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Date: 02/27/10 16:53
Woodchip cars
Author: Lurch

I am aware that Southern Pacific used beet gons for woodchip service out west, but when did the service of hauling woodchips by rail begin to take off. I'm modeling a shortline set in the late 1950's, I'm wondering if an occasional woodchip load is appropriate?

Lurch



Date: 02/27/10 17:27
Re: Woodchip cars
Author: WAF

Lurch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am aware that Southern Pacific used beet gons
> for woodchip service out west, but when did the
> service of hauling woodchips by rail begin to take
> off. I'm modeling a shortline set in the late
> 1950's, I'm wondering if an occasional woodchip
> load is appropriate?
>
> Lurch

They look like beet cars, but not. Like ther beet cars, SP home shopped those early chip cars. Roads shipped lots of chips from the fifties onward until until the mills discovered they could make a lot of money selling them to garden shops for ground cover. As logging slowed down, paper mills needed chips so more long distance shipments began.

Sierra Railroad, I believe didn't start hauling chips until the seventies. Lots of them came off the NWP in the sixties.



Date: 02/27/10 18:05
Re: Woodchip cars
Author: Espeenut

...check this page out, it should answer all the questions you have regarding SP woodchip gons:http://www.railgoat.railfan.net/spcars/byclass/gon/g070-15.htm

cheers,

Lorne Miller



Date: 02/27/10 18:07
Re: Woodchip cars
Author: rob_l

Lurch,

I basically agree with WAF. Wood chip traffic existed at a relatively low level in the 50s, was growing in the 60s, peaking in the 70s, declining after that.

Factors that led to the growth:

1. Increased production of paper and corrugated. Paper mills found that they could not make do with just pulpwood logs, they needed chips.
2. Lumber mills had wigwam burners to burn up the bark, chips and other scraps. But they polluted a lot. Gradually, wigwam burners were banned everywhere. So the lumber companies were glad when the paper companies were willing to take the chips off their hands (and they were glad that the paper companies were willing to pay to transport the chips from the lumber mill to the paper mill).
3. In the 70s we had a number of fires, moth infestations and disease infestations in Western forests that required quick logging and chipping up of trees that otherwise would have been left to grow for lumbering in future years. And demand for paper and corrugated was sufficient to consume it all.

Factors that led to decline:

1. The available public timber supply in California and the PNW was sharply curtailed. The Forest Service cut way back on its auctions. Many, probably most, West Coast lumber mills closed. As they dropped off, so did the chip traffic.
2. Until deregulation in the 80s, the margins on rail wood chip traffic were ridiculously low. Management did not care for the business and certainly did not want to invest in it unless threatened by the paper companies with loss of paper traffic. There were periodic car shortages. This encouraged the paper companies to seek truck/barge solutions.
3. Trucks were allowed to increase in size. In Oregon, triple-bottom drays were allowed starting in the late 70s, i.e., a single truck tractor could haul three trailers of chips.
4. Barges in the Columbia Basin competed more successfully for chip traffic as truck-to-barge transloading facilities were built upstream.
5. With the increased focus on recycling of papers and corrugated, paper mills became less dependent on lumber mills and forest scraps for fiber.
6. As lumber-grade timber got more scarce, lumber companies engineered new solutions, notably oriented-strand boards. Essentially, they could make lumber out of wood chips. So they weren't about to sell the chips to paper mills when they needed the chips to make lumber.
7. There was tremendous consolidation in the paper industry. The industry became much more globalized. A lot of older mills were closed, in favor of larger, newer ones located elsewhere. I suspect that, on balance, the percentage of paper making on the West Coast has gone down.

Best regards,

Rob L.



Date: 02/27/10 19:41
Re: Woodchip cars
Author: fbe

Wood chips were shipped cheaply from sawmills to the pulp mills with the promise the railroads could make up the revenue when they got to haul the finished product of rolled paper or cardboard stock to the customers. That worked pretty well until trucks provided more timely service as their capacities increased and customers liked having their raw materials arrive at their shipping docks when promised rather than when the railroads felt like it.

Early wood chip cars were wooden single sheath boxcars with loading doors cut into the roofs and unloading doors cut into the sides. Next came GS bottom unloading steel gondolas with side extensions. Finally, the high capacity purpose built cars with opening end(s) came to be. Some roads like the Milwauke went back to using old boxcars with the roofs removed and one end of the car rebuilt as a hinged door to compete.

The Smurfit Stone linerboard mill near Missoula has recently shut down. One of the reasons given is manufacturing levels are so low in the US there is no need for cardboard boxes in the US to wrap new products in the US. Foreign products arrive in foreign boxes. Most of the wood chips which used to go to Smurfit Stone now seem to be going to Longview Fiber in Washington, quite a distance for such a low value raw material to travel.



Date: 02/27/10 20:13
Re: Woodchip cars
Author: lynnpowell

FYI. Sierra RR was hauling woodchip cars at least back in the early '50s. See the photo at <http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?10,2113664,2113664#msg-2113664>;, which shows a Sierra RR freight
behind 2-6-6-2 #38; the first car in the train is a Santa Fe woodchip car. I have several books which include photos of Sierra RR steam freights, and woodchips cars in freight consists were very common. By the way, that freight train in the photo is the perfect length for a model railroad!



Date: 02/28/10 07:35
Re: Woodchip cars
Author: WAF

lynnpowell Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> FYI. Sierra RR was hauling woodchip cars at least
> back in the early '50s. See the photo at , which
> shows a Sierra RR freight
> behind 2-6-6-2 #38; the first car in the train is
> a Santa Fe woodchip car. I have several books
> which include photos of Sierra RR steam freights,
> and woodchips cars in freight consists were very
> common. By the way, that freight train in the
> photo is the perfect length for a model railroad!

Never noticed really. Now I think about it, Bensen's Sierra book had shots of chips on the train



Date: 02/28/10 08:17
Re: Woodchip cars
Author: RFandPFan

Those wood chip theories don't apply down here in Georgia. Its still a BIG business for NS and CSX. A fellow club member has some great woodchip loads for HO cars. If anyone is interested, send me a PM and I can get you the details. The loads are basically mounted on a piece of foam board and can be removed easily.



Date: 02/28/10 22:25
Re: Woodchip cars
Author: wjpyper

As a retired printer, I can vouch for the fact that many fine paper mills in California, Oregon and Washington closed down because of environmental regulation, competition from Asia and difficulty in obtaining chips. The last time that I visited a paper mill, The James River Co., in Camas, WA, they were having to import wood chip from Chile because the domestic chip was being used for OSB production. It's a shame. I hate OSB. Much rather use plywood.
Bill Pyper
Salem, OR



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