Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hulett Iron Ore Unloaders

(Dock mounted unloaders such as the Huletts were made obsolete by self-unloaders.)

Hulett History has an American Society of Mechanical Engineers' article written in 1998 on the 100th anniversary of the Hulett unloader patents. The following is a summary of that article.

Conneaut, OH was David Hulett's hometown and that is where the first unloader based on his patents was built in 1899.

In 1912, two Huletts were built that were specifically designed to unload coal. [John Travers comment via Dennis DeBruler]

ASME, p3

That prototype was successful, so two more were built at that dock. Later, these three were replaced with four improved Hulett unloaders.
ASME, p4

Before Hulett's and ore bridges.
Mark Sprang posted
A fine image of the CHARLES A. STREET unloading iron ore at St. Joseph, MI, in 1884. It clearly shows the laborious process of unloading ore through manual means. Also curious that the ore is being places on flatbed railcars.
Scan from an original glass plate, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University.
[There are some comments about loading it onto flatcars instead of gondolas.]
Mark Gammage: An awesome clear shot Mark. I am assuming from a glass negative?
Mark Sprang: Mark Gammage Yep, it is. There aren't a ton of really clear unloading photos from this era.
[I concur about the rarity.]

See below for more details about the design of Hulett's gleaned from the ASME article.

Specific installations of Hulett unloaders:
Dave Ayers describes several generations of Hulett unloaders (Jan 2021: the link is now broken. I'm not deleting this sentence because I noticed this post shows up in a "dave ayers hulett" search, and I don't know how to delete something from a a search result.).

Frederick & Pennsylvania Line Railroad Museum, Inc posted six photos with the comment:
George H. Hulett of Conneaut, OH patented his new machine, the Hulett Iron-Ore Unloader in 1898. His machine revolutionized ore ship unloading by reducing the time needed to unload an entire bulk ship by almost 75% and it only required a crew of two to operate. Between 1898 and 1960, a total of 75 Hulett's were built. The first Hulett's were built by Webster, Camp & Lane Machine Akron OH. After 1903, all others were built by Cleveland's Wellman-Seaver-Morgan Co. The early Hulett's were steam powered with a bucket capacity of 10 tons and rated unloading capacity up to 275 tons per hour. Later models, after 1910, were electric powered (with several 75HP DC motors) with a bucket capacity up to 22 tons and rated at 475 tons per hour. Many of these machines operated for almost 90 years primarily in the Southern Great Lakes Region. All photos (except one) are from 1943 at the Cleveland and Pittsburgh (C&P) Ore Dock. This facility was designed and built by the Pennsylvania Railroad and put into service in 1912.New self unloading ships put the Hulett's out of work by 1992. In 2000 two of the C&P Hulett's were domolished while two were dismantled for future display and are currently stored at Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Port Authority’s C&P Ore Docks. All photos Library of Congress collection.






Carl Venzke posted
Hulett machine unloading ore, Pennsylvania [Railroad] dock, Buffalo, N.Y. - c1908 - Library of Congress photo.

<todo>some of this info should be moved to the Cleveland post.</todo>

Bill Flynn commented on a post

Bill Flynn commented on a post

Steve Vanden Bosch posted three photos with a long comment giving the history of the ship. The comment begins with: "William S Mack unloading at the Hullet in 1908 at Buffalo New York."
Fred Bultman This is Lackawanna.



Mark Duskey posted seven images with the comment: "Hulett pictures from a 1944 Wellman Engineering book of their installations."
Dale Pohto Wellman also combined with McMyler to design many of the coal loaders at various (mostly Ohio) ports.







(The two photos for the Republic Huletts in Chicago have been moved to the Republic notes.)

Carl Venzke posted
Hulett machine unloading ore at Buffalo, N.Y c1908
Carl Venzke posted
Maumee River waterfront -- Toledo, O. Railroads represented on the coal cars: Hocking Valley, Kanawha and Michigan, Zanesville & Western, Toledo & Ohio Central. c1910

C&O Railway Pere Marquette District Page posted
Big Fitz unloading at C&O docks in Toledo.
Mike Delaney The hullett unloaders in the pics unloaded the boat and they dumped the ore into RR cars that ran under the rigs. Both C&O and Lakefront dock had sets of Hulletts for unloading straight deckers as well as multiple coal loaders.
Brian Cylkowski Are there any example s of Hullett unloaders still around?
C&O Railway Pere Marquette District Page They are all gone
Erwin Rommell Now most freighters are self unloaders with a conveyor running under the cargo hold gates, and a conveyor boom that swings off the side of the ship. Most old turbine steamers such as the Fitzgerald have been converted.

