N.P. Ry.

The Hardest Years

Part III

Saint Paul, Minnesota
May 24th, 1934

Mr. Silas [D.] Zwight,
General Mechanical Superintendent
Northern Pacific Railway
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Mr. S.A. Wilder,
Assistant to Vice President
Northern Pacific Railway
Saint Paul, Minnesota


At the recent regular meeting of the General Grievance Committee, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, it was agreed to submit the following matters to the management of the Northern Pacific Railway in the form of special requests:
All locomotives equipped with a seat box of sufficient size to accommodate the ordinary grip, same to be equipped with spring cushion and back rest. If seat box of sufficient size to accommodate grip can not be installed, account of cab arrangement, a grip rack be provided; also, separate box be provided for the light globes, waste and flagging material so as to eliminate carry these supplies in the fireman's seat box. [Gorman, p. 1]

[ Some time ago you were furnished with print of drawing No. 35391-A showing the sizes and styles of seat boxes that could be applied to the various classes of locomotives in accordance with the room provided in the various designs of cabs. Mr. Johns worked on this for a considerable time and I understand it was approved by both yourself and Mr. Deering.
With reference to the separate box to be provided for light globes, waste and flagging material to eliminate carry these supplies in the firemen's seat box. We are providing a case to be fastened to the back of the cab which carries light bulbs, fuse plugs, water glasses and gaskets. There are being manufactured in lots of fifty at a time and are being installed on the locomotives as rapidly as we consistently can. We have also provided a flagging kit which contains three fusees, a red flag and six torpedoes, and those have been installed on practically all modern locomotives at the back of the cab on the engineer's side so that it is easily accessible for the purpose intended.
There is, therefore, no necessity, on locomotives thus equipped, for carrying any of the equipment in the firemen's seat box. What little waste it is necessary to carry on a locomotive would not interfere with room provided in either seat box. -Silas Zwight to Gorman, June 5, 1934, p. 1]
Hot water squirt be provided all locomotives. [Gorman, p. 1]

[ There has been, as you probably know, for many years a strong agitation and recommendation by the Safety Department to eliminate hot water squirts from our locomotives. We do, however, have practically all of our locomotives equipped with hot water squirt and there are only a limited number, all of which are located on the Western District, that have cold water squirt. I will again look into this question and if consistent may displace the cold water squirts with hot water squirts. Zwight, p. 1]
Front end of tender on all large power be changed so as to permit the use of long rake with coal gates closed. [Gorman, p. 1]

[ Our Class Z-5 [Yellowstone], Class A [Northern] and many of the other modern locomotives have a tube inserted in the right water leg of the tender as receptacle for placing therein the fire rake, and the balance of these classes of locomotives will be equipped as they go through shop. There is no necessity for such an appliance on the smaller locomotives; in fact, with the quality of fuel now being furnished, there is very little necessary, providing the firing of locomotives is handled as it should be, of using a fire rake or ash hoe in the firebox en route. Zwight, pp. 1-2]
The use of wrench ash pan levers on locomotives be discontinued. [Gorman, p. 1]

[ We only have a comparatively small number of locomotives still equipped with the wrench-type of ash pan opening device; these mostly on switch and branch line locomotives. In consideration of the fact that there is so little necessity for dumping ash pans en route and the condition in which this equipment is kept, there is no justification for the expenditure that would be necessary to eliminate this type of ash pan slide opening. Zwight, p. 2]
Lifting lever ash pan openers be changed on W-3, W-5 [Mikados], Q-5, Q-6 [Pacifics] and A [Northern] engines to type similar to that now in use on [e]ngine 2600 [Northern]. [Gorman, p. 1]

[ One engine, 2600 [a Northern], was equipped with the lifting lever-type of ash pan opening for experimental purposes and has worked out fairly satisfactory. There is, however, no difficulty or laborious work in connection with operating the ash pan opening device with which these engines are now equipped and we do not contemplate involving the expense that would be necessary in making change on these engines in the near future. Zwight, p. 2]
Additional cinder dumps to be established to provide opportunity for keeping fire and ash pan in proper condition and that local committees be given consideration in this question. [Gorman, p. 1]

[ This is a matter that will have to be handled with the local division officers. Zwight, p. 2]
Overflow handles on engines with non-lifting injectors be placed in a more convenient location. [Gorman, p. 2]

[ The overflow valve handles on the non-lifting injectors are now placed as conveniently as they can be with the limited space available. Some recent changes were made in the operating rods and handles so that there should be no objection to the operation at this time. Zwight, p. 2]
Oil tray be provided on all engines for heating oil, particularly on W-5 [Mikado] engines, of sufficient size to hold necessary tallow pots and oilers. [Gorman, p. 2]

