Re: A few period boxcar roofs 1948 St Louis

Ken Adams

These photos of car roofs remind us of the prevalence of soot from coal burning in the steam and transition eras. Rain apparently didn't wash much off. Reduced maintenance in the depression era and then WW 2 with car shortages and less available labor for washing cars would contribute to the grimy appearance.  As an early 1950's modeler of the far west should all of the box cars more than a few months after building or a repaint have shown this dark coating.  Railroads weren't the only source of the soot as everything burned coal in large parts of the country. 

I am not sure that the bunker oil burned in the far western part of the country caused as much soot or just that it was spread/dissipated over much larger areas.  Alco and Baldwin diesels certainly put out clouds of black exhaust.
Ken Adams
Still in splendid Shelter In Place solitude, about half way up Walnut Creek

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