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General Foreman Hines

By Fred Boland, Machinist 1928-1980
Bayshore Shops, Southern Pacific Railroad

When the locomotives, steam or diesel, came out of the backshop after overhaul, we would test and repair all air, electrical and other appurtenances, set the governors, etc, and generally repair anything we found wrong. If it was a switch engine, it would be put on the third shift, and any troubles would be reported by the engineer in the morning.

One morning, an engineer reported "Whistle does not blow" on a switch engine, which turned out to be the understatement of the year.

General Foreman John Hines was a pretty good Joe, but he loved to show his authority when he had a machinist caught in a mistake. He immediately went after 6'5" Jay Lohman, who repaired air horns among many other things in the air gang. I could see a puzzled expression on Jay's face as he was being balled out. Gradually he understood. Angrily he asked "what whistle are you talking about? You mean that one?" he said, pointing to one on the bench. "Course it won't blow setting there."

One day Hines came to me with a drawing of a change in the brake piping he drew up for "better performance". One look and I knew it wouldn't work. "Mr. Hines", I said, "This locomotive will get down to around San Mateo and fail". Taking a second look, I sketched in the proper way of piping it. He saw that it was right and authorized it. After the pipefitters got done and it tested properly, he came to me and ordered me to go up to the upholsterer and have two inches cut off my overalls. Like all officials, he just couldn't stand having a machinist who knew his business thoroughly telling him he was wrong.