My Present Past
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Time Service Rules
The inspectors received a nominal fee for certifying
standard watches and performing regular inspections
(usually twice monthly). The main advantages of being a
watch inspector were the opportunities to sell high grade
watches to the railroaders, the relatively frequent
cleaning and repair work and the constant traffic of those
railroaders who might conduct other jewelry business with
the watch inspector while they were there for regular
watch inspections and comparisons. Some remote locations
lacked a suitable watchmaker who could serve as a local
inspector and were serviced by a company-designated
traveling inspector who would visit these locations on a
regular basis. However, travelling to these remote
locations sometimes proved to be a hazardous experience.
1929 A. T. & S. F. Time Service Rules Page 12
1938
Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe
Time Service Rules
Webb C. Ball is often mistakenly credited with creating railroad time service
and watch inspection as a result of an 1891 train wreck at Kipton, Ohio. As has
been demonstrated by the many earlier systems documented thus far, there
was steady evolution of time service systems since the beginning of the
railroads. The significant advance that Ball created was the regular
comparison, by the watch inspector, of employes' watches to a standard clock,
and recording the results.
When watches were checked, the deviation from standard time would be
noted. On some railroads it would be on the back of the employe's watch card
or certificate. Checking against the previous comparisons, if the watch's rate
was stable, but creeping slightly, the inspector might change the regulator
position slightly. If the rate was erratic or had a large steady change, the
inspector would probably not pass the watch, requiring it to be serviced prior
to again entering service. In-between the visits to the inspector, on almost all
railroads, the employe had to compare his/her watch against a standard clock
upon reporting for work and note the deviation from standard time, on the
back of the watch card, or sometimes on a case paper in the back of the case.
1938 A. T. & S. F. Time Service Rules Page 01
The rules required that standard watches be cleaned on a
periodic basis. Around the turn of the century, this was
every 12 or 18 months. By the 1920s, the period was
extended out to 24 months. Cleaning was at the expense of
the employes. They didn't have to leave their watch with
the watch inspector, being able to take their watch to any
watchmaker they so desired. However, the employe's
replacement watch (to be used while his standard watch
was being serviced), even if it was a loaner standard watch
that the chosen watchmaker might provide, would have to
be inspected by the watch inspector prior to entering
service, at the employe's expense.
1938 A. T. & S. F. Time Service Rules Page 02-03
The railroads kept records of employe watch cleaning,
inspection and certification. When the due date for the
cleaning of a standard watch was coming around, a
reminder card would be sent to the employee. Should the
railroad not receive documentation that an employe's
standard watch was cleaned within a reasonable amount
of time of the due date, a notice to that effect would be
go out to the employee.
Most of the railroads' rules required that, should a watch
inspector take in an employe's watch for service or
repair, he must provide a loaner watch to the employe.
The loaner watch provided must meet the company's
current standard for watches and the employe must be
issued a Watch Card (Certificate) for the loaner watch,
certifying that it has been inspected and meets the
company's standard.
Text information used with permission of NAWCC
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1938 A. T. & S. F. Time Service Rules Page 10-11
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1938 A. T. & S. F. Time Service Rules Page 14
1938 A. T. & S. F. Time Service Rules Back
Text information used with permission of NAWCC