RailPictures.Net Photo: n/a Alaska Railroad none at Anchorage, Alaska by Dave Blaze...
 
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Photo Location Map Locomotive Details Location/Date of Photo


Alaska Railroad (more..)
none (more..)
North Star Terminal (more..)
Anchorage, Alaska, USA (more..)
September 28, 2011
Locomotive No./Train ID Photographer
n/a (more..)
extra yard (more..)
Dave Blaze... (more..)
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Remarks & Notes 
End of the Line - What we have here is a rather unique and fascinating operation. Flint Hills Resources operates a large refinery in North Pole, Alaska and they lease a fleet of nearly 450 tank cars that are handled between Fairbanks and Anchorage by the Alaska Railroad (FHR is the ARR's single largest customer). Recently FHR decided not to renew the lease on 118 cars owned by GE Capital due to fatigue issues (many cars were suffering from cracked center sills). GE elected not to ship the cars to the lower 48 for repair and instead arranged for their scrapping in Alaska. After the cars were cleaned they were sold to Schnitzer Steel for disassembly. On this date the first 29 cars were removed from their wheels in a ballet of efficiency. The first car took about 20 minutes but once they got into their groove it took less than 6 minutes per car! Here's how it worked. A wheel car was spotted at the very end of a spur track inside the North Star Terminal on the Port of Anchorage. Then an ARR geep shoved a long string of tank cars onto that same spur. The crew would cut away from the last car about 10 feet and then a longshoreman would torch the brake rigging. Once that was done another operator in a heavy lift forklift would lift the tank body off the trucks leaving them on the rails (look beneath the green sheer and you'll see a tank car up in the air). Then a large crane mounted magnet would lift the truck side frames and spring package off the rail and deposited them in a side dump truck. Wheels that were marked to be kept (the ARR purchased some) were loaded onto the wheel car (or staged next to the track once it was full as can be seen to the left of this image). While the magnet did its thing the forklift ran down toward the dock face where they were making a giant pile of tank car bodies. By the time the forklift returned all the wheel and truck components were off the rail and another tank car was in position and ready for its turn. This was truly a fascinating ballet to watch.... Ultimately, the tank bodies are going to be piled high on a barge for shipment to the Puget Sound area where they will be processed for recycling.
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