Re: USRA box car brake systems - B&M

Earl Tuson

The ICC mandate to retrofit AB Brake Systems was probably
the major reason that the B&M chose to retire most of its
#70000-70499 series of USRA Double-Sheathed Boxcars
between 1948 and 1950.
Possibly true, but is this only speculation? Might the
cars' overall condition (or lack thereof) also have played
a <very> important part in that decision?

The number of cars in the 500 car #70000 series removed
from Revenue Service were by year:

Prior to 1948 25
1948 149
1949 215
1950 98
After 1950 13
Might I further speculate by noting that it appears the
USRA cars lasted just long enough to be replaced by the
1947 PS-1 order, coincidentally an order of 500 (just like
the USRA cars...)

So, 2.6% at most, of B&M's USRA boxes received AB Brakes
it was probably less.
Hmm, my gut feeling is that this number is low. I have
three photos on hand that show AB brakes: 70286 9/24/46,
70255 ca. 1950, 70023 2/26/49. Do I really have
documentation of 23% of all of them??? With a reweigh of
11-46 on 70255, there may have been a pre-PS-1 push to get
some of these cars converted. It may also have been a
simple stop gap until the B&M could get a car builder to
squeeze their tiny order into a very busy postwar car
building schedule.

(Westerfield states) that any cars found in the
minuteman scheme would have been converted to AB brakes
at the same time they were repainted, though he
concedes that some might have been converted prior to
The first Minuteman Herald was applied in September or
October 1946
The shot of 70286 is a "rebuilder's" photo, and does show
the Minuteman in 9/46.

To support Al's contention (quoted from Ed Doocey over on
the BM_RR list,) I can also state that 70023 had AB brakes,
but had not been repainted.

Any car retrofitted prior to then, but after the War,
would have had a Rectangular herald. Cars retrofitted
after the Fall of 1946 would have had a Minuteman.
Things may not be as neat as that. 70023 was restencilled
1- or 11-48 (reweigh station would be either R or RI.)
According to reweigh rules, a USRA car would have been
reweighed every 4 years. That potentially puts 70023's
last reweigh during the war, and you have contended that AB
brakes were not being refitted at that time. Now, it is
also very possible that 70023 was reweighed after having
had the AB brakes applied in 1948, but they did not bother
to rebuild or repaint the car. Now, I suppose the car
could have received the AB's late in '45 or early '46, but
why would they have reweighed again in '48? Had there been
damage or had the car needed weigh-altering work, might
they have just scrapped it instead? It may not have been
as cut and dry as you suggest.

The Rectangular Herald was phased out rather quickly on
the #71000-72999 series - one of the main reason for this
rapid phase-out was the need to retrofit these cars with
AB Brakes - which demanded shop time.
Weeell, a shot of 72631 shows AB without being repainted,
but can't read the reweigh date, and I must also admit that
all my other postwar photos of the 71000-72999 show AB with

Oof, for a guy giving Tim a tough time about speculating, I
just offered up a whole lot of the same!

Earl Tuson

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