Re: ORER inaccuracy

Robert kirkham

Two answers to that Tony.

First, re-reading my own e-mail, the language I chose was a bit clumsy. - I was meaning (as I think you rightly read it) that the ORERs aren't perceived as an entirely accurate source of information on cars actually in service. Your information based on PFE tells me that impression isn't necessarily sound.

Second answer: I'm not really speaking from knowledge but from what some have at least alluded to during the freight car distribution thread. I'm also referring to comments I recall from long ago e-mails about larger eastern US railroads (PRR?) with strings of cars sitting unused for years at a time - cars apparently still listed in the ORERs. I'm also under the impression that some of the Canadian railway listings continued to list cars after they had moved into non-revenue service. No data - just impressions from what others have said.

From your comments Tony, I guess the question I ought to have asked first should have been: what is the general perception of the ORER as a record of the actual fleet in revenue service at any given time during the later steam era? Does it include cars that for all practical purposes were not in that service - and if so, to what extent?

Rob Kirkham

From: Anthony Thompson
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 10:17 PM
To: STMFC@...
Subject: Re: [STMFC] ORER inaccuracy

Rob Kirkham wrote:
Given the assertion (and I doubt any will argue it) that the ORER
lists would include equipment that was not really available for
service - whether retired or in storage or .... etc
How do you reach this conclusion, Rob? An SP employee I
interviewed, who had worked on the ORER submissions for his railroad in
the 1960s, said that his group worked hard to weed out the cars which
were GONE (scrapped, etc.) but did retain those undergoing normal
The biggest data set I can think of is the PFE roster. From 1920
to about 1958, there were monthly reports from EACH shop, giving a list
of all cars held for minor, major or rebuilding repairs, along with
scrapping. Each month there was a company-wide tally of all these
categories, in effect making an "active" list for PFE for that month.
The corresponding issues of the ORER (one month later) very accurately
track this, making me think those same shop reports were probably the
basis for the PFE's ORER submission.
All those shop reports, incidentally, are available to anyone;
they are at CSRM.
I can't speak for railroads generally, but I wonder at the basis
for your assertion. Maybe others can offer examples from railroads they
know well.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@...
Publishers of books on railroad history

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