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Carbon black hoppers

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Carbon black hoppers
Posted by dh28473 on Monday, April 08, 2019 6:52 PM

What are they and used for what?

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Posted by PeteVS on Monday, April 08, 2019 7:47 PM

Carbon black is used in tires, plastics and paints to make them black. Here's a Wikipedia link with way more than I know.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_black

 

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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, April 08, 2019 7:55 PM
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Posted by mlehman on Monday, April 08, 2019 11:34 PM

You'll find a lot of them originating loads down on the Gulf Coast. Carbon black is a by-product of refining crude oil, most often, so it can be produced elsewhere that has similar industry, too. I remember driving down to Matagorda Island from the San Antonis area in the 60s and seeing long strings of carbon black hoppers along the tracks as we'd near the coast. Not sure about which RR that likely was.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 12:13 AM

From what I've read, carbon black was originally shipped in boxcars, but even one load of the material rendered the cars unfit for any other use, even including hide service.

The car shown below was built from a Rail Shop kit, but, unfortunately, I couldn't find any decals for nearby Columbian Chemicals, formerly Columbian Carbon, so used the kit-supplied ones...

The prototype of this car dates from the '30s.

Wayne

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Posted by fmilhaupt on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 12:16 AM

The Marathon oil refinery in Findlay, Ohio, on Norfolk Southern's former Nickel Plate, has produced countless carloads of carbon black over many decades going back into the steam era.

I'm not certain exactly where those shipments ended up, but would think that the tire plants in Akron (B.F. Goodrich, Goodyear, Firestone) and Detroit (US Tire, later Uniroyal, long closed) were likely destinations.

-Fritz Milhaupt, Publications Editor, Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc.
http://www.pmhistsoc.org

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 7:06 AM

One of the live train cams I check in on, is the NS mainline through Chesterton, IN, and I see lots of CB hoppers.  Not many at a time, but on a lot of different trains, going East and West.

This thread has taught me what it's all about.  Now I know about carbon black, and the unique challange of hauling and unloading it.

Mike.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 7:54 AM

ScaleTrains carbon black hoppers are lovely detailed models for those who are able to used them - they date from about 1977 and up to modern times.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 7:58 AM

Are these freight cars still in service today?

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 8:16 AM

The 1977 ones sure are, although many early ones are pushing the 40 year rule. IIRC, earlier ones than that were somewhat smaller capacity, but still rather large LOs.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 9:26 AM

fmilhaupt
I'm not certain exactly where those shipments ended up, but would think that the tire plants in Akron (B.F. Goodrich, Goodyear, Firestone) and Detroit (US Tire, later Uniroyal, long closed) were likely destinations.

Swan Hose in Bucyrus,Ohio used to get Carbon Black by rail for making rubber for rubber garden and automotive hoses.

Any manufacturer of rubber will need carbon black.

Larry

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Posted by NittanyLion on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 9:27 AM

I'll see one go past my work about once a week. I manage to have time to catch about 15 to 20 freight trains a week (get up to stretch, on my way to lunch  etc.) with half being intermodal. They're one of the least common things out there, but they exist.

I assume they're heading somewhere in Baltimore. 

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Posted by DavidH66 on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 1:54 PM

nealknows

Are these freight cars still in service today?

 



There are still Cars designed specfically for Carbon Black Service

Not sure if thats a correct answer or not.

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Posted by DavidH66 on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 1:58 PM

Also here's a link to Google maps of a Carbon plant in West Texas.

 

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Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 2:06 PM

Thanks for the link! Very interesting.

Neal

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 2:13 PM

DavidH66
Also here's a link to Google maps of a Carbon plant in West Texas.

.

That is a great link.

.

Thank you for sharing that.

.

-Kevin

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Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 3:51 PM

Wow, that quite a facility.  Even when the map first opens, the whole area is black, like it burned, and when you zoom in, it looks like they got a little carried away with the black weathering! Laugh

Mike.

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 4:10 PM

mbinsewi
Even when the map first opens, the whole area is black,

Then go east a little into Borger and look at the Panhandle Northern yard. Everything there is sooty, too. Rain must wash the carbon off the waiting cars and into the surrounding earth.

Lots of carbon black cars sitting in the yard and in a scrap yard there, too. Street view brings this up.