[From the comments, Edmund Fitzgerald began service in 58-59. The station wagon on the left is a "1965 Rambler Classic Cross Country."]
Here you may see the marvellous Hulett automatic unloaders, which are nothing less than gigantic steel arms that thrust themselves into a vessel's depth and grasp a ten-ton handful of ore apiece. Each arm has not only a hand, but a wrist as well. The operator, standing on the wrist like an obstinate insect, goes up and down with the powerful arm, which he can guide in any necessary direction. The towering machine weighs more than an army of five thousand men, yet it obeys the slightest touch of its human master's hand as readily as if it were a bicycle. Six workmen and one machine can do the work that formerly required ninety shovellers. When the great hand of the machine is open, it covers eighteen feet of ore, and closes with a grip that is irresistible. Several times, in the holds of ore-vessels, the writer has seen steel girders that were bent and wrenched away by the grip of this mighty giant. [RodneyOhebsion]

safe_image for Benjamin F. Fairless, Ore Ship, 1947 - Gary, Indiana
[The text at the top that got cropped is "The 'Benjamin F Fairless' One of the Largest Ore Freighters, Docking at the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation Plant, Gary Indiana"
This was posted in the "LTV Steel Chicago" Facebook group. I have a lot to learn about the corporate lineage of the many steel plants in the Chicagoland area.]

Fred Bultman posted (source)
I'm still mixing reworks in with new restorations, this is a favorite: Douglass Houghton and consort John A Roebling unloading at Huron, about 1960.

One of several photos posted by Paul Erspamer
HYDRUS, a 436-foot laker built 1903, under the unloaders. Lost in the 1913 "Great Storm" on Lake Huron (with JAMES CARRUTHERS, her companion that day). HYDRUS sank Nov. 9 in a storm so ferocious it's also called “White Hurricane.” A sister ship, ARGUS, also sank on Lake Huron in that storm with a crew of 24. An intense blizzard blanketed the Great Lakes, hitting Lake Huron hardest with wind gusts to 90 m.p.h. & waves to 35 feet. The "Great Storm", worst recorded on the lakes, caused over a dozen shipwrecks Nov. 7 to 10, & with eight ships total losses on Lake Huron alone & more than 250 deaths. HYDRUS, downbound with iron ore, disappeared with her crew of 22, except five found frozen to death in a lifeboat washed up on the Canadian shore. The HYDRUS wreck, upright and intact in 160 ft., was located by David Trotter in 2015. Thanks to

(new window) "Hulett Ore unloaders at the C&P Dock in Cleveland, video from 1989 and 1992. These were the last of their breed to operate, replaced by self-unloading vessels with conveyor systems."

Dave DiGiorgio shared the above video.
Sean Kagi I believe that last two Hulett unloaders operated in South Chicago.

Screenshot of Toledo's 1911 unloader

safe_image for Last of the giants
[It starts with a photo of LTV's two Huletts with the COFCO grain elevator in the background.]

One can see generally how they worked by watching some videos. But here are some details I learned from a history. The first designs dumped directly into the rail cars under the gantry. But later designs added a hopper between the traveler and the cars. This provided a big, fixed target near the ship for the operator to dump into and helped reduce the cycle time to 50 seconds. This hopper could then unload into a "larry." The larry could travel back and forth over the tracks to unload into the railroad hoppers. It had a scale so that it could discharge the correct amount into a hopper. Two operators were needed to run a Hulett. One rode in the leg just above the bucket and the other rode in the larry car. (more details concerning the larry)
ASME, p6

The leg and bucket could be rotated 90 degrees. When the bucket was open, it was 21' wide. And the bucket's attachment to the leg was off-center so that when it was turned 90 degrees it could reach under the deck between the hatches. Being able to reach the spaces between the hatches was one of the advantages of this design over the predecessor of using a clamshell bucket hung from ropes. Another advantage is that "the bucket is positively guided in passing through the hatches of ships, thus eliminating the danger of damage either to the boat or to the machines, arising from the use of rope suspended buckets." [ASME, p9]
ASME, p9

Since I could not determine which dock this was at, I'll put here in the general Hulett notes.
Al Miller posted
Hulett unloaders work the George A. Sloan in this nicely composed early color photo that appeared in National Geographic magazine. I don't have a date for the image but I expect it's wartime or shortly afterward.

(6:20 new window) (Mike Harlan shared; Ernie Grose shared)
It describes the Huletts at Whiskey Island and the shut locomotives that poled the hoppers.

