locked Re: Hogshead cars

Mark Demaline

When I called on Goodyear's Akron OH HQ for CSX, which back then -- in the 1990's -- also served the Gadsden plant, both we and NS were trying our best to retain the rail shipment of tires. I believe NS also tried
using the Southern hogshead cars there, but the Plant Manager, who I met on a visit there, loved trucks and hated rail. He even wanted to receive his carbon black shipments via truck instead of rail. We even looked
at supplying 86' Hi-cubes, and that was when NS furnished some of those Southern cars, but the tire loaders looked at one we had spotted, and said there was no way they would agree to even try to load tires in a
Hi-cube car. They were a tough bunch of guys, literally, as they could grab and squeeze some tires under each arm, and take them into a boxcar or truck trailer. Try that at home!

What finally ended the tires by rail, even for the NS, was a combination of more strict quality control and rejects by the automotive companies, who would refuse to install tires with scrapes and heavy marks on the
sidewalls onto new vehicles, and a trucking company which came up with a tire compactor, which not only reduced damage & rejects, but made the loaders' job a lot easier. Goodyear shared that they could load
more tires into a 45' trailer, using a compactor, than could be hand-loaded into a 50' boxcar. And faster. Goodyear would not share which trucking company held the design & rights, but we did some homework and
contacted that trucking company. However, as expected, they laughed at us, replied "No", and hung up the phone.

 Corrections and clarifications are welcome.  Regards,  ~ Mark D

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Graham <rgraham2@...>


I suspect the RJ Reynolds acquisition of a truck fleet would be tied in to the State of NC's imposition of the tobacco leaf processing tax and resultant company activity to avoid that expense by changing where processing occurred. The huge American Tobacco Co leaf processing plant and ageing sheds at Pennrington 2 miles north of the Reidsville passenger station and the main ATC cigarette mfg plant was also shut down at that time and ATC began daily trucking of processed leaf from the ATC Richmond VA leaf processing plant to Reidsville via a commercial truck line, Burton Lines, as well. The SOU "tobacco barns" used to be seen all over the K line north of Winston Salem and the A&Y to Brook Cove, where RJR had their huge leaf processing and ageing facility, as well as RJR Mocksville. I don't know the exact date of the tax change, but SOU in Reidsville in the late 1970's was flooded with boxcars that had brought tobacco in from both Richmond as well as inported tobacco from overseas, usually coming into Norfolk VA or Porrtsmouth VA. Reidsville even had a US Customs inspection officer stationed there to inspect and properly approve incoming tobacco imports from overseas. At my employer, Miller Brewing Reidsville Container Division, these cars that were used for shipping tobacco leaf in became the pool of cars that we would be sent by the SOU Reidsville Freight agent for loading briquetted aluminum scrap loaded on pallets for shipment back to Reynolds Metals (unrelated to RJ Reynolds Tobacco) in Alabama. This clean scrap (meaning undecorated - no ink printed label) and segregated by alloy, was quite valuable and went directly back into the melt shop at the aluminum smelter to be recast and rolled back into can stock sheet. I used to go back to the plant rail loading dock and inspect the cars and often found US Customs placards for Sou Ry and ACL/SCL RR's for loads of import tobacco. ATC never used tobacco barns in Reidsville or Pennrington that I recall. One additional factor was dock door spacing at both shipper and consignee. Both facilities would have to have a dock with proper door spacing and length to accommodate the tobacco barns. Older facilities built to handle smaller cars might not have been considered economically feasible to reconfigure

I can not say with certainty, but also suspect the use of SOU/NS "tobacco barns" for the shipping of tires from Goodyear Tire & Rubber could have started in Danville VA, as there were plenty of the SOU tobacco barns around there, too. Most of the major tobacco companies had warehousing and leaf processing facilities there. The SOU tobacco barns had one distinct disadvantage over other modern larger cu ft boxcars; they only had 25K floors, meaning the floor of these cars could only handle a maximum front axle loading weight of a forklift of 25,000 lbs. That limits the size of forklifts and the discrete loads being handled to about 12,000 lbs. The average smaller size forklift used in warehousing weighs about 12-13000 lbs. As forklifts work as a teeter-totter, the combined weight of the forklift and the load being lifted or moved bears almost entirely on the front axle, hence the floor load restriction. Most modern boxcars have at least a 50K floor and the cars we used for or biggest jumbo Redicon endstock coils, which weighted up to 30,000 lbs each had 65K floors. Goodyear loaded the tires be hand, literally throwing them in until every nook was filled. I think the SOU/NS was just trying to find a use for the cars and they worked for that. Same deal with our 16 oz can stock coils. They were rarely more than 7500 lbs, due to a narrow width and a maximum overall diameter to be able to fit on the uncoiler mandrel with proper operating clearance. These coils, like all can stock and end stock, were shipped laying flat on a pallet. So the 16 ox can stock coils worked out perfectly for loading in a tobacco barn without going over the floor weight limit. We used the double door cars to permit easier forklift entry and exit with a loaded coil pallet. The tires at Goodyear, being hand loaded, did not require the larger door clearance. Once they worked out, it appears Goodyear elected to go that route at a number of their other plants, based upon other reader comments.

Bob Graham   

Join main@SouthernRailway.groups.io to automatically receive all group messages.