[ Tallow pots are now and always have been carried on the dripper located immediately over the fire door and if there is sufficient room the hand oilers are also carried there; if not, they are carried in a suitable location up on the boiler head. I will look into the matter further and possibly we may be able to devise a design that can apply a larger dripper better suited for the purpose. Zwight, p. 2]
The use of Rosebud coal on hand-fired engines in road service be discontinued. [Gorman, p. 2]

[ Rosebud coal is not used on hand-fired locomotives assigned to any heavy runs. It is not a laborious job to hand-fire Rosebud coal on the locomotives referred to and your request must, therefore, be declined. Zwight, p. 2]
In case of stoker failure where repairs cannot be made, a relief engine will be furnished. [Gorman, p. 2]

[ Request is very inconsistent and is declined. Zwight, p. 2]
Stoker-fired engines to be used on Trains 661 and 662 between Spokane [Wash.] and Lewiston [Ida.]. [Gorman, p. 2]

[ The amount of coal consumed per hour and per 100 miles on locomotives handling Trains 661 and 662 is not sufficient to warrant the expenditure of the application of stokers to the class of engines assigned to those runs. Zwight, p. 3]
A minimum of 30 minutes be allowed on Z-5 [Yellowstone] engines from time required to come on duty until leaving time on roundhouse track in order to properly prepare engine. [Gorman, p. 2]

[ As the Class Z-5 [Yellowstone] locomotives are lubricated throughout with Alemite system to the extent that the enginemen have practically no oiling to do at the initial terminal, the management, therefore, does not feel that the additional allowance request is justifiable. Zwight, p. 3]
Sprinkling systems be installed at coaling stations where requested in order to eliminate the excessive dust when engines are being coaled, similar to arrangement at Cle Elum [Wash.]. [Gorman, p. 2]

[ I suggest that this is a matter that best be handled by you with the Assistant General Manager. Zwight, p. 3]
On engines that have draw pin hole in shoveling sheet have solid shoveling sheet placed over same so as to not interfere with fireman when shoveling coal. [Gorman, p. 2]

[ A very small percentage of our locomotives now in service are equipped with that style of drawbar connection at the tender and I am sure it would not improve the matter to undertake to apply a plate over the pin hole; in fact, it would aggravate rather than alleviate the condition. Zwight, p. 3]
That on three period yard engines worked in continuous service, engine be coaled at least once every 12 hours, if they are not equipped with coal pushers. [Gorman, p. 2]

[ This request is declined so far as the Mechanical Department is concerned. Zwight, p. 3]
The condition on stoker-fired engines which permits coal to be forced out on the deck of the engine be remedied. [Gorman, p. 3]

[ This is a matter that has been give quite continued attention but will look into the matter again and if anything further can be done to remedy the condition referred to, it will be taken care of. Zwight, p. 3]
For the purpose of registering mileage at home terminals a separate register book will be provided on which firemen will register the total mileage and in addition to the trip mileage for the preceding trip. [Gorman, p. 3]

[ This has been taken care of in Assistant Vice President's letter of May 28th, copies of which you have. Zwight, p. 3]

[.. This is a matter that is handled locally on each division. There is no objection when agreeable to local officers, that a book be used for the purpose of registering mileage instead of recording the mileage on roundhouse register. -S.A. Wilder to Gorman, August 17, 1934, p. 1]
Where examinations on Transportation Rules on foreign roads are required, such examinations will be conducted by Northern Pacific examiners. All examinations on all foreign roads be held at the same time. [Gorman, p. 3]

[ This is a matter that I suggest be handled by General Manager. Zwight, p. 3]

[ We must comply with the rules and instructions of foreign roads as to the examination of our employe[e]s on their Transportation Rules. Every effort will be made to reduce the inconvenience to our employe[e]s required to take these examinations to the minimum. Wilder, p. 1]

Respectfully submitted
T.P. Gorman
General Chairman
B. of L.F. & E.
Northern Pacific Railway
Zwight, Silas D.
General Mechanical Superintendent
Office: Saint Paul, Minn.
Born: May 23, 1867, La Crosse, Wis.
Education: Public schools and business college.
Entered railway service: May 1886, on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. In June 1888, entered the service of the Northern Pacific as a locomotive fireman on the Dakota Division, since when he has been successively locomotive engineer, Road Foreman of Engines, Master Mechanic, General Master Mechanic, Assistant to the Mechanical Superintendent and Acting General Mechanical Superintendent; December 1923--, General Mechanical Superintendent, headquarters, Saint Paul, Minn.
Home address: 117 Macalester Avenue, Saint Paul, Minn.
Biography: ''Who's Who In Railroading'' Ninth Edition Chicago: Simmons-Boardman, 1930 p. 579.

Correspondence: Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen Green River Lodge No. 895 Collection, White River Valley Museum, Auburn, Washington.

Author: John A. Phillips, III. Title: The Hardest Years, Part III. URL: www.employees.org/~davison/nprha/blfethree.html.

© August 21, 2000