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Railroad Time Service Watch Rules

One fact that is difficult for novices to realize is that Railroad Time Service rules were different from both railroad to railroad and from era to era. They constantly evolved on each railroad (and later; system) from the 1830s to the present time. Even when the rules were very similar on different railroads (such as when the railroads outsourced watch inspection functions to the time service contractor), they usually differed in some details.

While the rules linked to below may seem like a huge list, they make up only a tiny portion of those rules that were in effect. New ones will be added as they come to light.

The following Encyclopedia articles may be helpful to novices in understanding the required features:
Adjustment to …
Anti-magnetically shielded case (see section 2)
Non-magnetic movement
Patent Regulator
Rate
Red Second Time Zone Hand (see section 12)
Standard Time (see section 5)


AT&SF 1887 Watches must hold rate +/- 30 seconds/week.

"Time Service on the Santa Fe," Santa Fe Magazine, Santa Fe Magazine, April 1915, Pp. 31-32. Notes approved use of Red Second Time Zone Hand.

AT&SF 1921 Rules Santa Fe Magazine, July 1921, Pg. 62 Only requires adjustment to three positions.

AT&SF - Rules Governing Time Service - Operating Department, December 1, 1947, Courtesy DeweyC (opens as a pdf file).

B&O 1915; Rules, Instructions to Official Watch Inspectors, July 1, 1915

B&O 1939 Rules, Instructions to Official Watch Inspectors, July 1, 1939; Page 1 and Page 2. 19-jewel watches still allowed to enter service.

"(B&O) -Improved Time Service Control System, Railway Age, June 30, 1945, page 1148.
"(B&O) -Improved Time Service Control System, Railway Age, June 30, 1945, page 1149.
"(B&O) -Improved Time Service Control System, Railway Age, June 30, 1945, page 1150. Describes the tracking of employees watches.

Big Four - The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway Co. and Peoria & Eastern Railway Co., Time Inspection Service Circular, Indianapolis, Dec. 15, 1897. Hunting-case watches specifically permitted to enter service.

Camden & Amboy, 1853; supplies watches; conductors distribute Standard Time.

Canadian Pacific Railway Co. General, Train, and Interlocking Rules, August 10, 1901; Standard Time rules.

Canadian Pacific Railway Co. Standard Time Practice and Watch Rules, June, 1907; Adjustment to 5 positions required.

Canadian Pacific Railway Co. Standard Watches, December 1, 1967; List of accepted pocket & wrist watches.

CP Rail. Standard Watches In Use, But Not Listed, November 20, 1978

CNJ 1902 Rules, August 8, 1902; 17-jewel watches adjusted to heat & cold and 3 positions required.

CB&Q 1889 Rules, April 18, 1889; 15-jewel, patent regulator and adjustment to heat & cold required.

CB&Q Rules, January 12, 1900; 17-jewel watches now required.

CB&Q Rules Governing Watch Inspection Service of This Company, April 1, 1949; watches adjusted to only 3 positions grandfathered.

CM&StP Rules, December 1, 1921; Watch inspection outsourced to Nat'l Railway Time Service Co., watches newly entering service 19-jewel minimum, grandfathered watches 17-jewel minimum.

CNW Requires Potection from Magnetic Influences, December 1887; requires non-magnetic watch or anti-magneticly shielded case.

CRI&P Initiates Watch Inspection, December 1888; requiring 15-Jewel watches Adjusted to Heat & Cold, with a Patent Regulator & (recommended) Anti-Magnetic case.

CRI&P Instructions To Local Watch Inspectors, July 15,1908: Requires lever-setting and fitted with a double roller.

CStL&P Watch Inspection, September 23, 1887 (Posted by Robert Sweet); Watch standard to be determined by Inspector

CStP&M Certificate Required, August 1, 1887, Requiring 15-Jewel watches Adjusted to Heat & Cold, with a Patent Regulator & Anti-Magnetic case.

DL&W - Forsinger Railway Time Inspection Service & Swiss Watches, February 7, 1900

DL&W Watch Inspection and Standard Time Service, January 1, 1938

DL&W, Instructions to Local Watch Inspectors, October 15, 1955

Erie Railroad Requires "Reliable" Watches which have been examined and certified; reports a January 26, 1888 article, while an article from 12 days earlier states that they must be adjusted to heat & cold.

Erie Railroad, September 23, 1891; 15-Jewel Watch Adjusted to Heat & Cold and fitted with a Patent Regulator Required

Erie Railroad Co. Watch Inspection report, March 2, 1905; 15-jewel watches adjusted to heat, cold and 3 positions were grandfathered "… so long as they perform satisfactorily."

