Re: Harriman Codes -Some Other RR's Systems

Tim Gilbert <tgilbert@...>

Allen Rueter wrote:

I didn't know what Harriman codes were, I do now, I have seen
them frequently with out knowing they had a name. To keep this in the steam
era, Are GST (General Superintendent of Transportation) codes relevant
before 1960?
What other freight car code systems are there (besides AAR/ORER codes),
did most railroads have some code of their own?
I assume by what you mean as the GST Codes are those codes first included in the ORER's sometime after 1961 in the column AAR Car Type Code. (My copy of the April 1961 ORER does not have this column - my copy of the 1/1967 does.)

Some RR's had their own codes.

The first letter of the Mechanical Designations (used in the ORER's prior to 1920) were basically the same as the PRR's - designations for later car types like the covered hoppers diverged - the AAR designation was "LO" while the PRR considered just another "H" Hopper. At first, the Pennsy used uncapped "alpha" letters to differentiate different designs, but later adopted numbers to designate the different designs. During rebuildings, the Pennsy added an uncapped "alpha" digit to the original designation. And the PRR used no hyphens. This will keep Ben Hom off your back.

The ATSF's system capped the first letter of the car type and uncapped the final letter. For instance, "Bx" designated for a boxcar; "Rr" for a reefer; "Ga" for a Gondola, etc.. I don't know their classification for a Covered Hopper.

The NYC's reference was the Lot Number of the car when built with new lots being assigned sometimes during major rebuildings. After the Lot Number was a hyphen and the initial for the car type - "B" for Boxcar; "G" for Gon; "F" for Flat; "H" for Hoppers both Open-Top and Covered; etc.. This system may have been dandy for NYC's Mechanical Department's comprehension, but hell on others.

The B&M had a Lot System like the NYC's, but no one paid attention to it. It seemed like that some car accountant newly hired on a rainy day dreamed it up. No one used it, preferring to use the car numbers instead. Besides between 1899 and 1951, there were only 64 Lots anyway.

Other roads had their own systems which I don't know as much (which ain't much) as the above. Many of the smaller roads just used the car numbers as their form of reference.

Operating personnel, particularly freight train conductors, had their own codes which they used in the wheel reports, switch lists, etc.. "A" for Automobile; "B" for Boxcar; "C" for a Coal or Coke Car; "D" or "DD" for Double Deck Stock Car (later "D" for Side Dump Car); "F" for Flat; "G" for Gon; "H" for Hoppers (sometimes later "CH" for Covered Hoppers); "R" for Reefers; "S" for Stock Cars; "T" for Tank Cars. This terminology was not universal as each individual seemed to have their own ideas of which variation to use. When I parse a wheel report, I pay little attention to these codes and rely more on the ORER's Mechanical Designation.

Hope this helps, Tim Gilbert

Join to automatically receive all group messages.