Re: ARA/AAR Car Construction Classifications

soolinehistory <destorzek@...>

--- In STMFC@..., Guy Wilber <guycwilber@...> wrote:

Class E (4). All wood equipped with metal draft arms extending 24 in. or more beyond center line of body bolster, and with body bolster of sufficient strength to transmit buffing and pulling shocks to all longitudinal sills.

Class F. All wood.

As you can see; I mis-spoke earlier today regarding the use of a bottom or top plate within the E-4 description.

The E-4 class was originally slated to be prohibited in interchange on, and after, January 1, 1934. This date was subsequently advanced to January 1, 1936 by the ARA's Arbitration Committee. Shortly thereafter, in a rare action, the Arbitration Committee submitted the proposals prohibiting both Type "F" and "E-4" classes to the membership of the ARA on June 27, 1934. The voting to prohibit all wood construction (Type "F") passed overwhelmingly, thus Type "F" construction was prohibited in interchange on January 1, 1935 with no further extension granted.

The then proposed deadline of January 1, 1936 for cars of Type "E-4" construction, via membership vote (1,893 yes, 329 no) was also confirmed. Despite the voting results, the negative voters petitioned the ARA's General Committee for a further extension. An extension up to April 1, 1937 was granted, but was moved back to January 1, 1937. No further extensions were requested, nor granted, and cars of Type "E-4" construction were prohibited in interchange on and after January 1, 1937.

Guy Wilber
Sparks, Nevada
Thanks Guy. That does explain why photos of these cars are so rare... I don't think anyone in Soo Line land owned a camera before 1935 :-)

I remember looking at the builder's General Arrangement drawing looking for steel center sills, or auxiliary sills between the bolsters, and not finding any, but I don't recall what the draft sills were. However, I do remember that I had seen a copy of the card from the Mech. Dept. card file for one of these cars, and it specifically stated, "Draft Sills: Wood." So as built, these were class F cars. The interesting thing is rebuilding with steel draft sills only gained an additional two years of interchange service. Actually, these cars were a terrible investment; they were only twenty years old when banned from interchange in 1937, and the story of why they were purchased is something I'd really like to find, but so far, no luck.

More interesting is why, if these cars were not suitable for interchange in 1937, what are two of them doing on a 1962 roster document, marked "For Retirement"? That's only twenty five years after they could no longer be loaded off line. Checking a couple editions of the ORER I have show that the number of cars remaining from these two series was:

1953: 13 boxcars and 6 auto cars;
1958: three of each;
1962: the two for retirement listed on the roster

Two thoughts come to mind:

1) The E-4 designation is an error, and the cars had actually received full length steel sill reinforcements, either with or without cover plates, and so were actually class E-2 or E-3. This is essentially what the Soo had done to their entire wood caboose fleet during the twenties. The one in-service photo of one of the automobile cars has a 1924 weigh date, so is too early to provide any answers.

2) The cars were only E-4 grade, but were assigned to the Stores Dept. and didn't go off line. A lot of the 1932 AAR cars ended up this way in the seventies, still carrying revenue service road numbers, but stenciled for Stores Dept. service to keep them from being given to a shipper for loading.

I believe the equipment card file still exists in the society archives. I'm going to e-mail and see if the cards for the two car numbers listed for retirement in 1962 still exist. If so, maybe they will tell what improvements were made to the underframe to keep them in service so long.


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