Single car coal shipments

Single car coal shipments

PostBy: DePippo79 On: Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:00 am

Ok guys I just had a brainstorm. Friend of mine owns a tourist railroad with a active rail connection into the common carrier system. If any of the members are interested I can see just how feasible it would be to get a coal car or two delivered to his railroad. He does not have a pit (don't recall ever seeing one) to unload hopper cars, so might have to be a boxcar. Probably hypothetical anyway. Don't know if the coal companies load bag coal into boxcars. Not worth the aggravation. Give the kids and I a excuse to take a ride up north. Thurs. Fri. is my weekend. Matt
DePippo79
 
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Oak 40
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Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: whistlenut On: Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:19 am

I have tried this route for over 40 years, and EVEN guys who get 1000 tons a year are/have been trucking it since the 70's. Lots of pieces to make the puzzle look like 'reality'. I even know of a easy access location with hopper car dump pits that does road salt in west central NH every week. Let us just say: you need a man on the 'inside' to make it happen. I'd be the first to go do it if possible. The other issue is that they wanted the cars back in 24 hrs.....100 ton loads...not hard to truck away, but a dozen rail cars....logistics master Pacony, please chime in. I know Mike has his trucked and has for years, and he knows a couple things about that business. 16 here at 0600....anthracite, it's what's for winter!!! :idea:
whistlenut
 
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Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:53 am

Using an intermodal bulk container still seems like a good idea. Container comes on rail car, is loaded on truck and dropped off where you like. I would approach the local coal yard with the idea. They probably have the room to store the container. Spin it so they still make a buck and you get the coal, presumably, cheaper.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
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Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: Paulie On: Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:59 am

Thought about it as there is a active rail yard close to me and mining companies load rail cars regularly or so they say.
Car picking and dropping is an art/science kinda thing.
Paulie
 
Stove/Furnace Make: leisure Line
Stove/Furnace Model: Pioneer

Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: Pacowy On: Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:20 am

Using rail sounds good, and is the way the coal typically used to move over longer distances, but it's not easy to find circumstances where it now can compete effectively with trucking. Some of the contributing factors:

- Trucking tends to be very cost competitive with rail for distances of up to 500 miles or so. Even for bulk movements, trucking generally doesn't cost that much, and rail has a tough time competing. For palletized shipments that can be moved on flatbeds or in dry vans, trucking tends to be particularly competitive. If you're shipping anthracite to NV, by all means look at rail, but within the northeast don't bet on it.

- With the overall decline in the volume of anthracite burned, 100 tons doesn't sell as fast as it used to. A rail carload represents a big cash outlay and substantial carrying costs for a dealer relative to a TL. Plus, with different coal sizes, a dealer receiving bulk coal would be looking at several 100 ton shipments.

- Even with the general improvement in the health and performance of the railroads since the 1980's, carload service is not like UPS. Moving a railcar from PA to New England, for example, involves numerous specific steps (spot empty railcar at mine; wait for release by mine; pull to local yard; classify for line-haul movement; etc.). The operational complexity increases if multiple carriers are involved, which typically would be the case around here. The best hope would be a movement that could be served from mine to delivery point by the line-haul railroad (generally NS or CSX; maybe CP in some spots). Even then If you order a carload today, and order another one next Monday, there's a chance you'll receive both of them on the same day. Carload service generally is incompatible with just-in-time practices, and basically requires the use of big stockpiles.

- While loaded railcars are wending their way to a delivery point during the winter, moisture in the coal has plenty of time to freeze. It's not a problem with dry coal from stock, but there's generally not a lot of that sitting around in January. To avoid this issue, you need to buy your railcars of coal in warm weather (cue Alanis Morissette), spend extra on additives or maintain a thawing shed at the delivery point. Or, use the approach of one enterprising coal receiver at a powerplant, who was dissatisfied with unloading problems and "carryback" associated with frozen coal, and attempted to address these issues by chucking sticks of dynamite into the cars. :shock: Or, even better, work with a trucker to make sure the move occurs on a warm enough day, and even wet coal straight out of the breaker can be placed at its delivery point with no hassle on the same day it was loaded.

