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mtrails 05-10-2007 05:51 AM

Bad order cars
Hello everyone,

I am wondering about bad order cars... I've seen the florescent stickers on cars, knowing they will be receiving repairs soon. So how or when is a bad order car determined? When a crew member (or engineer) does a roll-by inspection on a passing train, would he/she spot a potential problem (i.e. bad wheel/flange, brake, handrails, etc.)? And what about the train detector? Who writes up the tag? Is there immediate action via radio communication if a potential problem is observed? Is a car pulled out of a train and set in a siding for a repair train, or road switcher to interact? Sorry about the 20 questions!

I am curious, and would like to relate prototypical bad order scenarios for model railroad operation.


J 05-10-2007 12:57 PM

Cars are inspected in a variety of ways. In a major yard they'll be inspected on the arrival tracks - generally the train line is not charged so brakes are checked later - see below. Minor repairs (such as a bent grab iron or thin brake shoe) might be repaired on the spot. If something is more significant, (wheel defect, shifted load) the car will be switched to a shop track for repairs. Cars are also inspected in the departure yard where the brake system is charged and checked. Occasionally, repairs are too significant to be handled without delaying the train so the car would be thrown out.

Cars are also inspected by crews when picked up at a shipper's location or when a cut of cars is received in interchange.

A roll-by inspection is generally intended to capture critical issues such as sticking brakes, flat wheels, loose banding, etc. Defect detectors are designed to identify things such as wheel bearing failure, dragging equipment, shifted loads, worn trucks or high-impact wheels. Depending on the extent of a problem, the car may be able to continue to destination or must be set out immediately. The industry has set up a network to track the progression of a particular car's problems. For example, as truck components wear, a car will begin to generate increased lateral forces on the rail. These forces can increase over time to the extent that the car could pose a hazard and will need to be shopped.

Some repairs must be done immediately; others can allow the car to be sent to a location, specified by the owner for repairs. Perhaps you've seen tags on cars saying, "Home Shop."

Another complex aspect of this is, "who pays for the repairs?" Say New Haven car located on the Wabash is found to need a new air hose. The industry has a comprehensive car repair billing system that publishes condemning conditions chargeable rates for a whole host of repairs from worn couplers to the simple air hose. In the case of the New Haven car, the Wabash would supply a new hose, look up the price in the published index and send the bill to the New Haven. Perhaps the New Haven had also replaced an air hose on a Wabash car that same month so in this case no money would change hands. Imagine keeping track of all these records for 1.5 million freight cars owned by hundreds of railroads, shippers and leasing companies.

Carl Becker 05-10-2007 10:05 PM

As defined by William Brotherton in Burlington Northern Adventures, a common detection of a bad order car is the "wham, wham, wham" sound as the car goes down the track. This indicates flat spots on the wheels and are now picked up by defect detectors (during his time with BN, defect detectors weren't around yet).

mtrails 05-14-2007 12:10 AM

Thanks guys for the responses. Have a great weekend!

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