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When were 89' TOFC flatcars phased out?

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When were 89' TOFC flatcars phased out?
Posted by Metro Red Line on Thursday, July 18, 2019 7:28 PM

I model modern intermodal, and I know that trailer traffic is much smaller these days than container traffic. But trailers are carried on 53' spine cars due to their lighter weight and flexibility. I don't see 89' TOFC flatcars anymore, and I would guess they went extinct on the (Class I) railroads within the past 10 years. Does anyone know when exactly that happened? Or are they still in use, albeit very rare?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, July 18, 2019 8:56 PM

Metro Red Line

I model modern intermodal, and I know that trailer traffic is much smaller these days than container traffic. But trailers are carried on 53' spine cars due to their lighter weight and flexibility. I don't see 89' TOFC flatcars anymore, and I would guess they went extinct on the (Class I) railroads within the past 10 years. Does anyone know when exactly that happened? Or are they still in use, albeit very rare?

 

I still see them here on the Northeast Corridor, mixed in with spline cars, well cars, etc.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, July 19, 2019 7:00 AM

I still see them on the NS on a live cam I watch occasionally.  Sometimes you can catch a trailer sitting on one TOFC and the fifth wheel on another.  

They are still around and being used.

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Posted by NHTX on Friday, July 19, 2019 7:12 AM

     They are alive and well here in Texas.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, July 19, 2019 10:26 AM

I haven't seen one on the UP across Iowa in a long time.  Those in TOFC/COFC service that is.  I see some that aren't TTX cars repurposed for other duties.

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Posted by cv_acr on Friday, July 19, 2019 2:05 PM

As containerization has grown over TOFC, and standard trailer lengths grown from 40' to 53', many of those cars have been converted to autorack service (ETTX/TTGX), or new decks with tie downs for vehicle service (ITTX) or pipe service (PTTX).

I don't live in an area that sees much TOFC traffic of any kind, but it sounds like some are still used today on routes that do.

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Posted by cv_acr on Friday, July 19, 2019 2:08 PM

mbinsewi

Sometimes you can catch a trailer sitting on one TOFC and the fifth wheel on another.

Sounds like the twin-unit TTEX cars. They're two 89' flats permanently drawbarred together and trailer hitches set up to carry 3 48'-53' trailers instead of only the pair of 40' trailers (or single trailer of any size longer than 40' - 45'/48'/53') a single 89' flat could accomodate (and how many 40' trailers do you see anymore).

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, July 19, 2019 2:12 PM

In the east there are places where tunnel and bridge clearances do not allow well cars to run double stacked, but can handle regular TOFC equipment. 

So, 89' flats are still seen in both container and TOFC duty. 

Maybe the UP does not like them........?

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, July 19, 2019 2:14 PM

cv_acr

 

 
mbinsewi

Sometimes you can catch a trailer sitting on one TOFC and the fifth wheel on another.

 

 

Sounds like the twin-unit TTEX cars. They're two 89' flats permanently drawbarred together and trailer hitches set up to carry 3 48'-53' trailers instead of only the pair of 40' trailers (or single trailer of any size longer than 40' - 45'/48'/53') a single 89' flat could accomodate (and how many 40' trailers do you see anymore).

 

Yes, I see a number of them as well here in the Mid Atlantic.

Sheldon

PS: They must not be too rare, because even though I live near the tracks, I don't pay close attention to modern railroading, and yet I notice them.

    

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, July 19, 2019 5:44 PM

Short answer, they haven't been phased out.  I see them pass through here too.  True, spine and well cars have largely taken over but TOFC/COFC flat cars are still in use.

To the OP, get yourself the most recent ORER and you should be able to get a sense of how many are still in use.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Saturday, July 20, 2019 1:29 AM

Must have something to do with the routing, because they are non existent moving through DC. All spines and wells moving past my office window. 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Saturday, July 20, 2019 8:10 AM

Point being, just because you don't see something where you are doesn't mean it doesn't exist.  The OPs assumption isn't logical therefore.

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, July 20, 2019 8:28 AM

Its not whether the UP likes them its whether the UP's customers like them.

