Re: Stars On Boxcar Door?

Bruce Smith


Nope.  Absolutely not the case here.  The star for messenger equipped cars was adopted in 1948.  The photo was taken in 1936 of an AUTOMOBILE boxcar.  I am not aware of any boxcar, ever, equipped with auto loaders (the horizontal white stripe on the door) and messenger service (desk and toilet).


Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL

From: STMFC@... on behalf of MDelvec952@... [STMFC]
Sent: Thursday, August 4, 2016 10:37 AM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Stars On Boxcar Door?

On many roads a star on the door or near the number on a baggage or express car would signify that the car was equipped for a messenger, and that someone may be on board.  We don't know the story behind this photo, but if the car was intended to carry any of those people in a passenger train (one does have a bed roll), that may be the case here. There is a camp car nearby.

On the Lackawanna steel cabooses a star near the number denoted a flush toilet. Might convey the same message, after all.

              ....Mike Del Vecchio

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim O'Connor timboconnor@... [STMFC] To: STMFC
Sent: Thu, Aug 4, 2016 11:18 am
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Stars On Boxcar Door?


The car appears to have steel side sheathing. The Southern Pacific
had single sheathed auto box cars built with steel sheathing, such as
the 50 foot A-50-10. But the posts and diagonals are closer together
than on that SP car, so I wonder if this is a 40 foot car.

Tim O'Connor


I believe that the stars are a notation as to the type of automobile rack in the car. These marking usually denote the type of loader, the clearance and the number of floor tubes, but it is my understanding that custom markings could be used… and given the photo is relatively early in tthe auto rack era it may be before the general rules were created.

I love the script "autos" on the door… but I can't tell if it is a stencil or a challk mark.


Bruce F. Smith           

Does anyone know the meaning of the two stars on the boxcar door seen on this photo link?
Bob Chaparro

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