On January 13, 2018 at 9:53 AM "Guy Wilber guycwilber@... [STMFC]" <STMFC@...> wrote:
“Does anyone know how common the use of flat cars for automobile shipments was "back in the day”?”
It was a necessity and somewhat common from (roughly) the 1915-1925 period. The railroads couldn’t supply enough auto cars to fulfill the needs of the manufactures, thus many utilized flats and gondolas to transport automobiles and light trucks.
Buick shipped “train loads” to distribution points with regularity on flat cars. They also “decked” or “tilted” autos; originally with wood “horses” and eventually purchased steel “Horses” from a company called Carbo. At one point they had nearly 2000 pair of the steel type. Back shipments, damage, labor costs, and theft took a major toll on this apparatus.
As auto car quantities increased, Buick, along with most manufacturers, preferred closed cars in which they also decked autos well in advance of the installations of Evans Auto~Loaders (circa 1932).
Decking, or tilting, autos in much the same fashion as the Evans and NYC systems (early on) was essential in order to ship four, or more, autos needed to meet minimum tonnage rates established within tariffs.