Monday, September 3, 2018

Hooker Caustic Soda by Hooker Electrochemical


While I don't make it a habit to specifically seek out publications by industrial corporations related to the rail industry, I have stumbled across several of them over the years. I recently revisited Hooker Caustic Soda, a 72-page work published in 1937 by Hooker Electrochemical. The intent of the booklet was to highlight the uses, manufacture, transportation, and other details of caustic soda, or sodium hydroxide to those of you familiar with that term from your high school chemistry. Sodium Hydroxide (NAOH) is a strong base or alkali (I remember our high school chemistry teacher letting us rub extremely concentrated between our thumb and forefinger to feel how it "removed" the ridges in our fingerprints; he alleged that in old times, safecrackers did this to allow their fingertips to better "feel" the tumbler in safes to help "crack" or unlock them more easily).


The reason I am sharing all of this with you is that it affords an excellent piece of information for those seeking to replicate railroad operations in a prototypical manner. The booklet highlights many of the uses of caustic soda, providing a variety of reasons for you to have box and tank cars hauling it as part of your operations.

A Hooker Electrochemical GATC Type 30 tank car for hauling liquid caustic soda. Red tank with black bottom sheet, underframe, dome, and center "band" of tank.
In addition, it covers the three forms of caustic soda: solid, flake, and liquid. It could be transported in any of these three states, offering different transportation needs and requirements for each. Hooker had manufacturing facilities in both Niagara Falls, New York and Tacoma, Washington.


The booklet also highlights details such as loading and unloading, either through a bottom outlet or a well pipe in a tank car. These details provide scenarios for spotting and handling cars on a layout. As I remember, I picked it up for a few dollars on eBay and it was certainly worth the price.


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