Topics

ORERs


Todd Sullivan
 

I worked the Northern Pacific Company of Oregon - Car Distributor Clerk position for 2 weeks in December 1961, and I used the ORER every day to check car capacities, length, and special features while filling customers' orders.  We relied on them and the validity of the data they contained heavily.

Todd Sullivan


Robert Heninger
 

Tim,

You have me there. I should have said, "if it wasn't important for the number of cars in a series to be accurate, why was it tracked in the ORER?" My response was in reply to George Eichelberger's post of April 8, 2017. Apparently the Southern didn't care too much about the accuracy of the listings of cars being taken out of service. The GN did, dutifully counting down the numbers of GN truss rod cars, despite their wholesale retirement in the postwar years.

Regards,
Bob Heninger
Minot, ND


Tim O'Connor
 

Bob

My reply was really directed to Ike's post but I had not seen it,
only your reply...

Anyway I thought of an EXCELLENT reason why ALL railroads were very interested
in the exact number of freight cars they owned - Per Diem! There had better be
an account of every single car's whereabouts at midnight every night and if they
were offline, the account had better be paid!

Tim



Tim,

You have me there. I should have said, "if it wasn't important for the number of cars in a series to be accurate, why was it tracked in the ORER?" My response was in reply to George Eichelberger's post of April 8, 2017. Apparently the Southern didn't care too much about the accuracy of the listings of cars being taken out of service. The GN did, dutifully counting down the numbers of GN truss rod cars, despite their wholesale retirement in the postwar years.

Regards,
Bob Heninger
Minot, ND


mark_landgraf
 

I suspect the accountants may have driven the periodic changes in the remaining cars in the fleet. While most of the cars that were coming off the road were fully depreciated, there was still the need of the accountants to know the peeiodic value of the whole fleet. 

Periodic could be weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on the rr. 

In some cases, when an aging fleet starts costing more to maintain than the revenue it can generate, certainly the accountants would start arguing for retirement. 

In 2017, our 1100 vehicle fleet, we retire a vehicle when the maintenace costs exceed 2/3 of the replacement cost. I suspect that most of the rrs had a  fleet mgt plan of some sort‎. 

Mark Landgraf
From: Tim O'Connor timboconnor@... [STMFC]
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2017 12:47 PM
To: STMFC@...
Reply To: STMFC@...
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: ORERs

 

Bob

My reply was really directed to Ike's post but I had not seen it,
only your reply...

Anyway I thought of an EXCELLENT reason why ALL railroads were very interested
in the exact number of freight cars they owned - Per Diem! There had better be
an account of every single car's whereabouts at midnight every night and if they
were offline, the account had better be paid!

Tim



Tim,

You have me there. I should have said, "if it wasn't important for the number of cars in a series to be accurate, why was it tracked in the ORER?" My response was in reply to George Eichelberger's post of April 8, 2017. Apparently the Southern didn't care too much about the accuracy of the listings of cars being taken out of service. The GN did, dutifully counting down the numbers of GN truss rod cars, despite their wholesale retirement in the postwar years.

Regards,
Bob Heninger
Minot, ND



mark_landgraf
 



From: Mark Landgraf
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2017 6:48 PM
To: Tim O'Connor timboconnor@... [STMFC]; STMFC@...
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: ORERs

I suspect the accountants may have driven the periodic changes in the remaining cars in the fleet. While most of the cars that were coming off the road were fully depreciated, there was still the need of the accountants to know the peeiodic value of the whole fleet. 

Periodic could be weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on the rr. 

In some cases, when an aging fleet starts costing more to maintain than the revenue it can generate, certainly the accountants would start arguing for retirement. 

In 2017, our 1100 vehicle fleet, we retire a vehicle when the maintenace costs exceed 2/3 of the replacement cost. I suspect that most of the rrs had a  fleet mgt plan of some sort‎. 

