A Schnabel car
is a specialized type of railroad freight car
. It is designed to carry heavy and oversized loads in such a way that the load itself makes up part of the car. The load is suspended between the two ends of the cars by lifting arms; the lifting arms are connected to a pivot above an assembly of pivots and frames that carry the weight of the load and the lifting arm.
When a Schnabel car is empty, the two lifting arms are connected together, and the car can usually operate at normal freight train speeds. Some Schnabel cars include hydraulic equipment that will either lift or horizontally shift the load while in transit (at very low speeds) to clear obstructions along the car's route. There are 30 of this type of car in operation in North America
, 31 in Europe
and 26 in Asia
The largest Schnabel car in operation, owned by ABB
, carries road number CEBX 800, and is used in North America
. It has 36 axles (18 for each half). Each half contains nine trucks
which are connected by a complex system of span bolsters
. Its tare (unloaded) weight is . When empty, this car measures in length; it can carry loads up to long. For comparison, a conventional boxcar
currently operating on North American railroads has a single two-axle truck at each end of the car, measures long and has a capacity of . One notable load of CEBX 800 was completed in January 2006, transporting a reactor for Nexen Inc.
and OPTI Canada
from Duluth, Minnesota
to the Athabasca Oil Sands