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New Narrow Gauge Hopper Cars

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New Narrow Gauge Hopper Cars
Posted by bbrant on Thursday, February 03, 2005 4:15 PM
I just watched a CSX train go through Somerset on the S&C Branch. The train was hauling roughly 20-25 new narrow gauge hopper cars from Johnstown America (or whatever it's new name is). Does anyone have any idea who the cars are for? Also, all the cars had a standard couplers but on one end the coupler was red, why is that?

Brian
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Posted by Modelcar on Thursday, February 03, 2005 4:23 PM
...Boy, Brian that is encouraging....To hear they still are transporting the new builds up the S&C to Rockwood to continue their journey to whatever....It would still be a surprise to see a train of such on the branch.

Quentin

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Posted by bbrant on Friday, February 04, 2005 4:46 AM
Quentin -

It was a surprise to see such a train. Personally, I've never seen any narrow gauge trains before and to see those cars being hauled up the S&C was certainly a thrill! I'm still curious to know who/where they were being shipped to. I didn't think new narrow gauge equipment was being made anymore.

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, February 04, 2005 8:17 AM
Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland all have substantial narrow-guage rail systems. I'm certain that the marketing and P.R. people at Johnstown America would just love to brag about satisfying the needs of a new client.........All it takes is a phone call!

Sincerely, Ross R. Moore, Jr.
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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, February 04, 2005 8:42 AM
...Brian: How were they being transported....Did they simply have the standard gauge trucks under them or were they on low flat cars. I remember seeing the coal cars at the narrow gauge EAST BROAD TOP RR years ago and they seemed to be about the same width as the standard gauge....How did you ID them as narrow gauge...? On second thought, the cars I saw in Orbisonia, Pa. were used both on the Pennsylvania and the EBT but they simply changed the trucks when they moved from one line to the other....A cumbersome job in my opinion.

Quentin

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Posted by bbrant on Friday, February 04, 2005 9:46 AM
Quentin -

The cars were transported on CSX bulkhead flat cars. The reason I'm calling them narrow gauge is because they looked like N scale cars riding on HO scale cars. Maybe not quite that drastic but they were physically smaller than the counterparts they were being transported on and definately more narrow.

At first sight I thought they were roll off dumpsters used by garbage trucks until I got close and could see what they actually were. Was definately something to see.
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Posted by bbrant on Friday, February 04, 2005 9:49 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by rossrobertmoorejr

Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland all have substantial narrow-guage rail systems. I'm certain that the marketing and P.R. people at Johnstown America would just love to brag about satisfying the needs of a new client.........All it takes is a phone call!

Sincerely, Ross R. Moore, Jr.


Ah! Never thought about railroads outside the US. Perhaps that's where their destination is.

Thanks for the reply.
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Posted by Modelcar on Friday, February 04, 2005 2:27 PM
...10-4 Brian...Understand. Just think of those EBT cars I mentioned. Std. width cars with 3 ft. gauge trucks under them....Now that is a bit scary. One wonders how they managed to keep them upright. [:0]

Quentin

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Posted by edblysard on Friday, February 04, 2005 2:34 PM
Brazil..
I have a buddy down there who sends me photos of their railroads all the time..

Quite a lot of the tracks there are dual guage, standard and 1 meter...

They buy a bunch of older GE and EMD locomotives to...pretty odd to see a big ole Dash 9 sitting on four two axel narrow gauge trucks...

We just sent some CP SD40s and a bunch of Rio Grande SD40-T2s to them...

Want photos, contact me at

renaissance-man@sbcglobal.net

Ed
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Posted by tdmidget on Saturday, February 05, 2005 1:02 AM
I would say no to Brazil ,Switzerland ,New Zealand ,etc. These are all highly industrialized countries that certainly would not have to pay the freight on what is basically an empty box. Any of them could easily build their own. Think mining. Narrow gage is VERY common in underground mines.

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Posted by edblysard on Saturday, February 05, 2005 5:34 AM
Actually, yes, Brazil...

As industrialized as they are, they dont have a car maker, or a locomotive builder able to meet their needs.

