Milw. Road Rib-Side Cars

Ed Hawkins

I have been asked by Pat Wider to share with you the following
information he has compiled on Milwaukee Road rib-side cars. This and
more will be in an article in a future volume of Railway Prototype
Cyclopedia. Please advise if you have any information to the contrary.
Ed Hawkins

Over the past year I have been researching the Milwaukee rib-side cars
for an upcoming article in RP CYC. With the information that I have in
hand, I have noted a number of fundamental errors and omissions in the
discourse concerning these cars. The most notable are:

* The car sides were fabricated using narrow, individual,
longitudinal side-sheet strips or panels that extended between the
doors and ends and were joined to one another using spot welding. The
"ribs" were not separate pieces attached to the car sides but were
actually corrugations pressed into the individual longitudinal
side-sheet panels. The panels overlapped one another with the only
visible seams being created at the bottom of the panels just below the
ribs, much like roof shingles. These design features are attested to
by several photos that I have as well as a detail drawing in the 1946
CBC. The integral "ribs" obviously served to stiffen the long narrow
* The narrow vertical panels (corner and door pans would be the
correct terminology) at the car ends and adjacent to the doors first
made their appearance circa June 1940 on 40' box cars rather than in
1941 on the 50' box cars and 40' auto cars. I have a builders' photo
of car 20550 that clearly has the side pans. According to an article
in Railway Mechanical Engineer (RME), the side pans were added to aid
assembly and to strengthen the cars in both high stress areas. They
were not added to provide greater clearance in the areas of the side
ladders and grabs. This is born out since car 20550 had an inside
width of 9' 2" rather than the later 9' 6". It appears that for a
period in 1940, cars with and without side pans were being built since
a builder's photo of a 40' car built several months later does not
show them. As far as I know, it is possible that 20550 was a
one-of-a-kind prototype rather than one of several similar cars wth
side pans.
* The extreme width of these cars was not over the ladders,
instead it remained over the door fixtures for both designs:

Width Over Ladders: 1939 Cars - 10' 4 15/16"
Width Over Ladders: 1944 Cars - 10' 7 3/8" D = 2
Width Over Creco Fixtures: 1939 Cars - 10' 7 7/8"
Width Over Camel Fixtures: 1939 Cars - 10' 7 3/4"
Width Over Door Fixtures: 1944 Cars - 10' 8"
Width Over (Side) Sheets: 1939 Cars - 9' 9 1/2"
Width Over (Side) Sheets: 1944 Cars - 10' 1 1/2" D = 4"
Width Over Bumps (Ribs): 1939 Cars - 9' 10 7/8"
Width Over Bumps (Ribs): 1944 Cars - 10' 2 5/8" D = 3
Inside Width: 1939 Cars - 9' 2"
Inside Width: 1944 Cars - 9' 6" D = 4"

* According to RME, the increase in width of 4" was secured as
follows: " will be noted that the limiting width in this car,
as in practically all box cars, is the distance over door roller
housings. The increased capacity in this instance is secured primarily
by revising the side door and door fixture construction so as to
permit designing the car 4 in. wider on the inside than is the case
with the A.A.R. standard car. The rollers in this design are placed
underneath the door and the Camel door fixtures and operating
mechanism are redesigned for a minimum projection beyond the outer
door surface. The outer surfaces of the side sheets also are spaced so
as to bring the width over side ladders just within the required
limit." So the side pans helped achieve the greater capacity, but
that was not their primary purpose. At the same time, the inside
height was increased from 10' 6" to 10' 9".
* The "leak-proof" doors of these cars were not manufactured by
the railroad, instead they were manufactured by Youngstown (2 types),
Creco (later Superior), and International Steel (Nystrom) as is stated
on the railroad's car diagrams, RME and Railway Age articles, and an
ad in a CBC. At least some Youngstown doors on these cars were riveted
rather than welded construction as is made clear by detail photos in
my possession. A number of side doors had integral grain loading doors
and I have the car numbers so-equipped. The placard boards were moved
from the doors to the side-sheet panels when the cars were widened to
9" 6" IW in order to not exceed the maximum allowable width.
* There were two designs of Murphy double-panel welded roofs
applied to these cars. The changeover was made when the cars were
widened. In December 1948 and later, the cars received diagonal-panel
roofs as well as Morton running boards.
* Most cars through 1944 had 8-rung side ladders (excepting the 25
express cars). Afterwards, they had 9-rung side ladders.
* It appears that when new, virtually all of these cars (excepting
the 25 express cars and the 21188-22187 box car series) had chilled
iron wheels.
* Car numbers 20550, and 21163-21187 had provisions for
double-deck anchoring devices. These were carried externally just
below the doors. The are very visible from the side.
* Car number 19039, had CTSE reporting marks.

The so-called Nystrom doors were manufactured by the International
Steel Company of Evansville, Indiana. As far as I can tell, they were
only on select cars within the 25538-28559 series built from 12/48 to
7/49. Others in that series received Youngstown doors. Some of each
were grain doors. International Steel also supplied the side-sheet
panels for the later cars. Many of the original doors were replaced in
the 1950s(?) with Youngstown Lightweight (postwar) Doors as indicated
in several photos. End lumber doors were eliminated from new cars in
1948. Many photographs as well as additional detailed information
regarding build dates, number series, door types, Olympian slogans,
running boards, hand brakes, and grain doors will be included in my
forthcoming article.

Pat Wider

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