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Old 03-29-2020, 06:24 PM   #1
ericr
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Default Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

have you guys heard repeated stories about cars conking out on train tracks in the '20s and '30s? I wonder if they just killed the engine by letting off the gas when they panicked when they heard the Old 97 barreling towards them.


It happened to Dear Old Dad in the 1930s and he said the only thing that saved him was his Buick had both a floor starter and also a starter button on the instrument panel, which he hit and the starter was able to propel the car in reverse gear just enough to avoid the train.
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Old 03-29-2020, 06:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

They had no money for entertainment so they made up far fetched lies to entertain one another!
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Old 03-29-2020, 07:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

That ole Zenith float bouncing and sloshing over the tracks! OH MY!
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Old 03-30-2020, 07:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

I have seen it many, many times in the movies, heck I have even seen a person or two tied upon them......spoiler alert, they always get off at the last moment!
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Old 03-30-2020, 09:13 AM   #5
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

I heard stories like that from my Dad and his Model T. Nowadays I have heard about people blindly following GPS and when it says 'turn right here" they end up ON the railroad tracks.
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Old 03-30-2020, 10:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

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I heard stories like that from my Dad and his Model T. Nowadays I have heard about people blindly following GPS and when it says 'turn right here" they end up ON the railroad tracks.
We are not the smartest species on the planet.
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Old 03-30-2020, 03:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

That is an engineer's worst nightmare.
I never hit a car when I was running but came within 6 inches of it once.
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Old 03-30-2020, 05:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

I have a close friend that was very young when her mom's car stalled on the tracks. Her mother managed to get my friend out but the mother was hit and killed before she could get clear. It does and did happen.
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Old 03-31-2020, 09:45 AM   #9
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

In the 1930's in my area there were no signal lights where the railroad tracks crossed the highway. I recall several accidents caused at night by drivers running into the side of the train cars as the train crossed a busy highway. People overdrove their headlights and did not see train cars crossing the highway.
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Old 03-31-2020, 10:31 AM   #10
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

Don't forget the idiots that drive around the gates.
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Old 03-31-2020, 03:11 PM   #11
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

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Don't forget the idiots that drive around the gates.
I was riding on Amtrak at 70 MPH when a pick up drove around the gates after the train on the other tracks passed. We hardly felt the bump but four were killed and the truck was unrecognizable. We only can live by being vigilant.
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:02 PM   #12
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

I am not sure that warning signals ("wig-wags") were all that prevalent in the '20s or '30s, except maybe in highly populated areas. AT some locations railroads would provide live-in shacks for employees who had gotten handicapped. These guys would either throw switches, or signal auto traffic about oncoming trains, etc.


Certainly the overall noise and whistles of steam locomotives would be terrifying to a motorist stalled on a track.
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:38 PM   #13
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

It seems that stalling on the track wouldn't happen very often, but maybe. More likely no gates and people not paying attention.

Two stories I have. One, my grandparents were waiting at a grade crossing and my grandfather heard a noise from the train he didn't like, and backed the car up as the train derailed right in front of them. It happened around 1950 and they had pictures of the derailment afterwards.

Second story is that in Newark, Delaware where the the B&O tracks crossed Main Street, there was a little shed and a person came out and held a sign when the train was coming by. It was later replaced by a crossing gate. This was in the early 1950's.
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Old 03-31-2020, 08:40 PM   #14
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

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I am not sure that warning signals ("wig-wags") were all that prevalent in the '20s or '30s, except maybe in highly populated areas. AT some locations railroads would provide live-in shacks for employees who had gotten handicapped. These guys would either throw switches, or signal auto traffic about oncoming trains, etc.


Certainly the overall noise and whistles of steam locomotives would be terrifying to a motorist stalled on a track.
There are still MANY crossings with just a sign. We have vehicles it near me several times.
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Old 03-31-2020, 08:47 PM   #15
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

Today's crossings are hard rubber or neoprene moldings, or carefully cast concrete with steel guard channels paralleling the rails. They are close and level with the rails, and silky smooth to drive over without much need to slow down.

It wasn't that way back then! Rotten, rough and broken wood, rarely level with the rail tops. That required a much slower speed at some crossings to avoid bottoming out. If you were too chicken and lugging you could stall with a manual trans and get caught between rails. Then someone panics and floods the engine attempting a restart, something a modern injected engine will not do.

Of course, "Look" back then referred to down the tracks, not at your phone.
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Old 04-01-2020, 04:21 AM   #16
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Default Re: Anecdotes About Stalling on Train Tracks in the Model "A" Era

Watch this to the end. The very end.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRC1GJkdxdA
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