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MoW Flat Cars from Old Box Cars

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MoW Flat Cars from Old Box Cars
Posted by Attuvian on Friday, September 08, 2017 11:04 PM

More adventures in SP's 1956 MoW Car Roster, guys and gals!  In perusing the old SPHST edition, I noted that a lot of the Espee roadway flat cars were created from former revenue box cars.  There were 536 of these flats (not counting their "ditcher flats"), and of the 150 that came from other types of rolling stock, 110 were from 40' box cars, 27 were from 36' stock cars and 9 from 50' auto boxes.

What do you suppose was done to the original units beyond removing the sides and roofs and relocating their brake wheels and associated gear?  Would there have been any changes to the underframing?

And assuming a start with an old plastic box or stocker with pre-scored flooring, wouldn't bashing an MoW flat from it go through virtually the same steps in miniature?

And while we're at it, what other types of flooring existed on flats of the transistion era other than transverse planks?

Thanks, all.

John

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Posted by 7j43k on Friday, September 08, 2017 11:46 PM

Flatcars have sidesills, either straight of fishbelly.

Boxcars generally don't, as they use the car sides.

So it would seem that sidesills had to have been added.  And, of course, stake pockets.

Also, I don't think there were any flatcars without fishbelly centersills, other than truss-rod flats.  So that would put a lot of boxcars out of contention.

Endsills may also have to been added.

For decking for this kind of car, only transverse planks would be used.

 

Ed

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Posted by Attuvian on Sunday, September 10, 2017 8:53 AM

7j43k

Flatcars have sidesills, either straight of fishbelly.

Boxcars generally don't, as they use the car sides.

So it would seem that sidesills had to have been added.  And, of course, stake pockets.

Also, I don't think there were any flatcars without fishbelly centersills, other than truss-rod flats.  So that would put a lot of boxcars out of contention.

Endsills may also have to been added.

For decking for this kind of car, only transverse planks would be used.

 

Ed

 

Thanks, Ed.

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, September 10, 2017 5:32 PM

Attuvian
More adventures in SP's 1956 MoW Car Roster, guys and gals! In perusing the old SPHST edition, I noted that a lot of the Espee roadway flat cars were created from former revenue box cars.

John,

I'm not an SP type of guy, other than dabbling from time to time. I'm just not sure about conversions from boxcars to "roadway flats." The references Ive seen suggest that designation and the similar "roadway boxes" were cars that received minimal modifications and used in their "original configuration," pretty much just some paint to letter them as MOW service cars.

There's some brief discussion of this in Terry Thompson's blog post on this: http://modelingthesp.blogspot.com/2013/03/modeling-some-sp-mow-cars.html

To me, it's sound like a conversion from a boxar to a flat would be far more than leaving something in its "original configuation." Now, the SP may have done that, as they did have a bunch of older boxcars with heavy sidesills that may have been suitable for such a rebuild program, but I don't think the result would be called a "roadway flat" by SP unless I'm misunderstanding what Thompson discussed about them.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by Attuvian on Sunday, September 10, 2017 8:08 PM

Thanks, Mike.

Tony's blogspot has consistently wonderful stuff, always thoroughly researched.  There is an interesting related item from the page of the SPHTS-published roster that he selected for an illustration in this particular post.  It regards roadway flat #2612.  This was one of the oddities that didn't make the reference in my opening post to original equipment that had been converted.  Note that this flat was first a tank car (the other three that didn't get referenced were produced from a gondola and two wood chip cars).  Now, turning a tanker to a flat would indeed have been an interesting mod!  And that's not all: it's described in the roster as a wooden car, not steel.  Ah, sweet mysteries of life!

There are not a few questions that I would like to ask Mr. Thompson, mostly regarding MoW colors, spreaders and rotary plows.  Tried once to connect with him by email but got no response.  Wasn't miffed by that in any regard as it may be an account that is no longer active or one that is constantly overloaded by queries from unknown characters like myself.  Wonder if the blog itself is still active.

Off topic:  Got your glasses for the next total eclipse?  Comin' your way (well, not far away) in seven years. The one three weeks ago was thrilling here in Oregon.

John

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Posted by 7j43k on Sunday, September 10, 2017 9:01 PM

John,

Tony is always at the BAPM meetings in Richmond, CA.  You're welcome to make the trip, pay the outrageous $10 entry fee, and chat him up.

Or:  He frequents the STMFC Yahoo group.  THOSE guys know a lot about freight cars.  I recommend you join up.

 

Ed

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Posted by Attuvian on Sunday, September 10, 2017 11:02 PM

Thanks, Ed.

Just knocked on the door of the STMFC group and will see if they're interested in a newbie.  As for the BAPM and their once-a-year meetings, $10 ain't too bad considering I will have driven 1250 miles round trip in the process! Greater problem would be how to rationalize this with my sweetie.  She already is wondering about this MR bug!

John

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Posted by 7j43k on Sunday, September 10, 2017 11:26 PM

Attuvian

Greater problem would be how to rationalize this with my sweetie.

 

Easy.  Ya take her to the SF Opera.  The good seats cost a bit more than $10, though.  The food in the basement is good, too. But it's tough to top the BAPM polish dogs and potato salad.

 

Ed

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Posted by dknelson on Monday, September 11, 2017 10:44 AM

Seems to me you'd want to know more specifics about the old boxcars that were being cut down to flats in 1956 -- I'd have to think these were 30 to 40 year old cars, perhaps single or double sheathed wood cars, in which case they may well have had fishbelly sills very much like a flatcar of the era would also have had, or USRA cars with their side sills.  

