Thanks for your interest in our steel railroad dockboards. A little background information about truck and rail applications is in order so we can better serve you.
In using a board for railcars the application is much different than truck applications. In a truck application the forklift goes up the board and straight into the trailer, grabbing a load and then backs down the board to the dock. At a rail siding the forklift needs to turn 90 degrees inside the boxcar. Many times the forklift is actually turning on the dockboard. The ideal situation is to try and make this turn on as level a board as possible. That is why railroad boards are custom built around your specific dock.
We do this to minimize the bends in the board and to make the board “fit like a glove”. When done correctly, the board will make the transition from dock to boxcar almost unnoticeable and speed your operation tremendously. If done incorrectly or if dock conditions are horrible, you can have a board that has improper bends, is hard to use, or even one that doesn’t fit. In any event, it is extremely important to get the proper information at you railroad siding in order to be sure your board fits properly.
Basically what is needed is to determine what board is needed are five things:
Let’s look at each of these.
The largest lift truck basically determines the capacity needed. It’s weight plus it’s capacity. If your people are extremely abusive then maybe you should go to the next higher capacity.
The width of the board is determined by a couple of different factors. Are you going thru a doorway at the dock location? If so, how wide is the doorway? The board should be at least 12” less than any door opening it is going through. (I have seen many people put in new doorways because the original door was too narrow!) Secondly, how wide are the doors of the boxcars you are getting in? Most people get 10’ door openings – but there are a few 9’ and even 8’ door opening on boxcars. They do exist, are you getting any of these? Some people get nothing in but double door cars with openings of 15’ or more. Obviously the wider the board the easier it is for your drivers to make this turn into the boxcar. We recommend you do not skip on the width of your board.
In making a railroad siding most contractors are smart enough to make the tracks parallel with the dock. If this is not the case then you really need someone to come in and help speck out your dockboard. If the tracks are parallel then you can determine how far away and how much higher or lower the boxcars are coming in. Enclosed please find a work sheet for railroad dockboards. There are two dimensions, which we need at the railroad siding. They are what we call the R (distance from top of rail to top of dock)
and the D (distance from face of dock to inside of nearest rail) (See Railroad Dockboard Work Sheet). We also need to know if you are getting in regular or refrigerated boxcars or both. With these dimensions we can determine exactly where the edge of the boxcars are going to be away from the dock and how much higher/lower they will be. This determines the length of the board needed.
And lastly what options do you want? The boards come standard with lifting chains. But using chains on large boards are cumbersome at best. Most people opt for the optional lifting loops to handle the boards quickly and safely. Also do you want the automatic locking rings that take up any slop between the understructure and dock? This is a safety feature you should not be without if you are using your board more than once in a blue moon.
We may ask you to take pictures and do some measurements for us to get the board perfect for your application. Custom made dockboards are non-refundable.