Freight car flooring


Greg Martin
 

Ron writes:

"In the last issue of RMC, Stan Rydarowicz had a good article on floor
color. As I remember the box cars used for grain had untreated wood floors, that
turned gray with a bit of tan color. The flat cars I have observed were
bleached out wood, with a gray coloring. My question is did the railroads use
treated or creosoted lumber for flooring? A search of the web site didn't find an
answer.
Ron Christensen"


Ron,

In Cocoa Beach during Bill Schaumberg's clinic on treated ties and the
industries we talked about the items that the railroads inventoried besides ties
like treat floor blocks and flat car decks. Richard is correct for most of the
years that this list covers the favored treating for flat car decks was
creosote, which is a derivative of coal tar, from the coking process of coal
(thus those Koppers tanks cars). It was generally a glossy black to a semi gloss
as it was pulled from the tubes but dulled in time and faded to gray shades
over time. Sometimes, depending on the species treated, the color could have a
more charcoal-ed-tan color if the wood didn't except the creosote at the
same rate, in the industry they refer to these as "cold-shots" whereby the
treatment didn't appear to except as much solution, but likely it actually did. So
bore samples were often taken, depending on the amount in a run and what the
use... But I doubt a flat car deck really mattered.

The majority of your deck should be near-black, some newly replaced boards
should/could be glossy black, some lightened shades with an occasional tan
piece, but raw wood colors would appear later as the treating solutions used
were changed from creosote to CCA, CZC and ACCA but because most of these
treatments utilized Copper Salts with Chromium Salts as well, some of these treated
boards were a greenish-tan color, with CZC being black with a green
oxidation color(ala PRR Brunswick Green copper + oxygen= oxidation[green]). Now
Borates are replacing them all and they are generally clear with a die added to
confirm the treatment.

If it were me I would treat my deck as I did in my photos for TKM with a
gray toned deck whether a flat or a gondola.

Greg Martin


ron christensen
 

In the last issue of RMC, Stan Rydarowicz had a good article on
floor color.
As I remember the box cars used for grain had untreated wood
floors, that turned gray with a bit of tan color.
The flat cars I have observed were bleached out wood. with a
gray coloring.
My question is did the railroads use treated or creosoted lumber
for flooring?
A search of the web site didn't find an answer.
Ron Christensen


Richard Hendrickson
 

On Jan 15, 2006, at 7:16 AM, Ron Christensen wrote:

The flat cars I have observed were bleached out wood. with a
gray coloring.
My question is did the railroads use treated or creosoted lumber
for flooring?
Flat car decks were almost always treated with some sort of
preservative, often creosote in the steam era. Typically, creosoted
wood weathered to a somewhat darker gray than untreated wood.

Richard Hendrickson


Tony Thompson
 

Greg Martin wrote:
Richard is correct  for most of the
years that this list covers the favored treating for flat car  decks
was
creosote, which is a derivative of coal tar, from the coking  process
of coal
(thus those Koppers tanks cars). It was generally a glossy  black to a semi gloss
as it was pulled from the tubes but dulled in time and  faded to gray
shades
over time.
Based on looking at steam-era builder photos of flat cars, I
dispute that this was the most common treatment. Most new decks are not
dark colored at all. They might of course be untreated, but they surely
are not black. Untreated wood weathers in the direction of gray, so for
a well-aged car that's the color desired regardless of original
treatment.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history


Tim O'Connor
 

I have to agree with Tony. I've seen photos of cars with completely
untreated brand new decks. I know Santa Fe used creosoted decks, and
others did too. But not everyone did. Some decks were simply painted.

After all, if running boards and wood roofs were not creosoted, then
why would you need to (necessarily) creosote flat car decks?

Tim O'Connor

Based on looking at steam-era builder photos of flat cars, I
dispute that this was the most common treatment. Most new decks are not
dark colored at all. They might of course be untreated, but they surely
are not black. Untreated wood weathers in the direction of gray, so for
a well-aged car that's the color desired regardless of original
treatment.

Tony Thompson


Greg Martin
 

Bruce writes:

"I'm going to jump on the boat with Tony Thompson on this one. It was my
impression that most wood used for flatcar decks and gon and boxcar interiors
was untreated. When I look at the construction records for the PRR F30A for
example, the flooring is listed as oak. It is highly (ed) unlikely that this
was creosoted and no mention is made of treatment of the wood. Recall that
at during this time frame, oak was not valued as a furniture wood, but was
widely used in outdoor applications due to its ability to resist rot.

