Wednesday, October 28, 2015

PRR's South Branch Bridge Interlocking Tower

When researching the Canal Street RR Bridge, I learned that control of the bridge was transferred from the machinery building on top of the span to a "nearby interlocking tower." The building on the right in these photos is that interlocking tower. It controls the bridge and the signals regulating the crossing of the bridge. There was a larger tower southeast of this one that controlled the 21st Crossing.
Posted by Bill Molony on Facebook
Bill posted again
Pennsylvania Railroad Baldwin DR-6-4-2000 "Sharknose" #5786 departing from Chicago with PRR train #52, the Fort Pitt on July 4, 1949.
David Nelson April 27, 1947 - April 28, 1968.
Dennis DeBruler One of the better views I have seen of the bridge control tower.

Bob Lalich commented on a post
The cabin seen right of the tracks controlled the interlocking depicted in this drawing. I believe the bridge itself was controlled by an operator in the structure on top of the span.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Bob's comment
When built, it was controlled from a room in the shadows under the machinery house. But when I researched the bridge, I read that control was transferred to "a nearby interlocking tower." Unfortunately, I didn't note the source of that statement. I searched some references, but I was unable to find that statement again.

Thanks for confirming that the little tower was an interlocking tower.

Bill Molony posted on Facebook

Willam A. Shaffer posted
Amtrak E8A #201 (ex-B&O #1443) - Chicago, IL (Circa 1973)
(Photo by Mike Parafink - Collection of William A. Shaffer)
AMTK #201 is shown crossing the 21st Street Bridge in Chicago.
Note that we can see part of the bridge tender's shack. Also note the top signal head can display only the "red eye" aspect.]
Willam A. Shaffer posted
B&O E8A Locomotive .(June, 1973)
21st Street - Chicago, IL
(Photo by Mike Parafink - Collection of William A. Shaffer)
Mark Jones: William A. Shaffer, Ex-B&O E-unit ( probably 1457?!) and look at the South Branch Bridge in Penn Central script w/ “W-19”— do you remember what that meant? !? It was for the trainmen and told them “track 19, West side platform unloading”…. Still remember that after all these years!
William A. Shaffer: Yes, I still remember the designations and what they meant! Seems like just yesterday!
Gordon Leonard posted
It's still Feb. 1976. We're still at The Bridge. Check out the damage at the lower right front. It hit something....!
Bjarne Henderson They ran fast and were a pleasure to work on from a service attendant's perspective. They had access doors near the food service area so you didn't need to schlep all your stuff from one end of the car or the other as you still have to do with Amfleet. Clearly, whoever designed the Turbocafe considered the needs of employees as well as the passengers. Too bad that they wore out too quickly compared to their peers.
[Note the signal heads are missing many positions because only slow speeds are indicated for crossing the bridge.]
Steven J. Brown posted
Amtrak International departs Chicago for Toronto at 21st Street - September 12, 1988. The International used to alternate VIA/Amtrak equipment every other day. VIA Rail F40PH-2 6407 was built in 1986).
Dennis DeBruler It shows the one-story bridge tower by the bridge and the interlocking tower a little to the east.

John Dziobko's 1962 photo shows the "red eye" head illuminated. A 1955 photo of a C&WI commuter train shows the "stop" head before it was converted to a "red eye."

Mike Breski posted GM&O 101 crossing the bridge.
Bob Poortinga One of the few photos I've seen that shows the PRR South Branch Bridge interlocking shanty. The block operator also operated the bridge. If you look closely, you can see the PL signal that protected the bridge. This was *not* part of 21st St. Interlocking. If you look even more closely, you can see part of the backside of the home signal for 21st St just above the engineers location.
Dennis DeBruler While trying to find the link for the above photo, I found a similar view.
Dennis DeBruler Sam's upload:
[Additional comments discuss Pennsy's 22nd Street Tower.]

Ride on TZPR-IMRR Peoria-Havana Pass. Special - Oct. 4, 2012

After the train leaves town, this video has many industrial scenes that I'll never be able to capture because they are from the perspective of railroad property. David Jordan posted this link on Facebook with the explanation:

I'm in Newark, New Jersey for the annual Lexington Group of Transportation History meeting. Three years ago, Lexingtonians met in Peoria. We had two inspection trips using an Iowa Interstate GP38-2, two ex-Montreal commuter coaches and business cars ABRAHAM LINCOLN and THE HAWKEYE.