They have purchased, last year alone, over 100 locomotives..

I can send you a roster, if you like.

Almost all are older GEs, and a good mix of EMD SDs...

Looked at the roster, 453 locomotives purchased from the US and Canada.

Quite a lot of the trackage there is narrow gauge, in a lot of places, it is dual guage.

Their original rail network, which was narrow gauge, is still intact.

They added the third rail to fit standard gauge so they could interchange with their neighboring countries without having to switch trucks or transload the car......they even have a neat little idler car called a mamba, with dual guage trucks and off center couplers, so they can run both gauges at the same time in consist.

Ed
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Posted by tdmidget on Saturday, February 05, 2005 10:51 AM
Brazil, no. There is a world of difference in building a hopper car and a locomotive. In addition the used loco is much cheaper than new. Whereas a hopper 's freight to Brazil would probably exceed the cost of materials and remember that labor there is a fraction of ours. Brazil has a large and thriving steel industry. I could believe that some components, such as couplers ,brake valves,and trucks might be imported but the whole car would not make sense. All thats needed to build the hopper carbody is a shear, press brake and welding equipment. It doesn't make sense that a country that can export airliners trucks and firearms to the U.S. would have to import something as simple as an empty steel box.

First they came for the communists,
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Then they came for the socialists,
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Posted by conrailman on Saturday, February 05, 2005 11:51 AM
That a good idea country like Brazil is buying are older locomotives from the US railroads for there use down in Brazil, and buying new hoppers car from the U.S. Firms too. Do you make them Locomotives New again before they are export to Brazil from Houston TX?
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Posted by edblysard on Saturday, February 05, 2005 2:06 PM
No, we dont rebuild them here in Houston.
Most of them come rebuilt from NREX., HLCX, LRCX and ATGX.....

Last month we sent them quite a few old coil cars...they were welded together with straps, stood on the sides, and tied down on a few 89 foot flats...the trucks were in a pair of old E,J&E mill gons...


But then again, your asking the wrong guy...

You might want to talk to tdmidget...the "real railroader" here, he should know...

After all, I just take this stuff out to the docks and watch them load it into ships...

Ed
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Posted by bbrant on Saturday, February 05, 2005 4:29 PM
I ran into a guy from our train club today. I told him about the narrow gauge cars and he thought that perhaps they were going to narrow gauge line in Colorado. He mentioned that there were a few shipments like this last summer and that's where their destination was. Again, no certainty just speculation.

The ironic thing is that I went to Rockwood (PA) today to see if by chance they were sitting there. The flat cars they were transported on were there but the cars were gone. No signs in the snow of any equipment being moved in to unload them. I'm guessing that they went somewhere else to be unloaded and the flat cars were then brought back to Rockwood. Can't understand why CSX wouldn't just ship them on the cars that were loaded, if indeed they were unloaded and reloaded onto other RR cars.

Brian
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Posted by tdmidget on Saturday, February 05, 2005 10:25 PM
There's the difference. You sent OLD coil cars on an OLD flat car with trucks in an OLD gon. Probably all bought at scrap prices and therefore economically viable.

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Posted by tdmidget on Saturday, February 05, 2005 10:32 PM
And now that I think about it some more why did the trucks need to go. They were standard gauge and useless unless you replace the bolster and axles. wouldn't it be cheaper to just send the usable parts? Oh, there's that scrap price again. I can't believe that New equipment would be shipped to a country that can readily make their own without the freight handicap. As for me being a rewal railroader, maybe I'm more of a real economist.

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Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
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Then they came for me,
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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, February 06, 2005 4:51 AM
Note that Newfoundland had a narrow gauge system, and certain series of regular-width CN box cars and Merchants Dispatch refrigerated cars had their trucks changed out either at North Sidney or Port-of-Basque. I got to ride the "Newfy Bullet" in an upper birth both ways before the system closed. (Average speed about 25mph)
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Posted by edblysard on Sunday, February 06, 2005 5:29 AM
The reason they want the old trucks is simple...even an economist can figure it out...most of the tracks are dual gauge....

