Sanding facilities

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Gary Pfeil, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I'm hoping to pick somebodys brain about loco sanding facilities. We've all seen models which include a bin for holding sand, out in the open, with a shed right next to it, for drying the sand and equipment to move the sand to towers for use. The track used to bring in cars of sand is next to the bin but not elevated. How does the sand get into the bin?
  2. puddlejumper

    puddlejumper Member

    I *believe* the sand is blown in there using compressed air.
  3. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Thanks for the reply PuddleJumper, I think that's probobly what happens now, with the sand being delivered dry in covered hoppers and sent directly to the towers, eliminating (perhaps) the drying process. But I neglected to mention I'm thinking infrastructure from the 30's or 40's, as it might appear in the 50's. The presence of that open storage for the sand makes delivering it in open hopppers seem pointless, so I imagine the sand came in open cars. I've never noticed a pit for the sand to be dumped in, like you see for coal, or even ash. I'm missing something, and an initial google search only yielded modern stuff. Anyone?
  4. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    December 1958 MR, there's a construction article by Jack Work for a CP sand house and tower. This is part of the beginning of the article: "The semi-enclosed area is used for storing the raw wet sand. The sand is transferred to the dry house for drying over a small coal fired burner. Coal is stored in a bin behind the dry house. The dry sand is screened of its impurities and then forced by compressed air through a 2" iron pipe to the hopper of the tower where it awaits dispensing through a long movable spout." Jack did not mention how sand was delivered to the facility. I built mine, with the tower separated from the dry house/wet bin, and left the end of the wet bin open. The photo shows the facility as I intended, on a side hill, with the dry house/bin up on the hill. The open ended bin allowed for dump truck delivery of wet sand (assumed, because of the "screening of impurities"). This facility was used during the steam era, and continued into the diesel era, according to the article. I don't have any up loadable pictures of the model "in its scene", and the original scene has been demolished. I haven't built the new location yet.
    Hope this helps.

    Attached Files:

  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I wonder if they did the same thing with sand in the steam era that they do with agregate at concrete facilities now. Conveyor belts have been around "forever." They could have had a set up where they dumped the sand into a pit and a conveyor would transfer it to the drying tower. I'm just throwing out a suggestion here based on logic with absolutely no facts to back up my theory.
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I always thought that they spotted a gondola of green sand beside the bin, then a couple of shovel technicians would transfer it to the bin.
    On my own road, because there's no room for a bin, dried sand comes in via covered hopper and is transferred from a drop pit below the track to the sandhouse by an auger. Because this isn't totally weatherproof, there is a dryer (using steam from a central plant) to ensure that the sand will flow freely from the overhead storage bin.

  7. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi Pete, Nice library! And awesome models! That is the first mention I think I've seen of an open ended bin. And dump trucks make sense, but unfortunately not the kind of sense I want to make. I prefer Wayne's manual unloading of a gondola. (Thanks Wayne!) I just have no idea if that happened. But, in views I've seen, none too plenty, there is no evidence of a pit, (but a logical idea Russ, thanks) nor some type of mechanical device. I just wanted to see if there was something I was missing, rather than assume it was done manually. Wouldn't it , um, be unfortunate if you built a model of another model and find out it's wrong? Would love any links anyone could provide to prototype photos (all I found were s few 1990's or more recent photos) or to articles on the topic.

