Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Tilting Boxcar

 On Saturday my wife and I drove down to Clinton for the annual Apple and Pork Festival, which mostly revolves around food and flea markets.  But we also visited the DeWitt County historical museum, which includes among other things a small railroad section.  The one item of real interest, at least to me, was an actual patent model.



This is the model for a car-unloading device patented in 1876 by Eugene Davis, a local inventor.  It's basically in good condition and could probably be made to operate.  As far as I could tell just from looking at it, the box car would have removable ends, probably hinged.  It's rolled onto a section of track with this device under it, and by turning a crank the track is raised and tilted, and the load, such as lumber, slides out the end.  Whether this is really an improvement over unloading a carload of lumber by hand is anybody's guess.  (A sign attached to it says the inventor was "forty years ahead of his time", but whatever.)  The model gathered dust in a lumber yard attic for eighty years until someone recognized its significance and donated it to the museum.
 
The rest of the railroad collection is mostly artifacts of the usual sort.


Although they also have an abutment from the IT main line.




Another item of interest was an operating relay-driven telephone exchange.  You could dial up a number on a rotary phone (I hadn't done that for at least twenty years!) and listen to the stepping motors finding the connection.  Just like the good old days.


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Davis' patent is US182901 issued Oct. 3, 1876. A link to a pdf copy of his patent at Google is: https://www.google.com/patents/US182901

Bob

Randall Hicks said...

Thanks, Bob, that's quite interesting. It would be nice if somebody at the museum could put the model back together in working order.

David Wilkins said...

We played a vintage base ball game in Clinton at the museum once. They have a photo inside the museum of IT 277 on the main street trackage in Clinton.

Anonymous said...

I think the tilting boxcar was primarily intended for grain loading, replacing the use of men with shovels.

Artschwartz

Joel Ahrendt said...

You need to show Richard the pictures of the step switches.

Frank Hicks said...

I would agree with Art that this was probably meant for unloading grain. It looks inspired by similar devices that were used in grain elevators for unloading wagons, pictured here:

http://vanishingsentinels.blogspot.com/2006/07/security-elevator-co.html

There's a model of one of these wagon dumps on display at the Hawes elevator in Atlanta, IL.

Chris said...

I've seen "trailer dumpers" made for upending regular (non dumping) semi trailers. Sometimes even the tractor goes along for the ride. Probably some Big Gulps too.