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20-1. INTRODUCTION. Railroad facilities serving terminals in a theater of operations may be at the head of a pier or at an inland transfer point. The transfer point may be truck-to-rail or amphibian-to-rail. Terminal service units will load or unload rail equipment during cargo-handling operations. These units must plan rail loading procedures and secure cargo on rail cars. They must also know the type of equipment required at destination to load and unload cargo. The objectives of rail load planning are to minimize the amount of rail equipment used and to make the loading as simple as possible.

20-2. PREPLANNING STAGE. The preplanning stage consists of three steps: listing equipment by size category, making assumptions as to rail equipment available, and determining the capabilities of rail sidings to be used in loading.

    a. Equipment Size Category. Reorganize the equipment list into groups of similar size pieces and add the dimensions of each vehicle, weight, and cube, for example-

    • Small trucks between 3/4 and 2 1/2 tons.
    • Trailers for small trucks.
    • Trucks (2 1/2-ton).
    • Trucks (5-ton).
    • Trailers for 1/2-ton and 5-ton trucks.
    • Tractors, semitruck (under 100-inch width).
    • Trailers, semitruck (greater than 100-inch width).
    • Tractor, semitruck (greater than 100 inch width).
    • Other items under 100-inch width.
    • Other items greater than 100-inch width.
    • Track vehicles under 100-inch width.
    • Track vehicles greater than 100-inch width.

    b. Rail Equipment. Rail equipment may be supplied by the railroad. If rail equipment supplied by the railroad differs from the plan and/or the request, changes can be made easily. Most plans include five types of cars.

      (1) Flatcars, 89-foot, (metal deck, cushioned, rubrail) have chain tie-downs. Some have 4-inch high metal sides and have arms and spanners built onto the ends. The maximum usable width is 100 inches up to the height of the arms.

      (2) Flatcars, 68-foot, have wooden decks and can be used for both chain tie-downs and blocking and bracing. These cars, which have no sides, will accommodate equipment of almost any width.

      (3) Multilevel flatcars, 89-foot, often have adjustable metal decks and are equipped with chain tie-downs. Ramps or cranes are required to load these cars. Headroom between the checks of the cars must be considered and reviewed carefully. A typical second deck on bi-level cars adjusts to three different positions, so it may leave headroom on the first deck at 77 inches, 84 inches, or 86 inches. If the bi-level flatcar has a roof (referred to as shielded), then the second deck may have headroom measuring 94 inches, 96 inches, or 103 inches, depending on how the second deck is adjusted.

      (4) Gondolas are used mainly for CONEXs. These cars must have ends, be free of debris, and be at least 9 feet wide. Ten CONEXs can fit into one 68-foot car and eight into one 57-foot car.

      (5) DODX flatcars are the US government fleet of heavy-duty rail cars designed for tanks and other heavy armored vehicles. The 54-foot, 100-ton car can carry one M1 tank or two M60 tanks, and the 68-foot, 140-ton car can carry two tanks. Since supply is limited, these cars should be used only for heavy armored vehicles.

    c. Rail siding. Before any detailed planning can be done, the ITO must know how the train will be unloaded; for instance, if cranes are needed, they must be available at unloading points. He must also know the following information about the rail siding:

    • Capacity, in length, of usable space on each siding.
    • Weight, height, and size limits of ramps.
    • Overhead restrictions.
    • Track bed load limits, if any.
    • Locations and sizes (square footage) of assembly and holding areas.
    • Availability and capacities of cranes.
    • Expertise of crane operators.
    • Availability of blocking and bracing, wire, and other items.
    • Availability, sizes, and capabilities of locomotives.
    • Time available for loading.

20-3. DETAILED PLANNING. During the detailed planning stage, rail car equipment requirements are calculated and templated, and loading and call forward plans are developed. When calculating rail car equipment requirements-

  • Think in terms of a "type load" for a rail car.
  • Do not mix tracked and wheeled vehicles on the same car, since railroad tariffs are higher for the load configuration.
  • Use 100,000 pounds as a type load limit on all cars, unless otherwise noted, or for the 140-ton DODX flatcar.
  • Although 118-inch wide flatcars are available, do not exceed 100 inches in width on 89-foot rail cars for each type load because of blocking and bracing and clearance considerations.

    a. Review sizes and weights carefully. Base the loading plan on the use of three types of rail cars: 89-foot metal deck, 68-foot wooden deck, and 68- or 54-foot DODX. You need to determine the type loads you will use on the rail cars to keep the number of rail cars required to a minimum. Type loads are loads that repeat themselves. For example, if you had to load twenty 2 1/2-ton trucks and ten 3/4-ton trucks, you would load two 2 1/2-ton trucks and one 3/4-ton truck on a rail car and repeat this configuration ten times.

