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MOC: Rotary Car Dumper


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#1 AussieJimbo

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 03:37 AM

My railway recently acquired a branch line serving the nearby brick mine and needed a way to unload mining carts full of ore for shipment further afield.

The engineers got to work investigating the options and after reviewing some crane designs they stumbled upon a historic picture of Timothy Long's Coal Car Dumping Machine, built for Cleveland's Excelsior Iron Works Company in 1895.

http://www.shorpy.com/node/9811

The board greeted the proposal with enthusiasm and I'm pleased to announce successful completion of the working prototype. The press were on hand to film some tests of the new machinery and a video will be available shortly.

Sorry for the teaser but I want to add the URL for this thread to the video so I need to post in advance. I should have it edited and uploaded in a few hours. In the mean time, please check out this Scientific American article and illustrations from 1895 describing the machine.

Quote

A Coal Car Dumping Machine
Scientific American, 1895.

Great progress has been made during the past two years in loading and unloading vessels for shipment, and most especially is this true at the lake ports, where it is necessary to handle with great dispatch cargoes of iron ore and coal. The old method, which existed for years, was principally hand work, and the cost of unloading coal by hand was about twenty-five cents a ton. The coal was transferred from cars to vessels by slow working cranes, which could do but little in the course of a day. At many ports there were not even cranes, and wheelbarrows and "navvies" kept a vessel tied many hours at dock when she might have been on her way making something for her owners.

Of the many efforts which have been made to perfect machinery for doing this work, none seem to have met with the success reported of the Long dumping machine, recently perfected in Cleveland by the Excelsior Iron Works Company, and which is shown in the accompanying illustrations.

At a very recent test on the docks of the N. T., P. & O. Railroad in the city of Cleveland, this machine actually made a record of unloading three ordinary railroad coal cars into a vessel in three minutes. The coal was what is known as ordinary lump Massillon, and it was transferred from the cars to the vessel with absolutely no assistance other than the handling of this machine.

The machine is the invention of Mr. Timothy Long, a practical designer who has been connected with the Excelsior Iron Works for a number of years. The car dump consists mainly of a large cylinder, with an inside diameter of 11 feet, and an outside diameter of 16 feet; the length being 40 and the circumference 52 feet. It is set 28 feet above the level of the docks, but on a level with the company's tracks, one of which runs through the cylinder when the latter is at rest. The coal-laden car is set in the cylinder by means of a switching engine; and by the time the car is detached from the train, it is clamped firmly by means of a beam running along the side. This beam acts by hydraulic pressure and the car is held rigid by four iron clamps which fall upon the top of the car's sides, and which are firmly held in place by keys fitting in cogs. These clamps act automatically when the cylinder begins to roll. This clamping process is the work of an instant, and, by means of a lever worked from the end of the cylinder, an engine on the dock level is started. This engine has a cylinder 30 inches in diameter by 19 feet stroke of piston, and a single stroke is all that is necessary to roll the cylinder up an inclined plane into the position shown in one of the engravings, when the coal rolls out compactly into the chute.

When the coal leaves the car, the chutes stand out horizontally, which prevents the coal acquiring any momentum. As soon as the cylinder begins to roll back, the chutes are gently lowered by means of another engine on the dock level, and operated by a man standing between them, until the coal is allowed to pour gently into the hold, the breakage being thus reduced to a minimum, which is something less than when it is handled by being shoveled into buckets and then dumped into the hold by means of "whirlies." Both the cylinder and chutes are operated by means of wire cables, and the operation of the whole machine is so simple as to add greatly to its value, there being no complicated machinery to get out of order. The cylinder is made absolutely accurate in its movements by a series of four inch holes being bored in the perimeter near each end of the cylinder, which fit upon cone shaped pins on the inclined track. This gives all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of a cogwheel arrangement.

The great points in favor of the Long car dumping machine are as follows: The machine operates rapidly; it empties cars of all sizes, in any order, without adjustment being necessary; and the coal breakage is reduced to an absolute minimum. The machine is comparatively cheap as to its first cost, and is economical of operation. The construction, while solid, is not complicated, and can be erected at low cost. Only three men are required. These are the engineer or fireman, a man to operate the cylinder, and a third to operate and control the movements of the chutes. The machine has duplicate boilers, one for use in case of emergency; but the entire apparatus is operated with only 80 pounds of steam. The stoppages usual to any new type of machine have, of course, occurred, but the changes necessary were very trifling in character, and in no way reflected upon the usefulness of the machine.

Posted Image

Stay tuned.

:classic: :classic:

Edited by AussieJimbo, 13 October 2011 - 07:34 AM.


