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Those small "milkstop" platforms... where would they occur on a prototype railroad?

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Those small "milkstop" platforms... where would they occur on a prototype railroad?
Posted by crossthedog on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 7:23 PM

I'm thinking of the kits by Tichy, JL Innovative and Period Miniatures, where it's just a raised shed where milk cans wait to be picked up (and/or dropped off?).

Would these be on a mainline? On a siding off a mainline? On a branch line? I'm curious how these would have been employed by real railroads. I seem to recall @Kevin has posted photos of one of these on his last layout, or maybe his is a produce shed.

I don't have much straight track on my mainline (one of the reasons I will never build another layout that isn't around the walls), so it may be moot. But I'm kinda curious about these. I think they're adorable, sorta want one.

-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 MisterBeasley on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 7:58 PM

I would suspect these trains would be early morning "milk run" trains that ran first thing before the traffic was heavy to pick up temperature-sensitive dairy products and get them to distributors.  This would have happened in earlier eras, so a small platform on a main line might be fine.

I would build this as a small stop on a lightly traveled route, and use a small steam engine with a couple of ice bunker reefers and a caboose to pick up the milk.  No rush on the empties, they'd come back the next day.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by "JaBear" on Thursday, August 24, 2023 5:27 AM
The following is a quote from Jeff Wilsons book “Milk Trains and Traffic” which appears to be available from the Kalmbach Store.
 
 
“These rural platforms, 7, were common until about 1910, and could be located near any convenient country road crossing. No spur or siding track was used—the platform would be next to the main, so the train could simply stop, load cans, and go. These cans would be picked up by trains and—depending upon the level of traffic on a particular route—placed in a baggage car or a dedicated milk car. Railroad personnel would be responsible for getting cars loaded (and for unloading empty cans on reverse routes). This method of operation continued on low-volume routes until the end of the rail-milk era.”
 
7 is the plans of a typical milk platform and its placement.
 
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, August 24, 2023 8:59 AM

Where is the cartoon of the bear uncomfortably shoehorned into one of these sheds with a few cans for company? Smile

I would expect the logical design of one of these things to look like that last LIRR stop that was just a high-level platform opposide one of the endmost doors in a train.  It would be a shed, covered against weather and possibly secured by doors and locks, raised up to baggage or boxcar sill height (so full cans could be muscled across quickly without too much agitation).  The dairymen dropping off the milk cans would be responsible for lifting them up to the higher level, so there'd be a place adjacent to the platform for wagons or trucks, and a corresponding unloading area; perhaps a crane or chain hoist to help lift the cans.  (Note that if cans arrive in a wagon or truck bed, they are already partway up to 'platform level' so some means of lifting and shifting them into a high-mounted door will be valuable.)

I would strongly suspect that empty washed cans would be dropped off to the same shed, which leads to how you'd model individual "can tracking" methods -- much like luggage identification at airports, I suspect.  I'd think larger outfits would 'brand' their cans by stamping a logo or identification into them "to avoid misunderstandings".  Multiple users would require something like a chain with multiple locks on the 'back door' for secure access, similar to utility access on farm gates.

As precise spotting would be needed to get the door aligned with the shed, in morning dark and dew-kissed slicketiness, expect signs (or impromptu markers, like stones strategically placed near automobile racetrack corners) indicating where to stop trains of particular lengths for the desirable quick handling at 'a plurality of these kinds of stop' with minimal jostling of the loaded cans...

 

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, August 24, 2023 11:10 AM

Overmod
(so full cans could be muscled across quickly without too much agitation).

Is the concern that the train crew might get annoyed, or that butter might be created?

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, August 24, 2023 3:02 PM

The milk cans from the 19th century up until about 1910 were about 25 gallons each, and would have weighed about 200 pound each fully loaded.  After that, 10 gallon cans (80 pounds) became more common and less unwieldy.  Consider that when figuring how the dairy men got their cans up to the platform.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, August 24, 2023 3:36 PM

The cars wouldn't necessarily be refrigerator cars. If the time between picking up the milk and delivering it to a creamery was only a matter of hours, the railroad might find it more convenient to use one or more baggage cars. Large doors make spotting and loading easier, brakeman and conductor don't have to get out of a caboose and walk up to the car being loaded. 

