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Piggyback Loading in the 70's

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Piggyback Loading in the 70's
Posted by Flying Crow on Sunday, April 07, 2019 9:24 PM

I am modeling a small yard in Minden, LA in 1976.  The yard has two piggyback tracks.  I know that there were no ramps for the tracks even at that time.  Does anyone know what equipment may have been used to load and unload piggyback trailers at that time period in a small yard?  Also does any company model that type of equipment in HO scale?

Thanks!

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, April 07, 2019 9:56 PM

I'm sure by 1976 loaders were used in major yards,  A really small facility could have done "circus" style.  Driving the truck up a ramp, and on to a string of flats.

Wheels of Time makes some nicely detail models of loaders.

Mike.

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Posted by Flying Crow on Sunday, April 07, 2019 10:04 PM

Unfortunately, I know there were no ramps at this yard.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, April 07, 2019 10:20 PM

So, you know there wer no ramps, but they were designated tracks for piggy back flats?  (TOFC)

They must have used some type of loader, if there was no overhead type crane there.

The pictures I want to show, might have copyright protection, but check out this site for early type piggy back loaders.

http://www.wheelsotime.com/blog/2011/8/12/variations-to-pc-90-piggy-packer.html

Mike.

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Posted by Flying Crow on Sunday, April 07, 2019 10:24 PM

Thanks.  That looks exactly like what I need.

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Posted by NHTX on Monday, April 08, 2019 1:14 AM

     Flying Crow,

     In the 1970s, locations such as Minden probably employed portable ramps for a couple of reasons:

     Trailers could arrive facing in either direction since the loaders in Portland Maine or, Portland Oregon had no idea which way Minden's ramp was oriented.  Cars with trailers pointed the wrong way would have to be turned on a wye or turntable if one was available.  This required additional switching, thus additional expense.

    By the mid 70s, most railroads were phasing out their smaller piggyback terminals in favor of larger facilities in major cities.  It was faster and cheaper to load/unload trailers in large, multi tracked yards, even with circus style fixed ramps and truck them 50 miles to the consignee, instead of stopping every 40 or 50 miles to pick up or set out a few cars.  Circus handling of trailers was rapidly losing favor, no matter how many or how few trailers were involved.

     It is highly unlikely a railroad would spend money on a loader such as the Wheels of Time model to serve the two tracks at Minden when Shreveport was relatively close by.  Most likely, while Minden was an active piggyback terminal, a portable ramp was employed.  A picture of one is on p.94 of Kalmbach's "Piggyback and Container Traffic" book.  The last one I saw was on the L&N in Gulfport MS in 1974.  It was used on a double ended siding so east or west bound trains could set off and pick up piggyback cars.  The ramp was towed to where it was needed according to the direction the nose of the trailers faced.

    I vaguely remember a model of a portable ramp being offered in HO back in the 1970s, but by whom, I don't recall.  Still, it should be an easy scratch build.  

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Posted by Flying Crow on Monday, April 08, 2019 1:30 AM

NHTX
A picture of one is on p.94 of Kalmbach's "Piggyback and Container Traffic" book.  The last one I saw was on the L&N in Gulfport MS in 1974.  It was used on a double ended siding so east or west bound trains could set off and pick up piggyback cars.  The ramp was towed to where it was needed according to the direction the nose of the trailers faced.

Thanks, that makes a lot of sense.  I'll need to get a hold of that book and then try to scratch build one.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, April 08, 2019 6:44 AM

Walthers has these:

https://www.walthers.com/transload-park-loading-ramps-pkg-2-kit

The only other ramp I've seen from Walthers is for loading auto racks.

I don't the book that NHTX talks about, would be interesting to see.

Mike.

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Posted by NHTX on Monday, April 08, 2019 7:01 AM

     "Piggyback and Container Traffic" sells for $21.95 in the "Books" section of the Kalmbach Hobby Store, or from Amazon.

     The Walthers ramps referrred to are very close to the portable piggyback ramps I remember.  Just make sure the height is correct and add a bridge plate.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, April 08, 2019 7:17 AM

 I would agree with the portable ramps. A small yard like that wouldn;t support the then fairly new and expensive pieces of machinery now found all over the place.

 I was just not far from there, spent the past 6 weeks, with one week off in between, in Bossier. Lots of rail activity there and across the river in Shreveport.

                                      --Randy


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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 08, 2019 8:35 AM

Definately portable ramps. Even big terminals with ramps, packers or cranes would have had portable ramps for special situations in that era. 

