Re: "A" Railroads Base Fleet


I have an interesting (to me) study posted at
concerning the little town of Climax, KS, population 100, in 1945. The track plan is simple: main, house track, elevator track. Over a 10 month period I have records of 246 cars being spotted in that town - reporting marks, car numbers, contents, destination, etc.
This is an ATSF branch.

47% were ATSF cars. The balance came from 40 different lines. The C&O, MILW, B&O, and PRR were the most common in order, providing 8-10 cars each. Western lines were sparsely represented (only 1 UP box).
Auto box and regular boxcars made up 147 of the cars, or 62%. Gondolas were next with 34 cars, 30 of which were ATSF. Coal was delivered in 4 of the off line gondolas. Stock cars made up 30 of the deliveries, 29 of which were ATSF. 6 ATSF reefers and 18 cars in MOW service make up the balance.

The full list is at

There is a sense in which I could gather these 246 cars and call them my "Base Fleet," but I realize that this list would not be repeated if I had a similar catalogue for 1946 or 1947. The fleet is heavily influenced by one industry, an alfalfa mill that was not even located in this town. Down the road at Moline, where a limestone quarry could put out 100 cars a day, the mix would be very different. My large city of Emporia, KS, would see just about anything that traveled the ATSF main line (that's why I chose it).

So I think this discussion is very interesting, intriguing, but not real practical.

J. Stephen (Steve) Sandifer
Home: 12027 Mulholland Dr., Meadows Place, TX 77477, 281-568-9918
Office: Southwest Central Church of Christ, 4011 W. Bellfort, Houston, TX
77025, 713-667-9417

----- Original Message -----
From: Charlie Vlk
To: STMFC@...
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 10:46 AM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] "A" Railroads Base Fleet

Not to pooh-pooh the investigation. This line of research is still worthwhile. I guess my point is not to take it as a formula for determining what you have to have on your railroad.
It would be preferred, however, to the all-too-common Model Railroad attitude "I don't need any XYZ cars because I model the ABC"!!! I believe that Manufacturers still see quite a bit of regional bias in sales... controlled by the Hobby Shops but also driven by the consumers... even in more sophiscated lines beyond the trainset set.
I think "casting" the actors on your pike is important.... just like I don't believe in forcing universal scripts on the actors. The Car Card Pocket / Waybill system, when implemented in its full form, takes the Interchange Rules somewhat beyond what happened in the real world. Some roads and some cars were better equipped to play certain parts.
You could often tell what train you were looking at by the complexion of its consist. That did not happen randomly.
But ANY research into Freight Cars is a Good Thing!
Charlie Vlk

Charlie Vlk notes:

> Wheel reports, photos of entire trains, or overall photos of yards for the
> road you are modeling or similar ones in the region you are interested in,
> in your era, would be more instructive than a mathematical model.... if
> you can find such documents.

Not to mention countless messages pertaining to this issue, numerous panel
discussions [ including one held last Jan during Prototype Rails at Cocoa
Beach ], endless opinions...including...well...that of yours truly, a huge
number of photo references and various conflicting data regarding the

Mike Brock


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