Henry (Hank) Raudenbush Anecdotes and Articles
Note: I was born about a train length from Jamaica Station – Jamaica Hospital at Van Wyck & Jamaica Aves. Moved to New Haven when I was one, and my earliest recollections are train watching at New Haven station. But, when I was 5, we moved back to the Sunrise Homeland, living in Bellaire at first. Henry Raudenbush
What's a Pothead?
1) That's a "pothead"
for the connection of an underground feeder cable to the third
rail. The underground duct would end in a curved piece,
coming out vertically. At the end of the duct, there would be
a terminal block here a bolted connection would be made to short
flexible cables that then connected to the 3rd rail. The
connection block would be covered with many layers of electrical tape,
then that concrete dome would be set on top. At switches and
at grade crossings, underground cables would be used to connect from one
piece of third rail to another.
So although MU
operation had long ended on the branch, the yard and sidings on
the stub still had third rail. By this time, it was probably not
used any more, as the DD-1s had been retired from freight service as
soon as the diesels came - before any steam power. By 1951,
the DD-1's were on the way out altogether - the last straw was the
introduction of Speed Control after the 3 bad wrecks - LIRR had to
minimize the number of motive power units needing that expensive
LIRR #314 Mineola 1930's Photo: Ron Ziel
In this picture (LIRR engine #314) note the object in the foreground - unique to the LIRR; this is a "feeder rail". Where other properties might use a copper cable, overhead or underground as a feeder, LIRR used this arrangement. It is a piece of third rail, not mounted beside a track, but mounted on concrete piers, and boxed in with wood. These were used in a couple of places where there was single track, but a need to feed power from a substation over more than one 3rd rail.
I suspect that this
picture is not on the Main Line at Mineola, but rather on the track that
ran south from Mineola to Hempstead crossing, where it connected to the
Hempstead and Central branches. The crossing was a load
center - with Hempstead branch trains plus the Mitchell Field shuttle),
but the nearest substations were at Mineola, West Hempstead and
Hempstead, so feeder rails were used to provide additional conductivity
to the Crossing. That track from Mineola to Hempstead Crossing is
now long gone. Branching off of it was a spur to the Garden City
Waterworks. Also gone is a connection from Hempstead
Crossing to West Hempstead.
Note: LIRR 2-8-0 #314 is a class H6sb consolidation. Info: Steven Lynch
Substation 8 at Mineola
On my explanation of feeder rails, with the picture of #314, somebody gave me a piece of information that filled in some blanks. I had wondered why substation 8 was built at Mineola around 1912, when there was no electrification there until 1926. It turns out that it was intended to feed the Hempstead Branch, at Hempstead Crossing (before the small addition subs were built at Hempstead and West Hempstead). My guess as to why
this was done was perhaps to run the transmission line along the main line. A transmission line with tall poles running through Garden City might have roused some influential nimbies! Also, there was the possibility that eventually the Main Line would be electrified; and in addition, the transmission line also continued to Farmingdale, to feed a substation there that powered the Huntington-Amityville trolley.
The shop switchers 320 and 322: They had batteries, and could run either from third rail or the battery.
The transfer tables had third rail,
but the tracks inside the shops could not, hence the battery.
Power to the transfer table, both to move it, and for its 3rd rail,
was collected by a trolley pole mounted on top of the table’s
cab. The battery could be charged when the engine was on 3rd
The controller in the cab of the 320 and 322 was a drum type, similar to a streetcar K-type, directly controlling the motor current. Because space in the cab was limited, the controller was mounted at right angles to the usual position – the operator facing the controller would be facing the side, rather than the end of the engine. As a result the positions of the reverse handle on the controller were not clear. Big arrows were painted on the top of the controller to show which position of the handle would move the engine in which direction!
This is more a Pennsylvania RR/IRT story, but in LIRR territory. At an early date, the IRT learned that any time there is a water main break, the water will end up in the subway, at a rate beyond the capacity of the normal drainage pumping plant. About 1907, the IRT built a pump car, using the underframe of a fire-damaged 1904 Composite passenger car. Like all those cars, it had the usual Van Dorn improved link & pin couplers, like all the el cars.
Some time about 1927, there was a huge
downpour in Long Island City, and the water ran in to the portals of all
four Penn station tunnels, flooding them and blocking all movement.
Some years ago, the PRR Technical & Historical Society news letter
had an article describing how Pennsy managed to turn and service all
their trains, including long distance trains with sleepers and diners,
without access to Sunnyside Yard!
The late Bill Eaton, who worked 49 years for the IRT/NYCT and later for LTK and MTA told this story. He was sent with the IRT pump car to help the PRR. (The BMT pump car was also borrowed by the PRR). At that time there was a little 2-car inspection shop at Hunterspoint Ave, with the track connected to the IRT at one end and the railroad at the other end. The pump car was towed over the Queensboro Bridge to that point, to be picked up by the RR.
