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Old 01-15-2009, 01:08 PM   #21 (permalink)
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God - I hated BasicA..

Anyway, it's basically just like the reason we can't put a radiator under the body - it's too far from the "norm" basically. Also, lots of truckers still have their current re-treads on, and won't take them off until they won't pass DOT.

Add to that, that even though the super singles use 25% less rubber, they're more expensive to produce, and the common thought that wider tires suck in water/rain/everything else (not counting the 80k lbs on top of them). Plus, they're actually not suited for use with all circumstances, due to their width.

Oh - I don't think you can get re-treads on them either... I think it's "new or not".

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Old 01-15-2009, 01:57 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Take a look at the next few freight trains you see. There are a lot of actual trailers being shipped (with wheels & all), as well as containers.
Containers are made so they can just be dropped onto a bare frame with existing wheels, lights, etc for road use. I'm not saying pure trailers aren't loaded onto freight cars too, but wheel frames are put under containers all the time.

But the point I was making was although it would be theoretically more efficient to ship just trailers (or containers), the trucking industry isn't set up that way. Truckers get paid by the mile so its hard to make enough money on short-hauls to survive. Plus the logistics and traffic jam of getting 500 tractors under the right 500 trailers when a train comes in would be enormous. Better to just let the truckers drive off the train and into the road system.

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Old 01-15-2009, 03:13 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Even better than that: Aircraft have long since developed better shapes to hold a given volume. Now, the task is to morph that into an envelope that is compatible with an intermodal shipping container.
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Old 01-16-2009, 10:44 AM   #24 (permalink)
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what the railroad doesn't tell you is that it can up to 30 days to get a rail car from CA to TN, I know as I work in a distribution center for a food conglomerate based in NE, which doesn't always work with the just in time inventory methods alot of places have gone to, which is what WM does, we ship on average 15+ TL's of product to various WM's thru out the SE US. The RR delivers the rail cars whenever they feel like it and then you have 24-48hrs to unload a rail car or pay detention charges. It might be cheaper but certainly not more convenient. A rail car can get lost in the switching yard and then, oops, here, sorry.
The delays experienced at a yard are not a result of a slow process. Containers and Trailers are unloaded at an amazing speed at a yard. The delays are a result of the shipper, owing so much money to the rail yard that the shipment is locked down until funds are released. Also, containers are never lost in a yard. Their numbered grid system is precise and all containers are always accounted for. Now, by the same scenario crane operators will "crush" a container from a particular shipper to send a message, usually related to shipping charges. The damaged container then needs to be unloaded, and reloaded or its contents simply "vanish" due to the accident. Thus the phrase, lost in shipping ..
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Old 01-16-2009, 12:46 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by instarx View Post
But the point I was making was although it would be theoretically more efficient to ship just trailers (or containers), the trucking industry isn't set up that way. Truckers get paid by the mile so its hard to make enough money on short-hauls to survive.
Which is the point, isn't it? Get a well-designed & implemented rail freight system in place, and long-haul trucking (in its current form) WON'T survive, because it makes less efficient use of resources. To ship 200 containers from A to B takes 100 trucks, which means 100 times wages for drivers, 100 times diesel fuel, cost of maintaining highways (not cheap, because concrete wears a lot faster that steel rails - there are places on I80 west of here where constant truck traffic has worn ruts in the concrete so deep that I worry about high-centering the Insight on them). With an electric railroad, you pay for two engineers, use cheap electricity, a lot of which you recover through regenerative breaking on the downhills. Designing an automated rail freight depot with reasonable highway access seems like a comparatively small capital expense.

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Old 01-16-2009, 02:18 PM   #26 (permalink)
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trains

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Originally Posted by elhigh View Post
Last time I heard of a big rig's fuel mileage, the numbers being bandied about were around 8-9. Nobody even whispered anything in the teens.

Thirteen would be a quantum leap. That's just phenomenal.

Better yet, why not load the trailer, then put it on a train? Trains do even better.

Shortly after the close of World War II,the U.S.Govt.allowed a systematic destruction of all rail systems in the U.S.,with what remains today,only a remnant of what had been.----------- Strategic bombing of Europe proved the vulnerability of centralized transportation systems,and without air superiority at the time,defense analysts may have seen an inherent weakness in the U.S.,should any entity gain access over American air space.The Interstate Highway Act,originally a military asset,has since devolved into the dominant competitive force for dictating ground transport.Admittedly,it's the most wasteful,however from a strategic,tactical,and logistical standpoint,it may remain,deemed to be the "safest" system when viewed in a very narrow national security wavelength.
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Old 01-16-2009, 03:44 PM   #27 (permalink)
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The delays experienced at a yard are not a result of a slow process. Containers and Trailers are unloaded at an amazing speed at a yard. The delays are a result of the shipper, owing so much money to the rail yard that the shipment is locked down until funds are released. Also, containers are never lost in a yard. Their numbered grid system is precise and all containers are always accounted for. Now, by the same scenario crane operators will "crush" a container from a particular shipper to send a message, usually related to shipping charges. The damaged container then needs to be unloaded, and reloaded or its contents simply "vanish" due to the accident. Thus the phrase, lost in shipping ..
What happens to the damaged shipping containers, particularly the insulated "reefer" or refrigerated ones? Sold for scrap, or what?
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Old 01-16-2009, 03:53 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto View Post
What happens to the damaged shipping containers, particularly the insulated "reefer" or refrigerated ones? Sold for scrap, or what?
Now thats where companies like my father in laws come in. They are on the scene 24/7 to do container repairs and chassis repairs to ensure everything leaving the yard would pass DOT road inspections.
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Old 01-16-2009, 04:33 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Shortly after the close of World War II,the U.S.Govt.allowed a systematic destruction of all rail systems in the U.S...
Somehow I doubt that military security was a major factor. I think you have to look more at management inertia & union featherbedding, which kept the railroads mired in early 20th century technology.
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Old 01-16-2009, 06:51 PM   #30 (permalink)
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A little railroad history:

