Re: Ice Operations

Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>

Jim Betz asked:
It's interesting to me that no one worked inside the reefer
during loading. It seems curious to me that they would have
allowed 'whatever happened' to the blocks of ice when they were
dumped in to be the end result. I could understand that more
easily if the blocks were smaller but as large as they were it
is amazing that they didn't care if they ended up 'on end', sideways,
catty-wompous, etc.
There would be no way to work inside, as the bunker was walled off from the car interior. And I think you misunderstand what was done with the ice blocks. The PFE standard was a 300-pound block, and the job of the splitter on the deck was to quarter it, and then the passer moved the 75-pound (more or less) chunks to the car man, who chopped them down to the needed size: chunk (cantaloupe size) or crushed (fist size) as the ice went into the bunker. What went into the bunker was most certainly NOT the 300-pounder or even the 75-pounder. One often sees this wrongly modeled. (all this info is in the PFE book)

I always figured that the ice bunkers on the
ends of the cars were filled to 'capacity' a lot of the time ... to
reduce the number of times they would have to be re-loaded in the
course of a trip from say Salinas to San Jose to Martinez to Sacramento
to Reno to Salt Lake, to Denver, to Chicago, to New York, to Boston.
How many times was a reefer re-iced in a trip from Salinas to Boston?
Was there a pre-cooling, loading, let the car come to target temp and
then final top off before transit or what?
Yes, bunkers were normally filled to the top at each re-icing, but the shipper could specify adding a specific amount if desired.
Obviously frequency of re-icing depended on temperature, but every 24 hours is a good average. In cool weather, it could be much more. And the shipper could specify intervals if desired.
Whether a car was pre-iced was up to the shipper. It is LOADS which are pre-cooled, not cars. The PFE recommendation was for the shipper to pre-cool, as it got the load cool right from the loading time, thus reducing damage claims, and made shipment conditions more consistent. If a shipper ordered a pre-iced car, they usually just loaded it as fast as practical and closed the doors. (A big waste in many cases, as the cold air in the car rapidly drained out with the doors open for loading.) Such a car was ordinarily re-iced before starting transit, but the shipper could specify any arrangement whatever. A brief summary of refrigeration tariffs is also in the PFE book.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@...
Publishers of books on railroad history

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