I wonder too if this was a regional issue with ATSF using softer, poorer
quality of wood due to availability.

Regards
Bruce"


I can tell you that from the AWPA shows that wood left untreated last about
seven years with the best results at fourteen years for Alaskan Yellow Cedar.
So that being a known, then it wouldn't make much sense to leave decks of
flats and gondolas left untreated at least if it were to be exposed constantly.
The cost of treating wood, any wood, is not that expensive given the
replacement value. There are some imported hardwood like Apiton (sp?) that are used
for truck beds but very expensive. As for OAK not being considered a
furniture wood, well that is a misnomer completely as even Frank Lloyd Wright was
big on the use of straight grain Oak for not only furniture as well as wall
paneling. I once had a desk made of wood dated in the twenties and built in
Missouri.

I do believe that untreated wood was used say for the side sheathing of
composite designed cars and possibly floors(for hoppers and gondolas) but again
most railroads re-sheathed these cars in about the same timeframe as you would
have expected the wood to finally be deteriorated. As for the railroad that
didn't, one only needs to look at the condition of those cars to see why most
did. For the east most cars were commonly sheathed with Southern Yellow Pine
or sometimes Hemlock and these are a true softwood. Do to length structure
Oak was just not a common wood was likely used for the decks but that doesn't
mean it wouldn't rot in the same given time period and it was and still is
far more expensive than other woods as well as heavier.


No photos I've seen would lead me to believe that flat especially were not
treated, especially given that they were in the seventies and beyond. Was
labor so cheap in the shops that the railroads could afford to begin replacing
decks in this timeframe? It unfortunate that more accurate record weren't kept.

Greg Martin


Bruce Smith
 

On Sun, January 15, 2006 11:59 am, Richard Hendrickson wrote:
Flat car decks were almost always treated with some sort of
preservative, often creosote in the steam era. Typically, creosoted
wood weathered to a somewhat darker gray than untreated wood.
I'm going to jump on the boat with Tony Thompson on this one. It was my
impression that most wood used for flatcar decks and gon and boxcar
interiors was untreated. When I look at the construction records for the
PRR F30A for example, the flooring is listed as oak. It is hightly
unlikely that this was creosoted and no mention is made of treatment of
the wood. Recall that at during this time frame, oak was not valued as a
furniture wood, but was widely used in outdoor applications due to its
ability to resist rot.

I wonder too if this was a regional issue with ATSF using softer, poorer
quality of wood due to availability.

Regards
Bruce

Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL


Tony Thompson
 

Greg Martin wrote:
I can tell you that from the AWPA  shows that wood left untreated
last about
seven years with the best results at  fourteen years for Alaskan
Yellow Cedar.
So that being a known, then it  wouldn't make much sense to leave
decks of
flats and gondolas left untreated  at least if it were to be exposed
constantly.
The cost of treating wood, any  wood, is not that expensive given the
replacement value.
That's not the point, Greg. The point is that photos clearly show
non-creosoted wood on many builder images from 1900 to at least 1950.
There are a few in the AC&F book, and many others in the AC&F photo
collection. Some railroads also painted the ends of decking the same
color as side sills (SP did this) though they did not paint decks; this
is usually obvious on the BCR flat cars, so some caution in
interpreting B&W is needed.

I do believe that untreated wood was  used say for the side sheathing
of
composite designed cars and possibly  floors(for hoppers and
gondolas) but again
most railroads re-sheathed  these cars in about the same timeframe as
you would
have expected the wood to  finally be deteriorated.
The same consideration may well have applied to flat car decks.
They took an awful lot of abuse, and I can see no reason they would
have lasted LONGER than gondola floors.

No photos I've seen would lead me to believe that  flat especially
were not
treated, especially given that they were in the  seventies and beyond.
I assume you mean more recent cars? or more recent photos?

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history


leedennegar
 

If I'm not mistaken, the purpose of creosote and modern pressure
treatments is to protect wood from bacteria, fungi and insects that
live in the soil. This is why it's used for wood that is in contact
with the ground such as ties, fenceposts, etc.

Since car floor are at least a yard off the ground, creosote would be
next to worthless.

BTW, "dry rot" is a misnomer: it only attacks wood that becomes wet
occasionally (from rain, usually). Although freight cars get rained
on, I'm far from sure creosote would add any protection worth the time
and trouble.

