Author Topic: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days  (Read 871 times)

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OldEastRR

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Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« on: June 01, 2021, 04:57:09 AM »
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I know that they used plywood or heavy duty paper to block off boxcar openings, then funneled in the grain through the loading pipe to fill the car with grain, but how did they unload them? Just rip out the paper or wood barriers and let the grain spill out? Then guys with shovels or small endloaders shoving the loose grain  from the ends of the cars out the doorways? Did that mean there were below track open grates and conveyors the grain spilled into?

Missaberoad

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2021, 05:25:42 AM »
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There were probably as many methods as there were elevators... labour is the common theme.



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nkalanaga

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2021, 02:18:56 AM »
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I don't know just HOW they took them out, with the weight of the grain holding them in place, but the wooden grain doors were reusable.  They'd be collected, and when there was a good pile, sent back to the owners, usually a railroad.  Each door had the owner's initials or name on it.

Paper doors were single-use, and were simply ripped out and discarded.
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Chris333

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2021, 02:49:06 AM »
+2
They had giant car tippers that would pick up a boxcar and twist it around till it was empty.

https://collections.lib.uwm.edu/digital/collection/agsnorth/id/6696/rec/31




« Last Edit: June 02, 2021, 02:56:21 AM by Chris333 »

Pomperaugrr

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2021, 11:45:38 AM »
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I'm not sure I would want to be near one of those car tippers!  What could possibly go wrong? 


Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2021, 01:01:38 PM »
+1
I'm not sure I would want to be near one of those car tippers!  What could possibly go wrong? 

Pretty much everything. One of the many reasons the past was the worst.

BruceStikkers

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2021, 10:10:50 PM »
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When I was growing up in the early 1960s I worked for a farmer who hauled semi loads of grain to an export elevator on the south side of Chicago that had one of those boxcar tipping setups. At times we had to wait in line for a significant amount of time and I would watch them unload the cars as shown since it was near the truck dump. It was quite an interesting operation with a lot of grain dust blowing around. The grain doors were not plywood, but boards (1"x6" I think). Later on they started using the Signode paper doors with steel strapping embedded in them between paper layers. The newer covered hoppers can unload much faster.

Bruce Stikkers
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nkalanaga

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2021, 02:02:31 AM »
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Some of the big customers had car tippers, but many unloaded the car just the way one would think - with shovels.

And, yes, the grain doors were two layers of boards, overlapped.  We built both a porch and a chicken house in the mid 70s using grain doors and old ties.  Grain doors are NOT easy to nail!

Railmodel Journal, September 1992, had a long article on grain doors and their use, if one can find the issue.
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sirenwerks

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2021, 02:11:31 AM »
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Some of the big customers had car tippers, but many unloaded the car just the way one would think - with shovels.

And, yes, the grain doors were two layers of boards, overlapped.  We built both a porch and a chicken house in the mid 70s using grain doors and old ties.  Grain doors are NOT easy to nail!

Railmodel Journal, September 1992, had a long article on grain doors and their use, if one can find the issue.


I'm curious if elevators made the switch from boxcar to covered hopper all at once, or took both for a transition period.
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wazzou

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2021, 02:21:09 AM »
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I'm curious if elevators made the switch from boxcar to covered hopper all at once, or took both for a transition period.


They usually kept with one or the other.
If not equipped to handle covered hoppers yet, they stuck with boxcars until such time the railroad refused to provide them.
At that time, they’d need to refit their elevator for loading/unloading covered hoppers.
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pjm20

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2021, 05:14:57 AM »
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I'm curious if elevators made the switch from boxcar to covered hopper all at once, or took both for a transition period.

While not grain, I have extensive company records for a lime plant, which also used boxcars filled in bulk before covered hoppers. A lot of it depended on the railroad serving it. The lime plant in question was served by a shortline with only a connection with the PRR, so essentially a branch of the PRR. The PRR had a fair covered hopper fleet before 1954, but when the H34s started to hit there was significant decrease in use of boxcars; by the 60s a boxcar was rare as compared to 20 years earlier when a covered hopper was rare. I know a lot of these grain branch lines had light track, so it would have depended on the prototypes ability to field new covered hoppers that could be supported by the infrastructure of the branch, or when the branch could be improved to support modern 70-100 ton designs.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2021, 07:36:40 AM by pjm20 »
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squirrelhunter

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2021, 08:49:20 AM »
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Pretty much everything. One of the many reasons the past was the worst.

Car tipping technology has been around quite a while and I've never heard that they were killers like link and pin couplers were...I meant this is similar to how pretty much how every solid bottom woodchip or coal gondola has been unloaded for quite a while, I think SP was using end dump woodchip gons starting in the late 1950's.

Also, supposedly the last boxcar tipper for grain outside the PNW ports ended up being in Houston. I suspect this was for two reasons; 1. Two the local roads (MKT and RI) were poor and had lots of grain traffic (MKT bought grain boxcars as late as 1968) and plenty of subpar track, and 2. Houston is the closest Gulf/Atlantic grain port to the PNW and had single line service from BN, who was another big grain boxcar holdout.

samusi01

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2021, 09:50:25 AM »
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Fascinating. Safe enough, I suppose, if you don't stand under it. It appears the GN 40' @Chris333 posted is placarded 'do not hump'. I wonder why? I should imagine that the doors were durable enough to withstand hump operations, especially as they were behind the regular doors.

Ike the BN Freak

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Re: Unloading grain in the pre-covered hopper days
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2021, 11:35:03 AM »
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I'm curious if elevators made the switch from boxcar to covered hopper all at once, or took both for a transition period.

Took a transition period, I've seen photos into the 80s of BN running trains of 40' boxcars out to elevators in eastern WA.