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Piggyback Loading in the 70's

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 13, 2019 8:35 AM

riogrande5761

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

Topic drift.

 

Well the topic was also about unloading, but NHTX brought up the Atheran cars, so I chimed in. And as he explained, once trailer lengths pasted 40', railroads returned to "one trailer per flat car" methods like my last photo, so the topic did not really drift that much.....yet.

Yes, two 25' vans on a 50' (+/-) flat car was a 50's thing. Single longer vans on flat cars is a 50's thru today thing.

Actually, in the early 50's, several roads had good sized fleets of 40' flats to carry a single 32' thru 40' vans. Some of these started life as flat cars, many were converted from old box car underfames, B&O, NEW HAVEN, etc.

Early piggyback is full of home shop conversions, the prototypes are endless, and there are virtually no commercial models, and very little detailed documentation, often just wide shot photos and roster notes.

The B&O museum has a 40' piggyback flat built from a box car frame.

But as asked and answered weeks ago, portable ramps were common until circus loading ended.

Sheldon

 

    

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Friday, June 14, 2019 11:26 AM

 

When it was still the Central.
 
Years ago when it was still the Central we were schmoozing around the Buffalo area and passed a small yard where they were backing truck trailers up a simple sloped ramp onto TOFC Flats.
 
The ramp was a framework of used heavy timbers possibly from a bridge deck which was filled with cinders, ballast and so on. Across the track end was a heavy timber with a notch cut in so the Drawbar of a TOFC Flat could be pushed right up against the ramp, steel plates laid, and trailers backed across, the guide rails on the car sides holding the trailer in place until spotted where it could be hitched to the car deck.
 
Low Cost, Low Tech.
 
The brake had not been set on the Flat and the Trucker, as he backed the Trailer along the flat car deck, set his trailer brake.  The flat car moved in response, and the truck tractor fell into the now-gap between the ramp and the flat car, headlights to the sky.
 
As here.
 
 
Aeons ago there was a TOFC Ramp such as this here. 
 
Thank You.
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Posted by Overmod on Friday, June 14, 2019 11:42 AM

Personally, right from the initial statement, I saw this as being Trailer Train 89' flats or the equivalent.  It would be the 1970s, perhaps even as alternatives started to make those cars 'surplus to requirements' -- someone more knowledgeable than I am about specific car history, like Carl, might know exactly what classes would likely show up in service with the kind of demand of a Minden ramp.

But it sure wouldn't be '50s-style trailers on wood-deck flats in that era.

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Posted by NHTX on Friday, June 14, 2019 8:08 PM

      As noted in an earlier post, the single trailer on a single flatcar was by no means dead in the 1970s, or even the 1980s.  Although many of the original 40 foot piggyback flats were gone by the 70s, Trailer Train rostered hundreds of 53 foot cars that were former PRR F-30 class flats that were converted in the 1950s.  Some of these cars remained in service into the 1990s, carrying 45 and, 53 foot trailers.

      Trailer Train also bought Pennsy's 75 foot F-39 pioneering pig flats, on TTX's start-up in 1956.  They had wood flooring with exposed steel center sills on their decks.  The former PRR F-39s were rapidly outmoded when trailer length jumped to 40 feet in 1957.  New Haven, Southern Pacific, Kansas City Southern and Erie embraced an 80 foot car "system" known as the Clejan flat car.  The Clejan had a raised center sill that formed a railway for trailers equipped with small flanged wheels.  This system was history by 1963.  The only trailers that could be carried were those with the small flanged wheels-- basically a closed loop system at a time piggyback was exploding.

     The Clejan did contribute to piggybacking by being the inspiration for General American's G-85 and, later, G-89.  General American kept the raised center sill, instead of rub rails along the sides of the car.  The G-85 was introduced in 1959 and, ACF, Pullman-Standard, and Bethlehem all introduced their 85 foot flatcars to carry the ubiquitous pair of 40 foot trailers.

