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open tri-level cars

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  • Member since
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  • From: Mo.
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open tri-level cars
Posted by armchair on Friday, March 27, 2009 3:29 PM

 Where open tri level cars common in the midwest In the 60's ? I was looking at accurail's open  Bi & Tri level rail cars  & wondered if They used both or was one more common. Freelancing ; Wabash, CB&Q, Katy, N&W, SF. etc. 1966 is planned era.

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, March 27, 2009 3:40 PM

It should work, open auto cars were common well into the seventies IIRC. Cars like that were common here in the Twin Cities then, taking cars/trucks from the St.Paul Ford Plant or delivering cars from GM.

Stix
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Posted by cv_acr on Friday, March 27, 2009 3:54 PM

Yes, bi-level and tri-level racks are used in the same timeframes; larger (taller) vehicles like trucks and vans (and these days, SUVs) are loaded in bi-levels while regular (shorter) cars are loaded in trilevels.

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Posted by chatanuga on Friday, March 27, 2009 3:59 PM

I have a couple Erie Lackawanna DVDs at home from the 1960s and 1970s, and in both, open racks were very common.  I don't think the racks began getting enclosed until the 1970s, and even then, that was just panels put on the sides of existing racks.

Kevin

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Posted by AltonFan on Friday, March 27, 2009 4:54 PM

I seem to remember open auto-racks in the late 1960s-early 1970s, then panels appearing in the auto-racks' open spaces in the early to mid-1970s, and then finally, by the late 1970s, the fully-enclosed cars like those used today.

Dan

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Posted by grizlump9 on Friday, March 27, 2009 7:45 PM

as stated, bi levels were primarily used for taller vehicles.  consideration was also given to the destination of the load and line clearances involved, especially in the east.  there were some pretty restrictive tunnels etc. that required special routing even down to running on a certain track in multi track territory.  the Penn Central created a lot of "custom convertibles" at the west end of gallitzen tunnel before they got their act together and started measuring the automobile loads out of st louis accurately.  if your model railroad is receiving the loaded racks in interchange service, here is an idea for an easy scenic touch.    the former PRR yard at e st louis had a utility pole next to the lead with lights set at various heights shining into photo cells on another pole across the track.  when a high car broke the light beam it set of a signal on a console in the yard office to indicate a high load.  (an occasional bird would  have the same effect) this saved the car department a lot of work physically measuring each load of autos.  another thing to remember is that auto racks were usually assigned to a particular assembly plant and were returned mty to that plant via reverse route.  so, on your model railroad the loads will almost always go in one direction and the empties in the other.

grizlump 

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Posted by armchair on Saturday, March 28, 2009 6:11 AM

 Thanks for the replies. The open auto racks will present another challenge in the fact it would be hard to "cheat",unlike a boxcar that You can "say" it's loaded. What I'll most likely do is use them as mt's for a scheduled run through .Modeling the area I'm in I guess I'm lucky in that there are auto plants on both sides of the state, KC & ST Louis. This will greatly cut down on the cost & effort of trying to fill a string of cars, as mt's can be moved to off layout destinations. Oh yeah, Grizlump9 , I bet those " custom convertables" You mentioned were indeed one of a kind . R

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Posted by grizlump9 on Saturday, March 28, 2009 10:40 AM

in addition to "custom convertibles" we also specialized in luggage rack removal at the same location.

as for the traffic patterns on your model railroad, at least the little autos could all be the same make but if you just run mty's, they usually moved in the same blocks with loaded high cube auto parts box cars.  the GM cars were blocked for the TRRA since the GM assembly plant was originally in St Louis on the Terminal Railroad.  Chrysler stuff was in the Frisco Block since they switched the Chrysler plants at Fenton Mo.  Ford cars went to the Wabash (N&W) for Bridgeton Mo.  I never paid much attention to the Ford and Chrysler loads since they were billed by the originating carrier so SLSF and N&W got a cut of the line haul freight revenue.   The GM plant was located on the St Louis switching district so we got the whole 'tater except for TRRA switching and river transfer charges.  i can't remember all the destinations but a lot of the GM traffic went to Little Ferry NJ and Framingham Mass.  High revenue stuff.  I recall something in the range of $2000.00 per car load.

