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 Post subject: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2015 2:10 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
The Southern Appalachia Railway Museum of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, recently was given Southern 8744, one of the few remaining "Big John" covered hoppers. Donated by Norfolk Southern, the car helps add to the collection of several Southern freight cars held by the museum. Anyone interested in supporting their restoration is invited to send a check to the museum. Check out SARM's Facebook page for more details.


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 Post subject: Re: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2015 2:45 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
Posts: 712
WAY cool. The car represents an important event.

The Big John cars led to the huge fight with the ICC for railroads to charge LOWER rates on large volume shipments.

Southern won that fight.


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 Post subject: Re: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2015 3:05 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 896
Quote:
The Big John cars led to the huge fight with the ICC for railroads to charge LOWER rates on large volume shipments.


Partial bibliography in footnote 26 here:

https://books.google.com/books?id=MFhke ... ht&f=false

Also well covered in Richard Saunders, Merging Lines (2001)

This leads into another discussion: When you have an artifact with 'this much' significance in purely historical contexts -- how much 'collateral' do you display along with the artifact, and how would you present it?

Specifically, it might be considered a 'drink of water from a firehose' on a number of levels to present this to people viewing the car, but "suggestions for further reading" aren't likely to hold attention long enough for people to remember to start typing URLs in. Leads me to wonder if this is one application for those little 'scan codes' for smartphones, with different levels of complexity or the further references already encapsulated in something like TinyURL files to be downloaded and then read at leisure... or audio files to be played over headphones as you walk...

Potential specific advantage: Many people aren't going to have access to those scholarly references without payment they aren't going to make. Seems to me that a museum might get rights to copies of these that could be streamed, or copy-protected, or whatever for the use of visitors. That right there might constitute a perceived value for a museum visit -- or re-visit...

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 Post subject: Re: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Sun May 24, 2015 6:49 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 4996
I think I heard that the Monticello Railway Museum is also receiving a Big John from NS.


Les


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 Post subject: Re: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 12:22 am 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2165
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
NCTM at Spencer has had one for a while. I pointed it out to one of my RMNE colleagues during "Streamliners" and told him it was one of the 5 most significant rail items in the collection (in my opinion, at least).

Howard P.

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 Post subject: Re: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 4:58 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:36 pm
Posts: 4
The Southeastern Railway Museum just had one donated as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 8:55 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
Posts: 1195
Location: Chicago USA
If Big John hoppers more or less pioneered the use of large (100t?) capacity covered hoppers for efficient movement of grain, is there anything significantly different than the covered hoppers that are still in use? How would I know one if I saw it? Was it a particular builder and style or does the term cover a number of types purchased by SR around that time?


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 Post subject: Re: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 9:41 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 3:07 pm
Posts: 641
Weren't these cars one of the first large scale uses of aluminum bodies?


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 Post subject: Re: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 12:26 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:40 pm
Posts: 712
filmteknik wrote:
If Big John hoppers more or less pioneered the use of large (100t?) capacity covered hoppers for efficient movement of grain, is there anything significantly different than the covered hoppers that are still in use? How would I know one if I saw it? Was it a particular builder and style or does the term cover a number of types purchased by SR around that time?


The cars, along with the unit train rates they allowed, got the industry away from loading grain into boxcars equipped with wood or paper grain doors across the door openings.
You simply poured the grain in at the top, and out the bottom gates at destination.

If any of you have ever seen one of the old-fashioned unloading machines the big elevators used to have in order to dump grain out of boxcars, you would know immediately what a quantum leap this was. The car was tilted side to side and back and forth, and fully unloading it still had to be completed by laborers with brooms and shovels. Keeping boxcars watertight and providing and installing (and removing) grain doors was a huge expense and hassle.

You could tell the cars by the large BIG JOHN letters on the sides. They were 263,000 lb full loaded weight. Modern cars are 286,000 pounds.

A great display could be made with a standard 40-foot 50 or 70 ton boxcar with the door open and the grain doors installed across the opening, coupled to a Big John. Photos could show the grain doors, how they had to be hauled and delivered to every shipper by the carload, how men had to climb inside the car to get grain samples, the big ram that caved in the grain door so it would flow out, and the contraption that wiggled the car around to get most of the grain out, followed by several guys with brooms and shovels. Also note boxcars could only be loaded and unloaded one at a time and when unloading, they had to be uncoupled at both ends.


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 Post subject: Re: Big John Car Preserved
PostPosted: Sat May 30, 2015 12:49 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:45 pm
Posts: 106
Good comments Lincoln....

Here is some additional information from the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum Facebook page. There are drawings and additional information there, and the page is open to anyone.

"At the direction of company President D. W. Brosnan, Equipment Engineers on the Southern, working with the Magor Car Company, developed a new super-sized covered hopper. Nicknamed "Big John" (referring to the popular country music song of the era), the first cars hit the rails in 1960. Made of light-weight aluminum, and with a carrying capacity of 97 tons, the cars featured four compartments so that multiple types of grain could be shipped in the same car. An additional order, with a 100 ton capacity, arrived in 1961-1962.

The cars were nearly double the size of the largest covered hoppers in regular use. This allowed the Southern to slash its rates for grain shipments from $10.50 / ton to as little as $3.97. Not only was this much cheaper than their old rail rates, it was also cheaper than the trucking or even Federally supported barge companies could offer. Now it was the competition filing injunctions with the ICC against the Southern's lower “unfair” rates. Interestingly the larger cars and lower rates were opposed by most other railroads, particularly Southern's competitors in the Southeast markets.

The ICC forced the Southern to maintain its rates in 1961 while it heard arguments. After nearly two years of deliberation, they allowed only a partial reduction. The Southern took the case all the way to the United States Supreme Court twice, ultimately achieving victory in 1963. The first revenue movement of grain in the Big John’s came just days later from Cincinnati.

In 1965, Southern went back to Magor for 500 “Super Big Johns” with an even greater capacity of 130 tons. These cars were 61 feet long, 15 feet tall and came at a cost of nearly $12 million. These cars also featured a long center loading trough in the roof of the car."


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