Re: Fowler Boxcar Spotting Features

John Riddell <jriddell@...>

Mechanical Engineer, William E. Fowler of Montreal applied for, and was granted, two patents related to boxcars by the Patent Office of the Canadian Department of Agriculture. Patent no. 122944 was granted in 1909 and patent no. 148647 was granted in 1913. I have copies of both patents.

Both of William Fowler's patents were similar and essentially described a technique for attaching wood planks to the steel frame structure of a boxcar. This patent technique enabled the downward adjustment of wood planks to maintain a tight, crack-free car particularly useful for cars carrying grain. Leakage of grain from wooden cars was a long standing problem.

The wood planks were fastened to the steel car frame through elongated holes in the steel members of the sides, ends and floor. Over time as the wood planks potentially shrank creating cracks between the boards, the bolts could be loosened, the horizontal plants compressed vertically then the bolts re-tightened, to maintain a tight car preventing grain leakage.

The patent did not relate to the overall car design, dimensions, shape, appearance or capacity.

The patent was first used by the Dominion Car & Foundry Company of Montreal in 36' boxcars built for the CPR. Clear photos of the boxcars show the elongated slots for the bolts. More than 75,000 similar cars were built by Canadian Car & Foundry and National Steel Car for many railways between 1908 and 1923 however later production cars did not incorporate the elongated holes, so they can not technically be considered Fowler boxcars.

Some modellers have occasionally used the term "Fowler clone" to describe various single-sheathed cars. Given the nature of the patent, "Fowler clone" is a misnomer as it is not possible to have a clone of elongated bolt holes, which were the essence of the Fowler patent. If a car had the elongated holes in its frame members then the car was a Fowler patent car. If a car did not have the patented elongated holes then it was not technically a Fowler box car.

John Riddell

Join to automatically receive all group messages.