Re: USRA 40-ton Boxcars rebuilt as FGE Refrigerator Cars?!


Bill Welch wrote:

On page 97 of "The Postwar Freight Car Fleet" there is a photo of
FGEX 10857--a rebuild--that was part of the FGEX 10850-10999 series
(140 cars). The FGE Company information I have regarding rebuild
dates is in conflict. One source says 1932 and the other says 1937.
The side sheathing consists of two horizontal riveted panels on each
side of the doors, the top panel is roughly twice the size of the
bottom panel, a style replicated by FGEX 52680-52779, a group of 100
steel rebuilds on ex-PRR R7 reefer u/f's, and two series of new cars
built by FGE in 1939-40, FDEX 9250-9299 (50 cars) and FGEX
52780-52999 (5 cars) that are very similar to steel cars built by PFE
and ART as well as WFE (50 cars) and BRE (270 cars) before WWII. The
rebuilds have the Hutchins roof common on FGE/WFE/BRE System cars as

What fascinates and confounds me is understanding the heritage of
these cars. Although I have no proof, given their combination of
5/5/5 Murphy ends, fishbelly u/f, and Andrews trucks, I believe
these cars may have originally been USRA DS 40-ton boxcars. One
possible weak link in my speculation are the trucks, since obviously
these were used under many cars unrelated to the USRA usage. However
Andrews trucks were very rare for FGE. In fact this is only group I
am aware of equipped with Andrews owned by FGE. Within the FGE/WFE/
BRE System, Burlington Refrigerator did use Andrews. I know of no
usage of this type by WFE. FGE however was a thrifty company and it
makes since to me they would not have replaced a perfectly good truck
if it was not necessary so I think that ends, underframes and trucks
all came on the original cars, wherever they came from and whatever
their source.

It would strengthen my argument if I could identify a plausible
Railroad source for these 140 rebuilds but in going through the
various articles and most recently the RP CYC articles and tables, I
cannot seem to find a possible source. I have long thought the 5/5/5
Murphy end was unique to the USRA boxcars but maybe not, meaning
perhaps other possible sources for these rebuilds.

I thought I would see if anyone on this list has a good scenario for
the origins of these cars? Maybe I have overlooked an owner of USRA
DS cars who disposed of 140 cars sometime in the early or mid 1930's.


This photo reminds me of the mechanical refrigerator built for the
Western Indian Fruit Company WIF 800, which seems to based upon a
similar rebuilding of a USRA DS box car although the ends differ from
that illustrated in the book "The Postwar Freight Car Fleet". The
caption states these cars first appeared in 1938. Looking at the summary
of freight cars built for the years 1936-1938, I find no listings for
refrigerator car orders placed by the Fruit Growers Express.

Below are the links to these photos of WIF 800 from the Florida Railroad
web site.

Main page:

FEC Picture #005 <>
West India Fruit & Steamship Co. - Mechanical Refrigerator Car. View 1

FEC Picture #006 <>
West India Fruit & Steamship Co. - Mechanical Refrigerator Car. View 2

The photo captions state that this rebuild occurred in 1957.


Bob Witt

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