Mark Landgraf
From: Tim O'Connor timboconnor@... [STMFC]
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2017 12:47 PM
To: STMFC@...
Reply To: STMFC@...
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: ORERs

 

Bob

My reply was really directed to Ike's post but I had not seen it,
only your reply...

Anyway I thought of an EXCELLENT reason why ALL railroads were very interested
in the exact number of freight cars they owned - Per Diem! There had better be
an account of every single car's whereabouts at midnight every night and if they
were offline, the account had better be paid!

Tim



Tim,

You have me there. I should have said, "if it wasn't important for the number of cars in a series to be accurate, why was it tracked in the ORER?" My response was in reply to George Eichelberger's post of April 8, 2017. Apparently the Southern didn't care too much about the accuracy of the listings of cars being taken out of service. The GN did, dutifully counting down the numbers of GN truss rod cars, despite their wholesale retirement in the postwar years.

Regards,
Bob Heninger
Minot, ND




Schuyler Larrabee
 

Tim has hit on the most important reason that railroads would care about how
many of each car class remained on their rosters: Not per diem per se, but
ACCOUNTING.



Railroads employed legions of accountants for all sorts of purposes, one of
which was to keep track of how much the railroad was worth as a going
enterprise. A lot of that assessment has to do with the physical plant,
both the stationary plant and the rolling stock. I think it was Dennis
mentioned that the ICC Valuation reports were required to be updated until
sometime in the late 50s, early 60s. In order to keep a valuation up to
date, you would have to know how many of each type of car is still a viable
investment.



And then we get into the discussion of when a car isn't covering its costs
to own. Another reason to keep tabs on the cars you have in your fleet.



But for me, the point was to find out how many cars were in service after
1950. And it turns out that this is important for a model manufacturer to
know so as to judge whether it's worth producing a model. And it was quite
effective for my purposes, thank you very much.



Too bad the Southern didn't take this more seriously. I wonder what the ICC
had to say about it.



Schuyler



From: STMFC@yahoogroups.com [mailto:STMFC@yahoogroups.com]
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2017 12:46 PM
To: STMFC@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: ORERs





Bob

My reply was really directed to Ike's post but I had not seen it,
only your reply...

Anyway I thought of an EXCELLENT reason why ALL railroads were very
interested
in the exact number of freight cars they owned - Per Diem! There had better
be
an account of every single car's whereabouts at midnight every night and if
they
were offline, the account had better be paid!

Tim




Tim,

You have me there. I should have said, "if it wasn't important for the
number of cars in a series to be accurate, why was it tracked in the ORER?"
My response was in reply to George Eichelberger's post of April 8, 2017.
Apparently the Southern didn't care too much about the accuracy of the
listings of cars being taken out of service. The GN did, dutifully counting
down the numbers of GN truss rod cars, despite their wholesale retirement in
the postwar years.

Regards,
Bob Heninger
Minot, ND


Tim O'Connor
 


Ok, Mark, you have me stumped. What does depreciation of cars have to
do with any of this?

Tim O'




 > Mark Landgraf wrote Monday, April 10, 2017 6:48 PM

 > I suspect the accountants may have driven the periodic changes in the
 > remaining cars in the fleet. While most of the cars that were coming off
 > the road were fully depreciated, there was still the need of the accountants
 > to know the periodic value of the whole fleet.



Bob

My reply was really directed to Ike's post but I had not seen it,
only your reply...

Anyway I thought of an EXCELLENT reason why ALL railroads were very interested
in the exact number of freight cars they owned - Per Diem! There had better be
an account of every single car's whereabouts at midnight every night and if they
were offline, the account had better be paid!

Tim


mark_landgraf
 

Tim

Several things come into play. We've all seen trust plates on various freight cars. In that case the bank owned the car. Many new cars from ACF, Pullman Standard, Greenville, etc were financed. Cars built by home road car shops were more typically fully owned by the railroad. The later cars would be depreciated over a 10 to 20 year depreciation schedule. Just like your personal auto, a 10 year old freight car isn't worth what you paid for it. This factors into the overall capital value of the fleet, and would have been used in the ICC Valuation of rolling stock report. Financed cars would also have been depreciated, but probably at a rate that was the same as the finance period. 

