Erie 44'/70T Hoppers/Gondolas

Justin Kahn

Dear Schuyler
There certainly were solid-bottom conversions (the #45000 series, 529 of them, as memory serves) from the original #44000 drop-bottom gondolas, built in the early 1920's; the 1943 ORER listing (scan courtesy of Ed Bommer) is very clear on that, along with the 749 quad-hopper conversions (and the H- prefix was gone by 1943, which is part of the reason I got confused) in the #37000 series, and even two or three sad #44000 hold-outs with their drop-bottoms.
Another major source of my information is the 1950 freight car diagram book loaded on the Elwood site, and if I had had reason previously to check it for the quads, I would have found the information that the Erie started the quad conversions as early as 1934 (which is why they are in your 1935 ORER), and that the whole series carried the H- prefix from then until the last were entirely renumbered into the the #37000 hopper series in 1939-40 (without prefix). The #45000 solid-bottom (with AB brake equipment at the same time) are indicated as having been done in three groups: 250 in Dec 1937, 200 in March 1939, and 150 in July 1939, for a total of 600 (so more than seventy of them had already expired or been sold by 1943).
The conversion of most of the remaining #44000 drop-bottoms into solid-bottom gondolas (instead of quad hoppers, which seems to have been a successful program, as the view via Chuck Y. comes from the mid-1950's) so late in the Depression still suggests to me that the Erie must have had some specialized traffic in mind, as they were otherwise not very useful as gondolas, as the Erie was already heavily committed to longer gondolas, the majority with mill-type drop ends. A 44' high-side gondola with fixed ends would have been a much less-versatile car.

Second, Bob, you say you have two HO models, but no word on
their provenance, which is my real interest--are they
commercial products?
The Mantua "Heavies" model is the only one I'm aware of, but there may be another one out there.

Last, no reason Al's conjecture about the H- prefix isn't
valid, and I am not questioning whether you are right,
Schuyler, just I'd like to know your authority for saying so,
as there is no indication of prefixes in ORER.
Ah, well, I've been looking at ERIE stuff seriously for thirty-five years, so I'm not sure I can come up with the exact
reference, but: Every photo I've ever seen of these with an "H" prefix has been converted to hopper configuration. Now,
that's maybe five or six photos, not >absolutely< conclusive, but OTOH, I have yet to see one of these cars in a hopper
configuration that did NOT have an "H." I've also discussed this with other members of the Erie Lackawanna Historical
Society (of which I have been Chairman for >20 years) and that's been the universal conclusion.

What I'm trying to figure out is why a prefix would have been
necessary for the quad conversions. I'm at the office, so
can't sort out what I am
remembering: does the view in the Crist have the original
#44000 series number or not?
It does. The photo date is 1938.

The quad in Chuck Yungkurth's
scan is the #37000 series used by 1943, the solid-bottoms
being renumbered into the #45000 series. Perhaps the prefix
may have been a temporary or interim solution until proper
repainting and renumbering could be accomplished
Exactly so. My July 1935 ORER, page 305, line 17, lists this series as "Type HT, 4 hopper, self clearing, H43000 to H44999"
with 751 cars [and there's a footnote that says "denotes additions"], and the next line, 21, (I'm not making this up, that's
what it says, there are no lines numbered 18-20) lists "Type GA, Gondola, Drop Bottom, 43000-44999" with 1247 cars" [and NO
footnote that indicates "denotes reductions.]. They had to have some method of telling them apart, and for whatever reason
(which may have had to do with completely irrelevant (to us) reasons regarding financing or leases or whatever) the elected
to use the "H" instead of renumbering them into another series.

; would this
have been a usual practice, on the Erie, or even more widely?
This was an unusual situation on the ERIE, I can't speak to other roads.

The other question that is nagging at me, and I hope someone
can answer, is that although a majority were converted to the
quad configuration, a very substantial minority became
solid-floor conversions at the same time;
I am not aware of there being solid floor conversions from this series. References?

presumably the Erie
had a specific commodity or traffic in mind to spend the
money (in the Depression) to convert them. Almost the only
thing that is unlikely would be coal or aggregates or other
traffic better suited to hoppers or drop-bottom gons.
In the depression, it was probably more cost-effective to convert cars maybe not being very well utilized for other services
to begin with, and secondly, this would have provided a substantial amount of work for the ERIE's own shop forces, in a time
when there may well have been not too much else to do.

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Jerry Dziedzic

The Mantua "Heavies" model is the only one I'm aware of, but there
may be
another one out there.
Though I'm late to this party, there's still something to add. I
you mean that the Mantua cars are a good starting point for a kit
bash. The H- series cars had an unusual end arrangement. It was
similar to a conventional hopper, with the slope sheet and slope
braces visible. However, the end panels of the sides were sheathed.
Viewed from the side, the cars look like conventional gons. Viewed
from the end, they look like conventional open hoppers.

I don't know if this feature was part of the original design, or
at the time the cars were rebuilt.

Jerry Dziedzic
Pattenburg, NJ