Master Scale Program

FGIS maintains the Master Scale Depot (MSD) facility in Chicago and calibrates all master scales in the continental United States annually. Seven master scales are owned by individual Class I railroads, two are owned by the States of Oregon and Minnesota and one is owned by FGIS. Master scales are used exclusively to calibrate railroad test weight cars that are used to test railroad track scales.

The MSD metrology laboratory calibrates the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Handbook 105-1 Class F and American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) E617 Class 6 cast iron test weights from 25 to 10,000 pounds and railroad track test weight cars at the FGIS MSD.  All FGIS railroad test weight standards and carts are calibrated at this facility. Association of American Railroads member railroad test weight cars are calibrated at the MSD.  FGIS also offers calibration services at MSD to commercial entities for calibrating test weight standards and carts.

FGIS also offers a special “railroad test weight car field calibration” service which provides calibration of railroad test weight cars, usually composite type cars, on site at locations where the railroad test weight cars cannot be easily moved out of the immediate area due to mechanical constraints.

Scale Testing and Test Weight Certification

FGIS provides official testing for a variety of scales used in official grain weight certification under the USGSA including Automatic Bulk Weighing (Hopper) scales, Vehicle scales, Railroad track scales and small Platform scales used in commodity check weighing. This service is performed by FGIS Industrial Specialists or by a State Agency that performs the services on behalf of FGIS. Currently, State Agencies include the Department of Agriculture in the states of Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, and California.

Railroad Track Scale testing service is provided by FGIS using five special designed Test Weight Carts of calibrated weight up to 110,000 pounds traceable to NIST that are transported on the rail lines in special box car units with self-contained power generation and hoist equipment.

FGIS maintains a NIST Office of Weights and Measures Certificate of Metrological Traceability and can calibrate Class F and ASTM Class 6 cast iron test weights from 25 to 10,000 pounds. FGIS also provides special service to calibrate test weight standards on-site inside grain elevator head houses.

This calibration service utilizes portable equipment that is set up at a calibration station in the grain elevator in accordance with FGIS requirements as set forth in Chapter III of the Weighing Handbook.

If you would like additional information, please contact Marcus Harwitz, FGIS, Policies, Procedures and Market Analysis Branch via email at or telephone 1-708-458-1655.