if you want to represent auto loads without the hassle of shuffling loaded and empty cars, think about the verti-pac cars.  they were totally enclosed and most were owned by the SP.  you couldn't tell a load from an empty.  they were used to ship Chevy Vegas.  the little cars were stood up on their ends.  one row down each side. i think they were shipped dry or else all the oil and other fluids would have leaked out.  vegas were built in Ohio, i think it was Lordstown.  evidently the little junkers were popular on the west coast.  PC interchanged that traffic with the SSW at E St Louis mostly through the A&S. 

grizlump 

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Posted by grizlump9 on Saturday, March 28, 2009 11:18 AM

 oops, my old brain failed me again.  the car was called vert a pac.  exactrail has a model of one and you can google it for a bunch of info if you are interested.

grizlump 

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Posted by Heartland Division CB&Q on Saturday, March 28, 2009 5:06 PM

Vert A Pacs did not last long. Same with Stac Pac railcars.

The Vert A Pac cars had railcar side panels hinged at the bottom. They would be opened at the loading location with cars fastened to the sides of the railcar. When the sides were raised upward, the autos were nosedown in the railcar. These were for Chevy Vegas and the Pontiac equivalents. The vehicles were designed so the could be loaded that way.

The Stac Pac cars were special containers loaded on modified 89' flat cars. These were primarily for shipping Cadillacs. Each container had three "shelfs" and could hold a "stack" of three Cadillacs. The containers were open at one end and did not need doors. The containers were loaded on the flatcars with the open ends facing toward the middle of the car. Most Stac Pacs held foru cotnainers for twelve automobiles. An alternative design was five containers and  15 cars. I personally observed the laoding of such cars in Detroit at the Cadillac plant in the mid 1970's.

Convential autorack railcars innitially had shields applied on their sides, but by about 1980 most new railcars were built as fully enclosed conventional rail cars.  

For years, and years the railcars would be assigned to specific assembly plants. After a load of autos reached a destination, the railcars would be returned empty to assigned plants.

Also, Ford, Chrylers, and General Motors railcars were not be readily transferred between the Big Three car companies. This is because each car company specified a differant style of hook on the chain tie-downs. The autos were built with certain shapes of holes for the hooks, and could only accomodate a certain style of hook.

Times have changed. Today, railroads assign their enclosed autoracks to a pool operated by Trailer Train. When a railcar is unloaded, Trailer Train dispatches the railcar to any loading point it chooses. This greatly improves utilization of autoracks.

 

 

GARRY

HEARTLAND DIVISION, CB&Q RR

EVERYWHERE LOST; WE HUSTLE OUR CABOOSE FOR YOU

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Posted by Sperandeo on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 9:02 AM

Hello "armchair,"

In fact, tri-level auto racks were inroduced in 1960, and bi-levels followed almost immediately. One of the greatest sights in railfanning in the 1960s was a long train of rack cars loaded with shiny new autos and trucks. Yes, a model of such a train would be expensive to load and unloading the cars might be a challenge, but wow, what an impression it would make!

So long,

Andy
 

Andy Sperandeo MODEL RAILROADER Magazine

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Posted by armchair on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 10:00 AM

 Andy, thanks for the reply. I grew up here in Mexico, Mo. in the 60's, GM&O & Wabash, then the N&W. I couldn't remember back that far (1966) so I didn't know about the auto racks that were common .The modern era  would be a lot easier (cheaper) because of the enclosed sides. The real challenge to the open racks would be in purchasing enough period correct autos that look real. I personally feel an unrealistic looking scale vehicle actually ruins a scene far more than it would enhance it. How late did the RR's use the auto loading boxcars ? I have several of these in kit form from P2K.

