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BEDT Memoirs








Joe Roborecky
comprehensive operations
union documents

Jay Wanczyk
car marking
steam loco air brakes

Michael Brusich
marine operations
marine accident

Tom Hendrickson
childhood recollections

Ron Ziel
#12 Ownership
#12, 15 storage in NJ

   This page is a compilation of memories from former BEDT employees and descendants of employees, and persons that were instrumental in recording the history of the BEDT.

   This page is perhaps one of the most important pages of this website, as it directly "hands down" the way things were at BEDT.

submitted by:
Joseph Roborecky
BEDT / NYD employee, engineer, union rep
1968 - 1983

J. Roborecky at New York Dock, ca. 1980

Track Classification & Numbering


Hours & Days of Operation

Duty Assignments

Unions & Arbitration

Loco Operations, Cold Weather

Loco Operations, Air Brakes

Non BEDT Maintenance & Repair

Freight Traffic - Special Operations


Merger with New York Dock

"Brownie" the BEDT Mascot

Back Pages First!

return to
Main index



Track Classification & Nomenclature:

BEDT classified their trackage in this manner:

First Digit; is the street number designation:

North 4 = 4xx
North 5 = 5xx
North 6 = 6xx, and so on through North 12th Street

Second digit; is the yard designation:

East River to Kent Avenue: "A Yard" =  xAx
Kent Avenue to Wythe Avenue:  "B Yard" =   xBx
Wythe Avenue to Berry Street: "C Yard" = xCx
Pier Tracks xPx

Third digit was the track # north from that street in the first digit:
(Tracks were numbered from south to north)

1st track = xx1
2nd track = xx2
3rd track = xx3, and so on

Therefore: the second track north from North 5th, between Kent & Wythe Avenu
es would be known as = "5B2" :

5 = North 5th Street,
B = Kent & Wythe Avenues,
2 = second track north of North 5th Street

   and 8P2 would be the second track north on the North 8th Street Pier:

8 = North 8th Street
P = Pier Track
2 = second track north of North 8th Street

Running tracks (Mainline) or "lead tracks" were not usually numbered and ran mostly South / North, and Yard tracks for most part were orientated East / West.
For the most part, these lead tracks were kept free of standing rolling stock.

If a track was removed from service, the remaining tracks would retain their original designation, and not be renumbered to reflect the reduction in sequencing.


Float bridges:

North 4th, 6th and 9th Street float bridges were referred to as: "Four Bridge", "Six Bridge" or "Nine Bridge" respectively.

Pidgeon Street float bridge and yard was referred to: "Pidgeon Bridge" and "Pidgeon Yard".

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Employment & Staffing:

Employees were hired off the street, or by recommendation of an existing employee.
New employees need not have railroading experience and received on the job training.
Most employees were first or second generation immigrants, (predominantly composed of Spaniards, Irish and Irish American descent)
BEDT was great place to work, with good fellowship.

Steam Locomotive:  4 man crew: Engineer, Conductor, 2 Brakemen
Diesel Locomotive: 5 man crew: Engineer, Fireman, Conductor, 2 Brakemen
Tugboats:   5 man crew: Captain, First Mate, Engineer, 2 Deckhands

NYS had "Full Crew Law" on books regarding locomotive operations, hence why fireman were required on Diesel operations.
This law did predate BEDT diesel operations, but it is unknown why BEDT steam operations escaped the use of firemen.

NYS Full Crew Law was enacted possibly January of 1959?
NYS Full Crew Law was repealed around 1972 or 1973

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Days & Hours of Operation:

Steam Era:

BEDT worked three shifts (around the clock), Monday through Saturday, with occasional Sunday operations.
7am - 3pm
3 pm - 11 pm
11 pm - 7 am

Diesel Era:

BEDT worked three shifts (around the clock), Monday through Friday, with occasional Saturday and Sunday operations.
7am - 3pm
3 pm - 11 pm
11 pm - 7 am

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Duty Assignments:

BEDT employees bid on "jobs" (assignments).

Jobs went to man with seniority. Job numbers were as follows:

job #



Job 1:   6 Bridge   7a - 3p
Job 2: 9 Bridge 7a - 3p
Job 3: 6 Bridge 3 p - 11p
Job 4: 9 Bridge 3 p - 11p
Job 5: 6 Bridge 11p - 7a
Job 6: 9 Bridge 11p - 7a

Pidgeon Street job was most desired, because you drove there and were away from bosses, and mostly on your own.

