steam era coil steel cars
Dana and Larry Kline <klinelarrydanajon@...>
In answer to John's original question, as far as I know, covered gondolas
were not used for coiled steel service until late in the steam era. The
earliest cars I'm aware of are covered gons on the NKP (Railway Age, June 6,
1955, p30), PRR (Railway Age, Ocy 17, 1955, p39), and P&WV (P&WV 1955
Stockholders Report, p and Worley and Poellet P&WV book, p219).
As far as I know, special purpose cars like the Walthers cushioned coil car
were not built until after the steam era. For example, the James Kinkaid
article in Oct 96 Mainline Modeler describes Evcans cars that were first
built in 1964.
Tin plated steel coils, and many other steel products, were also shipped in
box cars (and even reefers) during the steam era. The following 1966 data is
from the John Moore collection. The numbers in the table are the percentage
distribution of tons shipped, by car types, for the commodity groups listed.
Note that for tin mill products, box cars accounted for 69.5% of the tonnage
shipped, and reefers accounted for 21.7%. I assume that the Tin Mill
Products category includes tin-plated steel coils and probably also includes
galvanized steel coils. The Worley and Poellet P&WV book states that P&WV's
1200 series boxcars, built in 1946 with 8 foot doors, were purchased for
merchandise and steel coil service. (p187)
Box Reefer Gon Flat TOFC
Tin Mill Products 69.5 21.7 6.8 2.0 0
Metal Cans 93.4 1.8 0 0 4.8
Steel Shipping Pails & Barrels 91.3 0 5.8 2.9
Steel Wire 77.5 10.1 0 0 12.4
Iron & Steel Castings 62.9 0 24.5 12.6 0
Iron & Steel Forgings 50.4 0 26.5 23.1 0
Sheet Metal Roofing & Siding 15.9 0 37.2 46.9 0
Metal Tanks 10.3 0 14.3 75.4 0
Iron & Steel Cast Pipe 4.2 2.3 35.5 58.0 0
Metal Construction Materials 3.8 0 90.3 5.9 0
Structural Metal Products 0.6 0 87.2 12.2 0
Mark Evans <mtevans@...>
This post by Mark Hemphill from the DRGW egroups list is very
infomative as to open vs. covered coil cars and hot rolled vs. cold
rolled steel coils.
Mark T. Evans
ORIGINAL MESSAGE - Message No. 9604 from DRGW list at egroups
From: M. W. Hemphill
Date: Mon Jan 31, 2000 6:56pm
Subject: Re: BN Coil Train
Here's some information about coil steel that may clarify some of the
1. Covered coil cars vs. open coil cars. Covered cars are used when
surface finish of the steel is of great important to the end
products for which coil steel is used do not require high surface
for instance, highway guardrails, steel culverts, corrugated steel
prefabricated building structural components. Covered coil cars have
greater tare than uncovered, have a higher initial cost, and a higher
maintenance cost, so the freight rate is naturally higher for coils
covered vs. uncovered. An advantage of open coil cars is that the
be loaded and shipped hot, whereas hot coils shipped in a covered car
damage the rubber and plastic components of the air brake system and
diminish the structural integrity of the car. Because it is more
for a steel mill to load and ship coil immediately as it comes out of
coil box, rather than store it somewhere for a day or so while
steel mills greatly prefer to ship in open cars whenever possible.
2. Coil steel is merely sheet steel rolled up for convenience in
Sheet steel comes in a broad variety of qualities and prices. Several
messages on this group have mentioned sheet steel being used for
body parts and appliances. It is indeed, but not all sheet steel has
exalted destinies. The steel used for auto bodies and appliance
cold-rolled from hot-rolled sheet steel, and is just about the highest
quality steel made. It is extremely expensive steel. Just a handful
steelmakers in the U.S. even have the technological and manufacturing
capability to make it, for instance, U.S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel,
financial requirements for a combined hot-roll/cold-roll mill
steel are extremely high -- like in the billion-dollar range.
big steelmakers have begun producing a thinner and much stronger
sheet steel in order to hold the line against aluminum and plastic
components, making the financial requirements for this product line
Until about 10 years ago, all hot-rolled sheet steel, even the low-
stuff used for silos, oil tanks, and the like, was made from new steel
manufactured at an integrated steel mill from iron ore and home scrap
leftover steel from the steelmaking process itself). Using
materials allows an integrated mill to achieve great consistency in
product, particularly important when the steel's surface quality
for automotive and appliance applications) is an important
steel mill making its steel entirely from purchased scrap, such as a
minimill (e.g., Nucor at Plymouth, Utah) or midimill (e.g., CF&I)
finds the quality of its scrap far too variable to produce any sheet
product requiring a good surface finish. Minimills usually produce
bar, reinforcing rod, wire, and light structural products, which are
undemanding products and can be economically produced from a variety
scrap feeds. In the last decade a handful of minimills have been
produce hot-rolled coil from scrap, using prompt scrap (the scrap
by metal fabricators, as compared to the obsolete scrap from wrecked
demolished structures, etc.) to achieve a feed good enough to produce
low-quality hot-rolled sheet steel. I am not aware of any minimills
producing autobody-quality sheet steel at this time.
