Monday, November 26, 2012

FRED goes to work on the Railroad

I remember the first time I actually saw a train go by without a caboose, I felt total emptiness.

The first "Flashing Rear End Device" use is attributed to the Florida East Coast Railway. Following an acrimonious labor / management struggle - which began on January 23, 1963 and ended on April 9, 1976 - the Florida East Coast was the first railroad to eliminate the caboose, forcing the conductor to move to the head end and eliminating the fireman and two brakemen. And created a need for a device to monitor air brake pressure!

"FRED" is the informal - but very descriptive - acronym for the correct nomenclature, End of Train (EOT) monitor. The EOT monitors critical last car information such as brake pipe pressure, motion status, battery condition and marker light status and communicates this information to the Head of Train Device (HOTD) using radio communications. The HOTD displays this information to the locomotive engineer to help operate the train.

The latest generation of EOT's incorporate a turbine, driven by brake line pressure, to operate the flashing red light, and keep the internal battery charged

Unfortunately, there is an entire generation who have never enjoyed the pleasure of waving at the train men passing in the caboose, (crew car, hack, way car or crummy) believing that FRED is the end of the train.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. "A freight train without a caboose is like a sentence without a period    "


5 Comments - Click here:

Eric said...

Hi Robert,

My first reaction too, upon seeing a Conrail freight half-dressed near Utica NY in autumn, 1984:

Thanks for sharing, and I miss the cabooses too.

Steve Boyko said...

Personally I'm thrilled to see a caboose on a train, but it happens so rarely. I did not grow up with cabeese so I am used to FRED. I must say I don't care for the whine of the turbine as it goes by, but they're not doing it for me. ;)

Chris BIGDoer said...

I still see the occasional caboose being used, for backup and switching moves, but all of them look decrepit and are covered from top to bottom with tags and graffiti. A sad end.

Peter said...

Never saw trains with caboozes in revenue service, only in India they use still break vans. The last pic with the signal light: guess that these are the same as the new ones used in Spain.

Unknown said...

When starting at the GNRY in 1965 cabooses were a given on all locals and thru freights. I had a short stint as a switchman at Interbay Yard and we had an old wooden "crummy" as cabooses were sometimes referred to. All these years later I still miss the cabooses.

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