#2 AussieJimbo

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 07:24 AM

Here it is. I proudly present my Rotary Car Dumper and first ever YouTube video.



Feedback and suggestions appreciated.

:classic: :classic:

#3 HenrikLego

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 07:51 AM

Absolutely fantastic moc! I am stunned!

Really cool stuff!  :classic:

#4 kage28

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:33 AM

Absolutely amazing! :thumbup:  The only way i can think to improve it is to ensure somehow all the "coal" goes into the designated location... :laugh:

#5 Andy Glascott

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 01:31 PM

That is mighty impressive AussieJimbo. As someone else might say, brick on!

Andy

#6 kyphur

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 03:29 PM

Now that's friggin awesome!

I just love it when someone finds a real life piece of equipment that doesn't get much attention and executes it perfectly.

Posted Image  Posted Image

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#7 LEGO Train 12 Volts

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 08:52 PM

No words! I'm spechless!  *huh*
GREAT WORK!!!  :thumbup:
Posted Image   Posted Image

#8 Hrw-Amen

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 09:27 PM

Very nice and it actually works just like the real one!

Can we see some pictures of it incorporated into the layout on the branch line so as to get an overview of it?

#9 AussieJimbo

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 11:26 PM

View PostHenrikLego, on 13 October 2011 - 07:51 AM, said:

Absolutely fantastic moc! I am stunned!

Really cool stuff!  :classic:

Thanks mate.

View Postkage28, on 13 October 2011 - 09:33 AM, said:

Absolutely amazing! :thumbup:  The only way i can think to improve it is to ensure somehow all the "coal" goes into the designated location... :laugh:

Cheers.

*laugh*

I get most of them. It really should be dumping into a ship but I don't have one.

View PostAndy Glascott, on 13 October 2011 - 01:31 PM, said:

That is mighty impressive AussieJimbo. As someone else might say, brick on!

Andy

Much appreciated.

View Postkyphur, on 13 October 2011 - 03:29 PM, said:

Now that's friggin awesome!

I just love it when someone finds a real life piece of equipment that doesn't get much attention and executes it perfectly.

Thanks, kyphur.

Yeah, I get a kick of out of interesting machines like this and seeing if they can be done with LEGO.

View PostLEGO Train 12 Volts, on 13 October 2011 - 08:52 PM, said:

No words! I'm spechless!  *huh*
GREAT WORK!!!  :thumbup:

Cheers, LT12V.

View PostHrw-Amen, on 13 October 2011 - 09:27 PM, said:

Very nice and it actually works just like the real one!

Can we see some pictures of it incorporated into the layout on the branch line so as to get an overview of it?

Thanks, glad you like it.

The branch line was poetic licence to set the scene, the model only extends as far as the edge of the small table it's sitting on. Shunting in the video was performed by a carbohydrate powered actuator.

:classic: :classic:

Edited by AussieJimbo, 13 October 2011 - 11:27 PM.


#10 AndyC

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 11:34 PM

I like it, it's a very curious and unusual mechanism and certainly not something I've ever come across before. Seeing it in LEGO form only serves to add intrigue. One thing I was curious about is that your initial description text suggests the chute should move as the cylindrical section moves, but it seems stationary in your model. Am I just reading it wrong or is that a change in your design?
Posted Image

#11 Hikaro Takayama

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 11:42 PM

The only thing I can think of to describe this MOC is Crazy Awesome!  Good job on not only finding such a weird contraption, but actually getting it to work.

Genderfluid and proud of it.

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#12 AussieJimbo

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 11:48 PM

Thanks, Andy.

Quote

When the coal leaves the car, the chutes stand out horizontally, which prevents the coal acquiring any momentum. As soon as the cylinder begins to roll back, the chutes are gently lowered by means of another engine on the dock level, and operated by a man standing between them, until the coal is allowed to pour gently into the hold, the breakage being thus reduced to a minimum..

Well spotted. The original machine has a second set of cables that control the positioning of the exit chute. For this first version I just went with a static solution for the chute but may attempt a more complex arrangement later on.

:classic: :classic:

View PostHikaro Takayama, on 13 October 2011 - 11:42 PM, said:

The only thing I can think of to describe this MOC is Crazy Awesome!  Good job on not only finding such a weird contraption, but actually getting it to work.

Cheers, Hikaro.

Shorpy is full of great historical images and when I saw this it just had to be done.

:classic: :classic:

#13 roamingstudio

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 11:08 PM

Well it is nice to see something fun working; and I wonder if it could also be a good GBC.

