Non-tank car traffic for refineries

John Barry

While reading the history of the Petroleum Administration for War, I had questions about some of the feed stocks and catalysts used in the 100 Octane program as there were four refineries in the area that I model during WWII.  One of the catalysts used in the process was sulfuric acid, H2SO4.  I initially thought that that might have arrived in acid cars and at smaller operations, it probably did.  So I asked a friend who is a retired petroleum engineer and got this response.  

"Refineries large enough to need sulfuric acid in quantity had an in-house sulfuric acid plant which involved burning sulfur to produce sulfur trioxide SO3 which was then dissolved in water to make sulfuric acid H2SO4.   The burning of sulfuric was an environmental disaster but widely practiced even in the 1960s when I visited a sulfuric acid plant."

"Modern refineries producing higher octane gasolines use a hydrogenation process which was not available until the early 1960's.  Chevron did pioneer this at the Richmond refinery." 

So in the period of this list, the occasional sulfur gondola would be an appropriate addition to the mix.  Anyone make a kit of the Santa Fe Ga-13 or Ga-19 Sulphur gons?  

John Barry
ATSF North Bay Lines 
Golden Gates & Fast Freights 
Lovettsville, VA


Mike Settle

I worked for an oil refinery in West Virginia that shut down in the early '80s that was built in the 1920s. They received Bauxite used to filter motor oil in boxcars and also manufactured pariffin wax that was bagged and shipped out in boxcars. Barrels and cartons of motor oil were also shipped out in boxcars as well as trucks.

Mike Settle