      (1) A type load list for 89-foot chain tie-down flatcars includes four tracked vehicles less than 100 inches in width and weighing 25,000 pounds each. The most common type of tracked vehicle is the M113-series chassis. Occasionally, fenders, skirts, and mortar baseplate brackets may have to be removed. The following examples show how to determine the number of rail cars required when the 89-foot flatcar is used.

    EXAMPLE 1: A total of 102 M113-series vehicles are to be loaded. According to the type load list, four of these vehicles will fit on an 89-foot flatcar.

      Number of rail cars = 102 divided by 4 = 25 1/2

      Rounded to 26 rail cars, 89-foot, chain tie-down

    EXAMPLE 2: A total of 64 CUCVs, each with an M416 trailer, are to be loaded on 89-foot bi-levels. According to the type load list, four CUCVs and four M416 trailers will fit in an 89-foot space.

      Number of 89-foot rail cars = 64 divided by 4 = 16

      Number of 89-foot bi-levels = 16 divided by 2 = 8

    EXAMPLE 3: A total of fifteen 2 1/2-ton trucks are to be loaded. Two CUCVs and two M416 trailers are added at the last minute. According to the type load list, three trucks will fit on an 89-foot flatcar with enough room left for either a CUCV or an M416 trailer. The number of 89-foot flatcars to be ordered is five. These vehicles are loaded circus style (see Figure 20-1) as follows: three 2 1/2-ton trucks, followed by a CUCV and one M416 trailer, until the cars are filled. In each load, the CUCV is on the first rail car and the M416 trailer is on the second.

Figure 20-1. Circus method of loading vehicles

      (2) Type loads for 68-foot commercial wooden-deck chain tie-down flatcars include-

      • Two tracked vehicles weighing about 40,000 to 50,00 pounds each, such as a D7 bulldozer, an M578 recovery vehicle, or an M109- and M110-series howitzer. The width of these vehicles is usually greater than 100 inches.
      • One tracked vehicle weighing about 100,000 pounds, such as a tank, a combat engineer vehicle, a launcher (AVLB), bridge tank, an M60 chassis, and an M88 recovery vehicle. The AVLB launcher and bridge must be on adjoining cars. The vehicle must be chocked, braced, and secured with wire rope or chains.
      • One large wheeled off road vehicle (GOER M520, M533, or M599) plus one pickup sized truck with a large hard body (maintenance contact truck or ambulance).
      • Two front-end loads.
      • One semitractor M916 or M920 plus trailer.

      (3) Type loads for 68-foot DODX-HD (140-ton flatcars) may contain-

      • Two M1 tanks.
      • Two M60 tanks.
      • Two M728 combat engineer vehicles.
      • Two M88 recovery vehicles.
      • Two M109 self-propelled howitzers.

    b. If available, use Air Force MAC Form 571 Series for rail car templating. After the detailed plan of the rail cars is complete, prepare a plan for the cars to be switched to which ramp. This plan is given to the rail representative for spotting of the cars at the correct ramp.

    • The cars must be located at the proper ramp in proper sequence.
    • Try to have only one type of car at a ramp at a time.
    • If more than one type of single level flat car is to be at a ramp, an circus style loading is to be used, the narrowest cars should be on the end away from the ramp and the widest flat car is at the ramp end. (If 89- and 69-foot cars are at the same ramp, then the 68-foot cars are at the ramp end.)
    • If cars are to be crane loaded with a ground crane, then the entire siding must have crane access.
    • If cars are to be crane loaded with a gantry or overhead crane, then provisions must be made to either move the cars under the crane or the crane over the cars.
    • DO NOT PLAN TO MOVE A BULLDOZER OVER A METAL DECK RAIL CAR. It will not be controllable. Dozers require parking and rolling shoring on metal deck cars.
    • Multilevel cars should be loaded together and at a ramp end.

    c. After equipment is prepared for deployment in the unit motor pool, it is sent to an installation staging area. Vehicle preparation should not be done at the ramp. Reconfiguration of the vehicle at this point will impede the loading process. There, it is lined up by rail car loads. Because all equipment cannot be loaded onto rail cars simultaneously, it is sent from the installation staging area to the railhead in the sequence that the rail cars are ready for loading. This sequence is known as the call forward plan.

NOTE: The railroads belong to the AAR, which publish the loading rules for all the railroads to follow. It is also important to use TM 55-2200-001-12.

20-4. LOADING VEHICLES IN RAIL CARS. The loading procedures are discussed below.

    a. Open-Top Cars. The two types of open-top cars are the flatcars and the gondola cars. Both are discussed below.

      (1) Flatcars. The loading procedures are as follows:

        (a) Vehicles can be loaded and unloaded with hoisting equipment. Mobile cranes are generally used. Hoisting by cranes is a simple procedure, provided proper slings are used. Spreaders must be used to protect radiators, fenders, and the rear of the body from being crushed.

        (b) When vehicles must be loaded from ground level, a ramp can be improvised using railroad ties and planking. A ramp suitable for loading most ordnance items is shown in Figure 20-2.

        (c) For loading small vehicles, the width of the ramp may be reduced to two double-plank runways, with the planks in each cleated together. The short wheelbase on some multiaxle items and the undercarriage or underhull clearance determines the length of the planking.

        (d) The freight car bearing the ramp must be securely blocked against rolling. Successive cars must remain coupled and be chocked at several points along the train when vehicles are being towed aboard the train.

        (e) If the freight cars are not on an isolated track or blocked siding, each end approach to the train must be placarded (blue flag or light) to indicate that persons are at work and that siding cannot be entered beyond the placarded points.

        (f) Vehicles that can be loaded under their own power are driven onto the improvised apron at the base of the ramp and guided into position on the flatcar.

        (g) Vehicles that have been processed must be towed onto the improvised apron at the base of the ramp and unhitched. A cable attached to the vehicle and laid along the centerline of the flatcar is used to pivot the vehicle so that it points toward the ramp. Personnel who assist in pivoting the vehicle into position must be careful to avoid injury from side-whipping action likely to occur when strain is applied to the cable. After the first vehicle has been loaded on the flatcar, additional vehicles may be similarly hauled aboard by cable. A vehicle with winch is spotted at a right angle to the train (see Figure 20-3). The vehicle is spotted at about the third or fourth flatcar to facilitate signaling and because of cable-length limits. A single-sheave snatch block, located between cars on the train centerline, provides the necessary lateral pull. Vehicles passing the snatch block can be towed by a vehicle on the ground. A long tow cable from the towing vehicle lessens the tendency of the towed vehicle to stray from the centerline of the train.

        (h) When a train of flatcars is being loaded, steel or wooden spanning platforms (spanners) or bridges are used to cover the gap between cars. Flatcar brake wheels must first be lowered to floor level to permit passage. A pair of improvised spanning platforms is shown in the inset in Figure 20-2. Spanning platforms are moved along the train by hand as the vehicle advances.

        (i) On completion of loading, the ramp planks and bridging devices are loaded on the train for use in unloading. Random sizes of timbers used in building the approach apron up to rail level should be included. After vehicles have been blocked, all material is securely fastened to the car floors and entered in the bill of lading.

Figure 20-2. Improvised end-ramp for loading vehicles

Figure 20-3. Vehicle winch used to power towing cable

      (2) Gondola cars. The loading procedures are as follows:

        (a) Vehicles can be loaded in fixed-end gondola cars only when hoisting facilities are available for initial loading or unloading at destination. False flooring must be added to hopper or drop-bottom gondola cars in which unboxed vehicles are shipped.

        (b) Drop-end gondola cars can be loaded exactly like flatcars ((1) above). When gondola cars are ordered, the inside width required must be specified since some gondolas have gussets along the inner sides that affect clearance; height of fixed sides is immaterial. Vehicles may progress through gondola cars by passing over two inwardly-dropped ends or over spanning platforms.

    b. Boxcars. End-door boxcars are spotted with the door end toward the ramp and loaded like flatcars ((1) above), except that the vehicles must be pushed into the boxcar or towed by cable and block.

