Photo: Standard Coal Company Box Car Unloader (1914)


Bob Chaparro
 

Photo: Standard Coal Company Box Car Unloader (1914)

Photo from University of Utah Marriott Library:

https://collections.lib.utah.edu/details?id=528829

Unloading a D&RG boxcar.

Bob Chaparro

Hemet, CA


Bruce Hendrick
 

Does anyone know the specifics of this operation? Were these special boxcars with top loading capabilities? Is the car being unloaded via its end?

I can’t see how anyone would think this would be an improvement over using a standard open top hopper. Perhaps this was an experimental operation?

Thanks,

Bruce Hendrick
Brea, California


 

I've seen photos of this process used to unload grain as well.


Thanks!
--

Brian Ehni


On 6/9/22, 2:50 PM, "Bruce Hendrick" <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io on behalf of brucehendrick@...> wrote:

Does anyone know the specifics of this operation? Were these special boxcars with top loading capabilities? Is the car being unloaded via its end?

I can’t see how anyone would think this would be an improvement over using a standard open top hopper. Perhaps this was an experimental operation?

Thanks,

Bruce Hendrick
Brea, California


Hudson Leighton
 

Is that Standard or Narrow gauge?

It looks like there are end (lumber?) doors.

These type of unloaders were common in grain unloading facilities.

Some of which could also tilt to the side.

-Hudson


Douglas Harding
 

During the steam era most roads west of the Mississippi preferred gons over open hoppers for coal. In winter months they used boxcars, esp the northern roads, to prevent rain/snow freezing the coal. Boxcar loaders were used for loading. 
There was a company in Ottumwa Iowa (heart of Iowa coal country) that made boxcar loaders and unloaders. 
IH also made a loader.
Of course labor was cheap in those days, so laborers with shovels were also common.

Photos attached.

Doug Harding
Youtube: Douglas Harding Iowa Central Railroad


On Thu, Jun 9, 2022 at 2:55 PM Hudson Leighton <hudsonl@...> wrote:
Is that Standard or Narrow gauge?

It looks like there are end (lumber?) doors.

These type of unloaders were common in grain unloading facilities.

Some of which could also tilt to the side.

-Hudson


Bruce Smith
 

Bruce,

To further clarify,
No, the cars have roofs and are not top loaded. They are loaded through the doors. There appears to be some wood cooperage, similar to grain doors, present in the door opening. These would likely be removed once the car was situated on the unloader.

No, the car is not unloaded by its end. It is unloaded through the doors. The unloader, in tilting the car up, moves the load from the end to the middle of the car. Many unloaders also tilted side to side, allowing a door to be on the low side and cargo to run out. Then the other end of the car would be lifted, allowing the cargo from that end out. It might require a couple of cycles of tipping to mostly empty a car, which could have the final residue removed by hand, but it sure beat moving it all by hand!

Advantages over open top hoppers:
1. You own a boxcar and it is handy. Western roads did not own a lot of open hoppers
2. The load is protected from the weather (especially important for loads like grain, but also for some loads of coal

Definitely not "experimental". Multiple large scale commercial manufacturers offered such equipment.

Regards,
Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL


On 6/9/22, 2:50 PM, "main@RealSTMFC.groups.io on behalf of Bruce Hendrick" <main@RealSTMFC.groups.io on behalf of brucehendrick@...> wrote:

CAUTION: Email Originated Outside of Auburn.

Does anyone know the specifics of this operation? Were these special boxcars with top loading capabilities? Is the car being unloaded via its end?

I can’t see how anyone would think this would be an improvement over using a standard open top hopper. Perhaps this was an experimental operation?

Thanks,

Bruce Hendrick
Brea, California


Eric Hansmann
 

I wonder how many box car doors came off their track while rocking on these type of unloaders. I often come across photos and damage reports on door issues in the pre-1930 decades. 


Eric Hansmann
Murfreesboro, TN


On Jun 9, 2022, at 3:16 PM, Douglas Harding <iowacentralrr@...> wrote:

During the steam era most roads west of the Mississippi preferred gons over open hoppers for coal. In winter months they used boxcars, esp the northern roads, to prevent rain/snow freezing the coal. Boxcar loaders were used for loading. 
There was a company in Ottumwa Iowa (heart of Iowa coal country) that made boxcar loaders and unloaders. 
IH also made a loader.
Of course labor was cheap in those days, so laborers with shovels were also common.

