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A source for finding out what equipment goes with what era.

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  • Member since
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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Thursday, April 29, 2010 6:20 PM

 Car Builders Dictionary/Cyclopedia's can help. Reprints by Newton-Gregg still show up at train shows.

The American Railroad Freight Car: From the Wood-Car Era to the Coming of Steel by John H. White for old cars.

Kalmbach has some books also - check book section.

Enjoy

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 3:34 PM

wjstix

The 40' boxcar and reefer became standard around 1915-20. Before that, 36' cars were common, though there were 34' cars and 38' cars (particularly 38' meat reefers as I recall). Steel became the preferred choice for new car construction around the late twenties, at least for boxcars. However, cars with single or double-sheathed wood sides but steel ends and roofs were built in that period too. Those 'house cars' were around 8-1/2' high.

28-30 ft cars were pretty much standard until the 1870's, then 34 ft cars became the norm.  36 ft cars became popular about 1890-1900 and 34 ft boxcars were being phased out of production by about 1910.  By 1910 the 40 ft cars were showing up and 40 ft boxcars were pretty much the norm by 1915.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by AltonFan on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 10:48 AM

If you're interested in the steam era, this website might be helpful.

 

Dan

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Posted by 1948PRR on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 8:19 AM

Congratulations, you've found one of the most potentially research intensive portions of this hobby.

This is actually a hobby within a hobby, or a seperate hooby outside of "model railroading" per se.

There are dozens of books categorized by specific railroads and their freight car fleets (Color Guide to....), by car manufacturers and their products (Magor, Pressed Steel Car Co, Pulman Std), by car class (Open Hoppers, Refers), by geographical location (Trackside around...), and by era.

Some times you have to cross refernce several to get a satisfactory answer.

Some times simply finding out if a prototype even exists can be challenging.

I recently picked up a very nicely weathered Accurail 40' double door boxcar decorated for NYC.

After checking several sources I discovered that this particular model is "almost" a model of a GN car (ends are wrong), and "almost" a GTW/CN car (side sill is wrong). What it is definately NOT, is an NYC car.

The "BLT" date on the side of the car is a good starting point, assuming it's not fabricated by the manufacturer.

On the other hand, some manufacturers do a great job of producing only correct models (P2K tank cars come to mind), and some go even a step further by documenting on the box (Branchline lists delivery date and repaint date if applicable).

I would suggest looking for a yahoo (or other) group dedicated to the era you are modeling.

Perhaps someone has already done some of the work.

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 7:49 AM

To an extent, freight cars kinda had "generations", there are things you can look at to help determine when a car is appropriate for a particular era.

The 40' boxcar and reefer became standard around 1915-20. Before that, 36' cars were common, though there were 34' cars and 38' cars (particularly 38' meat reefers as I recall). Steel became the preferred choice for new car construction around the late twenties, at least for boxcars. However, cars with single or double-sheathed wood sides but steel ends and roofs were built in that period too. Those 'house cars' were around 8-1/2' high.

Several changes came in the 1930's. Around 1936 the 10' high boxcar was developed (a few cars that high had been around earlier, but this is when the "classic" 40' long / 10' high boxcar started to become the industry standard for new cars). In the late thirties, billboard reefers and arch bar trucks were banned from general interchange service.

During WW2, new cars were built with wood sides because of steel shortages...so ironically you might be more likely to see a woodsided boxcar in 1945 than you would before the war. (Plus, during the Depression, when fewer cars were needed, railroads tended to use their newer equipment like steel cars and let their older cars sit idle.)

In the 1960's roofwalks were banned from cars in interchange service, although there were some extensions that allowed some cars to run with roofwalks beyond that. But no new cars built after about 1964 had roofwalks. It was about that time that the Hi-cube "Plate C" boxcars started to be built.

As I noted, you can tell a lot by the lettering. Starting in the thirties, railroads began to use their freight cars - particularly boxcars and reefers - to advertise their top passenger trains. By the sixties, as passenger service was ebbing, that became less common. Also of course you can tell by the railroad themselves...many railroads were merged out of existence in the sixties and seventies. However that can be deceiving, as I photographed Great Northern boxcars in original "Big Sky Blue" markings in the early 1990's - twenty years after the BN merger!!

Stix
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Posted by gregc on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 6:21 AM

Allegheny2-6-6-6
... but if you at least want to come as close as maybe give or take a few years here or there is there any source other then doing a Google search to find out what equipment goes with what era?

