Getting a train to do shave and a haircut

I watch lots of videos on youtube where trains will do a shave and a haircut with someone filming it. Why do they do it? Is there a secret motion the cameraman does to get the conductor to do it?

In case anyone is as absolutely confused as I was when I first saw this, I assume he means something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do3IdSmrRVs&feature=related (skip to around 0:50)

Anyway, the person who posted the video (Amtrak798) claims in one of the comments that the conductor is a friend so I assume they set it up. That’s probably the case with most of the videos, I would imagine.

As for why they do it… I don’t know? So they can post videos of it on youtube?

I think it’s because the standard whistle pattern for a grade crossing (long long short long) is very easily turned into the shave n’ a haircut (long long short long long pause short short). So if they’re already doing the first part and if they see some yay-hoo with a video camera, why not? The standard pattern is customary but not legally mandatory, so as long as they blow something at grade crossings it’s okay.

So, in railfanning, a shave and a haircut is when the engineer toots his horn, just for the spectator?

You could always hold up a sign saying “Please???”

No, the name refers to the little tune, or more specifically the rhythm (GreasyJack, isn’t it long short short long long (pause) short short?)

To clarify for anyone still puzzled, it’s the dum diddy dum-dum, dum-dum tune that the trains play in each of these clips. If you say “shave and a haircut, two bits” or “shave and a haircut, five cents” you get the same rhythm.

I know the tune and the rhythm but never heard it called Shave and a Haircut.

This is one of the most confusingly phrased OPs I’ve seen in a long time. I thought the conductor was actually shaving and cutting the hair of a passenger. I’m quite familiar with the tune “Shave and A Haircut, Two Bits”, but boy, that was left very unclear by the OP.

Lots? Really? Then it shouldn’t’ve been too hard to find an example to link to.

That’s what I thought, but a lot of the videos labeled “shave and a hair cut” didn’t involve that particular “tune,” at least from what I could tell.

There’s also, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXQhkUX8Pvs , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8VxlQRNQCk&feature=related , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgvxPQiDfic , not to mention numerous metro north clips. What I’m wondering is if there’s a way to request the conductor does a shave and a haircut specifically, rather than just honking…

It’s long-long-short-long. (Wikipedia).

I say this after my wife and I made a pleasant cross-country journey by train in December to visit my mom. For one leg of the journey we were right behind the locomotive, and we heard that same sequence all night long.

By the way, train travel in a sleeper car is awesome, but the romanticized image we have from watching old movies sort of whitewashes over some of the annoyances. It sure was fun though!