Re: History of corrugated box car ends?

Richard Hendrickson

I will add to the useful analyses provided by resident engineers Tony
Thompson and Jeff English that X29-style plate steel ends had internal
stiffeners in the form of vertical hat-shaped end posts (that's what those
rows of vertical rivets on the outsides of the ends were about) to which
internal wood linings were attached and which, up to a point, absorbed
impacts from shifting cargo.

Corrugated steel ends, as Jeff says, began to appear ca. 1910, first with
the corrugations stamped inward and later with the corrugations facing
outward (in the teens the Canadian Pacific built an experimental single
sheathed box car in which both the end and side sheathing was corrugated
steel). Prior to their development, wood ends were the most vulnerable
part of a box car, and damage to car ends from rough train handling causing
the cargo to shift was a chronic problem. Corrugated steel ends, though
they didn't entirely eliminate the problem, greatly reduced it, and after
corrugated ends were applied to all of the USRA box cars, relatively few
box and auto cars were built without them.

The Dreadnaught end, which first began to appear in the mid-1920s, was even
stiffer and more energy-abosrbent than corrugated ends (though not entirely
immune from damage), and was subsequently even further improved by
W-section corner posts (1940) and the postwar Improved Dreadnaught design
(1944). Other types of steel ends were developed (e.g. Vulcan vertical
corrugated and Hutchins in the 1920s, Buckeye and Deco in the early 1930s)
but were never widely adopted.

Richard H. Hendrickson
Ashland, Oregon 97520

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