The Chip Flinger

Chip Flinger diagram

Brainstorming "outside the box" generated alternative possibilities for car-loading, after which a computer model was constructed to predict trajectories, device physical-size, and power requirements.

The result is the Chip Flinger.

Pringle-ized chips
"Pringle-ized" chips, shown as a vertical wall of horizontally oriented chips left intact after a front-end loader sliced through the pile.

The next step was to find a chip mill willing to participate in product development of the Chip Flinger. A mill in west-central North Carolina, Cotton Creek Chip Co., agreed to participate in this exercise.

The patented BCI Chip Flinger was developed, specifically directed at "narrow" pants-leg loading arrangements of a 5-to-7 foot span. The initial design goal was a 15-17 percent tonnage increase, the typical payload shortfall for most railroad chip cars. But with the driest summer in 40-years, 15-17 percent gain was NOT adequate to load the cars to the stencil-rated payload. So, development continued, resulting in an average payload gain up to 25 percent. Later at this "Chip-n-Saw" facility, a loading test was performed to quantify load-gains:

Fling-filling a freight car
This car had a center partition against which chips were "fling-filled" with the second half of the car "free-fall" loaded. "Flinging" just half of this car resulted in a 17-ton gain compared to identical, adjacent cars loaded in topping (only) mode!
Freight car half flung, half free fall loaded
This is the same car. Note that chips on the left-half of the car did NOT settle while chips on the right-half (free-fall loaded) settled six-to-eight inches. With just half of the car "flung," it was four tons overweight, while identical, adjacent cars were 13 tons underweight!

Going from a 13-ton shortfall to 18½-ton overload represents a 33 percent load gain for Chip-n-Saw chips, resulting in the potential overload problem shown on our home page.

Overloading Chip Cars

Belt-Way freight car scale

Of course, problems do occur when loading cars with more chips! Obviously, the greatest problem has to do with overloaded cars, and all the problems associated with that. More time and resources have been spent in preventing overweight chip cars than in developing the Chip Flinger in the first place!

If there is no scale system, the first step is to acquire one. Belt-scale technology has advanced like many other things controlled by computers. This particular system has demonstrated remarkable performance.

A certified weight of 8,080 lbs. of chips registered at 8,060 lbs. on one particular system. That 20-lb. "disagreement" equals one-quarter of 1%.

Overweight freight car Overweight freight car
These freight cars are only overweight by 2 or 3 tons, but obviously one end of each car is significantly overloaded. Railroad personnel have warned that cars with overloaded axles WILL be "set-out."
Load-balanced freight car
Though initially not used, programmable logic computers (PLCs) are now an integral part of all Chip Flinger-loading systems. With a PLC, it is possible to monitor the loading rate of car at specified checkpoints, adjusting the loading rate for end-to-end load balance and 100 percent payload capacity of the car. The result is chip cars that are loaded to "stencil-rated" capacity like this!

Bottom-Dumped Cars

Some folks worry about being able to unload bottom-discharge cars. There are problems unloading these cars, but only out of the top, during roll-over dumping operations. This problem also exists with free-fall loaded cars.

Freight car with channel bracing

With cars using channel bracing, and less so with angle or tube bracing, chips can lodge in the bracing when the car is rolled over. The angled lip on the sill top edge can "hook" chips exiting out the top.

Additional turns (or roll-overs) are required for complete emptying of cars like this one. If there is only one roll, perhaps one car in four will return with several tons of chips remaining in the car!

There are NO reports to-date of difficulties from unloading flinger-filled, bottom-discharge cars out the bottom.

Bottom-dumping, which requires a car-shaker anyway, is no additional problem with flinger-filled cars. The fundamental problem is that bottom-dump cars were NOT intended to be rolled over, they were meant to be bottom-dumped!

Flat-bottom cars typically have just three-to-six cross-members, which allow chips to dump freely when the car is rolled over. There is no inward lip at the top of the car-sill as seen on the previous bottom-dump cars. Many of these cars have flared-out (tapered) sides, further aiding chip-dumping.

Maintenance Issues

The Chip Flinger

Aside from the chips passing through the flinger, there are only two moving parts, the motor and the rotor (plus the connecting belts). All surfaces "touched" by chips are either stainless steel or abrasion-resistant plate.

There is no speed-reducer. Though one belt is adequate for transmitting the motor torque, two are used for redundancy.

Being outdoors makes chip car loading stations a target for power fluctuations. To protect the electronics, state-of-the-art protective devices are used for protection against nearly all electrical aberrations short of a direct-hit by lightning.

Electrical issues have been the biggest downtime issue with initial Chip Flinger installations.

This Brooksville, FL-based group offers a 20-year warranty on its equipment, shown below. To date, no component-failures have occurred when protected by this equipment, but unprotected devices "inches away" HAVE been injured!

Chip Flinger circuit board
The Chip Flinger circuit board