Dump Cars

The Alaska Railroad's Difco dump cars were mostly built in 1992. They are used in Maintenance of Way (MOW) service to transport large rock and fill dirt to and from the construction/ maintenance site. There are four lifts in the underframe (two per side), which can be seen in the photo as two large cylinders, tilt the gondola section on its side.  Click here to see the roster.

The Difco (formerly Differential Car Co.) is the equivalent of a dump truck. The low body height makes it easy to load and helps stabilize the car in transit or while dumping. The car features all-welded steel construction and is built in various sizes from 50 cubic yards up to 100 tons capacity. The self-contained dumping system consists of four telescoping air cylinders mounted under the dump bed. The bed pivots so the load can be dumped on either side of the car. A single value operates the mechanism. Several cars can be used together with the dumping being controlled from any car or the locomotive. The bed can rise to a 50 degree angle and the side door opens automatically. With considerable accuracy, the entire load can be dumped in under 10 seconds.

Click on the pictures below for a larger view.

Dump Car #1 Dump Car #2 Dump car #3


 Click here for the Difco dump car's mechanical drawing

2004 Update


In the summer of 2004, the Alaska Railroad found all of their airdump cars were tied up with the Bird Creek project. They were moving 200 carloads of debris a day using two crews from May through August so other projects were suffering from lack of airdumps.. They leased 26 airdumps from the Rick Franklin Corp (RFRX) and now that the season is over and their airdumps are free, they have exported them back to Oregon. Since these cars had a 70 ton capacity (as opposed to 100 tons) the railroad chose not to purchase them.

2007 Update


Notice that the dump car on the left looks newer. Extra-gang foreman Rich Holzapfel says, "We've had those four new 15900 series cars for at least four years. We were able to get them when the Difco company went out of business." Photo taken at Portage, July 2007.

Also see 1928 ad for Western dump cars


As built photo



© 1998-2013 John Combs unless otherwise noted
Page created 12/3/00 and last updated 7/1/13