Grain Elevator Car Spots

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by Grain Baron, Jan 10, 2008.

  1. Grain Baron

    Grain Baron A newbie to MRR

    Some more info on industrial rail sidings used by the grain industry...

    Construction: Both CN and CP require 100+ lb rail for grain elevator sidings, ties are often good used ties, generally hand selected salvaged ties, and locally sourced ballast. CN has historically provided the material for the siding, while the Owner does the construction. This means CWR might be used on some sidings where it is available. CP does not contribute.

    Design: Most layouts are site specific, but generally, they are often two, three or four parallel tracks, with a single lead back to the mainline on each side of the facility. There are a few built on wyes off the mainline, but they are limited. A few are built at diamonds to try to exploit rail service from both CN and CP.

    Car moving: Grain elevators are responsible for moving their own cars to the loading spout. The methods commonly used are car progressioners (continuous loop cable winches using gravity or hydraulic tensioning systems), switching locomotives, purpose built car movers (Shuttlewagon, Trackmobile, RailKing), and at least one Brandt RoadRailer.

    Car loading: Trough hatches are opened manually, and loading spout is lowered into the first compartment of the hopper car. The flow of grain is started and the car is loaded and advanced as requried to either bulk load the car (light commodities like canola or peas) or weigh out the car (wheat, etc). Once a car is loaded, the troughs are closed. Most grain shipments now require tamper proof seals on the discharge gates and on the trough hatches as well. Cars are inspected before loading. Damaged cars are rejected and tagged as Bad Orders, other with residue and cleaned out if practical, or if its is serious, also Bad Ordered.

    Maintenance: Alot of grain is split during load of some hopper cars, but it is generally cleaned up where practical. Many facilities use asphalt paving around the rails near the loading spouts to facilitate clean up.

    Unloading: Yes, many of the modern high throughput concrete grain elevators have unloading systems for hopper cars. These systems are frequently concrete tunnels extending under the car loading track(s) and contain a grating, hopper and conveyor to move grain back into the elevator below ground. This is used when a hopper car of grain is determined to be out of specification and needs to be unloaded by the elevator and the car reloaded. (it does happen...) During some periods in the recent past, grain elevator could ship grain from small elevators to larger elevators, and then reship it due to the rate structure. I think this has almost completely stopped.

  2. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Hello Grain Baron. Very interesting post on the movement of grain cars under the "GD the CPR" thread. Having watched many grain trains going over the hump of the Kicking Horse Pass between Lake Louise and Field and seeing many trains coming through Smiths Falls, ON, these are one of my favourite kinds of trains.

    Do you have any details on the rebuilding of the grain car fleet? I've seen some of the rebuilds of the Saskatchewan fleet (love that new green colour) but I haven't seen any of the CWB rebuilds. Any news or details?

    Bob M.

    PS - Perhaps you might want to copy your post from the "GD the CPR" to this post so we can start another thread?
  3. Grain Baron

    Grain Baron A newbie to MRR

    Hello Bob,
    If you want to see more pictures of those Sask cars before the taggers got to them, please check out the North American Railcar Corp. They are building some beautiful copies for the MRRers.

    I have heard about the CWB refurbishments as part of CWBs publicity campaign to continue its existence, but I have yet to see one. I hope to see the CWB Chairman in Feb and I will try to ask him about the program.

  4. Grain Baron

    Grain Baron A newbie to MRR

    Canadian Pacific Railway Unit Trains

    Just an update on car spots for grain and other bulk commodities:

    For the past decade or so, CP has defined a unit train as 112 cars (60' per hopper car) plus power (3 x 85').

    The future: CP is now looking at industrial users going to 132 cars lengths, plus dispersed, power at the lead, mid point, and possibly tail end. The required length of sidings will be 8400' from fouling point to fouling point. :eek:

    And bulk granular fertilizer movements in western Canada are rumored to be changing in a couple years. The hill at Minnedosa, MB limits the climbs to 60 to 66 potash cars at a time in that area. Supposedly, new power distribution and braking arrangements will allow the trains to go to 112 cars.

    Remember your many spots on main lines and branches have stretches of rail that do not have a grid road every mile. The longer siding will require public road closures adjacent to every new siding. :cry:

    Well...I don't know about you, but I am not going to be building a scale unit train...time to practise compression. :thumb:
  5. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Here, potash trains are 124 cars. They're the only trains I see that regularly use midtrain power.
  6. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    I've been looking at the videos I shot on the Kicking Horse Pass from February 2006 and November 2007. Those grain, sulphur, and potash trains keep getting longer, and longer, and longer. On Saturday, November 16, I chased a potash train with two AC4400s/ES44Acs on the front and two more in the middle, to say nothing of the grains trains and the intermodals which had two units on the front and one on the back.

    They seemed to be running up and down the hill without any effort.

    Bob M.

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