89 ft flats were designed for circus loading 40' TOFC trailers.  Nobody circus loads TOFC any more and 40' TOFC trailers are pretty few and far between.  

You can only put two 40' containers (single stacked) on an 89' flat, it won't accomodate the now pretty much standard 53 ' domestic trailer (except as a single load.)  So the utility of an 89' flat is pretty limited.

They are still out there, but many of them have been converted to pipe or plain flats.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 20, 2019 8:53 AM

dehusman

Its not whether the UP likes them its whether the UP's customers like them.

89 ft flats were designed for circus loading 40' TOFC trailers.  Nobody circus loads TOFC any more and 40' TOFC trailers are pretty few and far between.  

You can only put two 40' containers (single stacked) on an 89' flat, it won't accomodate the now pretty much standard 53 ' domestic trailer (except as a single load.)  So the utility of an 89' flat is pretty limited.

They are still out there, but many of them have been converted to pipe or plain flats.

 

Here in the northeast/mid Atlantic, UPS in particular, and a lot of other carriers, use a lot of 28' pup trailers and pull them as doubles on the highway. And now that I think about it, a number of the 89' flats I have seen have had UPS Pups as loads. Some may even be setup to carry three pups.

Just my opinion, but the world would be a better place if Staggers had happened in 1950, trailer length had remained restricted to 35', and doubles had been legalized everywhere sooner.

The streets and highways, especially here in the older cities of the east, would be safer, more freight would have been TOFC sooner, and the railroads, the interstates and the environment would all be better for it.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Saturday, July 20, 2019 9:39 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
UPS in particular, and a lot of other carriers, use a lot of 28' pup trailers and pull them as doubles on the highway.

 

Out here those pups run in tripples. Many companies do that. 53's can run as doubles.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 20, 2019 9:57 AM

BroadwayLion

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
UPS in particular, and a lot of other carriers, use a lot of 28' pup trailers and pull them as doubles on the highway.

 

 

Out here those pups run in tripples. Many companies do that. 53's can run as doubles.

 

Here in the east there are still restrictions on triples and lengths, the details escape me at the moment. 

And with good reason, even many of the interstates here in the east have areas with no shoulders, very tight turns on ramps, close clearances in tunnels and some older bridges, etc.

As the Interstate system makes it way through the 300 plus year old cities of the east, there were/are practical considerations given to existing property, historic features, geographic conditions and cost of construction that simply make many of our roads and highways more "compact" than roads out west. 

Same is true when the railroads were built 100 years ago. Here in the east we still deal with old urban tunnels, low bridges, etc.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, July 20, 2019 7:13 PM

Sheldon--

In the East it's literally a roadway geometry/traffic safety issue as you were describing.

In particular, in Pennsylvania, the street intersections are NOT designed to allow the movements of certain double trailers, so they are just plain not allowed (are NOT legal in the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code).

There is too much urban infrastructure that simply cannot handle those truck turns.  If they get off the interstate just about anywhere, they will literally get stuck, tie up traffic, and/or physically remove (damage/destroy) the traffic signal mast arms and other appurtenances that would be too close to their turning envelope.

Respectfully submitted--

John

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Posted by NHTX on Saturday, July 20, 2019 7:44 PM

    Trailer Train's "Twin 45/Triple 28", 89 foot flats wear RTTX reporting marks while the Triple 53s ride on two drawbar connected 89'4" cars in the TTEX group, according to "The TTX Story" published by the PRRT&HS.

 

 

 

trTr

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 20, 2019 9:08 PM

Because my memory is not always perfect.....I waited till I had some time to check my facts before getting deeper into this.

AC&F built more than 1600 F89-J flat cars between 1966 and 1668. As built they could carry two 40' or two 45' vans, both facing the same direction, and were equiped for circus loading. The long coupler shanks necessary for cars this long allowed the forward hitch to be positioned to so the trailer to actually hangs over the end of the car slightly. With two 45' vans, the rear van also hung over the rear of the car.