Locomotive Orientation:

When locomotives were outside enginehouse for crew change:
"Nine Bridge" crew had the East facing locomotive (away from engine house).
"Six Bridge" crew had the West facing locomotive
(towards engine house).
This was because of a policy to have nose of locomotive facing away (East) from water when working float bridges, and track curves & loops worked out that the locomotives would be nose-to-nose or cab-to-cab outside enginehouse, yet both locomotives would be facing away from water when at float bridges.

Another locomotive was stored for use at Pidgeon Street in a secure area; (fenced in storage track). This locomotive would stay at Pidgeon Street yard until it was due for inspection, at which time it was floated south to Kent Avenue, and an already inspected diesel would be swapped to take it's place.

Locomotive / Engineer Assignment:

Engineers did not have assigned locomotives, but used whatever locomotive(s) were not being serviced, that were on pit available for use, and facing correct orientation for their job.

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BEDT employees belonged to the following union organizations based on their tradecraft:


Engineers:      Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
Other Railroad:  United Transportation Union


Captain: International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots
First Mate:   International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots
Deckhands & Bargemen: Seafarers International Union
Marine Engineer: Marine Engineers Beneficial Association


International Association of Machinists and
Aerospace Workers
Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and and Steamship Clerks,
Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees


   As the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal and New York Dock had to merge their employee rosters, this led to some conflicts of seniority standings between employees. As such, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers held arbitration meetings to solve these conflicts. The following link is the document relating to that meeting of November 19, 1980.

NYD / BEDT - Union Arbitration Document

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Locomotive Operations; Winter / Summer:

Warm weather / Summertime operations:
Engines were shut down regardless, when not in use.

Of particular note to ALCo (not just the BEDT) locomotives:
When an engine sat for a period of time, a chamber on the exhaust (not the muffler) would become soaked with oil. After the exhaust pipe reached operating temperature, the oil in this chamber would smoke profusely until burned off. If a locomotive was put into use before is had time to warm up, t
his oil on occasion did ignite. On several occasions, sparks from the leased Conrail ALCo's exhaust ignited brush fires in the cattails surrounding the Greenville, NJ yards.

Cold weather / Winter operations:
BEDT let diesel locomotives idle outside, as long as necessary until needed.
If locomotive was stored inside enginehouse, it was shutdown; until needed.

Cold weather / Winter operations, Pidgeon Street:
BEDT would leave the diesel locomotive assigned to Pidgeon Street running, even if unattended. The locomotive would be parked by the southwest corner of the beverage distributor building, where a fenced enclosure extending to the bulkhead would be erected in later years to secure the locomotive.

When left running, there was telephone alarm / notification system that would be plugged into the diesel locomotive.  This wire has been erroneously identified by others as a block warmer or battery charger.

If the locomotive shut down for any reason (low water, low oil pressure, etc) an automatic dialer would telephone the Kent Avenue office notifying them that the engine shut down. At such time, an employee would be dispatched to Pidgeon Street to check on the cause and/or remedy the situation. The wire hook up of this alarm / notification system can be seen in the following photo dated April 4, 1976 taken by Harv Kahn:

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Locomotive Operations; Air Brake Policy, Diesel:

Even after the steam locomotives were gone, BEDT continued their policy of not using airbrakes in their operations.

The reason for this unusual air brake policy as related, is that railroad employees, by national agreement Union rules; were entitled to "Air Money"; which was known as an "arbitrary". This was a bonus or premium to their base salary for hooking up the airhoses. To save on wages, salary and maintenance, BEDT management kept the "no airbrake" policy, thereby reducing expenditures.

