Prototype Speculation on No - Bill Coal - A Freelanced Approach
by Drake E. Omstead

  The original idea to do speculated loadings came from Ed Novitt and his two articles in the Dispatcher's Office two years ago. He models the Northern Pacific and was applying various prototype loading and shipping procedures (ice age reefers-1950's) for fruit loadings out of the Yakima Valley in Washington state. After I acquired the layout in March of 1999 I researched names of the breakers for old issues of the Observer, plus other research for names of other non coal businesses in Scranton, and set everything up. Also in the mix was the way the former owner operated the layout before I acquired it.   I had everything up and going by late 1999 per the article, but had never heard about other railroads (even the O&W) of doing anything like this. Then along comes the article in the Dispatcher's Office about CB&Q coal loadings with a section about loading No Bill coal. This more or less vindicated what I was doing on my layout, but the big question remains about how the O&W handled all of this and how did Dickson and Eddy figure into this. The more you dig, the more unanswered questions arise.
  The January 2000 article about CB&Q coal loadings was very interesting to me since I also model the coal business on my small switching layout. The section on "No Bill Coal" really piqued my interest as I am attempting to do some of this on my layout, too. I felt a bit vindicated after reading this part of the article as I had wondered if there was any basis in fact for loading coal without a specific consignee to send it to.
  I model the NYO&W in the Scranton PA area circa 1947-48, and run operating sessions that emulate the hard-coal business coming out of the many mines and breakers in that area. The breakers loaded some 8 to 10 different sizes of coal, some of the names indicating their intended use (steamboat, small stove, large stove) and others that left it to the imagination as to what they might be used for (lump, egg, rice, pea, chestnut, and buckwheat). I think lump was used for camelback locomotives on the O&W. The last size, screenings, went to customers such as Scranton Anthracite Briquette Co.
  When I did some research last year I came across the name and address of "Dickson & Eddy Coal, 29 Broadway, New York." This was a brokerage firm (I assume) that received orders from the breakers for empty cars for the specific sizes of coal they planned to load, found customers for specific grades of anthracite, and released the loads that were moved out across the O&W, DL&W, and CNJ to specific customers.
   For our model railways in the 1946-59 era, with minor exceptions, anthracite (or hard coal) is mined exclusively in eastern Pennsylvania, primarily for domestic and light commercial heating use, The coal is loaded sequentially at the mines from tipples over a series of tracks into hopper cars, beginning with the smallest size and progressing to the largest. At the outside track, the largest size, known as foundry or broken coal in 4" to 7" chunks, is used for industrial processes such as scrap melting and blast furnaces. Next in line is egg or furnace coal, about 3" in size, which is used for hand-fired furnaces and blast furnaces. In the 1-5/8" to 2-7/16" size range is stove coal, appropriately named. Nut or chestnut coal, with chunks between 13/16" and 1-5/8" is next, used for space heating. From 9/16" to 13/16", pea coal is used for space heating and water heaters. Below that, buckwheat (5/16" to 9/16"), rice or buckwheat #2 (3/16" to 5/16"), barley or buckwheat #3 (3/32" to 3/16"), and buckwheat #4 (3/64" to 3/32") are used for space heating and automatic stoker furnaces. Smallest of all is buckwheat #5 (less than 3/64"), or screenings, used for making briquettes (cheap, pressed coal). (Ian Wilson)
     My basic inspiration was Ed Novit's 1998 articles where he described the shipping of perishable fruit on broker speculation, not waybiiled to any specific consignee. I thought this could also apply to anthracite coal loadings, and devised procedures to emulate it. The hard coal would be loaded at the breaker, returned to the yard, and there await an order for shipping. Other ideas came from the way the layout was operated by its original owner, Bob Hanmer, modeling iron-ore loading and shipping. The tracking of the cars was detailed and intense, and I wanted to do some of the same with the hard-coal business. The result is a melding of the two. I set up procedures beginning with the Dickson & Eddy brokerage functions and added the rest as I went aiong.
  To see how this is accomplished, let's follow a car arriving in Riverside Yard from the O&W's Mayfield Yard in the inbound morning transfer run, O&W 18473, along with a few other empty hoppers and other miscellaneous freight and empties for some of the downtown businesses in Scranton. Our NW2 switcher, #116, growls up the hill onto the yard lead after dropping the caboose at the bottom of the hill, and shoves the cars into the ar rival track. #116 still has to pull the CRRNJ inbounds off the interchange track, which necessitates another trip back to the mainline where we retrieve our caboose. Remember, we do not go anyplace without the caboose. It is now shortly after 7:00AM and the day yardmaster is coming on duty. He waits until the CNJ cars get in and the Lackawanna job arrives, then makes out two inventory reports to forward to the Dickson & Eddy agent (Note: The DL&W services five breakers and also uses Riverside Yard as a base of operations. The O&W services nine breakers.) The first report is "Empty Hoppers On Hand" and the second is "Unassigned Loads On Hand"
(Fig. 1). Today we have 10 empties and 5 loads in the yard to report.
  The Dickson & Eddy agent dives into the morning routine when he receives loading orders from the O&W mines
(Open this envelope at 8:00AM - Fig. 2) and begins to figure the cars needed for the first mine run, an O&W job. This envelope contains a number of white loading slips. We will need six cars today. The carcards are then tagged with slips from the envelope and, after being posted to the D&E loading record book (Fig. 3), are returned to the Riverside yardmaster, mcluding the carcard for O&W 18473, which is ordered to be loaded with Small Stove-size anthracite at the Kehoe-Berge breaker. O&W cars are used for the O&W breakers, DL&W cars for their breakers, if available. Foreign and privately-owned cars (Berwind and Westmoreland) are randomly assigned as need dictates, except the distinctive orange-colored hoppers for Waddell Coal are only sent to the Waddellbreaker. The yardmaster now begins to switch up the first outbound of the day according to the makeup order given him by the D&E agent (Fig. 4).

