Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hazmat Placards

Hazmat Training
This was another posting that got wiped clean when I did a ^Z to undo a mistake after I had written a lot of it. Since the bulk of the info was the pictures of tank cars and their placards, I'm letting the pictures do most of the talking this time.

I had gone to town to take a picture of the depot, so a mixed freight coming through on the close track at probably 60 mph caught me by surprise. The pictures are not good, but the numbers are big and even when speed-blurred, can be read. A DOT guidebook allows me to interpret the numbers: (Update: I'm adding other tank cars that I have found since then.)
  • 1267: 128 Petroleum crude oil
  • 2227: 130P n-Butyl methacrylate, stabilized
  • 1760: 154 Ferrous chloride, solution
  • 1280: 129 Propyl chloride
  • 1993: 131 Compound, cleaning liquid (flammable)
  • 1017 124 Chlorine  
  • 1832 137 Sulfuric acid, spent  
  • 3463 132 Propionic acid, with not less than 90% acid
  • 1086: a, b, c 116P Vinyl chloride, stabilized
  • 1301 129P Vinyl acetate, stabilized
  • 1063 115 Methyl chloride
I analyzed another mixed freight. I shot pictures of five cars at the time because I was interested in the type of car, not the signs on the car when I took the pictures. So the resolution is not good enough to read the numbers. But two of the tank cars had blue cards and one was Type 9.

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I analyzed a westbound mixed freight that went through Downers Grove on April 27, 2015, and I found the following:

  • 1075: 115 Butane,  ten of them in two cuts
  • 1267: Crude oil, it is strange to see just one of these in a train
  • 3257: 131 Nitriles, poisonous, flammable, n.o.s., two of them (Facebook)

I include a closeup of one of the 1075 cars. Evidently Butane is also Liquefied Petroleum Gas. I find it disturbing that it is non-odorized. That probably means if a tank setting on a siding springs a leak, it will be hard to detect until a fire or explosion happens.

3257 is nasty enough that they include an 800 number on the car to call in case of emergency.

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In a train in Evansville, IN, there were several of these Molten Sulfur cars. Why isn't the number 2448 in a colorful placard? I guess if a car is going to haul just one type of commodity, they can paint the number on the car instead of using a placard. But that puts the number in a non-standard place and it does not have the visual presence of a big diamond. Maybe the development of the 800 CHEMTREC service has effectively made the placards obsolete.

  • 2448: 133 Sulfur, molten, five of them
  • 3082: 171 Environmentally hazardous substances, liquid, n.o.s., nine of them

Update: I passed a Sherman-Williams semi-truck trailer on I-57 hat had both flammable and corrosive placards.

20171017 6323

  • 1010: Butadienes, stabilized 116P
  • 1010: Butadienes and hydrocarbon
    mixture, stabilized
Dennis DeBruler posted on Facebook:
  • 1017 Chlorine
  • 1136 Coal tar distillates, flammable (again)
  • 1202 Diesel fuel; fuel oil; gas oil; heating oil, light (again)
  • 1295  Trichlorosilane     Alan Roeben: "Gives off hydrochloric acid when it gets in contact with water.  Used in silicon conductors when ultrapure."
  • 1832 Sulfuric acid, spent
  • 1993 Combustible liquid, n.o.s.; Compounds, cleaning liquid (flammable); Compounds, tree or weed killing, liquid (flammable); Diesel fuel; Flammable liquid, n.o.s.; Fuel oil
  • 2428 Sodium chlorate, aqueous solution (again)
  • 3257: 131 Nitriles, poisonous, flammable, n.o.s
  • 3475 Ethanol and gasoline mixture, with more than 10% ethanol  (again)
  • 1203 128 Gasohol, Gasoline, Motor spirit, Petrol

ERG 2106 (Emergency Response Guide 2016) is now available for download. I learned of this link from a Facebook posting to a closed group by Jimmie Fisher. He says the guide is issued every four years. The 2012 version I had was 4,250kb, this version is 4,780kb. I'm glad I noticed this link because I have discovered that the 2012 link I had at the beginning of this posting was a temporary link and is now broken. I have updated that URL to this URL. Hopefully this URL is more permanent.

