Re: Gondola Load

Garth Groff <sarahsan@...>


From my observation, the WP was very parsimonious about repainting older rolling stock, and some boxcars went right into MW service in the 1970s with their original white lettering. Remember, the WP flirted with bankruptcy during their whole long existence (some have said it was an "on-going affair"). Repainting a 1947 car to the 1949 aluminum scheme would have been rare,
though I'm sure it did happen during major repairs. The aluminum scheme was discontinued in mid-1955 after just six years (50' single-door PS-1s 36001-36025 delivered in June 1955 where probably the last purchased with aluminum lettering). Repainting the 1947 cars in the 1955-1962 yellow "Feather River Route" lettering without a herald would have been more likely.

The switch to aluminum lettering apparently happened in 1949. In his book WESTERN PACIFIC COLOR GUIDE TO FREIGHT AND PASSENGER EQUIPMENT, Jim Eager says that gondolas 6300-6400 were the first cars to wear the aluminum lettering. Supposedly the change was themed to the inauguration of the California Zephyr.

As far as I can tell from color photographs, the 1951 PS-1s
(20821-21400) were the first WP boxcars to be delivered with black ends. I could be wrong about this, but I think the 1947 cars were all-FCR and came with white lettering.

The black ends and roof were not painted. This was car cement, and was both difficult and expensive to remove. If it was in good condition, only the sides would have been repainted. Example: The original twenty silver PS-1 boxcars in series 19501-19520 built by Pullman in 1951 were silver on their ends and roofs. When it was decided in 1953 to expand the class by having Pullman add "compartmentizers" to 22 more cars from the main series (20821-21400), WP balked at the expense of having Pullman blast off the car cement, and the cars returned to the WP as 19521-19542 with their black ends and roofs. It appears that with the 1955 repaints, any remaining car cement was removed, as I have never seen a car (or photo) in this paint scheme with black ends. Ditto for DF/Compartmentizer/load restrainer boxcars that were repainted into the 1957/58 small orange feather and "Rides Like a Feather" paint scheme boxcars. All of these cars, including
19521-19542, received FCR ends and roofs. Apparently by then the WP had gotten over their cheapness regarding car cement, or it was in such bad condition the remainder had to be removed.

Keep in mind that consistency was never a strong suit on the WP. What the bean counters in San Francisco decided was sometimes ignored by the Jeffrey Shops crews in Sacramento. The WP was also a great experimenter (when they had the cash), always looking for some new technology or image that would give them an edge over the SP. Their boxcars were rolling billboards to these changes.

The WP wasn't particularly good about preserving their records either. The CSRM Library in Sacramento might have some painting standards. I obtained a detailed large scale drawing of the 16001 series boxcars from them, which was actually an early painting standards sheet.

Yours Aye,

Garth Groff

On 4/2/19 12:26 AM, Ed Hawkins wrote:

On Apr 1, 2019, at 4:37 PM, Garth Groff <sarahsan@...> wrote:

The Branchline car was their stock number 1612, a 1947 car with 4/4 improved Dreadnaught ends and a 7' door. Branchline's car came with silver lettering. It should have been white, and this was corrected on the special run Branchline did for the PCR NMRA.

The box cars offered by Branchline Trains were typically available in a 4-pack, which in some cases represented a mix of both new and repainted cars, plus a 5th model available to be bought as a single car. The 4-packs were often broken up by hobby shops and sold individually. 

For the BT 1612 models (20554, 20558, 20623, 20712, 20790) all five were intended to represent repainted cars with aluminum stencils. The model I have is the single model WP 20623 with SAC 6-52 reweigh stencils following essentially the same paint & lettering used on 580 WP 20821-21400 PS-1 box cars built in late 1951 that received aluminum stencils and black roof & ends. 

The later WP models with BT 2003 catalogue number via the PCR Regional NMRA Convention as denoted on the label, should have New 8-47 stencils (possibly other months), white stencils, and a Mount Vernon builder badge. 

I recall that when BT was making plans to produce these WP models that photos of early to mid-1950s repainted cars with aluminum stencils were difficult to locate, and the roof & end colors were not definitive. Does anyone know if repainted cars from WP 20551-20800 retained their original black roof & ends, or were the roof & ends painted the same color as the sides? I ask because to this day I don’t know for sure what the roof & end color of my model should be. 

Also, I’m curious if there is a WP box car paint/stencil drawing that denotes a revision & date when the change from white to aluminum stencils was made & if such a drawing defines the roof & ends for repainted cars with aluminum stencils during the early 1950s & before the circa June 1955 change to yellow stencils.

If the paint/stencil drawings aren’t known to exist, in the 17 years that have passed since these Branchline WP models were released circa May 2002, has one or more definitive photos been located to help determine the color of the roof & ends on repainted WP 20551-20800 series box cars?
Ed Hawkins

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