Virginian in 1909--Pier cars

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Sun Mar 15 22:09:48 EDT 2009

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
May 22, 1909

Transfer Cars of Virginian Railway Are Propelled by Trolley

The Coal Trade Journal gives a picture of one of the new transfer cars to be used by the Virginian Railway on the piers of Sewell's Point. It will be recalled that coal from cars running on the road is emptied into the transfer cars by the dumping machine at the shore end of the pier. In order to prevent any spilling the transfer cars are extremely high and could hold sixty tons if loaded to the edge. They are drawn up the incline of the pier by the old-established rope and barney system, but can operate independently on the upper levels of track by means of electric power supplied by trolley wires.
This leads us to the principal feature of the cars, the electrical installation, with operator's cabin, etc., at each end of the cars. This is a good-sized compartment with not only the motive power apparatus installed therein, but also the electrical machinery for humping [sic. Should be "dumping."] the load and for closing the hoppers after the operation has been completed. There is furthermore an air compressor furnishing power with which to operate the brakes and to serve the requirements of the air whistle at each end. Altogether there is considerable machinery involved, and the installation, being in duplicate on each car represents a considerable expense.
The installation of ten of these cars is a good indication of the decidedly advance methods in vogue on the road and the extended capital expenditures that have been made to secure the most modern devices in all respects. There has been considerable discussion pro and con as to the merits of the system and as to whether the redumping of coal, the expense of rehandling, etc., does not offset the benefits that are derived through quicker handling, greater use of railroad cars, etc., but undoubtedly the new system was studied out very carefully and decided to be profitable and advantageous.
[The Virginian pier cars with their air dump feature portended the rapid discharge hopper cars that appeared more than a half-century later. At Lamberts Point N&W pier 4 was built in 1913 with electric transfer cars, but equipped with two elevators to raise them to the deck of the pier. N&W piers 2 and 3 were modernized in 1923 with electric pier cars, but these cars operated under their own power up long inclined tracks to the decks of the two piers.]

Gordon Hamilton
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