Freight car floors


Randy Hees <hees@...>
 

The floors and decks of the early (pre-1920 or so, mostly narrow gauge, all wooden frame) cars I have restored are untreated, and none of the early freight car references (Voss, Kirkman, MCB standards (adopted or proposed) or the various Car Builders Dictionaries) I have looked at mention a treatment. One place to check would be the standards for repair to interchanged cars, originally published by the MCB, later by other groups.

There may also be regional differences. While most of the Eastern lines would probably use oak or yellow pine, in the west it will most likely be Douglas fir. As noted by others oak will turn black when it gets wet. Douglas fir won't.

I do wonder why you would treat a flatcar deck.... To a large extent the deck was disposable. Cleats and blocking is nailed to the deck. I wouldn't be surprised to find that decks were only supposed to last 5 years, 10 years at most. Turn of the century (1900) literature on wooden flatcars suggests they were typically destroyed before they could rot.

Randy Hees


Garth Groff <ggg9y@...>
 

Randy,

You are probably right about not treating the decks on flat cars in the past, but a preserved car today is a somewhat different matter. Back in 1999 a volunteer group restored Oakland & Antioch flat car 2002 for the CSRM during Railfair '99. Apparently untreated lumber was used for the deck. Within a few years the deck had warped so badly that the car had to be withdrawn from display. When I was there last year the car had still not been repaired, and given the tight money at the museum it may be a long time before this historically significant car is again available for display or study.

The car was, by the way, built by Holman Car Co. of San Francisco in 1911. It passed to successor Oakland, Antioch & Eastern around 1913, then to the Sacramento Northern Railway in 1929 as MW 32. The car was eventually fitted with a small crane and a tool shed, which is why it survived long enough to be donated to the CSRM in the 1970s.

Kind regards,


Garth G. Groff

Randy Hees wrote:

The floors and decks of the early (pre-1920 or so, mostly narrow gauge, all wooden frame) cars I have restored are untreated, and none of the early freight car references (Voss, Kirkman, MCB standards (adopted or proposed) or the various Car Builders Dictionaries) I have looked at mention a treatment. One place to check would be the standards for repair to interchanged cars, originally published by the MCB, later by other groups. . .

I do wonder why you would treat a flatcar deck.... To a large extent the deck was disposable. Cleats and blocking is nailed to the deck. I wouldn't be surprised to find that decks were only supposed to last 5 years, 10 years at most. Turn of the century (1900) literature on wooden flatcars suggests they were typically destroyed before they could rot.

Randy Hees


Doug Rhodes
 

As others have alluded to, wood is treated to slow down decay due to organisms that deteriorate it. This has nothing to do with wood warpage, so treating the lumber will not prevent warpage. In fact, the grades of wood used and the treatment process itself can enhance the probability of warpage. Whatever the source of the problems mentioned below, it was most certainly not the use of untreated wood.

I have to agree with other writers who suggest that in our time frame of interest, wood decks were expendable. Wood was still cheap. Heavy loads dragged over decks, dropped on them, secured with blocking etc would have trashed the wood long before decay organisms could make much progress. In the case of Douglas fir, old growth lumber was far more resistant to decay than today's second growth and/or plantation product, and would last many years in outdoor service even without treatment.

We have to be careful about applying today's experiences to the steam era, when raw materials and labour were relatively cheap compared to today, and solutions thus tended to be more low-tech. And timber, especially, was generally of higher quality even at the lower price.

Doug Rhodes

----- Original Message -----
From: "Garth Groff" <ggg9y@...>
To: <STMFC@...>
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 9:14 AM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Freight car floors


Randy,

You are probably right about not treating the decks on flat cars in the
past, but a preserved car today is a somewhat different matter. Back in
1999 a volunteer group restored Oakland & Antioch flat car 2002 for the
CSRM during Railfair '99. Apparently untreated lumber was used for the
deck. Within a few years the deck had warped so badly that the car had
to be withdrawn from display. When I was there last year the car had
still not been repaired, and given the tight money at the museum it may
be a long time before this historically significant car is again
available for display or study.

