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Little glass balls???

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This is a thread for some of the more expereinced freight heads. A friend of mine, who happens to be a railfan of sorts and his father who is also one, as well as myself, have found these small marble sized balls of what looks to be glass at yards and layups throughout the years. None of us know what they are from or what they do. Most of the ones I've found are the size of a larger "shooter" marble, although I've found a few that are the size of normal marbles. They are rough on the outside and are probably glass. Any clues?

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Guest HAL

Yard --> Trainspotting

 

 

My guess is hoppers in your area are loaded with marbles for some customer. They don't have any in our yards. When they hump the lines together, the hatches on the bottom sometimes spill a little and create piles of grain, sand, or whatever the hopper is loaded with.

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yeah, ive seen the piles of various stuff (sand, dirt, coal, etc.), but this is definitley not piles of marbles. they're very sparsely distributed. somebody had suggested they are mixed in with the loads to break apart piles of sand and stuff in the hoppers so they dont get stuck together, but im not sure.

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Guest RaiD

ever break open a spray can and look at the marble inside? see if they are the same.

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i would figure it as cargo that has fallen out...things like that happen, and if they are sparsely distributed then maybe they fell out a long time ago and got mixed up...perhaps the hoppers that used to haul glass marbles no longer haul glass marbles in your area anymore and the glass marbles that are there are from the 70's or early 80's...just a guess...

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Originally posted by RaiD

ever break open a spray can and look at the marble inside? see if they are the same.

 

 

They are usually little metal ballbearings, but then again...

 

about the glass balls...they are probably used to separate and keep things from glueing together...but then again, how the fuck would that work...all the shit in the bottom would compress and do that anyway...

 

 

ASK KABAR...thats my answer

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actually the balls in a can are not metal....try sticking a magnet to it...as far as i know there glass marbles in cans.......ive found large metal balls laying around in my yard but i jsut figured it was shit from the local junk yard....they haul that shit in gondolas..i figured shit just fell out

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As for the balls in aerosol cans, ive cracked open a few, and they are not like these. For the most part, the balls in cans are the size of a normal marble, and they are plastic. The ones that i am talking about are usually bigger, almost twice the size of a normal marble, although i have found the smaller ones. i also doubt that these balls have anything to with marbles. another guess is that they are the left over ends of some type of glass in the same way that slinkys are a by-product of extruded metal tubing or something.

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Recycled glass?

 

I'm just guessing, but it sounds like they might be recycled glass being bulk shipped that escaped from their transport car somehow.

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kabar....i hadnt thought of that but its very likely. the surfaces are rough and pitted, so that could be the result of a ton or so glass balls smashing up against each other in a hopper or something.

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ive see these too. along with piles of crushed glass, not near here though. and i'll tell you right now, if cracked, kabar and ese dont know you might have to approach a worker to find out for sure what they are. my guess would be what someone else already said. prolly some sort of recycled glass product that spilled out from a hopper.

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never found the glass or metal ones,

but ive seen thousands of little stone marbles scattered down tracks.

all smooth little marbles. but a little smaller than normal ones.

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ill let everyone in on a secret... just so some of ya'll know... ever watch a train derail? know what they ride on? a little round plate with round balls in it... its like a rocker plate... a HUGE one... this place near my city manufactures them by the thousands... along with the balls that they put in there... and the same balls are used to put in the wheels, and everywhere else in the train... their bearings are almost universal.... here at home we have an assembly yard and a repair yard that your old cars go to when they need to have the plates replaced.... so we have THOUSANDS of those balls all over the ground... the colors dyed on the balls are lubricant that they use...

 

so the answer... ball bearings.. well.. for the colored ones anyway... they are steel.. and they are just eventually dyed from the excessive lubrication they need. i watch the guys fixing the boxes, engines, and lubing cars all day...

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i've seen these piles of crushed glass like awr said. i've only been in that yard and didn't see any glass balls but they could have been there. the crushed glass looked like it fell out of a hopper just like you see piles of sand and flour. i've also seen a lot of corns spread out on the tracks. i'm guessing this happened when a hopper was leaking corn and rolling.

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ME: remember that time when we were little and we went to the train yard and found those huge piles of plastic beads?

FRIEND: yah i think, behind the ________?

ME: yup

FRIEND: and talked about them being diamonds

ME: we chewed on that shit

ME: yeah...lol

FRIEND: what about it

ME: i dunno, we were nieve

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once while walking inbetween freights i had to walk over this huge pile of rotten beans, shit was horrible...thread reminded me of it.

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Bearings

 

I can't think of any kind of ball bearings that would be made of GLASS, though. Ball bearings run inside of two very hard steel "races." Both the races, the bearings and the shaft opening all must be made of very hard steel, so hard that even a great weight will not cause the bearings or races to deform and begin to throw off shards. If a bearing gets worn and pitted it must be replaced, because the bearing will run hot, causing it's packing grease to liquify and run out of the bearing seal, causing even more friction and heat, leading eventually to bearing failure. Glass is too hard and brittle to be suitable for ball bearings, it pits and breaks far too easily, plus it chips and shatters with heavy impact.

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Re: Recycled glass?

 

Originally posted by KaBar

I'm just guessing, but it sounds like they might be recycled glass being bulk shipped that escaped from their transport car somehow.

this is the most logicial answer. when glass gets passed through a extruder it comes out looking like worms or a beat marble. these do get transported in bulk...this is the reason im my yards anyhow

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Guest mikro137

the real answer to this query

 

in our area , we have a glass recycling plant. when they hump the cars down river , the hoppers spill these beads (marbles whatever). how do i know? well i was hitting a hopper one night and there were all of those fucking things on the ground in the middlie of the yard , so i tracked it when i got in that night (all pre sept 11) and voila , it originated at a glass recycling plant up river from this particular yard. there question answered

 

mikrone37

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