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 Post subject: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 11:39 am
Posts: 54
Location: California desert
A visitor asked today "when was the Open Box Car law" put into effect? Does anyone know what this might refer to? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,

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Laws Railroad Museum
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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 3:43 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2004 8:42 am
Posts: 375
Location: Haslett, Michigan USA
Sorry, never heard of the "open box-car law." But I wouldn't be surprised to find that your museum visitor's home state had such a law, for God knows what purpose, maybe to keep down hobo traffic.

I suspect there is a lot of state-level lawmaking relative to railroads that could be a rich source of history, if verified. Or at least hilarity.

In the 2008 Michigan legislature, a bill was introduced that would have allowed standing freight cars to receive parking tickets if within some feet of an intersection. Didn't pass, though, so we'll never see the spectacle of a meter maid looking for a windwhield wiper on covered hopper.

One of my friends once turned a coach seat on the Amtrak Empire Builder so that his family could face each other, but was upbraided by a trainman for violating the "North Dakota forward-facing-coach-seat law." This while the train was in Wisconsin. But I would attribute that one to an wacko Amtrak trainman, not the lawbooks.

Aarne Frobom
Habeus foamus, Michigan


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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:24 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 4:23 pm
Posts: 180
Location: Florida's Forgotten Coast
Deepest_Valley wrote:
A visitor asked today "when was the Open Box Car law" put into effect? Does anyone know what this might refer to? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
I strongly suggest the visitor was trying to get a firm grip on your leg in order to give it a good pull.


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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:15 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:06 am
Posts: 17
Location: Lansing, MI.
Don't know if it's so much a law, but I do recall at one time or another there was a rule on most railroads that stated that you were not supposed to pull an empty box car from a customer if the doors were left open. Main reason is that some of those doors, especially plug doors do roll quite easily and the constant start-stop action of some trains would tend to have those doors eventually roll off the track they are hanging on and possibly fall off the car enroute. Don't think I would care to have a box car door come through my windsheild! As a side note, box car doors have been known to kill a person if that person was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:15 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 2:59 pm
Posts: 113
Hogger1225 wrote:
Don't know if it's so much a law, but I do recall at one time or another there was a rule on most railroads that stated that you were not supposed to pull an empty box car from a customer if the doors were left open. Main reason is that some of those doors, especially plug doors do roll quite easily and the constant start-stop action of some trains would tend to have those doors eventually roll off the track they are hanging on and possibly fall off the car enroute. Don't think I would care to have a box car door come through my windsheild! As a side note, box car doors have been known to kill a person if that person was in the wrong place at the wrong time.


In addition to that issue there is also the problem of leaving a plug door open in high passenger platform territory. There have been numerous times where NJ Transit platforms have been clobbered by doors left ajar as the local goes through the station.

Kevin O


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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:57 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2006 5:19 pm
Posts: 390
Location: Bowie, MD
Quote:
As a side note, box car doors have been known to kill a person if that person was in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Once arrived at the Bowie, MD MARC station on the NEC to realize the morning freight had left a present; Apparently an open door snagged on the high station platform edge, ripped off, flipped up in the air, missing the catenary supports and one of those bus stop style shelters, landing about 20 feet away on and taking out most of the hand rails over the steps leading to the foot tunnel under the tracks. A few days before the local had passed the station while we were waiting for our train.

Bob


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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:21 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1438
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
Like folding steps on some streamlined passenger cars, box car plug doors can stick out farther that the car body if not latched fully opened or closed. And then there are old fashioned swinging refrigerator car doors. If the carbody is already near maximum allowed width, you could have trouble. I don't know about a any law.


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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:50 am 

I believe there is an AAR or perhaps an FRA rule that states doors are to be closed prior to moving for all the above stated reasons.

You should be able to search the regulation on line.


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 4:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 974
Location: Back in NE Ohio
Closing all plug-doors on box cars is definitely a rule on CSX. The "High Line" freight by-pass around 30th St. Station in Philly has wide-car detectors at each end (Zoo and Field) just for detecting open plug doors. The clearances on one side of the street overpasses on the line (one track has been removed, but the remaining track was not centered) are so close that the sides of the bridges would catch any open plug doors and wipe them off the side of the car and possibly onto traffic below.

I personally have had to stop and close plug doors on trains I've been conductor on, or called passing trains to alert them about open plug doors. Often they get stuck partially open from abuse by customers using things like fork lifts to push the doors open and closed, and a then all you can do is try and find something to wedge in the track to hold the door in place until you get somewhere it can be set out. I remember seeing the Amtrak M&E crews at South Station in Boston using fork lift forks to slide open and to close the plug doors on the old MHC's because the door tracks had been abused and messed up.


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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:46 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 1:19 am
Posts: 153
Location: Lexington, KY
CSX and NS have rules saying plug door boxcars must be closed but nothing for regular box cars. In fact, some places encourage leaving empty cars open so they will be clean before receiving their next load.


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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8355
Location: Baltimore, MD
Regrettably, another factor enters into this:

These days, some open doors are the result of thieves randomly picking cars to rob. And reportedly some cars--rolling or in storage--are being left open in part to show the cars are empty.............


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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:40 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 2:40 am
Posts: 88
Might the so-called "open boxcar law" refer to Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938)?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Railr ... e_citation
http://www.enotes.com/supreme-court-dra ... v-tompkins


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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:25 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
Some of the newer plug-door cars may depend on the doors to provide strength to the car structure. Might not be an issue under ordinary conditions, but in a collision or derailment, it might affect how the car fares under stress. I've seen cars with notices such as "door must be closed and secured before car is moved." This assumes that the personnel unloading the car can A) Read English, and B) pay attention to instructions.

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 Post subject: Re: Open Box Car law
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 11:39 am
Posts: 54
Location: California desert
Thanks to all.

This visitor is happy now.

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Max Cox
Laws Railroad Museum
www.lawsmuseum.org


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