Freight Car Friday #65 – Omya Slurry Tank Cars

TILX 16265 is an example of a typical tank car in limestone (calcium carbonate) clay slurry service. This particular car is one of a 100 car series built in 2000 by Trinity Industries and leased to Omya, a major producer of industrial minerals.

Calcium carbonate, like kaolinite (also shipped as a clay slurry, but a silicate mineral with a very different chemical composition), is often used in the paper industry as a pigment and binder for high-quality glossy papers. I’ve shared photos of a couple of different tanks in kaolin service for St. Marys Paper in previous “Freight Car Friday” posts. (I’ve been checking what photos I have of the mill, or show cars in the mill interchange tracks and the tanks around the paper mill definitely bore logos of kaolin companies – Dry Branch Kaolin in the 1990s, and Thiele Kaolin in the 2000s. I’m not sure if St. Marys used calcium carbonate.)

However, the car seen above is one of a pair of cars photographed in Sault Ste. Marie in July 2015 – eight years after the mill in the Sault was permanently shut down – and headed north over the former ACR line. An educated guess as to it’s destination would be one of the paper mills on the CP line along the north shore of Lake Superior or Thunder Bay region, via Franz.

UTLX 300400 below is a similar sort of car built by 1995 by Union Tank Car, and photographed in Sault Ste. Marie in June 2000.

Freight Car Friday #64 – CGTX 15941

CGTX 15941 tank car placarded sodium hydroxide (a.k.a. caustic soda) at Hawk Junction July 13, 2015

Continuing the theme of chemical tank cars on the Algoma Central is CGTX (GATX Rail Canada, formerly Canadian General Transit) 15941, one of a pair of tank cars in sodium hydroxide (also known as caustic soda) service passing northbound through Hawk Junction on train 573/571 on July 13, 2015.

A common use for sodium hydroxide is in the pulp & paper industry; the likely destination for this pair of cars is one of the pulp mills served by the Canadian Pacific along the north shore of Lake Superior, via the interchange at Franz.

Freight Car Friday #63 – CGTX 70638

CGTX 70638 tank car placarded sulphuric acid at Sault Ste. Marie July 12, 2013

Another common industrial acid is sulphuric acid – indeed it is probably one of the most common industrial chemicals shipped by rail. Uses of sulphuric acid are almost endless, but include chemical digestion of wood fibers for paper making and the production processes of fertilizers and numerous other chemicals including hydrochloric acid (as seen in last week’s Freight Car Friday).

Sulphuric acid is often produced in massive quantities as a byproduct of the smelting and refining of metal ores. Based on the (lack of) compression in the truck springs this and the neighbouring white PVCX acid tank car are heading north empty, for interchange to the Ontario Northland for furtherance to the copper/zinc smelter at Noranda, QC.

Same car two days later at Hawk Junction July 14, 2013, continuing its progress northward.

Freight Car Friday #62 – Hydrochloric Acid Tank Cars

RCRX 1074 tank car for hydrochloric acid service near Watford, ON February 20, 2011

Hydrochloric acid is a commonly produced industrial chemical that has applications in many chemical and industrial processes including steel making. In steel mills it is used to remove rust, scale and other surface impurities from finished steel.

While the car above was not photographed on the Algoma Central, it is representative of a common type of car in hydrochloric acid service. (Note that the Athearn 20,900 gal. RTC acid tank car is pretty much bang on for this prototype.) I did see a couple of similar SHPX cars at Hawk Junction, but didn’t get a good photo; I could also see some similar tank cars from a distance in Steelton yard from the Canyon Tour Train.

A related byproduct of using hydrochloric acid in the steelmaking process is the production of ferrous chloride as a waste product. This corrosive chemical has uses in water treatment systems, and a CN conductor friend of mine recently mentioned that he occasionally delivers a tank car of ferrous chloride from Sault Ste. Marie to the water treatment plant in downtown Toronto. Ferrous chloride (and related compounds like ferric chloride) is also shipped in tank cars of a similar size and design to hydrochloric acid.

ACFX 72346 tank car placarded for ferrous chloride at Sarnia, ON October 10, 2011

Freight Car Friday #54 – Tank Car Stripes

Earlier this week I received a package in the mail with a collection of new-old stock Atlas tank car models from the very early 2000s that I managed to scare up on eBay. Among other things, included were a few of these ACFX chlorine service tank cars with the orange band that I’ve been looking for for a while, as it’s really something that places a setting as “post-1980 Canadian railway”.

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The car is in a generic ACF lease scheme but that orange band tells a story – a specifically Canadian and ‘eighties one. During the 1980s, there was a short-lived Canadian government regulation requiring pressurized tank cars suitable for carrying hazardous compressed gases (both flammable and toxic inhalation hazards) to be painted with a bright orange horizontal band around the middle of the car as a very visible marker to first responder crews in the event of an incident. Non-pressurized cars did not receive these markings.

Although I can’t find a particular written source at hand, the common telling is that this regulation was one of the measures instituted in the aftermath of the infamous 1979 Mississauga wreck. Several factors however led to the eventual dropping of this requirement after a few years: a lack of universal adoption (as this was not a requirement in the United States, and it takes a number of years to apply the new lettering standards to an entire fleet of existing cars) and the eventual realization that when the paint burned off in a fire the visual cue wasn’t all that useful…

So the orange stripe was dropped, but even today if you’re lucky you can still come across older tank cars built or repainted in the 1980s that haven’t been repainted since and still show the stripe, although 30 years of repaints and retirements have seriously thinned their ranks.

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I photographed the CGTX car above in a CN train at Copetown, Ontario in March of 2007 and the Procor car below was photographed just outside Sarnia in October 2014. Even 10-15 years ago in the early 2000s you could see the orange stripes a fair bit more often still on CGTX, CITX/DCTX and PROX cars and while fewer and farther between now, there are still survivors out there today that make for a splash of interest in a passing train.

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