 Carbon_black1 by Edmund, on Flickr

An interesting industry to model. Didn't Walthers have a tire factory some time ago?

 Carbon_black by Edmund, on Flickr

Very interesting. Thanks for that link Yes

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by stokesda on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 4:19 PM

The initial comments about using carbon black for coloring made me wonder if it was purely cosmetic, or if there was some other benefit. In other words, why do tires and rubber need to be colored black? They are utilitarian in nature, so who cares whether they are black or not?

Then I saw this part in the Wikipedia article mentioned above: 

 The highest volume use of carbon black is as a reinforcing filler in rubber products, especially tires. While a pure gum vulcanization of styrene-butadiene has a tensile strength of no more than 2 MPa and negligible abrasion resistance, compounding it with 50% carbon black by weight improves its tensile strength and wear resistance

The Scaletrains website mentions its use as a "filler" but doesn't elaborate on exactly what that means. I initially assumed it was just to make the tires come out black. Turns out there's more to the story.

So the moral of the story is that it serves other purposes besides simple coloring.

Dan Stokes

My other car is a tunnel motor

N-Scale Japanese Shinkansen Display Layout blog

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Posted by dknelson on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 5:45 PM

One place to see carbon black cars on a regular basis (and worth going to and seeing for many other reasons) is the BNSF yard in Galesburg IL - a wide highway goes over it with plenty of space for parking, and there are good views of the yard, diesel house and service, car repair, and the hump yard.  This bridge is a great place for overheard photos of cars and locomotives, including the carbon black cars.  These are not just regular covered hoppers in dedicated service - they are specialized cars with hatches that appear unique to carbon black service

The Gates Rubber plant is on the BNSF branch towards Peoria and often has several carbon black cars -- the big new kinds like ScaleTrains makes -- parked very near Hywy 150, so good photos can be had from public property.

A railfan named Jan Smith has posted a number of vids of BNSF serving Gates Rubber.  Here is one: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6gJL9eVqo

(Yeah I know - we need to get Jan a tripod).

There might be other industries in Peoria that also get carbon black cars - perhaps Caterpillar?  because you see more carbon black cars at the yard in Galesburg than Gates alone would seem to account for.

Drive a little further down Hywy 150 from Gates Rubber and you are at the Dick Blick art supply outlet store -- the back room has discontinued and damaged packaging art supplies at very low prices and there is plenty of good stuff for model railroaders to find.  

And in general Galesburg is one of the great railfan towns I can imagine.  The (former) BN and Santa Fe mains both feature plenty of trains, Amtrak has an important station there, and again, great photography spots that are public property and involve no tresspassing.

Dave Nelson

 

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Posted by NHTX on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 9:12 PM

     The blackening of the areas where carbon black is produced is due to the nature of the substance.  Because it is soot from the incomplete combustion of petroleum products, it is of extremely fine consistency, to the point that although it is a solid, it behaves like a liquid.  The Texas panhandle is notoriously windy and, the least little spillage, especially on top of a railroad car, will travel like a cloud of smoke.  What is seen in Borger is mainly due to wind action.  This fine texture is also the reason carbon black cars have much smaller loading hatches than regular covered hoppers.  Another unique feature are the faucet-like sampling spigots on the car sides.

     In addition to the boxcar-like cars of Thrall and others, ACF built 449 4589 cu. ft. Center Flows for carbon black service with 20 inch diameter loading hatches and, three sampling spigots per side, like their square counterparts.

     For those wanting more info on these cars, the Society of Freight Car Historians published a 87 page monograph by Eric A. Neubauer in 1990, entitled "Carbon Black  Cars", ISSN 0884-027x.  This book not only explains the manufacture and uses of carbon black but, also lists the carbon black manufacturers and their locations as well as car rosters by cubic foot capacity with line drawings and, by operator, from 1933 to 1989.  The January 1997 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman had a photo and drawing of a 1964 vintage Thrall 4727 cu. ft. car.

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Posted by OldEngineman on Tuesday, April 09, 2019 10:48 PM

"Also here's a link to Google maps of a Carbon plant in West Texas."

That must be a grimy place to earn your money. I'll reckon the railroad crews don't particularly like switching that company out, either...!

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