Safety Appliance details - was Photo: PRR Boxcar 515355 (1912)

Eric Hansmann

Dave Parker wrote:

The ICC (not the MCB) was charged with developing the details of the required appliances, it was put on a deadline (with a threat of penalty), and the fines to be charged the railroads (by the ICC) for noncompliance are spelled out at this time.





I was wrong about the MCB developing the details for the required appliances, but it was not the ICC either. A General Committee of Railroads on Safety Appliance Standards was formed in 1910 to develop details on standardized safety appliances and their locations in order to fulfill the amendment to the Safety Appliance Act. The committee was formed “At the instance of the Secretary of the ICC…” Their findings were published and available to review at this link. Page five details the formation of this committee and their duties.


I mentioned the MCB as I had this book in mind; Drawings of the Standards and Recommended Practice of the Master Car Builders’ Association.


Obviously, the Committee and the MCB worked closely to develop the safety appliance specifics.



Eric Hansmann

Murfreesboro, TN

Dave Parker

Thanks Eric, that is a fascinating book.  Just reading the first 10 pages gives a good feel for the dickering between the railroad representatives (the General Committee....) and the ICC.  Then, if you get into the hearing transcripts you can get an even better feel for those (sometimes testy) negotiations.

This is probably a semantic argument, but I view the General Committee... as a lobbying group that was charged with getting the best deal possible from the ICC.  This involved both the details of the required appliances, and the phasing in of those requirements for existing cars in service (thus the several extensions of the deadline).  But it was the ICC that had the final say, and that promulgated the actual requirements, as per this snippet from the 2010 Federal Register:

This is an important shift in the regulation of the railroads, which had been self-governed to such a large degree prior.  Of course the USRA years were still to come, and then the 1920 Transportation Act (Esch-Cummins) which further inserted the ICC into the regulation of railroad business practices.  In the late 1920s, the tank car construction standards that had largely been the purview of the MCB/ARA became "co-regulated" by ICC standards.

A very interesting two-decade period in railroad history!
Dave Parker
Swall Meadows, CA