Jimmie Fisher posted
Bristol, Virginia, November 28, 2009, 11:52am.
ETCX 84001: Tank car, 4 compartments, owned by Eastman Chemical Company.
Compartment 1: Capacity 5,724 gallons, methyl isobutyl ketone, hazmat placard number 1245.
Compartment 2: Capacity 5,734 gallons, methyl isobutyl ketone, hazmat placard number 1245.
Compartment 3: Capacity 5,734 gallons, unspecified flammable liquid, hazmat placard number 1993.
Compartment 4: Capacity 5,729 gallons, unspecified flammable liquid, hazmat placard number 1993.
Light weight: 87,500 pounds.
Load limit: 175,500 pounds.
Coupled length: 61 feet 1 inch.
Built March, 1997, builder unknown.
John W. Coke 1993 (Diesel n.o.s.)Flammable Liquid
Jimmie Fisher Hazmat placard 1993 refers to several different combustible/flammable liquids, including, but not limited to, diesel fuel, fuel oil, herbicides, and cleaning fluids. Reference ERG (Emergency Response Guide) 2016.

Friday, September 25, 2015

MoW: Undercutters

Matt Wayand commented in Facebook
As a comment to the track welder Facebook posting, Matt Weyand provided a picture of a switch undercutter attachment on an excavator that is another example of using an excavator attachment that uses a secondary hydraulic power source. (Previous examples are a brush cutter and snow blower.)

A Google search quickly reveals that several manufactures make an attachment for undercutting. It is basically a chain on a bar that is powered by a hydraulic motor. This video has the lowest ratio of "fancy" graphics to information of the ones I watched.
NMC Railway Systems
When the ballast becomes filled with dirt (below), it can no longer do its job of draining water away from the track.

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Illinois Railway in
Yorkville, IL
The undercutter is used to remove the dirty ballast. Then new ballast will be dumped on the track and the track will be surfaced.

Undercutter attachments are used for small jobs and in places where the big machines can't operate such as under turnouts. Speaking of the big machines. They undercut, pick up the ballast, run it over sifters (see 2:18 in video), and drop the cleaned ballast back on the track (2:27). The dirt and broken rocks that fall through the sifters are deposited to the side (2:57). A video of a longer ballast cleaner uses separate machines in one long unit for cleaning the side ballast vs. the ballast under the ties, but it doesn't seem to go much faster than the compact machine in the first video.

Update: now I need to figure out what "sledding" is because that would be what the machine with the big "wings" is doing in Facebook. BTW, the pictures are not in order because the DYNA-CAT is a tamper that levels the track after the ballast cleaning equipment has disturbed the track.

Update: video. Comment by Matt Weyand on Facebook: "Ballast Tools Equipment 15 Foot Undercutter Bar with spoil removal wheel. This is how we like to Undercut!!!"

A UP video of a train that lifts the track for the undercutter chain, cleans the ballast, then replaces the ballast. I wish they had added some overview shots of the train. I see UP is using concrete ties. BNSF is still replacing wood ties on their mainline into Chicago.

The first part of this video is an undercutter being transported to another work site. At -0:18 is a high production tamper.
Dennis DeBruler At the end is a ballast distributor. It looks like it can do in one pass what a normal ballast regulator has to do with several passes back and forth over the same area using different attachments.

Dennis DeBruler Between the ballast undercutter and the distributor is a continuous action tamperhttp://www.plasseramerican.com/.../tamping-09-3x-cw...

MoW: Track Welders

Wayne Helms posted in Facebook
I saw two different types of welders posted in Facebook within 24 hours of each other. Both of these are arc welders that use an on-board generator set to send a lot of amps through the metal to be molten.

