Saturday, June 14, 2008

Static Discharge Brush? (Update: No, it's a tell-tale.)

An unusual device looms over the trail just west of the Lexington Depot (now home of the Lexington Historical Society). The first photo shows the dangling metal tines that brushed the tops of rail cars arriving at the depot. The second photo shows that the mast holding the boom and tines is a section of railroad rail mounted vertically. As that mass of metal makes an excellent electrical ground, I'm guessing that the purpose of this was to remove static charges from the cars. I wouldn't expect all-metal cars (such as #6211, now at Bedford Depot Park) to need this, but maybe other styles did. Does anyone here know more?

The tines hang from short lengths of cable on a metal boom.

The boom is supported by a length of rail.


Yury Kats said...

Something to ask on again, I guess.
I'd think it should be easy to ground rail cars without any special devices like this, but I don't have a better theory of what this could be.

Anonymous said...

It is called a telltale. The hanging wires would alert trainmen atop cars of an approaching low clearance.

Trail Skater said...

Thanks, des. Now that I know what to look for I see this is mentioned in Wikipedia's tell-tale article. Likewise at and

Yury Kats said...

Interesting, so there were crewmen who sat on top of the cars? Why?

Yury Kats said...

Oh, here is an explanation: