Boxcar travels, was Looking for Box Car Advert.

Bruce Smith


It is important to understand that for the period of this list, the railroads did not “control” the loading and routing of their general service boxcars.  This was controlled by the car service rules. Those rules were intended to load home road cars or foreign cars headed in the direction of home preferentially.  Railroads were also under some pressure to either load or get empty foreign road cars off their rails due to per diem charges. Note that I said “in the direction of home” above and that could be interpreted somewhat loosely.  Additionally, at the level of the local office, looking for a car to satisfy a customer, these rules were often regarded, much like the pirate book of rules, more as suggestions, than law ;)  A consequence of this was that general service boxcars traveled widely on US rails, giving the impression of being “free rollers”, although that wasn’t 100% true. Both the Monon and PRR had public relations campaigns centered on the travels of one of their boxcars.

The observations above are the distillation of many, many discussions on this list regarding boxcar distribution. We often refer to what I have described as the “Nelson-Gilbert” model, named after two individuals on this list. HOWEVER, it is important to realize that the N-G model does not apply to home road cars, special service cars, cars in dedicated service, individual trains, or any car type other than boxcars (or flat cars).  In addition, if you are using the model to predict traffic for a model railroad, it does not do as well on more lightly traveled branch lines as it does on main lines.



Bruce F. Smith            

Auburn, AL

"Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield."

On May 1, 2017, at 12:43 AM, clark3332003@... [STMFC] <STMFC@...> wrote:

When did boxcars become common user?

Phil 'expat limey' Clark, Catarman, N. Samar, Philippines. 

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