Investigation of accident on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad at Green's Farms, Conn., on November 16, 1912


Material Information

Investigation of accident on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad at Green's Farms, Conn., on November 16, 1912
At head of title:
Interstate Commerce Commission
Physical Description:
4 p. : ; 23 cm.
United States -- Interstate Commerce Commission. -- Division of Safety Appliances
Belnap, H. W ( Hiram W )
Place of Publication:
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Railroad accidents -- Connecticut -- Greens Farms   ( lcsh )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
"December 18, 1912."
General Note:
Submitted by H. W. Belnap Chief Inspector of Safety Appliances.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 004955419
oclc - 52166717
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J'.,., 'ao)'TCO;,Y J

VEMBER 16, 1912.
DECEMBER 18, 1912.
On November 16, 1912, there wa;s a derailment of a passenger train
on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad at G ri cn's
Farms, Conn., resulting in the injury of 27 passengers.
Immediately upon receipt of telegraphic notice of this vcident
from the railroad company, Assistant Secretary McGinty proceeded
to Green's Farms and inspectors were ordered to the scene of the
accident to assist in the investigation. A public hearing regarding
this accident was held by me at New Haven, Conn., on November 20,
1912, and the Public Utilities Commission of the State of Connecti-
cut, which had entered upon an investigation on its own initiative,
,was invited to participate in and was represented at this hearing.
The investigation of this accident developed the following facts:
The derailed train was westbound passenger train No. 23, known
as the Merchants' Limited, running from Boston to New York. It
consisted of engine No. 1110, a combination baggage and parlor car,
a dining car, two parlor cars, and one observation car, all the cars
being of wooden construction and having reenforced steel platforms.
Conductor Ross and Engineman Morley were in charge of this train.
Train No. 23 left New Haven at 8.20 p. m., on time, but on ac-
count of orders requiring reduced speed at Milford, Nanul:i clik
Junction, and Bridgeport, the train was delayed about four minutes.
At about 8.52 p. m. this train passed tower No. 53, at Green's Farms,
and it was derailed between this tower and Green's Farms .t:ation,
approximately 26 miles west of New Haven. The derailment oc-
curred just west of a crossover switch west of tower No. 53.
This division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad
is a four-track line operated under the controlled manual block-signal
system. Tracks Nos. 1 and 3 were being used for westbound t rains, and
tracks Nos. 2 and 4 were being used for eastbound trains. At the time
of the derailment train No. 23 was running on track No. 3. At the
place where the accident, occurred there is a No. 10 crossover leading
from track No. 1 to track No. 3. The track is straight and prac-
tically level. It is laid with 30-foot rails weighing 100 pounds to

., -1-

the yard, with an average of 16 ties under each rail. During the
past three years all tie renewals have been made with creosoted ties,
and at the time of the derailment about 60 per cent of the ties in
this vicinity were treated ties. Tie-plates and screw spikes are used
on all treated ties, while on ties that are not treated common driven
spikes are used. The ties in many instances are double spiked on
the outside, while all are single spiked on the inside of the rail. The
ties used are of southern pine and native oak and chestnut. The bal-
last is of rock, varying in depth from 14 to 18 inches.
Train No. 23 was reported past Fairfield, about 3 miles east of
Green's Farms, at 8.49 p. m. and passed tower No. 53 at 8.52 p. m.
Just as this train was passing the tower at Green's Farms the parlor-
car conductor, who was riding in the front end of the dining car,
heard a thumping noise as though something was dragging under the
car. He immediately went back to the rear end of the car and pulled
the whistle signal cord, signaling the enginemaii to stop. The en-
gineman answered this signal; looking back he saw the rear end of
the dining car tip over to one side, and he applied the air brakes in
emergency. When the train came to a stop the engine was about
1,400 feet beyond the point of derailment. The engine, tender,
combination car, and dining car were still coupled together, although
the dining car was derailed. The three rear cars were derailed but
did not turn over. They came to a stop about 600 feet to the rear of
the front portion of the train.
An examination of the derailed cars disclosed the fact that the
front equalizer bar on the south side of the forward truck of the
dining car had been broken. The dining car was built by the Pull-
man Co. in 1907, and had been in service since that time. The trucks
were standard Pullman six-wheel truck-, having a steel-plated,
wooden frame. There are four equalizer bars in each truck of this
type, two on each side. The larger end of the forward equalizer bar
rests on the forward journal box of the truck, the other end resting on
the middle journal box. The larger end of the rear equalizer bar
rests on the rear journal box of the truck, the other end resting on
the middle journal box, and the two equalizer bars meeting over the
middle journal box. The journal boxes are free to move up and
down between the flanges of the pedestal jaws, carrying the equalizer
bars with them, the ends of the equalizer bars resting on top of the
journal boxes. The pedestal is formed in two parts, an inner and
an outer jaw, each having two flanges which are cast together, the
jaws being bolted to the truck frame. The ends of the equalizer bar
come in between the pedestal jaws on top of the journal box and are
not visible or accessible for an ordinary inspection. The equalizer
bar was made of wrought iron, and at the place where the fracture
occurred it was 3J inches wide and 21 inches thick.

