Sunday, May 11, 2008

Coal Cars-Part 1 BN/BNSF Cars

Ever since I moved to Wadena in 2004 I have been watching coal trains shuttle back and forth between power plants or the MERC terminal and the mines out west. At first, they all look the same, but as time goes by you start to notice detail differences.

The first batch I want to take a look at are the BN/BNSF cars. My understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) is that these cars are used to serve the Becker plant, some of the moves to the MERC terminal in Superior, and can be used to fill out almost any other coal trainset that moves on this line.

I'm not an expert on car classes or manufacturers. One of the purposes of this post is to try and learn something about identifying the various cars I see.

First up is my personal favorite BN car. These little cars just look "husky" and tough to me and I really like to see them included in a consist. There is one similar DEEX car that does not have open ends and I like that car as well, but this is my favorite.

I keep expecting to see them fade away, as they have been around for quite a while as evidenced by the "BN" reporting marks and paint job. However, at least one of them has been repaired and repainted into its old road number recently. I shot this within the last couple of weeks.

It appears these cars will soldier on at least a while longer.

Another old car that I really enjoy seeing is very common on the EVIL trains that serve Laskin Energy Center-the classic BN steel hopper car.

These cars are also frequently seen in a string of aluminum gondolas, as at least some of them are equipped with rotary couplers on both ends and connect strings of cars that have the rotary ends reversed.

Recently there have been some other hoppers showing up on these trains that I believe the BN must have gone out and obtained for this service second handed. Here is one example, shot a few weeks ago passing through New York Mills loaded in a train of all hopper cars:

The more modern coal gons have a wide variety of paint jobs and heralds, ranging from what must be almost the original to the latest "wedgie" logos. Here are a few examples.

I think the four cars above are all basically the same, with different paint jobs reflecting the era of purchase or repaint. If there are obvious differences, help me out and give me a heads up. Thanks!

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