time.
ngarner
Yes, I am not sure how they go on the big Railroad with preventative maintenance * but in the Heritage sector where you make do hose bags ** fail on trains from time to time for all sorts of reasons

For those who don't know when a hose fails between the first closed cock and the last (ie not the ones poking out front and rear of the train) you lose air and come to a stand

So spares are carried and crews are required to make running repairs, as @ngarner says it is easy to do, unscrew the old one, put some magic tape or sealant on the thread if avl and screw on new / second hand working one

On a long train it can take longer to find the problem item than to fix it! Unless of course it is a B@STARD and doesn't want to come off...

Once you are done bring the air back up in the system and you are away once again

* if that is still practised!
** I love that term, always reminds me of nose bags!
  YM-Mundrabilla The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Second time that I have concocted this post - no idea what happened to the first.

I am unaware of current practice but back in the days Victorian hosebags had a rubber patch on the hose which included a selection of years and months (bit like car batteries these days). The year and month were nicked with a knife or whatever when the hose was fitted. I am unsure whether the 'nicked' date was when fitted or a condemning date.

Glad hands were also painted differing colours like axleboxes are today. I assume that the colours indicated replacement years.
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Banned
The very old railways unscheduled stop has always had the "standard" explanation of  a blown hosebag. This is known to have covered a multitude of sins, but had the virtue of being practically impossible to disprove.

One I witnessed was a driver stopping on a steam hauled Up train in the middle of nowhere, clambering down from the loco and diving though a wire fence into a paddock, whence he retrieved his best engineman's cap which had blown off on the Down journey. He had made careful note of the location, and had it spot on as we came back. Upon climbing back onto the footplate he uttered the immortal words, "Bloody blown hosebag." Yes; indeed! Of course!
  a6et Minister for Railways

There are/were different sized air hoses on all loco's, on steam there was only a brake pipe fitted to buffer beam and tender. The diesel era brought in a main reservoir hose, that fed more air for faster charging of the air via the brake pipe to the auxillary reservoirs on the wagons.  The air hoses were also a different different dimension with thickness as well as the coupling head which prevented miss matching, also the connecting thread was of a larger size, again to prevent a miss match.

The Brake pipe air hose was an angled cross connection and not a direct opposite connection as well, whereas the Main Reservoir hose was a direct connection opposite to each loco.  Diesels also had mini hoses on the front and rear. 2 on each side of the coupler and were for the charging of air for the independent brakes on the loco.

One of the chief failures of the hoses, was a split in the hose itself, or the gasket in the heads which would fail by as it would sometimes unseat in the head.

Along with my regular driver mate back in the 70's coming home from Broadmeadow, we had a failure as we arrived in the Up Reception sidings at Enfield north, we had to replace the BP hose but needed the two of use and a hammer to knock the metal hose connection with the specified wrench attached to slowly get it to turn, and then replace it with a new one.

Of note in those days there was no tape on the male thread of the hose.
  YM-Mundrabilla The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I was not aware of 'plumbers' tape being used on airbrake hose threads.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
I was not aware of 'plumbers' tape being used on airbrake hose threads.
YM-Mundrabilla
I've seen it used once or twice trying to fix suspect hoses "on the fly" not sure if it was standard practice at that particular railway or not, I mainly did yard shunting work with the occasional training run out on the branch so that is the limit of my experience

*** edit *** Come to think of it that could of even been one of my crazy ideas. Coming from the automotive industry where thread lockers, sealants, Silastic etc are commonly used for such things. When you are trying to shunt a bunch of old wagons and carriages that haven't seen a Yard Limit sign for decades you do come up against some pretty worn equipment and drastic measures are sometimes required!
  YM-Mundrabilla The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I was not aware of 'plumbers' tape being used on airbrake hose threads.
I've seen it used once or twice trying to fix suspect hoses "on the fly" not sure if it was standard practice at that particular railway or not, I mainly did yard shunting work with the occasional training run out on the branch so that is the limit of my experience

*** edit *** Come to think of it that could of even been one of my crazy ideas. Coming from the automotive industry where thread lockers, sealants, Silastic etc are commonly used for such things. When you are trying to shunt a bunch of old wagons and carriages that haven't seen a Yard Limit sign for decades you do come up against some pretty worn equipment and drastic measures are sometimes required!
BrentonGolding
That's where a level of preventative maintenance comes in.
I hope that no-one uses plumbers' tape on steam connections. Smile
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
I hope that no-one uses plumbers' tape on steam connections. Smile
YM-Mundrabilla
Dixon's is the go for that job isn't it? I remember the VGR workshop using buckets of the stuff! Laughing
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Banned
The "old faithful" was Hawkins Jointing Paste when I was younger.
  c3526blue Deputy Commissioner

Location: in the cuckoos nest
I think after 130-years of mounting locomotive air hoses in this manner, engineering, operating and maintenance staff must be fairly confident in the arrangement.

I love the way the OP is still trying to make a thing of it, despite that 130 years and the input to this thread from at least a couple of experienced enginemen.

At a guess I'd say its the fault of the Victorian government Razz
bingley hall
No, no no, as everyone knows it's ScoMo's fault that over 130 years train brakes are not foolproof.  

Or is it that irrelevant and nonsensical premised questions are asked on Railpage?

Happy reality,

John P
  DrSmith Train Controller

What a lot of rubbish over a "bait". It is North American practice to only have the Air Brake Pipe cock exposed and thus a brake application is highly possible from some form of collision. All other pipes have the cocks behind the buffer beam to avoid damage and in particular loss of main reservoir pressure. Some Australians knowing better have departed from this practice and made the front of a locomotive look like a jungle......and jungles are not always safe!

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