The Fundamental Uses of Seals in the Railway Industry

The Fundamental Uses of Seals in the Railway Industry

Posted by Steve Diebold

When it comes to protecting cargo and valuables in transit, seals have been an essential tool ever since the onset of the American rail system. As a matter of fact, sealing the doors of railroad trains to secure the valuables inside was a major inspiration for the founding of early seal manufacturers like American Casting.

Moreover, companies like Wells Fargo, Sears & Roebuck, and others controlled commerce and trade at the turn of the 20th century, causing railroads to increase their use of security seals. Naturally, other countries adopted analogous procedures for protecting their own rail shipments.

One of the earliest manufacturers of seals for railroad carriages, money bags, cargo, and heavy containers was American Casting. The company got its name from how the earliest seals were made through lead and wire, in which the lead seals were "cast" in molds. As a result, American Casting & Manufacturing gained recognition.

Why Are Security Seals Necessary For Rail Transport?

Seals made of lead and wire or metal band seals were the standard method for securing rail carriages and their contents for a number of decades. After WWII, railroads started utilizing a larger variety of seals. Particular attention was given to finding methods to strengthen the seal and prevent easy theft or vandalism due to a rising number of stolen goods from cars left on rail tracks or unattended railway lines.

Tamper-evident seals came into the picture. They are lighter in weight, more effective at detecting intrusion, and are designed to be broken with smaller blades or knives. Opening the evidence was all that was needed to track down the thieves and solve the case. Aside from this, tamper evident security seals also help convince insurers that a loss has actually taken place.

As theft has become more prevalent, steel was used to make stronger bolts and cable seals in the 1970s. Steel locks were in high demand among rail companies due to the security they provided. All seals can only be used once, like a combination lock.

At about the same time, people began to think about seals for reasons other than theft and tampering when intermodal containers began to be used on train cars. They were an important part of the system that moved goods from truck to ship to railcars and back to the truck.

Today, many different kinds of seals are used in the railway industry. This is because special rail cars have been made to move cars, liquids, and large amounts of dry goods. In this article, we'll learn which type of seal is best for each car type.

The top choices for seal type vary by the type of car

Containers and railcars come in several shapes and sizes, so it's important that seals be made to fit each of them. This ranges from boxcars to tanks to hoppers to chilled cars to auto-cover platforms and more.

It is recommended that these vehicles be secured in a way that prevents or severely limits unauthorized access to the cargo inside. Let’s see the top choices for security seals for each type of car.

Box Cars

A bolt-type seal, such as the AC&M model ISO-1H, is ideally suited for box cars and vehicles with doors. These are more up-to-date versions of traditional steel bolt seals, and they can be imprinted with unique identification data like barcodes and company logos.

Furthermore, their plastic coating makes them useful for color-coding shipments. ISO-1H seals are approved for use in high-security situations since they are certified to meet ISO requirements. All options are available for intermodal containers loaded onto trucks. Seals that use bolts are the standard there as well.

Hopper Cars

Hopper cars that transport dry bulk products such as coal, grain, cement, and aggregate require cable-type seals to engage the locking system of every compartment. This is done to withstand the load stress caused by traveling at the bottom of a train car. In such cases, the AC&M CL-99 or Cablelock versions are recommended.

Tank Cars

Different kinds of seals are used on tank cars for different kinds of cargo and various types of transit. Tankers transporting human consumable liquids or cargo that prioritizes tamper detection and prominent print information over durability often use plastic pull-up straps seals such as the PS360 or DTZIP.

Use them on the top loading hatches and the bottom discharge valves. Pull-up cable seals, similar to those seen on hopper cars, are a common way to secure the cargo hold of a tanker carrying valuable or dangerous liquids and gases.

Though there are other types of seals in use, these are the most widely recognized ones in the railroad sector. Depending on the circumstances, a plastic strap seal may do the trick. And since plastic strap seals for empty automobiles are so much cheaper, they are the go-to option.

Ensure A Safe Rail Transport – Get Quality Seals Here!

AC&M provides seals to thousands of customers worldwide, from governments to utilities to militaries to shipping companies. Please take advantage of their 110 years of experience in the seal industry and their extensive knowledge. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your needs for seals in any area of railroad operations, please get in touch with them.

During regular business hours, you can get in touch with a seasoned professional who specializes in using seals in various ways. Send an email to to reach their headquarters and manufacturing facility. In the United States, dial 1-866-304-4289 free of charge or 516-349-7010 internationally to reach American Casting & Manufacturing.

People who go to the AC&M website can also use LIVE CHAT to talk to a seals expert during regular business hours (US Eastern Time). You can now buy stock or custom seals, such as metal strap seals, plastic cable seals, or bolt seals, directly from their website,

Discover detailed information on their newest goods as well as a complete list of their stores. You may also locate every store, every contact, and every detail of every product they currently offer. If you need any advice, free samples, or cost estimates, feel free to let them know.