Am I wrong, anyone?


Lee Dennegar
Piscataway, NJ.


jerryglow2
 

Smelled a flat car lately? It seems to me they had that distinct
aroma.

Jerry Glow

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, "leedennegar" <leedennegar@y...> wrote:



If I'm not mistaken, the purpose of creosote and modern pressure
treatments is to protect wood from bacteria, fungi and insects that
live in the soil. This is why it's used for wood that is in contact
with the ground such as ties, fenceposts, etc.

Since car floor are at least a yard off the ground, creosote would
be
next to worthless.

BTW, "dry rot" is a misnomer: it only attacks wood that becomes wet
occasionally (from rain, usually). Although freight cars get rained
on, I'm far from sure creosote would add any protection worth the
time
and trouble.

Am I wrong, anyone?


Lee Dennegar
Piscataway, NJ.


WALTER GAY <waltrail1@...>
 

We never painted the boards when we repaired flat car floors. I think they used oak though.

Walt
Grumpy ex-car knocker


Greg Martin
 

All,

Make no mistake Creosote was used to keep all wood from "rotting" regardless of whether it was in direct ground contact or above ground contact., this only effective the amount of preservative that was necessary, i.e., .25 or .40, etc. All wood rots, unless it is devoid of moisture (completely dry as kept in helium) or completely submerged as in the Japanese submerge forests of Western Hemlock or the Viking Ship preserved now in the Smithsonian in Helium after being removed from Chesapeake Bay.

In your thinking ask yourself why would you need to treat a trestle 70-feet high in the air under your thing of lack of ground contact...

All the things you mention cause decay, and when you leave wood members in contact with steel stringers or frames on a flat car deck, or when you drill them and dap them for bolt heads and washers, then these areas become affected. But, not being around in the early part of the last century I can't confirm the use of creosote or any preservative on flat car or gondola decks. Looking at photos I'm not sure that another treatment was use as well, as there are some tat are virtually clear such as Dow's Penta' treatments. But I sure would like to see a good color photo of a car built in the late 30's or 40's that show the cars to have raw wood decks. I like Richard just can't believe that these issue wouldn't have crossed the mechanical departments minds, as I have said the additional cost were not that high in the relationship to the wood cost like less than 25% of the woods value.

Regardless, as they weather they would either lighten to soft shades of gray or darken to soft shades of gray as the treating process doesn't prevent this.

Greg Martin

-----Original Message-----
From: leedennegar <leedennegar@yahoo.com>
To: STMFC@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Mon, 16 Jan 2006 04:31:42 -0000
Subject: [STMFC] RE: Freight car flooring




If I'm not mistaken, the purpose of creosote and modern pressure
treatments is to protect wood from bacteria, fungi and insects that
live in the soil. This is why it's used for wood that is in contact
with the ground such as ties, fenceposts, etc.

Since car floor are at least a yard off the ground, creosote would be
next to worthless.

BTW, "dry rot" is a misnomer: it only attacks wood that becomes wet
occasionally (from rain, usually). Although freight cars get rained
on, I'm far from sure creosote would add any protection worth the time
and trouble.

Am I wrong, anyone?


Lee Dennegar
Piscataway, NJ.






Yahoo! Groups Links


Patrick Wider <pwider@...>
 

According to the notes that Ed Hawkins and I took while examining the AC&F bills of
materials, there wasn't a single instance where AC&F coated the wood decks of flat cars
with any substance whatsoever throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Creosote would have
been specified in the bills of materials. They are definitive. Photos that clearly show the
newly applied wood decks confirm this. Hopefully, this will end the speculation on this
subject.

Pat Wider


al_brown03
 

SAL mechanical department standards for '47 talk about painting flat
cars "except for woodwork"; they don't say whether the decks were
treated with anything. But the next standard is for wheel cars, and
definitely *does* mention creosoted wood (indirectly, as in don't paint
it). So on wheel cars, it'd seem that at least some of the wood was
creosoted. (1) Since wheel cars were often converted flats or gondolas,
would they be treated the same? (2) If builders didn't creosote new
cars per Mr. Hawkins's info, perhaps some railroads creosoted older
ones?

Al Brown, Melbourne, Fla.

