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Thread: Intermodal Containers - Current Usage

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    I found this on another forum in this thread, written back in 2009 by someone named "Doublestack" (who apparently works in an intermodal container yard). This seems the definitive answer as to why you'll see 53' containers on top of 40' containers in a 53' well-car, but never the other way around:

    Quote Originally Posted by Doublestack
    " . . . Length is an issue sometimes (i.e., can't put a 53' box in the bottom well of a 48' car—this is true), but you're forgetting about width. That's now the bigger reason. Often you see a 53' box on top of a 40 or 45' box—in a 53' well. Why isn't the 53' on the bottom and the 40-45 on top? Because the 40 or 45" is too skinny to be on top.

    ISO boxes [aka:] international boxes (20-40-45) are narrower than domestic boxes (48'- 53'). ISOs are 96" wide, whereas the domestic boxes are 102" wide. Herein lies the problem. The newer 102" wide domestic boxes have their roof apertures as far outboard as possible, just inside of the exterior wall. This is done so that the lifting force of picking up that box tranfers directly to the sidewall, instead of transferring through a roof member to the sidewall. Older domestic boxes had them further inboard, but this wasn't a good lifting solution.

    A set of IBCs on top of a newer domestic box is too wide to accept an ISO box on top. The ISO box would sit inside of the IBC's (if not fully, at least partially). However, if you look at the bottom of a domestic box, it has 2 sets of aperatures in the bottom of the stack frame. One is at the width of an ISO box, the other is at the width of a domestic box. That way the domestic box can go on top of either an ISO or another domestic.

    So, you can put an ISO on an ISO, you can put a domestic on a domestic, you can put a domestic on an ISO, but you can''t put an ISO on top of a domestic" [emphasis added].
    A notable exception is a 53' container on the bottom, with a 48' container on top. Prototype photos of this exist because the 48' container is also a domestic (non-ISO) container.

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    Present-day US intermodal usage:

    Domestic:


    • 53' truck-load containers: primary domestic intermodal container loaded onto double-stack well-cars (e.g., Gunderson five- and three-car articulated).
    • 53' trailers: primary domestic intermodal trailer loaded onto articulated spine-cars (e.g., TTX five- and three-car articulated)..
    • 28' "pup" containers (e.g., UPS): require special "extended" railcars (e.g., 53' spine-cars, extended to 57').

    International:

    • 40' ISO containers: double-stack well-cars, 89' COFCs.
    • 20' ISO containers: double-stack well-cars, 89' COFCs.

    Well-car stacking:

    • Both 40' and 53' articulated well-cars are in common use.
    • 40" containers may stack on top of 40' containers.
    • 40" containers may stack on top of two 20' containers.
    • Two 20' containers may stack on top of two 20' containers.
    • 53' containers may stack on top of 40' containers in 40' and larger well-cars 40', including 53' well-cars.
    • 40' containers may not stack on top of 53' containers (non-ISO) even if loading onto 53' well-cars.
    • 48' containers may stack on top of 53' containers.

    Out-of-era intermodal:

    • 45' and 48' domestic containers are being phased-out.
    • 89' COFCs/TOFCs are being phased-out in favor of well-cars and spine-cars.
    • 52' TOFCs with 20'-48' trailers.
    • 50' TOFCs with dual 24' piggyback trailers.
    • 50' COFCs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrolink View Post
    I found this on another forum in this thread, written back in 2009 by someone named "Doublestack" (who apparently works in an intermodal container yard). This seems the definitive answer as to why you'll see 53' containers on top of 40' containers in a 53' well-car, but never the other way around:



    A notable exception is a 53' container on the bottom, with a 48' container on top. Prototype photos of this exist because the 48' container is also a domestic (non-ISO) container.
    If all that is correct, what the user Doublestack is mentioning is what the industry calls "wide top pick", which was introduced, I think, by JBHunt, but this was introduced with 53' containers, not 48' containers.

    Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrolink View Post
    A notable exception is a 53' container on the bottom, with a 48' container on top. Prototype photos of this exist because the 48' container is also a domestic (non-ISO) container.
    The above statement was posted in that same thread by another user.

    Quote Originally Posted by pbender View Post
    If all that is correct, what the user Doublestack is mentioning is what the industry calls 'wide top pick', which was introduced, I think, by JBHunt, but this was introduced with 53' containers, not 48' containers.
    Yes, one would infer that his observations appear to be consistent with that statement, based on another post by someone else in the thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr
    So if the 53 ft. long that Claire saw earlier today (above) was a domestic box at 102" = 8'-6" wide, and the 40 ft. long box underneath was an ISO box at 96" = 8'-0" wide, then the 53' would overhang the ISO by about 3" on each side, and by about 6'6" on each end, correct ? [To which Doublestack affirms.]
    Does everything else look accurate in my list? This seems an often-asked topic, and for those just starting out with modeling intermodal, an accurate summary of current intermodal use is helpful to build consists that aren't wildly out-of-prototype (as I began to do when I first went down this past over the past few weeks). Thankfully, I think I have it mostly correct now for present-day IM-operations. So far, my IM rolling-stock collection is a mix of the following:

    • Kato 40' Gunderson Maxi-I, five-car articulated well-cars.
    • Kato 53' Gunderson Maxi-IV, three-car articulated well-cars.
    • BLMA 53' TTX five-car articulated spine-cars with 53' FedEx trailers.

