freight car floors

Randy Hees <hees@...>

By coincidence I was the project manager for the SN MW 32 project for the SPCRR ( <>). The project goal was to rebuild the car, using hand tools, over the 9 days of Railfair 99.

In this case the deck boards were treated with 2 coats of a clear �log oil� treatment on all 4 sides (more on the ends). Additionally, the lumber was supposed to be from an old growth, standing dead (fire killed) tree. We approach painting and rot treatment on restored cars more carefully than the typical practices of the 19^th and early 20^th centuries, as these cars will not see consumptive service, and therefore will rot before they are destroyed in service. In this case the frame members got 3 coats of paint on all surfaces. The warped deck was unexpected. By the way, I can find no reference to vertical grain lumber having been specified for freight car construction (but have in some cases for depot siding) Kirkman includes references to the grade system being used. It is possible that 19th century railroad lumber buyers expects vertical grain (aka quarter sawn) lumber, but there is not much in the way of hard evidence of railroads specifying such lumber.

Several of us involved in the 1999 project are hatching a plot to fix the problems, and return the car to display. I would like to return the shed body and other �work car� additions.

As you noted, examination of the castings during restoration suggested the car was built for the earlier Oakland & Antioch (1909 -1911). The trucks appear not to have been the original Holman trucks, but instead are later replacement used SP 30 ton trucks.

For us freight car wonks, the car had fabricated strap iron bolsters, wooden draft timbers (with different styles of draft stops and springs at each end, it had a hard life) and used cast sill pockets for the center and intermediate sills but had mortise and tenon joints on the side sills. It had been fitted with AB brakes in about 1952.

Randy Hees

Garth G. 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 Within a few years the deck had warped so badly that the car had to be withdrawn from display. 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.

Mike Brock <brockm@...>

Randy Hees says:

By coincidence I was the project manager for the SN MW 32 project for
the SPCRR ( <>). The project goal was
to rebuild the car, using hand tools, over the 9 days of Railfair 99.
As I recall, I had met Tony Thompson and Richard Hendrickson at Railfair 99 at the book store area and shortly afterward, we walked by the least I think it was that car. Certainly it was a project car. I recall Tony and Richard making note of some obscure part of it or something...the trucks I believe. I, of course, was more interested in 3985 and 844. It is possible that I video taped the car.

Mike Brock