The crew arrived with a DD-1, took one look at the pump car and exclaimed “Link & pin couplers! That’s illegal! We can’t take that!” Bill had to point out – look you have a flood, I have a pump car - let’s get together on this!
One error in Bill Volkmer’s notes about me (wow! How can I live up to what he says): I was born about a train length from Jamaica Station – Jamaica Hospital at Van Wyck & Jamaica Aves. Moved to New Haven when I was 1, and my earliest recollections are train watching at New Haven station. But when I was 5, we moved back to the Sunrise Homeland, living in Bellaire at first.
Feeder Rails and
The feed must have gone by third rails or feeder rails from Mineola to Hempstead crossing. As I remember, the single track on that stretch also had negative feeder rails – two rails in the middle of the track, only about a foot apart, and bonded at the joints. This would provide a parallel path for the return current. Spaced like that, they could not be guard rails, just electrical feeders. Similar rails were provided on the Rockaway Branch, to better feed through the long stretch from Substation 3 at Woodhaven Jct to SS 5 at Hammels.
Hammels SS 5 originally also had a large storage battery. When traffic was light, power could trickle down the transmission line from LI City, through the rotary converters and into the battery. Then on a sunny summer day, with huge crowds in the Rockaway's, if a thunderstorm moved in and everybody decided to head for home at once, the battery could meet the demand of sending all the trains out in short order.
|LIRR M1 #9003 on DISPLAY at HEMPSTEAD 1968|
June 24, 1968, Car 9002 made first appearance in
Budd's production line - at the station where assembly of the
underframe began. (9002 was produced ahead of 9001, perhaps because
they wanted to start with an "A" car).
I don't think the cars were displayed more than a day or
two at any one location; they were probably moved from one spot to another
frequently. (Hempstead, Port Washington, Long Beach, Penn Station,
and Babylon) Info: Matt Kobel [October 17, 1968 1st M-1 Pair displayed at
Sunnyside; October 28, 1968 1st M-1 public displays] 1968 PRR Chronology
Cars 9017 and 9022 were shipped from Budd’s Red Lion plant, where all the M-1’s were built, to Budd’s test lab at the Hunting Park plant, where one was used for the specified compression (“squeeze”) test and one for the climate room test (see below). When the tests were over, they were shipped to the LIRR as a miss-mated pair. Because of the routing to and from Hunting Park, this pair arrived at the LIRR with 9017 at the east end, not conforming to the other M-1’s (even number east, as in track and train numbers). Shortly after arrival, this pair was turned on the wye of the Belmont Park branch. While these cars were at the lab, cars 9018/9019 and 9020/9021 were shipped from Red Lion to LIRR also as miss-mated pairs. Some time later, the LIRR gathered all three of these pairs together and correctly mated them.
The use of MP for a survey station is incorrect, but mileposts are so much more commonly used on a railroad, somebody was thinking of that.
58462 feet, a little over ten miles would be just about right for that location, measuring from Long Island City via the Montauk Branch. Jamaica is 9.3 miles. If i remember right, mileposts East of Jamaica are measured via the Montauk Branch, not via Woodside, which would be a little further. Coincidentally, the distance from Flatbush Ave to Jamaica is also shown as 9.3 miles.
Chaining in the US is done in increments of 100 feet.
Every 100 feet from the starting point is a location called a (survey)
"station". So station 582 would be 58,200 feet from the
starting point. It would be referred to as 582+00. The
number after the plus is the distance in feet from the previous station;
so 582+36 would be 58,236 feet from the starting (zero) point. "Chaining"
refers to the fact that in early days, the distances were measured
out with an actual chain. In early days, a distance of 66 feet
was a "chain" comprised of 100 links; this is still used by
British railways. You will see references in British fan
publications to a distance such as "6 miles, 11 ch." Currently
still in use by surveyors in route surveying and curve surveying along
For example, the original PRR line between Trenton and Philadelphia swung through the middle of Bristol, with many grade crossings. About 1909, the PRR built a cutoff bypassing Bristol, with grade separation, and shortening the line. Mileposts 66 and 67 are 4000 feet apart. The chaining in such a case will have what is called an "equation". At some point on the drawings there will be a line drawn across the line with two chaining numbers listed, one for the chaining up to that point, a different one for the chaining going forward.
Van Iderstine trucks always looked very elegant outside - like UPS
trucks today, always seemingly freshly painted and waxed. They
were a very dark blue, almost black with blue stripes. But,
when they stopped in front of the local butcher shop and opened the
door to pick up the scraps - the inside was something else!
Van I's plant was located along Newtown Creek, beside the LIRR Montauk branch, somewhere near Haberman - once described as the most God-forsaken station location in NY City. Reminiscence from Henry Raudenbush
Van Iderstine Tank Car VICX 1004
Tank Car VICX 1002, early 1963, Van Iderstine
Spots 5a - 5b Photo/Archive: Art Huneke
LIRR 1966 map Blissville-Laurel Hill
LONG ISLAND RAILROAD SERVICE TO LONG ISLAND CITY'S VAN IDERSTINE CO. By Nicholas Kalis