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K-Car Style ore car

K-car in front of Bisbee mining historical museum

K-cars are a 30 cubic ft. rocker dump car made by Arthur Koppel Co., also referred to as Koppel cars. They were introduced underground in Bisbee after 1931, but were in employment by the late 1940’s early 1950’s and used until the mines shut down in 1975. The origin of these cars is unknown, there are hints that they could have been government purchased cars or could have come from Jerome, Arizona when their underground operations were curtailed.  The design of the cars was poor, Dumping was difficult, a latch mounted on the frame was moved releasing the tub. Turning the tub over was tough. It could be done by lifting on the top side handle but was  best done  using a lagging. To dump with a lagging release latch, place lagging against a block on the ground and rest it against the side of the car near the top edge corner.  This was done while the car was moving slowly. The resistance from the lagging will push the tub over dumping the car. A drill steel can be used instead of a lagging, but it was not as common. The swamper would need stand to the side of the car in case the lagging slipped. This method was very hazardous and could not be done in today’s mines.   Cleaning out of the car was done with a blowpipe, and not the usual method of hitting the car bottom with a doublejack.  Because of the design flaws, the E-car was much preferred over K-car.


K-car Specifications



30 cubic ft.

Overall length

7'-6 1/2"

Inside length


Outside width

3'-1 1/2"


4'-1 3/4"

Over hang

9 3/4"

 Coupler type


Swamper dumping K-Car

Swamper lifting on upper handle and pushing down on opposite side lower handle with boot to upright tub                                        

Dumping k-car with lagging Dallas mine

Dumping K Car with lagging Dallas Mine Circa 1964

Diagram showing how to dump K-cars

A diagram showing how to dump K cars with a lagging. This is done by placing laggin against the corner of a car and pulling the train forward.

Dumping latch

Dumping latch

Drawhead for link coupler

Drawhead for link coupler


Code of Safe Practice for Drift Mining 1955, Phelps Dodge Corporation Fig 1

Code of Safe Practice for Haulage Underground 1958, Phelps Dodge Corporation pp.21, 26, 28, 31-34

Copper the Oldest Modern Metal, Bruce Jamieson 1962

Henry Hernandez 2011, pers. comm., 2 February

 Procedure of Safe Practice for Haulage 1947, Phelps Dodge Corporation p.10-12

Richard Graeme IV 2011, pers. comm., 8 February

Richard Graeme III 2011, pers. comm., 2 February

Story of Copper, film United States Bureau of Mines circa 1950’s

 Pete Oller 2011, pers. comm., 8 February

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