||Youíve probably wondered what the elevator does
with the wheat after the farmers haul it in. Much of Kansas wheat is
exported, so the elevator will load the wheat into a bunch of railroad
cars and it will be transported to the Texas Gulf. There the wheat is
loaded into boats that will sail to foreign countries, but Iím getting
ahead of myself. Generally, 100 to 110 rail cars will be attached together
and thatís called a unit train or shuttle. Letís see how it is done.
||Here are several rail cars that are already
loaded with wheat. The lids are still open and you can see the grain. And
if you look behind you, you can see the empty
cars waiting in line to be loaded.
||Each rail car holds 4,000 bushels of wheat. If
each bushel weighs 60 pounds, then each car is holding 240,000 pounds of
wheat. It takes less than 3 minutes to load a rail car. You can see that
huge spout dumping the grain into the car, with the dust flying. (They let
me stand on the car to take this picture!)
||Watching a rail car being loaded is quite
interesting when you think about all the technology that is being used.
More than 1,300 pounds of grain is being dumped into the car every second.
When 240,000 pounds have been loaded into the car the flow of the grain is
stopped automatically. How can this be done? You guessed it.... computers.
There are several people in the control
room monitoring the grain flow (via the computer) from the
storage bins to the rail car. The car has to move forward as it is being
loaded, otherwise the grain would overflow and spill on the ground. Thereís
a blue engine
behind the cars pushing them forward.
||Looking down from atop one of the silos (120 feet
in the air), you can see these cars have been loaded and are being pushed
forward as the cars behind are being filled. Their lids will be closed and
sealed shut after each car is given an official grain grading inspection.
Having an official grading inspection is important to insure the quality
of the grain that is being shipped to foreign countries. After all 110
cars are loaded the unit train will start its trip to the Texas Gulf port.