Head Lights

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by charleswebb, Jun 30, 2002.

  1. charleswebb

    charleswebb New Member

    Does anybody know what year that trains had to start having their headlights on in the daytime? Also what year were ditch lights made manditory?
  2. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Ditch lights

    "Ditch lights" is not a term I am familiar with. I've seen it everywhere, and have been meaning to ask, which lights are they?:confused:
  3. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Woodie,ditchlites are the low mounted lights on the front of North American locos.They are mounted either to the top of or front of the pilot or pilots(some locos have them on both ends),and may glow constantly or flash on and off.I don't know what year they started but I do know they were in use in Canada for at least a couple of years before the US adopted them.
  4. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Thanks Catt,
    thought they were something like that. Nope. We don't have ditch lights here. Just the headlight.
  5. Drew Toner

    Drew Toner Member

    lotsa' lights

    And wait till you see the front of a BC Rail engine, they also have cornering lights. They are angled so that as the loco is leaning into the corner, they actually light up around the corner. The BCR have 6 lights on the front of their locos.

  6. Brian C

    Brian C New Member

    Locomotives, for as long as they were equipped with operating headlights, have always had them on during the daytime.
    Diesel engines have always operated with headlights anytime, day or night. When the engine is idling in a yard or stopped at a station, the engineer can set the lights to 'dim'. When the train is ready to proceed out, the lights are switched from 'dim' to 'full'. The lights are never turned off until the engine is shut down.
    As far as ditch lights are concerned (here we go!)...
    The earliest diesel and electric locomotives (first generation) were not outfitted with ditch lights, as the FRA did not require them. Towards the mid-1970s, select second generation diesel engines were equipped with ditch lights, but still, no FRA regulations required them to be there. However, by the very early 1980s, all diesel engines that were to be kept in active service were mandated by the FRA to have ditch lights. This included all engines being built new, and older engines that had to be retrofitted with them.
    Ditch lights (as you now know), are located on the pilot of the engine. They oscillate (flash back and forth) when the engine is moving very slowly (such as when leaving a yard), and when the engine is approaching a grad crossing. Passenger engines must have ditch lights, and they must oscillate when the engine is approaching a station, regardless of whether it's supposed to stop there or not.
  7. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Brian, I have to disagree with you on the headlight issue. Unfortunately, I do not know the year it became mandatory to have headlights on during the day, I suspect sometime in the fifties. Prior to this, each railroad made their own policy in this regard.

  8. BillD53A

    BillD53A Member

    Unfortunately I cant quote any exact dates either, but the use of headlights during daylight was uncommon in the days of steam. Some roads may have required lights earlier (Burlington comes to mind, though I dont know if they used lights or not), but generally headlights werent used oin daytime until the 50s. There are plenty of images online of locos on trains with dark lights. Ditchlights were made mandatory in the early 1990s. They were used in Canada earlier,. HTH Bill
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    The Toronto Transit Corporation uses ditch lights on the subway cars.

    One note: the headlights on diesels aren't automatic with direction. I've seen trains go by where there was a flat or gondola behind the last loco and the headlight was blazing over it.

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