Re: High walkways, Low walkways, Platforms... on Tank cars

Richard Hendrickson

On Aug 27, 2005, at 2:49 PM, Richard Brennan wrote:

Browsing through Kaminski's AC&F Centennial History book; the last
ACF tank car builder's photo I see with high walkways is circa-1915,
and the first with a modern (or should that be moderne?) tank-top
operating platform is dated 1934 .
Both AC&F and the Standard Tank Car Co. (then the largest producer of tank cars in North America) built tank cars of standard design with high running boards until ca. 1915, and Union Tank Line Class V and X cars of that era (by several different builders) had running boards about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the tank. It's not clear why the practice of building tank cars with high running boards was discontinued, but trainmen doubtless complained vigorously about having to climb down the ladders on adjacent cars to gain access to tank car end sills and then having to climb up the ladders to the high running board. reversing the process at the other end of the car. At any rate, the United States Safety Appliance regulations that initially took effect in 1911 had provisions for both high mounted and low mounted tank car running boards but those for Class III tank cars built after 1917 assume that the running boards will be approximately level with the top of the center sills, so apparently no cars of Class III specification were built with high running boards.

What occasioned these changes.. and why was there such a long
transition period to the now universal top platform design? It
appears that cars without platforms were built well into the late
1950s... Was it simply buyer preference... or was there a change in
AAR or DOT regulations?
As for railed dome platforms, those began to appear in the 1920s on cars which were loaded and unloaded through the dome rather than through bottom outlets, or which required workmen to access the top of the car to connect steam lines to the car's heating coils. Some buyers specified platforms while others made do with narrow walkways alongside the domes (often on only one side of the car) depending on the loading and unloading arrangements the cars were likely to encounter in service. Such dome platforms were required on Class V (high pressure) tank cars, as their "domes" were in fact not expansion domes but valve casings, and these cars were loaded and unloaded entirely through the valves and connections inside the casings. Other types of tank cars continued to be built well into the 1960s without such platforms.

Richard Hendrickson

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