      (1) A vehicle that is almost as high as the inside height of the boxcar may first be loaded on an adjacent flatcar. The flatcar is coupled to the door end of the boxcar after the two end doors have been opened. When end-door boxcars are ordered, inside height must be specified once some automobile boxcars have an overhead built-in automobile-loader rack that affects inside height calculations. Open-end doors must be kept clear of traffic on adjacent tracks.

      (2) Vehicles can be loaded in ordinary boxcars by using roller automobile jacks to maneuver them into place. Automobile boxcars have large single or double sliding doors at each side. They must be loaded from a platform of about the same level as the boxcar floor or from an adjacent flatcar. Steel plates or spanning platforms must be used to bridge the gap between platform and car.

    c. Foreign Cars. Foreign locomotives are usually smaller than those in the United States and have less tractive effort; consequently, their capacities are less. Rolling stock is generally smaller and lighter. Since many foreign cars do not have automatic brakes, they must travel at greatly reduced speeds or use additional personnel in the train crews to operate the brakes by hand.

      (1) Generally speaking, foreign railroads do not handle the volume of traffic that is handled in the United States. The average length of haul is much shorter and the equipment much lighter. Therefore, the length of the train and the gross tonnage are considerably less than that of the average freight train in the United States.

      (2) Caution should be taken when loading heavy equipment in foreign cars because the floors are not as strong as those of American cars.

    d. Capabilities and Load Limits. The load limit represents the maximum load under which a car can operate safety. This load, combined with the light weight of a car, gives the maximum AAR axle loading for the car. Loads must be placed so that there is no more weight on one side of the car than the other. The load on one truck wheel unit containing two or more pairs of wheels, brake components, center casting, and truck bolster, located at each end of a car, must not exceed one-half the load limit stenciled on the car. (Complete details of rail car loading are contained in TM 55-601.)

    e. Multilevel Car Special Planning. The loading procedures are as follows:

    • Vehicle preparation for multilevel cars is more intensive than that for single deck flatcars. Radio antennas and radar mounts should be removed.
    • In multilevel cars without a roof (shielded) there may be a tendency to load vehicles that are too high or with equipment such as radio antennas. Therefore, the maximum height of the car and load should be obtained from the railroad and then double-checked with the load plan and the actual load.
    • Small trucks (pickup trucks) with hard bodies such as maintenance contact trucks and ambulances can be loaded with care on multilevel cars; however, dimensions of the vehicles must be carefully checked with the dimensions of the cars to avoid problems when loading.
    • The weight on the rail car must be carefully checked.
    • Do not load the rail car so that it is top heavy.

20-5. LOADING UNITIZED CARGO IN RAIL CARS. The loading procedures are as follows:

    a. Palletized. In the United States, loading, blocking, and bracing of palletized shipments in railroad cars must conform to the instructions given in TM 55-601 and to pamphlets issued by the AAR Operating-Transportation Division, Freight Loading and Container Section. These rules may also be used as guides for a theater of operations. The following additional rules must be observed for palletized shipments. Responsible personnel should-

    • Block the load, not the pallet. A load smaller than the pallet must be increased so that it is even with or slightly larger than the outside edge of the pallet.
    • Use bulkheads in the ends of the car when pallets are heavy and the dented car ends cause uneven surfaces.
    • Use end gates as high as the entire height of the load. Loads that extend above gates put unnecessary strain on strapping.
    • Be sure that pallets in car doorways (foreign or American) are accessible to forklift trucks.

    b. Small trailers. Small trailers (1/4-, 3/4-, 1 1/2-ton) can be inverted and stacked on top of each other (piggyback). A crib is first built and placed in the bed of the lower trailer. The two are then mated, banded together, and tied down.

    c. Semitrailers. Any size flatbed trailer can be loaded piggyback. A crane and heavier banding material, such as chains and cable, must be used to load semitrailers. Trailers can be loaded attached to their prime movers. The prime mover is blocked and tied down; then the trailer is blocked and tied down.

    d. Towed Artillery. Towed artillery is similar to a small trailer. The trailers are locked together and blocked against lateral as well as fore-an-aft movement. The wheels are blocked like any wheeled vehicle.

    e. Containers. Most units use containers, CONEXs, or shelters to move classified or sensitive cargo. The gondola is ideal for shipping CONEXs and large shelters. They do require the support of a large forklift or a crane. The containers are blocked with 2 x 4s on all sides and tied down with cables from their top lifting fittings to rails running along the top of the gondola sidewalls. Any space remaining in the car must be blocked to prevent the containers from shifting. When flatcars are used, all sides must be blocked with 2 x 4s stacked two high and tied down to the stake pockets.

