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Western Railroad Discussion > Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?


Date: 10/14/09 17:35
Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: JoCoLB

I got a close-up look at some solar panels on BNSF side-dump ballast cars late this afternoon under dark clouds and threat of rain.

The short study took place along a short stretch of new track that is located about 1 mile south of Spring Hill, KS, on the Fort Scott Sub. About a half-mile of new track has been put down as part of a grade crossing separation project involving the recent installation of a new rail bridge. Work was shut down when I was at the construction site.

How does the electrical system on these solar-assisted cars figure into the operation of the dump system? Is there some kind of remote-control system?

Attached are several pictures that I took at the rail project.








Date: 10/14/09 17:37
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: JoCoLB

Three more pictures at the grade separation project...








Date: 10/14/09 17:38
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: JoCoLB

With the day's work complete, two units of power for the work train were found parked on a siding in the town of Spring Hill...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/14/09 17:40 by thtinc41ed.








Date: 10/14/09 17:43
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: bnsftrucker

The solar panels keeps the batteries charged on which the batteries powers up the electric hydraulic pump for the door cylinders,
Them cars are operated via remote control or manualy with toggle switches that are on the car.



Date: 10/14/09 18:20
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: nomosantafe

bnsftrucker Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The solar panels keeps the batteries charged on
> which the batteries powers up the electric
> hydraulic pump for the door cylinders,
> Them cars are operated via remote control or
> manualy with toggle switches that are on the car.


The cars dump by remote control. They have GPS and are programmed to open and close automatically for the territory they are operating over.

I watched a similar ballsast train at Saginaw, TX last year and was positive they would dump rock on the pavemant, but the doors closed for the road and opened up immediately after they cleared it. It's pretty interesting to watch.

Nomosantafe
Fort Worth, Texas
"Where the West Begins"



Date: 10/14/09 18:34
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: CShaveRR

Not all of these cars are equipped with GPS for programmed dumping. The solar panels on most of the railroad-owned cars just provide power for the radio connection to the doors, enabling the cars to be unloaded from a safe distance. Best thing imaginable, in terms of stone dust and unstable footing.



Date: 10/14/09 19:38
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: bnsftrucker

The solar panels are for trickle charging of the batteries and not for power supply, the cars pictured are not GPS capable as mentioned, the ones that are GPS capable are contractor owned and the BNSF don't have any cars with GPS.



Date: 10/14/09 19:45
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: bnsftrucker

If you look at the first(top) picture, you will see a small gray box almost directly above the left(1st) wheel of the car to the right, the gray box contains the toggle switches to open & close the doors, the gray box is mounted to the large battery box which IIRC contains 4,5, or 6 batteries.



Date: 10/14/09 23:09
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: Lobo

Yep, What you have here is a BB/Rock target...

Battery charging system. 24 volt by the size of the panel.

I doubt the GPS is for dumping. More likely for keeping the tabs on where the cars are. To costly to setup for program dumping. It cost 50K just to equip a bulldozer with a GPS system, just so the operator knows what to cut and fill, on a site. Then you have to have a base station setup on a control point, so the two can talk to each other, for the accuracy, since the Government will not allow civilians real-time satellite locations. And that's to keep territorials from using it on a home built cruise missile.

A simple height sensor would keep the car from dumping on a grade crossing, I have seen rail grinders raise up, and then right back down at grade crossings.

But I am rambling on. Great photo'd and a nice find.



Date: 10/15/09 07:20
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: Ray_Murphy

Lobo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ...since the Government will not
> allow civilians real-time satellite locations. And
> that's to keep territorials from using it on a
> home built cruise missile.

Not so. The only difference between the P-code and the C/A-code is the accuracy, and there are ways of augmenting civil C/A-dode GPS receivers to get real-time meter-range accuracy.

Ray



Date: 10/15/09 13:55
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: Lobo

I stand corrected.



Date: 10/15/09 14:14
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: PHall

And if you look closely at those Solar Panels, you'll notice a lexan sheet covering the panels to resist rocks and such.



Date: 10/15/09 14:45
Re: Solar-panels on BNSF ballast cars?
Author: mopac1978

Lobo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> I doubt the GPS is for dumping. More likely for
> keeping the tabs on where the cars are. To costly
> to setup for program dumping. It cost 50K just to
> equip a bulldozer with a GPS system, just so the
> operator knows what to cut and fill, on a site.
> Then you have to have a base station setup on a
> control point, so the two can talk to each other,
> for the accuracy, since the Government will not
> allow civilians real-time satellite locations. And
> that's to keep territorials from using it on a
> home built cruise missile.
>

Although these particular cars do not use GPS for dumping, as has been mentioned there are contractor-owned trains of remote dump cars that do use GPS as one source of data for determining where and how much ballast to dump. And Selective Availability of the GPS system was turned off back in 2000, improving the accuracy of the signal and reducing the need for reliance on the differential GPS market that had developed by then. Still, GPS alone is not the only thing that drives the remote dump operations and RR's go to great lengths to make sure their data is correct. It only takes one accidental dumping of ballast as the train passes over a highway on an open-deck bridge to generate the complaints and claims that make it worth the RR's time and effort to ensure it doesn't happen a second time.....



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