During World War II, the railroads were nationalized as part of the war effort. Trains were run essentially by the War. Dept. Thet performed good service but the War Dept neglected the railroads. Track and rolling stock was worn out. To get them back into shape required a lot of money.

Back then, railroad rates were regulated tightly by the feds. Rates were set (obviously) for political reasons, and changing a rate took months of hearings. As a result the wartime rates kept the railroads from generating enough cash to repair and modernize track, bridges, and cars.

At the same time a new technology had become available for motive power: the diesel-electric locomotive. The diesel was less labor intensive to maintain and was far more fuel-efficient. Further (although nobody gave a rip then) the diesel was a lot cleaner than steam engines. The only thing you could say for the steam engine was that it ran on domestic coal.

About this time, John L. Lewis - the Chairman of the UMW, made the decision to raise miners' pay even if that meant coal lost its share of the energy market. As late as 1950 the US got the majority of its energy from coal. As a result, coal lost its cost advantage and the steam engine was as dead as OJ's acting career.

At the end of World War II both railroading and coal mining were incredibly labor-intensive. There were more people involved in railroading and coal mining than there were college graduates as late as 1949. An underground mine produced about 2 tons per day per man - Tennessee Ernie Ford notwithstanding. Every railroad had a roundhouse (that employed between 500 and 1,000 men) every hundred miles. A full days work for a train crew was 100 miles because that was as far as a steam locomotive would go without breaking down. It would go 50 miles before it needed more coal and water.

Railroads are inherently lousy at door-to-door shipping unless you were a big enough shipper/receiver to justify delivery of a whole trainload of stuff. Other wise you loaded/unloaded at a railroad "depot" which was a platform beside a siding. How fast you got your delivery depended on your tariff (rate). Keep in mind the government set the tariff. If your stuff was low tariff, you might wait months for delivery. No kidding, months. The feds controlled the rates but not deliveries.

The car industry, from the days of Billy Durant and Henry Ford knew they depended on the railroads for delivery of bulky raw materials/components and their product. So they pressured the feds into a high tariff which got them fast, reliable delivery. The auto plants were big enough to justify whole trainload deliveries.

Back to the diesel-electric. Diesels were energy and labor-efficient but per HP, they were expensive up front. A 6,000 Kanawha cost less to buy than the four GP-7s that replaced it. But the railroads coughed up the staggering sums needed to dieselize and by 1958 the steam locomotive was history. But this came at a price. Track and cars were gundecked to pay for dieselization. Worse yet the diesels were new tech and the early models obsolesced rapidly. Before the last of the steam locomotives were scrapped the GP7 (and F-7) were eclipsed by the GP-9. Some GP-7s stayed in yard and branch service into the 1980s. The GP-9s were in turn eclipsed by th GP-18s, GP--24s, then the turbocharged GP-30s and GP-35s. Then the 645 engine came along and the GP-38/GP-39/GP-40 family took charge. At that point the obsolescence rate slowed.

Problem was not that the diesel-electric had totally matured, but the railroad, with their unresponsive rates and specialization to big shippers/receivers were going broke. Trucks could and did change rates as market conditions needed. No bureaucrat could keep up even if they wanted to. Shippers/receivers decentralized into smaller entities and full trainload deliveries became more and more scarce. A number of "name" railroad went under. The might New York Cenral was forced to merge with the Pennsylvania Railroad and thet became the Penn Central. The Penn Central went belly-up within five years and was taken over by the feds who kept it on tax dollar life support for over a decade. When the Rock Island went broke in 1978, Congress realized that the federal government was the problem. In 1979, the Staggers Act de-regulated the railroads. That was the beginning of the road back for the railroads. But first, they had a lot of dead wood to cut away. During this time I worked for what was called The Chessie System. In1977 the had 22,000 miles of track, 240,000 cars and 3,000 locomotives. When I left in 1985 they had 14,000 miles of track, 80,000 cars and 2,200 locotives and were making decent money.

I won't even go into the union featherbedding and restrictive work rules. When I left the Chessie System had 17 different unions.

So when you give me this routine about bad management I bristle. The railroads have had a tough half-century and maybe the fact they are around at all is a testament to just how good that managemnent was.

A lot of what railroad carry today is indeed intermodal. Not much TOFC (trailer-on-flat-car) but rather COFC (container-on-flat-car). This combines the long-distance efficiency on the train with the door-to-door flexibilty of the truck.

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