I found this web-page insightful.

http://modelrailroading.wordpress.com/category/railroad-operation/page/2/

in particular, the "cut off" date in the first section entitled "Building a realistic freight car fleet".

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Monday, April 26, 2010 5:14 PM

dehusman

Another option is an Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) availabe hardcopy sometimes at book dealers and ebay, on CD from several sources (Westerfield being one).

They list all the cars in interchange severice and their mechanical type and dimensions.  You still have to figure out what model of car it is, but you can easily see major car types.  It will tell you that a certain series of cars 10001-10999 were 40 ft boxcars with a 10 ft 0" inside height.  It will not tell you it is a ABC RR. class B-32-10 boxcar or that is a an ACF type 95 boxcar or whatever.

 

 

Dave,

thanks this is a long the lines of what I was looking for, sure it would be nice to punch in box cars or gondolas time period 1955 to 1957 and have it spit out a list of all the pertinent information but I guess no computer geek has seen the value in creating such a data base. Thanks as well to the others I do the Google image thing and general search. I honestly never thought in a million years that I would get to this pint but then i figured hey if I have to buy equipment I might as well do a little research and but the right stuff or at least pretty darned close

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
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Posted by markpierce on Monday, April 26, 2010 12:37 PM
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Posted by markpierce on Monday, April 26, 2010 12:28 PM

wjstix

Keep in mind you need to get a working knowledge not only of freight car types, but of railroad paint schemes.

... and changing AAR equipment requirements and car-lettering and numbering schemes.  It is just as hard avoiding "stand-in" (imaginary) models for cars of a particular subclass that never existed for the railroad represented and/or have incorrect details like the style of running boards, doors, car ends, roofs, etc.  It is much easier to live in ignorance. 

Mark

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, April 26, 2010 7:42 AM

Keep in mind you need to get a working knowledge not only of freight car types, but of railroad paint schemes. It doesn't do any good to have your steam engine hauling some 1940's-built boxcars if they're wearing 1960's paint schemes. Decal company catalogues can give you a lot of good information. Clover House (which is available as a free download at their website) is good because they give you a time date range of when each decal (dry transfer actually) paint scheme was in use.

It may sound intimidating, but in time you can get to where you can look at a car and have a pretty good idea of what time it's appropriate for both by the type of car and the lettering.

Stix
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Posted by Doug T on Monday, April 26, 2010 6:29 AM

Everything CX500 said, plus I use Google search on my computer. Type in piggyback service, TOFC, COFC, or intermodal service. You should find a wealth of information including the history on each of these names.

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that has some pretty good information. It has helped me on occasions when I was curious about something.

 

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, April 26, 2010 6:21 AM

Another option is an Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) availabe hardcopy sometimes at book dealers and ebay, on CD from several sources (Westerfield being one).

They list all the cars in interchange severice and their mechanical type and dimensions.  You still have to figure out what model of car it is, but you can easily see major car types.  It will tell you that a certain series of cars 10001-10999 were 40 ft boxcars with a 10 ft 0" inside height.  It will not tell you it is a ABC RR. class B-32-10 boxcar or that is a an ACF type 95 boxcar or whatever.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by cx500 on Sunday, April 25, 2010 11:58 PM

The best thing is to look at pictures of trains from your selected era and railroad.  There are many published books out there that include pictures, and these can often be an excellent single source for most of what you want.  There are a number of photo sites on the web which will also provide similar information, but you might have to do a lot of winnowing to find the ones you need.  Historical and technical societies focussing on specific railroads usually have useful magazines too.

Looking specifically at your liking for trailers on flatcars, the business really developed during the 1950s and early 1960s.  Initially both the flatcars and the trailers were significantly shorter than in more modern eras.  Pictures and magazine articles are out there if you can find them.

John

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A source for finding out what equipment goes with what era.
Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Sunday, April 25, 2010 11:41 PM

 It's probably an understatement to say that there is some pretty neat models of equipment out there today. Just flip through any of the Walthers fliers that bombard your mailbox and you know what I'm talking about.

Unfortunately, if your at least trying to take a stab at being some what prototypically correct in the rolling stock your Y3 or M! or T! is pulling your not going to put modern covered hoppers, or 85' box cars, or double stack autoracks, or modern well cars behind them. You can if you want it's your train set so you can do anything you want I know but if you at least want to come as close as maybe give or take a few years here or there is there any source other then doing a Google search to find out what equipment goes with what era? For example I've always like flat cars with semi trainers on them but when did they first start using them I haven't a clue? So what would you go by, railroad, by type of piece of rolling stock, time frame etc.

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?

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