Greenbrier unveils new Covered Hopper for Grain

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Greenbrier unveils new Covered Hopper for Grain
Posted by beaulieu on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 9:46 AM

Greenbrier Industries has unveiled a radical new design of Covered Hopper ahead of the Railway Interchange Show in Minneapolis on September 22nd. The Car features just a single bay running the whole length of the car. It also features a new design of a single gate trademarked as the "Tsunami Gate". The car is also more aerodynamic than current cars. It is 50' 6" in length and has a capacity of 5150 cu. ft.

Greenbrier Covered Hopper

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Posted by JPS1 on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 10:00 AM

beaulieu
 Greenbrier Industries has unveiled a radical new design of Covered Hopper ahead of the Railway Interchange Show in Minneapolis on September 22nd. The Car features just a single bay running the whole length of the car. It also features a new design of a single gate trademarked as the "Tsunami Gate". The car is also more aerodynamic than current cars. It is 50' 6" in length and has a capacity of 5150 cu. ft.

Greenbrier Covered Hopper 

What is the average life of a covered hopper car decicated for grain?

How many hopper cars are in service?

Where are the hopper cars that are dedicated to carrying grain stored when the haulage season is over?

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 10:11 AM

I find it hard to imagine that some of the common-sense features in this design haven't been adopted before.  Note the technology change represented in the "Tsunami Gate" that allows the possum-belly portion of the hopper to be extended and configured as it is, which is in turn a key reason allowing the overall length of the car to be lower, and hence presumably the number of cars in a 'worm' unit consist greater.  I also suspect that a great part of the 'aerodynamic' improvement is in allowing the cars to be closer coupled, reducing the vortices and quartering drag; it should also be possible to provide aerodynamic appliances in the gaps to further reduce those effects. 

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Posted by mudchicken on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 10:36 AM

Many places on the receiving end will not be able to handle cars like this. Their under track pits/ augers would overflow.

(the Joe-Bob engineering of some of these pits is frightening already)

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 Euclid on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 11:02 AM

I would like to see the details of the Tsunami Gate and how it operates.  It seems to be a radical departure of the normal multiple rack/pinion sliding gates.  There is probably good justification for those contemporary gates in many forms, including simplicity, operational flexibility, reliability, and low maintenance.  I wonder how those virtues compare to the Tsunami Gate.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 11:08 AM

Euclid
I would like to see the details of the Tsunami Gate and how it operates.

Did the video in the original post not show this clearly enough?  (I can't get it to run on this system due to technical format issues.)

I'd be reasonably certain that establishment of unit-train-suitable grain-dumping facilities would be possible at a very small fraction of a unit train's worth of these cars.  Firms specializing in rapid unit coal-train bottom dumping will have a big leg up on the appropriate methods and technologies.  Something I don't see in the Greenbrier publicity, but expect would have been there, is the sensor and actuator arrangement most suitable for gang-dumping unit consists of these cars -- one approach being those pressure shoes at the car corners that we see on some bottom-dump coal train consists.  In part for the reasons mudchicken gave, I see relatively little use for these things as new construction for loose-car service, especially as new unit consists of these things will free up large numbers of existing grain-capable covered hoppers at relatively low cost.

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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 11:09 AM

It sure seems like the bottom is mighty close to the rails... I have seen some short/narrow grade crossings that will rip the bottom right off that thing when the leading wheels have crossed and the trailing wheels are not on the crossing yet.  Especially when the springs are compressed under load, or at track speed when the car can become airborn as the leading wheels cross and then the car dip down as the leading wheels come off the crossing.  WHUMP!Oops - Sign

Semper Vaporo

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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 11:18 AM

Yes it shows it.  I had to stop and drag the timeline marker back to the beginning 6 times before it would play the entire video.

The gate is actually multiple opening with a slider below them that cover all the openings, with corresponding adjacent holes, such that when the whole gate is moved only a few inches, all the openings are then exposed.  I would think there would be a lot of friction on the slider by the contents making it hard to move it.  But it seems the bottom of the hopper is a bit less than 50% of the total area that is holes for the contents to drop through.  I don't know the relative sizes of older style hoppers, but I'd guess that the older ones have less than 50% of what this new Tsunami Gate has, so this one should empty the car more than twice as fast... and possibly overflow the pit in a big hurry.Whistling

Semper Vaporo

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Posted by beaulieu on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 4:38 PM

JPS1

What is the average life of a covered hopper car decicated for grain?

How many hopper cars are in service?

