Re: DS cars in grain service

Dennis Storzek

--- In, Richard Hendrickson <rhendrickson@...>

Good grief! I leave home for a couple of days and my observation that
granger railroads preferred double sheathed to single sheathed USRA box
cars prompted a largely irrelevant discussion of car distribution.
Obviously Malcolm's last sentence is correct. But the preference of
many RRs for double sheathed box cars had nothing to do with car
distribution. It was simply a conviction, whether correct or
incorrect, that double sheathed cars were more likely to remain
weatherproof in service, and thus usable for grain shipments.

Richard Hendrickson

I, for one, believe your original premise, that the USRA intentionally
allocated DS cars to roads with a lot to grain traffic (how's that for
doing an end run around the "Granger road" debate :-), is flawed.
First off, as a gov't agency, it's hard to believe they had that kind
of clear thinking and foresight. Secondly, in the face of the national
emergency, they likely didn't have that kind of luxury anyway. Very
likely, groups of cars were assigned as they became available to plug
holes and put out brushfires in the car supply.

There are a couple of other factors that very likely had more bearing
on the decision other than the kind of sheathing; the DS cars were 40
ton capacity, while the SS cars were 50; and no one has offered any
info on the relative price of one against the other. Remember, even
though the USRA was having the cars built to their specs, the
railroads were expected to pay for them. Some roads objected
vehemently to being saddled with the cost of cars they didn't want or
felt they needed, and as Lane points out, there was a certain amount
of "horse trading" and shifting of allocations.

A better way to look at the question of which was thought to be the
better car for grain might be to see what the railroads themselves
were buying just prior to the creation of the USRA. If one goes back
just ten years previous, ALL the roads apparently felt that the DS car
was the best, as that was all that was being built. Swain and Clegg do
a good job of documenting the arguments raised against SS boxcars in
their seminal work on the development of the SS car in Canada by CPR
and DC&F, and subsequent research on the Fowler patents reveal the
designs implemented to allay those fears. By 1917 you have a situation
where CPR, Soo, C&NW at least had decided that the SS design could
make a workable grain car, while NP and GN still insisted on building
DS cars. As time went on after the roads were returned to private
control in the early twenties, it becomes obvious that the industry at
large accepted the SS car as adequate, even if there were a few hold-outs


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