Malcolm Laughlin <mlaughlinnyc@...>
I didn’t have time to get in the discussion on Saturday about the grading/classification and cleaning of box cars, but I’d like to make a few comments on the subject. These are based on memories of my experiences in the 60’s and 70’s.
Classification of box cars was not an exact science and the railroads were unable to agree on a uniform standard. The problem was that the actual usage of box cars was not amenable to a four step grading system. Each grade had certain requirements for roof condition, interior walls, floors, cleanliness and other factors. A car that flunked any one of these requirements for a grade would go to the next lower grade. One road’s class A might not suit another’s loading requirements. Even in different regions on the same railroad, grades would have different uses. For example, on the NYC in Buffalo a class A car was likely to be used for flour loading and class B for grain loading. In Boston class A might be for newsprint loading and B for something in palletized cartons. A splintered lining might not disqualify a car for flour loading, but it would for newsprint.
The term “AAR classification” was essentially meaningless. While in theory it might have existed, it was not useful. In the late 70’s, the AAR and FRA funded the Freight Car Management program, essentially a research effort towards ways to improve car utilization. One of the interesting projects in which I participated was as project manager for compilation of a Manual of Car Utilization Practices and Procedures. It gave me a chance to visit many railroads and document systems they had developed to improve car utilization. One of the FCM projects was an attempt to develop a computerized multi-factor car grading system. I don’t recall that it got any useful results.
Now to address cleaning, I’ll end this and make another post, in the interest of not trying to cover too many subjects in one.
Malcolm Laughlin, Editor 617-489-4383
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