NOTE: When loading containers, chain tie-down cars should be used whenever possible.

20-6. HAZARDOUS CARGO. Shipments of explosives and ammunition made by military establishments in the CONUS must comply with regulations of the DOT Hazardous Materials Regulation Board, port and harbor regulations, state and municipal laws, and recommendations of the Bureau of Explosives. Difficulties in complying with such regulations must be reported in detail through proper channels to the MTMC commanding general. The DOT and AAR regulations applicable in the United States are good guides for shipment of explosives and flammables by military forces in the theater of operations (see CFR 49).

20-7. GENERAL RULES FOR LOADING. The steps for loading cargo are discussed below.

    a. Inspection. Personnel must inspect all freight cars before they are loaded and ensure that they are in a suitable condition to safely carry loads to destination. Inspect for brake handle removal, spanners and clearances, and blue flags. Make sure that the cars are in the proper order. (Narrowest car furthest from the ramp end.) Check the multilevel cars for interior clearance. Change the call forward plan if the vehicle clearance is not available. Failure to check clearances can cause disruption in loading. A vehicle may become stuck in a car or may not be able to pass a certain point. The corrective action is usually a rail car switching which can cause up to a day delay in the loading. This is a severe penalty for not checking the clearances.

    b. Side Bearing Clearance for Loaded Cars. Clearance between the side bearings and the undercarriage of the car must be sufficient for free curvature of trucks (rail car wheel units).

    c. Maximum Load Weight. The weight of the load on a car must not exceed the load limit (not capacity) stenciled on the car.

      (1) The weight of the load on one truck must not exceed one-half the load limit stenciled on the car. In case of doubt, the load must be weighed. Materiel loaded between truck centers and ends of cars must not exceed 30 percent of the stenciled load limit (15 percent each end when both ends are loaded and 10 percent when loaded at one end only). See Figure 20-4.

      (2) Figure 20-5 shows the percentages of allowable loaded weight for the standard flatcar.

Figure 20-4. Maximum load weight guidance

Figure 20-5. Standard flatcar load limits

    d. Doorway Protection in a Closed Car. Doorway protection is provided when there is a possibility of cargo falling or rolling out of the doorway or coming in contact with side doors. Door openings are protected with wood or metal ties of sufficient strength and number, and adequately secured. Figure 20-6 shows an example of the construction of bulkheads for doorway protection.

Figure 20-6. Correctly constructed bulkheads for doorway protection

20-8. IDLER CARS. Idler cars do not carry cargo or loads. These cars merely accommodate the overhand of a load too long for a single car. For example, a bridge girder 100 feet long may be loaded on a 50-foot gondola; 25 feet at each end may overhang a flatcar or gondola. The cars on each end of this triple load are idler cars. The waybill for the shipment carries the numbers of all three cars and designates the idlers. A crane on its own wheels with its boom lowered always has an idler. If the load of a two-car shipment rests on both cars, the second car is not considered an idler. In this case, each car is a part of the double load.

    a. If an idler is used or a two- or three-car shipment is made, the uncoupling levers are always disconnected to prevent accidental separation of the cars. When cargo rests on two or more cars, steel shims are placed between the couplers and the buffer plates of each car. This eliminates slack between the cars.

    b. Personnel must distribute the weight of the load crosswise on a car. Factors that must be considered when distributing the weight of the load are as follows:

      (1) The load must be located so that the weight along both sides of the car is equal for the entire length of the load.

      (2) Suitable ballast is used to equalize the weight when the load cannot be placed to obtain equal distribution of weight crosswise on the car.

      (3) Unless otherwise specified, if the vacant space between load and car exceeds 18 inches, the load must be secured to prevent its moving or slipping toward the sides of the car.

20-9. VEHICLE SECUREMENT. Once a vehicle is on the rail car and spotted properly, it is ready to be secured to the rail car. Blocking and bracing materials must be ordered before the operation begins. Since these materials usually arrive in bulk, they will require sorting. Organize blocking and bracing materials alongside the specific rail cars.

