New Unionville & Western Railroad

Ballast Hopper, Car loading and Distribution
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Ballast storage and distribution can be a labor intensive part of building a track of any size.  Manually moving the ballast with a shovel from a storage pile into containers for manual distribution seems out of the question.  It is one of the things that will be done over and over again during the life of the railroad.  So, we decided from the beginning that ballast handling would need to be streamlined as much as possible.   We decided that where the ballast was dumped in relationship to the track and loading area was an important factor.  So it was natural to dump the stone directly into a hopper over the track.  To do this we built a concrete hopper, in the ground which holds 75 tons of ballast.  The hopper is directly over the tunnel.  The ballast is gravity fed into an 8" portal which is blocked by a hydraulic operated slide inside the tunnel.  Default on the slide is closed by counter weights eliminating a condition which might cause stone to accidently drain into the tunnel.  When stone is needed a car is situated on the track next to the loading tube.  The tube is held over the car and the operator opens the slide.  In less than 15 seconds 400 lbs of stone is loaded into the hopper and the slide is allowed to close to its default condition.  The hopper cars are Cannonball Ballast hoppers with some modifications.
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