[Non-DoD Source] [RealSTMFC] More boring well car stuff pt 2, was: Photo: Reading Well Hole Flat Car 99009 (Undated)

Gatwood, Elden J SAD



One of the interesting engineering problems in those days was how to distribute a load across the car without destroying the car.


For well cars with floors that were load-bearing, it generally involved distributing part of the load to the inside of the car where the load attached, but also to the (generally) more rugged (and deeper) side sill, by means of a series of load-bearing shapes connecting well bottom/side cross members, to the outside sill.


RDG 99009 is one of those. This load is clearly resting on the floor.  No load is transferred to the ends or side sills.


But, Here are a couple shots illustrating a load being transferred to the side sill:


Concentration of a load on the floor would punch through the generally thin or shallow cross bearers in these cars.  The Otis load is being spread out broadly.


Elden Gatwood




From: <> On Behalf Of Gatwood, Elden J SAD
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2020 9:55 AM
Subject: Re: [Non-DoD Source] [RealSTMFC] More boring well car stuff, was: Photo: Reading Well Hole Flat Car 99009 (Undated)




I thought maybe one or two of you would be interested in this murky subject:


There are at least several kinds of well cars, interestingly not separated in the AAR classification, which just lumps them together as “FW” – “Flat well-hole car for special transportation of plate glass, etc.  This car is a flat car with hole in middle to enable lading to be dropped down on account of clearance limits.”


Clear as mud. 


To a shipper that has a vertically oversized load to ship, there are some important considerations I would want to know.  Does the car have a floor in the well?  How far is it from the rails?  Is the floor load bearing?  If my load added on top of that still exceeds clearance, are portions of the floor removable in order to drop it closer to the rail without touching (especially important in the shipment of giant rings or circular ductwork or piping/valves)?  If this still doesn’t work, is there a car that has no floor that I could suspend the load into, that would work?  We are literally talking inches here….


None of that is clear in an AAR classification, forcing one to look at each car in detail, a shipper’s nightmare.


I can’t answer why, but they never did fully flesh this out.


PRR clearly had shippers in mind when they put more info in the ORER under each car, as notes (more on that in a follow-on).


Attached, the earliest PRR well hole car, the FN, with no floor, and the FNA with a nominal floor that can be removed if needed.  It is clearly not a load bearing floor. 


The last photo is interesting.  The shipper needs both flooring partially (at the least) removed, AND a tilt to the load to get it within clearance limits.  They have clearly supported the edges of the load above the rails by installing supports beneath on either side of the rim.  How’s THAT for an innovative solution?


These guys were smart!


Elden Gatwood


From: <> On Behalf Of Bob Chaparro via
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2020 12:43 PM
Subject: [Non-DoD Source] [RealSTMFC] Photo: Reading Well Hole Flat Car 99009 (Undated)


Photo: Reading Well Hole Flat Car 99009 (Undated)

A photo from the National Archives of Canada:


This photo can be enlarged quite a bit.

Car built 1924, photo taken 1938 or later.

Bob Chaparro

Hemet, CA