Ronald Picardi commented on Mike's share
They were the most efficient way to unload freighters prior to self unloaders. Three workers were needed to operate one, the crane operator that rode in the bucket, the lorry car operator that loaded the rail cars, and the oiler that keep everything lubricated.
Most unloading docks used four of them.
Photos from the Ralph Roberts Collection.

Ronald Picardi commented on Mike's share
The bucket could rotate making scraping the bottom of the hold between hatch frames much faster.

Ronald Picardi commented on Mike's share
The rail lines which used a "Mule" to push the hopper cars along. (this one is color corrected,) Note, this cargo is raw iron ore. Photos are from the early 70s.

A 21:06 video, I did not watch

Friday, August 30, 2019

The next generation of freight cars will be articulated?

(Update: "In June 2018, CP announced plans to spend more than $CA500 million to purchase 5,900 high-capacity grain hoppers from National Steel Car Ltd., over a four-year period....The new cars are shorter and lighter than current hoppers, and feature a three-pocket design for more efficient loading and unloading compared with government-owned cars’ four pockets. The new hoppers can handle 15 percent more volume and 10 percent more load weight than the cars to be retired. In addition, the new cars will sport more reliable components that are designed to significantly reduce maintenance-related delays." The new cars along with a longer train length of 8,500' allows a train to carry 44% more tonnage in each grain unit train. [ProgressiveRailroading (source)])

Up until the 1960s, the boxcar was the dominant type of freight car. Over the next two decades, there was an explosion of new designs: covered hoppers, rotary and bathtub hoppers, centerbeam for lumber, autoracks, articulated deep well for containers, pneumatic hoppers, etc. But since then, the industry has been content to just make tank cars safer and to make all cars a little bigger to grow their weight from the 263,000 lb standard to the 286,000 lb standard.
Since I'm one of the people who did the research that moved the industry to 286,000 lb. cars, I can explain. We started a study of the costs and benefits of overloading 100 ton coal hoppers on BN in 1987. As it happened, given the size (4000 cubic feet) of the cars, and the size of the heap determined by coal's angle of repose, the cars could physically hold enough coal to bring total gross weight to 286,000 lbs. So that's what it became.
Another part of the study looked at new car designs for both 286K and 315K cars. The 315K cars were an economic "no go", since they cost more per cubic foot of capacity than the 286K cars (larger wheels and axles, mostly) and had a poorer net-to-tare ratio.
A standard coal hopper weights about 60,000 lbs. With a 286K weight limit, it can carry 226,000 lbs. of coal, or 113 tons. Aluminum coal gondolas in service today weigh as little as 42,000 lbs., meaning they can carry 244,000 lbs., or 122 tons of coal. A comparable 315K aluminum hopper weighs about 55,000 lbs., so can carry 260.000 lbs. of coal or 130 tons. But the 122-ton car weighs less relative to its capacity, and costs less too. That's why you don't see the industry moving to 315K cars. [TO20050114 (forgot to save the specific trainorders link), msg rresor]
Exceptions to "no new designs in decades" are trash cars and a couple of autorack designs and some niche markets.

Trash cars have two platforms that share an articulated truck in the middle. This is the only one I have seen while doing some railfanning for five years on the BNSF Racetrack in Downers Grove, IL.
20150112-15 0101c
I also saw one in a yard in Frankfort, IN.
20140829 0001c

Greenbrier introduced an articulated autorack car that they trademarked Auto-Max in 1999. In addition to being articulated, it has adjustable decks to switch between bi-level and tri-level.
I have seen some of them, but they have been rare. I caught this one at Dolton Junction.
20150510 1267
Trains magazine said that the two units of the articulated car are billed as one car. So there is a reduction of train rates with this design. As mentioned, other innovation of the Auto-Max is that it allowed a car to be converted between tri-level and bi-level. Since the lifetime of a freight car is 40 to 50 years, this flexibility is important because each decade or so the personal vehicle market has swung between sedans and trucks+SUVs. Sedans are low enough that they can be stacked three high in an autorack car. But trucks, SUVs and minivans are tall enough that only two levels can be loaded into an autorack.