The first trip took place October 4, 2012 with IAIS 707 manned by a Tazewell & Peoria RR crew from State Street in Peoria to Wesley Jct. from there to Havana and back, an Illinois & Midland crew ran the train. We wyed at Quiver Yard in Havana. A TZPR crew took the train from Wesley Jct. back to Peoria. Video lasts 13:33.

Schnabel Freight Car for Long/Heavy Loads.

The transport of a decommissioned nuclear reactor vessel has its own notes.

(Update: Note S. Berliner, III's comment at the end: "Fabulous coverage but you've got your cars scrambled. CEBX-cum-WECX 800 (red) and WECX 801 (blue) are two different 880-ton 36-wheel cars! Neither one ever overturned. 800 had its load shift slightly and 801 lost its load arms. 801 has just been rebuilt and repainted red as KRL 3601." I haven't changed anything because I don't want to change other people's comments. And not all of these Schnabel cars are the 800 or 801.)

Michael Matalis remembered

John Coke posted in Facebook
John Cook explains:


A Schnabel car is one which has two heavy lifting arms on independent trucks (bogies); when the inner ends of the arms are locked together and train lines connected, the two cars act as one. When the cars are separated and a monster load, usually a giant transformer or a nuclear reactor pressure vessel, is rigidly bolted between the arms, and the trainlines extended under or around the load and connected, the entire set of the two end cars and the load becomes one single car. The arms are hydraulically operated to lift the load to clear the railhead and to tilt and swing the load to compensate for track irregularities and to clear trackside obstacles. On tight turns, both arms can be moved outboard to move the load clear of signals or masts inside the curve. To load heavy objects directly from barges, a wye leads to tracks run along either side of the barge slip and the cars are separated and run down either side of the barge with the arms swung inboard at 45°; the load is swung around 45° on the barge and the arms are then dropped and bolted to the load. The load is then lifted, the set pulled back until the lead car clears the wye, the turnout thrown, and the set pulled further until second car clears the wye. At this point, idler cars, cars of spares and tools, passenger cars for the crew (or caboose-like rider cars) are usually added and the consist is ready for over-the-road travel. 

The load is called an "Upgrader." An upgrader is a facility that upgrades bitumen (extra heavy oil) into synthetic crude oil. Upgrader plants are typically located close to oil sands production.
Tom has many more pictures of WECX 800 and 801. It can shift the load vertically 44" and offset the load 40" to either side of vertical.

safe_image for The Schnabel is a 231 foot long, 400-ton, 36-axle behemoth that is 18 feet above the rails and has a load limit of 1000 tons!

John also posted a video as to how big tanks are trucked to their final destination. Note that there is one tractor-truck in the front to steer and four in the rear to push.

This is how they transfer loads between road and rail transport.
John W. Coke posted
Dennis DeBruler I'm glad there is a guy standing near the gantry so that we can see how big it is.

I've come across several more pictures and a video of Schnabel cars. Dan Mackey has a  Flickr Album of Schnabel car views and some other heavy-duty flat cars. An article also has a link to this video plus more information on the car.

When they are travelling empty, the two halves are connected to each other. You can see the blue one is travelling with the caboose that carries the support crew. And that they can travel in a mixed freight train when empty.
Bryce Denny -> Freight Car Photos

John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads

Strong rectangle loads such as transformers are connected directly to both halves.

John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads
John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads

Other loads have a special deck or other equipment to fasten the halves and hold the load. Here are a couple of pictures of a car with an empty deck travelling in a mixed freight.

John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads
John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads
John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads
This is a car with a deck carrying a load. Note that it has cabooses at both ends to also act a buffers. Via Facebook comments I confirmed that the Schnabel car and its support cars travel alone in a train when it has a load.

I saw a couple of more pictures that used steel tubes instead of a deck to hold the two halves and the load, but now I can't find them )-:

John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads
I have noticed that the cars have variances in truck arrangement and control cab. This car has a rather big cab and 9 2-axle trucks for a total of 36 axles. The posting by Bryce above has 3-axle trucks at the front and back of the carriage and a couple of 2-axle trucks in between for a total of 20 axles. And it does not seem to have a control cab. So there is quite a variety of designs.
Jim Pearson Photography posted
Southbound W992-28 High and Wide Move over the Red River at Adams, Tennessee
When you’re running at 25 mph and only 5 mph through switches, it pretty much takes forever to get anywhere as with CSX W992-28 as it heads south across the Red River trestle at Adams, Tennessee on the CSX Henderson Subdivision with CSXT #9 leading on May 5th, 2021. It left Evansville, Indiana around midnight and ended up tying down at Courtland, TN where it covered 125 miles in about 12 hours.
Based on past moves this looks like another GE generator that is bound for Florida. Still trying to find out and will add it to the caption once I do.
This was an Emmert International train move with CSXT #9 as power and BBCX 1002 as the trailing manned caboose with what appeared to be a steam generator of some sort that was being hauled on their BBCX1000 Schnabel Railcar.
According to the Emmert International website: “Emmert International’s BBCX1000 Schnabel Railcar is specifically designed to carry heavy (up to 1 million pounds) and oversized loads in such a way that the load itself makes up part of the car. The load is suspended between the two ends of the cars by lifting arms; the lifting arms are connected to a pivot above an assembly of pivots and frames that carry the weight of the load and the lifting arm.
For loads not designed to be part of the car Emmert International’s BBCX1000 is equipped with a deck designed to carry the loads in standard configuration up to 836,000 pounds. Customized decks can be manufactured to increase the overall payload weight.
Emmert International’s BBCX1000 is equipped with hydraulic equipment that will either lift the load vertically or horizontally shift the load while in transit to clear obstructions along the cars route.
With 20 axles (ten for each half) containing four trucks connected by a complex system of span bolsters its tare (unloaded) weight without deck is 424,000 lbs. The BBCX1000’s empty car length is 115’ 10” with a maximum length with the loading deck at 168’ 9”. Maximum vertical load shifting ability is 14” and the maximum horizontal load shifting ability is 22”. The heavy-duty AAR railcar mechanical designation is ‘LS’.
Emmert Internationals BBCX1000 Schnabel Railcar is accompanied by the BBCX 1002 Caboose and BBCX1003 flat car that carries the deck when not in service.
The BBCX1000 is pulled by special train service and requires 2 operators who control the BBCX 1000 railcar ride in the caboose.
I’ll be posting a video on this move in a few days on my YouTube Channel and here on Facebook, once I get it edited.
Tech Info: DJI Mavic Air 2 Drone, RAW, 4.5mm (24mm equivalent lens) f/2.8, 1/320, ISO 200.
Jim Pearson Photography

John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads
Update: John's comment:
There's only one railcar like it in the world, and it's the biggest of its breed. Having 36 axles and being 232 feet long and 370 tons with no load in the middle, and capable of being up to 345 feet long and 1250 tons with a load, there's no denying it's huge. The CEBX 800 Schnabel was built in 1980 by Krupp Industrie und Stahlbau (now part of Thyssen Krupp) for Combustion Engineering, hence the CEBX reporting marks. Its original purpose was to haul large heavy bits of nuclear power facilities for Combustion Engineering. More recently, the car has found work in the petroleum business, hauling a good number of huge refinery components around Canada, and for the last few weeks, hauling a 590-ton hydrotreater from the Port of Houston to the Suncor Refinery in Commerce City, CO (near Denver).
Daniel Oswalt Now it's WECX 800 owned by Westinghouse. It's been over in SC and Ga
For almost as year moving parts for VC Summer and Vogtle nuclear.

Top View Birds eye looking down of WECX 800 hauling 627 tons of steel to Vogtle Nuclear
Edward Duke There is another one now also, WECX 801. It is actually bigger than this one by capacity.
Daniel Oswalt It got turned over EMPTY in Charlotte NC. Headed to Kasgro for repairs. Horrible welds they tried to do field repairs and X-ray them but they were too bad.

Third photo in posting
Another posting has 6 pictures including this closeup. It appears they carry spare trucks.

Video of 801 derailing. I recommend that you skip the video, but read the comment. The derailment was caused by something breaking in the car, not the track. Railroad Oddball Locomotives & M.O.W. Equipment comments indicate that the video is a year old and that the car was back on the road about a month later.
John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads 20 Axle Shiftable Railcar & caboose from Specialized Rail Transport.
John W. Coke -> Rail & Highway Heavy Loads If you access the link, you should be able to see more pictures.
A video, "Transformer (Jack & Slide)", shows the entire movement of a large transformer from ship to concrete pad. Note how the ship turns upright as it sets the transformer on a modular transport vehicle. Also not how they build the schnabel car in the railyard to receive the transformer.

A video. The comments are informative: "This train came from New Orleans and is heading to Port Huron, MI. It has a 25 mph maximum speed and cannot meet trains on a curve in a siding. Must meet on a straight section of track." This is the first time I have seen a covered hopper used as a buffer in front. Normally it is just a flatcar or toolcar.