The automatic airbrake stands were removed from BEDT diesel locomotives, (straight loco brakes remained) - see notation below!) and braking method were as follows:

Eastbound (to Brooklyn & Queens)
Pre-1976 (before Conrail);

  1. Inbound string of cars would be placed on carfloats by the individual Class 1 Railroads (i.e: LV, PC, EL, etc.) at their respective float bridges.
  2. When train airhose was disconnected from locomotive or reacher car, freight car brakes would go into emergency.
  3. Bridgemen would take a heavy chain that was affixed to deck of carfloat, and wrap it around the coupler as well as chock the wheels of the lead car.
    (Rear car was against a track bumper)
  4. Non-BEDT Brakemen would set handbrakes on one or two of the lead cars.
  5. When carfloat arrived at BEDT float bridges, BEDT Trainmen / Conductor would unchain and remove chocks, and would go car to car and pull triple valve (a/k/a ABD valve) release handle*, thereby releasing air from brake cylinders under car and release handbrakes,
  6. At this point both air and handbrakes are now off.
  7. Cars would then be pulled off the carfloat by BEDT locomotives and spotted at respective destinations according to drill slips.
  8. Once cars were spotted, BEDT brakemen would again secure car by engaging handbrake at destination.

* The release valve on the triple valve (ABD valve) was spring loaded.
One only held it open to release pressure in brake cylinder. Once pressure was released and brake shoes came off wheel,
the handle was released, thereby returning it to normally closed position.

Eastbound  (to Brooklyn & Queens)
Post-1976 (during Conrail);

As Conrail wanted nothing to do with carfloat operations, it contracted BEDT to perform carfloat operations.
As a result of the Class 1 railroads' ceasing operations on the New Jersey side, BEDT employees now performed those duties previously held by the individual railroads personnel. (e.g.: Chaining lead cars & chocking wheels, setting handbrakes and disconnecting hoses)

BEDT sent a locomotive to Greenville, but due to cars not being blocked in the Greenville 'A' yard, and the steep grade leading to and from float bridges, made switching cars difficult without airbrakes. So, BEDT leased a locomotive from Conrail to perform switching services in Greenville.

Also, BEDT was paid for the switching of railcars not destined for BEDT tracks in Brooklyn.

Westbound (to NJ & mainland US);

When a freight car was ready to be shipped west (back to the mainland), 

  1. BEDT brakemen would release the hand brakes,
  2. A locomotive would assemble a cut of cars and place them on the carfloat.
  3. Once upon the carfloat, BEDT brakemen would set all handbrakes, wheels would be chocked, the front cars would have their couplers chained to the deck,
  4. Then the carfloat would be transported to Greenville.

    Upon arrival at the New Jersey yard(s);
  5. Anon-BEDT locomotive (for pre-1976 operations) or the leased Conrail unit (for post-1976 operations at Greenville), would pressurize the brakepipe, thereby releasing the brakes on the freight cars enabling the locomotive to remove the freight cars from the carfloat.

Footnote: Prior to the BEDT taking over operations at Greenville in 1976, the various receiving Class 1 railroad crews would have to hook up the air hoses between the cars, and release the handbrakes. Naturally this "extra labor" was not received with the most congenial of atmospheres...

Footnote: Around 1978 when New York Dock purchased the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal, the automatic brake stands and air hoses were re-installed on locomotives 22 and 25. These two locomotives were regularly assigned to the Bush Terminal Yards, whereas operations at that facility used the automatic train brakes. The remaining BEDT locomotives in operation continued to use locomotive brakes only for their operations at Kent Avenue.

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Non BEDT Maintenance & Repairs of Locomotive & Equipment

In those cases where the BEDT was not capable of performing certain maintenance tasks to their diesel locomotives, either by lack of specialized equipment or by lack of practical knowledge, the locomotives would be sent out for repair.

In one particular case, a diesel locomotive was sent by carfloat up the East River to the Long Island Rail Road facility in Long Island City to have its wheel sets "turned" to return them to AAR contour specifications.


Separated wheel on hopper car:

In an unusual case, a derailment of a covered bulk hopper car occurred on track 8A2, due to the "tread" of the wheel separating from the hub on the axle (much like a retread on a truck tire separating from the core). In this case, a crew from another railroad was brought in to repair the wheel set. It is believed that this crew was brought in as the failure of the wheel set was due to their responsibility for maintenance to that car performed prior to the failure.


Specialized Engine Repairs:

An outside railroad (believed to be the Erie Lackawanna, but not absolutely positive) came to the BEDT with a special air powered tool to facilitate the grinding and polishing of the connecting rod journals while still inside the engine block. The connecting rod and piston were removed from the engine to make room for this special air tool.