- Doug is correct that the railroads are fussy about wanting their cars back. You can address this by making real sure you are prepared to accept the carload at any time of the day or night, owning and maintaining your own railcar, or paying demurrage to keep the railroad's car for longer than the allowed free time for unloading.

There probably are more factors, but that's a good start.

Even with all of those factors, it still is possible that rail delivery will be viable in some circumstances. I'm not saying don't look into it; I'm saying don't be surprised if trucking turns out to be a better option.

Mike
Pacowy
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: H.B. Smith 350 Mills boiler/EFM 85R stoker
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Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: DePippo79 On: Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:27 am

I know trucking is going to win, but I thought it would be interesting to get all the details. Get the members real numbers. Don't forget diesel fuel is never going to go down. This topic pops up from time to time so I think it would be interesting to see how hard it would be to actually get a rail car shipped and delivered. Railbuffs buy and ship rolling stock all the time. Might be possible to buy a couple hopper cars. No car hire fees (demurrage, per diem). All about scale. Whistlenut, Pacowy, and Paulie unfortunately where we live the railroads keep going down hill. Whistlenut they ripped the line by you out years ago. You have Pan Am Railways (former Guilford, Boston and Maine) who steals from the railroad for the air line, which I think they finally gave up on. Pan Am Railways did have a management change and it looks like it's for the better. Then CSX (former Conrail, NYC, NH) which the state of Mass. is slowly pushing out of Mass. IE: Worcester line sale, south coast rail. All CSX and Pan Am wants is intermodal. Point A to point B. No stopping and switching. I've worked for both. There's short lines, but they get cars from the players mentioned above. Reason I mentioned my friend is because he is already a customer so to speak. Whats the difference on having a caboose, locomotive or a car loaded with coal delivered to his property. I would have never brought this up if I didn't know him or not a railroad employee. Another thing to consider is will a coal company actually load a few cars of anthracite. Most of the coal loaded in railcars is Bit. The only coal cars I ever seen coming into northern new england are for Stiles and Hart brick(Bridgewater, Ma), Maine paper mills, and Bow and Mt. Tom power plants. I honestly don't know if any anthracite moves by rail. I'll do some work and report back. I haven't seen my friend in years and my kids will love to go see trains. It is the off season for him so he might be tough to get a hold of. Time to get the kids ready and make some calls. Matt
DePippo79
 
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Oak 40
Coal Size/Type: Stove, nut/anthracite

Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: NHFarmer On: Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:36 pm

I couldn't resist posting my first post, I am new to coal burning but I thought this sounds like an interesting idea, I was thinking that a tractor trailer load would be cool but a railcar or two would be awesome. I would be interested in a couple of tons
NHFarmer
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Surdiac 616B
Baseburners & Antiques: 1909 Empire Crawford cook stove
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite-Pea coal
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Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: lsayre On: Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:33 pm

How much coal can you stuff into a box car?
lsayre
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AHS S130 Coal Gun
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Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: gizmo On: Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:58 pm

As a tribute to the current administration I added
22 pallets to my stash.I unloaded them last Monday
and the trucking from Pottsville PA to Minnesota
wasn't even $65.00 a pallet.Even with that and the
cost of the Coal I pay less than a lot of people
in PA.I am luckey.
gizmo
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA-130
Coal Size/Type: Anthracite/Pea
Other Heating: NONE

Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: DePippo79 On: Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:50 pm

Isaye, your typical boxcar is good for 120-160 tons. Depends on rail weight. Highly maintained (CSX, MBTA, Amtrak) mainline track in the northeast is good for 286,000 lbs. CSX 315,000 lbs. Shortline and regional will be less. Currently playing phone tag with my friend. He does alot with New Hampshire DOT and consulting this time of year. Trying to get in touch with a shortline operator today. I think it will be possible to get the car(s) but the real problem will be unloading and cost. The team tracks mentioned in another post are virtually non existent. Today they are reduced to stubs used to get track patrols and M of W out of the way. Matt
DePippo79
 
