Mar 15, 2019
Russell, that is a very neat scene, especially like the large Imperial Sugar Plant.
This is an IMRC 40' PS1 Boxcar kit, replaced the sill steps with metal A-Line sill steps, painted with Scalecoat II Boxcar Red and Black Paint and lettered with Mask Island Decals. The Rock Island purchased 100 of these cars in 1959 and had them outfitted with various number of belt rails for lading protection thus accounting for the DF2 markings on the car. This car was assigned to an industry on the PRR in Columbus, Ohio for loading.
This is one of the many tank cars built for the US Navy for the shipping of Helium to various locations for their lighter than air craft, they were later transfered to the US Dept of Mines for transporting Helium for various uses like NASA and research facilitites. The cars were extremely heavy due to the steel tubes used for storing the Helium, they had 100 ton trucks. The model was an old AHM one that I picked up, removed all the cast on grabs and replaced with metal grabs, also replaced the cast sill steps with A-line Steps. Replaced the roofwalk with a wood one from a 1937 AAR Boxcar kit. The trucks were a problem but I found a couple of old MDC ore car kits with the proper truck that I needed, plugged the holes from the old trucks and drilled new holes for the truck attachment. Painted the car with Scalecoat II UP Hopper Car Gray and lettered with Tichy Decals. I did these cars as the NASA Glenn facility here in Cleveland used to get a couple delivered every so ofter on the old B&O (now CSX) to a special siding with unloading piping.
Thanks for looking!
I repainted a bunch of these for the board members at the Gulf Coast Chapter NRHS in Houston. I removed the roof walks but did little else to modify them. We have one in the collection at the Gulf Coast Chapter that was retired from NASA.
At the roundhouse
SOU delivered helium cars to the Mississippi Test Facility (now Stennis Space Center) in the 1960's to support Saturn 5 (Apollo) engine testing.
Nice job Rick on the Helium car. USN Helium cars have always been interesting to me. The nearby Moffitt Field NAS / Nasa Ames facility had some sidings where I imagine these cars would have been parked in the old days. This base was home to one of the Navy's dirigibles (USS Macon) in the 1930's and then during WW2 to many blimps used for coastal patrol.
I never saw any Helium cars parked there during the 40 years I have been in the area and now those sidings are isolated from the main line, the right of way from the main line being used for a light rail line.
A short Union Pacific mixed train departing Kathy's Springs.
Years ago in a hobby shop, a fellow authoritatively informed me that these helium cars were the only cars that weighed less loaded than when empty. Not wanting to enter into a dialogue about the increased density of compressed helium, I feigned agreement with his conclusion. I figure that these cars didn't carry liquid helium because it requires extreme cold, but the gas in the bottles must have been significantly compressed. If they used ore car trucks, even the empty bottles were probably heavy.
A really neat car and model Rick!
For a 236,200 lb car they could only hold about 4000 lbs of compressed helium. It would be interesting if that much helium in a giant balloon could even lift the car.
Russell, I agree with your 4,000 pound load estimate. That's what I remember of the cars I saw in the '60s. I also agree with Hardcoaler that compressed helium did gain weight, though just not much. BTW, helium liquefies at about 4 degrees Kelvin, i.e. 4 degrees above Absolute Zero. Kinda chilly, doncha know.
Russ, that photo looks great!!!!!
Hey. The Earth is flat. The Earth is the center of the universe. Man can never fly a heavier than air craft. The moon is made of green cheese. And all those other long ago dis-proven baloney tales....
Just a quick calculation (six years of engineering school has to be good for something!). 4000 lb of Helium would be 360 thousand cubic feet when expanded to atmospheric pressure. A b-class airship used about 84 thousand, so those cars could hold a surprising amount!
Amazing, I didn't think it would be that much. What would be the pressure of the helium when the car was fully loaded?
I suppose that you would have to know the total internal volume of all the tanks in the bundle on those cars to calculate that.
Random helium cars:
A "B" class airship. Or since they had no rigid frame, were spoken of as "limp". B-limp. Or a blimp as we came to know them....
If I filled my purse with helium would I weigh less?
Probably not, but you might talk in a high squeaky voice for a bit!
Here's the data on the car itself from the Amarillo Museum website (https://www.amarillorailmuseum.com/helium-car-history) and a paragraph about the cars weight & helium:
"In 1942 and 1943 another 65 cars were built by GATC to a 30-tube design. Once the 30-tube design was established as the standard, only minor external details of the car's design could be seen over the various orders. Another 162 cars were built in several batches between 1955 and 1962. In all, a total of 241 cars were built by several different car builders, with the majority by American Car & Foundry.
One thing the cars were noted for was their heavy weight for the era. When the average freight car might have a 50- to 70-ton capacity, these babies weighed as much as 111 to 122 tons empty! To handle this weight, special heavy-duty trucks were used that featured outside hung clasp brakes. The cars also were equipped with dual air brake components.
One persistent legend is that the cars were lighter loaded than when empty. Not so. Compress helium and at some point it becomes heaver than air. Helium was transported in the cars at 3,000 psi. Even at this tremendous pressure the gas did not add that much weight to the car. One reason this lighter-when-loaded confusion persists is the way the weight stenciling was shown on the cars. Normally the capacity of a car would be considerably more than the lightweight, but on the helium cars they could show a "Lt Wt" 243,400 with a "Capy" of 279,000. The empty weight of a typical helium
car was 243,400 pounds. The typical fill capacity of the car was 279,000 cubic feet. Helium weighs .011 pounds per cubic foot at 1 atmosphere. With the typical fill pressure of car at 3,000 psi, the weight of the helium in the car would have been just 3,069 pounds. Thus the total weight of a loaded car on the rails would have been 246,469 pounds."
Read the entire article at: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/43001b_17387cded06b4f00ab8a4f5ca768cb45.pdf