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Freight Traffic

During late 60's, early 70's carfloat traffic averaged 1/2 to 2 carfloats per job.
A "job" consisted of 6 Bridge or 9 Bridge.
These 2 jobs multiplied by 2 carfloats each, was a subtotal of 4 carfloats per eight hour shift
3 eight hour shifts multiplied 4 carfloats per shift totaled and average of 12 carfloats per day.

Naturally, not all carfloats were filled to capacity, but if you average 20 cars per float you can surmise that BEDT was handling an average of 240
cars per day.

This figure does not include carfloat movements to either Pidgeon St or Navy Yard.

Conductors were given "Drill Slips" a/k/a Car Destination or Spotting Slips.

Domino Sugar:

Domino Sugar would receive platform or "loading type" carfloats. (2 track float with platform in middle)
When these carfloats were assembled, one empty boxcar was placed in the middle of string on one track.
This carfloat was then "spotted" by tugboat crew at loading dock at Domino Sugar, with the doors of empty boxcar aligned with the Domino loading dock.
A skidplate ramp was placed from Domino's loading dock into empty car and another skidplate ramp from empty car to platform on barge.
When this was accomplished, a fork lift could use the empty car (by going through it) as a "bridge" to get from Domino Sugar doors to platform on barge, of which it made the loaded cars on barge accessible to fork lift:


Some inbound cars to Domino contained "earth".
(authors note: Diatomaceous earth used in sugar refining process as a filter media)

Schaefer Brewery:
Schaefer Brewery was originally serviced by Lehigh Valley carfloat operations. When Lehigh Valley learned of Schaefer's impending relocation to Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley dropped Schaefer Brewery as a customer before Schaefer relocated. BEDT stepped in and serviced Schaefer for their remaining tenure in Brooklyn.

Carfloats for Schaefer had two tracks, with a pair waist level pipes down center of float.
Covered hoppers were connected to this common suction pipe with flexible rigid wall hoses on an as need basis, and not all cars were hooked up to pipe at same time. Hops, grain and / or barley would be suctioned off each car by this method.


Bulk Flour Terminal:
Flour received by BEDT was transported in 39' Airslide covered hoppers.  There were originally four unloading stations or "spots" in the BEDT Bulk Flour Terminal. Additional unloading locations were installed at the end of tracks 8A6 & 8A7 at Kent Avenue.

Once hoppers were placed inside for unloading, crewmen connected a cart (very similar to the cart in the photo below) to the bottom of each hopper car:

There were four eyes on the top of the cart, that were connected with turnbuckles to "L" angles on bottom of the hopper. These turnbuckles would then be tightened, drawing the cart up to mate with the hopper chutes, and to make a secure connection between the cart and the hopper. Once this was accomplished, air was pumped into the hopper through the cart, and flour was carried off into silo. 


ConEd Transformers:
On more than one occasion, BEDT would bring oversized electrical transformers loaded on flatcars by carfloat to ConEd plant located on the East River shoreline of Manhattan. ConEd would then remove the transformers directly from the carfloat by a large capacity crane and transfer the transformer to the power plant for installation.

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Tank car of Corn Syrup rolled off carfloat into river:
While spotting carfloat, a tugboat captain slammed carfloat into side of North 8th Street pier. The resulting shock caused a tank car to sway side to side, which "popped" the truck springs. The tank car leaned to the unsprung side and continued rolling into river. Car was retrieved by diver placed slings and barge mounted derrick.

Loaded boxcar of sugar over end of North 9th Street Pier:

Engineer was relying on multiple relayed hand signals from trainman on ground. The engineer felt a "bump", and looked at the trainman and said, "I believe we hit the block (end on track)." The trainman replied, "I'm still getting a big back up hand signal." Engineer continued shoving train, and felt a second "bump", at which time he stopped movement and told the trainman, "I really think we hit the block this time..."

Further inspection at the end of the pier, showed that the end of a 40' boxcar now had both trucks under one end of the car (the pier end) and the car itself was shoved over the track end bumper, and was now leaning at angle into water at the other end. The boxcar was hauled out by cooperative effort of several locomotives coupled together. 

Death of employees:
A BEDT conductor was crushed between two cars during freight car movements in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, ca.1964-65 (this could possibly be either the F. Hendrickson accident [date doesn't match] or the 1962-65 accident as submitted by T. Hendrickson.

see below for more information

(Handed down - not witnessed) A steam loco engineer walked into enginehouse, laid down on bench and died. It was said he had been scalded, but no signs of trauma and looked perfectly healthy.  No further info..