Portable ramps go back to the 50's and lasted until circus loading was totally gone.

I have a picture or two somewhere, maybe I can post it later.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, April 08, 2019 9:10 AM

I found this:

http://www.nprha.org/Publications/Marketing/NP_Piggy_Back_Pamphlet_M.pdf

Scroll down to page 6.  It shows a portable ramp pulled by a truck, and set up at the rail yard.

Looks older than 70's.

I didn't think finding pictures of a portable ramp, other than what you'd use to load an atv, would be so scarce

Mike.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, April 08, 2019 10:36 AM

 It would appear that pamphlet is from somewhere in the early to middle 1960's, because there are ZIP codes listed for the offices at the bottom, and those didn't come into being until 1963. The tractor pulling the portable ramp is definitely an older model, but yard trailers often were older models, no need for the latest because they didn't have to pull heavy loads on the highway.

 That portable ramp looks the same as ones seen in later photos, I doubt the design changed much, there was little need for it to change. 

                                         --Randy

 


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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 08, 2019 2:31 PM

Here is another photo of that exact same type of portable ramp

In those NP photos, all those trailers are 60's era 40' stuff, and 85' flat cars, also dating that to the mid 60's.

The trailer in this photo is also a 40'er from the 60's. The tractor in the photo above is a B model MACK, produced from 1953 to 1966. But that means little because those trucks lasted so well they can still be found in use today.

When I was a teen in the early 70's, CAROLINA FREIGHT was still using their B models for local deliveries and had an inhouse rebuilding program that kept them looking like new. They did not phase them out until the mid 80's.

My father worked in the trucking business most of his life, and for short time with the SOUTHERN RAILWAY in their piggyback system. I learned a lot.......

And piggyback is a big part of my modeling. 

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Flying Crow on Monday, April 08, 2019 11:40 PM
Thanks, great picture.
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Posted by Flying Crow on Monday, April 08, 2019 11:42 PM

It would be great to find one of these portable loading ramps.  I wonder why some company has not made them.  The pictures were great but not enough for me to attempt to model one.

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 3:13 AM

Flying Crow
I wonder why some company has not made them.

https://www.walthers.com/transload-park-loading-ramps-pkg-2-kit

While not "exactly" the proper ramp it would work in a pinch.

 I've seen some ramps made from old flat cars when a quick and cheap solution was needed.

[edit] I see my link is the same as the one posted earlier by Mike. Embarrassed  Sorry.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 7:15 AM

Now that I found the pamphlet, I linked to above,  and a re-look at the Walthers ramp, I think it would be a fairly easy bash project, to make the NP portable ramp, using the Walthers kit.

Mike.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 6:16 PM

mbinsewi

Now that I found the pamphlet, I linked to above,  and a re-look at the Walthers ramp, I think it would be a fairly easy bash project, to make the NP portable ramp, using the Walthers kit.

Mike.

 

The biggest problem with the Walthers ramp is that it is not really wide enough......

It needs to be wider than the truck/trailer. Being an unloading ramp for trailer contents, it is barely as wide as the trailer. Just looking at the pictures I doubt the trailer wheels would even fit on it width wise.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by zstripe on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 6:43 PM

Sheldon,

That  B model Mack, looks like it has an old style Bartlett hydraulic fifth wheel on it. Place I worked for in the 60's until they shut their doors in 82' started out with a IH R-190 1954 single axle tractor converted into a spotter that the shop installed a Bartlett lift on. Funny thing about was, that when you lifted a trailer, the springs would go down first, once they bottomed out, it would lift the trailer up. Sure beat the heck out of cranking dolly legs all nite though. They finally broke down and bought some Capacity spotters, with a large air bag lift on it, solid mounted, (hard rubber) axle.

https://www.bws-yto.com/Cincinnati-bartlett-lifting-device.html

A Wheels in Time white metal casting kit spotting tractor that I made into a working fifth wheel lift:

Take Care! Big Smile

Frank

 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 8:00 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
The biggest problem with the Walthers ramp is that it is not really wide enough.....

Yea, your right, if using it right out of the box, it would need some "bashing" to get it to the right width.

That, or start from scratch.

Mike.

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Posted by csxns on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6:48 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
CAROLINA FREIGHT

Cherryville NC.

Russell

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6:52 PM

csxns

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
CAROLINA FREIGHT

 

Cherryville NC.