Not SP but I have seen MOW flat cars made out of old boxcars (or perhaps reefers or even stock cars) where the dreadnaught type ends of the car was torched off about three or four feet up, creating not just a flat car out of a housecar, but a mini-bulkhead flat car at that!

Dave Nelson

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Posted by Attuvian on Monday, September 11, 2017 12:12 PM

Dave,

The great majority of these flats were converted in 1929, some in '28 and a handful into the '40s.  If they were already 30-40 years old by then, they'd be ancient in the early '50s.  Think of the unique beating and minimal maintenance that likely accompanied MoW use for these cars over the intervening years.  It would be a real tribute to their durability.

The great benefit of the SP roster is that it gives not only the former road number but the SP class of box car as well.  There's an SP modeler's site that has photos of representatives of a number of these classes.  I haven't yet cross-referenced that site for photos that might reveal fish-belly sills or not.  Thanks for tipping me off to that line of research!

Road shop guys must have enjoyed these refurb projects as opportunities to unleash the full range of their innovative and technical skills.

John

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Posted by snjroy on Monday, September 11, 2017 7:49 PM

Could someone post a picture please? Thanks.

Simon

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Posted by Attuvian on Monday, September 11, 2017 10:49 PM

Simon,

We'll need some good fortune for that.  Except for some plows, photos of SP MoW equipment prior to the '60s seem to be pretty hard to come by.  But I'm certainly grateful for any that can be found.

BTW, all: I did some more research tonight at www.railgoat.railfan.net/spcars/byclass/ and have updated the lengths of the originals noted in my first post.  All from boxes were 40 footers (2 had an extra 5 or 6 inches), all but two from stockers were CS-19 36 footers and the handful from auto boxes were 50s (with an additional 3 or 4 inches in a couple of cases).

John

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Posted by cx500 on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 11:35 PM

Even steel cars required decent underframes, since the door opening for the full height of the side limits how much structural strength it can actually provide.

Most roadway flats that I have seen are primarily used for carrying MoW machines from place to place, or other miscellaneous items.  That is a much lighter load than was potentially the case when in revenue freight service as a boxcar.

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 11:47 AM

cx500

Even steel cars required decent underframes, since the door opening for the full height of the side limits how much structural strength it can actually provide.

 

Here's a photo of a 40' SP box that had its door opening changed from 6' to 10'--hardly an earth-shaking stretch:

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=4112403

 

And yet they added a pretty significant reinforcement under the door.  One could speculate that if they had decided to have a 40' door opening (pretty much a flat car), they would have added a lot bigger reinforcement. 

It seems every railroad home-modified MOW car is a special case.  I would be especially interested in viewing an MOW flatcar made by only removing the roof, sides and ends of a boxcar.  With no structural modifications.  Which relates to what John was asking after.  In his case, I think, ones done by SP.  Though I would love to see any road's.

Most roadway flats that I have seen are primarily used for carrying MoW machines from place to place, or other miscellaneous items.  That is a much lighter load than was potentially the case when in revenue freight service as a boxcar.

 

 

Certainly true.  There's no reason to "overbuild" a car.  But it concurrently limits the use of the car to the lower weight, thus reducing flexibilty in useage.  Again, I'd surely love to see pictures of such flats that were built just by blasting off the top structure of a house car and not adding any new steel.

I am NOT say such doesn't exist.  I am just curious about the who what how why part.

 

Ed

 

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Posted by DSchmitt on Thursday, September 14, 2017 11:24 AM

7j43k
Here's a photo of a 40' SP box that had its door opening changed from 6' to 10'--hardly an earth-shaking stretch: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=4112403

 

 

Interesting difference between the side panels -  left of door/right of door

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by Attuvian on Thursday, September 14, 2017 10:38 PM

Guess there was more changed than just the door opening - and the door, of course.  It begs this question: how common has it been for revenue cars to receive major mods and still stay in that status?  I was just reading about SP's mod of single-sheathed boxers into stock cars.  And presuming that the road didn't maintain their own company herds, I presume those went back into revenue status.  Then again, the presumption might be a bit hasty: SP seems to have had a rather large business reach over the years.

For example, see section 1.5 in the Wikipedia article on Sprint [Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network Telecommunications (or Telephony)].

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, September 15, 2017 9:26 AM

DSchmitt
Interesting difference between the side panels -  left of door/right of door

They look the same to me, but the narrow panels at the ends are unusual.

Wayne

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Posted by dehusman on Friday, September 15, 2017 1:00 PM

Attuvian
It begs this question: how common has it been for revenue cars to receive major mods and still stay in that status?

Very common.  Lots of cars have been modified.  The RDG took quad hoppers, shortened them into twin covered hoppers, took quad and twin hoppers, put in a floor and made ore/taconite gons.  The RDG converted boxcars into covered hoppers (carried cocoa beans for Hershey's Chocolate).  They cut down USRA gons into very low side "flatcars" to haul steel products (specifically bridge sections for the Golden Gate Bridge).  The RDG took 40 ft boxcars and cut them apart and made 50 ft boxcars (they also did a run for a couple other roads).  The MP took ART reefers and made them into boxcars.  Many roads raised the roofs on boxcars to make higher cube auto parts carts.  All of these examples were revenue car to revenue car.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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