The car was, by the way, built by Holman Car Co. of San Francisco in
1911. It passed to successor Oakland, Antioch & Eastern around 1913,
then to the Sacramento Northern Railway in 1929 as MW 32. The car was
eventually fitted with a small crane and a tool shed, which is why it
survived long enough to be donated to the CSRM in the 1970s.

Kind regards,


Garth G. Groff


Garth Groff <ggg9y@...>
 

Randy,

Thanks for the explanation. This explains why my new layout shelves are all warping. Quality of wood and damp basement storage by the guy who built them, I guess.

Kind regards,


Garth G. Groff

Doug Rhodes wrote:

As others have alluded to, wood is treated to slow down decay due to organisms that deteriorate it. This has nothing to do with wood warpage, so treating the lumber will not prevent warpage. In fact, the grades of wood used and the treatment process itself can enhance the probability of warpage. Whatever the source of the problems mentioned below, it was most certainly not the use of untreated wood.

I have to agree with other writers who suggest that in our time frame of interest, wood decks were expendable. Wood was still cheap. Heavy loads dragged over decks, dropped on them, secured with blocking etc would have trashed the wood long before decay organisms could make much progress. In the case of Douglas fir, old growth lumber was far more resistant to decay than today's second growth and/or plantation product, and would last many years in outdoor service even without treatment.

We have to be careful about applying today's experiences to the steam era, when raw materials and labour were relatively cheap compared to today, and solutions thus tended to be more low-tech. And timber, especially, was generally of higher quality even at the lower price.

Doug Rhodes

----- Original Message -----
From: "Garth Groff" <ggg9y@...>
To: <STMFC@...>
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 9:14 AM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Freight car floors



Randy,

You are probably right about not treating the decks on flat cars in the
past, but a preserved car today is a somewhat different matter. Back in
1999 a volunteer group restored Oakland & Antioch flat car 2002 for the
CSRM during Railfair '99. Apparently untreated lumber was used for the
deck. Within a few years the deck had warped so badly that the car had
to be withdrawn from display. When I was there last year the car had
still not been repaired, and given the tight money at the museum it may
be a long time before this historically significant car is again
available for display or study.

The car was, by the way, built by Holman Car Co. of San Francisco in
1911. It passed to successor Oakland, Antioch & Eastern around 1913,
then to the Sacramento Northern Railway in 1929 as MW 32. The car was
eventually fitted with a small crane and a tool shed, which is why it
survived long enough to be donated to the CSRM in the 1970s.

Kind regards,


Garth G. Groff



Yahoo! Groups Links






Andy Carlson
 

Some thoughts about warping freight car decks.

Quality of wood is important if ones' objective is to
avoid warpage. Most wood being harvested at the turn
of the previous century was "old growth". Old growth
timber, particularly western timber, is characterized
as having a higher winter wood to spring wood ratio,
these being what we know as tree rings. The slower
winter growth is what the ring is composed of, the
much faster growing spring wood is what spaces out the
tree rings. Second and third growth timbers have a
very high percentage of the weaker summer wood. This
is why much of today's lumber warps fairly easily,
much less rings making much less strength.

Another factor is grain orientation. Flat car wood
decking if of vertical, tight grained milled lumber
will last for a long time, much more than flat grained
decking (that is grain which is horizontal in the
decking lumber. Long time ago flat grained lumber was
often considered waste wood, and would be burnt in the
teepee burner, or used for cheap barn siding and attic
floor boards.

So the experience of the flat car restoration done
with today's lumber does not necessarily explain flat
car decking durability of 100 years ago.

From: "Garth Groff" <ggg9y@...>
Randy,

You are probably right about not treating the
decks on flat cars in the
past, but a preserved car today is a somewhat
different matter. Back in
1999 a volunteer group restored Oakland & Antioch
flat car 2002 for the
CSRM during Railfair '99. Apparently untreated
lumber was used for the
deck. Within a few years the deck had warped so
badly that the car had
to be withdrawn from display.


