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 Post subject: Re: Museum group purchase - Transportor trailer and tractor
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:46 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8355
Location: Baltimore, MD
I was just waiting for Brother Lisowski to chime in with reality......

The originally proposed concept is not completely without merit. I was told that one of the trolley preservationists in the Northeast, who actually works/worked with a rail transit agency, purchased one of the agency's own road trailers, and was using it on an individual basis, as a member of the trolley museum/group in question, to transport equipment between museums "at cost" for them. He had the truck (I think *that* was former agency surplus, too!), he knew the regs, and he knew what permits to ask for and how. He reportedly transported two PCCs between two major cities about 100 miles apart, over major Interstates and past every imaginable weigh and inspection station, for about $4,000 each several years ago; a commercial trucker would have charged $10-15,000.

Caveats: Transit equipment is lighter than freight cars or locomotives, and this was a "roll on/roll off" situation on both ends.

I've watched or been involved with several moves of both heavy-rail equipment and covered bridges over the decades. I've observed everything from the proverbial "Billy Bob's Towing & House Moving" try to move a caboose to some of the most extravagant road rigs out there just to move an SW-1 (well, it *was* down a twisty dirt road to the destination). I could even "incriminate" one of the "big names" here with the tale of a jury-rigged trailer burning out the bearings halfway through the move of his locomotive.

Things I've picked up over the years:

*Professionalism is not the "cure-all" for, or guarantee against, all problems. One of the best-regarded movers in the business--"they moved the Southern Ps-4 into the Smithsonian, for Pete's sake!"--was hit with tens of thousands of dollars of fines over a hotly-disputed weighing of the steam locomotive and its trailer. (The group moving the loco spent a weekend stripping several tons of metal off the loco, including the smokebox door--and got an even higher scale reading the next day.) I never heard the final resolution on that--I think they were still forced to pay.

*Rightly or wrongly, local politics helps. I assisted with the move of several freight cars from a car shop to a rail museum. The car shop provided the trailer and the cranes at loading. It looked slightly amateurish--as an example, I personally was doing a last-second measurement of the total height and the clearance under one overpass. But we got cooperation from local police, not enforcement. The car shop was a major employer locally, and the museum was local.
A favorite conspiracy theory over the previously-mentioned overweight-truck story was "if it had been going to the local railroad museum instead of crossing state lines, it wouldn't have happened." I can't say if there's any truth to that or not.

*Wait for a backhaul. The way all the truckers operate inexpensively is lining up jobs to save empty driving between the "need it yeaterday" and "need it ASAP" runs. If you're in the queue and wait until they can detour an empty truck of the right size through your area, you can save a substantial amount.

*You (at least should) get what you pay for; pay for what you need. Just as you can get by with lesser standards for a little Plymouth and open car going ten mph down a scenic branch than if you're fixing that 2-8-4 for the main line at 60, you don't need a grandiose 24-axle trailer and several escort vehicles to move that caboose one mile from a rural siding to your farm for a guest cabin. On the other hand, if the guy thinks he can roll that boxcar down the asphalt street/road on its own wheels, run away fast. And, yes, it IS possible to roll lighter stock on a dolly that substitutes for a truck riding on the back end and the front resting on the tractor, at least for short distances; the problem is defining "short."
The adage around mechanical shops like Strasburg or car garages is "you can have cheap, fast, or good; pick a maximum of two."

Having said all that, it behooves me to point out as best I can without making a paid commercial plug for them that at least one major extraordinary-load trucking company based close to Harrisburg, Pa. with service from the Canadian Maritimes to the U.S. Southwest, has a VP of Ops is also a high-ranking NRHS officer........ I can't say it translates into cheap, necessarily, but at least one guy there knows his stuff when it comes to rail loads......


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 Post subject: Re: Museum group purchase - Transportor trailer and tractor
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2094
Location: Northern Illinois
One thing yet to be mentioned... when you hire the equipment, you get some depth of the organization behind you. If something breaks, they (and you) have options. If you own your own rig, it's all on you to come up with a solution.

Case in point, when IRM was moving the ERHS streetcar collection back in the seventies, we got stuck (we were always getting stuck) and broke an axle on the tractor trying to extricate it. One phone call from the driver to his yard, and they sent out a wrecker. When the wrecker arrived, we convinced the operator to pull the whole rig to a more advantageous spot to drop the trailer (i.e. out of the mud). He then picked up the tractor with the broken axle, and since it was the end of the day, the truck driver rode back with him, and brought out a new tractor in the morning. If it would have been earlier in the day, the wrecker could have brought out the new tractor "on the hook", and we would have kept on going,

If it would have been our equipment, this episode would have set off a panic search for a new affordable Spicer axle, and we would have been changing it in the mud. Not the best scenario when you are up against a deadline.