NOTE: All nails and spikes driven in blocking are driven vertically.

    a. Blocking and Bracing. Do not install both the fore and aft wheel blocks before cables are tightened. This will cause the vehicle to be pulled forward and off of the wheel block as the forward cables are tightened. To ensure wheel blocks fit snugly, personnel will-

    • Install forward wheel blocks.
    • Install side wheel blocks.
    • Tighten forward cables.
    • Install aft wheel blocks.
    • Tighten rear cables.

      (1) Wheel blocks. There are many different wheel block patterns. Wheel block patterns for each type of vehicle are shown in TM 55-2200-001-12 and the AAR manual. The most common wheel block is the standard pattern 16 block (Figure 20-7). All wheels are blocked fore and aft for longitudinal movement.

      (2) Wheel side blocks. The wheel side block assembly is shown in Figure 20-8. A 2 x 4 is nailed to a 2 x 6 to make the basic wheel side block. Barrier material, such as roofing paper or burlap, is placed against the tire and on the car floor to prevent chafing and tire puncture. The basic side block assembly is then placed on the barrier material and fitted snugly against the tire. This assembly should be nailed to the car's floor with at east five 40-penny nails. For 2 1/2-ton trucks or smaller, a second 2 x 4 is nailed on top of the first, thereby making a 4 x 4. If the vehicle is five tons or larger, a third 2 x 4 is nailed to the second, thereby creating a 4 x 6.

      (3) Side blocking. Side blocking must be completed before loading; end overhang is prohibited. To perform side blocking, personnel must first measure the inside vehicle width from track to track, then subtract 7 1/2 inches from the inside width. The result is the width of the horizontal pieces of the side blocking frame. Center these pieces on the car floor. The forward and rear pieces should correspond to the front and rear road wheels of the tracked vehicle. Nail these pieces to the car floor two levels high, with 40-penny nails, using wooden 2 x 4s. Careful measuring is important to position the tank on the rail car. Make sure to allow for brake wheel clearance, and do not allow overhang to the next car. Once the horizontal pieces are in place, cut the longitudinal pieces, butt them tightly against the horizontal pieces, and nail them to the car floor with 40-penny nails as shown in Figure 20-9. The longitudinal pieces are also built up two levels high. You are now ready to load the tracked vehicles. For some "unit trains" side blocking is not required.

NOTE: Three ground guides are assigned to load tracked vehicles on rail cars. The center guide is in charge of loading. One guide on each side of the rail car keeps the center guide informed as to the overhang of the vehicle track. Hand signals must be used. If measurements are correct, very little daylight will be seen between the side blocking frame and the tracks.

Figure 20-7. Standard pattern 16 block

Figure 20-8. How to make side
blocking for wheels

Figure 20-9. Side blocking frames

      (4) Blocking. When the tank is in place, two front blocks are placed against the treads and nailed down with 40-penny nails. Once the front blocks are nailed in place and the area is clear of personnel, the center guide instructs the tank driver to pull the tank forward until the treads are up on the front blocks a few inches. The brakes are then set. Now the rear blocks are placed against the rear of the treads and nailed into place with 40-penny nails. Next, personnel clear the area and the guide on each side inform the center guide that the area is clear. The center guide then instructs the tank driver to release the brakes, and the tank settles into the blocks. When settled, the brakes are set and the engine is cut off (out of gear). The road wheels are now blocked. The road wheel blocks consist of three pieces each made of 4 x 4 lumber. Three road wheels are blocked on each side (with three blocks) (Figure 20-10). While the tank is being blocked, the crew secures the turret by setting the turret lock and wiring it in place.

Figure 20-10. Road wheel blocks

    b. Tie-Down Procedures. The primary means of tying down vehicles and equipment is with wire rope, cable, or chains. Wire rope is very strong but to work with it can be dangerous and difficult. This is especially true of 4/8-inch diameter (or wider) wire rope. When working with wire rope personnel must always wear gloves to prevent cuts from stray strands. Damaged, bent, or frayed wire rope should never be used for an actual move, because it is weak and will not hold its rated strength.

      (1) Thimbles. Use a thimble to bend wire rope around sharp edges or corners (Figure 20-11). A thimble prevents the wire rope from kinking and thus losing some of its rated strength. Use a cable clamp to secure the wire rope to the thimble. The cable clamp should be one size larger than the wire rope so that it will fit over the thimble.

