Did Pennsy F31 container cars leave PRR lines often?

gary laakso

Trains Album of Photographs, Southern Railroads, shows one such container car on the RF&P. I have not noticed any other photos showing these PRR container cars off line. Did they leave PRR rails much? Was the pattern the same for NYC container cars? TIA

gary laakso
south of Mike Brock


I did extensive research into the PRR's container service in the early
1980's, ending in an article in The Keystone (Vol. 18 #1, Spring 1985 PP
7-50). In my research I came away with the impression that it was a pretty
self contained, on line service. It required cranes which often had
special hooking devices that could engage the container hooks automatically, but
of course any set of chains and hooks could be used if you wanted to have
men actually climb atop the containers.
I am not aware of the RF&P operations, but it was a "friendly road",
which the Pennsy partly owned, so it doesn't surprise me. The F31 container
cars were very rare. Only 25 were built, and many of them were in use on
a truck body service in the Delmarva area, rather than the regular
container service. Most PRR containers were moved on a fleet of class FM flat cars
dating back to the 1910 era (and earlier), which were retrofitted with
container guides in the early 1930's.
As for that "truck body service", it foreshadowed today's container
service almost exactly over 70 years ago. Truck bodies, moved by rail, and
transferred to purpose built trucks for final delivery. Regulation, more
than anything killed the project.
Rich Burg