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 Post subject: Re: Museum group purchase - Transportor trailer and tractor
PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 4:31 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:12 am
Posts: 654
Location: cheyenne
Typical responses .......as everyone else's ideas and suggestions are cast off as stupid and only one is the real in depth all knowing answer....welcome to RYPN. Why would you bother to post replies to any threads seeing this one.

Mike Pannell

Involved in multiple moves of equipment in the USA and UK over 30 years.


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 Post subject: Re: Museum group purchase - Transportor trailer and tractor
PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 5:11 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
Let's face it, times have changed, and this is probably not as viable as it once was.

As Jeff points out, getting into the trucking business is no longer simple and easy.

It's also no longer simple and easy to find surplus equipment cheap. The days of "The trolley line is closing, you can have as many streetcars as you want for $500 each" are gone, never to return.

Let's look at in the simplest manner possible.

1) How many equipment moves has your group done, or wanted to do, by truck in the last 20 years.
2) How much did (or would have) the trucking cost if done by pros.

That answer is the absolute maximum you could logically spend on buying your own truck and trailer and parking it on the back 40 "just in case". Or, pooling your resources with other museums to do the same.

I'm guessing, and it's only a guess, it wouldn't be a good return on investment.

Speaking a construction contractor, I know several contractors who own specialized trailers for hauling track equipment or other equipment like a drop deck trailer for big cats. That's a far simpler and less expensive option. As long as it's licensed and safe, you call a trucker, he hauls it, and you avoid most of the hassles. Not using it? It's not incurring much cost, and unlike a semi tractor, it won't be bothered by being parked for months at a time. It's also a less tempting target for theft and vandalism.


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 Post subject: Re: Museum group purchase - Transportor trailer and tractor
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:49 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8355
Location: Baltimore, MD
Bobharbison wrote:
The days of "The trolley line is closing, you can have as many streetcars as you want for $500 each" are gone, never to return.


Don't be too sure. One streetcar group scored five fully functional PCCs and a snowsweeper for $250 each from a transit agency that wanted them gone right then and there about twelve years ago. That led to the aforementioned intercity trailering. And I don't think there was much money involved with the dispersal of the Newark Subway PCCs a couple years back--certainly less than the going price for the traction motors, according to my connections.

In about ten years it'll be Kawasaki LRVs or subway cars. (Or at least some of us can hope.)


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 Post subject: Re: Museum group purchase - Transportor trailer and tractor
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:12 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1438
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
PMC wrote:
One thing I have noticed on some semis is a sign on the side door marked "not for hire", I have been told that some rules don't apply under those circumstances but I am not sure what.
It might help explain why you don't have an MC (Motor Carrier) number posted there. It could also discourage the driver from doing an extra job while the owner wasn't looking.


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 Post subject: Re: Museum group purchase - Transportor trailer and tractor
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:32 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2447
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Consider this: Maybe you're chasing the wrong problem.

I'm not saying truckers are not valuable. I am saying there are enough of them, and they are reasonably priced.

The scarce component is actually the lifting. Note that I didn't say "cranes". One thing that vexes me is how novices thinking about lifting go straight for cranes. Cranes are expensive, rare and heavily booked. They are enormously expensive for what they do, and will be the vast majority of total move cost, even of nothing goes wrong that forces the crane crew to sit around and wait. Their rarity adds a world of complication to logistics - availability of cranes is inevitably the critical path. What's more, some emergency elsewhere can steal your crane - and while that crane company won't charge you, the trucker and the crane on the other end will. And of course, cranes are often a high wide heavy load *themselves*, though those permits are not your problem. The difference is *dramatic*. A crane-involved move can be FIVE TIMES the cost of the same move on a self-loading platform like Silk Road.

Or for instance I would have cut the cost of a recent move by 35-40% if I had the shop I wanted; rather than hire a crane for the destination, he'd roll into the shop and use the overhead cranes.

Of course, there are other ways to pick up a car, especially when you have the leisure of setup time, have a secure laydown area, and are comfortable with the work areas. For instance WRM handles boxcar bodies in-house with our 20-ton forklift. When we picked the Red Cars off the ground and trucked them, we rented a second forklift. Hulcher also has a nice method for lifting very heavy things. Or a portable, erectable gantry hoist. And there's always traditional beams, jacks and cribs.

