Re: Freight car flooring

Dennis Storzek <dstorzek@...>

--- In, "al_brown03" <abrown@f...> wrote:

SAL mechanical department standards for '47 talk about painting flat
cars "except for woodwork"; they don't say whether the decks were
treated with anything. But the next standard is for wheel cars, and
definitely *does* mention creosoted wood (indirectly, as in don't paint
it). So on wheel cars, it'd seem that at least some of the wood was
creosoted. (1) Since wheel cars were often converted flats or gondolas,
would they be treated the same? (2) If builders didn't creosote new
cars per Mr. Hawkins's info, perhaps some railroads creosoted older

Al Brown, Melbourne, Fla.
A couple of points in general:

Creosote applied to the surface of the wood is next to worthless, so you won't find creosote listed in the BoM with the painting materials. If creosoted wood was to be used, the decking would be specified as pressure treated, then the amount of retention, then the species of wood. If the BoM just says "3" White Oak", then that's just what it means, naked 3" white oak plank.

Flatcar decks are structural, the load bears directly upon the decking, and it is expected to have blocking, etc. nailed to it with really BIG nails (60 penny nails, anyone?) The preferred wood was Oak, for its strength, and preferably White Oak, for its superior rot resistance. White oak was the preferred decking for truck trailers for many years, and they weren't treated. It may have been accepted wisdom in the railroad car departments that the deck was going to have to be replaced because it was broken, loose, and chewed up before it had a chance to rot, so why spend the money on treated lumber.

A wheel car, OTOH, carries its load on a rack of some sort; the decking acts as a walkway for the loading crew. Therefore it is not expected to be chewed up by the loading process. It may have been made from a wood of lesser strength, such as Southern Yellow Pine. When it rotted, it would require the rack to be removed to replace the planks, thereby making this a much larger job than replacement on a flatcar.

In addition, what the car builder used and what a railroad used for replacement were two different things. Some railroads might have seen an advantage in using treated lumber, others not. Some railroads might have used treated lumber because that was what was on hand. When I worked there years ago, all of the service flats on the Chicago Transit Authority rapid transit system were decked with creosoted yellow pine because that is what was stocked for use on station platforms, and no one bothered to special order lumber for car repair.

Dennis Storzek

Dennis Storzek

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