• One pan, one pole on cars, locos, and freight motors ...

  • General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.
General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by Warren Thompson
 
I need enlightenment.

There are many photos of electric railroad equipment with one pole and one pan for power collection. What's the virtue of this? Wouldn't having only one pole make reverse moves a bit tricky?

I can understand one pan and two poles to operate with different kinds of overhead wire, i.e., span and catenary.

Experts, please chime in.

  by Tadman
 
Sometimes the interurbans ran on street car lines in bigger cities, and the pans worked on sophisticated interurban-style catenary but not the simple trolley wire of the city street car lines.

However, I've heard the CTA used pans on their freight motors while the North Shore used poles or third rail - not sure why the NS didn't ever adopt pans if they were interested in serious high speed, which they were. Probably too much up front investment for a carrier that was broke mostly.

  by Warren Thompson
 
Tadman wrote:Sometimes the interurbans ran on street car lines in bigger cities, and the pans worked on sophisticated interurban-style catenary but not the simple trolley wire of the city street car lines.

However, I've heard the CTA used pans on their freight motors while the North Shore used poles or third rail ....
Thanks, Tadman, for your response. While I understand poles for wire and pans for catenary, I'm still puzzled by motive power with one pan and one pole. E.g., the South Shore Pullmans originally had such a configuration, even though the cars did not loop at either end of the line (had they done so, I could accept the need for only a single pole).

I've seen photos of pans in use on simple trolley wire (e.g., the Sacramento Northern).

The current issue of Classic Trains has a short feature story on the CTA steeple cabs. Photos show them sporting one pan, one pole, and third-rail shoes.

  by Warren Thompson
 
Tadman wrote:Sometimes the interurbans ran on street car lines in bigger cities, and the pans worked on sophisticated interurban-style catenary but not the simple trolley wire of the city street car lines.

However, I've heard the CTA used pans on their freight motors while the North Shore used poles or third rail ....
Thanks, Tadman, for your response. While I understand poles for wire and pans for catenary, I'm still puzzled by motive power with one pan and one pole. E.g., the South Shore Pullmans originally had such a configuration, even though the cars did not loop at either end of the line (had they done so, I could accept the need for only a single pole).

I've seen photos of pans in use on simple trolley wire (e.g., the Sacramento Northern).

The current issue of Classic Trains has a short feature story on the CTA steeple cabs. Photos show them sporting one pan, one pole, and third-rail shoes.

  by Leo Sullivan
 
Though I've been around long enough to see such an arrangement, I never had the sense to ask. I hope someone who did ask writes in as, it makes no sense to me either.

  by walt
 
Warren Thompson wrote:
I've seen photos of pans in use on simple trolley wire (e.g., the Sacramento Northern).
Though some properties used pans with a suspended wire system, generally pans don't work very well without the wire being held in a more rigid position than is usually possible with a simple suspended wire system. A trolley pole can move with the swinging wire, whereas this kind of movement is not desireable for a pantograph.

  by byte
 
Trolley poles actually come in two different varieties - one with a wheel on the end, and one with a pickup shoe. The former is better suited for industrial use, and can be used safely in reverse (at limited speeds). A trolley pole with a pickup shoe can't be run much in reverse, but runs better than a wheel during forward higher-speed runs. Most small steeplecab locomotives around probably have wheel-based poles, which would explain why some railroads only elected to put one pole on them.

  by Tadman
 
Until about 1930, the CSS trains did loop in South Bend - it was gone very early on in Insull ownership and is a hardly recognized fact. The first run of CSS predecessors CLS featured, among other problems, a MU getting stuck on a 90 degree street corner trying to loop around a city block and turn for the return to Michigan City. Everything I hear says CLS was a real slipshod group...

