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How are tank cars loaded and unloaded?

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Posted by roundstick3@gmail.com on Thursday, June 23, 2022 7:34 AM

Don't forget the MU Tank Train that carries fuel oil in Albany Vermont corridor . For some reason this concept did not take off

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Posted by Pruitt on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 11:29 PM

Here's a few shots of tank car loading facilities and operations at the Standard Oil Company refinery in Casper Wyoming around 1935-1955.

This facility was very different than the Walthers loading rack. The rack at the Husky refinery in Cody WY was much more like the Walthers rack.

I read somewhere that their North Island Refinery kit was based on the Husky refinery (don't know if that's true or not), so maybe the loading racks were, too.

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Posted by Tin Can II on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 11:58 AM

Rambo2

Sometimes i see plastic covering the caps or tops on the domes and i wonder why to seal them maybe?

 

 
I would hazard a guess that maybe the tank car has been sealed after a cleaning before its next use.  I know that covered hoppers and tank cars are cleaned periodically, I worked for a track maintenance company in the late 70s; we primarily worked at facilities that fabricated, maintained and cleaned tank cars and covered hoppers.  Never saw a car that was sealed after cleaning, but I didn't really get to focus on what was happening on the cleaning racks as I was working on track.  
 
That was also more than 40 years ago.  Practices and materials change.
 
In the early 80's I lived in Abilene, TX.  In the industrial side of town, serviced by the BN was a new corn syrup off load that we called the sugar shack.  It was a simple open-sided metal building, with spots for four cars on two tracks.  There was an elevated platform between the tracks to access the tops of the cars.  The cars were unloaded with hoses into tank trucks for transport to the local Coca Cola bottling plant.
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Posted by Rambo2 on Thursday, June 16, 2022 9:05 AM

Sometimes i see plastic covering the caps or tops on the domes and i wonder why to seal them maybe?

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Posted by dehusman on Thursday, June 9, 2022 10:52 PM

And in related chocolate news:

Two Workers rescued from a vat of chocolate

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by crossthedog on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 4:17 PM

dehusman
If you go to a mapping program (Google maps) and search for "Land-O-Lakes Purina Feed" and go to street view (on N Cotner Blvd), you can see a location where they have a covered shed for unloading covered hoppers and tank cars. While you are wandering around there, if you go about a half mile southwest of there, you will come to the BNSF Havelock Shops, a huge car repair/building facility that dates back to the CB&Q.

Poking around street and aerial views online is one of my favorite diversions. I'm lacin' up my google-boots right now!

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 4:10 PM

crossthedog
I like this lean-to/shed idea

If you go to a mapping program (Google maps) and search for "Land-O-Lakes Purina Feed" and go to street view (on N Cotner Blvd), you can see a location where they have a covered shed for unloading covered hoppers and tank cars.

While you are wandering around there, if you go about a half mile southwest of there, you will come to the BNSF Havelock Shops, a huge car repair/building facility that dates back to the CB&Q.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 4:03 PM

Technical point here.

In rule 26, "workmen" are railroad employees, and it does not apply to people loading or unloading cars, or servicing cabooses.  It only applies to railroad workmen who are repairing or inspecting cars or engines.  Early rules are a little vague, but later rule books may have a definition of "workmen" in the rule.

The rule that covers flags on cars spotted at industry, being loaded or unloaded is one that covers moving cars before knowing that the load is secure, that all plates and connections are removed or that there are no people on or around the cars.

Hazmat rules require blue flags for hazmat tank cars that are connected.

The blue flag rule is one that goes back at least until the mid 1870's-1880's.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 2:55 PM

crossthedog
I saw those blue signs in some of the videos Batman linked to, and I believe there was an article in the past year in either MR or "the other model railroading periodical" about how to build those.

Here's a photo of one of the blue flags we used at GE:

 Tank_Car_Blueflag by Edmund, on Flickr

You can download this from Flickr and print it through your graphics program.

Hazmat or not, we would place the sign, clamped to the rail, but in later years after that bracket broke we just hung the sign on the coupler of the outer car using bailing wire.

These are my blue flags in my car shop. You could arrange your tank car signs in a similar fashion:

 Blue Flag Protection by Edmund, on Flickr

Railroad rule 26:

 NYC_Rule-26_0001 by Edmund, on Flickr

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by crossthedog on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 1:58 PM

dehusman
In most cases that I have seen "enclosed" loading/unloading racks, it has been for non-hazmat commodities (oils, corn syrup, non-hazmat chemicals) in a metal shed/lean to that is attached to a building.

