View single post by Broadoak
 Posted: Sat May 26th, 2012 01:54 pm
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Joined: Fri Oct 1st, 2010
Location: Northampton, United Kingdom
Posts: 554

I was having a clearout in the railway room the other week when I came across a file of articles from The Rock Island Technical Society. I was a member of the society in the early 1990’s at the time I was exhibiting Colonel’s Crossing. It was a report of an experiment carried out by the Rock in March 1978 which made interesting reading.

A typical freight car in 1978 averaged 1.134 loads per month, covered hoppers a little more at 1.25. The experiment the Rock carried out gave a figure of 25 loads per month, a significant improvement.

The scheme that the Rock tried out tested the feasibility of operating a train capable of competing directly with trucks in the short distance grain hauling market.

The train operated for three weeks out of Muscatine Iowa. On each of its daily runs it delivered empty covered hoppers to grain elevators in Keota and Ainsworth. It waited at each elevator until the cars were loaded and then returned the loads to Muscatine for spotting at the Grain Processing Corporation plant (a round trip of 104 miles).

Originally it was intended that each train would consist of ten 100 ton covered hoppers but as the Rock wanted to use existing equipment only found that 100 ton covered hoppers weren’t always available, so on occasion used 60 or 80 ton versions instead. Power was a GP7 or GP9 and as part of the route was on a poorly maintained branch line speeds were as low as 5mph in places. The crew consisted of three men, an engineer, conductor and brakeman and the whole days work had to be completed in 12 hours.

The experiment was not repeated due to various complicated reasons as at that time the Rock Island was facing bankruptcy.

This sort of simple operation could make the basis for a layout as all that is needed is a switcher and two or three of covered hoppers, all named for the same road.

I have tested a version of the Rock Mini Train on my layout at home. My version uses SW1500 switchers which run on flexi coil trucks so are fine for this sort of road job.

RI SW1500 no 947 is seen passing KAP lumber’s yard as it arrives at Colonel’s Crossing with a train of empty covered hoppers.

The train pulls into the run round loop and the SW1500 power uncouples.

One empty car is spotted at William Archer’s Elevator to be loaded grain. The other is spotted at the Farmer’s Co-op Elevator.

The crew of the loco take a break in the local diner while the cars are being loaded.

When both cars are loaded the SW1500 makes up a small train and heads for the Grain processing plant ( Flour Mill ) at Benson.

The train is seen arriving in the west yard at Benson.

The full hoppers are spotted at Flour Mill to be unloaded.

The Rock was not the only road to try out a short haul and short train experiments. For example The Illinois Central RR tried the idea in both the 1960’s and1980’s. The Reading RR had tried the concept under the name of “Beeliner” service in the 1960’s. Conrail also instituted 16 mile haul with a unit coal train in the 1990’s.

Peter M

Peter M
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