    Thanks to all who've commented.
  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Prior to air compressors and so forth, it was shovels and buckets. Labor used to be cheap.
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think Mountain Man hit it. I had forgotten that when Henry Ford paid a whole $5.00 a day for assembly line workers to screw together Model T Fords, that was "big money." Up until WW2, it was much cheaper to hire laborers to use shovels for that sort of stuff than it was to buy expensive machinery to do it. I suspect the only reason for the use of automatic stokers in super powered steam engines was because a man was not physically capable of shoveling enough coal fast enough to keep the fire up on a Big Boy, Challenger, Yellowstone, or Allegheny.
  10. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I would suspect that "machinery", would have been used where time was a serious consideration. A small branch line, bucket and shovel. A larger class A, more automation / mechanized.
    The CNW had sand service hoppers, which had small discharge chutes added to the main discharge chute under the car. I never saw sand being transferred, but I did see traces of the sand on the ground, under the car.
    It was because the Cindys Harbor is a "branch / working museum" line that I chose to open the wet bin, and deliver raw sand by dump truck. One might also expect to see something like this "along the right of way", in order to replenish sand that had been used, before taking on the next major grade.
    Today, if not all along, fine silica sand is used, and I'm sure is delivered to the sanding facility in covered hoppers. There may not even be any trackside drying facilities any longer. Logic, not meant to be fact.
  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Exactly. Actually, even steam as comparatively small as Pacifics couldn't achieve full power from hand firing. Older, smaller steam often remained hand-fired to the end.
  12. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Thanks to everyone who has replied. Yes, stokers were absoulutely needed and I think Pete has stated the logical conclusion to the various thoughts, manual labor was sufficient depending on volume required. I really appreciate the discussion as I feel I can model a sand bin and drying shed and use it to represent diffferent eras on my layout. I can spot a gondola of sand next to the bin and for photos place a worker (shovel technician! too funny Wayne!) in the gondola shoveling. Or, I can spot a covered hopper and a length of hose to represent more modern times. I figure the compressed air was there either way. So use it to move sand from covered hoppers directly to the towers. The compressor could be in the shed. The sand bin can be modelled pretty empty. Either out of use for modern times (1950!) or needing replenishment (1940's)

    If nothing else, I feel better about what I am about to build. Rationalzation is a great thing!
  13. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Gary, pictures at eleven?? :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
  14. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The sand would not be out of use for modern times. If your train operates in snow country, or in the case of the California coast, trains need to go over the mountains where they may encounter snow conditions, even modern diesels need sand. I suppose that a railroad might let the sanding facility run out of sand in summer, but I've heard of occasional snow flurries in the Rockies in summer.

    I posted this response before I read Charlie's response to Duane's question about what sand is used for. I didn't realize that diesel locos would automatically sand when an emergency stop was made. In that case, I think all modern railroads would keep their sanding facilities at least 1/2 full at all times to make sure they always had enough sand on hand for every train being sent out.
  15. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Modern railroads' sanding facilities may consist only of a track to spot a covered hopper, some piping, and a pump/air tank to move the sand. Sand arrives pre-dried in covered hoppers, unlike the "old days" where green (i.e. wet) sand would have been delivered in a gondola or open hopper and dried/stored on site.

    So in modern times, the bins are likely gone or derilict, and the pump/air tank may or may not be housed in the old shed, depending on whether it is still standing.

  16. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I based my comment on the operations of the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad, which relied heavily on manual labor, even for such things as coaling.

    At the mid-way point, the coaling facility was an open bin at trackside, This was filled by spotting a gondola alongside and shoveling the coal into it by hand. Tenders were filled the same way in reverse- spot alongside and shovel from bin to tender until full, then spot gondola and repeat process.

    As a comment on wages of the period, the foreman of a gold mine was paid $5.50 per day. The only other person that matched those wages were the Chief Carpenter and the Blaster. Gold miners were getting around $3.00 per day, which was triple what a ranching cowboy received.

    Historical trivia: In the '30's during the Depression, my father took work with the CCC. His wage was $1.00 per day, and half had to be sent home by law.
  17. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Nowadays, not all railroads even use sand. The steel plant where I worked switched to another material - I don't know what it's called, but I first noticed some laying on the ties, where it had leaked from a loco. When I asked the Yardmaster (various Yardmasters throughout the plant controlled the assignment of locos to the various jobs and departments) about it, he said they had switched recently from sand. What had really piqued my curiosity, though, was that its size, colour, and texture looked to me to be extremely close to HO scale anthracite.
    Later, when I had some free time, he showed up in his truck and took me over to the sanding facility, where I filled a couple of plastic bags with the stuff, which "mysteriously" followed me home. :twisted::p;):-D:-D:-D
    I discovered that it's slightly magnetic (only some of the particles) and quite dense - an Athearn 2-bay hopper loaded with it weighs 8 ounces. It's also much cleaner than the coke breeze which I use for loco coal, and, since most of my locos have can motors, I felt that the slight magnetic properties wouldn't be a problem. I still use the coke breeze for locos, though, as I feel it looks more like the soft coal used for most locos.
    Here's a view of the material in a hopper:

    And a look at the coke breeze, for comparison:

  18. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Crushed slag, perhaps? Did the guy tell you what it was?
  19. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    No, he didn't know and I failed to investigate further. I did see someone, somewhere, :confused: mention a grit blasting compound called "Black Beauty", and I wondered if it might be the same stuff.

  20. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Well, whatever it is, it looks great...and useful in modelling.

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