Re: Red Caboose "U.S. ARMY" boxcar.


Richard Hendrickson
 

On May 6, 2007, at 3:20 PM, Brian Leppert wrote:

A photo of the prototype car appears in "Classic Freight Cars vol. 7".
It is some version of an X29/ara box car, with flat ends and bottom
hung youngstown door, and no patch panels. All my information on X29
and 1923 ARA boxcars is out at work, so I can't do much to figure out
it's heritage. But the side grab irons are completely attached to the
side sheathing, not the ends. Nor is the side ladder attached to the
ends.

This car was rebuilt in 1949. Reweighed LKOD 10-58.
It was photographed in 1981, at the Earle Naval Weapons Station, NJ.
Ah, Ha! I'd forgotten all about that photo; since I model 1947, it was
of no interest to me. Now that I've been reminded of it, however,
several things about it strike me as interesting. First off, there was
no car number (it had been painted out), only a defense department
serial number, and it still had solid bearing trucks. Therefore, at
the time the car was photographed in 1981, it could not have been in
interchange service and was confined to the Earle Naval Weapons
Station. However, all of the dimensional and weight data required for
interchange were stenciled on it, from which it may be inferred that it
was (or could have been) used in interchange service at some earlier
date. Also, the interior dimensions don't correspond with those of any
car as originally built to the X29/ARA design, so the army must have
added some sort of interior lining or special loading equipment. It's
notable that the car still had its original riveted steel roof as late
as 1981, since those roofs were notorious for their tendency to leak.
Isn't there an old saying about keeping your powder dry? The six-rung
side ladders are puzzling. All of the X29/ARA cars had either six-rung
ladders with a single grab iron below them or seven-rung ladders. Why
would the army have replaced the original ladders with new ones? On
the other hand, why would I assume there's a rational explanation for
anything done by the army? That the car definitely was not a former
Pennsy X29 is evidenced by the side sheathing arrangement and (assuming
they were original) by the trucks. But on the evidence in the photo, I
haven't been able to figure out what its origin was. The ladders were
certainly not original, the door probably was not, and the trucks may
well have been replacements, which doesn't leave much in the way of
distinctive features to work from.

Richard Hendrickson

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