Double-headed freight Cab-Forwards

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Double-headed freight Cab-Forwards

Post by mec_alf »

I remember seeing a photo in one of last year's Roundhouses of a brace of Cab-Forwards hauling a passenger train, with the caption stating that the S.P. never double-headed freight trains with Cab-Forwards. Until very recently I would not have sought to contradict the author.
On page 86 of "The Modoc: Southern Pacific's Backdoor to Oregon" there's a Philip C. Johnson photograph of two ACs - AC-1 # 4016 and AC-2 # 4028 - on the point of a thereby proving yet again that the word "never" is best used with great care, and that there is, indeed, a prototype for everything.
From Rigby Yard to the Hill - MEC and SP live on.
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Re: Double-headed freight Cab-Forwards

Post by BrianMoore »

The 2-8-8-2 AC-1 and AC-2 classes of Cab Forward were far less powerful than the big 4-8-8-2 locomotives from AC-4 to AC-12 (missing out the conventionally-built "cab-behind" AC-9). Also, the earlier classes were built for much slower running, and were withdrawn much earlier too, so we're really talking about different types of locomotive here, in different kinds of service.

On saying that, 'tho, and in agreement with your "never say never" concept, I've got a picture of two later-model Cab Forwards, double-heading on the point of a freight train, but it's the only one I've ever come across, and could have simply been the result of the train stalling, with the nearest locomotive available to help being ahead of the stalled train. Operational reality sometimes demands thinking out-of-the-box, especially when all the Dispatcher wants is to get the railroad moving again, ASAP.

It reminds me too, of that recent statement in the current UK preserved steam world, where a modern-day double-heading of two A4s was called, "the first time ever". Whilst no pictures were produced, there were at least four or five recollections offered of when such a thing happened, pre end-of-steam.

In another instance, it was generally not permitted to have rear-end pushers assisting passenger trains. But I've got a picture of a passenger train being pushed up Cuesta on the Coast Line by a 2-10-2, itself hauling a few MoW cars. The train had stalled, and the 2-10-2 was the nearest thing available that could get it moving.

But these instances are minimal, and do not reflect the day-to-day reality of what took place on railroads.

It was indeed the case that SP instructions to locomotive crews dictated that two big Cab Forwards should never be put together at the head of a freight train. If you ignored that without very good reason, you'd be in big trouble. Especially when a coupling snapped and the train derailed.
Brian Moore
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