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Identifying Era of Specific Boxcar Design

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Identifying Era of Specific Boxcar Design
Posted by Shock Control on Monday, November 06, 2017 7:27 AM

Greetings,

Apologies if this is a stupid question:

I saw a 50-foot boxcar HO model with a walkway on the top, but the door was of a vintage more recent than the sliding-door era that I typically associate with walkways.

The railroad name was Frisco, which, from what I gather, used a consistent logo through much of its existance; so neither the name nor logo design provide much of an obvious visual clue.  

Any ideas of the era?  I would guess early- to mid-60s, based on my understanding of regulations around walkways.

Thanks in advance!

EDIT:  This appears to be the model I saw, but I can't see the walkway on top:

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, November 06, 2017 7:52 AM

Freight cars normally will have the build date ("BLT") and the date of the last weighing of the car ("NEW" if it was last weighed when new, some other letter code indicating a later time/place of reweighing...so like "CHI 6-77" might indicate a car was reweighed at the railroad's Chicago IL shops in June 1977). Although model manufacturers aren't always picky about those dates being accurate, it's at least a starting point.

Plug-door boxcars didn't replace sliding door cars; it's not like in 1960 they stopped making sliding door cars and just went with plug doors. Plug door cars were designed for specific types of lading. Some could be cooled before being delivered to a customer and were insulated to remain cool for a long time - kind of like refrigerator cars, but without their own cooling apparatus. Beer has often been transported in plug-door cars.

Other than the dates on the car, there's several things we can look at to estimate the timeframe of the car....

Plug-door boxcars started being built I believe in the late 1950's, so it's unlikely the car is older than that (unless it's modelling an older car retrofitted with plug doors.)

New cars stopped being built with roofwalks in about 1964 IIRC, but some cars built before that continued to have roofwalks on them until the 1970's, but few if any lasted until 1980 with roofwalks.

On the car in your picture, the stencilling on the right side - the black boxes with white lettering - starting being used around 1970 as I recall. I can't read the data on the car like build date (although it appears to be there on the left side).

So, based on what I can see (and assuming it does have roofwalks, can't tell in the picture) I'd guess this represents a boxcar built in the early 1960's, but as it might have looked in the mid-late 1970's. The model probably dates from the 1980's-90's. It's a Model Die Casting (MDC)/Roundhouse kit, from before the Roundhouse line was bought by Athearn (forget the exact year that happened, sometime around 2000?).

Stix
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Posted by rrebell on Monday, November 06, 2017 8:19 AM

On some roads the roofwalks lasted much longer and remember that a lot of the rules were based on interchange service and as railroads merged that area got bigger and bigger.

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Posted by Shock Control on Monday, November 06, 2017 8:41 AM

Thank you both for the replies. I could not find a built date on the car.

The dates on the cars are helpful, but they can't provide an overall picture of the timeframes various designs were in use. We all have different thresholds for realism; personally, I can live with later dates as long as the logos and car designs reflect the general era I am portraying. It looks like this kind of car can work with this era, generally late 1950s/early 1960s.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, November 06, 2017 9:41 AM

On the left side data, to the right of the "LT WT" (light weight) amount there appears to be a date. On the right side there's six rows of data, then a little ways below that there appears to be a date. Both are too small to read in the picture of the car.

If a car was substantially refurbished, it could qualify as having been rebuilt, and instead of a BLT (built) date would have a RBLT (rebuilt) date.

Stix
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Posted by dti406 on Monday, November 06, 2017 10:07 AM

Base on a number of factor's this is a mid-70's repaint of a standard 50' Plug Door boxcar. It is a mid 70's repaint as the COTS label is the Type II label that was in place about 1976, the first labels were only one panel and started in 1973. Also in this time period the Frisco went to a simplified Coonskin emblem without the black background.  As this is a 70's repaint, the running board should be removed. Also it needs an ACI label as these did not go out of service until 1979.

The major problem is that most of the Frisco RBL's were from GATC and that is not a GATC car.

Rick Jesionowski

Rule 1: This is my railroad.

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Posted by Shock Control on Monday, November 06, 2017 11:26 AM

So it looks like the model itself is not accurate.

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, November 06, 2017 12:55 PM

Shock Control

So it looks like the model itself is not accurate.

