Re: Quesions about a depressed center flat car


On Mon, 21 Jan 2002 15:07:59 -0500 "Norm Dresner" <ndrez@...> writes:
As an excuse for trying out my new bandsaw, I started scratchbuilding
the depressed center flat car which is described in an ancient
Kalmbach book entitled "Easy-to-Build Model Railroad Freight Cars"
sub-titled "24 Dollar Car Projects from the pages of Model
Railroader". (This book is (C) 1971, a mere 30 years old as I'm
I bought it soon after it hit the market).
I have two questions:
1. What might have been the prototype for this model, if any?
2. Where on a depressed-center flat car is the brake gear

Norm (and some of you clods who haven't a clue as to how we got where we

That book, and the articles written in that series in MR during the 50s
and 60s on which it was based, are as responsible as any other single
factor for the beautiful and accurate freight car models we enjoy today.
The models were usually very accurate, more so than most contemporary
kits, and introduced modelers to car types other than the generic and
fanciful box cars and reefers represented by Athearn and Varney kits.

I would have no reason to dispute any of the prototype data represented
in any of the articles, they were usually taken from cars in the yards
near the MR offices. In fact, one article stressed how they photographed
a wooden express reefer, measured it, and then proceeded to build it.
How many here have ever done that? (Hmmm, I don't see any hands up. I'm
not surprised.)

The "TPRX" I'm sure, represents the actual reporting marks on the
prototype car and I'm sure some good deed doer will take the time to look
it up and pass it on. At the time of the original article, few authors
used fictitious markings in their presentation of prototype data. They
may have used such on their own model.

The only area they were weak on was underbody detailing, but since that's
no different than the present day practice of some of the more
illustrious members on this very list, what's the big deal?

But to answer your question, the brake gear on depressed center flats was
usually numbered down under the high decks at either end. Sometimes
there were two complete sets, each working one truck because there was no
way to run rodding between the ends of the car. Therefore, the hand
brake would only acted on one truck, so there would usually be two hand
brakes. Some cars, a very few in fact, had rodding along the side of the
car tying A end brake "stuff" to B end.

One three dimensional source of information you might seek out are the
brass cars made by Railworks. They had an interesting variety of Pennsy
flats, including several depressed center cars (and some high capacity
types, with 4 - 4 wheel or 6 wheel trucks). They had full brake rigging
on all. There was a Soo Line d/c flat car made by Overland which was
very similar to the one in the book article which would give you a good
lesson on how the brakes were shoehorned into a very limited space. It
was actually based on an article in MR in the 80s, I think. That article
may have some brake rigging included, commonly included in freight car
articles of that era.

A fully detailed model would severely limit the radii that a model could
operate on. If you think you might want to detail such a car, contact me
off line and I can send you some Xerox copies of these models, and even
the 4 truck Athearn flat car I added two sets of ABs and levers to. It
worked well on straight track only. I think it might even take a 48"
radius curve if I replaced the Athearn wheels of its day with some
present day scale flange wheelsets. Another project!

These days the brake gear on prototype d/c flats is installed above the
deck making the cars a little more interesting in appearance than the
older cars. They can get away with it because they don't build them as
short as they used to. The bigger decks give more room for the necessary
blocking to stabilize the loads as well as access to the brake gear.

Maybe I ought to look up the book and that article and see if I still
agree with my off the cuff remarks.


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