Re: Ratios

Donald B. Valentine <riverman_vt@...>

Randy Hamill wrote:

"Although I generally agree with the Gilbert-Nelson approach, along with Bruce Smith’s percentages, they are very dependent upon the road you model. 

Bruce models the PRR, so 75% home road hoppers on any coal hauling road makes sense. But I model the NH that has a modest fleet of hoppers of less than 1,000, with little originating traffic that would send them offline. So home road hoppers make up a very small part of my fleet.

Understanding your road’s traffic is very important. For example, as much as 60% of the coal entering CT in my era was by water. That appears to have been Pocahontas and other bituminous coming through Baltimore, and I think was the primary source of coal loaded in NH hoppers to be distributed to industry, but particularly the railroad’s facilities. On the other hand, anthracite came primarily via Maybrook, unless you were in the vicinity of NYC, in which case it came mostly by float via Jersey City and Greenville. So I go with the anthracite hoppers as a mix of 75% home road of their loading point.

So the mix of hoppers is very dependent on whether you’re modeling a coal road or not, I think.

Gondolas and flats are the same, and since the NH was heavily involved in manufacturing, gondolas were also predominantly foreign. Like the hoppers, I think gondolas and flats are far more dependent on the home road of the loading point. 

I also think we often have too little variety (and too few) “rare” cars. I have two pictures, from different days, with ATSF Ga-8 gons, and these weren’t photographed because of their rarity, they just happened to be on those trains. Likewise the photos of the Litchfield & Madison gondola in New Britain. Numerous pictures of C&I hoppers, etc.

I’m not saying those happen every day, but based on those and many, many other photos that have “rare” cars (often in the background) show that there’s a wider variety than many allow. I think we often make the mistake of not having enough different “rare” cars to mix in, making the couple of rare cars that are owned very common on our layouts."


Hi Randy and all,

    I could not agree more with the last nine words of your first sentence, "they are very dependent upon the road you model".
The rest of what u have presented echos my own experience as well. I'm not going to suggest that Bruce's percentages are
incorrect but they in no way reflect traffic patterns of the roads in Northern New England. The key point that is borne out in hundreds of action photos of trains in Northern New England is that as much as 75 to 80% of the cars found in trains within the region were all boxcars! That seems to be quite different than the averages that have been suggested by Bruce and others. This is particularly true in the 1945 to 1950 period that I model. Using the Central Vermont as an example, the bulk of the traffic arriving in Italy Yard in St. Albans, Vermont, not 20 miles south of the Canadian border was brought there by parent Canadian National in trains that originated in the American mid-west, may not have been switched since leaving Chicago if originating on the Grand Trunk Western and was often picked up with CV #700 class 2-10-4's operating as far west as Brockville, Ontario and coming to St. Albans via the former Canada Atlantic line from Coteau Jct. and through Valleyfield, PQ to by-pass Montreal. Needless to state much of this was differential traffic taking advantage of the lower freight rates this provided. Much of it was also grain from both the American West and the Canadian West. Most of theat from the Canadian West was export grain while muchof the from the American midwest would be processed in transit under that rating system in grain mills in Northern New England for shipment further south in 100 lb. bags in boxcars that could be headed home that way or in boxcars frm whichever road the grain was processed on. Carloads of Canadian lumber for on line delivery or overhead traffic must also be considered. Parts for the Ford Assembly Plant formerly located in Somerville, Mass. also cam in boxcars excepet for the framws , which usually came in DT&I gons via the Canadian Pacific all the way from Windsor, Ontario until they arrived on the B&M at Wells River, VT. The traffic coming down the Grand Trunk in this period was much the same as a fair amount of grain was still going out through Portland, Maine in this era. Any Canadian made paper was also coming in boxcars.The hopper cars we saw were all coming up form the south and the further north one traveled the few of them were seen. Here to coal cold be seen coming north in B&O cars, the most plentiful and the cars most coal for the CV arrived in. Anthracite was largely found in D&H, Erie, Lackawanna or Reading cars. Pennsy and NYC cars were fairly common and a few C&O and N&W cars could be seen. Most coal from the C&O and N&W was tide coal that arrived at New England ports and was delivered in home road hoppers. Even the little Rutland handled much of the coal received from the NYC at Norwood, NY in this manner by transfering it to home road cars through the use of it large coal trestle at the side of its yard in ALburgh, VT. Tank cars in those years were not as common as hoppers but almost all gasoline and oil arrived in 8,000 and 10,000 gal. tank cars, again with fewer being seen the further north one went. With this traffic basis my car fleet does not begin to meet what Bruce has suggested for percentages and I don't think anything has been missed!

Cordially, Don Valentine

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