locked Re: Clay hoppers and the "cousin" Chip hop

Felix Freeman

I worked in the Mechanical Department and was at Greensboro from the late 1970's to 1995.  We had a collection of clay hoppers in service on the A&Y.  This is the line from Greensboro to Sanford.  Clay was loaded at the Gulf clay pits and moved to Boren Brick in Pleasant Garden.  For the most part the cars were in captive service between those two points.  I was told by the Sales Department that revenue was very good for this short haul.  For the most part the cars never came to the yard at Pomona (Greensboro).  There was a problem handling these cars in the yard.  When they were switched and handled, clay would be knocked loose and fall to the ground.  When this clay became wet it would be slippery and cause poor footing.  Reworking yard tracks and keeping these cars out of the yard took care of that problem.  As these cars were not inspected by the Mechanical Department on a daily basis we made it a point to regularly run the Road Truck down the branch to inspect them, do light repairs and oil the friction bearings.  Cut levers, grab irons, sill steps, car bodies and angle cocks all took a beating in this service.  The agents at Liberty and the train crew did an outstanding job in looking out for problems and would route cars in need of repair to Pomona or let us know to do road repairs.  Workers at the clay pit and people at Boren did a good job in their handling.  These cars were in this service when I came to Greensboro and were still in service when I left.  There was a spur track off of the south end of our RIP track on which we kept two of these cars for door repairs.  We also would redo the stenciling and car numbers and spray paint the worst areas..  A complete paint job was out of the question. It was not well known by a lot of people on the railroad that these cars even existed.  On occasions when we would have visitors from our department (and others) and when these people saw the clay hoppers the first words out of their mouths would be "scrap it".  I had to do a lot of quick talking to explain that there was a need for these cars.  Sales Department people at Greensboro took a dim view toward anyone who wanted to do away with them.  There was a sales lady who would fight anyone who dared to scrap one.   At one time we did get some relief.  One of our visitors who had the authority arranged to have a few cars rotated to Coster Shop for program work.  I was reluctant to ask to get authority to send them to a big shop for heavy repair.  I was worried that if I sent one away someone might want to scrap it instead of fixing it.    This included body and door work, a paint.job and conversion to roller bearings.  This did not last long and we were soon back to where we started.  Coster did began to send us material to rework the doors.  The problem was that no two doors were alike and each had to be fabricated.  I kept a file in my office on these cars.  I had a list of all of the cars that I knew of that were on the branch and would record when they were serviced.  We would add to the list as we encountered them on our road trips.   At times cars would get out of their regular cycle.  There was a brick plant at Roseboro, NC on CSX where they went.  I think that it was a Boren operation.  At times we would see where Hamlet did repacks and air work. Roseboro is on the former ACL portion of the A&Y and is just east of Fayetteville.  There was another brick plant at or near Blacksburg, SC to where they would venture.  It too was a Boren operation.  The cars did well on the low speed Sanford Local. However it would give me restless moments to think of them on the main line.  I don't remember of any hot boxes that we had.  We did have door chains to break but never lost any loads or be derailed.  It is interesting to note that there was one of these cars that was stenciled "When empty return to FEC for sugar cane loading".  Boren employees were very satisfied with the cars.  Sales people at Greensboro were happy with the business that they provided.  We in the Mechanical Department were glad that they provided work for us.  It was good local business that contributed to paying our way.  I am not  sure how long they lasted after I left Greensboro.  I did have a few conversations with the sales people after I left.  Years later and after I had retired was when I had my first encounter with the the one that is at Spencer.  I had no idea that it was there and had been preserved.  It was like running into an old friend.                     

On Tue, Jan 14, 2020 at 3:55 PM D. Scott Chatfield <blindog@...> wrote:
Thanks guys for the answers and pics.  Some serious weathering projects there!

I assume the reason for the "clamshell" doors is regular coal car doors wouldn't be tight enough to keep wet clay from leaking out.

Scott Chatfield

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