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Athearn Impack cars - When did these run?

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Athearn Impack cars - When did these run?
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, October 16, 2003 1:33 PM
I've got a five-unit set of the Impacks, but I'm not sure what time period these fit into - are they still used or are they a very early intermodal car?
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Posted by JLLentner on Sunday, October 19, 2003 5:52 PM
The following information is taken from "Spine Cars - A prototype Overview" by David A. Bontrager in the December 1992 issue of Model Railroading.

In the mid-70s, Santa Fe introduced an articulated spine car they named "Ten Pack Fuel Foiler". Itel bought the design, renamed it "Impack", and produced it from the late 70s through the early 80s. This is the car that Athearn produced. The car was bought in substantial quantities and many were in heavy use at the time the article was written. The car was made obsolete by the "general purpose" spine car which is the model produced by Walthers.

I can not locate my copy, but in the early 90s, someone (Doug Geiger I think, but don't quote me) wrote an article for Model Railroading that was a step-by-step detailing project of the Athearn Impack car. I have used the article several times over the last decade.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 20, 2003 10:34 AM
Thanks for the help, I've been doing a little research myself (going to www.trainweb.com and typing "Impack" into the search box) and come up with much the same dates. I've also discovered that Impacks will go round sharper curves than the Walthers spine cars, which might be useful info for someone!
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Posted by jrbarney on Monday, October 20, 2003 11:37 AM
Railroading Brit,
Just did a search in the Index of Magazines at this site using the search term "Impack" and found four articles. The one on the Athern cars is in the January 1993 issue of Model Railroader, starting on page 24.
Bob
"Time flies like an arrow - fruit flies like a banana." "In wine there is wisdom. In beer there is strength. In water there is bacteria." --German proverb
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 4:40 AM
Thanks again - the internet's a wonderful thing isn't it!
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Posted by DTomajko on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 1:43 PM
I believe the IMPACK cars are still operating.They were split from 10-packs to 5-packs in the 80's to better utilize the cars in the case of a mechanical problem.TTX still uses 5-pack versions under the "TTLX" reporting mark.The "All-Purpose" spine car didn't make the Impack cars obselete,it just improved the usefulness of that type of car by making it possible to load up to 48'/102" containers,(EMP & NACS),in addition to trailers.The TTLX has fixed hitches and can only hold trailers or containers mounted on a chassis,while the all-purpose TTAX hitches collapse to carry containers,20' to 48' boxes on the ends and 40' to 48' in the middle 3 platforms.I also believe the Walthers car is of the earlier 48' car.There are also TTAX 53' cars in use in 3 or 5 platform configurations.With the increase in the use of 53' trailers and containers,where to place a load in a string of cars can be perplexing.Also,on NS,a "legally" loaded 5-pack must have a minumum of 3 pieces loaded,(ie,ends & middle platforms).Good luck and good modeling.
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Posted by Pennsy58 on Monday, October 27, 2003 8:32 PM
I have seen the impack cars near me, Pittsburgh, since the mid-80's. Interestingly enough, I saw a NS train pass by Greensburg,pa today with a mix of TTX husky stacks and Impack units. Both types were in 5 car units. Nearby is the Wall intermodal yard and their is quite a mix running through there....
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Posted by DTomajko on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 2:54 PM
The cars in the Pittsburgh ramp are all mixed up because there is no assigned shifter on duty.The cars arrive from the west on trains 22W,(morning), and 24M(evening)and are in no particular order.In Pittsburgh,the only factors taken in loading is whether the unit being loaded is TOFC or COFC and the length of the unit,(ie;a 53' container will never fit in a 40' bucket car).Monday through Friday,local shifter C46 comes along between 8AM & 3PM and moves in the loaded cars that came from the East the previous day(s)on the support tracks on the south side of the ramp area.While C46 is there,they also cut out any cars without hitches for the UPS loads put up for train 21E at 5PM Mon-Fri,(all UPS travels as TOFC).On Sat,there is usually 12 or less loads and there are enough hitches available without hitting a COFC-only car,(UPS doesn't ship on Sundays in Pitt).When loading the nightly Chicago freight for 21Z,the units are programmed to fit the cars available,no matter the order they are in.The only considerations taken are to try to put common destinations on the same car if there are enough to fill the car.Loads are divided into Chicago's,UP's,or BNSF's:then into individual places,(ie;San Bernadino,Modesto,Seattle,Tacoma,etc.).It also doesn't matter if two Seattle cars are separated by a dozen cars,the cars are used as they are.I would assume other ramps work in a similar manner,except that the larger ramps would have a full-time shifter to shuffle things when needed.In Pitt,the road trains pickup and setout right to & from the ramp area,except for,(there just had to be an exception),train 21T which picks up KC bound cars from the ramp and sets out to the support tracks the cars from the East,(Dockside,Harrisburg,Rutherford,etc.).I know this sounds a lot more complicated than most folks would have believed possible,but in practice it isn't as hard as it looks once you get accustommed to the order of operations.I hope this helps a little.
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, October 30, 2003 3:28 PM
Thanks for the advice all those who responded. Now I've run into another problem. It looks as though Athearn have ceased production on the Impack cars - I've phoned around most of the bigger hobby stores that stock Athearn in the UK and drawn a blank! Guess I'll just have to keep my eyes open and hope I find somewhere that still has them!

On a related note, what does eveyone else think about the new RTR Athearn 5-unit Gunderson Maxi-IIIs? I think the prices are a little high compared to the kits - I'd rather spend less on the product and assemble it myself! It looks as though the Maxi-III kits are also being discontinued however - I only have the one, and I've not been able to find any stores with remaining stock. c'mon Athearn, keep the kits in production for those of us who like building them (and can't afford the RTR stuff).
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Posted by ndbprr on Thursday, November 6, 2003 11:50 AM
Check E bay. You'd be surprised what is for sale there.
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, November 16, 2003 3:05 PM
I have a couple of sets of these car kits that I can sell you. Price is retail plus P&P as I live in Canada.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, November 17, 2003 12:41 PM
I have a few of these also. They were used by BN throughout the 80's. I believe the green BN units (if you're using them) were sold to TTX and repainted by late 80's. I haven't seen any green ones iin a long long time.
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Posted by SSW9389 on Sunday, November 30, 2003 9:55 AM
Santa Fe started out with an experimental six pack set and then soon went to the ten pack. Saw it all in Arizona.
COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!

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