Many of these cars were gradually converted to other types of service, but in 1991, with no more need for circus loading, many of them were rebuilt to carry two 45' vans or three 28' pup vans. This was done by putting hitches at each end, hanging the 5th wheel ends of the trailers as far as possible out over the end of the car, and putting a third hitch for the middle "pup" trailer.

Since I see them all the time here in Havre de Grace, MD, where the CSX crosses the Susquehanna River, apparently they are still alive and kicking.

Kinda knew all this, but since I don't model that era, the details were fuzzy......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, July 20, 2019 9:30 PM

PRR8259

Sheldon--

In the East it's literally a roadway geometry/traffic safety issue as you were describing.

In particular, in Pennsylvania, the street intersections are NOT designed to allow the movements of certain double trailers, so they are just plain not allowed (are NOT legal in the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code).

There is too much urban infrastructure that simply cannot handle those truck turns.  If they get off the interstate just about anywhere, they will literally get stuck, tie up traffic, and/or physically remove (damage/destroy) the traffic signal mast arms and other appurtenances that would be too close to their turning envelope.

Respectfully submitted--

John

 

Agreed, we have the same problems here in Maryland.

Again, the world would be a better place if Staggers had happened in 1950, trailer lenghts had remained restricted to 35', and at least highway doubles had been allowed earlier.

Had deregulation happened then, the trucking industry would have seen a bigger advantage in putting long distance loads on the rails, and their desire for longer trailers would not have had the same merits.

Highway doubles with pup trailers do make sense. The goods can be loaded once, in a trailer that is city managable, then it can be short/intermediate hauled in a pair with the same economy of a 53' van.

Every time I see a truck driver struggling with a 53' van, I think, "gee why don't we make them a little longer" (sarcasm intended).

I have a special connection to both trucking and trains - my father worked in trucking nearly all his life, and also worked for the Southern Railway for a while in their TOFC operation.

And shorter trailers in general would have been an advantage in the growth of TOFC as well, be it with 75' flat cars or purpose built light weight 40' single van flats.

Lost into history, seldom modeled, rarely seen in photos, is a moderately large but short lived fleet of mostly purpose built 40' TOFC flats that carried single 35' vans in the early 50's.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 2:49 PM

I wonder if BeaNSnifF still uses them on the end of intermodal doublestackers in a trailing position.

I've seen well cars with doublestackers, trinity spines, and 85' or 89' flatcars mixed in from time to time.

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Posted by joe323 on Thursday, July 25, 2019 6:33 AM

I think you see less TOFC because foreign made products are brought over in containers.

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, July 25, 2019 7:35 AM

joe323

I think you see less TOFC because foreign made products are brought over in containers. 

Sure, if you can stack two containers then you can carry more of them.  The RR's recognized that over 40 years ago and began designing well cars which could carry two containers stacked.  In 1977 SP & ACF developed the first double stack car which began the revolution.

http://www.railgoat.railfan.net/spcars/byclass/flat/f070-81.htm

Prior to that there were containers being carried on flat cars, COFC.  That practice continued for a long time, but efficiencies caused them to be fewer and fewer over time.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, July 25, 2019 7:59 AM

riogrande5761

 

 
joe323

I think you see less TOFC because foreign made products are brought over in containers. 

 

 

Sure, if you can stack two containers then you can carry more of them.  The RR's recognized that over 40 years ago and began designing well cars which could carry two containers stacked.  In 1977 SP & ACF developed the first double stack car which began the revolution.

http://www.railgoat.railfan.net/spcars/byclass/flat/f070-81.htm

Prior to that there were containers being carried on flat cars, COFC.  That practice continued for a long time, but efficiencies caused them to be fewer and fewer over time.

 

And yet in much of the North East and Mid Atlantic well cars run with only one container because of bridge and tunnel clearances too expensive to increase.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by cv_acr on Thursday, July 25, 2019 9:08 AM

joe323

I think you see less TOFC because foreign made products are brought over in containers.

 

There is also a lot of purely domestic intermodal traffic. International container ships are largely set up for 20' and 40' ISO containers. 53' high-cube containers are pretty much North American domestic only. (There may be a few limited exceptions.)

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