Re: Photo: Barrels in A Boxcar


Garth Groff and Sally Sanford
 

Jerry and friends,

The unusual Pullman-built Hercules cars are shown in the CAR BUILDERS CYCLOPEDIA during the late 1930s in Pullman's ads. I have a photocopy and it is marked as page 329. Since the Hercules car shares the page with AT&SF boxcar 136299 which has a 5-36 built date, we can surmise this was a 1937 or later edition. The car in question is HCCX 1001, and is marked boldly "HERCULES PORTLAND CEMENT IN BULK, presumably black lettering on a gray car. The car has slab sides with no outside bracing. The car body stops at about the truck bolsters, much like a tank car, and the ladders and end braces slope diagonally out toward the end sills in an almost European fashion. The trucks are Andrews. I can't read the build date, but it was probably 1929. A most interesting car, but already obsolete by the time the ad was published.

In 1932, the C&O began converting small lots of their coal hoppers to covered hoppers for cement service. The D&H  showed a similar converted car in RAILWAY MECHANICAL ENGINEERING in 1933. And let's not forget that the D&H also converted boxcars to permanent cement service with hatches and floor gates, as did some other roads. In 1934 the Erie purchased their series 20000-20049 cars with a 1321 cu ft capacity from Greenville, which except for its rather small size was similar in appearance to later 70-ton cars. PRR added their giant H30 class in 1935. By 1937 several major builders were churning out the 70-ton 1958 cu ft cars we know and love, and there are several examples in the Gregg CBC reprint for 1940.

Was the idea new? No. As early as 1898 there were wooden cars being built with the classic covered hopper features of roof hatches and floor gates. MR had a plan for one of these in the 1960s, and claimed they were offered in both standard and narrow gauges. (I built one in HOn3 from that plan, I think my second scratch-built car, but of course we don't pay any attention to narrow gauge, do we.)

I suspect that the massive need for cement during the post-war boom, with ready-mix plants in every town, made the covered hopper a much more attractive way to deliver cement. Barrels probably were gone by the early 1950s in favor of bulk or sacks. Sacked cement was easier to handle for small jobs, no doubt cheaper to package, and continues to be popular today.

Yours Aye,

Garth Groff  🦆


On Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 11:26 AM Jerry Dziedzic <jerdz@...> wrote:
A few thoughts to add to Mal's.  Cement packaging long relied on barrels and cloth bags.  I credit Hercules Cement with the first rail shipments in covered hoppers, in 1929.  Tony Thompson has a photo of bulk cement in a boxcar during the construction of Shasta Dam in the 1940's; imagine unloading that one!  It's my guess that bulk eliminated barrels, but I don't know when.  I don't know when paper sacks replaced cloth, either; about the same time flour made the change?  I have LCL waybills from the early 1940's returning bundles of cloth bags to cement mills.

Weight is the advantage a sack has over a barrel. One sack contains a cubic foot of cement weighing 94 lbs, more easily carried to a small job site.  A barrel's volume was 4 cu. ft. so a barrel weighed 376 lbs. Boxcar loads of sacks from Lehigh Valley cement producers were common in the 60's and early 70's  Much cement still moves in sacks, though now by truck.

Pennsylvania's Public Utilities Commission permitted highway bulk transport in 1958, as I remember.  Wish I were near my files to confirm this date.

Jerry Dziedzic

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