Watch massive machines lift and dump contents of an entire train car

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I got a little frisson of appreciation when I realized that they put the axis of rotation through the couplings so that they don’t have to uncouple the cars to dump them. That’s really clever.


These are kind of neat, but for real Jurassic style unloaders, ya gotta check out the Hulett (sadly all now retired). My old man used to take me to watch the Hulett in South Chicago once or twice a year.


I saw one of these in miniature at Roadside America when I was a kid!


When a hopper car is emptied through the bottom, there is often an agitator involved in the process.

It’s just a big mechanism that is lowered and clamped onto the top of the car that shakes the bejabbers out of it until everything falls through the opened chutes.


Only one rail-car at a time? Weak sauce!

@lolipop_jones That’s more like it; the Metalzoic Era, when Cranes ruled the Earth! Plus freakin’ roofcrawlin’ Spider-train! That’s like Chris Foss, but done for real. It is kind of distressing, though, to see the blokes going in to the hold without filter masks.


I think these open top non-hopper cars are called gondolas.

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Pfft, not impressed, I can do that.

Wow. I was not expecting to see an operator in the bucket end of that contraption!

As an aside, lego part 6021197 (the 1980-ish version of it) remains my very favorite of all lego pieces. Y’know that feeling of giving the salad tongs some unnecessary clicks? Yeah…


Coal seems like a strange, foreign substance to me now. An old radio commercial urges us to only buy ‘blue coal’ and I can’t tell if the blue part is supposed to help it burn, or if we’re just paying more for blue paint? And how do you move it around at home? Wheelbarrows?

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I could have built a train track around this (when I was young) as there were trucks that drop but decided to hop it

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I worked at a Georgia Power plant in the 70’s and watched as a trainee began the process of dumping a train car full of coal. Unfortunately, he didn’t wait for the car to be uncoupled from the other cars, and there was nothing to provide an axis of rotation on the couplings. An insane amount of damage ensued both to the tracks, the train car and the rotating dumper.

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The Cleveland Port authority tore down their old Huletts in 2000, despite them being on the National Register, but kept two in storage and promised to rebuild them. They were an absolute local landmark. But if you really want to see old school ore unloading there are always the Whirlies.

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I thought that modern coal cars had rotary couplers…

“lift” is a matter of degree.

If they did, they didn’t work. But this was in 1973 so maybe those weren’t standard equipment then.

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Here’s a guy who built a fully operational Hulett in HO scale (converted from a static plastic kit):

Dear god, I love these monsters and always have. I honestly would give a month’s pay for a day riding the cab of a working Hulett.

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It’s the little things in life that make ones’ toes curl.


not a dust mask in sight…

I think it was Mike Rowe who said something to the effect that “America’s manufacturing leadership was won by guys for whom safety was Job 3.”

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