In the case of the Chemtron CAT below, note the railroad wheels that can be lowered so that the unit can travel down the track. The "box" on the rear of the cab is the engine and generator for the weld head that is hanging from the boom.
Nick Parker posted in Facebook

Thursday, September 24, 2015

ACI and AEI: Automatic (Car|Equipment) Identification and RFID

I came across a static display of a caboose that had an ACI plate. I can remember that it took several years for most of the freight cars to get them, and then not too many years later the industry abandoned the technology because the labels got too dirty to read! icrr.net indicates the program started in 1967 and was terminated in 1978. In cs.trains.com a comment by BaltACD explains that heat also rendered the labels unusable --- "labels were routinely burned off on gons used in hot slab loading as well as hoppers that went through the thaw sheds for winter time coal dumping."

RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) technology allowed the railroad industry to try again to automate identification. RFID technology has been in development for decades to allow many industries --- freight trucks/containers, retail, libraries, healthcare --- to automate inventory (and pets) tracking. An RFID Tag is mounted on each object to be tracked, and readers are installed at strategic locations. For example, our library now has readers that you must walk through at each of the exists as well as to checkout stacks of books. An important aspect of the tags is that they get the power they need to respond from the beam the reader sends to communicate with the tag. The development of the technology keeps shrinking and reducing the cost of the tags so that they can be more ubiquitous. By the early 1990s, the industry could afford to put a 3 by 10 inch tag on each freight car, container, locomotive, MoW vehicle, etc. In this application, not having a battery was an issue of maintenance rather than size or cost. Since the end of 1994, all items are to be tagged. That includes over 1.2 million cars and 22,000 locomotives. (Trains) The tags are supposed to be on the left end of each side. As an aside, the RFID industry's goal is to make the tags cheap enough to replace the UPC Bar Code. That is, all items in all stores can be read by RFID scanners. Note that scanners can be used for inventory counting as well as checkout.

I don't remember seeing tags on modern equipment so I looked at some of the pictures I took of a mixed freight on April 27, 2015. At first, it was hard to find them. But then it became rather easy to find them. I added a red rectangle around the tags.

(For future reference, a link to freight car history.)

Mark Hinsdale posted
Photo is from July 1977, at Dolton.
Thomas Kidd  MP 3232 is Northbound and the other is Southbound.Jim Sinclair Mark, not only is this a great capture with lots of human interest, you also captured the ACI scanner, which is seldom seen in older images.

Steve Forrest posted
The "Memphis Big Boy" derrick based out of Johnston Yard in Memphis back in Oct 1973. Kodachrome by Steve Forrest.
Dennis DeBruler That is the best preserved ACI marking that I have seen.
Digitally Zoomed

MoW: Vegetation Control?

20150913,16 4674, Northwest Corner
UP has done a nice job of preserving the C&NW depot in DeKalb. While I was taking pictures of the depot, I noticed the MoW equipment (red truck) on the left side of this picture. I took a closeup of the truck (below).

Note the seat on the back with a joystick for each hand. When in operation on a track, I presume the boom on top swings around and that it has nozzles on the end of the boom to do targeted spraying of herbicide on the roadbed for vegetation control. (In the 1960's, they used to "generously" spray the vegetation on both sides of the track as well as the roadbed. Now they mechanically chomp up the tree branches and brushes on the sides that are too close to the roadbed to reduce how much herbicide is sprayed into the environment.)

Update: Photo of Rock Island spraying in 1966.

Vern Wigfield -> Grain Elevators of North America
Vern's comment:
Marietta, MN - 1954 -- M&StL Weed Burner 427 scorches the main line while passing by the Pacific Grain Co elevator. The Co-op in view was the main gas station in town and was farmers owned.
This would be one way to avoid releasing herbicides into the environment. But one of the comments pointed out it might be a little hard on the ties. And it is a good thing the grass is very green. Otherwise there would be a lot of ground fires.