As for it being simple to built a gondola, and any clod with a sheet metal brake and some welding rod can do so..I am pretty sure the folks at Johnstown and Trinity Railcar would argue that some...
It isnt simple, it takes a huge amount of capital investment, and you have to make a lot of the same car over and over to make any money at it.

What the railroads in Brazil are buying are small lots of new speciality cars, in the 50 cars or less range.

Thats not to say the hoppers mentioned here are on the way to Brazil...but it is quite possible they are.

Until recently, the railroads there were nationalized, and ignored.
It was cut up and sold off to several operators, and they are buying locomotives and rolling stock to fit specific needs of their lines.

As for Brazil being a heavy industry country...not really, but thats a different argument.

They have one manufacturer that cast trucks...one.

This company make narrow gauge trucks for rolling stock, and the narrow guage trucks under the locomotives.

Your an economist...so why dont we, America, with all of our industrial might and know how, why dont we make Cooper Minis here?

Because quite simply, the market dosnt exsist to justify the investment in the plant.

But oddly enough, the market does justify the making of other things, like racing brake rotors and racing intakes manifolds for the Minis...but only by small, Mom and Pop speciality companies.

No one in Brazil is going to invest the money in a railcar maker, until the market there grows to the point it can support such a venture...no matter how cheap the labor.

So, yes, it is cheaper to buy the "simple steel boxes" somewhere else, and pay the shipping cost...

Before you wonder...and run off a little more SWAG...my information comes from a member of Brazil's Army, he is part of the office that handles military movements via rail, he has been an American railroad fan since he was a kid, and is tickled to death to see all the SDs and C-30s showing up, his other job is with the logistics company that coordinates the shipping of a lot of this stuff.

He and I had this exact same conversation a few years ago, I too wondered why they were buying all this crap, and the odd batch of new stuff, and I too, asked him why they didn't just build it themselves...

Ed
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Posted by tdmidget on Sunday, February 06, 2005 11:40 AM
Altough the mini itself is not produced in the USA its maker ,BMW, does have a factory in South Carolina. Years ago when most roads were heavily vertically consolidatedthey built most of their own cars. A big barn like building and basic metal cutting, bending, and rivetting equipment was all they needed.
It still doesn't make sense. After all I recently read that one our carbuilders(I forget which one) is opening a plant in Europe to suppy them. Kawasaki builds light rail and subway cars here which are miniscule size orders but still more practical to build here.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

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Posted by mudchicken on Sunday, February 06, 2005 1:05 PM
Highly unlikely that the cars are coming this way. None of the three, soon to be four, operations could afford them. Georgetown Loop is a virtual ghost-town, most of that equipment is now on the grounds of the Colorado Railroad Museum or at Canon City on the ground.. All are cash poor and have other priorities.
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Posted by DSchmitt on Sunday, February 06, 2005 3:11 PM
While it doesn't answer the question about where the cars are going, the followinh is from the FreightCar America web site:

http://www.johnstownamerica.com/


"FreightCar America has successfully extended its manufacturing and distribution of quality, custom designed railroad cars to the global community. Our engineering and manufacturing employees work closely with our international partners to insure our international products perform beyond expectation in the very different rail infrastructures encountered throughout the world. Our product line is manufactured in our facilities in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and Danville, Illinois. We have also established a manufacturing partnership with Brazilian based Amsted Maxion, thereby extending our manufacturing presence even further.

Our freight car and kit customers include a variety of South American railroad companies such as Ferronorte S.A. and mining companies like International Columbia Resources Corporation (Intercor) and Drummond LTD.

Our international operations are another demonstration of FreightCar America's dedication to serving all of our customers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South and Central America, Australia, and Asia. "







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Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Sunday, February 06, 2005 11:18 PM
Just a thought, but US Gypsum runs a NG railroad from Plaster City up to its mine near Ocotillo Wells in Southeastern California, or at least they used to. Given that the rolling stock there must be getting up in years, that could be a destination for a set of hoppers.

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