Stix
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Posted by crossthedog on Thursday, August 24, 2023 5:09 PM

Good thoughts, guys. Thank you! I may try to find a small section of straight track where I could put such a thing.

-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 John-NYBW on Friday, August 25, 2023 3:12 PM

MisterBeasley

I would suspect these trains would be early morning "milk run" trains that ran first thing before the traffic was heavy to pick up temperature-sensitive dairy products and get them to distributors.  

That's what I used to think until I read Jeff Wilson's Milk Trains and Traffic. According to that book, milk tank cars were collected from online creameries in evening runs, delivered to the bottling plants, processed overnight, and be ready for delivery in the morning. Milk cans would be collected in baggage express cars and top iced as needed. The empty tank cars and milk cans would be returned during the daytime runs. 

I strongly recommend Jeff Wilson's book to anyone planning milk train operations. It cause me to rethink my approach.

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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, August 26, 2023 1:20 PM

wjstix
The cars wouldn't necessarily be refrigerator cars. If the time between picking up the milk and delivering it to a creamery was only a matter of hours, the railroad might find it more convenient to use one or more baggage cars.

Correct, and I have also read that sometimes a few shovel-fulls of ice might be added, perhaps only during the hottest parts of summer.

there is also the matter of the empty cans being cleaned and returned to the farmer.   

Which in turn is a reminder that stations a surprisingly short distance apart might all have milk platforms or offer milk loading service because the supplying farmers were within a reasonable early morning distance away by horse drawn wagon.  It wasn't going to be an all day travel.  They needed to get back to the herd.

There were railroads such as the New York Ontario & Western for which milk was a really important commodity and their downward spiral began when the milk industry changed and the business was lost.

Dave Nelson   

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Posted by AEP528 on Monday, August 28, 2023 8:31 AM

Here's a link to a Rutland timetable. Note that the milk trains are by no means fast.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, August 28, 2023 8:40 AM

Looking at the various comments, you can see there is a diversity based on time and location. A city of 400 people 100 years ago might just have a simple platform next to the mainline for local farmers to drop off loaded milk cans. A town of 5,000 people might have a local creamery that farmers brought their milk to, which would then be loaded into milk tank cars to be taken to a large metropolitan area 'down the line' for processing. 

Stix
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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, August 28, 2023 4:45 PM

It's still a nice small industry to model for that era.  The only real railroad facility needed is a simple platform.  It should, of course, have a light road or even just a pair of dirt ruts from the platform to "elsewhere," to complete the local scene, giving a home to an old, early truck or a horsedrawn wagon.  Most of your layout's visitors wouldn't notice if you had a a GG1 pulling auto racks past such a platform, but details like old Packards and Fords will set the era of your pike perfectly.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by crossthedog on Monday, August 28, 2023 5:07 PM

Thanks for these further thoughts, gentlemen.

Beas, in the short time I've been "back at it" I've become less concerned about "prototypicality", at least as far as chronology and era are concerned. On my "sometime around 1957" pike I have an SP&S loco painted in a theme that didn't come about until the mid-1960s, I have steam locomotives that would surely have been scrapped by the early '50s, and my Northern Pacific steam locomotives haul trains across a Great Northern deck girder bridge long before the BN merger. In addition to such temporal infractions, I have a Spokane International locomotive running on my Spokane Portland & Seattle tracks, and I have stolen and moved an entire town from one railroad's domain to another's.

I think someday I may design and build a layout that models a particular division of a real railroad and maybe try to stick to a more rigorous standard of realism, but what I've learned about myself is that I just like to run trains. Lots of them. And I like old infrastructure. So I may put a milk platform next to my mainline and find an old Packard to park next to it.

-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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