Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Interesting Unit Trains

(Combines and tractors have their own post. Windmill parts also has its own post.)

Ken Bryan posted
I've seen pictures of unit trains other than coal, ore, grain/potash, sand, oil/ethanol, and pigs/stacks/racks; but this one has motivated me to save pictures of atypical unit trains.

Ken's comment:
I thought this was a pretty cool photo, taken by John Barringer. Appears to be taken in 1942 in the Mojave Desert of California. After I initially posted it I noticed these are Rock Island cars, so I lightened up the shadows a bit to confirm. These were either used for training or being shipped to port in San Diego en route to WWII action.
Note there is a guard standing in each of the tank turrets. That train would be a high-value target for saboteurs.

Other comments identify the tanks as M4 Sherman and that they were manufactured by several companies:  Baldwin Locomotive Works, American Locomotive Company, Pullman-Standard Car Company and ACF in St. Charles MO. Note that at least the first three no longer exist. It is a good thing that the next World War will probably be a cyber war because USA has very few plants left that they could convert to war time production. Another hindsight of writing this blog is that I should have invented a label to flag postings about plants that changed their output during the war.

Ray Walters posted
This picture is one of 30 taken by Conrail's publicity photographers in 1983 of a Conrail pulling a 12 car train loaded with 23 army tanks. The train originated at the Detroit Arsenal, Warren Tank Plant and was going to a location in New York, thru Horseshoe Curve. I have never seen any of these photos published, could be someone else has.
Jurgen Engel Considering what a tank weighs, that's one heavy train, granted it's going downhill at the moment...Mario Pass I remember seeing these on a railfan trip as a kid in my club.. we were tipped off, we waited for 2 hours, and indeed they were bound for Ft. Drum.
These are very special, dedicated DODX flatcars with 3-axle buckeyes, which only recently became available as models.
David Garon An M1 from that era weighed 60 tons, so 120 tons per six-axle car... about 1500 tons net for a 12-car train and 20 tons per axle. The tank loads are not heavier than a modern coal train, which comes in at 110 tons per four-axle car or 27.5 tons per axle.

Peter Dudley shared
A Conrail (CR) trainload of U.S. Army M-1 tanks, produced at the long-gone Warren (MI) Tank Plant, heads through Pennsylvania's Horseshoe Curve (west of Altoona) toward Fort Drum NY, 1983.
According to David Garon (commenting in another group): "An M-1 from that era weighed 60 tons, so 120 tons per six-axle car... about 1500 tons net for a 12-car train and 20 tons per axle. The tank loads are not heavier than a modern coal train, which comes in at 110 tons per four-axle car or 27.5 tons per axle."
Tom Pfeifer Sr. I was with the Railroad Police and our officers had to ride the Tank Trains from The Warren Tank Plant to interchange in Columbus and West to Bayonne. We had a specially equipped caboose where we could cook And sleep. Each time the train stopped we had to get off the caboose and protect the train. The officers carried shotguns and side arms. The government issued the Railroad Police with Federal credentials so we could travel across state lines while carrying weapons.
Gary Brightman And I'm the one who inspected them and video taped them before they left the Warren Michigan tank plant.
Tom Pfeifer Sr. Debra K. Carlton Pauloski M1 Tank was first manufactured in 1978, M1A1 in 1985 and the M1A2 in 1986. The A stood for Abrams. Original Tanks were OD Green, some were painted sand color and shipped to Isreal as they were not considered Stealth technology. In 1986 The M1A1 began being manufactured with the new Stealth technology and shipped to Bayonne NJ for distribution to Europe. In Aug 1990 Tanks that were coming off the line in Warren started being painted sand color after Irag invaded Kuwait in anticipation of the Gulf War. Tanks began being shipped to Anniston Ala for shipment to the Middle East. Conrail interchanged these shipments in Columbus. If memory serves me. Getting old.
Jim Jorgensen I had to go to the plant and measure each load check the tie downs. I was a industrial car inspector.
Tom Pfeifer Sr. Jim Jorgensen Remember the first ones pulled from the tank plant? All the military Brass was on hand at Sterling Yard when they arrived and placed into the yard, they side swiped some standng cars and damaged a number of tanks. Army shut down the yard so all the little pieces of metal could be recovered from the ground as the stealth paint and material was still considered Top Secret?
Jim Jorgensen Tom Pfeifer Sr. yes I do remember that. The car inspector was brought up on charges for not applying hand brakes on the track he bled off.
Larry Kaloian Was working the day someone forgot to tie down the barrels down, they started to swing and hit objects such as telephone poles.

