It was also interesting to note that when delivered, somebody 'forgot the lessons of the past' and 'invented' a new door latch mechanism for the Viewliners. BIG MISTAKE! People were getting locked out of their own room when going to meals or the shower! It took them maybe 2-3 years to retrofit them to the tried-and-true-for-the-past-70-years-or-more 'standard' Pullman door latch mechanism. It'll be interesting to see what 'nifty, new style' door latches the Viewliner IIs come through with!
So how did the original Viewliner door latch work?
When new, the latches on Viewliner sleepers used a hinged, horizontal knife-shaped 'blade' with a notch almost at the end that would engage a horizontal 'cross bar' in the door jamb. It may have been sprung to press it downward, or maybe just gravity. On both sides of the door were 4" long vertical indentations for ones' fingers to slide sideways a vertical bar (maybe 1/4" thick by 3/4" wide by 4-5" tall) that would force the horizontal 'blade' to be lifted up, disengaging it from the horizontal 'bar'. On the inside of the room there was also a 'lock' switch on the handle mechanism. I don't recall if it was a small finger-sized 'lever' or a small vertical slide switch that was pressed downward to lock the door by preventing the horizontal blade from being lifted. I'm thinking it was simply an upside-down L shaped piece of metal that would slide down to 'block' the horizontal blade from upward movement.
In theory, it should work well. It was easy to figure out...so easy, an unattended toddler could easily lock the door from the inside. I have little doubt that happened frighteningly often. As the mechanisms 'wore in', the internal resistance of the vertical L locking piece would drop into 'lock' position if someone closed the door somewhat forcefully...a light 'slam', if you will. The 'front end' of the horizontal blade was angled causing it to automatically rise over the top of the horizontal bar allowing the notch to get over the bar and latch. That allowed the door to 'latch' every time it was fully closed. But put a little 'muscle' into closing the door (I never cease to be amazed at how many people SLAM the doors closed!), the latch mechanism works perfectly then the "L" piece is jolted/loosened and it drops into the lock position.
If you look at the "standard" Pullman style latch, it is only on the inside, making it impossible to latch or lock the door from outside the room. The 'blade' portion is a beefy-looking 3/8" think piece of stainless steel maybe 3" long with a small thumb-tab protuding inward along the top edge. There's also a 1/4"-3/8" by 1" long with a 'pancake' head on it, horizontal 'rod' protruding inward from the door jam that the notch in the blade engages. In most of the roomettes I've been in since the demise of the 10/6 heritage sleepers, the horizontal blade has a spring that forces it upward, thereby disengaging the horizontal rod and unlocking the door. So, there is a 2" long stainless steel zig-zag shaped rod that is hinged at the top and swings down to hold the horizontal bar, in 'latched' position over the horizontal rod, from being lifted up or springing upward. On the Viewliners, the new "Pullman" mechanism was bolted on top of the original mechanism, but the internal horizontal rod had been removed.
The downside of the "Pullman" latch is that the door cannot be locked from the outside and may roll someone, possibly to the fully open position. Sometimes it will stay closed by itself when I head to the diner for 'real' meals, or the lounge instead of "fresh choice" garbage. Recently, however, I've taken to putting 2 pieces of shim stock into the door jamb at the top when I leave the room. Few passers-by would even 'see' the shim stock, even though it is 100% visible. I guess most passengers are more concerned with staying upright while walking on a moving train than looking upwards towards the ceiling while walking...or is it 'wobbling'. I developed my 'sea legs' eons ago, so walking on the train isn't a problem for me...except every now and then there's a jolt that causes me to lose my balance.
On other potential problem with a "Pullman" latch is how can it be opened from the outside if the passenger inside is unable to open it themselves? Whether a medical problem or mental problem, or an accident, I'm sure there HAS to be some situations the door must be unlocked from the outside. Smashing the glass is one way, but then there'd be broken glass all over the passenger. Maybe each car has a 'double suction cup' thing like that used in mainframe computer rooms to lift the false floor? Then it's only necessary to remove the rubber around the window (door or hallway window) to gain access. But there's no door OR hallway windows in the Family Bedroom or the Handicap Bedroom in Superliners. Then what?
Edited by bratkinson, 06 October 2018 - 10:44 PM.