Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fall Trip to Sutton, WV - Appalachian Timber Services

The second stop on our trip to Sutton was Appalachian Timber Services. The facility manufactures treated wood products. These include railroad ties, bridge timbers, and mine supports. The milled lumber arrives via truck and undergoes final cuts and treatment before being shipped to customers. One of the largest customers for ATS is MTA New York City Transit. The subway system in New York City runs on railroad ties built in Sutton, WV. Heat for the creosote process is provided by burning wood product that would be waste in the past creating an eco friendly facility. They also sell sawdust to fuel pellet manufacturers when excess is produced.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall Trip to Sutton, WV - Weyerhaeuser

Timber Yard at Weyerhaeuser OSB Plant
After a full school day, the Cabell County Forest and Rail group met at the Central Office to load up and head to the Days Inn at Flatwoods, WV.  Traveling up I-79 to the Sutton, West Virginia area, the participants planned to visit two more wood manufacturing facilities. The Weyerhaeuser OSB Plant and Appalachian Timber Products showcase two products that the group could not examine during the summer trip.

The Weyerhaeuser OSB plant produces oriented strand board that features strands of wood that are arranged in cross layers and pressed to form sheets. The result is a product similar to plywood with a different appearance. OSB is mostly used as a sheathing material in building construction. The facility can process 110,000 tons of timber in a six week span. Little waste is left from the process as the plant uses the bark and other unusable material to fire the furnace. After the debarking and shredding process, the particles are dried to a moisture level of 5% - 8% and sorted before being laid into layers on a screen that can be up to seven or eight inches thick depending on the product being produced. A press then compresses the mat using 850 PSI on the board. 108 boards are fed into the press for each load and the procedure lasts roughly five minutes from loading of the press until the product leaves the press. The product is then cut into 4 x 8 sheets and readied for shipping.

Timber Yard

Close-up of shredder wheel

Feed piping for shredded timber
Mat ready for press
Shipping bundler

The plant was built in 1996 and currently employs 135 workers. The plant warehouses the products before shipping via truck or rail. There are six truck bays and an eight rail car loading dock. The current production level requires 60 trucks per day for freight. Weyerhaeuser has four OSB plants in the United States.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Upcoming Follow-up Trip

In a little over a week, the Forest and Rail group will be heading to Flatwoods, West Virginia for a quick tour of two more wood product plants. The first stop will be at Weyerhaeuser in Sutton to examine the production of oriented strand board, OSB, a product used widely in construction as a sheathing in building. The board use wood chips that are bonded together using a resin and heat to create a product the exhibits many qualities of solid wood.

The second stop will be at Appalachian Timber Services in Sutton. They produce products such as railroad ties and bridge timbers that are resistant to rot through the use of chemical treating or species that are naturally resistant to environmental factors. The fact that wood ties are still used today in railroads demonstrates the longevity and attributes that make wood a viable material even with other materials available.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Water Quality Overview

The table below displays the Q value results from the three water quality experiments on the Greenbrier River during the Forest and Rail project. I expected the the quality to diminish as we moved downstream, but the outcome from Cass is likely incorrect due to the dissolved oxygen sensor needing re-calibrated and the pH reading lower than expected. The last test followed a night of heavy rain and a DO sensor that after calibration indicated lower DO than others in the group.

Look at the water test results.
  • Are there any trends in the data?
  • Other than the dissolved oxygen, did the remaining tests show that the river was changing as we moved downstream? Why?

Friday, July 20, 2012

C&O Museum

614 4-8-4 Steam Locomotive
The last stop for the Forest and Rail Project was the C&O Railway Heritage Center in Clifton Forge, Virginia. The center is a non-profit organization housed on the Smiths Creek Yard that has contains structures restored by volunteers. It originated from the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society as a way to tell the stories and contributions of railroads to the United States.

Tom Hefner explains RR traffic

Caboose on Little C&O
Controls on 614
The museum includes the number 614 steam engine, a diesel locomotive, and assorted rail cars including a George Washington dining car. 614 is painted currently green and is adorned with The Greenbrier Resort logos. Our group enjoyed a personalized tour of the facility from Tom Hefner that included Number 614, the PD building, combination car, caboose, and the Gadsby's Tavern dining car. The dining car also hosted our lunch before wrapping up with the heritage museum that contains many models and representations from C&O. We departed a little before two o'clock to travel home to Cabell County.

Think about the following:
  • Compare 614 locomotive to the Shay locomotives at Cass. What are some differences? Why are they different?
  • Why would air conditioning in 1932 be considered a luxury? Do some research on air conditioning and discover when it reached consumers as a common convenience (this will surprise you).