Screenshot from a video
[Some people get suckered into cat videos. I'm a sucker for Schnabel videos. Although I did use the slider quite a bit on this one.] 
John W. Coke posted
Schnabel By Don Kalkman
Samuel Stokes shared Phil Hall's photo
And I thought my locomotives were huge. CN train 435 passes train L350 at Brampton,Ont. L350 was a special move for Hydro One. Because if L350's D9 status, the train must come to a stop if it to be passed by any other non dimensional train. The opposing train must move at 10 mph until clear of L350. The train started out in Hamilton,Ont and was forwarded to the CP Rail interchange at Oshawa, Ont. Tomorrow the CP will pick it up and move it to a location near Oshawa, where it will be offloaded to a low-boy trailer for movement to a Hydro One facility near by. The Schnabel car was built in 1974 by National Steel Car in Hamilton and was rebuilt in 2014.

Video of chasing a  train with both 800 and 801.

Samuel Stokes posted six pictures with the comment "A few from my own way back machine."

Timothy Pitzen posted
[Note the vested employee on the bridge. Is he checking the track deflection? Some comments suggested he was holding the bridge up :-)]
Evidently the WECX 801 got into some trouble. I noticed this was back in 2014. John W. Coke posted three pictures with the comment "Damaged load arms of WECX 801."




John W. Coke posted
Kasgro GE 25-ton Yard Goat leaving Kasgro Rundle Road Yard with WECX 801 Light w/o Arms
John W. Coke posted
WECX 801 Light w/o Arms
[This is one of five photos. I picked this one because I like the bridge as well. I'm guessing it is the Rockville Bridge.]

Tod Riebow posted

Tod Riebow posted
Keith Pokorny posted six photos at Rondout, IL of a move on the CP/Milwaukee. You can follow the link for the other five photos and his comments.


John W. Coke posted three pictures with the comment: "An Elgin, Joliet & Eastern, the "J," EJ&E SW1001 #445 with Westinghouse Ca WECX 202."



Fred Meyer posted six photos:






Big transformers (260 ton) are a problem on roads as well:

John Lewis posted
A Schnabel car ... built to carry specialized loads, these things are monsters. 36 axles plus idler flats and waycars on either end, they are the ultimate in specialized equipment; they can shift the load up and left/right to clear trackside obstructions. The large cylindrical object and associated cars are at West Quincy Missouri on 31 Aug 10.
David Oswalt Jr. posted
Two Schnabels outrunning Hurricane Florence
[The one on the right has 36 axles.]
John W. Coke posted
Westinghouse Schnabel car WECX 202 with transformer load -- John Hill Collection
Merritt Burrus we still have several transformers in service that were likely transported by this car or others similar... they have the Schnabel car mounting eyes... all Westinghouse.
Merrett Burrus commented on John's posting
 Here's a good picture of one of them being moved (again).Pete White Read all about it in Seattle Times.
John W. Coke posted
Load testing twenty axle schnabel car built for HLI Rail & Rigging by Kasgro.
Mark Everett Mike's train house has them in O scale I have one.
John commented on his post
John W. Coke posted two photos.
Merritt Burrus first new one in some time isnt it?
David Keown Merritt Burrus they built a clone of CEBX 800 last year or the year before that.
Greg Price WECX 801 (CEBX 800 Clone) was completed and delivered in 2012. It was sent back to Kasgro in 2014 with structural issues. During its return trip it was involved in a derailment. I don’t know that WECX 801 has ever returned to service.

Chad Miller commented on John's post
Loaded the first turbine on it last fall. [Fall 2018]

John W. Coke shared
Hauling damaged Schnabel components.
John W. Coke posted
[Even empty, they are impressive looking. I could not find a link to this photo. But I did find another of John Doughty's Schnabel photos.]

safe_image for Michael Da Costa
Roger Riblett shared

Dennis DeBruler posted
This caboose is only one freight car away, but it is a long freight car. Note that each truck has 18 axles. This CBEX 800 car has its own crew that travels in the caboose. Each truck has an operating cab so that the load can be moved up and down and side to side to help clear trackside structures.

Jown W. Coke posted
Bulgarian Railways - 20-axle Schnabel rail car.

John W. Coke posted
TEXX 1135 20-axle schnabel car is carrying a million pound transformer from Texas to Northwest Iowa on the Union Pacific. Mike Andrews Is that load going to require special routing, or are the main line bridges rated for loads like that? When I worked for a state DOT, oversize and overweight permitted loads got very special handling.
Dutch J Greensweight Mike Andrews Darin Long The car itself is designed to spread out the weight enough to allow it to be moved over most bridges. They do inspect everything beforehand including clearance issues to anything close to the tracks.

