Who is using railcar transfer tables out there?

Who is using a railcar transfer table at their plant or yard?  Are any transit organizations using transfer tables?  I am very curious to know how many are out there?  And what parts of the Country they are located in.  Including Canada!  As well as what purpose they are being used for, such as changing directions, pulling cars off the mainline, etc. 

We manufacture tables, but would really like to know how many are out there, and how old some of them might be.

Thanks for your input!

41 Replies

  • Montana Rail Link in Livingston Montana, a Leasor from Burlington Northern in l987 (now BNSF) is using a transfer table in Livingston that was formerly Northern Pacific Railroad. I don't know the date it was first implemented.

  • In reply to railrunner:

    Railrunner: Thanks for the reply!  My Father actually went out there to assess that table a couple of years ago.  It's a really neat neat old table.  The operator's cab, is actually an old locomotive cab.  Very unique!  Thanks again!  Keep em coming all...  Dad says it's absolutely beautiful up in that part of the Country!

  • Anonymous

    In reply to Mick Madison:

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  • The Long Island Rail Road (new York) still uses a turntable at it's 100+ year old locomotive repair facility in Morris Park (county of Queens).   The turntable is used to bring deisel engines in and out of the round house for running repairs.   I don't know how old the current turntable is (could be original), but it got a $600,000 + "upgrade" a few years ago.   Hope this helps.

  • Alstom in Hornell, NY has a transfer table and a round table. The transfer table is mainly used to move cars down the production line that are too long to be moved with the overhead crane. The transfer table is fairly new, maybe 5 years.

  • Mick,

    I cannot imagine a use for transfer tables outside shop or industrial situations - the nature of these "beasts" would seem to preclude their use on the mainline (or even A/D or runner tracks, for that matter. Also, not sure how a linear device could allow a change of direction, unless you are using the term "transfer table" as a blanket term - to include turntables as well.

    Regardless, as consolidation within the industry continues a lot of railroad shops have closed or merged with other network facilities so I imagine the market is much more concentrated than it was even a few years ago. Nevertheless, many of these facilities date from the steam era so there has to be some measure of a market remaining, somewhere. Stuff wears out, eventually, or is rendered obsolete by rules or mandate.

    I'd start by taking a virtual "Official Guide" tour via Google and research the remaining heavy-repair facilities out there. Perhaps via tools as simple and available as Bing Maps "Birds-eye view" you will be able to determine whether a transfer table is onsite at a particular shop or industry. As an expert within your field I would imagine you could largely determine from an aerial view the likely age of such an installation, or at least come close.

    Good luck.

  • In reply to Dan Mitzel:

    There were several still in use in the Phila. area industrial shops to move cars and locomotives sideways on the transfer tables ... they were great from a standpoint of limited space to move equipment into and out of the repair and paint shops since they moved down an ally like opening between two buildings with tracks leading into both buildings then moving out to connect back to the yard lead tracks and storage yards.

    They could only be used to reverse a car if it were connected to a loop track since they moved only side to side.

    There was a little 0-4-0 Porter gas powered engine about 10 feet long to move the cars on or off the table and there was an old 0-6-0 tank steam engine before that.

    Regards  Walter O'Rourke

  • Here's one we built from scratch. Not only travels, but lifts. I'm sure yours have a greater capacity. Bud

  • In all seriousness, Coors Brewery in Golden, CO, uses a series of transfer tables to load insulated boxcars inside the plant. There are about 6 transfer tables lined up in series. Each table has two tracks on it. The switch engine pushes a boxcar onto the first table, uncouples, and pulls back. The table shifts to the left, placing the door of the car up against the door to the loading dock. The car is then loaded with pre-chilled Coors by forklifts operating on the enclosed and chilled loading dock. When the table was shifted, the second track lined up with the track the switch engine is on, allowing it to move past the newly spotted empty and serve the other loading points. May sound bizare, but it works for them. The whole operation is buried under the brewery and I doubt if it is visible from the Public Tour. When the switcher is not needed, it sits just outside the building so to minimize the exhaust fumes inside. They may have changed to something cleaner than an SW1200 since I was there.

    Bud Budzien

  • Outside of shops and industrial plants, street railways were big users of transfer tables in major urban centers where a normal ladder of turnouts would use up too much space. I'm unaware of any survivors.  Some such transfer tables doubled as elevators to increase storage space.  Most unique was the Sea Train operations that connected the east coast to Cuba in pre-Castro days. An elevator transfer table loaded rail cars on various deck levels in a freighter. Cranes lifted the car on the transfer bridge from the dock to the ship and winches were used to position cars on the decks.

    Cleveland RTA's rail shop uses a transfer table in their main shop that runs on a flat floor with the transfer bridge fitted with wheels that run on flush to the floor transverse tracks.  Some tracks run through the the floor area, others do not. A ramp rail is lowered to allow cars to move onto the transfer bridge.  A small 'mule' moves the cars on and off. 

  • Never saw a "car length" transfer table - only "truck length" ones in some shops to aid in truck maintenance/replacement. The bigger ones sound interesting, though!

  • In reply to bradyrs:

    Never saw a "car length" transfer table - only "truck length" ones in some shops to aid in truck maintenance/replacement. The bigger ones sound interesting, though!

    There have been some funiculars set up like that, too, in memory serves.

  • In reply to bradyrs:

    Never saw a "car length" transfer table - only "truck length" ones in some shops to aid in truck maintenance/replacement. The bigger ones sound interesting, though!

    There have been some funiculars set up like that, too, in memory serves.

  • Mick - I never saw the set-up, but I think that GM has a transfer table at their Orion Assembly Plant in the Rail Loading area.  It seems that the RR spots the multilevels and one is rolled onto the table and moved to a loading spot .  When loaded, the multilevel is moved to a departure track which is occupied with same destination loads, thereby preblocking the cars for outbound movements.  If it is not Orion, one of the Big Three Plants in Detroit had this type of system.

  • In reply to PamBurford:

    Pam:  Wow!  That is some upgrade!  Whew!  You don't see a lot of large turntables anymore either!  We build smaller turntables, for turning shop trucks underneath the car, and can actually take a car offline with our system.  Thanks for the reply!!!  We also use them in road truck shops, and for road truck turning radius testing.  We could turn a car with road trucks, 90* but the brake linkage prohibits that.

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