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Posted by Sperandeo on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:02 AM

Hello "armchair,"

Highway auto carriers were taking the vehicle business away from the railroads as far back as the early 1950s, as shown by attempts in those years to place racks on regular 50 or 54-foot flatcars to carry autos on two levels. By the late '50s there was practically no vehicle traffic moving in conventional automobile boxcars. Some roads had a bit of success soliciting piggy-back shipments with highway "convoy" auto-carrier trailers on TOFC equipment, but it took the 89-foot tri-levels and bi-levels to bring the vehicle traffic back to the rails. That they succeeded in a big way was part of the excitement of those sixties auto-rack trains.

So long,

Andy 

 

Andy Sperandeo MODEL RAILROADER Magazine

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Posted by nordique72 on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 11:51 AM

armchair

 The real challenge to the open racks would be in purchasing enough period correct autos that look real. I personally feel an unrealistic looking scale vehicle actually ruins a scene far more than it would enhance it.

Hi Armchair-

I just wanted to give you a little more information on the Accurail open bi-level/tri-level autoracks. If you are modeling the mid-60s those Accurail cars are actually not right for anything pre-1968. The cars that Accurail makes are models of a Paragon rack that was introduced in mid-1968- the rack itself sits on a Bethlehem Steel flat car. If you're looking for true mid-60s models of open side autoracks brass or scratchbuilding is the only route right now for you- but if you don't mind a few years discrepancy these cars do just fine! There are several companies out there that make period correct models of 1960s prototype automobiles- depending on the car you'll need anywhere from 12-18 cars per load (and in the case of some later Japanese import compacts 21 per load!) on the tri-level, if you model a bilevel 8-12 cars or trucks.

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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, April 02, 2009 8:39 AM

armchair

 The open auto racks will present another challenge in the fact it would be hard to "cheat",unlike a boxcar that You can "say" it's loaded. What I'll most likely do is use them as mt's for a scheduled run through .

I definitely recall seeing the totally open cars in the 1960s.  They were mixed in with other freight so you do not need an entire train of them.  I thought they were gone, or the sides covered I should say, by 1980 but every now and then in looking at my slides from the era I notice an open autorack that I never noticed before. 

Someone wrote an article, cannot recall if it was MR, RMC, or the NMRA's Scale Rails, about using a strip of styrene or metal (the steel strip in a hanging file folder would be perfect for this) that would mount an entire deck's worth of vehicles so that the car would be easy to load and unload -- sort of like a shishkabob.  Indeed I have even thought about using a skewer that could go right through the cars themselves.  So the loading and unloading of a car does not have to be the pain in the rear that it might at first seem.

As far as vehicles themelves go, we are looking at three issues: appearance, weight, and cost.  Something has to give there!   Bachmann makes a set of five astoundingly ugly vehicles, in the Walthers catalog it is 160-42206, for $7.50.  They are light.  With some repainting and modest detailing you coudl fill a tri-level fairly cheaply and not have it become top heavy.  And they are the sorts of model you would not feel bad skewering with that BBQ skewer or gluing onto that strip of plastic or steel as mentioned above.

I have NOT done this but another idea strikes me and that is to take heavy duty foil and mold it over a scale vehicle, trim around it, paint it a bright color and see if the eye could be fooled with a trainload of these mocked up vehicles.  Again I have not yet tried this but it would have the advantage of being very light weight.  Heh heh it would probably encourage you to run your freight trans rather fast so the eye could not focus on how cheesy the vehicles would look, but you could have a long string of bright shiny car-like looking things in your tri-levels. 

Perhaps painting the interior of the empty foil vehicle with white glue would give it enough solidity that it could be handled w/o crushing it.  Tires could be black construction paper with a dot of something for the hubcap.  Or "real" tires I suppose.  The goal here is to focus on weight obviously.

If that ends up looking just too awful, and it might, then I wonder about a fairly crude carved bit of balsa wood that would be shaped to look like a car, sanding sealer to make it smooth, and then painted with glossy paint.  the glass?  hmm   Maybe silvery paint that would be masked?  Not sure -- again I have yet to do this but I might need to try these ideas out when I start equipping my tri levels for loads/empties operation on the layout.

Dave Nelson

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