Paul Woods <paul@...>
Thanks for posting this, it is a great find. It is interesting that the top three railroads conveyed the cars for half of their total mileage, but what I found most informative was the large number of roads that only accounted for a small mileage, meaning that the cars probably visited/passed through many of them only once in the 13 months that they were being monitored. Anyone with more freight cars on their layout than they know what to do with should rejoice, because it would seem that some cars should only be seen once a year....they could be considered to be the model railroad equivalent of Haley's Comet!
The figures got me thinking....nine round trips in three months is a cycle time of ten days, give or take - I can't decide if the text is saying nine round trips per car or combined total for both cars so I'm assuming shortest turnaround time in this instance. I'm guessing that the cars would be moved quite rapidly once loaded, only taking two or three days to reach destination and be unloaded, so how was the remaining time taken up? They would have to be cleaned, sure, but what I am most curious about is how much time such cars would spend just parked in a spur waiting for the next call to action? It could add some extra operational interest, sending a switcher out to store or retrieve empty cars all over a layout. What happened to private-owner cars; were they always stenciled with a 'when empty return to....' or could they be left hanging around the destination road's tracks until next called upon?
I know foreign-road cars would be returned as soon as possible, but certainly home road cars might need to be stored for a while, and even foreign cars might have to be stored for a day or two until the next local could pick them up. If it's the depths of winter and your sorting yard is jammed up with coal hoppers then might an empty reefer get shoved down a spur out of the way for a day? Am I forgetting some important car handling rule or is this a situation that arose now and then?