That. part of the forward equalizer bar on the south side of the for-
ward truck of the dining car which rests on top of the front journal
box was broken off. The larger part of this fracture was new. There
was a small defect or crack about 1- inches long and 5 inch deep in
the under side of the equalizer bar in the angle where it re-.ted on the
corner of the forward journal box. This defect was so small and so
located that it could not have been discovered by any inspection unless
the equalizer bar had been removed from the truck, and the fracture
itself was hidden and could not have been discovered by any ordinary
inspection imless the equalizer bar had become displaced. It is
believed that the fracture started with this flaw in the equalizer bar,
and that it progressed very rapidly, so that the faulty bar would not
have been noticeably defective at the point where the last inspection
was made. The cars in this train were inspected on arrival in Bos-
ton the night before, and again after the train was made up for this
trip. Between Boston and the point where the accident occurred
the cars were inspected at Providence, New London, and New Haven.
At New Hav\en a broken dynamo belt was discovered dragging under
the dining car, and while an inspector wvas removing this belt the
foreman in-pector himself inspected the south side of the forwv;ard
t ruck of the dining car; he found nothing out of order.
About three-quarters of a mile east of the point where the derail-
ment ocrurm ed there was a mark on a tie outside of the south rail,
and between that point and the cr'..ov-er switch where the derail-
ment occurred 13 similar marks were found, caused by the brolkn
equalizer bar which had dropped sufficiently to strike the higher ties.
The bottom of the broken equalizer bar was worn smooth, while at the
turn near the front end of the car it was scarred on the sides. At the
crossover the marks on the ties indicated that the equalizer bar had
struck the insulated joint and the block at the heel of the frog; near
the switch point the marks were deeper and more numerous than
elsewhere. It was evident that the loosened equalizer bar had caused
the journal box and pedestal in the middle of the truck to become
defective and break down, allowing the equalizer bar to drop. The
equalizer bar dragged through the trailing switch, springing the
switch point, pushing the stock rail out of place, and allowing the
wheels to drop from the rails.
On the roadway, some distance eiast of where the derailment cW-
curred, the spring and spring seat which ride on top of the equalizer
bar were found, but the equalizer bar itself did not' out of the
truck until beyond the point of the derailment. It was found near
the dining car after the train came to a stop.
It is estimated that the speed of the train at the time of the derail-
ment. was approximately 60 miles per hour. The schedule of this
train prescribes 46 minutes for a distance of 40 miles, between New

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Haven and Stamford. At the time of the ...., the t rain had
been delayed about 4 minutes; there were no speed restrictions in
effect at this point, the track was straight and the grade was practi-
cally level, so that conl it ions seemed favorable for mak ing up lost time.
The distance which the engine, combination car, and dining car ran
after the emergency application of the brakes indicates that the train
was running at high speed. Engines were changed at New Haven;
the air brakes were tested there and found in good condition. The
engineman used the brakes between New Haven and Green's Farms
and he stated that they operated properly.
This derailment was caused by the breaking of the equalizer bar of
the forward truck of the dining car, allowing the spring to come out
and the truck to break down; and by the equalizer bar wedging in
the crossover switch, throwing the rails out of alignment and allow-
ing the wheels to drop off the rails. There was a defect in this
equalizer bar, but it was so slight that it could not have been dis-
covered by diligent inspection. It was impossible to determine what
was the immediate cause of its fracture at this time.
Respectfully submitted.
Chief Inspector of Safety

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