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, Richard Hendrickson <rhendrickson@o...>
wrote:

On Jan 15, 2006, at 7:16 AM, Ron Christensen wrote:

The flat cars I have observed were bleached out wood. with a
gray coloring.
My question is did the railroads use treated or creosoted lumber
for flooring?
Flat car decks were almost always treated with some sort of
preservative, often creosote in the steam era. Typically, creosoted
wood weathered to a somewhat darker gray than untreated wood.

Richard Hendrickson




Bruce Smith
 

On Mon, January 16, 2006 12:36 pm, al_brown03 wrote:
SAL mechanical department standards for '47 talk about painting flat
cars "except for woodwork"; they don't say whether the decks were
treated with anything. But the next standard is for wheel cars, and
definitely *does* mention creosoted wood (indirectly, as in don't paint
it). So on wheel cars, it'd seem that at least some of the wood was
creosoted. (1) Since wheel cars were often converted flats or gondolas,
would they be treated the same? (2) If builders didn't creosote new
cars per Mr. Hawkins's info, perhaps some railroads creosoted older
ones
Al,

No. Wheel cars in company service only carry one commodity, wheels, and
who bloody cares if they get some creosote on them? Given the lading, the
railroad may have considered a longer deck life more likely that a general
service flat (which is constantly getting nailed), or creosoted soft wood
might have been cheaper than hardwoods, but this is most likely somewhat
unique to the use of the car.

Regards
Bruce

Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Greg Martin wrote:
Make no mistake Creosote was used to keep all wood from "rotting" regardless of whether it was in direct ground contact or above ground contact., this only effective the amount of preservative that was necessary . . .
I believe this should be phrased as, "creosote COULD be used to keep all wood from rotting. . . "

But I sure would like to see a good color photo of a car built in the late 30's or 40's that show the cars to have raw wood decks.
If you have the AC&F book, look at the flat car chapter. If you have a 1940 Cyc, look at page 207; in the 1946 Cyc there are several flat cars with light decks; in the 1949-51 Cyc there is a photo of a PRR F-30a (yes, the Cyc shows a hyphen <g> so don't freak, Ben) with a light deck, page 150; and there are several more in the 1953 Cyc. If you want more, Greg, let me know.
I respect Greg's professional knowledge of wood and wood treatment, but evidence suggests that the thinking he advocates was simply not shared by railroad mechanical departments.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@signaturepress.com
Publishers of books on railroad history


al_brown03
 

Hi Bruce --

Good point. I'm persuaded.

Al Brown, Melbourne, Fla.


--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, "Bruce Smith" <smithbf@a...> wrote:

On Mon, January 16, 2006 12:36 pm, al_brown03 wrote:
SAL mechanical department standards for '47 talk about painting
flat
cars "except for woodwork"; they don't say whether the decks were
treated with anything. But the next standard is for wheel cars,
and
definitely *does* mention creosoted wood (indirectly, as in don't
paint
it). So on wheel cars, it'd seem that at least some of the wood
was
creosoted. (1) Since wheel cars were often converted flats or
gondolas,
would they be treated the same? (2) If builders didn't creosote
new
cars per Mr. Hawkins's info, perhaps some railroads creosoted
older
ones
Al,

No. Wheel cars in company service only carry one commodity,
wheels, and
who bloody cares if they get some creosote on them? Given the
lading, the
railroad may have considered a longer deck life more likely that a
general
service flat (which is constantly getting nailed), or creosoted
soft wood
might have been cheaper than hardwoods, but this is most likely
somewhat
unique to the use of the car.

Regards
Bruce

Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL


pullmanboss <tgmadden@...>
 

Pat Wider wrote:

According to the notes that Ed Hawkins and I took while examining
the AC&F bills of materials, there wasn't a single instance where
AC&F coated the wood decks of flat cars with any substance
whatsoever throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Creosote would have
been specified in the bills of materials. They are definitive.
I'm getting confused..... Early on in this thread mention was made of
Bill Schaumberg's clinic on tie treatment plants, wherein lumber is
pressure treated with creosote _before_ it is put to use. I took that
to mean the question was whether flat car decking was similiarly pre-
treated, not whether AC&F (or any other car builder or railroad) was
coating the decking after (or when) it was applied to the car. Do the
BOMs say anything about the deck planks, Pat??