Roger Durfee posted
Coils are in Cleveland.
Kevin Piper posted
Westbound at Frankfort, 1-30-90.
[Steel slabs. The slabs are longer than the freight car so an idler flatcar is placed between each loaded car. It looks like the freight car is a fish-belly gondola with the ends replaced by a bar across the top.]
John W. Coke posted
It is not a unit train, but it is an interesting load. I think trucks still have frames, but I wonder if any cars still have frames. My 1971 Ford Torino had a frame, but my wife's 1973 Chevy Nova did not have a frame. I did not have to worry about jacking up the Torino to change a tire. But I did read the user's manual for the Nova to find where I could safely place the jack under the uni-body.
Mark Hinsdale posted
A train of covered steel coil cars.It is not a long train, but it does need two engines. This is the first time I have seen the larger coil-car covers.

See combines for several trains hauling John Deere combines, both stills and videos.

Woodchip hoppers.

Screenshot from the NS video.
They are not unit trains, but they start with long cuts of Cat equipment: NS: 51-cars and BNSF: 23-cars. The Peoria area Cat plants make quite a variety of equipment.

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.

A video of a lot of military trucks on the move.

Only the first 13 cars are Cat equipment, but David's explanation says they are from the Aurora plant. The video indicates the variety of products that are assembled in Aurora. These cars must have gone on the BNSF/CB&Q mainline to Galesburg. Then from Galesburg to East Peoria on a CB&Q branch. I assume Cat adds more cars from the Peoria area plants to NS train D49 that takes the TP&W tracks to Logansport, IN where it uses "home" tracks to the east coast.

Steve OConnor posted
ArcelorMittal IH East: Coil train leaving AM IH East (Dr. Raymond Boothe Collection).


Rail Traffic Depression: 292 Union Pacific Engines Are Sitting In The Arizona Desert Doing Nothing
[Not a real unit train. Actually 292 UP engines is longer than a unit train. The dry Arizona climate is good for storing more than airplanes.]
Except for the 6 gondola cars at the beginning, the train video is nothing but John Deere 7830s and extra tires so that the tractors can have dual wheels.

Leroy Brandenburg posted
a unit corn syrup load ,heads sb out of ft scott ks on 03-05-2016
Screenshot from video
It is not a unit train, but it begins with a 51-car block of Cat equipment. Note that some front loaders are small enough that they can be shipped with their tires on. Bigger ones have to have their tires loaded separately. This one is so big they have to take off the axles as well as tires!
Adam Taylor posted
Here's the NS tank train. Would anyone know the symbol?Jackson Vandeventer Would be a 053.
[Normally, a "tank train" is a bunch of tank cars and would not be an interesting unit train. But a bunch of military tanks is interesting.]
They (Ironhorse Permian Basin) are talking about putting bladders in obsolete DOT 111 tank cars and shipping water from wells in Texas to California. The Southwestern Railroad (SWRR) has built up the customer base so well that BNSF is talking about not renewing the lease Jan. 17, 2017, and taking over the service.
Adam Taylor posted three photos with the comment: "BNSF 6785 led a unit train of what I believe were untreated ties off the Springfield Sub and onto the Pana at Lenox just after noon today. This is the first I've seen a train like this."


