Monday, June 24, 2013

Lukens Steel and Neat Book Store

The Brandywine Valley Railway must have acquired some of these Canadian, Sidbec-Normines ore cars for mill use

Melt Shop of former Lukens Steel Plant - Got to tour this facility and the rolling mills years ago.  Very interesting facility - no photos allowed back then unfortunately.    The melt shop wasn't anything very different than a number of other melt shops I'd toured back then, although I liked their zombie switchers that moved scrap remotely into the other side of this building.   The rolling mills were real interesting - standing there watching a hot slab being rolled on the 200 something inch mill.

The Book Barn - Five story used bookstore - could have spent three or four hours in here, but only had one.  Winding, narrow staircases,  exposed beams and thick rough cut timber floors - the store is a maze.  They had a copy of Johnson's Blast Furnace Construction for $25    Would have purchased in the past, but have a PDF of the book on my computer and trying to keep my book collection only to the essentials, ie unavailable elsewhere.    Did buy an Arcadia book on the Wilmington, Delaware waterfront and two Osprey Books - Saracen Strongholds AD 630-1050 and Ancient Greek Fortifications 500-300BC      While not necessarily meeting the requirement of "essentials" Osprey Books are highly detailed, well illustrated, and take up very little space.  The builder in me likes their Fortress Series

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


The plant is mostly gone, but the US Pipe GE 45 tonner sits as a lonely sentinel, I guess retained incase they ever decide to ship pipe from the Alabama plant by rail.    This little engine that could used to spend all day shuffling gons full of scrap, and hoppers of coke and limestone about.    The cupola furnaces were located just behind the single story structure in the background.
Down the street from my house on Monday - TTX flat with a heavy fabricated H-Column load.    There was also a CSX coil car a few cars down the train.    Except for a large paper processing plant in the next town over, all the freight on this train is destined for my home town, Hainesport, also the end of the line.  6-25 car trains five days a week - nice mix of cars - refers, boxcars, flats, pulpwood type flats, gons (rebar), high side gons (trash), skelton flats (containerized flats) , center bean bulkhead flats, and coil cars.   Ironically, no tank cars or covered hoppers, as all the trains headed south out of Camden are virtually all covered hoppers and tank cars, newly including, unit tank trains of crude oil from the shale oil deposits out west.    South Jersey is sort of unique in that there are no through trains - all the lines out of Camden terminate eventually, except for the old Camden and Amboy from Camden to Bordentown, which is light rail during the day and a few freight customers at night.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013


My brother has been working in Brazil and he sent me a "railfan" photo taken near Mangaratiba, which is located on the coast about an hour and a half southwest of Rio.     The hoppers/gons in the photo looked to be carrying iron ore, and upon some investigation on Bing Maps, Birdseye view, I was able to locate these, the only tracks in the area and follow them to their nearby terminus - a huge iron ore export operation on a small island, connected to the mainland by a long railroad bridge over the Atlantic Ocean.    Two ore ships were being loaded, with another half dozen anchored, waiting their turn.   Some more research - the entire export is only a few years old.

Aerial view of the export pier thanks to Bing - check out the size of that ore ship, its a monster -  five tugs just to push it to the dock.   Notice the large loop for trains to reverse direction without disconnecting the locos.

I followed the tracks back toward Rio, with the hope of eventually finding the iron ore mines, but the tracks split hopelessly into five or more lines in Rio, and as you know the country is pretty large so I gave up.  But just as I was getting into Rio, I noticed this operation - It's a steel mill built by Thyssenkrupp about three or four years ago.  The coke works is on the far left, with the ore, mineral, and coal storage next,  two blast furnaces, a BOF, and a continuous caster.    They also have their own deep water port just off the photo to the left, presumably to import coal and maybe ore too.  The very long pier is equipped with an equally long conveyor belt that ends at the coke works and the mineral storage yards.    The plant produces steel slabs that are shipped to Thyssenkrupp plants in Alabama and Europe, for finishing.  .