Re: common cars with planked roofs

Dennis Storzek <destorzek@...>

--- In STMFC@..., Anthony Thompson <thompson@...> wrote:

The Harriman stock cars, now available in HO from Red Caboose,
board roofs. (I doubt they were planks; drawings suggest T&G.)

Wow! Something Tony and I can agree on :-)

Merriam Webster Online defines PLANK as follows:

"A heavy thick board; especially : one 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10
centimeters) thick and at least 8 inches (20 centimeters) wide."

Few if any railroad car roofs were made of planks; most wood roofs
were made of boards, and fall into two common varieties:

DOUBLE BOARD ROOFS The older of the two, it is just what the name
implies, two layers of boards with the joints staggered. Well
illustrated in Voss' turn of the century work on carbuilding practice,
the boards were often worked with half round grooves on each side of
the joint in an attempt to divert as much water ass possible. The
lower level would have a single half round groove centered under the
joint, so what water came through the joints in the first layer ran
out the end at the eaves rather than seeping through the second layer.
Because of the grooves, these can look like V grooved T&G in photos,
and some may have had T&G substituted from time to time. These were
last used on stock cars, as they were cheap, and livestock was able to
stand some dripping from the roof without damage. Because these roofs
were typically two layers of 13/16" boards, for a total thickness of 1
5/8", they look thick enough to be planks to the casual observer.

INSIDE METAL ROOFS When the use of sheet metal was first considered
for car roofing, there were two major concerns; trainmen would slip on
the slick metal surface, and their feet would damage the roof. The
answer was the inside metal roof, which consisted of light gauge metal
panels fitted between the carlines, and a T&G board covering. While to
the casual observer these appear to be wood roofs, the wood is only a
protective covering for the sheet metal below, which actually keeps
the water out of the car. The spotting feature of these roofs is a
rather prominent fascia board, spaced a bit away from the car side to
make a space for the water to drain out. Of course, including running
boards and lateral platforms at the ladders solved the problem of
trainmen slipping, and various outside metal roofs and solid steel
roofs gained in popularity thereafter. URTX seemed to favor these
roofs quite late; I believe we have one at the Illinois Railway Museum
that is on a wood URTX reefer retired from service in the sixties.


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