Re: USA boxes

Richard Hendrickson

Rupert Gamelin asks:

Did the Army also have reporting marks for non-captive service equipment or
did they use railroad owned equipment? Do the dimensions of the cars (inside
length of 36' 6", width of 8' 6", height of 7' 10" and a capacity of 2432
cu. ft.) match other Army boxes?
Yes, USOX, USQX, and CWSX, but in the 1940s they were applied to tank cars
and container flat cars, not box cars. However, AAR steel box cars were
built for the army before and during WW II which had USAX reporting marks
and were not listed in the ORERs. I have a photo of USAX 25617 which
appears to have been built to the same design as the B&O's M-55c class (7'
corrugated doors, flush riveted roof, 4-5 rectangular rib ends) except that
it did not have a Duryea underframe. And I also have a ca. 1947 photo of
USAX 242978, a 1937 standard AAR box car, stenciled "Leased to A.T.& S.F
Return to Richmond Calif. When Empty." This car carried "Dangerous"
placards, but chalk-marked on the side was "Hills Bros. Coffee." I have no
explanation to offer for any of this.

While writing the above, I remembered seeing a photo of an army box car in
the Morris Abowitz slide collection. I looked it up and I found a color
slide of a 36' wood sheathed box car stenciled with "USA" reporting marks,
a number that appears to be "830," and "Denver Ordnace Plant." The car was
painted light gray and had 7-7 inverse corrugated ends, steel underframe
with straight center sills, flexible metal-sheathed roof, and wood doors -
in short, construction typical of the WW-I /early 1920s era. What's more,
it appears to have had KC air brake equipment, not AB. I'm pretty sure
this must have been one of the cars that was listed briefly in the CB&Q's
ORER entries as being leased from the army. But here's the surprise; the
photo was taken at the SP's Taylor Yard in Los Angeles in - are you ready
for this? - 1961. Yet there is no reference to any cars with USA reporting
marks in any of the ORERs I have from the 1950s and early '60s. And
certainly this car was an anachronism by 1961, especially if I'm right
about the K brakes, which were outlawed in interchange after mid-'53. It
would certainly be interesting to know how this car got to LA in 1961, and
what the SP's car clerks made of it when they couldn't find it in the

Richard H. Hendrickson
Ashland, Oregon 97520

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