Re: Photo: Western Maryland Hopper 20049 With Coal Load

Eric Hansmann

I have a 1927 WM fleet inventory file that Larry Kline compiled over 20 years ago. This specific car number (20165) is not among the inventory but it appears in the 1943 ORER in the 165000-21199 car series. Larry’s inventory noted the 165000-17699 hoppers were built in the Company Shops in December 1927, and notes 4629 cars listed in the January 1943 ORER.


USRA control of the WM was not kind to their hopper fleet. The USRA used loaded cars to warehouse coal until there was a need. Water added to coal results in an acid that plays havoc with sheet steel. When USRA control was relinquished in March 1920, much of the WM coal hopper fleet needed major repair.


Larry worked with Bill Oertly to compile historic data on the WM freight car fleet. They found the company embarked on a major hopper rebuilding program that started in late 1927. The WM bought 500 new hoppers (15000-15499) from Bethlehem Steel in February 1927, which are the original channel side stake hoppers with end sills similar to the USRA hopper design. The rebuilding program copied elements of these new cars. Many of the oldest WM hoppers were retired. Just before WW1, the company installed 2817 cars from Pullman in May 1916, and another 1926 hoppers from Pullman in January 1917. These cars were the rebuilding targets. Attached is one of the Pullman built WM hoppers in the Pittsburgh P&LE yards, circa 1926. Note the heavy end sill and T-Section Bettendorf trucks similar to the components on WM 20165 shared in the original link.


I noticed a 1926 build date stencil on WM 20165. Larry and I had several discussions about the WM fleet before he passed away. In one of those conversations he mentioned the hopper rebuilding program probably started before 1927. I was modeling the WM in a November 1926 setting back then, so I had a major interest in properly modeling the hopper fleet. WM 20165 may have been one of the early rebuilds.


Additionally, it seems some rebuilt cars received an updated built date stencil during this period. I’ve seen images of a few B&O freight cars rebuilt in the Teens at the Ralston Steel Car Company. The cars received steel center sills and updated hardware to comply with the 1911 amendment to the Safety Appliances Act. They have updated built date stencils from that work, not the original built dates from 10-12 years previous.



Eric Hansmann

Murfreesboro, TN

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