A three-digit job number (similar to a train number) is assigned to the mine run. Before completing the Mine Run Order Card (Fig. 5), the D&E agent checks his book and orders loads to be pulled from those breakers where cars were sent for loading two or more days ago. Another form showing how many cars are already at the breakers (Fig. 6) is checked, loads are ordered out and empties ordered in so the mine-run crew will know how to switch the breakers and that all cars ordered in will fit on their respective sidings when they get there. O&W 18473 and five other hoppers depart in Job #119 to switch the O&W breakers.
  Not every car loaded is immediately waybilled and sent out. Unassigned loads return to the yard and await orders from the Dickson & Eddy agent before they can be waybilled and forwarded. Loaded hoppers have a yellow load slip in their waybill pocket which differentiates them from empties which will have either nothing in the waybill pocket or a white loading slip ordering it to a specific breaker for loading a specific size of anthracite.
  At 10:00AM the D&E agent receives his new customer orders and promptly checks these against the "Unassigned Loads On Hand" report to fill as many orders as possible from this pool of loads. The envelope contains a number of waybills which order a specific size of anthracite be sent to a specific customer, via the O&W, CRRNJ, or DL&W. Today there are 7 waybills in the envelope. Matching up the yellow loaded-car tag with the orders, three loads can be waybilled. Their carcards are tagged by removing the yellow load slip and replacing it with the waybill
(Fig. 7). This leaves two unassigned loads in the yard.
  Meanwhile, O&W 18473 and its sisters are switched into the breaker sidings, loads are pulled out, cars are left on the siding in correct order, and the crew can finally return to Riverside Yard. Loads have the yellow load slip, empties have the white empty slip, and all is well at the breakers. Job #119 returns to the yard.
  The D&E agent now orders up the Lackawanna Mine Run (Open this envelope at 1:00PM) and repeats what he did for the O&W Mine Run, but this time for the Lackawanna breakers. Job #120 is assigned, and the D&E book is posted as before. The DL&W engine and caboose are used for this switching outside the yard at the DL&W breakers. In between the two mine runs: the Scranton City Turn is sent out to switch all of the other local sidings per their waybills. As the mine runs return with their loads.the D&E agent fills as many as possible of his leftover open orders plus new orders received today. Yard switching concludes with making up the outbound O&W Mayfield transfer run and the outbound Lackawanna run. The O&W Job will also deliver any CRRNJ cars plus give the freighthouse another switch if needed on the way out.
  But we still have unassigned loads on hand at the end of the day awaiting an order for waybilling to a customer, plus open orders for loads not yet received. Not everything needs to match up, and some creative staging of the loading slips and new orders will eventually get every order filled and all unassigned loads waybilled. Two days later O&W 18473 returns to Riverside Yard and becomes an unassigned load for a day or two before being waybilled to a retail coal dealer in Utica NY.
  I use live loads and load the empties between sessions. When staging the layout for an operating session, the white empty slips in the breaker billboxes are replaced with yellow load slips which match the size of anthracite ordered on the white empty slip.
  Occasionally the day's mine orders include waybill cards (representing loads "already sold") as well! as white empty cards. These are placed in the carcards selected for that traffic and a white empty-for-loading slip, which matches the specific size of anthracite ordered is then placed over the waybill so the crew knows this is an empty. No yellow load slip is used for these cars; when restaging occurs, the white slip is pulled and only the waybill is seen which tells the crew this is an assigned load.
So we see that not all coal is just a load of coal, but it is a specific size for a specific customer and purpose. There is a lot about all this business that needs to be learned and methods developed to apply it to our operating sessions. Our quest for knowledge seems never ending and always ongoing.

This article originally appeared in the July 2000 issue of The Dispatcher's Office and appears by permission.