20151026 5107c
BNSF also does precision herbicide spraying. I zoomed in on a picture I took while railfanning on my way home from the Downers Grove library at Forest Avenue. Note the green clump of ragweed in the foreground. If you look very closely between it and the tracks, you can see brown sprigs of killed vegetation. I deliberately took a photograph down the track to the west to show that there was a precise line between live and dead vegetation at about 10-12 feet away from the track. But I can't find that photo. Another mystery as to what did I do wrong.

Update: There is no doubt the following equipment is weed spraying. Gary Talska posted two photos with the comment "Heads up on the IAIS Peoria sub. Asplundh Weed Sprayer train is in Bureau tonight 03/31/2016. Reportedly will be serviced on Friday and spraying on the sub Saturday and Sunday."


Unless you like listening to noise, skip to about 0:35.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Whitcomb Locomotives

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The Rochelle Railroad Park includes a static display of a Whitcomb locomotive. In 1878, George D. Whitcomb started manufacturing coal mining and knitting machinery, and in 1892 he incorporated his business as the George D. Whitcomb Co. In April 1906, they built their first gasoline-powered locomotive for mine use. (Update: Steve O'Connor indicates 1910 is probably a more accurate date.) In 1907, production was moved from Orleans and Ohio Streets in Chicago to Rochelle, IL because his largest knitting customer was there. During WWI, most of the output of the plant were government orders. In 1929, they designed and built the largest gasoline-electric locomotive that had been offered to American railroads. Soon after, they started producing diesel-electrics.

Starting in 1927, the Baldwin Locomotive Works helped Whitcomb sell locomotives oversees, So when it went bankrupt in 1931, it was aquired by Baldwin. WWII again produced heavy government demand for their locomotives, and the size of the plant was doubled in 1942. But in February, 1952, production was transferred from Rochelle to Baldwin's Eddystone Works in Pennsylvania. The name on the industrial line of locomotives was changed from Whitcomb to B-L-H in December, 1952. That line of locomotives seized production in March, 1956. (Wippany, Wikipedia)

Taplines has a nice collection of pictures arranged from smallest to largest.

1922 Sanborn Map
A 1922 Sanborn Map indicates the plant was in the northeast quadrant of Second Street and Fifth Avenue. A 1939 Aerial Photo of that area shows the plant was still on the eastern edge of the town.

1939 Aerial Photo from IHLAP
There are still industrial buildings at that location  so I wonder what is made there now.

When I noticed it had poling pockets, I looked at all four corners to try to find the best light. I picked the southeast corner not only for the light but because it had been "ripped." It is had to imagine what caused the force needed to "tear" steel. Note the side rods on the wheels.

Update: several photos of the plant. (experimental link)

Republic Locomotive says they are "the only manufacturer of all-new industrial locomotives in North America." I found their description of why AC traction motors have about double the adhesion of DC traction motors to be rather fascinating.

Steve OConnor posted
Steve's comment:

“Whitcomb Diesel locomotives built here in Rochelle have played an important part in this war on almost every front. Being smokeless and easy to camouflage against air attacks these locomotives have been extensively used where standard coal burning locomotives proved impractical.
In our January 12th 1945, issue of the Leader we printed an interview with W.F. Eckert, chief engineer at Whitcomb in which he told how Whitcomb built locomotives had solved the English and American transportation problem in North Africa, German bombers had blasted most of the regular locomotives as their smoke was easily spotted by the fliers.
Rochelle Whitcomb diesel locomotives were then camouflaged as regular box cars. In the make up of trains the location of the “ box-car-locomotive” was constantly changed to elude the Germans in their bombing attacks.
The plan proved very successful, and it has been credited as one of the major forces in the British success in the drive from Egypt to Tunisia during the latter four months of 1942 and early 1943.”
The Rochelle Leader
May 4, 1945