    The 89 foot flatcar owes its existence to the auto racks of the day.  It was discovered that adding 4'4" to the basic 85 foot auto rack would increase the carrying capacity by three automobiles.  Trailer Train wisely made the 89'4" flatcar standard for both services.  The 89 footers began arriving in 1964 and served into the 1990s.  These are the cars that might be seen PASSING THROUGH Minden in the 1970s, with the majority being 89 footers.  I emphasize passing through because it is doubtful Minden would still have an active piggyback ramp by the 1970s.

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Posted by OldEngineman on Friday, June 14, 2019 10:39 PM

NDG wrote: "Years ago when it was still the Central we were schmoozing around the Buffalo area and passed a small yard where they were backing truck trailers up a simple sloped ramp onto TOFC Flats."

Conrail (and probably the New Haven and PC before it) had a similar setup at Cedar Hill in New Haven.

When I was a new hire fireman on switch engines in the yard, one of the jobs of the afternoon shift was to pull out the loaded trailvan flats, and make up train TV-7 to Springfield (it would get combined with a B&A westbound to Selkirk).

Later on I got to be fireman on TV-7 for a few trips. Went up to Springfield, and turned for mixed freight back to Cedar Hill in the wee hours of the morning.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, June 15, 2019 4:12 PM

NHTX
These are the cars that might be seen PASSING THROUGH Minden in the 1970s, with the majority being 89 footers.  I emphasize passing through because it is doubtful Minden would still have an active piggyback ramp by the 1970s.

That raises the question, though, where they would be going PASSING THROUGH.  Minden at that point was served by an east-west secondary line (which I think changed owners between the first time I saw it, in the mid-80s, and the early '90s when I started working in the area, and was largely shut down thereafter) and the ex-L&A that went to Hope, AR before it was cut back, first to the Taylor area and then Springhill itself.  The major service on the latter was traffic to the IP kraft mill, which is scarcely going to be facilitated by trailer intermodal, and when that mill closed I don't think its 'replacement' services, whatever they were, particularly needed TOFC either.  All the TOFC in the world would go down the SSW branch parallel to Rt. 3, just a few miles to the west, straight from connections with the 'main' SSW parallel to Rt. 82 to Bossier/Shreveport itself.

I happened to be frequently driving from Springhill to Shreveport (via local roads over to 3, as Interstate 20 was impassably deranged with slab lift at the time) just at the time the SP got its new Dash-9s in the 4400 series.  It was possible to pace a pair of these all the way down without impeding traffic, at considerable speed, and I really can't imagine any priority traffic going any other way through that area.

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Posted by Flying Crow on Saturday, June 15, 2019 4:27 PM

I know the pig tracks were originally built for loading trailers of ammunition from the Army Ammunition Plant in Minden but I am not sure what year that was and how long it was used for that purpose.

 

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Posted by NHTX on Saturday, June 15, 2019 10:38 PM

      The Minden of 1976, the year of Flying Crow's interest was on the Hope Subdivision of the L&A Ry which extended from Hope, AR, to Deramus Yard, according to KCS System Timetable No.1, Effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 1,1977, for the government of employes only.  The Minden Subdivision of the same L&A Ry, extended from Minden LA to Pineville Jct (Alexandria LA).  Although the same employes timetable lists Minden as still having a "TOFC ramp", by 1976 the operation of a TOFC ramp 30 miles east of a major terminal is questionable.  In 1976, the passage of piggyback traffic through Minden is not impossible, since it did provide an alternate route between Deramus (Shreveport) and New Orleans via Alexandria.  An interesting note on the Minden Sub is, the Rock Island had trackage rights on the 56 or so miles from Winnfield, into Alexandria.

    Also, pardon the thread drift, but the last engines to occupy the 4400 series on the SP were SD-9s.  The only other recent SP locomotives with any relation to "4400" were the 4400 hp GE Dash 9-44CWs acquired in 1994 which were numbered 8100-8200 (101 units).