John Van Buekenhout <jvanbu1347@...>
 

Suggest that you look at the February 2006 issue of the Railroad Model Craftsman (page 71) to look at an article on finishing flooring for models.
Jack

----- Original Message -----
From: "Andy Carlson" <midcentury@...>
To: <STMFC@...>
Sent: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 11:17 AM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Freight car floors


Some thoughts about warping freight car decks.

Quality of wood is important if ones' objective is to
avoid warpage. Most wood being harvested at the turn
of the previous century was "old growth". Old growth
timber, particularly western timber, is characterized
as having a higher winter wood to spring wood ratio,
these being what we know as tree rings. The slower
winter growth is what the ring is composed of, the
much faster growing spring wood is what spaces out the
tree rings. Second and third growth timbers have a
very high percentage of the weaker summer wood. This
is why much of today's lumber warps fairly easily,
much less rings making much less strength.

Another factor is grain orientation. Flat car wood
decking if of vertical, tight grained milled lumber
will last for a long time, much more than flat grained
decking (that is grain which is horizontal in the
decking lumber. Long time ago flat grained lumber was
often considered waste wood, and would be burnt in the
teepee burner, or used for cheap barn siding and attic
floor boards.

So the experience of the flat car restoration done
with today's lumber does not necessarily explain flat
car decking durability of 100 years ago.

From: "Garth Groff" <ggg9y@...>
Randy,

You are probably right about not treating the
decks on flat cars in the
past, but a preserved car today is a somewhat
different matter. Back in
1999 a volunteer group restored Oakland & Antioch
flat car 2002 for the
CSRM during Railfair '99. Apparently untreated
lumber was used for the
deck. Within a few years the deck had warped so
badly that the car had
to be withdrawn from display.


Yahoo! Groups Links







benjaminfrank_hom <b.hom@...>
 

Jack Van Buekenhout wrote:
"Suggest that you look at the February 2006 issue of the Railroad
Model Craftsman (page 71) to look at an article on finishing
flooring for models."

Excellent suggestion - after all, it's the article that kicked off
this thread! <G>


Ben Hom


Bruce Smith
 

On Wed, January 18, 2006 6:44 pm, benjaminfrank_hom wrote:
Jack Van Buekenhout wrote:
"Suggest that you look at the February 2006 issue of the Railroad
Model Craftsman (page 71) to look at an article on finishing
flooring for models."

Excellent suggestion - after all, it's the article that kicked off
this thread! <G>

Ben Hom
The only down side is that Stan suggests that the floors were creosote
treated wood, which the facts doon't seem to bear out <G> So, rather thas
Stan's use of rubber as a final wash, I would go with something a little
browner, like RR tie or roof brown (yeah, I KNOW RR tie brown is supposed
to be creosote treated wood) as it looks more like somewhat weathered
(darkened) oak.

Regards
Bruce

Bruce Smith
Auburn, AL


Barrybennetttoo@...
 

There is also a factor in the way the timber was treated after felling and
after sawing to lumber. The tree trunk may have been stored for several months,
or even years, before it was sawn, to allow the timber to dry out properly.
The same after being sawn to allow any warpage to develop and be flattened
out in the lumber pile.

Modern timber is sawn almost immediately after felling, and then dried in a
kiln. This dries it out all right but only to the extent that as soon as it
comes into contact with damp of any sort it just acts like a sponge and soaks
it up. Next step, warpage. That is tha reason for so many water proofing
treatments nowadays, but they need to be applied as soon as possible after
removing from the kiln or the plastic wrapping.

You are paying a lot of money for lumber that is little better than firewood
of a century ago.

Cheers

Barry Bennett


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Garth Groff wrote:
You are probably right about not treating the decks on flat cars in the
past, but a preserved car today is a somewhat different matter. Back in
1999 a volunteer group restored Oakland & Antioch flat car 2002 for the
CSRM during Railfair '99. Apparently untreated lumber was used for the
deck. Within a few years the deck had warped so badly that the car had
to be withdrawn from display.
Garth, what I was told was that somebody in that volunteer group decided to save a few bucks and not use kiln-dried wood. Maybe Denny Anspach can tell us more on that topic.