Edit: It was wye at Main/Colfax, not a loop around a city block. Also, some CLS cars had a pan and a pole, while some had a center pan and two poles, one at each end.

  by JimBoylan
 
I'm puzzled also, maybe the South Shore/Chicago Rapid Transit variation for locomotives (found many other places) contemplated pairs of locos MU-ed and bus lined back to back or lowering the pan and turning the pole all the way around. Many of those locos had no reel of any kind for the rope's slack, one of the crew had the duty, especially important if "back poling". The CTA and South Shore locos were bought at a time when most of the Chicago lines were under common Insull management with a thought of swapping if traffic levels varied.
In some cases, the pole might have been for emergencies due to bad wire on sidings, but that's just my guess.

  by Disney Guy
 
With no reel (catcher or retriever) for the rope, the trolley pole could not be used except at very slow speeds namely during yard movements under bad wire as described above. Otherwise all kinds of damage could result if the pole dewired.
  by polybalt
 
On systems that normally used poles, I think the reason for a pan on a locomotive was for switching freight cars. Flat switching a yard is a real pain with poles, since the locomotive changes direction every 30 seconds or so. By adding a pan, the need for a person to act as trolley hop when back- polling was avoided. The CTA freight operation on the North Side is a good example.

I suspect they had a pole in case they needed to venture elsewhere, such as up the Evanston line, where pans might not work. I suspect they only had one pole either because they didn't do this often and could back pole with a trolley hop, or because there was only room on the roof for one pole.

Normally wire set up for pole operation will not work with pans and vice versa. It is possible to set it up for both and this was done several places, but is not typical. It is fairly expensive to convert the wire, and requires careful coordination. This is probably why the North Shore never switched over

As an example of both poles and pans from more recent times, I understand the MBTA Green line work cars have poles in addition to pans. The reason is that when the overhead on the Green Line was converted to pans, the Watertown line was not converted, since revenue service had been suspended. However the Watertown shop was still building work cars. The story is that these cars had poles just so they could operate one time out the Watertown line to reach the Green Line!

  by BaltOhio
 
One other example of wire set up for both poles and pans was the original (1955) joint CTS-Shaker Heights "Rapid" operations between E. 55th St. and the Union Terminal in Cleveland.

  by Warren Thompson
 
JimBoylan wrote:I'm puzzled also, maybe the South Shore/Chicago Rapid Transit variation for locomotives (found many other places) contemplated pairs of locos MU-ed and bus lined back to back or lowering the pan and turning the pole all the way around. Many of those locos had no reel of any kind for the rope's slack, one of the crew had the duty, especially important if "back poling". The CTA and South Shore locos were bought at a time when most of the Chicago lines were under common Insull management with a thought of swapping if traffic levels varied.
In some cases, the pole might have been for emergencies due to bad wire on sidings, but that's just my guess.
I took another look at the photos in the current Classic Trains and found that at least one of the CTA locos lacked a trolley retriever; the rope was wrapped around a handrail and then looped on a cleat.

Plus, a photo of both locos running on the North Shore, showed the lead motor moving forward with the pole reversed.

(The North Shore was short of motive power during World War II -- this was before it bought the articulateds from the Oregon Electric -- and often borrowed these two from the then-Chicago Rapid Transit.)

  by JimBoylan
 
Different shots with this article of opposite ends of S105 show an empty socket for a trolley rope catcher on each end. In the shot of the pole end, the pole is tied down. Other shots show the pan being used on the Southbound express track of the 4 track L, shared with North Shore and Evanston Express trains that used poles on the same wire! The author mentioned that one of his duties was to maintain the pans and poles on the locos.
In Cleveland, and possibly on CTA, at switches where poles normally used only one branch, the wire was continuous for the trolley pole route, no wire frog was used.
I don't know which came first, but some trolley lines dispensed with wire frogs at sidings, and used human pole tenders or conductors instead for the lesser used branch. When Indiana Railroad bought one man cars in 1930, mechanical wire frogs at dead end sidings were connected by pipe or rod to the switches so the operator could confidently back pole either way. Pittsburgh Railways had spring loaded wire frogs at some wyes for backpoling. Replacing one pole with a pan could reduce the need for these complications, at the expense of better hung wire.

  by Tadman
 
For those interested and near Chicago, one of the CTA motors we are discussing is sitting an hour east in Michigan City. There is no longer a pan on top, though.

I was going to post a current pic, but I can't find it - the unit sits on a siding behind the former Pullman plant, along what was the Monon line.