Author Topic: Frozen food industry  (Read 1705 times)

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sirenwerks

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Frozen food industry
« on: December 23, 2020, 08:00:15 PM »
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One of the industries I want to represent on my layout set in the Willamette Valley is food processing.  The industry continues in Oregon, though modernized significantly, and I am having a hard time drawing its history out so I can present a reasonable early 1970s rendition. Can anyone provide any information or photos of the industry then?  The presence here was less packing houses like in Washington, and more frozen food packers like Ore-Ida in Idaho.


I am especially curious if plants used conventional refrigeration/freezing then, or flash freezing using liquid hydrogen nitrogen.  And if the latter, if the liquid hydrogen was delivered by rail.  I recently picked up a BLI cyro tank car and am now wondering what I am going to do with it.  I wouldn't mind if I had a reason to add a couple more to the roster, and maybe a few Linde-style boxcars.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2020, 08:31:58 PM by sirenwerks »
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nickelplate759

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2020, 08:27:05 PM »
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Did you mean liquid nitrogen?   Hydrogen would be a little,  um, interesting to handle safely.
George
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sirenwerks

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2020, 08:30:37 PM »
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Oops, yes...  Let me edit that... And remind me to go back and retake high school science.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2020, 08:32:23 PM by sirenwerks »
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samusi01

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2020, 11:55:27 PM »
+1
For the central Washington area I model (slightly earlier than you; 69/70), there are numerous frozen food shippers but I’ve not read anything about using nitrogen to freeze product. I do not recall seeing anything in the NP wheel reports I have access to showing cryogenic cars. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence but I’ve not modeled any nitrogen cars based on what I’ve seen in my research.

Not seeing any of the era correct cryo car reporting marks that BLI produced listed in my wheel report data tipped the scales in favor of not purchasing one of those cars. You might try looking at the UP historical train data (some has been posted in their groups.io files) for listings of the cryo cars.

wazzou

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2020, 12:17:09 AM »
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Yeah, that's pretty recent as far as widespread use.
Birdseye was the pioneer in the flash frozen technology but I don't think his methods used Nitrogen.
Most of the cold storage was normally refrigerated in the period of your interest.
Bryan

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cfritschle

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2020, 12:41:34 AM »
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Bryan,

I worked at Birds Eye Frozen Food in Nampa, ID the summers of 1970, 71 and 72 while I was in college.  The plant processed spinach, celery (brought in from California in PFE reefers), onions (pearl onions in the summer and they made onion rings in the winter) and Lima beans.  They had two types of freezers, one for the product that was packed in the cartons (spinach and beans) and another (called the "tunnel") for the product package in poly bags.  As I recall, ammonia was used as the refrigerant for both systems. 

The freezers used for the cartons resembled the chillers used for milk cans at a dairy, and the "tunnel" had a conveyor belt running through it, and was a flash freezer. 

The building that Birds Eye occupied is now occupied by Rocky Mountain Steel as shown in this Google Street View:  https://www.google.com/maps/@43.5905923,-116.5651537,3a,75y,151.48h,94.33t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sJjoOiPIKrMgZi7vwWHjIMQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Across the rail loading dock from the Birds Eye plant was Termicold, a large cold storage facility.  The easiest way to get product from Birds Eye to Termicold was to drive a fork lift through the open doors of a reefer!

Here is an aerial photo of the Birds Eye plant from July 12, 1971.



North is up in the photo, and the raw product receiving area is on the northeast side of the building.  The shipping dock is on the southwest side of the building, and on the southwest side of the shipping dock is the Termicold building.  I worked the night shift during the summer of 1971, so I wasn't there when this photo was taken.   ;)

Probably a lot of information you really didn't need. 
Carter

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peteski

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2020, 12:47:08 AM »
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. . .

Here is an aerial photo of the Birds Eye plant from July 12, 1971.



Probably a lot of information you really didn't need.

A birds eye view of the Birds Eye plant?  Sorry - couldn't resist.  ;)
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sirenwerks

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2020, 02:47:08 AM »
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Bryan,

I worked at Birds Eye Frozen Food in Nampa, ID the summers of 1970, 71 and 72 while I was in college...