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NYD Merger

BEDT employee's learned of this merger through 90 day notice.

NYD was in financial troubles and was in bankruptcy when it acquired BEDT; of which BEDT itself was still "in the black" and turning profits from marine-rail traffic. Speculation believes the owner of NYD purchased BEDT strictly for property / land investment for future turnover.

When NYD/BEDT ceased operations in 1983, employees were only given 30 days notice.

Some engineers went to work for New York Cross Harbor Railroad in 1983, others applied to the Railroad Board for new employment.

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"Brownie" The BEDT Mascot

Brownie was a medium sized tan dog with a black muzzle (why he acquired the name"Brownie", nobody knows). He was an average mixed breed mutt and just happened to wander onto BEDT property where he adopted the humans as mascots. Food and water was provided regularly in the engine house for Brownie by the various employees.

Brownie was a regular sight in the cabs of the locomotives and showed no aversion to the noise and movement of the locomotives in the yard. He would regularly enjoy climbing up into the cab to sit in the fireman's seat and hang his head out the window as the locomotives shuttled cars back and forth.

Brownie also exhibited very human like emotions and behaviors, of which several examples are recollected below.

A Clean Mutt is a Happy Mutt
Not being the typical dirty stray mutt, Joe Franco, an engineer at BEDT; used to take Brownie into the crew showers at the end of his shift for a bath.

This Is My Turf! - Part 1
One day while crews were spotting cars on track 8 A 1, they witnessed Brownie running full bore towards the locomotive and being chased by a large dog. Brownie jumped onto the front of the locomotive, sat down on the walkway and began to bark vehemently at the other dog, which was now "stuck" on the ground. The dog on the ground was frightened by the noises of the locomotive and subsequently ran away. Brownie then walked around to the fireman's side of the cab, entered and jumped onto the fireman's seat as nothing happened, and rode around with the crew for a while.

This Is My Turf! - Part 2
At the end of a shift one day, an engineer was talking to a conductor with Brownie sitting at their feet. The engineer and the conductor both noticed a large German Shepard sitting a few feet away by track 9 A 1. Brownie, who was facing away from the other dog but had noticed it, kept looking uneasily over his shoulder.

It appeared that Brownie was hoping the humans would not notice the other dog. When the engineer and conductor finally mentioned the other dog being there; Brownie got up, charged the shepard, jumping on its back, rolling over the top of it and landed on the ground. The shepard turned around, but did not respond aggressively and merely looked at Brownie quixotically with a "what was that all about?" expression.

Cheap Date
One day the crew observed a stray female dog walking around the foot of North 8th Street. Brownie spotted her as well, and apparently communicated to her in their unspoken canine language, and "invited" her into the engine house, where there was two bowls. One bowl held dried out dog food, and the other bowl contained water with a layer of soot and dust floating on the surface. Brownie escorted the female dog to the bowls, where she ate the food and drank the water.

Afterwards, Brownie escorted her outside where he was seen to "have had his way" with her. After he was "finished", he chased her off the BEDT property, and she was never to be seen again. No couth!

Who's a pet? He's my human!
One of the engineers, Sean McLoughin; lived in New Jersey. As his car was in the shop under repair he needed to take the train home. He was waiting for his train to Manhattan, when a Transit Police Officer tapped him on the shoulder and said "Mister, you can't take your dog with you on the train." The engineer looked down and there was Brownie sitting at his feet.

Sean tried to shoo Brownie out of the station several times, but Brownie wouldn't leave, forcing Sean to leave the station with Brownie following. Sean walked to the local tavern where BEDT crews usually congregated after their shifts, with the hope that Brownie would get bored and wander off. Brownie followed Sean all the way to the bar, and sat outside while Sean waited for Brownie to leave which took a long time. Sean said, "this is the first time a dog drove me to drink."

A Dog of The World
Joe was on South 3rd Street and Bedford Avenue visiting his barber for a haircut in his "old neighborhood". He happened to see Sean McLoughin going by in his car and flagged him down to say hello. As they were talking and all of a sudden, sitting by Joe's legs, was Brownie. As South 3rd Street and Bedford Avenue was quite a distance from BEDT, it appeared that the world was Brownies' neighborhood. Upon concluding their greetings, McLaughin opened the driver's door to his and said "Come on Brownie, I'll give you a lift!" Brownie without hesitation jumped across Sean's lap, into the passenger seat and sat down for the ride to BEDT.

