Coal powerplant help

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


How does BNSF unload their coal? are they like Norfolk Southern and dump them upside down. Pictures would be helpful. I'm modeling a coal powerplant and need to model an unloading area. Please help. Since I'm modeling it pictures would be best or even video. I tried searching online but nothing showed up.:confused:


Thats awesome! Thanks Where do you think the engines go, because the can't fit under the rotary dumper. Maybe I'll put a few extra tracks as a runaround track, then then the engines could push them through.


BN Modeller
Actually BNSF doesn't unload the cars the individual coal plants do, from what I know.
Some cars are rotory dumpers only, others are both rotory and bottom dumpers. Bethgons for example.
Most plants have rotory dumpers these days but the one I workd at didn't.
Sledge hammers and iron bars in -40 degrees... woo hoo!
The method used to unload coal depends on the plant and when it was built. Up through the 1960's coal was unloaded through traditional 2,3 and 4 bay hoppers into pits under the track. The doors on those cars have manual locks, that can be opened with a pry bar. A small crew of men were required to unlock and dump the cars, and then to swing the doors closed again and lock them. It took about 24 hours or more to unloaded a train this way. In the 1970's rotary dumping came into vogue. Rotary dumpers had been around since the 1920's, but those operations require each car to be dumped on it's own. What made it popular in the 70's was the use of unit trains of gons equipped with rotary couplers. Now the train could be kept intact, and it only took 12 hours to unload a train. In the last several years, 5 bay rapid discharge cars have come to be the new standard for new or rebuilt installations. These cars have a automated door system powered by a air cylinder on the end of the car, air is taken from the Main Reservoir of the locomotives. By using a these cars on a elongated pit, the train never has to stop (ideally) while unloading. The cars unload at a steady .5mph or so and a train can be turned around in less than 6 hours. I worked as a locomotive engineer at a plant with these Rapid Discharge cars, and it is the way to go when it comes to unloading coal. MDC made a early version of the Rapid Discharge cars. Walthers makes 6 car sets of the Trinity RD4 cars, Exactrail did some Johnstown America RD cars in 4 packs. The Walthers cars are the most typical kind of car, as the newer JA cars look similar.
Having worked a coal train unloading at a plant with a rotary unloader, the locomotives do pull them through, they only spot the first few cars. then there is a "car indexer" that moves the whole train. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.