William Brown shared a story
This happens regularly at Fort Hood. Usually six trains of equipment per deployment to the National Desert Training Center ay Terminal, CA.
NS posted
Steel slab train 60C crosses the massive Cumberland River Bridge along the Central Division in Burnside, Ky. The Central of Georgia heritage unit (#8101) leads the train, on its way toward Mobile, Ala., from Chicago.
Screenshot of 1930s Farmall tractors
John Poshepny posted
Here's KCS 4051 leading a LPG Unit Train west.
People get scared of oil and ethanol trains. I would think LPG would be even more dangerous.]
Blake Trafford posted
CP Train 142 is departing Smiths Falls after crew change with 30 flatcar loads of military vehicles. November 15th, 2016.
Jack Ferry shared
Northbound Illinois central banana train out of new Orleans with a Paducah built 4-8-2 heavy mountain locomotive on the point.
[According to the comments, it was out of Fulton, KY because trains from New Orleans and Mobile were iced and redispatched at that stop.]

Paul Flaherty posted
A friend of mine emailed me this photo/article. It was sent to him from one of his friends who was an IC switchman. He also noted that the “Green Diamond” magazine had an article on the ICRR’s part of the operation years ago.
John Connell Those cars were like saunas. Bananas generate heat as they ripen.
Norel Pride I worked MS 2 a hot shot with bananas ahead of the caboose. As soon as we stopped a group of men would open each car and a young kid would go up a ladder and into the car. I asked them one day if the kid was getting samples. They said no he was checking for tarantulas. I said then what. Guy said If he doesn’t come out we close it up and bad order the car!
Bill Myers Worked as a carman in EStL yards, the "old heads" were fond of telling stories about the tarantulas and snakes in the banana cars.
Skip Luke I lived next to the tracks in Peotone ...... Found a big tarantula in the bathroom.
Jake Sheehan And these were Gros Michel bananas, which are nearly impossible to find today. Once they almost got wiped out by Panama disease, exporters switched to cavendish bananas. Legend has it that the artificial banana flavor is based off the Gros Michel banana which is why the banana flavor doesn’t taste very close to a banana as we know it.
Stephen Crews Wylder Fulton, Kentucky was known as "The Banana Capital of the World" because its ice house made it possible for these trains to run all the way to Chicago without the bananas spoiling.
Nathan Driscoll The 2600's are my favorite mountain types. They were the most powerful 4-8-2s ever built. I would like to get some HO scale versions, but I can't find them.
Paul Flaherty Not only that, they were more powerful than any 4-8-4 ever built (the closest was N&Ws J-Class 4-8-4). There is something to be said about the RRs who built their own steam power; the N&W “Y6B” 2-8-8-2 was the most powerful steam engine built, easily edging out the Big Boys.
Paul Flaherty Incidentally, fruit growers shipping on the ICRR pioneered reefers in the 1800’s (I will post pics later on this site).
So do you even see refrigerated RR cars today? I remember seeing a PBS program on TV, maybe in the 1980s, featuring a crack high speed train shipping lettuce from California to the Midwest.

