Re: US Navy Box Car

John Barry


Very nice job on the variation on the 36 foot box theme. You noted the number style dates from 1948, do you know what it was after purchase in 1944? I model the Santa Fe through Port Chicago at the end of 1944.

John Barry
ATSF North Bay Lines 
Golden Gates & Fast Freights 
Lovettsville, VA


PO Box 44736 
Washington, DC 20026-4736


On Mon, 12/31/18, Ken Adams <smadanek44g@...> wrote:

Subject: [RealSTMFC] US Navy Box Car
Date: Monday, December 31, 2018, 1:15 PM

This car was originally Denver and Rio Grande #63383 and
exists today at the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista
California. In 1944 the Rio Grande sold it to the US Navy as
one of the replacements for wood box cars destroyed in the
monstrous July 17, 1944 explosion of ammunition ships and
stores being loaded at the Port Chicago California naval
transportation facility. It remained in use to transfer
munitions between warehouses and ships from 1944 to 1971
when it was donated to the Western Railway museum along with
another 36 foot box car. The museum repainted it into Rio
Grande box car red. I was able to visit the train shed it
was stored in and take a few phone camera snaps. 

An article about the Rio Grande 36 foot box cars and
modeling them using the Accurail 1400 series box cars in the
Rio Grande Modeling and Historical Society Prospector
quarterly magazine got me started. Grab irons were replaced
with 24" grabs (Tichy) and new end beams made from U
shape channel. The stirrup/sidebeam steps are Grandt Line
Narrow gauge steps and may be too short for a standard gauge
car, but they look right.  The under frame was modified
so the beams correctly align with the doors. It took a while
but I located US Navy transfers from Clover house to match
the car. Unfortunately they did not go on completely on the
side of the car I am not showing.  I am thinking about
copying the Clover House transfers to decal paper to do a
second car. 

The cars were all Navy off white color when delivered to the
WRM according to the slide I located on the WRM
website.  As far as I know they were in this color in
1948-54 which is my target period. The underside of 63383 is
still an off white or very very light grey (and the K brake
cylinder still lettered for a USN 1971 brake test.) 
 I used spray can Tamiya White Primer to cover the
boxcar red of the Accurail painted without road name body
and as the base color which covered completely after 2
coats. I then brushed an overcoat of Tamiya acrylic paint
with 5 parts white mixed with 1 part light sky grey thinned
with 1 part Tamiya acrylic thinner. I left it a bit

My research indicates the Navy non sea-going asset equipment
numbering system (61-00202) dates from 1948. 

I became very interested in these box cars and their story.
My shunting yard used for testing models and pictures is in
theory the SP Avon Contra Costa yard where the San Ramon
branch left the San Joaquin line to go south.  Avon
yard is only 1 mile west of the Port Chicago/Concord Navel
Weapons station interchange trackage. And I live 10 miles
south in Walnut Creek where the July 17, 1944 explosion
which completely destroyed two loading cargo ships and
killed 332 people was heard. Although unlikely, I theorize
the unloaded car was occasionally seen at Avon yard as a
buffer car for switching explosive cargo to the Navy

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