Type 4 woes, June 18th evening rush hour

HolidayThat should be “Holladay”..

Yeah.  So.  Just in time for evening rush hour yesterday, an eastbound  Type 4 Blue line train broke down at NE 60th, which took about 4 hours to resolve.  Oh, those pretty Type 4s.. and #yourcommuteisscrewed for those of you playing along on Twitter.

Dead Car PushHow many cars in that train?

I couldn’t get over there to get any video or photos, so I’m very pleased that Bob R was able to do so – and he got some great footage!

There are a lot of neat things there that passengers rarely see, like how trains are coupled (notice the safety stop at at about the 1:02 mark to check alignment of the coupler heads) or the fold-out coupler head under the cab of the Type 4s that fits with the coupler heads of the rest of the fleet, or brakes being pumped off, and what a dead car push looks and sounds like.  A dead car push is one of the most dangerous things done with a train, as the operator pushing the dead car (or in this case, train) can’t see what’s ahead, and essentially the dead car no longer has operational brakes as they’ve been pumped off – there are still the track brakes though, which the flagger in the front of the dead car who acts as eyes can use in the event of an emergency.

Again, many cheers for Jason McHuff snagging the ODOT traffic camera picture, and to Bob R at Portland Transport for going out there & getting this video.

12 responses to “Type 4 woes, June 18th evening rush hour

  1. That is SO cool to see – I heard about it, received a message on the BDS about it, and saw a lot of stranded passengers downtown who were not happy…

    Great video! :-)

  2. Would you please explain what a “tug test” is?


    PS I received your email about the proper place to send questions but I’m waiting until I remember some of the questions I have so I can send them in one email, rather than a ton of different emails. Thanks again for your many answers to my many questions! :)

    • Sure, but with a couple of caveats.
      When you couple train cars, there are two parts that are coupled – a mechanical couple (physically links the cars together) and an electronic couple (allows electronic communication between the cars, which is why hitting the door open button in the cab of a train opens the doors in both cars, not just the front car). A tug test tests the mechanical coupling of the cars by isolating the cars electronically from each other and then trying to reverse the car that you’re in – if it’s successful, you aren’t able to move. If there’s no electronic communication between the cars, they stop. So in a successful tug test, the lack of electronic communication keeps the other car from moving backwards with you, and the mechanical couple keeps you attached to the other car and prevents you from moving backwards.

      The first caveat is that I’ve never coupled a Type 4 – in Type 4 certification we went through the steps to prepare a type 4 for this type of coupling (which is what you see them doing in the video – pulling the coupler head under the cab out, removing the linchpin, rotating the head, putting the pin back in place, etc) but that’s all I’ve done as far as coupling 4s goes. So a tug test with those cars may be different from what I’m familiar with.

      The second caveat is that the order in which things were done in the video is not the order I would’ve assumed things would happen, but that is probably because I’ve never seen/done a dead car tow or push with a Type 4 before. As far as I understand with a dead car tow or push, after the brakes have been pumped off, the only thing that’s going to be keeping the dead car where it is is the integrity of the mechanical couple. So a tug test is done before the brakes are pumped off, not after.
      HOWEVER, Type 4s are a very different animal from the other types of cars – for one thing, the brakes can be cut out with the flip of a bypass switch (done only under permission from Control, naturally). I didn’t see that in the video but that’s done inside the train so I’m not sure if that happened or not – Bob R probably wouldn’t have been able to get footage of that if it did. And there is only footage of one truck being pumped off in the video, so I don’t know if they all had to be, possibly if the bypass switch method failed. I don’t know if they maybe pumped off one of the brakes, did the tug test, and were able to use the bypass switches on the others? Not sure so I can’t give you a definitive answer of what exactly went on here.

      I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with any of the people involved in this yet, but I intend to since I don’t know as much about troubleshooting 4s as I’d like to and I want a better understanding of what happened here!

  3. Thanks for your very detailed response! :D


  4. Thanks!

    I happened to be listening to OregonLive’s Police Scanner (I wish Joesph Stien, who broadcasts police and fire audio and also happens to be a MAX controller, would set up a TriMet broadcast) and was hearing about the event. I got doubly lucky because a) while I had the camera page open, I hadn’t checked it until I heard the train might be moving and b) I don’t think the camera image updates that often.

    I was also thinking about going out myself to the pedestrian bridge that’s at Hollywood and filming them getting the train moved into the pocket track.

    • I wish Joesph Stien, who broadcasts police and fire audio and also happens to be a MAX controller

      I won’t speak for him, but maybe that’s why he doesn’t set that up.. Most operators & other TriMet personnel, as I’m sure you’re aware, keep their work lives separate from their online presence (of those who even have an online presence, which certainly isn’t the majority!)

      Anyway, I’m glad you got that ODOT picture at the right time! I saw the aftermath of rail traffic backup that it caused but wasn’t able to go watch any of the action at 60th firsthand, so it was pretty cool to see how they got it out of there.

  5. How about video of a 4 car type one train – not in rescue mode?

  6. Yes, shot it sometime in 1990, glad to have got it, I think they stopped doing this 4 car movement shortly afterward.

  7. We used covers, generally made from pvc coated nylon fabric, which from my previous work with bands bore a great similarity to the slide fitted protection used on stage speakers and amps in pre flight case days. These close fitting covers were colloquially called condoms, and the terminology transferred to the bags used for rail couplings. Generally the bags are bright coloured so that it is immediately obvious one is fitted when units present for coupling-up.

    A big dispute arose (much to public bemusement), when a demarcation issue over ‘condom removal’ blew up at a station where trains joined and split, a few years ago.

  8. Brenardo Sanchez

    Lol. In the video @ 0:48 there is a kid in the van window that is proud to be on your site.

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