Re: ORER inaccuracy

Cyril Durrenberger

I think the early ORER's were not as accurate, certainly prior to 1912 or 1913. I am not sure what happened to change things. They began to also report additional dimensions like size of door openings, etc around that time

Whole fleets of private owner cars were not included and I have many examples of that.

For the HE&WT

One version of the ORER in about 1901 listed a number of refrigerator cars, then later they listed only 2. It is not clear what happened, at least from ORER entries from other SP Atlantic Lines cars. They could have been sent to the H&TC as both lines were run as the Central Lines at that time.

A series of HE&WT 34' box cars were listed as 36' for many years, then the length was changed. Photos indicate clearly that they were 34' cars.

In many cases ORER entries indicate the date of the last update at the bottom of the entry. That will provide a clue as to how often the data was updated.

Even if there are some minor problems, in general the ORER is still the best data set available either for an individual railroad or for the whole nationwide (and international) fleets. Note, if a detailed roster has been prepared for a given railroad, that may be better, so please do not fire back and say that is not good statement.. Another point to make is that the detailed rosters may not be readily available to all of us or we may not be aware of them or where to locate them.

Cyril Durrenberger

Anthony Thompson <> wrote:
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,
Publishers of books on railroad history

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