Tom Madden


Dennis Storzek <dstorzek@...>
 

--- In STMFC@yahoogroups.com, "al_brown03" <abrown@f...> wrote:

SAL mechanical department standards for '47 talk about painting flat
cars "except for woodwork"; they don't say whether the decks were
treated with anything. But the next standard is for wheel cars, and
definitely *does* mention creosoted wood (indirectly, as in don't paint
it). So on wheel cars, it'd seem that at least some of the wood was
creosoted. (1) Since wheel cars were often converted flats or gondolas,
would they be treated the same? (2) If builders didn't creosote new
cars per Mr. Hawkins's info, perhaps some railroads creosoted older
ones?

Al Brown, Melbourne, Fla.
A couple of points in general:

Creosote applied to the surface of the wood is next to worthless, so you won't find creosote listed in the BoM with the painting materials. If creosoted wood was to be used, the decking would be specified as pressure treated, then the amount of retention, then the species of wood. If the BoM just says "3" White Oak", then that's just what it means, naked 3" white oak plank.

Flatcar decks are structural, the load bears directly upon the decking, and it is expected to have blocking, etc. nailed to it with really BIG nails (60 penny nails, anyone?) The preferred wood was Oak, for its strength, and preferably White Oak, for its superior rot resistance. White oak was the preferred decking for truck trailers for many years, and they weren't treated. It may have been accepted wisdom in the railroad car departments that the deck was going to have to be replaced because it was broken, loose, and chewed up before it had a chance to rot, so why spend the money on treated lumber.

A wheel car, OTOH, carries its load on a rack of some sort; the decking acts as a walkway for the loading crew. Therefore it is not expected to be chewed up by the loading process. It may have been made from a wood of lesser strength, such as Southern Yellow Pine. When it rotted, it would require the rack to be removed to replace the planks, thereby making this a much larger job than replacement on a flatcar.

In addition, what the car builder used and what a railroad used for replacement were two different things. Some railroads might have seen an advantage in using treated lumber, others not. Some railroads might have used treated lumber because that was what was on hand. When I worked there years ago, all of the service flats on the Chicago Transit Authority rapid transit system were decked with creosoted yellow pine because that is what was stocked for use on station platforms, and no one bothered to special order lumber for car repair.

Dennis Storzek

Dennis Storzek


Richard Hendrickson
 

On Jan 16, 2006, at 11:09 AM, Anthony Thompson wrote:

        I respect Greg's professional knowledge of wood and wood
treatment, but evidence suggests that the thinking he advocates was
simply not shared by railroad mechanical departments.
I have maintained a low profile on this topic while trying to find some
concrete evidence, as opposed to speculation. Unfortunately, I haven't
found much. In the '20s the Santa Fe did apply creosoted timber to at
least some flat car decks, and presumably if the Santa Fe did so, other
RRs did as well. (BTW, The fact that the Pennsy used untreated lumber
for flat car decks, cited by Bruce Smith, proves nothing, since there
is abundant evidence that the PRR was the non-standard railroad of the
world.) It's certainly true that in the photos Tony Thompson cites, as
well as others in my photo collection, most new flat car decks in the
'40s and '50s (but not all) do not appear to be creosoted. That does
not mean, however, that they were untreated. The American Lumber and
Treating Co. ran full page ads in the Car Builders' Cyclopedias (e.g.,
1946, p.1310) for "Wolmanized" treated lumber, specifying such uses as
"flat and gondola car decking," among others. This process apparently
didn't significantly change the color of the wood. Such lumber could
be supplied to the railroads and car builders pre-treated, and even
pre-cut to specified dimensions. No doubt other similar wood
treatments were also readily available. That the makers of such
treatments advertised in RR industry publications strikes me as prima
facie evidence that at least some railroads used or specified treated
lumber in freight car construction.

Some flat car decks may have been untreated. However, I would
re-phrase Tony's statement above as follows: "evidence suggests" [NB
does not prove] "that the thinking [Gregg] advocates was not shared by
some railroad mechanical departments."

Of course, the real issue for this list is what color to paint or stain
flat car decks. Here the evidence seems clear that, whether treated or
not, many of them were a natural wood color when first applied.
However, the weathering process, especially on untreated lumber,
rapidly (i.e., literally within weeks) turned them the grayish color
that is typical of weathered wood, to which was added the grungy
appearance caused by the dirt, soot, and other contaminants to which
all freight cars were exposed. It follows that the deck on a flat car
model should not look like new wood unless the model represents a car
fresh from the shops. Otherwise, the techniques exemplified by Stan
Rydarowicz (and which many of us have used in one form or another for
years) are appropriate.

Richard Hendrickson