Thank you for these direct answers, Dave. I like this lean-to/shed idea. I may have to scratchbuild a factory, but I can envision a track along one side of the building where there's a boxcar loading dock, and another short track going into a shed on the other side for unloading tankers.

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 1:29 PM

Because therer are 10,000+ different commodities that can go via tank car, and facilities that receives tank cars that have been built over a the last 100+ years there is every possible combination out there.

crossthedog
 I saw those blue signs in some of the videos Batman linked to,

Those are required for HAZMAT, optional for non-hazmat.  Chocolate isn't a hazmat.

But if I did, and the tanks of chocolate were inside the building (would they be?) then would the hoses from the bottom of the tank car connect to something on the exterior wall and thus pass through to some pumping apparatus inside?

Hazmat will tend to be stored in exterior tanks, non-hazmat can be stored in a tank inside the building.  You can find examples either way.  Chocolate being a food product could easily be stored inside for temperature control and to reduce teh chance of contamination.

I'm imagining some hose connections like they have on the exterior walls of high rise buildings at ground level for firefighters to hook water hoses to.

They generally have more piping than that and more complicated hose connections, they can be at floor level and piped down to ground level or at waist level and piped down to ground level or on ground level and piped above ground level.

Or would they just stick the hose through a window or propped open door?

  On an older building that was repurposed or built before the commodity was shipped in bulk, it's possible.


And I guess that's a real question -- would tanks of any liquid ever be located inside the building

Yes.  Much less likely if hazardous, mostly food grade.

does ANY industry that intakes tank cars also have unloading platform stations such as the one in Ed's photos above?

Most cars are LOADED from the top, and hazardous cars or pressurized cars may be unloaded from the top.  

The problem with a loading rack like that inside a building is height.  The room in the building has to be taller than a tank car, taller than a tank car with a person standing on top of it, tall enough that the hoses, gantries and walkways that connect to and allow access to the top of the car have to be able to be raised or moved out of the way to clear the top of the car and clear the roof of the room.

In most cases that I have seen "enclosed" loading/unloading racks, it has been for non-hazmat commodities (oils, corn syrup, non-hazmat chemicals) in a metal shed/lean to that is attached to a building.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by crossthedog on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 12:09 PM

Great info and photos here, guys. Beausabre, I especially like your recommendations for animals hanging around the facility. I saw those blue signs in some of the videos Batman linked to, and I believe there was an article in the past year in either MR or "the other model railroading periodical" about how to build those. Good work team, thanks.

Now, some of the systems in these photos look pretty modern. If I were to tell you I had this old brick factory (https://www.ebay.com/itm/402320878711?hash=item5dac316c77:g:BgUAAOSwyKxXhpJP) -- well, first off, I'd be lying, because I don't have it and I could never afford it. But if I did, and the tanks of chocolate were inside the building (would they be?) then would the hoses from the bottom of the tank car connect to something on the exterior wall and thus pass through to some pumping apparatus inside? I'm imagining some hose connections like they have on the exterior walls of high rise buildings at ground level for firefighters to hook water hoses to. Or would they just stick the hose through a window or propped open door?

And I guess that's a real question -- would tanks of any liquid ever be located inside the building or does ANY industry that intakes tank cars also have unloading platform stations such as the one in Ed's photos above?

Sorry to harp, but I really think this is worth getting to the bottom of. <--- inadvertent and barely discernable tank joke

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by Colorado Ray on Monday, June 6, 2022 7:56 PM

Several years ago I designed a sulfuric acid unloading facility in northern Nevada.  We used compressed air to unload the acid into a transfer tank.  Excess air was expelled in the transfer tank and then conventional centrifugal pumps were used to pump the acid into the storage tanks.  All the connections for air and acid were made at the tank car dome.   We used a car pulling winch to move each car in turn to the unloading platform (there was room for six tank cars on each side of the loading platform).  As I recall it took about 30 to 40 minutes to unload each tank car. From the storage tanks the acid was pumped and top loaded into tanker trucks for delivery to the mines. 

Ray

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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, June 6, 2022 7:30 PM

davidmurray
They were unloaded from the bottom, with a nitrogen gas line attached to the top, to keep pressure on the liquid. 

I was also involved in unloading tank cars at the GE plant I was employed at. Anhydrous ammonia, hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids, sodium hypochlorate and sodium hydroxide were commodities delivered.

Bottom discharge, top pressure inlet (about 30 psig IIRC) some tanks were on a fourth level and required a bit more pressure. There were relief valves on the tank cars. The acids and caustic were pumped out probably due to their more viscous nature plus the density.