Beggars Can Be Choosers
Brownie was sitting on the fireman's seat of a locomotive one day, when one of the brakemen came back with lunch for the entire crew. Brownie starting mooching off the crew, and each gave him a little bit of each meal. One of the crew had kielbasa on a roll, and Brownie was fed a piece. He spat it out and afterwards, would never eat anything with garlic again.

No Respect for Authority
One day, a uniformed New York City Police Officer was making his rounds in his cruiser and stopped to have a chat with a BEDT conductor. As the policeman and conductor were talking, they looked down and there was Brownie with his leg hoisted in the air relieving himself the policeman's leg.

A Better Healthcare Plan
One day Brownie required veterinary attention. A collection was started by BEDT office personnel as Brownie was a regular visitor to their offices at 86 Kent Avenue, as well as the yard. It turned out, when all had chipped in, the collection contained more funds than any collection ever taken up for a human working at BEDT!

So much money had been collected, that after Brownie's medical needs were met, lottery tickets were bought with the money left over.

It was also decided that while Brownie was "in the shop", he would be neutered.

back to J. Roborecky Index



Back Pages First!

Some of the employees at BEDT considered themselves afficiandoes of equine speed contests (read: Horse Racing)!

Among the many employees at BEDT who bet on the ponies; Steve Hernick, Mike Mazone, Joe Milici, Frank Hendrickson and Ralph Miele were especially fond of the ponies and either could be relied upon to have a copy of the most recent Racing Form in their possession.

Also, whenever someone purchased a fresh edition of the New York Daily News (there several throughout the day), these sporting men would see to it that the back pages of the newspaper (containing the sports section and likewise the racing results and upcoming racing info and stats) was referenced and read first.

During their break, one or more guys would head over to the local OTB parlor (the closest was Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint) and wager on the upcoming races.

One evening, Joe Roborecky and his (now) ex-wife decided to enjoy an evening out, and went to the Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey, for dinner and entertainment. And who should they meet sheerly by coincidence at the Meadowlands? Steve Hernick!

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J. Roborecky Index


submitted by:
W. Jay Wanczyk
uncle was BEDT engineer -
appx: 1945- 1960's


Car Marking:

BEDT used "soap stone" pencils to mark destinations of railcars. As the marine climate on the docks eradicated chalk marks quickly; soap stone was used instead.

BEDT sold War Bonds (rally?) in the 1940's.


Locomotive Operations, Air Brakes, Steam:

BEDT steam locomotives did not have air brakes, air compressors or air tanks. All braking was steam powered piston on engine only, a/k/a "Steam Jam", which in turn exerted pressure through linkage to apply brake shoes to wheels.

Only after being sold at the end of 1963, did the respective purchasers retrofit airbrakes on those steam locomotives slated for operation (#'s 14, 15).


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Michael Brusich
grandfather was BEDT Tugboat captain

Accident / Collision

BEDT Tugboat "Invader"struck by Erie RR Ferry "Youngstown", North River - February 1944
(summary written by author)

On February 27, 1944, the BEDT Tugboat "Invader" was struck by the Erie Railroad Ferryboat "Youngstown",
   This collision occurred by the ferry slip on the Westside of Manhattan between Piers 19 and 20.

The Tugboat Invader was making way northbound against strong ebb tide with two carfloats: one port, one starboard.
The Ferryboat Youngstown was southbound and had a taken diagonal course from New Jersey to Manhattan.
The Invader blew two whistles to alert Youngstown, and Youngstown blew whistle twice in response yet kept coming with no speed or course change.
Invader once again sounded with two whistles, and danger signal. Youngstown replied same, yet maintained speed and course. Finally, Invader blew danger and backing signals, and began full astern movement to avoid collision. As Invader began backing, it also turned. As such occurred, the corner of one of the carfloats being transported by Invader became in path of Youngstown, and Youngstown collided with carfloat, causing minor damage to carfloat and moderate to severe damage to Youngstown.