    My not-so-current IM roster includes:

    • Atlas 52' TOFCs.
    • Micro-Trains 89' COFCs.

    My Micro-Trains 89' COFCs are DODX cars, used in my military train with their matching MTL 40' US Army containers for loads. Before I figured all of this out, I also bought three BNSF 52' flatcars with trailers. I now relegate these to a GP35-powered consist (I presume, posing as a mid- to late-1980's train). This is sort of my "junk" train with an odd set of rolling stock that I bought piece-meal: an ATSF gondola with load, an 80' Atlas trash-container flatcar, a couple of Micro-Trains' TTX 89' COFCs, etc. (each car cost only about as much as just their included loads would've cost).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrolink View Post
    My not-so-current IM roster includes:

    • Atlas 52' TOFCs.
    • Micro-Trains 89' COFCs.

    My Micro-Trains 89' COFCs are DODX cars, used in my military train with their matching MTL 40' US Army containers for loads. Before I figured all of this out, I also bought three BNSF 52' flatcars with trailers. I now relegate these to a GP35-powered consist (I presume, posing as a mid- to late-1980's train). This is sort of my "junk" train with an odd set of rolling stock that I bought piece-meal: an ATSF gondola with load, an 80' Atlas trash-container flatcar, a couple of Micro-Trains' TTX 89' COFCs, etc. (each car cost only about as much as just their included loads would've cost).
    The 89' cars especially are still part of the intermodal fleet.

    I should have remembered this earlier, but ttx has a nice description of thier car fleet.

    http://ttx.com/AboutTTX/ttx-equipment.aspx#intermodal

    ( it used to be better, they had car diagrams.... )

    Note at the bottom they specifically mention 89' cars.

    Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbender View Post
    The 89' cars especially are still part of the intermodal fleet.
    Thanks for posting that TTX link—very informative! Good to know that TTX has standardized on the 89' flatcar. I guess I was thinking that the 89' COFC/TOFC has largely been replaced by well- and spine-cars, but are still very much in use for a variety of other bulk-loads. I still have four ATSF 52' TOFCs that I kinda don't know what to do with now, plus four 50' US Army flatcars which were only used in the mid-1960s (according to the Micro-Trains' prototype insert). I wonder how long ago 50'-ish flatcars were still common?

    Luckily, the site confirmed that the other 99% of my rolling stock is pretty much completely within modern-day prototype. Good proto pictures there of the re-branded Railbox cars—now I know how I can patch my 17 Bachmann Railbox cars to match the current TTX prototypes (I have a set of Athearn 52' RailGon gondolas as well). Finally, I now know which of my rolling stock is within prototype for present-day.

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    20 and 40 ft standard boxes and 40 and 45 ft hi-cube boxes are all in use for international service. Reference-
    Hapag Lloyd: http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...nt-Usage/page4
    Maersk: http://www.maerskline.com/en-us/ship...dry-containers
    APL: https://www.apl.com/wps/portal/apl/a...ard-containers
    Stogie

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    A while back, on the show "This Old House", several containers were put on a lot; the carpenters got together to make a house to live in. Especially in Florida with all the hurricanes, etc. Even a few apartment buildings were built. Old containers are not reused as containers but used as building materials instead. A container costs a few thousand but is strong to withstand high winds.

    -Dennis

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomahawk View Post
    A while back, on the show "This Old House", several containers were put on a lot; the carpenters got together to make a house to live in. Especially in Florida with all the hurricanes, etc. Even a few apartment buildings were built. Old containers are not reused as containers but used as building materials instead. A container costs a few thousand but is strong to withstand high winds.

    -Dennis
    There is a shopping center in Las Vegas that is constructed primarily out of used intermodal containers:



    http://downtowncontainerpark.com/

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrolink View Post
    Present-day US intermodal usage:

    International:

    40' ISO containers: double-stack well-cars, 89' COFCs.
    20' ISO containers: double-stack well-cars, 89' COFCs.
    Would like to amend this with:
    45' ISO containers: double-stack well-cars

    45'ers are seeing some use by international shipping lines like APL, K-Line and CMA-CGM.

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    Default Bottom of 53' container

    See drawing of bottom of 53" container.....
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Steven

    Alabama Gulf Rwy.

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