Author Topic: Maine potatoes moving by rail for 1st time in 40 years  (Read 1459 times)

Graham Buxton

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Maine potatoes moving by rail for 1st time in 40 years
« on: January 16, 2022, 12:05:26 PM »
The WW&F has a revived connection to potatoes, at a minimum, we have potato sack races, a (fairly new) potato processing shed, and there might be another potato related building in the future, so this story seems quite appropriate ...

Quote
VAN BUREN, Maine — When Don Flannery of the Maine Potato Board suggested last fall that moving potatoes by rail would be ideal in the face of a trucking bottleneck, he didn’t know what a gem of an idea it was.


But LaJoie Growers of Van Buren knew, and this week Maine potatoes have left Aroostook County on rail cars, bound for big markets, for the first time in more than 40 years.


The 2021 harvest made history for its size — a roughly 20 percent greater yield than normal, thanks to near-perfect growing conditions. But that led to a few problems along the way: What to do with all the extra spuds, and how to get them to market in the middle of a trucking shortage.
and later in that article:
Quote

Photo credit: For the first time in more than four decades, a rail car parked outside a potato storage facility in Van Buren is filled and ready to move. The Maine Department of Transportation helped facilitate the process. Credit: Courtesy of Maine Department of Transportation


“The Maine Northern Railroad and Union Pacific Railway arranged for refrigerated rail cars to be sent to Van Buren,” the department said via Twitter. “Thirty-three refrigerated rail cars are now loaded with spuds and bound for Washington state.”


https://bangordailynews.com/2022/01/15/news/aroostook/maines-potato-crop-is-so-big-railroads-are-being-used-for-1st-time-in-40-years-to-transport-it-joam40zk0w/
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Jeff Schumaker

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Re: Maine potatoes moving by rail for 1st time in 40 years
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2022, 09:44:46 AM »
That's an interesting blue "flag" in the photo.

Jeff S.
Hey Rocky, watch me pull a moose trout out of my hat.

Ed Lecuyer

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Re: Maine potatoes moving by rail for 1st time in 40 years
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2022, 09:50:51 AM »
That's an interesting blue "flag" in the photo.

Yes, the blue barrel with the Men at Work sign keeps the snow from getting Down Under the derail it is placed over.
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Stephen Piwowarski

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Re: Maine potatoes moving by rail for 1st time in 40 years
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2022, 10:24:42 PM »
That's an interesting blue "flag" in the photo.

Yes, the blue barrel with the Men at Work sign keeps the snow from getting Down Under the derail it is placed over.

 ;D Do I see a Kookaburra sitting atop the reefer?

In any case, I've read in several locations that the last time the majority of the Maine potato harvest went anywhere by rail was 1969. That was the year that the majority of the potato harvest wound up gettling lost in Selkirk Yark, near Albany, NY by the barely functional Penn Central. The crop froze, and spoiled. That was the last time many Maine growers shipped by rail, and apparently many farms closed because they couldn't recover from the hit of loosing the entire years crop.

Wayne Laepple

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Re: Maine potatoes moving by rail for 1st time in 40 years
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2022, 08:26:04 AM »
The modern reefers shown in the photo have satellite heating and cooling controls. Back in 1984, when I became general manager of a short line railroad, we were still hauling potatoes in reefers that had axle-driven fans to circulate air through the load. Over the long and hot Labor Day weekend, our main line connecting railroad let four cars of potatoes from South Carolina sit in their yard. When we delivered them, the customer opened the door on the first car and discovered that the entire load had turned to mush. They were the last cars we ever delivered to that customer. It wasn't our fault, but the loss of those 100 carloads a year hurt us a lot more than it did our mainline connection.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2022, 04:53:25 PM by Wayne Laepple »

Mike the Choochoo Nix

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Re: Maine potatoes moving by rail for 1st time in 40 years
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2022, 09:00:46 PM »
The modern reefers shown in the photo have satellite heating and cooling controls.
After thirty years of babysitting those same reefers on semi trucks I can tell you they need that satellite link because those units can go down at any time without warning. Mostly it's just small things like relays and solenoid valves but they are still not cooling or heating.
M. Nix
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Benjamin Richards

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Re: Maine potatoes moving by rail for 1st time in 40 years
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2022, 11:16:55 AM »
After thirty years of babysitting those same reefers on semi trucks I can tell you they need that satellite link because those units can go down at any time without warning. Mostly it's just small things like relays and solenoid valves but they are still not cooling or heating.
M. Nix

This is one of those things where our intuition is often poor because of the scale. It may seem like these things break down "all the time" but it's just because the system's requirement is 100% reliability, and the sheer number of components eats away at the MTBF of the aggregate system.

In college I worked as the house manager for the theater. We had a large amount of marquee lighting in the atrium, perhaps 200 bulbs. It seemed there was always a burned-out bulb, no matter how frequently we put in a maintenance work order. I was puzzled until I did the math: if the life of a bulb is 1000 hours, and they burn 5 hours a night, you are statistically losing a bulb every night.

Similarly, an enterprise-grade hard disk drive may last 100,000 hours. In a datacenter with 100,000 drives, you are statistically losing a drive every hour.

Carl G. Soderstrom

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Re: Maine potatoes moving by rail for 1st time in 40 years
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2022, 03:02:08 AM »
Working in a Tool Room (machine shop) I changed fluorescent tubes (at least one set) every day,
( in pairs ) and there were only about 100 fixture s in the plant. But any flicker was intolerable.

The point is valid - the more parts the more chance for any one part to go wrong.

Unlike the Deacon's One Horse Shay.

A version:

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-deacon-s-masterpiece-or-the-wonderful-one-ho/
« Last Edit: January 20, 2022, 03:12:57 AM by Carl G. Soderstrom »