Steve OConnor comment for above posting
Steve OConneor comment on a posting
The Whitcomb factory in Rochelle circa 1930's.
Steve OConner comment:
Whitcomb Enters WW II 
“During the latter part of 1940 we were asked to design a locomotive which could operate successfully through desert sand storms and keep cool with the thermometer registering 125 F. in the shade. The only other known factors, besides the gauge of track was that they needed all the power we could give them but the weight had to be reduced to the absolute minimum. That is just about as contradictory as wanting the strength of a draft horse in a Shetland pony. As the boys in the engineering department were only working about 60 hours a week at that time, they decided there wasn't any particular reason why we couldn't tackle the problem. By actual count there are 10,756 different items necessary to build that Diesel electric locomotive, and the fact it is still in production offers conclusive proof that the engineers did their work well. Incidentally, in that count the Buda diesels, Westinghouse Electric Equipment, the Young Radiators and all other materials purchased in a finished state are merely figured as individual items. The balance had to be designed, detailed, weights estimated, purchased, machined, fabricated, assembled, crated and the completed product sent on its way. We received the actual contract shortly before Christmas and the first units were operating in Egypt the following May. That is less than half the normal time required on a completely new design. Certainly there isn't much I could say to further emphasizes the splendid spirit of cooperation which not only exists within the Whitcomb organization but also extends out among all of our suppliers. They have done a grand job and all of us know it.”
H. G. HeulguardVice President, General ManagerWhitcomb Locomotive CompanyThe Rochelle News, January 26, 1944
Steve OConnor posted
Steve OConnor posting
Steve's comment:
Whitcomb 65-DE-19a locomotives built in Rochelle, Illinois, WW II Trier Germany March 1945.
At least a couple of the military models have survived.

video of a Buda running. One article mentioned they had trouble with the cylinder heads. Skip to 3:33 in an Army video to see the locomotive in action.

Steve's comment:
October 10, 1940 Dekalb, IL. Brand new Whitcomb switcher built in Rochelle just 20 miles west of Dekalb. WAITE W. EMBREE Collection, Northern Illinois Regional History Archives, NIU. Note the Embree name on the hardware building in the background. Waite Embree took numerous photos of rail activity around Dekalb at this time. http://www.ulib.niu.edu/reghist/regionalhistory.cfm
Steve OConner posted
This page ad is from the 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia which my Dad bought new. I found it when cleaning out his house and thought it might be of some value.

Steve OConner posted
More from the 1947 Locomotive Cyclopedia.

Steve OConner posted
 Scan of an original builder's photo, Whitcomb factory in the background.
Steve OConner posted
A shipment of Whitcomb locomotives built in Rochelle photographed in Dekalb, 1949. Waite Embree collection, NIU. The Dekalb coal tower in the background.
Arthur Shale Looks like some of CN's 75-ton 75-DE-12c types being delivered. All eighteen were returned to Whitcomb in 1950 and 17 were sold to Rock Island.
Steve's comments in a posting about the Coal Valley Mining Company explains that one reason why mules were replaced by Whitcomb mine locomotives is that the hay in the stalls for the mules was a fire hazard: "The Cherry Coal mine disaster in Cherry, Illinois was started from kerosene oil dripping onto a hay stall for mine mules."

Steve is building an album of photos concerning the Whitcomb Locomotive. And he has an album with 72  photos of the building with the comment:
From 1907 until 1952, Rochelle was the place of manufacture for Whitcomb locomotives. These photographs were taken of the former Whitcomb factory in the summer of 2012 by myself. The interior photos were taken 10-24-2015 when Behr Metals owned and operated the building as a recycling business until closed at the end of October, 2015.

In the comments of this posting by Steve is several WWII Whitcombs.

Steve's posting has pictures of Whitcombs used to support Perl Harbor.

Flickr of a 75 tonner.  A Flickr Album of photos including Purdue's.