Re: Adjusting the gondola fleet

Todd Sullivan

Hi Fran,
I checked in my January 1952 ORER (I model 1952), and most large railroads' listings have a "Recapitulation of Car Equipment" at the end of the main listings of cars by number series.  The Recapitulation summarizes the railroad's cars by AAR class (X = boxcars, G = gondolas, etc.) by (interior) length, and it also gives the number of cars of that length, the each car group's cubic foot capacity and the capacity in pounds.  While this doesn't give you quite the summary you were looking for, it is another starting point.

I usually tackle problems such as yours by listing the RRs on each end of the segment I model and the industries they served that are of interest.  (In this case, the industries that ship or receives stuff in gons.)  For example, I know that the B&O served the big steel mill at Sparrows Point, so having some idea of what that mill produced would help.  If it produced rolled structural steel shapes, then (mostly) B&O mill gondolas from 41' to 65' long would be appropriate.  Pipe or steel plate requires different gons.  As another for instance, if the mill used scrap steel as part of its raw material, then shorter gons from RRs to the west and south with scrap loads make sense.  I suspect you get the drift.

Rather than trying to do this all at once and get it perfect (impossible for most of us mortals), I'd suggest doing a study of your connecting and neighboring RRs, then researching the industries they served (Google and Wikipedia are your friends), going through those RRs' Recapitulation listings in the ORER, and do some thoughtful estimating.  That could give you a reasonable beginning fleet of gondolas.  As time goes on, you'll probably come across more information that will help you grow your understanding, and you can modify your fleet over time.  If visitors or other critics object to what they see, for instance, ask them why, and use their knowledge to help you refine your fleet.  ...  I decided to model East Portland and Portland OR in 1952 about 5 years ago, and I started looking for information to help.  My collection of photos and information was initially small, but it has probably grown 3 or 4 times larger since I started, most of it from the Internet and publications.

I hope this helps.

Todd Sullivan

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