CSX Ballast train with solar panels mounted on the side-delivery hopper cars...

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CSX Ballast train with solar panels mounted on the side-delivery hopper cars...
Posted by Dave_Clelland on Saturday, May 4, 2013 8:02 AM

I just saw a CSX ballast train go by the crossing by my house near Big4 Yard in Avon, IN.  Each ballast car, loaded with gravel, had a pair of solar panels mounted on each end and 2 more mounted on each side. Obviously they are powering some kind of electronics, but I'd like to ask what the electricity on each ballast car is used for? 

Thanks in advance,

Dave.

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Posted by petitnj on Saturday, May 4, 2013 8:07 AM

Each ballast car can be opened with a remote control system. The pneumatic system is controlled by an electric valve in the car. Each car has a number stenciled on the side to identify it to the remote control system. 

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Posted by cacole on Saturday, May 4, 2013 8:12 AM

I've seen solar panels on Union Pacific ballast cars, too, but when they were spreading ballast I couldn't tell if they were opened remotely or by hand.

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Posted by tcwright973 on Saturday, May 4, 2013 8:42 AM

A couple of years ago I saw a string of brand new UP ballast cars sitting on a siding in New Castle, PA. It seemed to me that the solar panels powered the cars operation. A discussion on another forum seemed to indicate that as well.

Tom

Pittsburgh, PA

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Posted by mudchicken on Saturday, May 4, 2013 11:05 AM

There is also a (very) small computer (GPS controller) on the car that tells the car where to dump, how much inside or outside on the MK/Miner doors and where to cut-off at. Hopefully the train crew read its orders and knows where to slow down at. Most likely there is a track supervisor/foreman nearby checking on the train.

Just watched Herzog cars doing this on CSX in NW  Indiana on Thursday.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, May 4, 2013 11:23 AM

mudchicken

There is also a (very) small computer (GPS controller) on the car that tells the car where to dump, how much inside or outside on the MK/Miner doors and where to cut-off at. Hopefully the train crew read its orders and knows where to slow down at. Most likely there is a track supervisor/foreman nearby checking on the train.

Just watched Herzog cars doing this on CSX in NW  Indiana on Thursday.

Herzog usually has one of their guys ride the train with his laptop and GPS antenna.   Pretty nifty stuff - can empty a train in no time at a good clip.  We even dumped ballast in the middle of the night.

Herzog trains were nicknamed the "Star Wars" trains.  Don't know if the name stuck or not.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by dubch87 on Saturday, May 4, 2013 12:43 PM

I noticed these on Herzog ballast cars when I rode SEPTA northeast of Philadelphia in March. I'd been meaning to look up what the panels are for, and now I know!

   

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, May 4, 2013 4:52 PM

CSX marked cars have been used by my location but I also have seen the older type after that sighting.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, May 4, 2013 5:26 PM

Hmmm ... gravel and ballast cars.  With glass solar panels.  Why does that old Far Side cartoon come to mind?

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Posted by d&henginner on Monday, May 6, 2013 8:59 AM

i work for cp on the D&H, last year i ran a 40 car ballast train, 2 herzog personel rode in the 2nd unit with several computers and a magnetic based antenna, which was attached to the locomitive roof, took about 10 minites to set up, we dumped 40 cars in about 1 hr at 12 mph, my understanding of the system is herzog personel hi-rail the area and with gps log in all locations xings and switches ect. when they gave us the ok to go we pulled as close to 12mph as possible, looking back you could see the 1st car open up, than watch the 2nd start in sequence and the 3rd start, it did a fantastic job, it would have taken a week to do this with men walking along side at 2mph, and alot safer too, i believe they can dump up to 40mph, cp found 12mph gave the best results

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, May 6, 2013 7:57 PM

In normal Herzog dumping, the train is followed by a MofW Foreman to inspect and clear ballast from any switches or crossovers that may have inadvertently become ballast fouled.  On my carrier I am told that normal dumping speed is 25 MPH. 

The one feature that I find confounding - trains can only be dumped in a direction specified by the Herzog representative, which I am told is dependent upon the direction that the dumping map was constructed.  One would think, with computers the 'Herzog mapping' of the dump could be reversed to fit with the traffic in the territory.  Sometimes it can become very difficult to provide track time in the direction Herzog desires.

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