Re: Car designs and the USRA

Kenneth Montero


Please excuse my ignorance.

Please provide Mr. Lane's first name and the title of his publication that you describe in your email (below) regarding USRA standard designs. It sounds like it would be interesting to read.

Ken Montero

On 01/29/2023 7:33 PM Dennis Storzek via <soolinehistory@...> wrote:

Jim DIck wrote:

          First of all, what does a real railroad think of Single Sheathed vs Double Sheathed, read the attachments. And please note the date of the letter is right in the USRA era.
Sure. Written when most railroad CMOs still believed in double sheathing, and at the dawn of the time when nearly everyone changed their mind. And NP, of course, was a late holdout on this topic, along with GN.

Tony Thompson

I think we've beaten the AI topic to death, so I've changed the subject line. First a word about how the decision was made as to which boxcars to build... Lane goes into this in his seminal work on the USRA standard designs, quoting, I believe, the minutes of the meeting where the vote was taken to put the cars in production. As I recall, the initial motion was made to only order the single sheathed car. In the ensuing discussion the objection was raised that this design required long lengths of clear lumber for lining, and perhaps the order would be delayed trying to procure enough for 50,000 cars, whereupon the motion was amended to order 25,000 single sheathed and 25,000 double sheathed boxcars, which subsequently passed. Absolutely NO discussion of the likes and dislikes of any railroad was quoted.

Giving this further thought, I wonder how exactly the decision was made as to exactly what kind of cars to design. The double sheathed car makes sense; a very conservative, almost antiquated design, that seems to borrow heavily from a series of automobile cars the NYCS had built the previous year; this was the safe bet. The single sheathed car was much more 'cutting edge' with its pressed steel framing members and straight center sill. The all steel car? I can't believe that anyone seriously thought that it was the solution to the war emergency; it appears to me that someone was using the committee to design a state-of-the-art prototype to be copied after the war. It would be interesting to see what was discussed when these decisions were made. I wonder if any more meeting minutes survive?

Dennis Storzek

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