Re: Freight Cars Built in Railroad Shops


The C&O in the 50s did stretch a lot of 40-ft into 50-ft boxes at their own Raceland shops and then brought back building most of their 70-ton hopper cars in their own shops.  They tried their hands at a few insulated boxes and covered hopper cars . . . . mostly to keep the vendors "competitive" and to keep their major rebuild shops filled up with work.  By the 60s they were buying kits from Thrall and finishing them in their Dubois shops.

Al Kresse

----- Original Message -----
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009 2:00:22 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Freight Cars Built in Railroad Shops

Now, there are a couple of statements that should  cause some folks to quit
questioning the delivery times of certain kits.
Chuck Hladik
In a message dated 2/22/2009 12:44:50 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
rhendrickson@... writes:

On Feb 22, 2009, at 6:13 AM, Dennis Storzek wrote:

(regarding the  Soo Line's postwar box cars)

Since these cars were built in-house  rather than being ordered from a
builder, it appears that production  was more or less continuous over a
span of years, so things like  lettering changes just happened when
they happened.

 Interspersed with the production of 40' cars were several groups of
 40' insulated cars (XLI), 50' XLs, and 50' double door cars with the
 door openings centered for paper loading. The 40' combo door cars
 built in 1959 were about the end of the in house production, but after
 buying a few small lots of PS-1's from Pullman and some RBLs from
 PC&F, they cranked up again in 1963 to build 50' exterior post  cars,
which continued for another sixteen or so years. North Fond du  Lac was
building cars almost continuously between 1948 and  1979.
The large number of steam era freight cars built by the  railroads in
their own shops, rather than being purchased from commercial  car
builders, deserves more attention than it has generally received.  
And, as the Soo Line example shows, the railroads that followed this  
practice weren't always among the country's largest. Another example  
is the St. Louis Southwestern, which both built and rebuilt many cars  
in its Pine Bluff shops. Of course, a majority of the new cars  
acquired by the New York Central System in the 1940s and '50s were  
built in the Merchants Despatch shops at East Rochester, and MDT was
a  wholly owned subsidiary. Other RRs that began building or
completely  rebuilding cars in their own shops as early as the 1930s
included the  Pennsylvania, Milwaukee, Santa Fe, Union Pacific,
Southern Pacific,  Burlington, Wabash, Lehigh Valley, Texas & Pacific,
and Northern  Pacific, and I'm sure I've overlooked some. During the
depression, it was  a way the railroads could get new (or totally
renewed) freight cars that  they otherwise couldn't afford and, at the
same time, keep their shop  forces on the payroll. After World War
II, an additional motivation for  building their own cars was that,
for years, the commercial car builders  had more orders than they
could well handle and were months, if not years,  behind in making
deliveries. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that the  railroads
assembled the cars in their own shops from kits, since  underframes,
ends, sides, doors, roofs, and appliances like truck parts  and
wheels, draft gear, hand brakes, and air brake equipment could all be  
delivered ready to use by the various railway parts manufacturers.  
Still, assembling freight cars was a major undertaking. However, it  
had the advantage that the railroads were able to exercise their own  
quality control and also to specify combinations of design features  
which the commercial builders were reluctant to provide as,
especially  after WW II, they much preferred to build cars of their
own increasingly  standardized designs (the Pullman-Standard PS-1s
being an extreme  example).

Richard Hendrickson

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