Freight / Tank

Railroads, car builders and car owners rely on Starfire for their Freight Car and Tank Car design needs. Starfire has been a leader in the field of new car design for over three decades, and has also been a leader in the Engineering of railcar modifications, analysis and inspection. The following projects are a sample of Starfire’s innovative Engineering expertise.

Freight Car Modification Projects

Box Car Modification Capacity Uprate

Starfire completed a project to raise the roof of a series of boxcars to increase their interior capacity. In addition to the roof raise, taller doors were installed. The cars were also uprated from 70 to 100 tons nominal capacity. The underframes were modified to accept larger trucks, and the flooring and stringer arrangements were modified for wheel clearance. Starfire provided the contract shop with direct, ongoing assistance for this project through all segments of the modification.

Cut-down Conversion of High Side Gondola

This project required the design of modifications necessary to remove an amount of the side and end structure of a series of 4,000 cubic foot, 100 ton gondolas used in coal service to result in a 100 ton high side gondola with a cubic capacity of 2,800 cubic feet. As modified , the internal bracing was removed, as the cars were no longer intended to be unloaded by rotary dumping. The air brake system was modified to incorporate empty-load braking.

Rule 88 Analysis – Covered Hopper Car

A series of covered hopper cars was analyzed and recommendations were made for any necessary modifications to bring the cars up to AAR Rule 88 Rebuilt Status. Starfire produced an analysis report of the engineering review, as well as necessary prints. Starfire worked with the customer’s shop to insure economical modification (as necessary) to the cars, and provided engineering support for the application of the modifications, as well as the design of modifications.

Bulkhead Flat Car Conversion

A mid-western Class One railroad engaged Starfire to modify a series of bulkhead flat cars, originally built for pulpwood service, from their (then) current configuration to accommodate long logs. Starfire analyzed the car body to meet current AAR loading specifications as required for this specific loading. Log bunks were then designed and applied to the car. There was some need for reinforcement to the end of the bulkheads. As redesigned, the car fully met the customer’s project requirements and design quality expectations.

Covered Hopper Gross Rail Load Uprate

A northern Class One railroad contracted Starfire to analyze several series of covered hopper cars for increased gross rail load capacity from 263,000 to 268,000lbs. Each series of cars was analyzed using both classical and Finite Element methods. The results were presented to the customer in a form which was acceptable for submission to the AAR’s Car Performance Sub- committee. Throughout the duration of this extended project, Starfire presented comprehensive reports and supporting drawings to the customer following the completion of each car analysis.

Coal Car Gross Rail Load Uprate

Starfire was contracted to provide the analysis and subsequent material reinforcement designs necessary to increase the capacity of three series of rapid discharge aluminum (1 series) and steel (2 series) coal cars. The cars were analyzed using both classical and finite element methods to determine their ability to withstand increased loadings (from 263,000lb GRL to 286,000lb GRL) and to meet current AAR Specification M1001.

New Freight Car Design Projects

Heavy Duty Depressed Center Flat Car

This 195 ton capacity heavy duty depressed center flat car was designed to transport heavy machinery such as transformers, pressure vessels, and boilers. The design of the car utilizes four heavy duty freight car trucks instead of the more common two (that are found under most freight cars). The depression in the center of the car provides vertical clearance for the generally oversized loads that the car will carry. Starfire provided the stress analysis and prints for this new car design.

Cryogenic Refrigerator Car

This 78 foot, 286,000 pound gross rail load cryogenic refrigerator car with end of car cushioning was designed for a refrigerator storage and transportation firm. The car was designed to carry a variety of refrigerated foodstuffs. The customer’s requirements included very tight interior tolerances to meet the specifications necessary to install the cryogenic components. To date, this is the largest cryogenic refrigerator car that has been designed.

286,000 lb. GRL Ore Car

Starfire was commissioned by a major domestic freight car builder to provide a turnkey design and drawing package of a 1500 cubic foot 286,000 lb. GRL rotary dump ore jenny for a mining railroad. Starfire developed the design based upon inputs from the mining railroad, the car builder, and the manufacturer of the rotary dumper. The design was analyzed using classical and finite element techniques. Once finalized, an entire suite of drawings ranging from the general arrangement drawing to various part drawings was produced by Starfire for use by the car builder. The analysis work done on the design was presented in published form to the car builder along with a complete bill of materials.

Mechanical Refrigerated Box Car

The Starfire Engineering team is proud to have completed the design of a new 64 foot (inside), 286,000 lb. (gross rail load capacity) mechanical refrigerated boxcar, built by Millennium Rail, Inc. at both their Junction City, KS and Wood River, IL plants. The cars were constructed for Tropicana Products, Inc. for their unique unit “Juice” train to carry chilled juice from Florida to distribution centers in Jersey City, New Jersey and Cincinnati, Ohio. Each car has the capacity to carry about 20,000 gallons of packaged juice.

The cars were manufactured with 15″ end of car cushioning, steel superstructures, steel plug doors, steel ends, welded steel roofs, aluminum free flow floors and a Holland Company manufactured restraint system. Unlike the older, more conventional refrigerated boxcars, which had the refrigeration unit actually built into the end of the car, thereby allowing for limited access, the new cars have a removable end mounted refrigeration unit which improves access for servicing or replacement.

286,000 lb. GRL 32, 100 Gallon Net Capacity D.O.T. 111 Tank Car

Starfire designed a tank car to carry gasoline for a North American manufacturer. Using Finite Element Analysis, Starfire refined the design for maximum lading capacity and maximum strength. Vendors were selected for all purchased components and materials, and, serving as liason, Starfire established lines of communication the manufacturer and the vendors. Analysis reports were prepared and Starfire then assisted the manufacturer with regulatory agency New Design Approval.

286,000 lb. GRL Crude Oil D.O.T. 117 Tank Car


An insulated and jacketed Crude Oil Tank Car designed to new D.O.T. 117 specifications was completed for a manufacturer. Using innovative design methods, Starfire started from a clean sheet of paper to design the car. The tank car features a stub sill strong enough to meet or exceed the latest load requirements for Crude Oil Tank Cars. Starfire designers communicated with vendors chosen by the manufacturer to select materials and components best suited to the application. Upon completion of the design, Starfire produced a complete Manufacturing Drawing package, Component and Specialty Item lists and Bills Of Materials to facilitate manufacture of the car. Additionally, Analysis Reports were prepared detailing the results of Starfire’s Engineering Analysis. A submission package was prepared for regulatory agency New Design Approval and Starfire worked closely with the regulatory agencies and the manufacturer until the final Design Approval was received.

12 Axle, Straight Deck Heavy Duty Flat Car

Starfire developed and finalized the full design of a conventional, 12 axle, straight deck heavy duty flat car to be constructed for a large provider of power generation equipment. The car was designed to incorporate Columbus Steel Castings latest design of 7” X 12” journal three-axle trucks with span bolsters, and utilized a non-electronic brake system with multiple brake cylinders and a relay system. The deck length of the car was several feet longer than the typical car of this design. A total of four cars were constructed in 2001.