Re: Modeling possibilities?

Richard Hendrickson

On Feb 28, 2008, at 9:44 AM, Bruce Smith wrote:

The practice of building cars with vertical wheel (horizontal shaft)
power hand brakes began well before WWII. Thus, I'm not sure that
your claim that this feature distinguishing "modern" from steam era
freight cars is supportable unless you define the "modern era" as
post 1930 or so <G>. That said, the NYC car featured in your link,


with an apparent build date of 1944, appears to be a bit of an
anachronism, even when built!
The first horizontal-shaft geared hand brakes, the Ajax Type 13039,
were introduced in 1926; similar so-called "power" hand brakes were
offered by other manufacturers in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and
their advantages were so obvious that the AAR issued a requirement in
1935 that all freight cars built or rebuilt after January 1, 1937, be
equipped with geared hand brakes. As Ben Hom has noted, however, there
were geared vertical staff hand brakes which were applied to flat cars,
tank cars, etc., and there was also a Klassing geared hand brake for
house cars which had a short vertical staff and horizontal wheel above
the gearbox. This is all covered in great detail in Pat Wider's fine
article on freight car hand brakes in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia,
Vol. 10.

The NYC car referenced here, lot 623-G, was built in 1936 to a design
that dated back to 1931, when a single sample car was built for the
NYC, and 1932, when 200 cars of lot 624-G were built for NYC-subsidiary
P&LE. Thus these cars pre-dated the AAR mandate that cars be equipped
with power hand brakes, and for some reason the NYC resisted the
adoption of geared hand brakes for years after they were becoming
standard car building practice on most other RRs (the NYC was still
ordering new box and auto cars in 1931 with vertical staff hand
brakes). It's worth noting that when the NYC receive an additional
order of mill gondolas to this same design from Bethlehem in 1949, they
were equipped with pump-handle type geared hand brakes of a type
extensively used in the 1940s and '50s on drop-end gondolas.

Richard Hendrickson

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