USRA composite gondolas (long, but illuminating)


Ray Breyer
 

Richard Hendrickson wrote:
No good news here, Mark. Almost all of the USRA
composite gondolas were rebuilt or scrapped by
the end of WW II. Minneapolis & St. Louis had
me refurbished ex-L&N cars, some of which lasted
into the early '50s, but only one of those was
still listed in the 1/53 ORER. I can't think of
any other RRs that still had them in revenue
service.
John Hile wrote:
At one point I tried to find unmodified (or least
modified) 40' USRA cars still listed in the 1/53
ORER with composite sides.  Below are my notes...
ACL 99300-99443, 141 cars
GM&O 12200-12374 most w/solid floors, 170 cars
L&N 73000-74999, 19 cars
SLSF 85000-85999 solid floors?, 358 cars
Additions and/or corrections are welcome.

Hi everyone,

With all of the work that people have put into tracking down various odd, obscure, and single-road freight cars with limited appeal (to the "great unwashed", anyway) I'm frankly stunned that no one's bothered to actually study the USRA composite gons AND their clones, to come up with anything approaching a definitive study.

Since no one's seemed to bother, I've done so. Starting off with the (flawed) list John Nehrich has online, I dug through my hundreds of car diagram book scans, thousands of freight car photos, and assorted other primary source freight car material (most railroad-generated) I now have a list of all of the USRA GS gons in service, along with all of their CLOSE clones (those cars that looked VERY close to the original USRA design, especially from the sides. They MUST have the blank center panel and the same lower edge to be included in my list). I tried to track down all of the original number series, their build dates, and if & when they were rebuilt. My numbers tracked any cars that were rebuilt from their original configuration, but which kept the original side bracing (including steel rebuilds or cars with the wood removed for pulp or pipe service). I then tracked all of these car number series through the 1930, 1945, 1950, 1955 and 1959 ORERs.


My number of originally-built cars and clones is problematic, since this is only a quick study (for now). It stands as 47,979 cars and IS an incorrect number. Milwaukee and Wabash cars are especially giving me fits, and more research is required.

However, my ORER quantities, based on the car series that I've been able to trace, are much more accurate. For those that are interested, here's the list of all of the surviving cars in 1959, which should prove illuminating:

ACL 90250-90499, 272 cars, original USRA rebuilt to steel WITH original sides.
ACL 99300-99443, 8 cars, all-original cars, ex-AB&C.
C of G 10861-10935, 66 cars, clone rebuilds with open sides for pulp.
C&IM 15000-15001, 2 cars, steel clone rebuilds WITH original sides for container service.
G&F 6001-6030, 13 cars, steel rebuild clones WITH original sides.
GM&O 12000-12374, 46 cars, wood-sided clones, ex-M&O.
GM&O 44000-44249, 246 cars, all-original cars, ex-Alton.
IC 82720-84997, 25 cars, all-original cars, mix of IC USRA cars and ex-VS&P clones.
MILW 1-1000, 1000 cars, clones rebuilt without wood sides for pulp and pipe service.
MILW 84000-90949, 4043 cars, wood-sided clones.
MP 28900-29999, 7 cars, original USRA rebuilt with side doors replacing 3 panels per side.
SLSF 50000-50398, 62 cars, wood-sided clones.
SLSF 50399-53346, 764 cars, wood-sided clones (some MAY be steel rebuilds, but not according to the ORERs)
SLSF 85000-85999, 129 cars, all-original USRA cars.
Wabash 13000-13249, 243 cars, LIKELY clones, WITH composite sides.

This all adds up to a grand total of 6,926 cars that at least look like USRA gons running after the steam era. 5573 of these still have wood sides, 287 have steel replacement sides but retained the diagonal bracing of the original cars, and 1066 cars have open sides with all of the original bracing intact. 687 of these cars are original USRA-built cars, and 408 of these are nominally retain their as-built configuration (some, but not all, likely have replacement ends)


So good news! If you like USRA composite gons, but model some time after WWII, start buying them in large lots, especially if you're a Milwaukee or Frisco modeler. Get the Intermountain versions though, as you'll sometimes have to leave the sides off or replace them with steel.

Now I need to clean up these numbers, and then figure out what to do with this data. Good thing Bob's Photos will be nearby in a couple of weeks.

Regards,
Ray Breyer
Elgin, IL


Tim O'Connor
 

Ray Breyer wrote

Wabash 13000-13249, 243 cars, LIKELY clones, WITH composite sides.
Ray those Wabash cars were World War II War Emergency gondolas.
Wabash did own some near copies of USRA gondolas but they had
fishbelly underframes: 7000-9049, 10000-10124 and 10125-10524 --
built between 1922 and 1925, and were all scrapped from 1944
thru 1946.

Tim O'Connor


Ray Breyer
 

Ray Breyer wrote:
Wabash 13000-13249, 243 cars, LIKELY clones, WITH
composite sides.
Ray those Wabash cars were World War II
War Emergency gondolas.

Thanks for the information Tim. I'll pull them off my list. I knew that the Wabash had WE gons, but wasn't sure of the numbers.

Wabash did own some near copies of USRA gondolas but they
had fishbelly underframes
Tim O'Connor
I have a photo of one of those cars, and didn't include that series in my list; they weren't close enough! (if I had included those cars I'd have included the closer Rock Island cars, and then the list would have just been of all composite gons...which would be a worthy exercise too!)