      (2) Cable tension. Turnbuckles or chain hoists are used to tighten cables to their proper tension. Cables should not be crossed and all cables must be tensioned evenly. Figure 20-12 shows a chain hoist ("come-along") and cable grippers. The grippers are attached to each end of the wire rope and are pulled together by the chain hoist. The wire rope ends are then clamped into place as shown in Figure 20-13. Cable must be tensioned sufficiently to hold the weight of one person with no more than 1-inch deflection. Use care when tightening cables on lightweight vehicles to prevent too much strain on the vehicle suspension.

Figure 20-12. Chain hoist and cable grippers

Figure 20-13. Chain hoist with grippers in use

      (3) Cable clamps. Once the proper tension has been applied, the cable clamps should be attached. When using U-shaped clamps, the U part of the clamp goes over the free (dead) end of the cable loop (Figure 20-14). Cable clamps must be spaced about six times the diameter of the cable. There must be at least 12 inches of the free end from the last cable clamp. Cables should be strung at a 45 degree angle from the vehicle to the car floor when viewed from the side of the car as shown in Figure 20-13. This angle provides optimal restraint forward, aft, and lateral. For proper cable use, one must be able to form loops. Figure 20-14 shows an arrangement of cable clamps for a complete loop. Four clamps are used and the cable has two free ends. With the U part of the clamps over the free ends, the result is two clamps facing one way and two the other. Tighten 1/2-inch clamps to 35 foot-pounds torque. Tighten 5/8-inch clamps to 50 foot-pounds torque.

      (4) Shackles. Shackles must be installed in all tie-down provisions. "T" hooks must be removed and replaced by screw-pin anchor shackles. Bolts of unknown strength must not be used in place of shackle pins.

    g. Chain Tie-Down Devices. The different devices to secure vehicles are as follows:

      (1) The 68-foot DODX flatcar uses a heavy-duty load securement system. Four steel flush-mounted channels run its entire length. Each anchor has a load binder (turnbuckle) that connects to a 1/2-inch alloy chain. When in use, a vehicle is driven or rolled to the appropriate place on the flatcar, where it is secured by conveniently placed chains. The slack is removed and the chain tightened at the load binder. MTMCTEA Pamphlet 55-19 provides detailed guidance on tie-down devices. The 68-foot, 140-ton DODX tie-down device is shown in Figure 20-15. Chains, shackles, and rings on empty cars must be secured to the flatcar so they will not become free and can be accounted. Figure 20-16 shows the general arrangement of the tie-down devices.

Figure 20-15. DODX tie-down device

Figure 20-16. Securing tie-down chains and hardware on
the 140-ton DODX flatcar

      (2) The 60-foot HTTX flatcar has heavy-duty turnbuckles and chains in its four channels. The tie-down system consists of retractable tie-down anchors equipped with chain assemblies that have a load binder, a heavy compression unit, an adjustable grab hook, and a 1/2-inch alloy chain. The car may come equipped with heavy-duty chains and anchors as shown in Figure 20-17. The HTTX flatcar is shown in Figure 20-18.

      (3) Use heavy-duty turnbuckles and 1/2-inch chains with stake pockets with the 60-foot TTHX flatcars (Figure 20-19). The chains are attached to castings that are retained in the side stake pockets of the car. The 60-foot TTHX flatcar is still in service but has been replaced by the HTTX flatcar.

      (4) Designed as a farm equipment car, the 60-foot OTTX flatcar has many military applications. The car has four tie-down channels, two along the sides of the car and two down the center. The movable and retractable ratchet winches are usually equipped with chain tie-down assemblies and a 3/8-inch alloy chain. The flatcar also uses the 360-degree saddleback winch (Figure 20-20).

Figure 20-17. Heavy-duty chains and

Figure 20-18. Flatcar, 60-foot,

Figure 20-19. Stake pocket

Figure 20-20. Saddleback
winch, 360-degree

      (5) The 89-foot TTDX flatcar (Figure 20-21) is normally used for DOD equipment. This flatcar is equipped with 15 movable screw-type winches and a 1/2-inch alloy chain and can transport military vehicles saddleback or flat style.