It's the accountants telling operations when portions of the fleet are worthless and are at the end of their lives. Afterwhich any serious repairs cause the car to be white lined. 

Mark

From: Tim O'Connor timboconnor@... [STMFC]
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2017 9:58 PM
To: STMFC@...
Reply To: STMFC@...
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Re: ORERs

 


Ok, Mark, you have me stumped. What does depreciation of cars have to
do with any of this?

Tim O'




 > Mark Landgraf wrote Monday, April 10, 2017 6:48 PM

 > I suspect the accountants may have driven the periodic changes in the
 > remaining cars in the fleet. While most of the cars that were coming off
 > the road were fully depreciated, there was still the need of the accountants
 > to know the periodic value of the whole fleet.



Bob

My reply was really directed to Ike's post but I had not seen it,
only your reply...

Anyway I thought of an EXCELLENT reason why ALL railroads were very interested
in the exact number of freight cars they owned - Per Diem! There had better be
an account of every single car's whereabouts at midnight every night and if they
were offline, the account had better be paid!

Tim



Dennis Storzek
 




---In STMFC@..., <mark_landgraf@...> wrote :


It's the accountants telling operations when portions of the fleet are worthless and are at the end of their lives. After which any serious repairs cause the car to be white lined. 

Mark
=========================
But not at the time the depreciation ended, because I doubt they had to run a forty year depreciation schedule. After the car is depreciated down to it's scrap value, it's essentially free, until it needs major repairs, and those were looked at as cost of upgrades vs. potential additional life.

The fact remains, though, that the company needed to know what they owned at any given time, if for no other reason than to set the asset value of the company.

Dennis Storzek



Tony Thompson
 

     Why would anyone think that the ORER is an accounting document? I am sure the accounting people had their own records (certainly on the SP they were entirely separate, interesting in their own right, but separate). The Mechanical Department responsible for the ORER submission need not follow accounting rules, and vice versa.
      BTW, on the SP at least, they were still updating valuation records as late as 1970.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705         www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history






devansprr
 


---In STMFC@..., <schuyler.larrabee@...> wrote :

Tim has hit on the most important reason that railroads would care about how
many of each car class remained on their rosters: Not per diem per se, but
ACCOUNTING.

SNIP...

But for me, the point was to find out how many cars were in service after
1950. And it turns out that this is important for a model manufacturer to
know so as to judge whether it's worth producing a model. And it was quite
effective for my purposes, thank you very much.

Too bad the Southern didn't take this more seriously. I wonder what the ICC
had to say about it.

Schuyler

Guys,

You need to re-read this thread - it is getting ridiculous.

There are a whole host of reasons RR's kept detailed and up to date records of their freight cars, unrelated to the ORER's:

1) Maintenance scheduling

2) Corporate accounting for expenses (repairs, betterment, renewals)

3) ICC valuations

4) Depreciation for income tax. I doubt RR's would want to equate this with ICC valuation - the RR's would want to depreciate as fast as possible to reduce income tax. At the same time, they would want higher valuations for the ICC - even if the IRS considers a 20 year old car fully depreciated. From the standpoint of the ICC setting freight rates, I would want the value of a 20 year old car to be a lot more than scrap... Does anyone know if the accounting for these two purposes was different?

5) Property tax - another valuation - at least in modern Fairfax County, VA, there is no link between the depreciated value of my small business assets (as far as the IRS is concerned), and the value Fairfax County thinks should be the basis of my business property tax. And this can vary over states and local jurisdictions. The PRR and CNJ once tried to shift the home of some CNJ cars from NJ to PA to escape the higher property tax rates in NJ - they were caught on it and had to reverse their attempt at what may be considered tax evasion.