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@...
Publishers of books on railroad history


randyhees <hees@...>
 

The volunteer group, the SPCRR / SIA did not purchase the material or
chose the supplier. It was purchased by by CSRM and the CSRM
Foundation. As noted the wood was not kiln dried (not always the best
choice, and not used on large timbers like car sills) but was supposed
to be cut from a standing dead, fire killed tree. The tree was
supposed to have been dead and the log seasoned for 2 years prior to
cutting. Some of the lumber used, including the deck was cut after
the start of Railfair and only delivered 5 days into the 9 day event.

By the way, in the 19th century, some car builders advocated using
green wood, believing by fixing it as part of a car body you prevented
it from warping. I believe we now have empirical evidence on this car
that the concept doesn't work. This is one of the things we learn as
we practice "experimental archeology" by rebuilding cars following
19th century practice as we understand it. Each car we rebuild
extends our understanding.

Currently our group is dealing with issues related to double board
boxcar roofs. We now understand they never worked well, and always
leaked, and rotted in as little as three years, but that is a
different discussion.

By the way, there are many rumors and other miss-information about the
project circulating both during and after Railfair, some included in
this groups archives, including statements that it was a Carter Bros
narrow gauge car.

Randy Hees

PS, I need to apologize to Denny. Several years before Railfair, at
one of the CSRM hosted Railroad Preservation Symposiums I used him
badly. As part of a presentation on interpretation in a small
railroad museum, he was called to the front of the auditorium. We
were making the point that you can involve the visitor in the
interpretive process rather than just telling them about process.
Denny was set on a chair with a piece of lumber, and a very, very dull
hand saw (not intentional). While going on to the next point he was
abandoned to try to cut a marked tenon. He kept trying to make the
cut, without success, not due lack of effort, but due to lack of teeth
on the saw in question.


Tony Thompson wrote:

Garth, what I was told was that somebody in that volunteer group
decided to save a few bucks and not use kiln-dried wood. Maybe Denny
Anspach can tell us more on that topic.


Gene Green <bierglaeser@...>
 

This entire discussion about lumber, warped wood, etc. illustrates
perfectly why all RR museums should move their entire collections of
rolling stock to El Paso ASAP. Here nothing rots, warps or rusts.

This past November I used five sheets of 3/4" plywood that I had stored
outside since 1994. It was still OK.

I'll advise the city council that they need to condemn and confisticate
all 3 RR yards in town in anticipation of a flood of RR equipment. The
UP is talking about moving their yards several miles west into New
Mexico anyway.

Gene Green
Out in the west Texas town of El Paso


ljack70117@...
 

On Jan 19, 2006, at 9:10 AM, Gene Green wrote:

This entire discussion about lumber, warped wood, etc. illustrates
perfectly why all RR museums should move their entire collections of
rolling stock to El Paso ASAP. Here nothing rots, warps or rusts.

This past November I used five sheets of 3/4" plywood that I had stored
outside since 1994. It was still OK.

I'll advise the city council that they need to condemn and confisticate
all 3 RR yards in town in anticipation of a flood of RR equipment. The
UP is talking about moving their yards several miles west into New
Mexico anyway.

Gene Green
Out in the west Texas town of El Paso
I was in El Paso once in 1955. It rained. For the first 10 minutes it was mud balls. It took it that long to clear the dust out of the air.
Thank you
Larry Jackman
ljack70117@...


jaley <jaley@...>
 

On Jan 19, 9:31am, ljack70117@... wrote:
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: Freight car floors

I was in El Paso once in 1955. It rained. For the first 10 minutes it
was mud balls. It took it that long to clear the dust out of the air.
Thank you
Larry Jackman
ljack70117@...
I would be inclined to think that Larry is exaggerating... except that the
same thing happened to me in Albequerque (actually Rio Rancho, NM) once.

I was driving at the time and instead of rain, I was getting mud spattered
on my windshield.

I'm sure this phenomenon would make for an interesting weathering pattern
on the roof and sides of STEAM ERA FREIGHT CARS.

Regards,

-Jeff

--
Jeff Aley jaley@...
DPG Chipsets Product Engineering
Intel Corporation, Folsom, CA
(916) 356-3533