So to your aspiration for a trucking rig I could use for car moves -- my answer is "could I have a lifting rig instead?"

One that can show up on the site a week in advance, along with a 20-30t forklift and bobcat we'll rent or borrow. It would be nice if the kit included a bunch of cribbing and some track tools in case light trackwork is needed. We spend a week: figuring out how to do the lift on site, bobcat for some site prep, forklift for any light disassembly needed or positioning, positioning everything for the lift, doing an initial lift to separate the trucks in a non-rush condition, pull the trucks out, let it onto cribbing (partly to get a sense of how you'll crib it on the truck) then wait for the semi. Semi backs under, forklift helps it with fine positioning, crib it, let it down, tie it down while the lifting rigs knock down and sprint ahead to the destination.


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 Post subject: Re: Museum group purchase - Transportor trailer and tractor
PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 6:23 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 330
robertmacdowell wrote:
Consider this: Maybe you're chasing the wrong problem.

I'm not saying truckers are not valuable. I am saying there are enough of them, and they are reasonably priced.

The scarce component is actually the lifting. Note that I didn't say "cranes". One thing that vexes me is how novices thinking about lifting go straight for cranes. Cranes are expensive, rare and heavily booked. They are enormously expensive for what they do, and will be the vast majority of total move cost, even of nothing goes wrong that forces the crane crew to sit around and wait. Their rarity adds a world of complication to logistics - availability of cranes is inevitably the critical path. What's more, some emergency elsewhere can steal your crane - and while that crane company won't charge you, the trucker and the crane on the other end will. And of course, cranes are often a high wide heavy load *themselves*, though those permits are not your problem. The difference is *dramatic*. A crane-involved move can be FIVE TIMES the cost of the same move on a self-loading platform like Silk Road.

Or for instance I would have cut the cost of a recent move by 35-40% if I had the shop I wanted; rather than hire a crane for the destination, he'd roll into the shop and use the overhead cranes.

Of course, there are other ways to pick up a car, especially when you have the leisure of setup time, have a secure laydown area, and are comfortable with the work areas. For instance WRM handles boxcar bodies in-house with our 20-ton forklift. When we picked the Red Cars off the ground and trucked them, we rented a second forklift. Hulcher also has a nice method for lifting very heavy things. Or a portable, erectable gantry hoist. And there's always traditional beams, jacks and cribs.

So to your aspiration for a trucking rig I could use for car moves -- my answer is "could I have a lifting rig instead?"

One that can show up on the site a week in advance, along with a 20-30t forklift and bobcat we'll rent or borrow. It would be nice if the kit included a bunch of cribbing and some track tools in case light trackwork is needed. We spend a week: figuring out how to do the lift on site, bobcat for some site prep, forklift for any light disassembly needed or positioning, positioning everything for the lift, doing an initial lift to separate the trucks in a non-rush condition, pull the trucks out, let it onto cribbing (partly to get a sense of how you'll crib it on the truck) then wait for the semi. Semi backs under, forklift helps it with fine positioning, crib it, let it down, tie it down while the lifting rigs knock down and sprint ahead to the destination.

I agree. I think that the moves we are talking about are overpriced by at least 40%, if you could break down the moves into individual components it could very well be cheaper, due to more entities available to do each part of the move. Does anyone remember a photo from a while back of a lifting platform with jacks on each corner, capable of lifting a large steam engine? How much would it cost for a museum to pick that up and then lease it out on an as-needed basis?


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 Post subject: Re: Museum group purchase - Transportor trailer and tractor
PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:02 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:36 pm
Posts: 178
One thing I have not seen mentioned here is liability. Yes it is the necessary evil of today's sue me society. In my day job we move heavy machinery around from time to time. We used to do 90% of this ourselves but as the company has doubled and close to tripled in size in my 10 years here the safety Nazis and lawyers have come out of the woodwork. Almost all our heavy lifting is now done by qualified and insured riggers.

The biggest reason for this is if they drop it or worse crush somebody it's their ash on the line and not ours. They pay for damages and issues during transport.

We had a very expensive machine show up that was flatbeded from Maryland to Michigan the trucker(hired by the rigger) did not feel the need to tarp his load as the machine was going in for rebuild. Well it was winter and the machine showed up white a color it was not painted. The whole thing had to be dry ice blasted (emergency service rates)and back charged to the rigger. I am guessing they moved that machine at a sizable loss.

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