items on coal cars

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storminorman

New Member
I'm new here so forgive my 'ignorance' on this matter. The other weekend I waited for a coal train to pass by, and noticed two things that caught my attention.The cars looked shorter in length than others I've ever seen, and on the side of every car was what looked like a small solar panel. That got me to wondering if these indeed were solar units, and if so, do they power a dump function on the cars when way out in the wild, by remote somehow? There did also appeared to be a medium size box located on the end of each car as well.
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
most likely ballast hoppers, they can be dumped remotely (along the track, ie; ballast) and the solar panels power the electronics that do that.
 

storminorman

New Member
These I had seen in Nappanee IN on the East West rail line.I also happen to work right next to the dbl line in Goshen IN to the East of Elkhart, and because I work outdoors get to see all the traffic that rolls along there. It's amazing the amount of traffic that's on that line.
 

Cliffs

Fallbridge Sub MP 118.6
Is this what it looked like? This one was at the yard in Whitefish, MT last September.

An interesting feature was the car # was also stenciled on the truck frames.
 

MP 6.7

needs to get a life. ;)
An interesting feature was the car # was also stenciled on the truck frames.
I'm pretty sure all cars are like that. I think it's to aid in identification after derailments so investigators can know what car the truck came from when they're scattered all over the place.
 

Norm Echtinaw

New Member
I don't think it's a common practice to stencil car numbers on the trucks.

Ballast cars, though, do see a lot of rough service; and that may be the reason for doing so.
 

Cliffs

Fallbridge Sub MP 118.6
Maybe its a requirement for new, or recently shopped cars.

Going through some of my archives, I can see stenciled numbers on some trucks of newer cars. This "ancient" ATSF ballast car doesn't have any. It hasn't seen much attention lately, though.
 

storminorman

New Member
As I recall the cars were 'squared' off on the ends. I did not notice any numbering stenciled on the trucks, although that's not to say they weren't and I just didn't catch that.
 




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