3. Geneva does not produce cold-rolled coil, and to my knowledge
its hot-rolled coil currently feeds any cold-roll mill. Under U.S.
ownership, Geneva produced hot-rolled coil to feed U.S. Steel's cold-
galvanizing, and tinplate lines at Pittsburg, California, but I do not
believe any of Pittsburg's cold-rolled steel went to automotive or
manufacturers. Pittsburg's primary market was California canneries.
Tinplate is a much less demanding product than automotive or appliance
steel. What you are seeing in the BNSF cars is probably not destined
become automotive parts or appliances, but more prosaic products.
4. The probable reason eastern road coil cars are more often covered
open is because both the auto body fabrication plants and the steel
that supply them are principally at eastern locations, mostly in a
around the Great Lakes from Chicago into Pennsylvania and New York.
5. CF&I at Pueblo never produced sheet steel products. CF&I was
a rail mill and merchant bar mill, and in the 1950s expanded into
steel oilfield tubing.
6. No mill in the U.S. continues to use ingot steel (pigs refer to
iron, not steel) to produce steel with the exception of very small
quantities of specialty steel. The preponderance of steel produced
U.S. is continuously-cast. Geneva was the last mill in the U.S.
both on ingot steel and open hearth (as opposed to basic oxygen)
7. Coils come in a variety of weights. The last information I saw
Geneva was that it was producing coils up to 80,000 lbs.
8. Plate is a separate product from coil. It is not coiled. As I
(my books are all packed) the cutoff is about 3/8" in thickness
sheet steel and plate steel. Sheet steel is often produced in long
that are coiled, but quite a bit is shipped flat in sheared lengths.
depends upon the consumer's ability to handle coils and their needs --
consumers will purchase coils, because they're cheaper, smaller
will purchase sheets.
Garth G. Groff <ggg9y@...>
Ed,toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
Absolutely. The Arcade (sometimes called Lisbon) trestle was collapsed
by a train of 21 cars of steel, probably all coils, being carried in
D&RGW 45' GS gondolas. The accident happened on July 24, 1951. Motor 650
was seriously damaged, but later returned to service. The WP caboose
(725 IIRC) was damaged beyond repair. The trestle took about three years
to fix, and was not electrified when reopened. The accident so scared
the WP management, that they decided to end ferry service with Ramon. It
was withdrawn the day the line reopened in 1954. After that, the former
mainline between West Sacramento and Chipps Island was nothing more than
an unimportant branch.
Garth G. Groff
Ed Workman wrote:
Richard Hendrickson said:
Coil steel was shipped in open gondolas without weather protection. I'veRichard is entirely right. And contrary to John N's assumption, weather
protection really isn't vital for most coil uses. These coils are going to
be processed further by the recipient, and superficial rust isn't very
important except in cases where a "finished" surface is on the coil, e.g.
for appliances (these coils are often wrapped with something anyway). There
are those in the steel industry who say that coil car hoods are mostly
cosmetic. But I must admit, given all the hassle railroads deal with to
continue same in service, there must be SOMEONE out there who doesn't think
so--maybe the marketing guys?
The one situation for which weather protection could be valuable would be
the recipient who isn't going to use a coil right away (more and more rare
today). In that case, water inside the coil will go on rusting right inside
your warehouse--in fact faster than when it was out in the weather because
it's probably warmer indoors--or in your storage yard.
Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2942 Linden Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 http://www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, email@example.com
Publishers of books on railroads and on Western history
Ed Workman <eworkman@...>
toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
From: Garth G. Groff <firstname.lastname@example.org>
they shipped coils on
the Western Pacific and Sacramento Northern in the steam/electric era:Was it steel coils that collapsed the SN trestle?
The coil steel cars like the Bachmann and Walthers seem like an obviousCoil steel was shipped in open gondolas without weather protection. I've
seen numerous photos of such shipments.
Richard H. Hendrickson
Ashland, Oregon 97520
Garth G. Groff <ggg9y@...>
John and friends,toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
I can't speak for all railroads, but I know how they shipped coils on
the Western Pacific and Sacramento Northern in the steam/electric era:
in open gondolas. To find out more, drop by my web pages at:
What I didn't know when I wrote this was that the SN also had a modest
fleet of 52' 6" mill gondolas built by Thrall in 1959. I have yet to
find if any were equipped with coil cradles or racks.
Garth G. Groff
John Nehrich wrote:
... how did they ship coil steel before these cars back in steam days?
John Nehrich <nehrij@...>
The coil steel cars like the Bachmann and Walthers seem like an obvious
solution to the problem of shipping coiled steel. It is so heavy you have
to load with a crane and you need some sort of weather protection. So why
can't we add truss rods and Andrews trucks to the Wathers models? In other
words, how did they ship coil steel before these cars back in steam days?
Or maybe they didn't? Was it the development of heavier cranes? Wider
spread use of 70 and 100 ton trucks? Some development in the auto industry
to ship steel in this manner? - John