Carl, I had a feeling you would have some knowledge.  You seem to have worked a lot of odd jobs, like me. 


One question about the ammonia use... I presume these were closed loop systems, so they didn't require ammonia to be shipped in to supplement supplies?  I knew there was a lot going in the greater Boise area and on the Oregon side too.  I've found more photo documentation of that area than the Willamette Valley.
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John

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2020, 06:57:16 AM »
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peteski

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2020, 09:24:20 AM »
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cfritschle

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2020, 12:31:09 PM »
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Carl, I had a feeling you would have some knowledge.  You seem to have worked a lot of odd jobs, like me. 


One question about the ammonia use... I presume these were closed loop systems, so they didn't require ammonia to be shipped in to supplement supplies?  I knew there was a lot going in the greater Boise area and on the Oregon side too.  I've found more photo documentation of that area than the Willamette Valley.

The refrigeration system was closed loop, and I believe the "tunnel" (flash freezer) was relatively new in 1970.  The freezers for the product packaged in the cartons looked like they had been around for quite awhile, and freezing the packages in those freezers was very labor intensive in terms of putting the trays with the packages into the freezers, removing them, and then boxing the packages to be transferred to Termicold. 

The product passing through the "tunnel" required only one person to handle the output and prepare the "box" of bulk product (a plastic lined cardboard box on a pallet) or operate the polybag machine and placing the bagged product in a similar cardboard box on a pallet for transferring to Termicold.  The only rail shipments into the Birds Eye plant and out from Termicold were handled by the PFE reefers during the three summers I worked there. 

Another interesting aspect was that only the Termicold fork lift operators were allowed to cross the tracks.  The Bird Eyes fork lift operators could not leave the Birds Eye dock except to enter the Birds Eye plant and place product on the Birds Eye dock so the Termicold fork lift operators could transfer the product from the Birds Eye dock to Termicold, or load the reefers.
Carter

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Wlal13again

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2020, 11:09:14 AM »
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I do work for several cold storage facilities and they all use ammonia cold refrigeration systems
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rray

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2020, 01:51:26 PM »
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Haha! Good read Carter! My ex wife was at our Christmas dinner, and she works a the Ore-Ida plant on Ontario Oregon. She said she spent the Wednesday before Christmas cleaning the "Tunnel" on the Tot line. The sides and underneath the belt gets filled with potato mush muck that is several weeks old and semi rotted, and they use 10 gallons of pink chemical, spraying and digging sludge in a cold drippy stinky tunnel for 8 to 12 hours. This is exceptionally good work for an EX. So good in fact, that I just might model the Ore-Ida plant so I can look at it in remembrance of the EX's plight!  :D

It's actually the Heinz plant, which processes the Ore-Ida tots there.

It's fed by one rail spur, which can hold about 15 cars. There are lots of chemical tanks on that spur and all kind of crazy piping and fantastic roof details. Pipes everywhere. A big cooling tower with 4 fans. Tank Cars on the siding, a very model worthy structure.

« Last Edit: December 29, 2020, 02:33:13 PM by rray »
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MK

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2020, 02:20:58 PM »
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Haha! Good read Carter! My ex wife was at our Christmas dinner, and she works a the Ore-Ida plant on Ontario Oregon. She said she spent the Wednesday before Christmas cleaning the "Tunnel" on the Tot line. The sides and underneath the belt gets filled with potato mush muck that is several weeks old and semi rotted, and they use 10 gallons of pink chemical, spraying and digging sludge in a cold drippy stinky tunnel for 8 to 12 hours. This is exceptionally good work for an EX. So good in fact, that I just might model the Ore-Ida plant so I can look at it in remembrance of the EX's plight!  :D

It's actually the Heinz plant, which processes the Ore-Ida tots there.

LOL!!!!  Pay back through modeling!   :D

rray

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Re: Frozen food industry
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2020, 02:41:48 PM »
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Yes, I liken cleaning the tunnel work to pretty much the same as 'Honey I shrunk the Ex' so she can clean the muck under the garbage disposal's blades!  :D
If you see it, get it, for tomorrow it may be gone!
Oh, and most importantly...NEVER do today what can safely be sloughed off till tomorrow!