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RF&P/PE cabooses [was USRA Cabooses]


Garth Groff <sarahsan@...>
 

Jim

Thanks for your information on the RF&P/PE cars. It looks like this knocks them out as USRA cars, and even clones, though they do have a similar appearance. Based on your information that 9 sold to the PE, their likely numbers are PE 1977-1985. There is no roster in Swett's book.

I have Richard E. Prince's THE RICHMOND-WASHINGTON LINE AND RELATED RAILROADS (most of which are completely unrelated). He offers photos of these cars on pages 198 and 206, though there is no roster or other data. RF&P 912 is shown at Acca in 1949, and is clearly plywood-sheathed though Prince describes it as steel-sheathed.

Some RF&P cabooses were longer, and appear to be about 40' over the sills in photos. One is 927, also shown on page 206. One of these went to the Nelson & Albemarle Railway where it was rebuilt with a side-door on one side only (all three depots they served were on the same side of the tracks). The car apparently had no number on the N&A. This car was used on the last train on 5 February 1963, shown here at Esmont, Virginia. (Photo from my collection, photographer unknown).



Yours Aye,


Garth Groff  🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

On 7/31/18 2:00 AM, James McDonald wrote:
Hello Garth, Bill, and list,

At first glance the RF&P cabs may appear to be USRA design, but they actually pre-date the USRA proposed caboose specs by some time and are dimensionally different.

The RF&P began building cabooses with 25’ bodies by at least 1904. It is not clear from the records whether earlier cabooses had similar dimensions, but the 25’ cars (initially RFP 803-845, not continuous) built in 1904-05 formed the core design to which the railroad’s subsequent cabooses would be built for almost forty years.

There were some design changes over time. The 1904 cars had archbar trucks and wooden underframes. In 1907 the railroad built 8 more of the same design but with composite underframes, these cars were numbered into gaps in the range of the wooden underframed cars.

In 1918 and 1919 the RF&P began retrofitting their wooden underframed cabooses with steel underframes as well as constructing additional cabooses to the same dimensions with steel underframes. These can be differentiated by the appearance of the side sill. The rebuilding process also included the replacement of steps.

It is presumed, but not confirmed, that the Washington Southern’s cabooses (WS 901-912), which were of the same design and also built by the RF&P’s shops, were also rebuilt with steel underframes at this time. It also seems that cabooses numbered WS 907-912 were constructed at this time and probably had steel underframes from their construction date. Records, to the extent they exist, are extremely contradictory. In fact, in some sources the WS and RF&P numbers are switched entirely, although this appears to be a clerical error. After the WS was merged into the RF&P the ex-WS cars kept their original numbers making the range of this car design RF&P 801-912, although the entire range was not filled.

Dimensionally the design barely changed from the 1904 specs. The carbody was 25’ 0” long. The distance between truck centers was 16’ 4” and the cars were 30’ 10” over strikers. Their extreme width was 8’ 10 3/4”. Their height changed after the rebuilding to steel underframes, lowering them slightly from 14’ 5” to 14’ 41/2”, encompassing their 3’ 8” tall cupola.

In the period after WWII the railroad began to sheath the cars in plywood, but restoration efforts on remaining cabooses have revealed that the railroad appears to have merely left the original tongue & groove siding in place and covered it over with ply. Contrary to Overland’s labeling, there were no steel versions of this caboose design. The first steel cabooses to arrive on the RF&P were the first order of ICC Wide Vision cabs 901-903 delivered in 1970.

My research also indicates that 9 of the 25’ RF&P cabooses were sold to the Pacific Electric in 1950. I’ve yet to determine their original numbers, but that hasn’t been at the forefront of my research into these cars yet. Any info about them would be welcomed.

All the best,

James

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James McDonald
Greenbelt, MD.


James McDonald
 

Hi Garth,

Thanks for the data on the N&A’s ex-RF&P cabooses and the photo of the longer red caboose. I understand that the Nelson & Albemarle also got a single 25’ RF&P caboose, which it numbered 102. It’s not clear to me when the N&A received this caboose. Do you know? It has the style of steps that the cabooses had before the 1917-18 rebuilding effort, but it has a retrofit steel underframe. It also has two windows per car side, as was typical of the unrebuilt 1904 cabooses (although this could well have been a N&A action when they cut the freight door in the side). Another strange point is that I gather N&A 102 was painted in a shade of blue quite close to the RF&P color, but the RF&P didn’t begin painting cabooses that color until after the N&A had ceased operating.

You’re pretty much on the money with the length of the longer RF&P cabooses. They had a kingpin center of 28’ 2” and a length over strikers of 41’ 8”. They were originally numbered 922, 923, 924, 927, 929, and 930. The longer RF&P cabooses were built during WWII to meet wartime traffic demands, which grew to the extent that by 1943 the RF&P was running a train every 14 minutes, 24 hours a day, and continued this pace every day for 2 straight years. That was about 45 freight trains each way each day, more than the railroad could handle with its 37 short cabooses. Austerity being a concern, the company’s shops made cabooses out of stock cars RFP 2267-2435 that had themselves been previously boxcars with the same numbers.

All the best,

James

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James McDonald
Greenbelt, MD.