Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by ozzy, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. chooch.42

    chooch.42 Member

    Hi, All. Maybe wrong but I' sensing a mis-conception. The coal "Gons" we're talking about Look like and have the structure and capacity of "Hoppers", but don't have the slope sheets and bottom dump doors that gave the cars the name - correct, Larry? They may also be used for other commodities that don't require bottom-unloading like scrap metal, woodchips, etc. Classic gondolas are lower,possibly longer, and more versatile for various loads. The Pittsburgh area used to generate massive amounts of gon shipments. Since the major steel makers left, the volume is a small percent of historic levels, but still considerable - a lot of it THROUGH movements. Bob C.
  2. TexDoc

    TexDoc Member

    Still Around

    I recently posted some pictures of gondolas on the KCS. There are lots of them, mostly old and rusty, used for scrap loading the goes to Mexico from Corpus Christi. Even old coal hoppers are used.

  3. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Bob,Indeed the Thrall Gondola,Bethgons,ACF coalvveyor, and other such like cars are coal haulers and some are known as "gons".
    Today's railroad speak calls for more clarification then ever before.
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

  5. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I see all kinds of gons here, both on the BNSF and the UPRR. We have our share too of all the beat up ones in the various yards around here ( IAIS, CN)
  6. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I think the density of the material is a huge issue. A gondola could probably carry a load of packing peanuts 10 stories high, but I suspect there'd be clearance issues :mrgreen:.

    Early on, cars didn't have the capacity to carry much of anything...and labor was cheap...so 3' tall sides on gondolas were adequate...and there was a plentiful supply of cheap labor to unload the gondolas. Over time, wooden hoppers began to replace gondolas in coal service (although I don't know if this was for speed, reducing labor, or due to the practicality of unloading a tall sided car by hand). These were then replaced with the more durable steel cars...but even then there were still efforts to increase the capacity of the cars with boards on the tops...since the weight limit of the cars was not typically the limiting factor...instead it was the ability to pile the coal without it over flowing. Today, coal hauling isn't that much more efficient...but perhaps they're now attempting to gain the cubic footage of capacity that is lost to the sloped sheets of the hopper bins...much like the increased firebox size of super power steam locomotives.

    Here are a couple pictures of *historic* coal hauling cars...
    If you look directly behind the 755...you can sort of make out the end of the first standard gauge steel 3-bay...perhaps someone can find a better picture?

    Also, the link in my sig is to an 1880's coal car I have under construction.
  7. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    i have a gondola with a junk load on my layout now,,, going to get a few more and have a scrap train , have it unload at a recycling center.
  8. csiguy

    csiguy Member

    see a lot of them here in southwestern, pennsylvania too. and even more of them down at the kiski junction railroad.
  9. chooch.42

    chooch.42 Member

    :wave:Welcome to "The Gauge", csiguy. More gons downriver at Natrona and West Tarentum - not nearly as many as a few years ago, and most pretty thoroughly "weathered". The Boss of the KJRR is on here somewhere and will probably say "Hi" when he sees your location. Enjoy and learn from this helpful group. Bob C.
  10. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    BRAVO! Well said, Larry. :thumb:

  11. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    Gons are used to haul steel plates in unit train known as slab trains and also haul marble Because of the weight of these commodities they are not loaded up to the top of the gons.
  12. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Here is the long and short of it. :D

    Freshly restored WP gondola bought to haul coiled steel in the 50's.
    Brand spanking new Railgon with a load of scrap already.

  13. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    My question may really be off the wall, but has the increased value of scrap metal, in some way, brought back the value of the gons? I don't think I've seen any new ones until just the last year or so, and got to wondering what might be driving building them?
  14. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Down here in the tip o' Texas I see one-of-a-kind gon trains carrying scrap metal, probably for the steel mills in northern Mexico. I'm talking 60-80 gons per train....These are really old, beat-up gons....
  15. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Just how short is that WP car?
  16. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Ultra short as they say, 29'4" inside length. They were bought with roller bearing trucks and specifically for coiled steel service between Utah and Port Chicago CA.

  17. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    How long did they stay in service?
  18. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    29' 4" sign1
  19. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    WP bought 100 of them in September 1953. In 1978 25 of them were reconditioned and renumbered. They ran an additional seven years or so in their intended service. There are maybe one or two still in MofW service for the UP. The one you see there is the second one the WP museum tried to get, the first one didn't get set out in Portola and was involved in a wreck before it got rerouted to Portola.

  20. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I suspect the age of gons and how many new ones are built depends on how much traffic the railroad has for gondolas, how many good serviceable gons they have, and finally how old they are. Even if the cars look serviceable, when they reach the age of 40 years, the railroad is required by law to scrap them, put them in mow service out of interchange, or rebuild them. If the cost of rebuilding an old car is more than the cost of just having a new car built, the railroad will order new ones. Out here in So Cal the BNSF haul steel slabs on flat cars, but all of the smaller sizes of structural steel, like angle iron, channel iron, sheet and plate are hauled in gons. It just depends on the industry. When the company I used to work for was in South Central Los Angeles, there was a company right over our back fence that built various types of tanks, fuel tanks, air tanks, propane tanks etc. They got all of their steel delivered in gons. They used to receive three loaded cars at a time, and they would keep 2 empties to be loaded with scrap. They might receive 2 deliveries of 3 car loads of steel before they got the 2 cars loaded with scrap to haul out. Scrap metal is a load the railroads haul, but I think the smaller structural shapes are a bigger income source for the railroads and they haul the smaller structural shapes in gondolas.

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