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On coal hoppers, usually one end has a rotary coupler and the car is the exact length of the rotary diaper.  When coupled to other cars facing the same direction (i.e., colored ends facing the same direction) the coal hopper can be dumped with no need to uncouple.

I regret that I did not develop my interest in model railroading until after I was no longer regularly around coal hoppers, so I can't say whether some bottom dump cars also have a rotary coupler to allow either dumping method to be used.  If they have a colored end, then they have a rotary coupler.

@Number 90 posted:

In my experience it has always been solid consists of rotary dump cars or bottom door cars.  Maybe they do mix them, but I have never seen a dumper that could unload both kinds.  But there may be other practices.

Tom,

There are plants that only rotary dump one or two cars at a time, such as the Belews Creek plant near Walnut Cove, NC. and of course Pier 6 in Norfolk, VA. (They may be able to handle two cars at a time, it's been a while since I have watched the operation there.). So, to the OP, it doesn't matter what type of car they are dumping.

I have never heard the term "porter" used before. Coal cars are either "hoppers" or "gons" around here.

Last edited by Big Jim

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