Where are the hopper cars that are dedicated to carrying grain stored when the haulage season is over?

 
Well I don't have access to Railinc's data but in 2005 BNSF had 28,000 cars. So if I had to guess I think the total fleet would be around 100,000 cars for the US and Canadian railroads, plus the leasing companies. And this is just the cars for hauling grains, there are smaller cars for hauling frac sand, cement,  and minerals like potash and phosphate. Grain cars used to migrate to Potash and Phosphate service as they got older, but the newer cars have higher cubic capacity and so may be susceptable to overloading when handling Potash or Phosphate.
 
Grain cars can last as long as any other car, 50 years, but usually not quite that long in grain service, in the past they have been cascaded to hauling minerals as they got elderly. 
 

 

 
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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 4:43 PM

Hopefully, the new cars can survive "hump yard" hits. 

 

It's a big enough mess when one pocket of a car opens in a yard.  Having the whole car dump?  "call the vac trucks!"

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 4:51 PM

zugmann

Hopefully, the new cars can survive "hump yard" hits.

It's a big enough mess when one pocket of a car opens in a yard.  Having the whole car dump?  "call the vac trucks!"

Sometimes the customer loads a car without checking to see if the hatches are closed.

Saw that happen once with a load of Canola we pulled from a elevator just outside a yard.  Didn't notice until we had already spilled the oily seeds all over the lead.  Not only did it fill the switches, it also greased the rails.  Slippery enough that we could barely move for the rest of the day.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 4:54 PM

SD70Dude
Sometimes the customer loads a car without checking to see if the hatches are closed.

Yeah.. I think we all have had that happen at one point.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 5:01 PM

zugmann
SD70Dude
Sometimes the customer loads a car without checking to see if the hatches are closed.

Yeah.. I think we all have had that happen at one point.

I've seen it happen to coal cars as well.  Way harder to clean up than grain.

But ballast is probably the worst....

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 5:09 PM

Semper Vaporo
The gate is actually multiple opening with a slider below them that cover all the openings, with corresponding adjacent holes, such that when the whole gate is moved only a few inches, all the openings are then exposed. I would think there would be a lot of friction on the slider by the contents making it hard to move it. But it seems the bottom of the hopper is a bit less than 50% of the total area that is holes for the contents to drop through.

It looks to me as if there are 'pockets' on the gate at the base of each of the small hopper mouths, and these may contain enough grain to allow displacement rather than 'milling' as the gate unseals and slides.  I don't see any clear way to empty these when unloading; perhaps there will be 'fingers' on the edge seals or in the openings that wipe the pockets clear.

Note that there are two independent gate slides, so the car can discharge at 'half speed' to either side if desired.  I can't tell if the arrangement would leave much residual grain if dumped only to one side; perhaps the easiest approach would be to delay opening of the 'other' gate until most of the first side had discharged and the 'head' pressure dropped.

A nice thing is that these are not gravity doors: there are few ways these doors can "fail" through breakage or inadvertent trip of a latch.  Only motoring the gate endwise will even begin to open a passage for the tsunami of grain to start.

It's interesting to consider the methods used for cost-effective fabrication of the bottom of the car, with all the hoppers made of complicated sections assembled to be 'true' in the plane that the gate slides and then remain so for the service life of the car.  Pity there is so little market for 'new' coal-train consists -- I wonder if this hopper and gate design promises very effective high-speed continuous dumping of coal with minimal trituration.

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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 5:14 PM

I see the video now.  It does look like one big sliding sheet with about 30 rectangular openings that seats against a stationary sheet with 30 openings of the same size.  I notice that it is actually two moving sheets that work in opposite directions. I would like to see the fine details of the mechanics.   

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Posted by cx500 on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 6:00 PM

My initial reaction was to question if the seals will still be as effective after multiple loading cycles.  The original gates on the Canadian cylindrical hoppers were replaced, at least in part because leakage was becoming a problem.  Grain spilled on the tracks equals a delicious snack for wildlife, and Parks Canada was very unhappy about bears, deer and elk getting killed by trains in the Mountain Parks.  Canola seeds are particularly small and fluid.

Somebody asked about the lifespan of a car in grain service.  Some of the original government hoppers from November 1972 are still active.  The fleet is now finally getting replaced by more efficient designs, shorter and higher capacity.

John

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 7:38 PM

SD70Dude

 

 
zugmann
SD70Dude
Sometimes the customer loads a car without checking to see if the hatches are closed.