Photos attached.

Doug Harding
Youtube: Douglas Harding Iowa Central Railroad


Bruce Hendrick
 

Thanks to all for the additional information. I was surprised that coal freezing was an issue. I would have thought a winter’s supply of coal would be in place long before the harsh weather

I certainly know of similar tight-bottom hopper operations but hadn’t heard of these unloaders for boxcars as described by the other Bruce I would imagine the tilting back & forth to get coal to pour out an open door would create great wear & tear on the cars.

Thanks again,

Bruce Hendrick


Todd Sullivan
 

Bruce,

Most certainly coal would freeze in the winter if the loaded open-topped coal cars were snowed on or were subjected to other winter precipitation that froze in the loads.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, I visited the Reading's two largest anthracite breakers, one at Locust Summit, PA and the other at St. Nicholas.  Both  were shut down in the late 1950s or early 1960s, but both were mostly complete when I visited them.  The  St. Nicholas breaker had a complex set of tracks that allowed unprocessed anthracite from mines to be hauled up a creek valley above the breaker and thawing sheds.  In the winter, frozen coal loads could be dropped down from the uppermost yard to the thawing sheds.  The thawing sheds had 6 tracks and probably could hold six to eight 33ft twin hoppers per track.  They were enclosed by doors on each end and steam heated.  After thawing, each car was dropped down to the scale track and weighed (minus the weight of most of the snow and ice), and then dropped down further to the dumping spot.  The anthracite was taken by conveyor to the top of the breaker, which was six stories tall, and then processed through slate-picking to remove slate and rocks, then crushing and washing, and finally graded for size and reloaded into hoppers that had come through the whole process above the breaker.  After loading, the cars were weighed again, then classified into outbound trains.  For years, I thought and planned to build a smallish layout based on the St Nicholas breaker operation, but I never got to the point of building anything.

Todd Sullivan


Charles Greene
 

Bob,

Your post generated a fascinating discussion. Good 'ol American ingenuity...when there's a need someone will come up with a solution to fill that need. I found a patent (https://patents.google.com/patent/US1266474A/en) to supplement Doug Harding's post about the Ottumwa company.

Chuck Greene
St. Charles, IL


Josh
 

The Standard Coal Company was located on the Denver & Rio Grande's Spring Canyon Branch in Standardville Utah. As the name indicates, it was a "standard city," one of the first built to a master plan, one of the most modern and technologically advanced towns in the entire country, incredible considering it was a coal company town. The foundations for the tipple still stand and are impressive.

This is all standard gauge. The Utah lines were standard gauged in 1889-1891. After that, there was not one single foot of narrow gauge track operated by the Rio Grande anywhere in the state, so chances are if you see a picture in this group taken in Utah the question "is this narrow gauge?" is moot.

Others have covered the hows and whys of this style of Ottumwa boxcar loader. A while back commodities shipped in stock cars were discussed. Stock cars also carried coal and there are many photos of stock cars positioned at the tipples of the Carbon County (Utah) coal fields of which this photo is a part of. This loader tipped the car up, a conveyor filled the end of the car to the door, then they placed temporary bulkheads against that load and tipped the car the other way and did the same on the opposite end. Unloading was done with good old fashioned shovels and muscle, since most coal yards that received these boxcars didn't have an unloading machine to reverse the process.

On the subject of winter supplies - coal mines don't shut down when it snows. Perhaps dealers did stock up in the fall, but the mines are still running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They're not piling that coal at the mine portal, they absolutely must have sufficient cars at all times to handle 100% of their output every single day. This was a struggle for the D&RG to meet those requirements, which is partially why the Utah Railway was organized and constructed a parallel mainline once the mine companies were fed up with the inability of the D&RG to satisfy the demand for timely shipment. Thus, coal was being shipped all year long, especially during Utah's wet winters when slushy snow falls in the desert and freezes overnight, turning any open loads into solid blocks of ice which is still a problem today.

 

Josh Bernhard