Baseburners & Antiques: Glenwood Oak 40
Coal Size/Type: Stove, nut/anthracite

Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: Carbon12 On: Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:57 pm

If this pans out, it sure would be fun to follow the rail car from breaker to delivery. Must be some way to track individual rail cars. They probably already do that via GPS.
Carbon12
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Keystoker KA-6
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite
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Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: Duengeon master On: Fri Nov 22, 2013 4:19 pm

DePippo79 wrote:Isaye, your typical boxcar is good for 120-160 tons. Depends on rail weight. Highly maintained (CSX, MBTA, Amtrak) mainline track in the northeast is good for 286,000 lbs. CSX 315,000 lbs. Shortline and regional will be less. Currently playing phone tag with my friend. He does alot with New Hampshire DOT and consulting this time of year. Trying to get in touch with a shortline operator today. I think it will be possible to get the car(s) but the real problem will be unloading and cost. The team tracks mentioned in another post are virtually non existent. Today they are reduced to stubs used to get track patrols and M of W out of the way. Matt

286,000 is the GROSS weight of the rail car. That is only for a newer car. Older ones have a lower gross weight. The empty weight is printed on the side of the car, provided it hasn't been vandalized with spray paint. Usually an empty rail car weighs around 65-75,000 lbs. A typical car holds about 100 tons. Yes, you must empty it within 24 hrs. or they will charge you $50 a day for demurrage. You will waste a LOT of empty space trying to load loose coal into a boxcar. If it is bagged and palatalized, you should have no problem. A typical Boxcar not coal car holds about 75 tons. Gross weight is usually lower, around 200,000 lbs. gross weight or less.
Duengeon master
 
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Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: Richard S. On: Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:38 pm

NHFarmer wrote:I would be interested in a couple of tons


That's part of the problem even when you're dealing with a tractor trailer load. You can figure out by volume but that is not going to be accurate and consistency of volumes is whole other issue. e.g. different pickup trucks will have different volumes, a scoop of coal from the payloader is never going to be the same etc. Sounds like a giant hassle trying to divvy it up without a scale.

I've heard getting a railroad car suggested a few times over the years, I don't think anyone has done it yet. It's one of those ideas that starts looking less appealing the more you look into the details.
Richard S.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Van Wert VA1200
Coal Size/Type: Buckwheat/Anthracite

Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: whistlenut On: Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:19 pm

It sure would be a great thing to try.......any car dumping trestles are gone......but , I'd love to see it come back, also. Meanwhile, there are lots of great guys running up this way.....and all the way up to Bob in Ft Kent. Oak Farms are quite involved.....and they deliver to my town, too.
whistlenut
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AA130's,260's, AHS130&260's,EFM900,GJ&VanWert
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: Franks Boiler,Itasca415,NYer130,Van Wert
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Hand Fed Coal Stove: Alaska,Gibraltor,Keystone,Vc Vigilant 2
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Van Wert, NYer's, Ford,Jensen.
Coal Size/Type: Rice,Buck,Pea,Nut&Stove
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Re: Single car coal shipments

PostBy: Short Bus On: Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:18 am

I had a friend that did single car shipments, gondolas.

To begin with he lived about twenty miles south of the mine, but by road is was more like 500 miles and that was only seasonal. He and his neighbors would order a car into the siding in Denali National Park, and then unload. The story went like this. Dig to the bottom of the car throwing it out into your pickup, until you can get a board from the bottom of the car to the top of the side, now you load wheelbarrows and up the ramp, to your pick up. Next you shovel out your pickup into a pile, shovel it into a bucket, shovel it into the stove, shovel the ash into a bucket, dump bucket into pile, when spring comes shovel pile into truck, unload pickup at your dump. To say the least he was no fan of coal. This would have been the late sixties, and that's over fifty years ago. :(

The other single car shipment I hear about is from one of the old men in town he claims he and his friend would get a 20$ gold piece for every gondola they unloaded. This was in the same general geographic situation as the above just twenty miles south.
Short Bus
 
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