Re: A Great Decline

Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>

Earl T. Hackett wrote:
A new list member.
Welcome, Earl. This topic raises a number of points.

I got into this conversation a bit late, but would like to suggest a reason for the variation in the decline of the short box cars. The lines with the least declines are all south west roads. The cars were all wood construction. Wood lasts a lot longer in the desert SW than in the relatively wet NE.
First of all, the cars ran freely everywhere, so it's not as if the SW cars lived there all their lives, and the NE cars stayed in their home region. Second, the whole point was to maintain the paint on the cars. It had been proven in the 19th century that wood held up for very long times, longer than the technical service usefulness of most cars, if it was painted every five to seven years. Third, there had not been many all-wood box cars since before World War I, and after 1900 most roads were changing to steel underframes, the most vulnerable part of a car.
I'll suggest a different reason. The SW roads, as you term them, had bigger clearances and were building bigger cars earlier. The NE roads had a surfeit of small, old cars. That's an important reason for the differences in scrapping rates.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
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