Re: Bay hoppers vs GS gons in the SW

Richard Hendrickson

Eric Hiser writes:

Mike Brock provided a good overview of UP history on the adoption of hoppers
versus a more general service gondola (and a gentle reminder that the end of
GS gons is after 1960 :)) Any help out there on when SP or ATSF picked up
any 3-bay hoppers during the steam period, or did they essentially remain
with GS until post-1960? I am trying to get a sense of when bayed hoppers
might begin to appear.....
I'm a bit late getting around to commenting on this topic, having had a
very busy weekend, and I'm surprised (and, frankly, a bit frustrated) that
no one on the list has bothered to consult the highly detailed (and readily
available - still in print) Santa Fe 1906-1991 freight car roster compiled
by Larry Occhiello and published by the Santa Fe Railway Historical and
Modeling Society, which quickly provides the requested information. There
seems to be a kind of chronic reluctance on the part of many internet users
to employ printed sources - i.e., books. You guys have heard of books,
n'est-ce pas?

A quick look at Occhiello would have told you that the Santa Fe didn't
begin to acquire cross hoppers in significant numbers until after WW II.
Prior to 1948, the only such cars on the Santa Fe roster were classes Ga-21
(3 bay, AC&F '29, 75 cars), Ga-24 (4 bay, Ralston '29, 75 cars), Ga-43 (3
bay, AC&F 1936, 50 cars), Ga-54 (2 bay, GATC '41, 200 cars), and Ga-60 and
Ga-62 (2 bay war emergency composite, PSCM & GATC, '43, 400 cars). That
doesn't amount to much compared to the thousands of Caswell gons that were
employed in coal and other bulk mineral service. And FWIW, I've never seen
any evidence that the several classes of Rodger Hart Selective ballast cars
which were purchased starting in 1940 were ever used for anything but
ballast rock. If it happened at all, it was very uncommon.

From 1948-1959 the ATSF acquired a growing fleet of 3 bay 70 ton cross
hoppers of AAR standard design (classes Ga-66, Ga-72, Ga-79, Ga-86, Ga-100,
and Ga-109).
But even in the 1950s, GS gondolas greatly outnumbered hoppers.

It's been pointed out before, and apparently needs repitition, that coal
traffic on the western RRs tended to be seasonal, and hoppers are useless
for any other purpose than the one for which they were built (unlike GS
gons, which can be loaded with almost anything that can be carried in an
open top car). In addition, elevated unloading facilities for hopper cars
were all but non-existent in the west (whereas GS gons could be, and often
were, unloaded to either side at ground level). IIRC, some contributor to
this discussion suggested that the western RRs were backward in not having
larger hopper fleets, an observation which monumentally misses the point.

Richard H. Hendrickson
Ashland, Oregon 97520

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