Jul 17, 2001
Can anyone explain to me what the GATX TANK TRAIN is? That is one strange animal!
The GATX TankTrain is a unit oil train made up of semi-permanently interconnected tank cars designed for efficient loading and unloading. The cars are connected in groups of around 12 to 15 cars, allowing the entire train to be loaded from a central loading tower instead of loading each car individually. Below is a photo of Union Pacific's TankTrain which usually runs from San Ardo, CA to Long Beach, CA on the ex-SP Coast Line. The train coming at you in the photo is a TankTrain, while the train on the adjacent track is made up of conventional tank cars. The train shown is actually detouring over a route previously used by another TankTrain, the Tehachapi Pass line out of Bakersfield, CA. to a photo gallery and short descriptions of these trains. Follow this link
[ 17 July 2001: Message edited by: Kevin Stevens ]</p>
KEVIN! WHOA! I FELL OFF MY CHAIR! EXCELLENT PHOTO!
I sort of figured out the loading/unloading process because of the connections, but I wasn't sure what was in them. I've seen them in Vermont and Upstate New York. When were these cars put into service? Seems relatively new.
Again, that photo was one of my all time favorites!
Kevin, as we photographers say, "A photo is worth a thousand words." Nice shots of the oil cans. I used to catch them once in a while going through Lancaster when I lived there. Congratulations on being named Altamont Press' Photo Site of the Week--well deserved!
GATX TankTrain System
Mr. Erling Mowatt-Larssen, who was the Chief Design Engineer with the former General American Transportation Corporation (GATX) at the Sharon, PA manufacturing plant, designed and patented the TankTrain interconnected tank car system. I was the co-creator as I developed the need for the technology, participated in the design of the hose system as to where it was placed on the tank cars, and marketed over 500 TankTrain cars, garnering 100% of the tank car unit-train business in petroleum markets which historically was the market enjoyed by our largest competitor, the Union Tank Car Company. The first lease of 23,500-gal cars were to Cibro Petroleum Co. in Albany, NY, used to haul #6 from their refinery in Albany to their customers in western New York State. Gerald Spiegelman, a sales representative in GATX's New York City office was the salesman of record and he did a splendid job. The new and initially the most significant order was for 135-TankTrain cars to Consumers Power Co. in Jackson, MI, to haul #6 from a new refinery in Sarnia, ON to their power plant on Saginaw Bay near Bay City, MI. This plant was supplied by Canada Steamship Co. and I convinced their transportation people that they would not have to add new tank storage for the #6 oil since they were increasing the power they were going to generate and needed more oil. We created two 60-car unit trains with 4 - 15 car strings per train and a 15-car string as a spare. The CN was the origin carrier and they handed the train to their Grand Trunk Western subsidiary in Port Huron, MI. We designed a loading and unloading system that allowed the refinery to load the 4-strings of 15 cars simultaneously @ 3,000 gpm per string, in under 4 hours with just two people. Unloading was similar in speed. Nobody ever experienced such efficient loading and unloading of a tank car unit train since those days. It was something to see 4 6-axle Alco's belonging to the CN, pulling 30 cars at a time through the Port Huron tunnel from Canada, with the headlights looking like they were at a 45 degree angle as the train came out of the tunnel. The GTW moved the trains so quickly that they could literally use a single crew to do the roundtrip if they wanted. There was no slack in the train because of the cushioning affect of the 10-inch ID hoses.
The Terminals Division of Mobil Oil Corporation, then headquartered on 42nd Street in New York, had a very creative General manager, Bill Ryan, who saw our technology as a way to finally take tankers off of Lake Champlain that ran from their Albany terminal. We created strings of TankTrain cars that carried gasoline and home heating oil to their Burlington Terminal and occasionally to their Plattsburgh Terminal. Running 12-months of the year, Mr. Ryan discovered he had more tankage than he needed to he marketed his excess capacity to other terminal operators in Burlington and further reduced the potential pollution of Lake Champlain. Since the Mobil General Traffic Manager disliked railroads (he was from the Marine Division), he would not lease the TankTrain cars. Jay Wulfson, then the owner and CEO of the Vermont Railway, leased the TankTrain cars in 1978 and these cars / newer replacements are still in service. The original move was D&H/VTR.
TankTrain was an excellent product when GATX had the marketing people who understood transportation and what was needed to introduce new products and services. Unfortunately, they did not renew the patents and no longer market the concept even though there are thousands of ethanol tank cars in unit-train service.
BP in Lima, Oh used to run benzene trains with the TankTrain cars also.