Refrigerated Boxcar Door Design Improvements

Union Pacific, the project sponsor, is a leader in transporting goods across America. Union Pacific is interested in improving several key areas on its refrigerated boxcars, including developing an automated door opening/closing tool, improving thermal insulation properties around the edges of the door, eliminating door latch pinch points, reducing door weight and providing improved skid plates on the inside surface of the doors.

Team Frost Freight created an automated door-opening assembly that can be used with a normal cordless electric drills to open existing door handles. The team also created a design for the door edge that maintains the existing rubber weather seal while adding a fiberglass rope gasket to significantly
increase the thermal insulation properties of the door edges. The team also created a design for the door safety latch that allows workers to
release the door safety latches without any risk of fingers being pinched. Furthermore, the team found that the two large steel panels on the existing
door could be replaced with thicker aluminum panels in order to reduce total door weight by 78.5 pounds while maintaining door structural integrity.
Team Frost Freight also determined that the aluminum skid plates on the inside surface of the doors could be replaced with a composite material
called “Versitex” that could withstand impact deformation better than aluminum.

This project proved to be very successful because it provided Union Pacific with designs and tools that provide: a safer refrigerated boxcar work environment, improved door edge thermal properties, reduced door weight and improved interior door skid plate deformation properties. These improvements are expected to help extend the boxcar service life.

School Year (term): 
2015-2016
Sponsor: 
Union Pacific Railroad
Team Name: 
Frost Freight
Coach: 
Richard Gee
Team Members: 
Dallin Frandsen, Ryan Hedman, Jeremy Hochstetler, Cort Jensen, Jon Kjar, and Jacob Wardell.

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