Figure 2-6. Example of a draft gear system.
m. Hand Brake Systems. Hand brakes are mechanical linkages operated by railroad
personnel to manually apply the brake shoes to the railcar wheels. As with locomotives, all cars
are equipped with hand brakes to be operated in normal service. Hand brakes are used to secure
cars after they are spotted and to stop a car in an emergency or for special switching moves.
Hand brakes are usually located on only one end of a car and this end is called the "B" end. Cars
with hand brakes at each end of the car will have one end stenciled "B End." Hand brakes should
be applied when required, using proper procedures to avoid potential accidents and serious
n. Air Brake Systems. An assembled freight car with trucks also has an air brake
system. This system is composed of air hoses, an air line, brake valve, brake cylinder(s) and
assorted linkages, rods and chains, and a handbrake connection. As previously noted, the brake
cylinder(s) may be mounted on either the car body or trucks. See figure 2-7 for a typical air brake
(1) Typical Components of Air Brake Systems. See figures 2-7 and 2-8 for a
schematic of a railcar brake system's air and mechanical components.
(a) Brake pipes carry compressed air.
(b) Brake valves control the brake applications.
(c) Brake cylinders apply the braking force.
(d) Brake rigging transfers the braking force to the brake shoes.
(e) Brake shoes apply the force to the railcar wheels.
(f) Other components are sometimes required. Actual valve, cylinder and shoe
types vary and some long or special service cars require various additional valves for a properly
functioning air brake system. An example is a modulator valve required for some cars using