plastics hauled in the covered hoppers

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by railBuilderdhd, May 24, 2008.

  1. I wanted to know what plastics hauled in the covered hoppers is like. Do the plastics get shipped as little pellets or round little bullets of some sort. What size would these pellets be and what would the pellet colors be? Would you find these spilled on the tracks near loading or unloading points? Also has anyone found anything good to model these loads? I'm just asking cause I may have found something that may work for such a load and I wanted to know if this may work. If so I'll spend the time needed to clean it from the mess it was found in.
  2. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    I'm no expert, and really don't know much about the field, but whenever they show programs on the Discover Channel, et al, they have big vats being filled with the little pellets. It seems like it would make sense, having a consistent base product that the customer can process for whatever they are making.

    DISCLAIMER: The person making this post has very little knowledge about how a very many things actually work and as such any information received from him is probably worthless. :cry: :p :mrgreen:
  3. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    The only info I can offer is from a "How Things Are Made" show - or some title like that - and it showed a hopper delivering what looked like 1" white pellets that would be heated and turned into the final product. But like Pitchwife's disclaimer (which is pretty funny IMHO) I've never seen these pellets or how they're delivered in person.
  4. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    I have worked around a few plastics shops putting in doors and such. I found the pellets to be small in these places like 1/8" to 1/4". The thing is this stuff came out of a big bulk box and not a car. It was grey and some was a white color.

    So I hope that helps you.

    Also maybe as a suggestion of a material to mimic what I am taking about could be kitty litter.
  5. Uintah Dave

    Uintah Dave Member

    I think if you were to cut open a beanie baby or similar toy the pellets in there are what the hoppers carry. But then again Pitchwife's desclamer is applicable here too!
  6. I think Pitchwife says it best for all but we can keep on trying. I will post some photos of the stuff I found that I think may work for the pellet modeling but I don't really have a need for it right now.
  7. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    This is what Ron is talking about, size like Ron said.

    Something like powdered sugar would prolly be close to HO. I would think that not much gets spilled. I have only seen it in boxes but I think they have re-usable containers also. Outside the plant, containers would not be open. If they ship it in hoppers you might see some on the ground, but the product delivered to the end users has to be kept very clean and uncontaminated to be used in the molding machines.

    Attached Files:

  8. logicman

    logicman Greybeard

    I worked in the industry back in the late 60s - early 70s.
    Waste from the thermoplastic injection moulding processes was melted in a special machine. This ejected a continuous rod through a die, looking like model-kit sprue. The rod was chopped and bagged. The bags were about the size of cement bags, and were of paper. The original raw stuff was in identical bags and was in grain-of-rice size pellets.

    There was a lot of plastic dust around - spillage was like flour, cement, plaster etc. in terms of color and nuisance value.

    I would model this as something like cement bags for small-scale industry, hopper wagons for larger scale. A light color-wash would suggest spillage or leakage.

    But please see pitchwife's disclaimer which I hereby freely endorse:thumb:
    and unashamedly adopt, and please see also my sig, below.
  9. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    I worked at a local bottle making company, just three years ago.
    Our plastic came in big cardboard boxes, but was offloaded from those covered hopper cars.
    It depended on the type of plastic as to the size of the pellets. HDPE, and LDPE(High[Low] Density Poly-Ethylene) came in pellets about 3/16th of an inch in diameter. PVC(Poly-Vinyal Chloride), came in pellets, maybe 1/8th of an inch, because it took a higher heat to melt.
    The pellet color is either clear(PVC), or a neutral(we called it natural) color. Color, which came in pellets also, was added during the mixing process. There was a formula for colorizing the plastic(weight of color, to natural), that would give you the color. Too much color, wrong color, too much natural, lightens the color.
    The pellets are so small, you could a small pile of Woodland Sceneics "Snow", to simulate spillage, which, by the way, was very small. More like a pile of sand a loco would leave when sanding the wheels for traction. What spillage that occurs, would be the twenty or so pelltes in the pipe, when the connection was made.With the price of raw plastic, very little was wasted, and was immediatly cleaned up.
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The pictures Cid provided are close to what I remember at the Union Carbide factory near where I grew up. There was what seemed to me at the time to be a surprising amount of spillage from the covered hoppers - all kinds of colours, all along the tracks. I remember being able to scoop up lots in one handful, so they were probably BB-sized or maybe a bit bigger.

    As for modelling, you might try to find some garishly coloured fine aquarium gravel or sand - that would definitely make it stand out, and not be mistaken for sand, ballast, flour, or whatever.

  11. Yep, I've worked with the stuff, and it's well described above - a narrow 1/8" or so rod that's been chopped into 3/16" +/- pellets. Also, FWIW, styrene (which most of our models are made of), is naturally clear and quite brittle (think of the clear windshield parts) - in addition to color, elasticisers are added.
  12. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Thanks for that question!, and thanks to all who responded. This has been one of the better threads on this board, educational, and well presented, so, once again, from this moderator, Thank You!
  13. tomustang

    tomustang Has Entered.

    Plastic pellets, they vary in size from a tip of a pencil to a pea, I've worked in many fields in plastics and very different strands, from the basic most common ethylenes to the stronger polyamides, almost any color.

    The shape varies depending on the extrusion process when it is created into a pellet

    Yes they would be found, If, they unloaded the pellets, which was almost impossible not to since what we did was open both sides of the bottom hatch and stick a wand in the pipe to suck the pellets out to put them into a hopper, they would fall out.

    How to model these loads, their centerflow hoppers, not really much detail you need cept for the hopper and a pipe to meet up with the hopper
  14. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    The pellets are small, and come in any color desired depending on what the manufacturer is making. Recycled stuff is usually whiter or grey, but only a small percentage of recycled plastic can be used per batch of new stuff.

    Bbig batches come in hoppers, but often pellets come in large, pre-measured amounts in plastic bags for batch loading into mixers.

    If you want scale "pellet stuff" try a product called "Repti-Sand made for use as substrate in reptile habitats. Available from PetsMart, PetCo and places like SCales'N'Tails.

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