 
Very likely. Back when this kit was made, there were few "prototype specific" models outside of brass available. Athearn, MDC etc. would come up with a boxcar or reefer or flatcar and letter it for dozens of railroads that had more-or-less similar cars.
Stix
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Posted by garya on Monday, November 06, 2017 1:40 PM

dti406

Base on a number of factor's this is a mid-70's repaint of a standard 50' Plug Door boxcar. It is a mid 70's repaint as the COTS label is the Type II label that was in place about 1976, the first labels were only one panel and started in 1973. Also in this time period the Frisco went to a simplified Coonskin emblem without the black background.  As this is a 70's repaint, the running board should be removed. Also it needs an ACI label as these did not go out of service until 1979.

The major problem is that most of the Frisco RBL's were from GATC and that is not a GATC car.

Rick Jesionowski

 

Correct, but I think this series was built by Pullman Standard:

http://frisco.org/mainline/2015/01/21/boxcar-12050/

 

It looks like a 1-74 date on the car, and is identified as an XL. 

Gary
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Posted by Shock Control on Monday, November 06, 2017 2:46 PM

It is hard to tell from the pic, but the prototype does not appear to have a roofwalk.

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Posted by dti406 on Monday, November 06, 2017 3:06 PM

garya
 
dti406

Base on a number of factor's this is a mid-70's repaint of a standard 50' Plug Door boxcar. It is a mid 70's repaint as the COTS label is the Type II label that was in place about 1976, the first labels were only one panel and started in 1973. Also in this time period the Frisco went to a simplified Coonskin emblem without the black background.  As this is a 70's repaint, the running board should be removed. Also it needs an ACI label as these did not go out of service until 1979.

The major problem is that most of the Frisco RBL's were from GATC and that is not a GATC car.

Rick Jesionowski

 

 

 

Correct, but I think this series was built by Pullman Standard:

http://frisco.org/mainline/2015/01/21/boxcar-12050/

 

It looks like a 1-74 date on the car, and is identified as an XL. 

 

Your correct, it is a Pullman Standard Car, built in 1-70, the 74 date is probably a reweigh date.  Also the door on the model is not correct for the door on the prototype. As built it's classification was XP, which probably means it was in paper service which did not need any insulation.

Rick Jesinoowski

Rule 1: This is my railroad.

Rule 2: I make the rules.

Rule 3: Illuminating discussion of prototype history, equipment and operating practices is always welcome, but in the event of visitor-perceived anacronisms, detail descrepancies or operating errors, consult RULE 1!

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Posted by garya on Monday, November 06, 2017 3:37 PM

Shock Control

It is hard to tell from the pic, but the prototype does not appear to have a roofwalk.

 

It does not, and the ladders are short, too.  The prototype pic has a replacement door, so a regular plug door may be ok. 

One could remove the roof walk and shorten the ladders to more closely match the pic, or you could just say close enough and run the car as is.  

Gary
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Posted by Shock Control on Monday, November 06, 2017 4:39 PM

Or I could leave it intact and pretend it is an early 1960s car. If there is a date on the car, I won't be able to read it from a reasonable distance. ;)

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Posted by garya on Tuesday, November 07, 2017 2:21 PM

Shock Control

Or I could leave it intact and pretend it is an early 1960s car. If there is a date on the car, I won't be able to read it from a reasonable distance. ;)

 

That works, too. Wink

Gary
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Posted by ATSFGuy on Thursday, November 16, 2017 10:32 AM

Those 40 foot boxcars (Youngstown and Superior Door) are definitely transition era, (1948-1958) although they could have lasted into the early/mid 70's. 

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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, November 16, 2017 11:37 AM

Even the very earliest 89' auto parts hi-cube boxcars were built with running boards and high ladders to the brake wheel (as you can see in an old Car Builder's Cyclopedia) - because the rules required it, and "rules is rules".  But those were among the cars that made the rules seem silly and forced the change. 

I usually think of mid 1960s as being the change over date for newly built cars, with a different grandfathering date for older cars which they moved back a few times, so older cars could be seen with running boards and high brake wheels for some years to come.

Plenty of plug door boxcars had running boards but I defer to the experts on this particular Frisco car or the MDC prototype in general.  Don't trust the blt or new dates -- or the reporting marks or numbers for that mattter -- on that era of plastic cars by the way.   Nor the paint schemes slapped on existing tooling.  Things were tolerated back then - including the low prices, lol. 

Well after the last grandfathering date I was once shocked to see a 40' Southern boxcar with running boards and high brake wheels long, long after I thought they were banned from interchange service.  I was thinking I was seeing a rolling rules violation but then I looked closer - the box car had been retro-fitted with roof hatches (probably was in kaolin clay service) so the running boards still were within the rules.

Dave Nelson

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Posted by dehusman on Thursday, November 16, 2017 6:50 PM

Boxcars commonly had plug doors back in the 1890's, 1900's.

 

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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