      (6) The 89-foot ITTX flatcar has pedestal equipment for loading trucks saddleback style. The car uses a saddleback winch with a 3/8-inch chain. The saddleback winch offers a 360-degree retractable feature. When in use, the winch is raised and locked in place in the channel. The chains are then attached to key points on the vehicle and wrenched tight at the winch. The ability of the winch top to swivel permits straight-line tension from load to winch and provides uniform load distribution in the channel (Figure 20-22). The saddleback winch does not rotate but features double panel drum securement, a chain pocket cast in the drum, and automatic channel locking. The ITTX flatcar, as shown in Figure 20-23, has two inboard "low profile" anchor channels in which the winch and chain assembly operate.

Figure 20-21. Flatcar, 89-foot TTDX

Figure 20-22. Saddleback winch

Figure 20-23. Flatcar, ITTX 89-foot (saddleback flatcar)

20-10. MULTILEVEL FLATCARS. Multilevel flatcars are 89 feet long; they use chain tie-down devices and are two or three decks high. Some of these rail cars come with fixed protective screening with both open and closed tops. Other bi-level or tri-level cars are completely open. Figures 20-24 and 20-25 show a typical bi-level enclosed flatcar and an open tri-level 89-foot flatcar.

Figure 20-24. Bi-level enclosed 89-foot flatcar

Figure 20-25. Open tri-level 89-foot flatcar

20-11. CHAIN SECUREMENT. The different methods of securing chains are discussed below.

    a. Chain Strength. Chain strength is stenciled (Figure 20-26) on the chain-tie-down car or may be obtained from the railroad representative at the loading site. At least one link in every 5 feet of chain carries the manufacturer's mark or symbol identifying the grade of chain. Table 20-1 shows the most common chain securement flatcars and the capacity chain needed for each.

No. Chain Tie-Down __________
Chain Size (Diameter & Type)
and Length of Assembly
Work Load Limit __________

Figure 20-26. Railcar tie-down chain stencil

Table 20-1. Types and capacities of chain securement flatcars



Capacity (lb)



148,200 - 155,500*


148,200 - 162,500*


149,000 - 155,500*






* This type of flatcar has varying capacities.

    b. Number of Chains Required. The number of chains required varies depending on the type of vehicle or cargo as indicated below.

      (1) Wheeled and tracked vehicles must have a minimum of four chains, two in each direction. Chains are applied so they provide the greatest restraint against longitudinal movement.

      (2) Containers, CONEXs, or boxes must have a minimum of three chains. Chains are applied over the top of the load and set at a right angle to the side of the car whenever possible. To compute the number of chains required, use the following formula:

Chains required
cargo weight x 2

chain strength

NOTE: Methods of chain application are also shown in TM 55-2200-001-12 and the AAR general rules book.

    c. Chain Application. Vehicle chains are applied in pairs and parallel to each other. Do not attach chains in a vertical position. The angle between the chain and the car deck must not exceed 45 degrees when viewed from the side. Chains must not kink, twist, or cross. (The shackles and shackle mounts are not designed to be pulled from an oblique angle and thus will not hold their rated strength.)

    d. Chain Hooks. Chain hooks must be secured with wire. Wire must be passed through the chain link and the throat of the hook and fastened on the backside of the hooks (Figure 20-27). Do not apply wire around the open end of the hooks. Without the wire, the hook will fall off because of slack action during transit.

Figure 20-27. Chain hook secured
with wire

    e. Chain Anchors. Anchors must be completely seated in the channel notches. Insert and tie wire in the hole provided in the chain ratchets, to ensure that the keeper stays engaged (Figure 20-28).

Figure 20-28. Anchor seated
and ratchet keeper secured
with wire

    f. Turnbuckles. Unless equipped with self-locking devices, turnbuckles used to tighten chains must be wired or loaded to prevent turning during transit. Figure 20-29 shows a jam nut secured against a turnbuckle. Turnbuckles should be tightened to leave a 1/8-inch space between metal points of the compression units. Chains must be tightened evenly all around.

20-12. CHAIN SECUREMENT OF A 2 1/2-TON TRUCK. Cargo handlers must ensure that trucks are properly secured. Figure 20-30 explains the procedures to follow when securing a 2 1/2-ton truck to a flatcar.

Figure 20-29. Turnbuckle with jam nut
and compression unit

Figure 20-30. Chain securement of a 2 1/2-ton truck


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