Tight clearances on B&O, was, Re: B&O Circle T stencil

Jim Mischke

The B&O Parkersburg subdivision (Grafton - Parkersburg) had 21 tunnels, most of which were constructed in the 1850's. Mark Twain travelled this route once and dubbed it a subway in the mountains.

Most of these tunnels were deepened, heightened, daylighted, replaced or bypassed in three construction programs during 1953, 1957, and 1963. Completion of the 1957 program allowed the 50' boxcars. The 1963 program allowed full piggyback.

Prior to those programs, offending high clearance cars were segregated at upstream yards and forwarded on High-Car specials on a somewhat parallel Parkersburg - New Martinsville - Grafton routing. Extra time, extra cost. Not good for a railroad with an intrinsically inferior route in the first place.

Yard clerks were well versed in what cars cleared and which did not. Their jobs depended on it.

Nominally, one could squeeze a lot of the forbidden boxcars through, but not at track speed. There has to be an allowance for rocking motion, especially so in curved tunnels. High boxcars were vulnerable at the roof eaves, such as lateral running board hand holds.

With their curved roof profile, B&O wagontops cleared these tunnels while maintaining a full interior height. By design intent.

The circel T stencil meant that such boxcars could go anywhere on B&O, the Parkersburg Sub was a limiting factor to be addressed.

--- In STMFC@..., Todd Horton <toddchorton@...> wrote:

"50-foot cars did not fit the Parkersburg Subdivision clearances until the 1957 clearances program. After this time, some 50' boxcars did see the circle T as they left captive service, mainly automotive traffic"
Hmmm, That's interesting. What was the obstruction(s) on the Parkersburg sub that would exclude a 50' car?   Todd Horton

From: jim_mischke <jmischke@...>
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 5:56 PM
Subject: [STMFC] B&O Circle T stencil, was Fox Valley (and ExactRail) B&O Wagontop


I would add some more detail to Bob Witt's post about the B&O circle T stencil.

Circle T meant fit for less-than-carload service, specifically:

- clean car

- mechanically sound

- meets main line clearances everywhere on B&O, including and especially the Parkersburg subdivision

B&O dubbed its LCL service "Time-Saver" service in 1950, so the circle T stencil does not predate 1950.

Certain car classes were excluded. M-15 wagontop subclasses lack this stencil per photos. Maybe a Duryea cushion underframe was fundamental to this lcl-ready status.

There were far more B&O boxcars stencilled with the circle T than actually engaged in Time-Saver LCL service. Kept clean and lcl-ready, all such boxcars could be brought into LCL service at any time as needed.

50-foot cars did not fit the Parkersburg Subdivision clearances until the 1957 clearances program. After this time, some 50' boxcars did see the circle T as they left captive service, mainly automotive traffic.

B&O LCL service did not survive the 1962 draconian cost cutting, so surviving circle T stencils were lettering leftover artifacts after 1962.

--- In STMFC@..., "rwitt_2000" <rwitt_2000@> wrote:


This was discussed in some earlier posts. Briefly, the photo evidence
indicates that most cars appear to have Youngstown doors after ~1955,
but there is a photo from 1952 of an M-53 already with a Youngstown
door. No memos have appeared in the B&O archives describing a planned
door replacement program for the M-53.

Trying not to confused the facts, but it appears from photo evidence
that the when the M-15 wagon-tops received new AAR underframes in ~1955
they also received new Youngstown doors. A speculative suggestion would
be that the use of replacements doors on the M-15 wagon-tops led to a
door replacement program for the class M-53.

The circle "T" indicates that the box car is suitable for l.c.l.
(less-than-car load) service, which was named "Time-Saver Service" on
the B&O. That usually indicated that the box car was suitable for class
A loads.

Bob Witt

Todd Horton wrote:

Does anyone know if (all of the cars had)Â and when the doors would
have been replaced? The Springs Mills site shows in service pics of cars
with Youngstown doors on all of them. One other minor detail, what's the
"circle T" designate? Todd Horton

From: rwitt_2000 rwitt_2000@
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2011 8:27 PM
Subject: [STMFC] Re: Fox Valley (and ExactRail) B&O Wagontop



I just checked the Spring Mills Depot web site and they don't imply
their special run from Fox Valley is sold out. You can check with


Also there is another run from Fox Valley due first quarter next year.
The B&OHS will have a special run of unique numbers so keep checking
that site as more details become available. http://borhs.org/

For an Exactrail, I would try to get a kit as I believe the door is a
separate part.


Bob Witt

Andrew wrote:


Like John Degnan, I model 1957. I have seen photos of my
modeling area (eastern Ontario) that indicate B&O M-53
boxcars were an occasional visitor--though not as common
as B&O open hoppers with soft coal for industrial customers.

Photos I've seen of M-53 boxcars in my area and time period
all have the Youngstown doors, not the Tatum doors.

I missed out on the Fox Valley run of M-53s earlier this year
but am interested in possibly getting one of the ExactRail
models. I notice ExactRail isn't offering a version with the
Youngstown doors.

Any guesses on the likelihood of ExactRail doing a future
run of these cars with Youngstown doors and later period
lettering schemes? Alternately, what would be a good
aftermarket Youngstown door to retrofit onto one of the
upcoming run of ExactRail models?


--- In STMFC@..., "rwitt_2000" rwitt_2000@ wrote:


I forgot to add that I observed a M-53, ~1960, in a long line of
ordered B&O box cars in Caseyville, Illinois. It still had Tatum
one, which was off its tracks was lying on the floor of the car. I
believe it was the first time I saw a XLT door. As you suggest, it
possible that some M-53s made it to the late 1950s still with
Tatum doors.


Bob Witt

Tim O'Connor wrote:

Thanks Bob. Since my modeling -begins- with 1955 I'll be waiting
the cars with replacement doors... but maybe an XLT will slip in

I have 6 photos and/or Xeroxes of photos of M-53 and 1 M-53A
with their Tatum "XLT" doors. Most are from the Anderson,
King Collection. The re-weigh dates range from 12-45 to 3-55.
schemes range from the early "13 Great States" to the late "13
States" as described in the Barkan document. The re-weigh dates
1950s include 1950, 1951, 1952 (2), and 1953.

The last is a shop photo at Mt. Clare of a M-53 wearing the
"Billboard scheme". It was common for the B&O to do samples at
"mother shop", Mt. Clare in Baltimore, before changes were
system wide.

Based upon photos its appears the doors were replaced beginning

Bob Witt

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