6) Car utilization and strategic planning.

I seriously doubt the RR's EVER used an ORER for these purposes. They had access to much more authoritative data.

George's eminently reasonable point is that a major source of failure when using the then current ORER was NOT finding a car, currently in use, in the ORER - that would make life difficult for many. So new cars would be entered in early, cars going through rebuild programs that included a renumbering may be listed twice, and classes being retired may show a higher car count than the useful date of the ORER. I suspect the ORER's car counts for older classes were refreshed based on updates to the ICC valuations (much more authoritative, and why pay clerks to do the count twice?) Car counts for cars under contract for delivery would go into the ORER early, along with rebuild programs that included a change in the car's number. I also suspect the frequency of update would depend on the size of the railroad. I am not sure a RR would re-analyze their entire fleet in full every 30 days if they had over 100,000 cars. I think George indicated that ICC valuations were updated twice a year. But for a private owner with 1000 cars, they could easily keep their totals updated monthly.

George simply pointed out that the Southern's ORER listing of car counts in each entry were not authoritative for the date of the ORER, and that there may be, in various archives, more accurate data. The PRRT&HS may have just received a 500 pound pallet full of such records (a quick sample suggests the paper was being used for tax purposes right after the PC merger), that may support a more accurate count than the ORER's on the dates of that paper.

Does anyone in this group think it would be worth the time to review and compile all of the data contained in 500 pounds of paper? Just to get a more accurate retirement date for a limited set of old PRR and NYC freight cars?

I seriously doubt that the RR's compiling data for submission to the ORER's were concerned about modelers 70 years in the future using the ORER to validate their model fleets. Criticizing the practices of the Southern, one of the nation's more successful railroads, because it does not satisfy modelers' needs 70 years later is the ultimate chutzpah...

Time to move on to something more interesting and useful.
Dave Evans
 


Tim O'Connor
 


  > You need to re-read this thread - it is getting ridiculous. [SNIP]
  > Dave Evans

Yes, it is, but I can boil it down far more succinctly.

Someone said the car totals were inaccurate, unreliable, etc.

Others pointed out that for MOST railroads, keeping the ORER "up to date"
(meaning, reasonably accurate within +/- three months) was something they
did. And yes, ALL of the data - 100% of it - published in an ORER is NOT
Primary Source Material
. It comes from other sources. It is transcribed.

Therefore, bottom line, for modeling purposes, the car totals can be used
with a very small risk of building models for a time period in which the
prototype cars did not exist.

Tim O'Connor


George Eichelberger
 

When did I say “The Southern did not care” about car data?

Now we have posts tying the data in RERs to railroad’s “accounting” practices! As I responded to someone last night, if the RERs were published quarterly and let’s assume it took 30 to 60 days to get updates into print, WHY would any railroads’ Accounting Department use RER car quantity information for depreciation, per diem, car trust data or much of anything else? Another email I received says, if it was published, it had to be EXACT…..really, three months later?

Every page of the thousands of carbon copies of ICC Form 1742 submitted to the ICC in the SRHA Archives have a Mechanical Engineer’s raised stamp and a Notary Public certification of its accuracy. Although those forms were only sent to the ICC on 6-30 and 12-31 every year (until sometime in the early 60s?), the Auditors notes show us the railroad was VERY interested in maintaining accurate information for every change of rolling stock or physical plant, how much it had depreciated, etc. Their freight rates depended on that data.

So accurate, there are “corrected” 1742 entries for errors of $.10.

Setting this thread aside, if anyone are interested in seeing examples of some of the ICC reports and summaries, I’ll upload a few examples. Google Drive appears to provide a URL that lets anyone access particular files. Like any reference we can find that began nearly 100 years ago, I am sure they are not 100% “EXACT”, particularly for information developed for assets acquired prior to 1916.

Ike


Dennis Storzek
 




---In STMFC@..., <geichelberger@...> wrote :

When did I say “The Southern did not care” about car data?

