Question about Gondola Load

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  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 7:52 PM

Raw coke (produced from coal) can actually be quite coarse, and I believe the square open-top containers shown at bottom right here were indeed often used for shipping low-volume quantities of coke and/or other bulk commodities: 

A regular train through Deshler is the "Coke Express" - so marked on the sides of the extended hoppers.  

With the view from the camera, one can't tell the coal from the coke.

Coke is lighter that coal.

I worked the B&O's Operator position at Lester, OH - the junction of the lines from Cleveland and Lorain and continuing to Sterling (at the time via Medina or the C&LW Main).

The steel plants at Cleveland would receive hopper loads of coke.  Coke would fall on the right of way.  The Operators would 'police' the area around the station for coke and accumulate what they could so that it could be used to supplement the pot belly coal stove which the station used as its heating 'system'.  I recall the Division Operator wondering why Lester needed new stove grates more frequently than the other stations/towers with pot belly coal stoves as their heat source.

  • Member since
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Posted by mvlandsw on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 9:16 PM

Since coke is fairly light the producers load the cars to overflowing. Chessie System and CSX ran numerous coke trains over the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie. The P&LE main tracks were in fairly good condition but the interlocking were pretty rough. The coke cars would get to rocking and shed some of their load all through the interlockings.

Demmler and Glenwood yards, which handled most of the US Steel and J&L coke produced in the Pittsburgh area, also got littered with coke. When it got too hard to walk through the yards a track cleaner would be brought in.

At one time CSX was hauling coke from Pittsburgh to Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and Birmingham. I frequently worked the runs from Pittsburgh to New Castle and later from New Castle to Cleveland, Willard, and Crestline.

Mark Vinski

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  • From: Northern New York
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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 9:43 PM

I recall the Division Operator wondering why Lester needed new stove grates more frequently than the other stations/towers with pot belly coal stoves as their heat source.

One of the railfan magazines once ran an account of a crew who decided to take advantage of an apparently ready supply of coke to fuel their steam engine.  

I don't remember the details, but they got plenty of steam out of it - too much, as a matter of fact.  It took them a while to get things settled back down.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 9:54 PM

When I was eight, we moved into a house with a coal fired boiler. One year, my dad got a "deal" on five tons of coke. Five tons filled the coal bin to the rafters unlike coal which five tons left about two  feet to the rafters. Never again, said Dad. A shovel of it was lighter than regular coal but you had to be careful how much air you allowed into the boiler as it burned HOT, and could quickly lift the overpressure relief valves (10 lb). Coke is grey and porous unlike coal which is solid and very black.

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