Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

1930's Railroading

3567 views
7 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: Middleton, WI (a Madison suburb)
  • 34 posts
1930's Railroading
Posted by mwalther on Saturday, December 13, 2003 8:52 AM
I'm looking for proper rolling stock for the 1930's era. Was freight car length generally limited to 40 feet or were larger (50 foot) cars in use and or common? I've seen some model box cars at 50 feet and wonder if they are correct for the era. Any suggestions as to how to cull out the proper models from manufacturer's lists of products? Thanks
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, December 13, 2003 10:37 AM
For US railroads the 1930's were a lean time. The Great Depression was the overriding economic reality. Most railroads ran the wheels off the 'war emergency' freight cars built to WWI USRA standardized designs. If you look for rollingstock which mentions those designs or as modifications of those designs you will likely be within bounds. In cars built in your period there was increasing use made of steel to replace wood. You could also use such boxcars as those built to the Pennsy X29 and subsequent classes. Rollingstock in the period was extensively rebuilt and upgraded rather than scrapped. Individual cars often more than once.

I'd suggest you go to the library and and look up a history of the American Car and Foundry Company who were the largest US maker of freight cars. Also for motive power look for histories of Baldwin, Lima and Alco.

You could also borrow or buy CD copies of the Freight Car Cyclopedia which has a ton of information and illustrations.

The limited run manufacturers of freight car kits, Westerfield or Sunshine for example, supply extensive information with their kits and on their websites which will be of use to you.

To answer your specific question: 40 foot as well as larger classes of freight cars were in common and mixed usage in the 1930s. The exact mix you settle on will depend on which railroad you model and what its individual rollingstock needs and financial condition was.

Don't be surprised if you find some anachronisms, I recently saw an example of a 4-4-0 offered from the manufacturer with streamlining! Stupidly I didn't make a note of the manufacturer but you can be sure I'll follow-up on it sooner rather than later.

Good luck and have fun researching.

Randy


  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Midtown Sacramento
  • 3,302 posts
Posted by Jetrock on Saturday, December 13, 2003 1:21 PM
40 footers were common--typically boxcars were wood-sided with metal "dreadnought" ends. Often these had outside bracing. Diesels made their appearance in the late 1930's, and newer steam engines intended for passenger service were sometimes streamlined.

Randy's comments about the Depression mean that older equipment (30-36 foot boxcars and other early all-wood equipment) might be found, especially on short lines or branch lines.
  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 10,908 posts
Posted by dknelson on Sunday, December 14, 2003 6:15 PM
Things like truss rods wood sills and archbar trucks were lawful in interchange (but were surely rare) in the early 1930s, banned by the late 1930s. 40 ft cars were common, reefers were often still 36 ft to fit existing icing platforms. 36 ft hoppers were also still common. Some of the TrainShed Cyclopedias feature this era and are strongly recommended. If you can dig up the $$$$ a 1937 Car Builder's Cyclopedia would be very useful to you.
Dave Nelson
  • Member since
    August 2002
  • From: Corpus Christi, Texas
  • 2,377 posts
Posted by leighant on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 3:51 PM
My file of Santa Fe information shows no regular single-door boxcars longer than 40' in the 1930s, BUT 50' single-sheathed outside braced 1 1/2 door automobile boxcars, also called "Furniture Cars" on the Santa Fe, and double door autoboxes, also steel sheathed rebuilds of these cars.

Flatcars in 44', 50' and 53'6" lengths in the 1930s.

50' "Mill" gondolas

53' GS drop-bottom gondolas

At least one class of wood-sheathed 50' refrgierated cars.

No tankcars or stock cars longer than 40'. Sorry I don't have an Official Railway Equipment Register from the 1930s to look up what was found on other railroads.

Kenneth L. Anthony, Santa Vaca & Santa Fe Rwy.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 4:02 PM
if you live near a large library, you can do what i have done, and still do. get the Simmons-Boardman freight car cyclopedias for the time period you are interested in. the pictures are all black and white, but do show graplhics, appliances, and trucks in use on various railroads. you may not be able to check these books out, but you generally can have photocopies made at the library. another good source of information on this era is the, "NEB&W Guide to Steam-Era Freight Car Modeling."
it has been available from the Rensselaer Railroad Shop in Troy, NY. I also have several of the Newton Gregg reprints of car cyclopedii. These are a good source of specific data as well.

36' cars were still abundant on Americas' railroads into World War II. many of the 8'6" IH and 10" IH cars were operational. some had been re-sheathed with steel sides, and other "wood" cars were still being built, at least through the early years of the war. these were outside braced, shingle wood sheathed cars. the plan here was to save steel for the war effort. composite gondolas were also in vogue for the same reason.

the biggest problem i have had is determining correct car colors for various railroads. most of the pictures from that era were done in black and white, so i have had to resort to historical societies and other sources for information. when i just cannot determine the color, i choose a color, then weather the car extensively so the base color is just a suggestion. most of the cars from the 30's and early 40's were tuscan, boxcar or oxide red (with exceptions of course). there were some cars that appear to be roof brown as well.

don't let me mislead you, there were plenty of 40' cars on the rails as well, and many of them were the ARA all-steel cars that were produced in the 30's. several model railroad producers currently make copies of the ARA designs, very good copies i might add. 50' cars were also in use, both single and double door versions.

i hope this is all of some help. if you get nothing else from my response, know that to get an era right - proper cars, proper graphics, correct colors, correct appliances - takes some effort. research is the answer if you really want your model to be a true representation of the prototype.

i wish you the seasons best.

tom



tom
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 4:07 PM
if you live near a large library, you can do what i have done, and still do. get the Simmons-Boardman freight car cyclopedias for the time period you are interested in. the pictures are all black and white, but do show graplhics, appliances, and trucks in use on various railroads. you may not be able to check these books out, but you generally can have photocopies made at the library. another good source of information on this era is the, "NEB&W Guide to Steam-Era Freight Car Modeling."
it has been available from the Rensselaer Railroad Shop in Troy, NY. I also have several of the Newton Gregg reprints of car cyclopedii. These are a good source of specific data as well.

36' cars were still abundant on Americas' railroads into World War II. many of the 8'6" IH and 10" IH cars were operational. some had been re-sheathed with steel sides, and other "wood" cars were still being built, at least through the early years of the war. these were outside braced, shingle wood sheathed cars. the plan here was to save steel for the war effort. composite gondolas were also in vogue for the same reason.

the biggest problem i have had is determining correct car colors for various railroads. most of the pictures from that era were done in black and white, so i have had to resort to historical societies and other sources for information. when i just cannot determine the color, i choose a color, then weather the car extensively so the base color is just a suggestion. most of the cars from the 30's and early 40's were tuscan, boxcar or oxide red (with exceptions of course). there were some cars that appear to be roof brown as well.

don't let me mislead you, there were plenty of 40' cars on the rails as well, and many of them were the ARA all-steel cars that were produced in the 30's. several model railroad producers currently make copies of the ARA designs, very good copies i might add. 50' cars were also in use, both single and double door versions.

i hope this is all of some help. if you get nothing else from my response, know that to get an era right - proper cars, proper graphics, correct colors, correct appliances - takes some effort. research is the answer if you really want your model to be a true representation of the prototype.

i wish you the seasons best.

tom



tom
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 4:21 PM
i do appologize for making a double entry. call it brain freeze or whatever. it is what you get when you let a dinosaur play with new technology.

tom

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!