Mike Schatti posted
You know your day is gonna be bad when you drive up to THIS. Nevertheless, someone won't be receiving their nuclear reactor, LOL.
Rob Conway Could be a simple case of loading or unloading the car. The pivot points on the car show that it was designed to do this.
Michael Milner This Schnabel car is WECX 800 formerly CEBX 800 built for Combustion Engineering by Krupp Industries of West Germany, in 1982. It can lift its load 44" or shift it side to side 40" for negotiating clearance issues. This incident on December 15, 2012 and was caused by the skid used to attach the the load to the car, this occurred near Savannah while en route to Vogtle nuclear power plant.

Neil Bishop Had mechanical desk call me one time said we had a derailment on Thayer North. He said only one car. But one problem the car light weight is over a million pounds.
Michael Milner Found a video of it in action as CEBX 800
James T Wyatt Reminded me of this
The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
John W. Coke posted
Carsten Frank Happened 2008 in sweden. According to this report wrong load distribution (during loading and horizontal shifting function of the Schnabel car) and lack of maintenance (greasing) of the car
The photo at the Swedish link says whoops in any language., cropped
Fortunately, my browser offered to translate the web page. It seems to have done a decent job. The car was carrying a transformer from ABB to a port when it tipped over in Feb 2008. The transformwer was worth SEK 20 million and it was scrapped in place. "As a result of the accident, both tracks were blocked and during the nine days 350 trains were redirected." []

One of 21 photos shared by Thorge Clever
A new one for germany.
[I counted 32 axles.]

Marc Dufour commented on Thorge's post
A proud German tradition! 

I Love Trains posted
photo courtesy of Jasmina Kozar. -
Sending regards from sLovenia and best wishes from new year. In Zidani Most not started the year the best way
Team working hard and do they best to save the big transformer.
[Several comments call this a model train. If so, the high tension wires are a nice detail.]

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(new window)   At 1:40, the car is shifted left to clear the right side of a bridge truss. The creaking sounds you hear as it crossed the bridge were a little creepy. At 14:09, you can see the overhang as it goes around a curve.

(new window) It is on the IHB going under the BNSF/CB&Q Racetrack. At 1:58, note the worker down by the track looking under the car to make sure they don't lower it so much that it hits the track. At 8:09 it creaks, literally around the sharp connector in the northeast quadrant.

TrainFanatics page about 800 (source). It provides a link to a 6:17 video. It is probably another view of the IHB to BNSF connection that the above video shows.

Train's article about 801, the world's largest railcar.

John Lewis posted a photo of a train in the West Quincy, MO yard in 2010. It had two cabooses as well as a big parts car. The comments indicated that it had come up the IHB to use the connection to BNSF/CB&Q.
Michael Matalis Yes, the day before the move west. The load was moved along the triple track at night because commuter fences had to be taken down along the way in order to clear.
Lance Wales Pretty sure I also shot this move coming out of Chicagoland on the Mendota Sub. The load was a cracking tower used in some refining process (oil?). Remember that it came from somewhere in Canada.
Paul Yelk John Lewis - Yes, the Schnabel car can shift it's load as much as 5 feet either direction: Up, down, left, or right. There are a lot of restrictions when there's a Schnabel car involved. Most of the time it requires a physical inspection of the route to identify all the potential obstacles especially those that have to be temporarily removed. More info here: I have the MTH o-gauge model of this car. It has 14 axles; is 26.5" long with the center piece installed and requires a circle of 6 feet in diameter (O-72). The full-size can be up to 36 axles and about 300 feet long!

[That link is a rabbit hole of really neat information. For example, on 800 I found a photo of the type of crane necessary to pick and place a big load. I'm glad he copied the photos because he has the same problem I have with source links, the PR departments of companies don't maintain the integrity of their URLs.
A photo of a train with two empty Schnabel cars.
"Ken also notes that there is a complete R.J. Corman derailment crew consisting of about a dozen 18-wheelers carrying the usual side-boom bulldozers and other equipment that is staying within an hour of the train all the way to Denver."
An engineer talks about moving the largest load in North America, 773 tons. Photos of another big crane.  I've noticed that a lot of these big loads start at an import dock because they were made in another country.
A railroad company's description of moving an even heavier load, 790 tons. The car can support 880 tons.

I don't understand this routing because I'm not familiar with the subdivisions, but I include it for those who are fluent in BNSFese.
Kevin Bristow Continue to Bucklin on the Brookfield sub transfer to Marceline Sub it was offset as it travel up the transfer track and we still had to remove switch stand to complete move. Sibley Bridge was the next obstacle with no problems crossing bridge. Train continue on trans con on the Emporia Sub.