Re: Combo Door Box Cars

Dave Sarther


You are spot on about part of the commodities carried in this sort of box car. The 6' sliding door was used as the traditional opening to load grain into the car while the plug door stayed closed and stopped grain from leaking out. The 8' door, or some cases depending on the builder, the 6' plug door was used in conjunction with the sliding door to create a wider opening to load lumber with a forklift. These cars were manufactured for the GN at their St Cloud shops (1956, 1958-1960) in addition to others purchased from AC&F, the NP made their own cars at their Brainerd Shops (1959-1960) and purchased others from Pullman Standard while the CB&Q manufactured all their cars at their Havelock Shops (1959-1961). I have found no examples of railroads in the east using these cars but I really haven't looked to hard. The original models of the cars offered by Accurail show that they were lettered for GN. NP, CB&Q and Soo as I recall. While the Accurail model was a fine model filling a niche it was far from accurate for any of the Granger Roads of the West/Northwest.

I became interested in these cars when I spotted rather significant differences between the models available and the photos of cars found in various NP, GN and CB&Q "Equipment" books. Further research also turned up rather significant distinctions between a few other Granger Roads Combo Door 40' cars (most notably the Rock Island, Milw Rd to mention two other roads). It seems that no two railroads followed the same plan and no two manufacturers of cars for the same railroad made the cars the same way. I researched the topic rather exyensively uncovering drawings for the cars, many builders photos of both ends and both sides of cars and even some AFE's (Authorization For Expenditure) for the CB&Q cars which specify the not just the type of equipment but the sub-contractors for specific components used. This material was outlined on earlier STMFC postings I made earlier this Spring and Summer. Both the NP Historical Association (NPRHA) and Great Northern Historical Society (GNRHS) ran a feature about their respective cars in their Summer 2012 issues. I worked with a very accomplished resin caster, Chad Boas, to make castings available for very exact models of the GN, NP and CB&Q cars along with Jerry Glow who issued decals with previously missing stencil details. Both Chad and Jerry still sell the components to complete accurate versions of these three Hill Roads 40' Combo Door Cars.

Should you wish more information regarding these unusual cars please contact me off-line and I will be more than happy to share my research.

Later, Dave S. Tucson, AZ

-----Original Message-----
From: polaris4525 <>
To: STMFC <>
Sent: Fri, Dec 14, 2012 4:21 pm
Subject: [STMFC] Combo Door Box Cars

During the early-mid 50's some 40' combo door boxcars, as represented bu Accurail's 3800-series, began to appear on Western/Northwestern Roads.

What was the purpose of providing a boxcar with both a plug door and a sliding door? As the GN and NP seemed to be proponents of this configuration, I would speculate that this had something to do with lumber shipments, but I have never been able to verify this. Did any Eastern roads own such cars?

Jim Kubanick
Morgantown WV

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