#14 AussieJimbo

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 11:37 AM

Thanks, roamingstudio.

I think the easiest way to turn it into a GBC module would be to build a tub in the cylinder and channel the balls into it directly.

The complexity goes up if you want to put the balls into the ore trucks first and then automate loading them into the cylinder.

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#15 lightningtiger

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 11:52 AM

'AJ' sheer genius my friend, your design is fantastic and a highly original idea too....plus it totally works. :grin:
Brick On ! :classic:

#16 AussieJimbo

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 12:06 PM

Thanks, LT.

Much appreciated.

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#17 medib

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Posted 15 October 2011 - 03:23 PM

I agree with others... it looks gorgeous and it works awesome.

Thanks for posting this.

:thumbup:  :thumbup:
Posted Image Would do anything for the other half!

Posted Image

#18 AussieJimbo

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 02:15 AM

Cheers, medib.

Glad you like it.

:classic: :classic:

#19 Rustie86

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 02:13 AM

This is a really cool industrial build. That's something I'd like to see more of. There are a lot of passenger oriented MOC structures out there; some more ideas for things for our freight trains to do would be awesome. I rally like what you've done here on several levels, AussieJimbo.

As a matter of fact, you could use this with your narrow gauge train to deliver stuff to your standard L gauge trains.

#20 jaster

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 05:02 AM

Very impressive!
North American trains have knuckle couplers to keep their PH from changing. They don't need buffers!

#21 Duq

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 12:08 AM

That's one crazy contraption! Well done on the model. Next version in fewer colours maybe?
Is there anything in place to stop the cylinder slipping? If it did it would no longer line up with the track.
I've got CDO. It's like OCD, but with the letters in alphabetical order. As they should be!

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#22 AussieJimbo

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 07:47 AM

View PostRustie86, on 17 October 2011 - 02:13 AM, said:

This is a really cool industrial build. That's something I'd like to see more of. There are a lot of passenger oriented MOC structures out there; some more ideas for things for our freight trains to do would be awesome. I rally like what you've done here on several levels, AussieJimbo.

As a matter of fact, you could use this with your narrow gauge train to deliver stuff to your standard L gauge trains.

Thanks very much, Rustie86.

I'm looking at some other cranes and unloaders so there could well be a follow-up some time.

This could certainly be used for transhipment from narrow gauge (Ls Gauge?) to L gauge trains.

View Postjaster, on 18 October 2011 - 05:02 AM, said:

Very impressive!

Cheers, jaster.

View PostDuq, on 21 October 2011 - 12:08 AM, said:

That's one crazy contraption! Well done on the model. Next version in fewer colours maybe?
Is there anything in place to stop the cylinder slipping? If it did it would no longer line up with the track.

Thanks, duq, much appreciated.

Yes, alignment is critical and slippage was a problem I had to overcome during the build.

If you look inside the cylinder there are a series of orange blocks with black/grey plates which function as cogs. Then there is a rack built on the ramp made from yellow cheese slopes and tiles. (I left the model a bit harlequin to make the mechanics a bit easier to see.)

As you can see from the video there is still a small amount of slippage but this arrangement functions reliably and always returns to the start position with a satisfying clunk. That being said I'd be interested in any suggestions for a more elegant solution to this problem that eliminates the slippage completely. Technic chain link might play a role but I've got hardly any at the moment.

Also, I'd be interested if anyone has any suggestions for setting up the motor so that it automatically stops at a set position at the top and bottom. At the moment I just have to do that manually with the controller, risking unspooling the winch at the bottom or tearing the machine apart if I wind the cylinder up too far.

Thanks again everyone for your feedback.

:classic: :classic:

#23 AussieJimbo

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 02:59 PM

Hello everyone,

I can't believe it's over two years since I first built the prototype. It's finally time for me to preview a major update. I've been working against time to get it completed before I put all my Lego into storage ahead of an extended overseas trip in the next few weeks. Needs a touch more landscaping but it's mostly done.

The update is both cosmetic and functional. I won't go into all the details for now but basically I've automated the whole dumping cycle for 6 hoppers with Mindstorms. I'll be shooting video and photos of the new functionality before I have to do the tear down but probably won't get them edited and online until I'm overseas (maybe around Xmas).

Please forgive the rushed shots with the messy background. Click photos for larger versions.

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Feedback and suggestions always appreciated.

:classic: :classic:

Edited by AussieJimbo, 13 November 2013 - 03:00 PM.


#24 skriblez

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 03:04 PM

Looks very cool :) Like all the details :)

#25 Man with a hat

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 04:29 PM

Looks like a nice update. Can't wait to see the videos.



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