Howard Keil shared
The First Solid Train-Load of Washing Machines Ever Shipped to One Distributor, Shipped Dec. 6, 1919 by Altorfer Bros. Company, Peoria, IL.
From the 'Remarkable Development of Altorfer Bros. Company, Manufacturers of ABC Washing Machines', May, 1928...
“Two young men, in their early twenties, fired with the ambition to become world known manufacturers, formed the inception, nineteen years ago, of an institution the products of which, today, are used in every state in the Union, throughout the Dominion of Canada and in many foreign countries. One of the first power washers made by the Altorfer brothers in the basement of their father's hardware store at Roanoke, Illinois, in 1909. These men, Silas H. and A. W. Altorfer, sons of Henry Altorfer, had their early business training under the tutelage of their father who owned the only hardware store in Roanoke, Illinois. A successful business, yet not holding forth the future that business pioneers demand and, the Altorfer brothers were pioneers. Casting about for something to make, and having that peculiar instinct that seems to lead some people continually in the right direction, they chose power washing machines—not because of profits, for in those days profits in the power washing machine business were unheard of — but because of an humanitarian idea to relieve their own sisters from the dread of blue Monday. Their first attempt, the Roanoke Power Washer, was made by the four hands of the two loyal brothers in the basement of their father's store in Roanoke, Illinois, in 1909, Crude? Yes, but what a wonderful labor saver it proved to be. As soon as it was finished it was proudly displayed in the store and then taken home for an actual test. Friends scoffed at the idea of making a gasoline engine wash the clothes. Neighbors said it wouldn't work. But work it did—and so well that its makers definitely decided to choose the power washing machine manufacturing business as their life's work.”
[1919 was long before unit trains were common.]
Jeremy J Schrader posted
GAL NSI on departure 1 ready to go.
Erik Rasmussen U-GALPIT steel coil train next to it. Neat!Dennis DeBruler Where did those coils come from? I'm wondering where there are steel mills west of Galesburg. Or have these been imported from Asia?jErik Rasmussen The coils come from the Chicago area and are gathered into a unit train at Galesburg. The unit train is sent to RIchmond, CA.Dennis DeBruler I guessed PIT was pittsburgh. Now I understand that I was wrong. It is nice to know that the Chicago area is still cranking out steel.Erik Rasmussen Yes, the symbol is for Pittsburgh, but for some reason the symbol description gives Richmond. The consignee is US Steel. The cars come from the NS off the H-NSIGAL and are assembled at Galesburg into a unit.Wesley Fane The PIT in the symbol is for Pittsburg, CA and as I understand the loaded cars go to USS POSCO there for further processing. Richmond CA is probably the closest yard that a local could handle these cars out of for final delivery to the plant. Some of the steel is also coming off the CN at Eola, with big cuts of loads and empties in former EJ&E cars going back and forth from Galesburg on GALCNI/CNIGAL.Patrick Flynn Last I heard the train went to Ozol CA (mile west of Martinez on the Cal-P, ex-SP Oak-SAC main) , and then ran back east on the former SP Mococo Line right to POSCO at Pittsburg. BNSF and SP have reciprocal switching rights at POSCO.

John W. Coke posted
Adams Industries, Sidney, Nebraska.
John W. Coke posted
[In my opinion, this photo pretty well sums up the 2:39 video.]
[I take that back, the type of pipe being hauled changed. Then the last four cars held green pipes.]
John W. Coke posted

John W. Coke posted
Greg Mross posted
Conrail 3300 brings a coil steel train thru LaPorte, IN in November of 1998.
George W Lane posted three photos with the comment: "WW II Tanks~Moline Illinois."
[Comments indicate it was a John Deere plant in Bloomington, IL.]
Matt Smith That's a Peoria & Eastern switcher on the left so this would be 1950 at the earliest.

Edward Krzyzowski That means those could be M46 Pattons.

Raymond Breyer Definitely postwar. The NKP didn't paint those cabooses like that until 1950. At best this is Korean War, or more likely surplus being sold at export.



Marlowe Barnes posted
8-31-2017: Cruising along the Florida-Georgia border and stumbled on this BNSF tanker train (not oil) parked in Callahan, GA just south of Folkston Funnel where the line from Baldwin, FL merges with the Nahunta Sub
[It's not oil or ethanol because there is no buffer car. Speculations are corn syrup or glycol.]
JB Rail Photog shared
02/17/2019 - On this gloomy and misty morning CSX local turn J757-17 makes it's daily journey from the CSX Osborn Yard in Louisville, KY, to the CSX O'Bannon Yard with a long string of truck frames on the head-end along with the box cars, center beam, and autoracks bringing up from the rear.
[It is not a unit train, but it sure is a long cut of identically loaded cars.]
Barry Thornberry posted
Steam shovels on flatcars, Cherokee County, Kansas 1936
Bob Hausler They belong to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. The bottoms don't have tracks but are set up to run on railroad rail.
[Again, it is probably not a unit train. But it is a very interesting cut of cars.]
Floyd County Museum posted two photos with the comment:
From the Floyd County Museum. Today we are sharing two photos taken by the plant photographer, Carl Rabe, April 9, 1951. These photos were taken for a story in the Oliver Mirror on shipping our Oliver tractors on the ICRR.

