Re: fleet composition

Allen Montgomery <sandbear75@...>

Here at the Wyoming Division Historical Society, I have spent the last three years getting a feel for what the freight trains looked like on the UP. This is a summary of the way our trains look. 
Competing, parallel bridge route r.r. cars are seen moving west (empty) at the rear of the train.
East coast cars moving west are loads usually on the front end. 
East coast cars moving east are loads, seen throughout the train.
SP cars moving east (75% from Oakland,25% from LA). I have noticed in photos that they can be clumped into groups. As the SP wanted to use the Modoc line out of Oregon, most of the lumber off the SP still went to Ogden as opposed to the OSL coming into Granger.
SP and PFE cars moving west are mt's scattered throughout the train.
The Idaho division generated the greatest amount of tonnage on the UP system, so trains on and off the OSL have the largest amount of home road cars on the layout.
Unless they are loaded with manufactured goods, all flats and gons headed west are empty.
After that, anything is possible. We have operators that have been briefed on these generalities, who put together trains during the session, and I get a kick out of being able to identify a train based on the consist.
Of course, there are more 'rules' than this, but I write this as a way to highlight the ideas of this conversation. Please feel free to give me feed back.
Allen Montgomery

On Monday, July 27, 2015 9:36 AM, "'Aley, Jeff A' Jeff.A.Aley@... [STMFC]" <STMFC@...> wrote:

Scott & Mike,
               It was the same WestVaCo, eventually sold to Food Machinery Corp (FMC).
               The 1,958 cu-ft LO’s from Wyoming were carrying soda ash and were being shipped east.  A significant number of them went to the Westvaco (FMC) phosphate plant in Lawrence, KS on the UP.
With regard to the overall fleet composition, one must be careful when analyzing data for the UP (and, I presume, other RR’s as well).  Not all trains looked the same.  In fact, I believe many professional railroaders could often identify a train by its consist, because the car types were similar on a day-to-day basis.  The UP obviously operated “Fruit Trains” that were dominated by reefers (mostly, but not exclusively PFE).  In addition, we can learn from Mark Amfahr’s excellent articles in The Streamliner that they operated merchandise trains (almost entirely loaded box cars for the freight houses), lumber extras (many double-door box cars), and drag freights (mostly empties, plus low-value loads such as soda ash, sand, gravel, and coal).
Given that the trains were different, and given that we usually only have data for a SAMPLE of the trains, a statistician can see that our data might be highly biased.
Oh, and it gets worse.  The UP would also re-arrange the trains based on tonnage.  So they might combine all of a fruit train with the first quarter of a merchandise train to fill out the tonnage, and then send it out.  This has the effect of convoluting the data even further, but doesn’t mix the cars up “enough” to make each train “random”.
This is not to say that we should ignore data completely and just do whatever we like.  I’m am simply saying (as others have before) that we must be cautious when we draw conclusions from the data.

From: STMFC@... [mailto:STMFC@...]
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2015 12:26 AM
To: Steam Era Freight Cars
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: fleet composition
two points of contention, not specifically related to your argument.
1- I thought a previous post established that Westvaco (Wyoming), and Westvaco (West Virginia) were two separate companies, and,
2_ Does winter in Laramie really last 9 months? :)
Scott Haycock


Tim O'Connor says:

"To me those high ATSF and MILW numbers reveal a traffic artifact -- In
other words,
there was probably some identifiable cause (like someone buying large
quantities of
grain from Topeka KS, or whatever). In fact, ATSF-MILW-NP-CNW are all
associated with grain, MILW-NP are also strongly associated with lumber, and
strongly associated with paper too."

But, do we really care why ATSF and MILW show up more often than expected?
By the same token, do we care what unusual event occurred causing 36 SP box
cars to find a home in a WB UP frt on Sherman Hill in '53? I mean, maybe the
SP yard master in Ogden was told to assemble a train of SP box cars for a
publicity photo or perhaps an earthquake derailed a large number of SP box
cars in Sacramento and SP wanted their cars from points east of SLC. Perhaps
the objective is to develop "drivers"...or predictors and many seem to be
seeking that. OTOH, I have to say that I don't care why frt car traffic
produced such and such cars at such and such places. I might be surprised at
the consist of some trains but, again, if all I'm trying to do is provide a
simulation of frt car activity at a specific time...I'll go with what I know
for sure happened rather than what should have happened [ or what should not
have happened ].

For example, Westvaco leased 5 LO's from SHPX for their Chlorine Div, cars
25390-25394. Westvaco apparently had sites in various locals...including
West Va and, surprise!, Wyoming. In fact the WY location was known
as...surprise again!...Westvaco. Westvaco also leased 20 cars from SHPX for
their chemical Div. Of these, cars 25495 to 25500 were assigned to the WY
site. The book Big Boy Collection has photos of Laramie showing several of
the Westvaco cars but I am unable to determine the car numbers although one
chemical car can be seen. I believe there is a better photo spread on these
cars at Laramie but I have not found it...yet. Nooooo problem. I have 3 of
the Bowser 1958 Westvaco LO's numbered 25392-25394. Westvaco had 5 of these
cars in their Chlorine Div and I have 3 of them. Now let's see. The photo
was apparently taken in 1956, 3 yrs into the future. Hmmm. Oh well, what's
three yrs? So, assuming my '49 Fraley's car count for 34 trains and the '49
traffic of 35 trains per day still holds in '56, and we project the '49 data
to 1956, we have 134,890 cars passing through Laramie and at least 7 or so
are Westvaco's. But which...chlorine or chemical? If 3 of the cars were
chlorine, I have them covered. Mind you, however, every day is May 14 so it
isn't as if I'm having the 3 cars appear every day in the summer/spring of
1953. Can't be winter [ which is Sep 1 through June1 ], the photo backdrops
were shot in a very wet and green June.

If the Fraley '49 data works for '53 [ traffic wise ], we can expect 35
trains to roll through on May 14. That's a mere 2870 cars. Hmmm. If 3 were
Westvaco's that means .001% of the cars are Westvaco's. Given that I am
using about 300 frt cars and only 8 trains, I should use about 0.3 of a
Westvaco car IF the .001% were even remotely correct. Given that UP ran
134890 cars through Laramie during the approximate month and a half and UP,
itself owned about 50,000 cars, I kind of doubt that 135 Westvaco's would
show up. I mean...where are these damned things coming from?

So, probably I should use about one Westvaco bolt.

The photo spread shows another interesting car. Yep, a CN box car. Now

Mike Brock

Join { to automatically receive all group messages.