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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?


Date: 01/17/10 04:12
Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: mustraline

There is a post from last evening asking why there was no spacer car between a particularly large load on a flat car and the loco. What is the function of a spacer car? Is a buffer car used in the same way as a spacer car? Are there specific descriptions for having a car as a spacer or buffer? Thanks.



Date: 01/17/10 04:45
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: EMD100469

On the railroad I work for we use them to space out heavy transformer loads. Not so much for braking like some railroads but for weight restrictions on bridges. We call them spacers, not buffers but I guess it would depend on the area and the railroad what they are referred to
Ross.



Date: 01/17/10 05:39
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: toledopatch

Maybe the two terms are used interchangeably, but it would also make sense if a spacer referred to a car added to distribute weight over a longer area -- particularly to separate super-heavy loads from locomotives or each other so that bridges won't be overloaded -- while a buffer referred to a car added to provide separation between occupied equipment and hazardous materials. I often hear the term buffer applied to the extra cars added between the power and the loads on unit ethanol trains, for example.

Both car "types" provide separation, but the separation serves a different purpose in each case.



Date: 01/17/10 05:58
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: KV1guy

Such is the case with the Space Shuttle rocket booster train when it makes its way across country. The booster cars used to be seperated by another car...usually a box car. A side note. Booster cars can fool ya into being both. Take a look at the picture. At first glance it appears to be another booster car, right behing the engines. It is in fact a decoy car designed to fool would-be sabitors or terrorists. It has no load in it....as its a empty container just riding on a reg 60' 2 truck flat car....vs the usually 4 truck 66' heavy duty flats the booster segments actually ride on.




Date: 01/17/10 06:14
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: mustraline

Thanks for the great info. Are spacers used as a protective system between the crew locos and the cargo in the event of a derailment or other serious accident?



Date: 01/17/10 07:19
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: Derecho

KV1guy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Booster cars can fool ya into being both. Take a
> look at the picture. At first glance it appears
> to be another booster car, right behing the
> engines. It is in fact a decoy car designed to
> fool would-be sabitors or terrorists. It has no
> load in it....as its a empty container just riding
> on a reg 60' 2 truck flat car....vs the usually 4
> truck 66' heavy duty flats the booster segments
> actually ride on.

What's your source for this fact?

Seeing as how the loaded rocket cars are certainly placarded as hazmat rating a mandatory buffer car would be in order, plus I've noticed other rocket trains that use boxcars with bracing added to the outside to serve as a clearance buffer the same size as the loaded cars behind them -- that way if you find something that fouls without stopping in time, the empty will take the blow rather than the first of the very expensive loads. An empty container of the same size would service this purpose.



Date: 01/17/10 09:01
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: KV1guy

Derecho Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> KV1guy Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Booster cars can fool ya into being both. Take
> a
> > look at the picture. At first glance it
> appears
> > to be another booster car, right behing the
> > engines. It is in fact a decoy car designed to
> > fool would-be sabitors or terrorists. It has
> no
> > load in it....as its a empty container just
> riding
> > on a reg 60' 2 truck flat car....vs the usually
> 4
> > truck 66' heavy duty flats the booster segments
> > actually ride on.
>
> What's your source for this fact?
>
> Seeing as how the loaded rocket cars are certainly
> placarded as hazmat rating a mandatory buffer car
> would be in order, plus I've noticed other rocket
> trains that use boxcars with bracing added to the
> outside to serve as a clearance buffer the same
> size as the loaded cars behind them -- that way if
> you find something that fouls without stopping in
> time, the empty will take the blow rather than the
> first of the very expensive loads. An empty
> container of the same size would service this
> purpose.





My source for the decoy info is my father...as he is around them alot when they arrive and unload at Cape Canaveral. Your right...they have used boxcars as spacer cars. I did not deny that. I was simply pointing out that decoy cars are used as spacer cars too. Loaded rocket booster cars that are placarded have to be certain distances from locos, cabs....however they do not have to be seperated indiviuslly since they are in the same placard group rating. They can be spread out though to spread out load levels on bridges etc.

As far as finding something that fouls? These containers take a specific route only that has already been clear by each rr's clearance bearu for any obstacles. Any other time that another route is taken and clearance may be an issue, there is a box car that has specially mounted brackets to simulate the size of booster car to check clearances. As seen in the pic below, it cant however detect undermaintained bridges. This pic also shows that each booster car does not have to be seperated by a spacer car.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/10 09:03 by KV1guy.




Date: 01/17/10 09:18
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: PCCRNSEngr

Another use for a spacer is when a passenger car is being shipped in freight service. A freight car one with out shelf couplers is coupled to the passenger car to avoid damage to the diaphragms and a coupler to hang the EOT marker.



Date: 01/17/10 10:54
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: KV1guy

Good point.



Date: 01/17/10 11:45
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: PHall

Funny thing, Thikol, the guys who made and service the SRB's show your "decoy" car as a "Nozzle" Car.
This is the car that handles the rocket nozzle segment of the SRB. The nozzle assembly doesn't weigh anywhere near as much as the booster segments.


(Edit to fix spelling error.)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/10 13:42 by PHall.



Date: 01/17/10 12:55
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: toledopatch

mustraline Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks for the great info. Are spacers used as a
> protective system between the crew locos and the
> cargo in the event of a derailment or other
> serious accident?

Using the distinction I made in my post, I'd consider a "buffer" car to serve that purpose -- precisely.



Date: 01/17/10 15:37
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: KV1guy

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Funny thing, Thikol, the guys who made and service
> the SRB's show your "decoy" car as a "Nozzle"
> Car.
> This is the car that handles the rocket nozzle
> segment of the SRB. The nozzle assembly doesn't
> weigh anywhere near as much as the booster
> segments.
>
>
> (Edit to fix spelling error.)


You could be correct. Maybe just as needed? I checked with my dad and he said its possible but times that hes watch the train come in and be unloaded they just set the car over...and he was told that it was empty with nothing in it. The cones do not always travel with the booster segments as shown below. Credit for the pic is listed below it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/10 15:38 by KV1guy.




Date: 01/17/10 18:05
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: thegoonshow

How long did it take them to clean up that derailment, and how did they get the cars, and engines out of that mess?



Date: 01/17/10 19:00
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: KV1guy

thegoonshow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How long did it take them to clean up that
> derailment, and how did they get the cars, and
> engines out of that mess?


Dont know....but the engines to the left on their sides were prob the hardest of all!



Date: 02/04/10 18:13
Re: Spacer car/buffer car... what are they for?
Author: upkpfan

That UP 8230 looks like a WB empty with only 2 containers. upkpfan



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