Floyd County Museum posted
From the Floyd County Museum, Charles City, IA. Today we are sharing a very neat train and tractor photograph
from the plant archives. This photo was taken on December 2, 1959 by Carl Rabe, the plant photographer. In his notes Rabe labeled it -"15 carloads of tractors for Venezuela"
Ted Richardson The IC had that wonderful Dock in New Orleans these cars probably ended up at for loading onto a Freighter. Regards
Larry D. Hardin 880’s ?
Bill Wagner Would of those tractors made it all the way to South America, by train? Or a southern port, then put on a ship?
Floyd County Museum The would have been a neat way to travel, however, they were taken to a port in the USA and shipped to SA.
Debby Deb Aguayo posted three photos with the comment: "East Main St., Barstow ...BNSF All Day long.๐Ÿš‚๐Ÿš‚๐Ÿš‚ Military train! This train was endless, wish I could've captured from beginning to end. Destination Military rotations to local USMC and final transport to Ft Irwin Army Training Center..RAILTOWN USA"
Janet L Fraley-Wilson Getting Ready for Rotation out at Mclb to be off loaded go out to Field at Ft. Irwin.
Debby Deb Aguayo William C Thompson Regular military rotation st USMC Military Base & Ft. Irwin Army Training Center, all located near Barstow.


Joe Dockrill shared
beam me up
Fred Bain I'm thinking of all the tracks and turnouts that this load couldn't be taken over.
Rick Henry wondering about slack action between the flats, or did the tie downs prevent that?
Joe Dockrill Rick Henry maybe a short move.
Bob Chaparro posted two photos with the comment: "Bridge girder loads."
Dave Durham That move would require some real railroading expertise.
Daniel Herkes That move would require a high level review of clearances. The center car would not bear weight, but would allow the chord (the length of the beam) to fit to the area along the curve of the rail. Unless the beam left the center car entirely uncovered it would fit whatever that section of track was plated for.
Bruce Smith Those cars are PRR FM flat cars with a 50 ton capacity, which was more than adequate for this single girder. And note that the middle car is simply an idler and carries none of the load.
Bob Chaparro Ben Hom stated: PRR 925340, from PRR 925003 - 925521, Class FM. The most numerous class of PRR flat car, with over 3,600 cars built, and these were 50-ton flats, NOT "heavy duty".

Again, it is not a unit train, but it is an interesting cut of cars. John Kemp posted five photos with the comment: "Liebherr 1130 crawler crane load. Three pairs of crane tracks on one flatcar."
John W. Coke shared
Steve Pajak Where is this located? Do they build these in America?
Dennis DeBruler The only plant I know of in America is in Newport News, VA. It looks like that plant makes front loaders, dozers and excavators.





Leroy Brandenburg posted
A wb unit coil train comes thru marionville mo on 07-04-2019

Keith Edward posted
I have no idea.
[The comments indicate this was an Airstream caravan.]

While searching for the link for Photo ID: 573597 in Rail Pictures, I found several unit trains of high-wide loads. Of course they are rather short trains. Many high-wide shipments have just one load in the train.

Marc Montray posted
Here's one for Ashley Rodriguez. BNSF 5695 shoving hard on a unit corn syrup train just getting into the westbound grade on Tiger hill. Passing MP 409 on the Cherokee Sub 6/5/13.
[I know that America has a sweet tooth, but I wonder what uses enough corn syrup to receive it by the train load.]

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