The Straight Air Brake

The air-brake cylinder could put 2 to 3 times as much force into the brake rigging as a typical brakeman could with the hand brake. This system was controlled easily by the engineer with a valve handle in the cab.

There were two major shortcomings:

  • It was not fail-safe. In case of a break-in-two no power brake was available on the rear of the train. Hand brakes would have to be applied to prevent the rear section from getting away.

  • The time required to get the brakes applied and released on long trains (10 cars) was excessive. This caused harsh slack action.

    For those interested in a more thorough treatment of this subject please see this link.

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