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HO Train Order Signal Hoop Pole
$11.95
Cast metal, photo etch, and laser cut kit. Two types of hoops along with handheld hoops are included. Lamp and LED for this kit can be purchased separately. When it was necessary to deliver orders to a moving train, the operator attached the flimsies (copy of the written order note) to a wooden cane with a hoop at one end and stood close to the tracks in position to hand them up as the train passed at speed.
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SKU: 2322
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  • Cast metal, photo etch, and laser cut kit. Two types of hoops along with handheld hoops are included. Lamp and LED for this kit can be purchased separately.

    When it was necessary to deliver orders to a moving train, the operator attached the flimsies (copy of the written order note) to a wooden cane with a hoop at one end and stood close to the tracks in position to hand them up as the train passed at speed. Usually he had two hoops; there was one for the head end and one for the conductor. An engineman-fireman or engineer, depending which side of the tracks the order station was on--snatched the hoop, quickly removed the orders, and dropped the hoop trackside for the operator to retrieve. In later years, many railroads used delivery hoops with a Y-shaped fork at one end, to which the orders were attached with string. Enginemen snatched the orders by ripping the string from the fork, but they didn't grab the whole hoop. The forked hoops saved the operator from having to walk the line to retrieve it. Such delivery was known as "hooping up orders." Some lines also used a fixed order delivery hoop with positions for several forks on which operators could hang orders. This arrangement did not require the operator to stand outside and wait for the train to pass.

    Taking orders on the fly required a bit of nerve and dexterity. If the operator or train crew misjudged the hand-off, the train would have to stop to collect them. Depending on the stopping distance of a heavy freight or fast passenger train, this could result in a crewmember having to walk a half-mile or more, and harsh words might be exchanged if the operator was deemed at fault. Likewise the operator needed to stand perilously close to the tracks at all times of day or night and in all weather to deliver orders. As the train roared past, he kept a sharp eye out for dragging equipment and other hazards because he might be the first victim if it was left unchecked.

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