Re: questions regarding ACF Carbon Black Hopper

Ed Hawkins

On Feb 4, 2021, at 8:07 AM, vapeurchapelon <j.markwart@...> wrote:

I would like to get one of these, but at first have questions which need an answer in order to decide for or against a purchase.
1. How many of these cars were in existence? Were they very rare?
2. Did they travel nationwide or usually not far around their owners?
3. The Micronex car is most attractive to me, but the "NEW date" is 1934 - far too early for my period of post-war years. Is this lettering scheme correct for my period that I only would have to change that date?

I’ll take a stab at answering your questions. 

Over time during the STMFC period were several sizes of carbon black cars to include capacities of 3000, 3400, 3465, 3480 & 3500 cubic feet. The OMI model is based on the 3000 cu. ft cars, and slightly more than 600 cars were built by ACF, GATC, and PSC (Pressed Steel Car Co.) from late 1933 thru 1949 with a production break during World War II. The larger cars collectively added to slightly less than 300 cars built from 1950 thru 1959 by ACF, GATC, Magor, and Thrall.

The following quantities of 3000 cu. ft. cars were in service as of Jan. 1952.

CABX - 116 Cabot
CCX - 95 Columbian Carbon
JMHX - 60 J.M. Huber
UCBX - 120 United Carbon

Several others had 40 cars or less in Jan. 1952: CCCX (40), CLTX (15), GACX (25), SHPX (20), SRCX (25), WITX (18). Some of these cars were transfers from previous original owners.

For accurate models, the modeler should be aware that not all 3000 cu. ft. cars were identical. Cars built from late 1933 thru early 1942 came with wood running boards and vertical-staff hand brakes as were used on the OMI model. Due to WPB restrictions during World War II, production of carbon black cars were on hold from mid-1942 thru 1946. Production of 3000 cu. ft. carbon black cars resumed in 1947 with wood running boards, but hand brakes were changed to power-type (Ajax). Cars built in 1948-1949 continued with power hand brakes, and running boards were changed to steel. I’m unaware of any 3000 cu. ft cars built after ca. 8-49. 

Regarding the three OMI models, I’ll address each one individually. 

1. CLTX 107 should be from series 106-110, 5 cars built 11-36 by ACF (lot 1572). The model is generally correct except for the build date. The 9-34 build date on the model would be accurate for CLTX 101-105 built by ACF in lot 1376. It’s highly doubtful if the original lettering would have been found in the postwar years, and it will take a photo of one of the 15 CLTX cars 101-115 to know how the cars were stenciled in the postwar years.

2. CABX 127 matches the scheme of an in-service photo of CABX 78 taken ca. 1948 (Charles E. Winters collection). Given the model has a wood running board & vertical-staff hand brake, the car number 127 is incorrect. The model can be made correct for the postwar years if the car number is changed from 31 thru 106. Build date stencils would of course depend on the car number selected, and could one of many from 12-34 thru 4-42.

Conversely, the CABX 127 model can be corrected for prototype cars CABX 127-146, built 8-49 by ACF (lot 3389), which came with Apex Tri-lok rectangular open-grid running boards & Ajax power hand brakes.

3. JMHX 226 was from original series JMHX 225-230, 6 cars built 12-40 in ACF lot 2108. For many years the J.M. Huber cars had serif-style stencils for their 3000 cu. ft. cars built 12-35 thru 1-42, and on larger 3480 cu. ft. cars built in 5-52 per in-service photo of 267 from series JMHX 266-280. The company name stencils appear to have been 7” high extending across only the middle section of the car. I’ve not seen any 1940s-1950s photos of J.M. Huber cars matching the 226 model, and based on limited photos in my personal collection I believe this scheme would not be accurate for your 1953 cut-off date. Otherwise, the model could corrected for your period of interest by re-lettering with smaller serif stencils.

Depending on how you might choose to proceed, I can help by providing you a scan to reflect the specific car of interest. 

Hope this helps.
Regards, Ed Hawkins

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