This was my "office":

 GEfaceAN_0004 by Edmund, on Flickr

 GEfaceAN_0003 by Edmund, on Flickr


 

 Monsanto_ACF_0001 by Edmund, on Flickr

 Monsanto_ACF by Edmund, on Flickr

crossthedog
What infrastructure is involved?

If you have the room, Walthers makes a pretty decent loading/unloading platform.

 Tank_car_fill by Edmund, on Flickr


 

crossthedog
Wayne, I'm hoping you can hit one out of the park for me here --

Me too...

Regards, Ed

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Posted by davidmurray on Monday, June 6, 2022 6:50 PM

I worked at an automotive parts factory.  We got liquid pollyol in in tank cars.

They were unloaded from the bottom, with a nitrogen gas line attached to the top, to keep pressure on the liquid.  The heater coil, internal, would be hooked to a hot water line if necessary.

Except in extreme weather or shipping delays the heating was not necessary.

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, June 6, 2022 6:05 PM

These would be loaded through a hatch in the dome with a hose and unloaded by a bottom valve also via a hose. As noted before, there would be a low pressure, low temperature steam connection to melt the cargo so it can flow out the bottom or you're otherwise stuck with the world's largest chocolate bar. 

You probably want a dog or cat hanging around the unloading area to take care of the random rodents and other wild life looking for a free meal of spilled chocolate (also applies to the box car unloading area for the other ingredients and the loading area for your finished product). Terriers were bred as rat catchers, but any sort of cat would probably be applicable. The neighborhood cat stakes out our apartment's dumpster at night 'cause he knows what attracts "customers"

Don't forget to post blue flags or metal panels to indicate "Men working on or under cars"

Railroad Blue Flag Signs - Bing images

 

 

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Posted by crossthedog on Monday, June 6, 2022 4:29 PM

cv_acr
Really depends on the tank car. There's a lot of specialization and variation. General-service liquid cars are generally loading through a top fitting and unloaded through a bottom drain valve. Some tank cars are equipped with insulation and heater coils to heat up viscous liquids (like syrups, asphalt, heavy oils, etc.) to make them flow better (through bottom drains. The "heater coils" (usually steam pipes) are invisible, but you'll be able to see an extra hookup connection to attach a steam line. The difference between an insulated and non-insulated car is fairly easy to see when you know what you're looking at.

These are the ones I'm talking about.


I plan to have a moderately sized confectionary factory and swap these two guys in and out, along with the occasional boxcar and sugar cane car.

Thanks for the links, @Batman. I saw a lot of those videos, and they're mostly tutorials for current workers on how not to blow yourself up. My era is the '40s and '50s and most of my tank cars will not be hazardous materials.

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by BATMAN on Monday, June 6, 2022 3:39 PM

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1/videos 

You can never ever out-train poor nutrition.

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Posted by cv_acr on Monday, June 6, 2022 3:06 PM

Really depends on the tank car. There's a lot of specialization and variation.

General-service liquid cars are generally loading through a top fitting and unloaded through a bottom drain valve.

Some tank cars are equipped with insulation and heater coils to heat up viscous liquids (like syrups, asphalt, heavy oils, etc.) to make them flow better (through bottom drains. The "heater coils" (usually steam pipes) are invisible, but you'll be able to see an extra hookup connection to attach a steam line. The difference between an insulated and non-insulated car is fairly easy to see when you know what you're looking at.

Some types of cars for acid or other dangerous loads may not have bottom fittings for safety, cars would be unloaded via the top fittings, the unloading connection would have an (internal) pipe to the bottom of the tank vessel to pump it out.

Then you have compressed gas cars which are all loaded and unloaded via the topp fitting(s), like a really large version of a BBQ propane tank.

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How are tank cars loaded and unloaded?
Posted by crossthedog on Monday, June 6, 2022 2:47 PM

It just occurred to me that I have no idea what unloading a tank car looks like. They have valves and pipes at the top, so I assume somebody climbs up there to the dome and hooks a hose or something up that maybe dangles from some gusseted apparatus attached to the unloading dock? And whither then? Let's say it's liquid chocolate or cane sugar? Does the hose or pipe go through the vertical wall of the building? What infrastructure is involved?

A photo would be nice. Wayne, I'm hoping you can hit one out of the park for me here -- show me a photo of your bib-overalled factory worker unloading formaldahyde.

1940s, 1950s, if it matters.

Thanks in advance,

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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