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, June 16, 2019 7:58 AM

I had a post disappear that regarded the ammunition plant in Doyline.  The ramp in Minden is almost certainly a Vietnam War thing, perhaps to minimize perceived drayage risk for certain 'secure' or high-value explosive products or incoming supplies or key munitions components.  Cutoff of 'active' traffic might be related to changes in the plant's staffing and operation in 1975, around the time the ARVN finally folded up; the OP's modeling in 1976 would likely see the ramps in an early stage of post-'abandonment' decay.

Funny thing about those dash9s is that I distinctly remember big reflective numbers in the 4400s on their shiny new paint... before I learned exactly what they were or their rated horsepower.  (I also remembered 4935 as being restored in Tuscan, so I have been known to be very wrong before...)

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Posted by NHTX on Sunday, June 16, 2019 10:30 AM

      The transport of explosives such as produced by an ammunition plant is to be minimized as much as possible, given the passions raised by the Vietnam War.  If the products of this plant were to be piggybacked instead of shipped by boxcar, logic would say put the ramp for loading the flatcars on the grounds of the ammunition plant which would certainly be rail served.  This would remove a considerable number of vehicles carrying a very controversial and hazardous cargo from public exposure on Minden's thoroughfares.  Most ammo facilities shipped their stuff out the gate and gone, with as little extra shuffling as possible, which makes the old boxcar, the ideal vehicle for door-to-door delivery.  Most, if not all such shipments began and ended behind the gates of secure, government controlled or, contracted facilities.  After 20+ years in the U.S. Air Force, I've seen a lot of ammo handling and storage facilities and, the tracks went right to them, instead of stopping in town, and trucks hauling it into the facility over public roads. The sight of 18 wheelers loaded with stuff that goes boom, lined up at a public piggyback ramp in a KCS yard, waiting to be backed aboard some flatcars, in a Louisiana town, 30 miles from Shreveport, is difficult to reconcile.  Non-volatile components might arrive by piggyback but, outbound ordinance or ammunition, highly unlikely.

      Your recollection of the Dash 9s triggered the memory of my first acquaintance with SP's new, wide nosed units.  One westbound freight was stopped on the main, with a green signal staring at him, while the other westbound in the siding was headed by SP 8139 and 8140.  The crew saw my interest in the new power and invited me up into the cab and gave me the tour.  I asked what was going on, since the other man had a green eye but, was just sitting there.  The answer I got was "Haven't you heard?  We've had a head-on out at Haymond (a passing siding between Marathon and Alpine TX) and three men died in it.  The wreck is on fire and eight units were involved in the collision".

    After that, every time I saw an 8100, my mind went to that day and occurence because I knew one of those men.  On a lighter note, mention is made of a 4935 being restored in tuscan red.  Would this be PRR 4935, the brunswick green GG-1?

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, June 16, 2019 11:11 PM

NHTX
On a lighter note, mention is made of a 4935 being restored in tuscan red.  Would this be PRR 4935, the brunswick green GG-1?

Also known as "Blackjack" -- and not 'Big Red' or one of the other obvious things a locomotive in Tuscan would be called...

It's actually worse.  I watched Loewy sign the locomotive and still didn't figure out it was not red.  Guess I thought it was lighting, or something; the assumption that a five-stripe 'historical' repaint would be in red, like 4877 later was ... and I have a funny story about that, too, although not regarding its color ... was that strong.

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Posted by NHTX on Monday, June 17, 2019 11:57 AM

     All of this discussion of the transportation of munitions triggered a memory.  Search for "bombs explode in Roseville, CA railyard" or something to that effect for a very enlightening as well as hair-raising bit of history, especially SP fans.

NDG
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Posted by NDG on Monday, June 17, 2019 2:27 PM

 

Thank You for the Information!

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