Subsequent findings by both Department of Commerce and District Court found master (captain) of Ferryboat Youngstown to be at fault, by disobeying the Starboard Hand rule.

link to Collision Report, eyewitness statements, and lawsuit brief:

Erie Ferryboat Youngstown collision with BEDT Invader


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Accident / Sinking

BEDT Tugboat "Invader" sinks in East River - March 1947
(summary written by author)

   On March 17, 1947, at approximately 8:22 a.m; the BEDT Tugboat "Invader", capsized and sank approximately 500 yards off Pier 7, Manhattan, when it and the carfloat it was transporting were caught in a whirlpool brought on by ebb tide.

Just prior to sinking, the tow lines from The Invader to the carfloat snapped; the carfloat, carrying 14 cars from the Central Railroad of New Jersey pier (according to several accounts) did not suffer any damage.

When the Invader started "heeling" over, three crewmen jumped to the carfloat, and the other three crewmen were thrown into the water, and were picked up by the tugs "Harold Dewald", and "Pauline Moran". 

5 crewmen survived, 1 unfortunately; did not:

Nicholas Brusich captain
William Cunningham chief engineer
Joseph Fadde mate
Joseph Kurophewa fireman
William Reynolds floatman
William Bruck deckhand (drowned)

link to newspaper clippings:

Invader Sinks in East River


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submitted by:
Tom Hendrickson
father was BEDT employee; conductor & brakeman
1950's - 1973

Robert & Tom Hendrickson (l) - July 1962

Tom & Robert Hendrickson (r) - July 1962

Robert Hendrickson - July 1962


Death of employee, Injury of employee:
A BEDT employee (conductor?) was killed and another losing one or two legs, during freight car movements in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, ca. 1962-65

Injury of employee:
Trainman Francis W. Hendrickson was moderately bruised chasing away neighborhood kids from the beer cars on an unknown date. One of them threw a spike at him and was subsequently struck hard in the back (remember that Williamsburg was not the "upscale" neighborhood it is today). The teenagers would use the spikes to break the metal seals on the boxcars. No locks, just a metal band, so one would know if the door was opened during transit of goods. Hence they had spike handy for throwing.

Death of employee:
Trainman Francis W. Hendrickson was crushed between two freight cars during switching movements
in Brooklyn Navy Yard on March 16, 1973.

Francis Hendrickson, Jr., (r) LIRR engineer at Greenport, LI - prior to BEDT employment
with father, Francis Sr, (l) LIRR conductor - ca. 1940.


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submitted by:
Ron Ziel
first post BEDT owner of locomotive #12
noted railroad historian

#12 Ownership

   Ron Ziel purchased #12 when BEDT announced the cessation of steam operations. As Mr. Ziel was a well recognized feature around BEDT in the 1960's, he was given first choice when the steam locomotives were put up for sale. #12 is Mr. Ziel's favorite, and henceforth purchased it. The purchase price was $900. Mr. Ziel related this amusing recollection to the author.

   When Mr. Ziel was offered #12, he went to his bank to secure a loan. He was first told he would need a car loan and when filling out the loan application, he listed the data of #12 as if it were a car:

wheels: 6,
year: 1919,
weight: 128,000 lbs.
vin / serial #: 6368
etc. etc.

   Eventually when the bank officer learned that the loan was to purchase a locomotive, the application was changed to a personal loan.


#12 Moving & Storage in NJ

   Once purchased, BEDT requested that the locomotive be moved off property as soon as feasible. To assist in relocating the locomotives, BEDT offered to carfloat the locomotive to any terminal of Mr. Ziel's choice.

   Mr. Ziel  arranged to lease a portion of trackage in the Meadows Yard from the Pennsylvania RR for the sum of $100 per 100 feet per year and Mr. Ziel leased 100 feet (the minimum). Pennsylvania RR also charged him $30 to move #12 from the float bridges at Harsimus Cove, to the storage track in Meadows Yard. #12 would be stored at this location for some time while Mr. Ziel organized his anticipated short line to be located in Long Island, the "Manorville and Eastport RR", and subsequently the "Sag Harbor and Scuttle Hole RR". 

#15 Storage in NJ

   A short time later, when Ed Bernard purchased #15 for the South Appalachian RR in South Carolina, he too needed to remove #15 from BEDT property promptly. Mr. Bernard contacted Mr. Ziel and asked to use a portion of his 100 feet of track in Meadows Yard, which Mr. Ziel agreed.


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