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November 15th- Bells and Whistles by Dillon Stokes

posted Nov 15, 2018, 8:39 AM by Sue Line RailRoad   [ updated Nov 16, 2018, 11:25 AM ]

A couple of questions often asked in model railroading is what are the proper whistle and bell signals and when and where are you supposed to use headlights? Well lets take a look at both of these rules.

We will start with the whistle and bell signals, Rules
5.8.1, 5.8.2. (GCOR)

5.8.1 Ringing Engine Bell
Ring the engine bell under any of the following conditions:
• Before moving, except when making momentary stop and start switching movements.
• As a warning signal anytime it is necessary.
• When approaching men or equipment on or near the track.
• Approaching public crossings at grade with the engine in front start signal at the crossing sign. If no sign, or if movement begins between sign and crossing, start signal soon enough before crossing to provide warning. Continue ringing bell until the crossing is occupied.

5.8.2 Sounding Whistle
The whistle may be used at anytime as a warning regardless of any whistle prohibitions.
When other employees are working in the immediate area, sound the required whistle signal before moving. When moving on the main track or siding, ring bell continuously while passing standing equipment on an adjacent track.
When moving in a designated mechanical facility, ring bell continuously.

Other forms of communications may be used in place of whistle signals, except signals (1), (7), and (8). See following chart.
The required whistle signals are illustrated by “o” for short sounds and “—” for longer sounds:

(1) ooooooooo Succession of short soundsUse when persons or livestock are on the track at other than road crossings at grade. In addition, use to warn railroad employees when an emergency exists, such as a derailment. When crews on other trains hear this signal, they must stop until it is safe to proceed.

(2) ——- When stopped: air brakes are applied, pressure equalized.

(3)——- ——- Release brakes. Proceed.

(4)oo Acknowledgment of any signal not otherwise provided for.

(5)ooo When stopped: back up. Acknowledgment of hand signal to back up.

(6) oooo Request for signal to be given or repeated if not understood.

(7)——- ——- o ——- When approaching public crossings at grade with the engine in front, sound signal as follows:

A. At speeds in excess of 45 MPH, start signal at or about the crossing sign but not more than 1/4 mile before the crossing.
B. At speeds of 45 MPH or less, start signal at least 15 seconds, but not more than 20 seconds, before entering the crossing.
C. If no crossing sign start signal at least 15 seconds, but not more than 20 seconds before entering crossing but not more than 1/4 mile before the crossing.
D. If movement starts less than 1/4 mile from a crossing, signal may be sounded less than 15 seconds before the crossing when it is clearly seen traffic is not approaching the crossing, traffic is not stopped at the crossing or when crossing gates are fully lowered.
Prolong or repeat signal until the engine completely occupies the crossing(s).

(8)——- o Approaching men or equipment on or near the track, regardless of any whistle prohibitions.
After this initial warning, sound whistle signal (4) intermittently until the head end of train has passed the men or equipment. For example: 
——- o oo oo oo oo

In the states of California and Montana sound whistle signal at all crossings, public and private.

If the engines on your railroad are sound equipped, these whistle and bell rules can add alot of realism and prototypical operations to your layout!

Next, lets look at headlights. 

Rules 5.9


5.9 Headlight Display
Turn the headlight on bright to the front of every train, except when the light must be dimmed as outlined in Rule 5.9.1 (Dimming Headlight) or turned off as outlined in Rule 5.9.2 (Headlight Off)

5.9.1 Dimming Headlight
Approaching public crossings at grade with engine in front, the headlight must be on bright at the crossing sign. If no sign, or if movement begins between sign and crossing, the headlight must be on bright soon enough before the crossing to provide warning. Except when the engine is approaching and passing over a public crossing at grade, dim the headlight during any of the following conditions:
1. (A) At stations and yards where switching is being done.

2. (B) When stopped close behind a train.

3. (C) When stopped on the main track waiting for an approaching train. However, when stopped in block system limits, turn the headlight off at the radio request of the crew of an approaching train, until the head end of the train passes.

4. (D)When approaching and passing the head end of a train at night

5. (E) At other times to permit passing of hand signals or when the safety of employees requires.

6. When left unattended on a main track in non-signaled territory.

5.9.2 Headlight Off
Turn the headlight off under either of the following conditions:
1. (A) The train is stopped clear of the main track.

2. (B) The train is left unattended on the main track in block system limit.

5.9.3 Headlight Failure
If the headlight on the train fails, ditch lights must be on, when so equipped. Headlight failure must be reported to the train dispatcher.
At night, if headlight and ditch lights fail to operate and no other unit can be used as the lead unit, continue movement with a white light displayed on the lead unit. Stop the train before each public crossing, so a crew member on the ground can provide warning until the crossing is occupied, unless:
• Crossing gates are in the fully lowered position. or
• No traffic is approaching or stopped at the crossing.

5.9.4 Displaying Headlights Front and Rear
When engines are moving, crew members must turn on the headlight to the front and rear, but may dim or extinguish it on the end coupled to cars.

5.9.5 Displaying Ditch Lights
Display ditch lights, if equipped, to the front of the train when moving over public crossings and anytime the headlight is required to be on bright.
Locomotives must not be operated as the lead unit out of a train’s initial terminal unless both ditch lights are operating. However, if no units are equipped with ditch lights, do not exceed 20 MPH over public crossings until occupied.
If one ditch light fails enroute, the train may proceed, but repairs must be made by the next daily inspection. If two ditch lights fail enroute, the train may proceed, but not exceeding 20 MPH over public crossings until occupied, but must not travel beyond the first point where repairs may be made or until the next daily inspection, whichever occurs first. The term "ditch lights" includes oscillating white headlights or strobe lights located on the front of the locomotive. Ditch lights on some foreign locomotives are configured to operate only when the horn is activated. Ditch lights which operate in this manner will be considered as meeting the requirements of this rule. When a remote control locomotive is being controlled with a remote control transmitter the ditch lights need not be displayed if speed does not exceed 20 MPH. Ditch lights are not required on steam locomotives. Failure of two ditch lights includes employee failure to turn on the ditch lights.

5.9.6 Displaying Oscillating White Headlight
If the leading engine is equipped with an oscillating white headlight, turn the light on when the engine is moving. However, turn the light off when meeting trains, passing trains, or during switching operations, unless movement involves public crossings at grade.

5.9.7 Displaying Oscillating or Flashing Red Light
If the leading engine is equipped with an oscillating or flashing red light, turn the light on under any of the following conditions:
• Train is stopped suddenly where adjacent tracks may be fouled.
• Head-end protection is required.
• Condition exists that endangers movement.
The red light signals an approaching train on the same or adjacent track to stop at once and to proceed only after the track is safe for train passage. Extinguish red flashing lights when they are no longer needed.

These rules can add even more operation realism to your operating sessions!

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