Regards,
Ray Breyer


Richard Hendrickson
 

On Oct 17, 2009, at 11:24 AM, Ray Breyer wrote:

Richard Hendrickson wrote:
No good news here, Mark. Almost all of the USRA
composite gondolas were rebuilt or scrapped by
the end of WW II. Minneapolis & St. Louis had
me refurbished ex-L&N cars, some of which lasted
into the early '50s, but only one of those was
still listed in the 1/53 ORER. I can't think of
any other RRs that still had them in revenue
service.
Hi everyone,

With all of the work that people have put into tracking down
various odd, obscure, and single-road freight cars with limited
appeal (to the "great unwashed", anyway) I'm frankly stunned that
no one's bothered to actually study the USRA composite gons AND
their clones, to come up with anything approaching a definitive study.

[snip]
However, my ORER quantities, based on the car series that I've been
able to trace, are much more accurate. For those that are
interested, here's the list of all of the surviving cars in 1959,
which should prove illuminating:

ACL 90250-90499, 272 cars, original USRA rebuilt to steel WITH
original sides.
ACL 99300-99443, 8 cars, all-original cars, ex-AB&C.
C of G 10861-10935, 66 cars, clone rebuilds with open sides for pulp.
C&IM 15000-15001, 2 cars, steel clone rebuilds WITH original sides
for container service.
G&F 6001-6030, 13 cars, steel rebuild clones WITH original sides.
GM&O 12000-12374, 46 cars, wood-sided clones, ex-M&O.
GM&O 44000-44249, 246 cars, all-original cars, ex-Alton.
IC 82720-84997, 25 cars, all-original cars, mix of IC USRA cars and
ex-VS&P clones.
MILW 1-1000, 1000 cars, clones rebuilt without wood sides for pulp
and pipe service.
MILW 84000-90949, 4043 cars, wood-sided clones.
MP 28900-29999, 7 cars, original USRA rebuilt with side doors
replacing 3 panels per side.
SLSF 50000-50398, 62 cars, wood-sided clones.
SLSF 50399-53346, 764 cars, wood-sided clones (some MAY be steel
rebuilds, but not according to the ORERs)
SLSF 85000-85999, 129 cars, all-original USRA cars.
Wabash 13000-13249, 243 cars, LIKELY clones, WITH composite sides.

This all adds up to a grand total of 6,926 cars that at least look
like USRA gons running after the steam era.
Well, Ray, with all due respect, I wouldn't call this a definitive
study; not even close. I'll grant that I overlooked a couple of
groups of USRA cars that survived into the 1950s, but what you're
calling clones were, in many cases, not even close (e.g., the MILW
cars, which were built in the '40s with quite different dimensions
and Dreadnaught ends) and others had been extensively rebuilt. Just
because a gondola had composite sides and 42'11" LOA doesn't make it
a USRA clone.

Remember, the original question was whether the model could be
legitimately repainted and relettered, not what it might be
transformed into with extensive kit-bashing.

Richard Hendrickson


Ray Breyer
 

--- On Sat, 10/17/09, Richard Hendrickson wrote:
Well, Ray, with all due respect, I wouldn't call this a
definitive study; not even close. I'll grant that I
overlooked a couple of groups of USRA cars that survived
into the 1950s, but what you're calling clones were, in
many cases, not even close (e.g., the MILW  cars, which
were built in the '40s with quite different dimensions 
and Dreadnaught ends) and others had been extensively
rebuilt. Just because a gondola had composite sides and
42'11" LOA doesn't make it a USRA clone.
Remember, the original question was whether the model could
be legitimately repainted and relettered, not what it might
be transformed into with extensive kit-bashing.
Richard Hendrickson


Hi Richard,

To be fair, I should have worded it a little better and said that I was "starting to work on a more definitive list". I've already pulled the Wabash cars from the list, and added the rebuilt Pennsy G24's. The SP cars are on the list, but I'll have to figure out what they were renumbered to after 1930. As for the Milwaukee gons, I don't have any diagrams from that road after 1937, so I'll have to beg a diagram or two from the Milwaukee fans. They do LOOK like USRA clones (ends don't matter for this study; original USRA gons got replacement ends too).

This definitely is a work in progress, and it'll be a while before I actually present the entire list for review & ridicule. My numbers were just a 1959 snapshot which, even with its flaws, shows 408 essentially all-original USRA gons in revenue service. As for the clones I may have to add a notes section stating how they differed from the original USRA drawings just to keep everyone happy!

As for "extensive rebuilding" though: I wouldn't consider pulling the laser cut wood sides off the Intermountain car (especially the kit!) anywhere NEAR hard work. Even replacing the ends can be as easy as dropping in a new ready to go aftermarket part. Adding side doors MIGHT be more of a challenge, but that's why I have listed in my master list all of the changes from the completely original cars when I can find them (including such things as Dreadnaught ends on original MP cars in the 1940s).

Regards, and thanks for the input!
Ray Breyer


Lee Gautreaux
 

Ray,

I have a cross reference for the SP's ex EPSW gons at the following:

http://www.railgoat.railfan.net/spcars/byclass/gon/ex-epsw.htm

I hope it helps.

Lee A. Gautreaux - The RailGoat
http://www.railgoat.railfan.net/

The SP cars are on the list, but I'll have to figure out what they
were renumbered to after 1930.

Ray Breyer


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Ray Breyer wrote:
The SP cars are on the list, but I'll have to figure out what they were renumbered to after 1930.
Ray, the EP&SW received these cars from the USRA allocation as EPSW 11251-11500. SP absorbed the EP&SW in November 1924 and assigned these cars as SP 45904-46153. They mostly got renumbered within five years, and they kept those numbers. SP never troubled to rebuild these with steel sides, so they soldiered on in their original appearance, and considering that there were originally 250 cars, it is impressive that as late as 1945, the SP roster still contained 247 of them! But SP was buying a lot of new gondolas after WW II, and the USRA cars began to be scrapped in large numbers between 1945 and 1950, with only a few surviving very far into the 1950s. I have no idea why Richard believes they didn't go off-line much.

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@...
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