But this design evidently didn't catch on because I sometimes see an autorack unit train with none of them. And now I seldom see more than a few of them in a unit train. But I did catch a train that started with one Auto-Max car and then had a cut of seven of them.
(new window)

Actually, just because I don't remember seeing them, doesn't mean I haven't seen them. I came across some more examples of Auto-Max cars while looking for deep-well cars in some 2014 photos of the Lemont Bridge.
20140514 0004
My notes indicate that the rest of this e/b train had Auto-Max cars.
20140505, cropped

In 2013, Greenbrier introduced the Multi-Max design. I assume the reason the Auto-Max did not take off is that they had to buy the whole car from Greenbrier. The Multi-Max rack supports the tradition of separate owners for the flatcar vs. the rack on top of the flatcar.
Another advantage of the Multi-Max is that it can be converted from tri-level to bi-level by the customer at a loading site and the extra deck is stored in the car.

A common example of an articulated car design is deep well flat cars for double-stack container traffic. I remember reading about 7-pack and 10-pack cars. But the industry seems to have settled down with 5-pack, 3-pack and singletons.

Greenbrier is proposing that all railcar designs become articulated. Specifically, they are working on reducing the length of a body without sacrificing its volume. In fact, they have increased the volume of some designs. A shorter body allows more bodies to be hauled without increasing the length train of the train. But shorter bodies would increase the slack in the train. Reducing slack, and further reductions of weight and length, is why they want to articulate their new designs. [FreightWaves] I look forward to these new designs because it should not only reduce transportation costs and greenhouse gas emissions, it should make train watching more interesting.

One issue is that shortening the bodies means more weight on the bridges. When a track is rated for 286,000 lbs., I wonder what length is assumed.

Update:  It's not articulated, but it is shorter at 50' 6". According to some Facebook comments I saw, other manufactures are advertising 5400 cubic feet cars whereas this car holds 5185 cubic feet. "Design features of the new railcar, include longer hatches for improved filling efficiency; rounded stiffeners for stronger sides; Tsunami Gate for customized unloading speed—as quickly as 30 seconds; automated unloading for improved worker safety; “align to close” tabs for clear indication that the Tsunami Gate is closed, locked and sealed for transport; and aerodynamic performance for up to 53% reduction in drag." [RailwayAge] Now that I think about it, I suckered for the hype about articulated cars. Bulk cargo freight cars are designed to utilize the 286,000 lb. capacity of trucks. That is why grain covered hopper cars are longer than sand or cement covered hoppers. Since articulation would double the weight on the middle truck, I don't see how it can be done.

The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. (GBRX) announced the addition of a newly designed covered grain hopper to its line of product offerings.

Screenshot from Greenbrier's press release

Update of Update:  Articulated hoppers have come and gone already.
Chris Cruz posted
Still looking fresh, these examples of the articulated Super Hoppers were on display at the Topeka Railroad Days, circa 1991. My photo.
Dennis Garrett When they were new, I got called for a test train with one of these, from Kansas City to Newton. We left around midnight, and the Road Foreman rode with us. Every single time I turned on the light, he was asleep, just the way I wanted him.
Stuart Thomson Great photo.I was always intriqued by this concept. But it required the right combo of movements to make it happen.Santa Fe also had that Fuel Folier bulk container that straddled a spine car. Very ballsy but hard to get the right combo of two way shippers. Santa Fe took chances and sometimes you don't win.
Stuart Thomson Not sure if this was a Budd division Transit America design or if it was a Trinity original. Trinity had trouble with aluminum covered hoppers. This concept required unit train service with quick unload which those hopper gates were not great at. Some of the new designs might work better.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

BNSF Bridge Replacement over Wood River at Home Valley, WA

(1919 Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; Satellite)

Street View

A video about swapping in a new span using barges.
Screenshot @ -3:04

Screenshot @ -2:43

BNSF 8-9-2019 Network Update
First BNSF train crossing new bridge in Home Valley, Wash. – August 5, 2019

BNSF engineering crews were also active on the Fallbridge Subdivision as a new bridge was placed into service on Monday over the Wind River in Home Valley, Washington. Rather than being constructed on site, the new bridge span was transported by barge more than 60 miles down the Columbia River from Portland. Disruptions due to the 36-hour work window required to install the new span were minimized by utilizing alternate routes for some traffic.

This completed project, which included another bridge replaced approximately 10 miles west on the subdivision back in June, is part of BNSF’s Bridge Maintenance Program. Under the program, bridges across the network are replaced based on their condition and as they near the end of their useful life. With 13,000 bridges on our network, BNSF conducts comprehensive inspections and significant maintenance work throughout the year to ensure that each bridge remains safe, secure and structurally sound.
[Note the old truss near the lower-right corner setting on its float-out barge.]


I hope ACC doesn't break this BNSF project link because it contains a scroll through a lot of neat construction photos. This photo is one of them. They are floating out the old span. The new span waits in the background.