Yeah.. I think we all have had that happen at one point.

 

 

I've seen it happen to coal cars as well.  Way harder to clean up than grain.

But ballast is probably the worst....

 

Yes, it could be difficult to pick the coal up. I am thankful in my coal heaving while in college I had wide targets--every night I checked the stokers on three furnaces, and when the bins were filled, in the summer, it was a matter of throwing the incoming coal to the sides of the bin (the truck driver stood outside in the fresh air and heaved 7 tons into the bin, and two boys inside made more room for the driver to throw the coal in.

I did make a mess the the time that I tried to fire the M&G's boiler--the opening of the firedoor was not as big as I allowed for.Surprise

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 9:15 PM

John Kneiling often advocated rapid-discharge hopper cars - even if it necessitated upgrading the loading facilities - to speed train operations.  I think he would have liked these, as long as they were durable and reliable enough.

- PDN.

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by Leo_Ames on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 8:26 PM

The US (Not including Canada) covered hopper fleet a few years ago stood at well over 300,000 examples. I don't know how many were in grain service.

Edit: Here's some recent North American numbers.

https://www.progressiverailroading.com/resources/editorial/2017/a52366FreightCarChanges.jpg

So over 135,000 railroad owned covered hoppers and nearly 410,000 privately owned covered hoppers. How many are predominantly hauling grain is anyone's guess. 

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 8:30 PM

Paul_D_North_Jr
John Kneiling often advocated rapid-discharge hopper cars - even if it necessitated upgrading the loading facilities - to speed train operations

He seemed to like a lot of stuff that caused others to spend a lot of money.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 8:45 PM

Leo_Ames

The US (Not including Canada) covered hopper fleet a few years ago stood at well over 300,000 examples. I don't know how many were in grain service.

Edit: Here's some recent North American numbers.

https://www.progressiverailroading.com/resources/editorial/2017/a52366FreightCarChanges.jpg

So over 135,000 railroad owned covered hoppers and nearly 410,000 privately owned covered hoppers. How many are predominantly hauling grain is anyone's guess.  

The AAR states that "as of year-end 2017, the North American railroad grain car fleet consisted of nearly 283,000 cars (owned by railroads and non-railroads) with a capacity of 1.43 billion cubic feet."

https://www.aar.org/article/freight-rail-grain/

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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 9:12 PM

zugmann

 

 
Paul_D_North_Jr
John Kneiling often advocated rapid-discharge hopper cars - even if it necessitated upgrading the loading facilities - to speed train operations

 

He seemed to like a lot of stuff that caused others to spend a lot of money.

 

You have to spend money to make money. (Invest in your plant) Plenty of places in the real world out there have seen zero investment in years while a few of the newer facilities on the receiving end get it.

 

When I wore a roadmaster's hat, I put plenty of tracks out of service to protect our operating crews from facilities that were beyond dangerous. Inevitably, the trainmaster or supt. would get a complaint that shipper X was in a world of hurt. Once you showed the industry what was wrong, there would be grumbling that died immediately when FRA/OSHA/PUC got dialed into the equation. The serious shipper fixed his problem and the fly-by-nites left the country. Any investment in the facility generally paid for itself in short order. (AG business, especially grain elevators, also had the reputation of being the most clueless/dangerous in that department.)

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 Wednesday, September 11, 2019 9:17 PM

mudchicken
You have to spend money to make money. (Invest in your plant) Plenty of places in the real world out there have seen zero investment in years while a few of the newer facilities on the receiving end get it.

Yeah, but there's a huge difference between "fix your tracks so your cars don't fall over" and "tear out your perfectly adequate pit for a larger one so we can bring in this new car I designed!"

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, September 12, 2019 11:50 AM

zugmann

Hopefully, the new cars can survive "hump yard" hits. 

 

It's a big enough mess when one pocket of a car opens in a yard.  Having the whole car dump?  "call the vac trucks!"

 

Hey!  I know the solution to that!  Close all the hump yards.

I'm sure both EHH and JGK would approve.

Jeff 

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, September 12, 2019 1:08 PM

But will it gain general acceptance by the shippers or become an outcast?

zugmann

 

 
mudchicken
You have to spend money to make money. (Invest in your plant) Plenty of places in the real world out there have seen zero investment in years while a few of the newer facilities on the receiving end get it.

 

Yeah, but there's a huge difference between "fix your tracks so your cars don't fall over" and "tear out your perfectly adequate pit for a larger one so we can bring in this new car I designed!"

 

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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