Monday, December 8, 2014

New Freight Car Designs

While analyzing the car types in some mixed freights, a couple of the cars caught my attention.

Update: Trash Containers 

Update: Raymond Kyzar posted a video of a CN/IC unit train of "paper boxes" to the Facebook group "Illinois Central/Gulf Mobile & Ohio/Illinois Central Gulf Memories.". The cars are for use by I.P. Mill in Bogalusa, LA.

Paper Boxes

This box car caught my attention because of the logo. And because it had characteristics of a refer (high and plug-door) but it was too short and I could not find a compressor. So I did some research. IBT is the reporting mark for the International Bridge and Terminal Railroad (Railfan). It appears that the IBT is one of those shortlines that owns more cars than would fit on its own tracks.

From a model railroad manufacture, ExactRail, we learn that hi-cube box cars are still being built.
Growth in intermodal markets had the effect of steering railroads away from box cars in the modern era. However, it became clear that there was a market for the development of new box cars in paper products, as shippers require high-grade box cars. This stands against the trend of declining box car development of the time. Modern builders, such as Gunderson, Trinity and Trenton-Works, set themselves to the task of developing competitive box cars. These cars have a distinctively modern asthetic; they are known as 'Paper Boxes.'
This view clearly shows the car has an excess-height white stripe across the end.

New "paper boxes" explains why the RailBox car that was also embedded in a block of about 20 lumber cars is much more modern looking than the typical RailBox car.

Erik Halstead posted
Update: Eric Halstead posted the following in the "Off the Beaten Track Branchline Railroading" Facebook group.
In Newberg, Oregon the SP Fiber Technologies paper mill has a short two mile spur from the Portland & Western Railroad yard in the center of town. Today P&W also handles the SPFT trackage and intra-plant switching, and here is PNWR 1201 switching cars on the siding just outside the paper mill itself. The paper mill receives boxcars of scrap paper from recyclers, as well as gondolas of scrap wood (a lot of railroad ties!) that is used both as raw material in paper production, as well as hog fuel for the on-site power plant. The mill has historically produced newsprint, but currently one of the machines is being reconfigured to put out packaging paper, which should hopefully keep the plant in operation for years to come.

Propane or LPG Refers

I also had trouble with the last car in the train. The curved roof and fold down platform on the right side reminded me of a vehicle car. But the tank on the let-hand side confused me. Looking closer on the left-hand side you can see part of the compressor on the top. So the compressor, paint-scheme across the top, and the plug door indicates it is a refer. I have concluded that the compressor uses LPG or propane and the tank supplies the fuel. I assume this new design is to take advantage of reduced natural gas prices caused by fraking shale deposits.

I went back and looked closer at the block of CRYO-TRANS (CRYX) cars that was near the beginning of the train. I now see that they also have a big tank under the platform that provides maintenance access to the compressor. I still can't figure out what is on the other side of the car. I have put taking close up pictures of modern refers on my "todo list" since the refer design seems to have recently evolved.

So it seems that mixed freight trains that contain refers join tank-car trains in terms of some exciting derailment scenarios. At least those tanks will burn themselves out a lot faster than a tank-car will. I remember when we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel rather soon after it first opened that no compressed gas tanks were allowed through the tunnel. I see on their rate schedule PDF that they now have rules that allow tanks on non-commercial vehicles -- up to 105 pounds water capacity for non-permanently mounted tanks or 200 gallons water capacity for permanently mounted tanks when used as a moter fuel. I wonder if larger tanks are allowed on commercial vehicles. So I guess it is reasonable that those refer-fuel tanks can go through railroad tunnels.

Helium Cars

Glenn Tammen posted
Ron Sherman Funny thing is, those helium cars weighed less when they were loaded than when they were empty.Dennis Garrett They were very heavy cars, and they had clasp brakes. Around 130 tons I think.Santa Ron The majority of the helium cars were “owned” by the US Navy and transported to the Navy blimp operations, one of which was Moffet Field.
[This basic design could hold other pressurized gases.]Michael Morgan I'd be more worried about one of those things rupturing during an accident. I remember that train wreck in the mid 90's near Valentine Arizona where whatever was in one of the tank cars, got so hot it melted the rails.J Patrick Bray Michael wouldn't have been the Helium as it is inert.

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