Erie Railroad Co. Watch Certificate, 1908; indicates unadjusted watches were grandfathered if they could hold +/- 30 sec per week rate.

Grand Trunk Watch Inspection Regulations, April 20, 1898; 17-jewel adjusted to temperature. Could be bought from inspector in 4 monthly payments.

Houston & Texas Central, November 19, 1896; 15-jewel having a patent regulator and Breguet (overcoil) hairspring, and adjusted to heat & cold.

Watch Inspection on the Illinois Central Railroad, June 15, 1892; 15-jewel and adjusted to heat & cold.

Importance of Watch Inspection as Applied to the Safe Operation of Railroads - Webb C. Ball, Pg 137, October 26, 1921

Watch Inspection on Kansas City Railroads, August 9, 1899; 17-jewel and adjusted to temperature and 3 positions.

Lackawanna Rules, January 22, 1900; 17-jewel watches adjusted to temperature and 3 positions required.

LS&MS Instructions to Watch Inspectors, August 15, 1891; which accepts 15-jewel watches adjusted to heat & cold.

LS&MS Time Inspection Service Circular No. 1, September 3, 1891.

LS&MS - Movements Must Cost The Dealer $25.00, October 10, 1891 - Its not known how long this was in effect but probably not very long.

L&N Rules for the Government of the Transportation Department, 1892; Standard Time rules.

"Mexico - The Foremost Railway in our Sister Republic adopts a Model Watch Inspection Service," The Keystone, August 1899; Requires a 17-jewel watch adjusted to temperature, isochronism and positions.

"Time Inspection Service on the Mexican National Railroad," The Jeweler's Circular - Weekly and Horological Review, June 5, 1901, pg. 14; Requires an 18-size, open-face watch adjusted to heat, cold and positions.

NYC, Instructions to Local Watch Inspectors, Part 1, April 1, 1915
NYC, Instructions to Local Watch Inspectors, Part 2, April 1, 1915

NYC - USRA, Instructions to Local Watch Inspectors, Part 1, April 1, 1919
NYC - USRA, Instructions to Local Watch Inspectors, Part 2, April 1, 1919

NYC - USRA, Instructions to Local Watch Inspectors, Part 1, May 10, 1919
NYC - USRA, Instructions to Local Watch Inspectors, Part 2, May 10, 1919

Norfolk Southern, Virginia Division Timetable No. 4, September 25, 1994; pocket eatches from 1920s, or earlier, still accepted

Northern Pacific Railway, December 1, 1945 & November 1, 1959

PRR Regulations Governing the Inspection of Railroad Watches, January 10, 1906; lever-setting and adjustment to 5 positions only recommended - not required.

Queen & Crescent System Inspection of Watches, March 29 & May 7, 1888; Requires Full-Jeweled (15-jewels), a Patent Regulator, adjustment to temperature and a Non-magnetic movement or anti-magnetically shielded case.

'Railroad Watch Inspectors and Adams' System of Time Records,' Jewelers Circular - Weekly And Horological Review, July 28, 1897, Page 33 and Page 34.

Southern Pacific New Watch Rules, January 8, 1909, Double Roller now required.

Southern Railway Watches Adopted as Standard, October 31, 1902. Includes hunting-case watches.

St. Louis San Fancisco (Frisco Lines) July 2, 1932 General Instructions, Page 1 - Who fails under time service ruls
St. Louis San Fancisco (Frisco Lines) July 2, 1932 General Instructions, Page 2 - Watch inspection, certification and rating
St. Louis San Fancisco (Frisco Lines) July 2, 1932 General Instructions, Page 3 - Standard Clocks

St. Louis San Fancisco (Frisco Lines) July 2, 1932 Instructions to watch inspectors, Page 1 - Watches must be 16-size & 21- or 23-jewel.
St. Louis San Fancisco (Frisco Lines) July 2, 1932 Instructions to watch inspectors, Page 2 - Care of the watch & Standard Loaner Watches

Union Pacific Railroad Co., Rules and Instructions Governing Time Service, July 1, 1946

Wabash Railroad Rules 1899; adjustment to temperature and 3 positions required.

Wabash Western Watch Inspection Rules, 1887; predates the similar LS&MS rules by 4 years. An anti-magnetically shielded case is required.

Wisconsin Central Railroad Co. only required watches to be adjusted to heat and cold in 1899.
Categories: Category Railroad watches

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