Re: Shorpy pic Omaha railyard 1938

Bruce Smith


I’m not sure I’d say “many”.  As others have noted, the image does not lend itself well to seeing the brake wheels, but I see hand brakes on most cars.  It is important to note that the lack of a vertical shaft hand brake and wheel did not mean the car was equipped with “power hand brakes”.  While some cars (especially in 1938 when the photo was taken) would have had horizontal shaft power hand brakes, others might have had lever style hand brakes or even horizontal shaft direct take-up (not power) hand brakes.

For this photo, what I see, starting on the left, is:
Milwaukee stock car - vertical shaft and wheel, far end

Track in center being worked - Viking roof? no brake, most likely A end of car, RI79609 vertical shaft and wheel, far end, next car  vertical shaft and wheel, near end, next car  vertical shaft and wheel, far end (shaft between the W and A of WABASH), WABASH car, no brake visible, next car (N&W?) vertical shaft and wheel, near end, next car  vertical shaft and wheel, near end, then too grainy to see.

2 tracks to the right - reefer  vertical shaft and wheel, near end, Double door steel car, no visible brake (most likely power hand brake, far end), car by water column, no visible brake? maybe too grainy to see.

Far right - NP double sheathed car,  vertical shaft and wheel, near end.

So, as far as I can see, the brake wheel is not visible on 3 (maybe 4 if you count the car with only one end showing at the bottom of the photo) and two of those cars are newer steel cars, likely to have horizontal shaft brakes and the third is an older car whose brake wheel should be on the far end and may not be visible simply due to photo quality, but could also be a lever style brake.


Bruce F. Smith            
Auburn, AL
"Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield."

On September 14, 2017 at 8:00 PM "Peter Burr pburr47@... [STMFC]" <STMFC@...> wrote:

In today's Shorpy pic of a Nebraska rail yard in 1938, I notice many of the box cars pictured have no visible brake wheel. What's with that???

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