 

 

Yes, Cherryville, my father was the Baltimore terminal manager for Carolina from 1967 until about 1979.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by csxns on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6:57 PM

Live their allmost of my life drivers for Carolina did not like piggyback they said it took jobs,and i did know that Mr Beam did own stock in the Seaboard Coast Line.

Russell

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Posted by NHTX on Thursday, April 11, 2019 7:50 PM

     That portable ramp I vaguely remembered has been found.  It was made by Penn Line and advertised on p.15 of the May, 1958 MR as their kit number A1-K, with "die cast sidemembers and safety pattern metal deck."  Price: 75 cents, in 1958.

     I'd just widen those from Walthers.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 9:45 AM

I spent several years around Springhill, and did some consulting in Minden.

Neither of the railroads going through there was a serious 'through' line by the early Nineties, and I think it likely that any organized piggyback traffic would depend on a regulated environment ... or a supportive local Chamber of Commerce wanting to expand local intermodal.  The completion of I-20 to the south would put a very effective kibosh on any particular piggyback 'advantage' in Minden.

I can't imagine the level of traffic that would justify a Letroporter or sidelift gear for that town, or even assignment of some kind of yard tractor for loading and unloading.  So I think portable ramps and circus-type loading would be the only real practical solution; my guess is that some careful instructions about 'which way the trailers faced' might be involved as part of the routing instructions.  It is at least possible that, in your era, there would be at least the equivalent of a wye between lines on the Shreveport (west) side, so you could switch ends with only a few moves; this might be an interesting thing to model if you have the space.

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 10:36 PM

What year did trailers move from being transported on single flatcars or two flatcars in tandem to those articulated spine cars?

Also Athearn rereleased some 50' Flatcars with 25 trailers, but they appear to be lettered for 70's era railroading.

Were any 25' trailers around in the 70's?  Or was it mostly 40' and 45' trailers?

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Posted by NHTX on Thursday, June 13, 2019 4:19 AM

      Single trailers have always moved on single flatcars even up into the 1990s as trailer lengths grew, often before flatcar length could catch up.  In the late 1970s, up into the 1980s, railroads converted surplus, or outmoded equipment into cars capable of transporting newer, longer, trailers.  Railroads such as Southern, CNW, MKT, cut 50 foot boxcars down into trailer movers.  Santa Fe used re-purposed bulkhead flatcars from wallboard service.  Prior to that, some railroads cut down old gondolas and applied tie-downs.

     Athearn's 25 foot tandem axle trailers and 48 foot "piggyback" cars seem to be from that great 1950s "NKP"--No Known Prototype-railroad.  The cars have no hitches or tie downs, and no bridge plates in an era when it was all circus style loading.  It seems to be a matter of a manufacturer adding "play value" to their product offering instead of following a given prototype.

     Shorter trailers similar to Athearn's were extant right up to today, but most trailers less than 32 feet in length were single axle.  The 40 foot trailer became legal in 1957, making the 75 foot flatcar obsolescent.  In 1981 the 45 footer became the new standard and a trailer building rush was on.  Owners with large numbers of relatively new 40 footers began programs to "stretch" them an additional five feet.  By the time everybody had their 45 footers in service, trailer length jumped to 48 feet in 1985.  In 1991, 53 feet became the new standard although some juridictions permit 57 footers.

     "Piggyback & Container Traffic" by Jeff Wilson, (Kalmbach Books, ISBN: 978-1-62700-383-4) will answer your intermodal questions.  The spine car concept began in the late 1950s with New York Central's Flexi-Van container cars.  In the late 1970s, Santa Fe began experimenting with a six unit, articulated skeleton car that was made possible by the move away from circus style loading and unloading.  This led to the 10 platform "Fuel Foiler" which was covered in a scratch building article in the September 1982 issue of MR.  Another interesting concept that was tried in the 1980s was, the two-axle spine car that could carry a single 45 or 48 foot trailer.  Trailer Train had them by the thousands but, handling them empty (light weight) led to more excitement than railroads wanted and all except one, were scrapped.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 13, 2019 4:57 AM

And here is all you have to do make the Athearn cars closer to the real 54' cars carrying two vans:

Remove the excess axles on the trailers, move the landing gear back, modify the rub rails, add bridge plates and bridge plate retaining chain stakes, and create some fifth wheel jacks. I skip the binder chains, but add spare tires to many trailers, which were common in the 50's.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, June 13, 2019 6:31 AM

That looks more like 50's piggy back - wasn't this topic about 70's?

Topic drift.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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