Now we have posts tying the data in RERs to railroad’s “accounting” practices! As I responded to someone last night, if the RERs were published quarterly and let’s assume it took 30 to 60 days to get updates into print, WHY would any railroads’ Accounting Department use RER car quantity information for depreciation, per diem, car trust data or much of anything else? Another email I received says, if it was published, it had to be EXACT…..really, three months later?
=======================

The accounting part entered the discussion, not because the accountants needed the ORER (or even knew it existed), but to point out that since the data was being collected for accounting purposes, it shouldn't have been any big deal to have the people putting the ORER update together use the same data, or perhaps the most current last complete set.

That to counter the general statement that railroads didn't care about the entries for older cars and didn't update the numbers. Maybe in some instances, on some roads. Stuff happens. I suspect the ORER was considered of lesser importance than the valuation reports... but the data was there.

Dennis Storzek


devansprr
 

Dennis,

I suspect what we are learning - but we do not yet have any proof, is that there is a chance that the car counts for cars in the process of being retired, in the ORER's, if issued quarterly, and if submitted for publication in the ORER by the RR's based on their ICC valuation reports, could be zero to nine months out of date. (i.e. we do not know if an ORER published on January 1, is based on ICC submittals due 12/31, or the previous 6/30.)

Some roads may have gone to the effort to keep the retiring car class ORER populations more up to date than the ICC, but I kind of doubt it, because there is little or even no downside to over-counting cars in classes in the process of being retired (many of those cars may already have been on deadlines anyway - which makes an interesting point of why model cars that the ORER shows were rapidly being retired during the modelers timeframe?)

At the same time it makes complete sense that cars ordered but not yet constructed, might appear in an ORER even before they appeared on the ICC valuation report. NOT doing that would cause problems for at least some clerks, and others.

I would note that the PRR separately published an extensive list of every type of North American box car during WWII specifically to identify where those cars could not go because of low clearances. One would think that data would be updated before new cars were delivered, although the PRR's instructions to yard personnel was that if a class of car (defined by a range of numbers) was not listed in the book, PRR yard personnel needed to measure the car shortly after it was received in interchange and before it flowed through the system.

Specific to the PRR, the St. Louis to Pittsburgh line had some restricted clearances during WWII, and many cars (especially western road box cars) that interchanged to the PRR along that line were first moved north to the Chicago-Pittsburgh line, before being routed into Pittsburgh. Such cars had an Oversize placard stapled to them so yard crews and conductors could quickly identify them. Also applies to empties heading west during WWII. Interesting challenge for model railroad yard crews...

The clearance issue raises an interesting point. I wonder if one reason cars being rebuilt were assigned new numbers was because new exterior dimensions might invalidate such clearance lists if their number remained the same?

When did the modern clearance "plates" become standardized?

Dave Evans


railsnw@...
 

Hi Ike,

I'd be interested in seeing examples of the forms sent to the ICC.

Rich Wilkens


Earl Tuson
 

Four days ago, Dennis Storzek wrote,

I'm sure there were other instances of agents being asked to find cars with a specific dimension or other characteristic,
and having some idea how large the potential target population was would be useful.

Dwight Smith, former B&M Freight Sales employee, once shared a story regarding his efforts to locate a considerable
number of 50' double door box cars in order to forward on to the Suncook Valley Railroad in 1951 or so, for loading out the
machinery from the last remaining textile mill in Suncook Village for shipment to another location down south. His
complaint centered on the fact that while the significant effort required (presumably with ORER in hand,) in obtaining the
cars for the shipment fell to the B&M, and him in particular, the SV got a more favorable rate by directing the cars to be
shipped SV-B&M-(Worcester)-NYNH&H... rather than SV-B&M-(Mechanicsville)-D&H... or perhaps (Rotterdam Jct)-NYC...

Fifty years later, Dwight quipped something to the effect of, "We got shorthauled!"

Earl Tuson