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Model Railroading > looking for information - any help appreciated

Date: 07/24/06 06:37
looking for information - any help appreciated
Author: shortliner

A friend has jut posed the following question - I can't answer it - so I'm looking for help please . Not sure which forum this should be on so I'll add it to the Nostalgia forum too

"I've some questions, brought on by
insomnia. Last night/early this morning I started to look through my
boxcars etc. and note their build dates. Turns out I have 11 of them
built before 1930 and 2 in the 30's. Now I know that billboard boxcars
were effectively banned in the mid 30's (36 or 37) for use in
interchange traffic but what I don't know is the lifespan of say a
boxcar, reefer, hopper or gondola built in the 20's. Any ideas? Would it
be something you could help with.

I'm looking to make current layout as a 50's or 60's layout and so 13 cars will
probably go to waste. Obviously a little steam switcher would sort the
problem but I'd have to replace the overpass, it's a 1950's version.

The little GE 44 Tonner came around in the 40's IIRC (earliest 1940 and
latest 1953).

Obviously all my 40's and 50's stock would be usable in the 50's period
and probably the 60's period. Not sure if any 40's stock made it into
the 70's but I suspect 50's stuff did.

I also seem to remember a rule about stock being retired from interchange
traffic once it reached a certain age but can't recall it.

My main layout will be set in the 70's, since my MEC loco has a 70's
colour scheme :)

last but by no means least any idea of where this info may be found.
Happy to buy some reading material to keep me on the straight and

Any help appreciated".

Thanks for your time
Shortliner(Jack)away up here in the Highlands

Date: 07/24/06 07:53
Re: looking for information - any help appreciated
Author: wlankenau

Now I think cars are restricted from interchange at age 40, but in the '70s it might have been older. It was unlikely to find cars built in the 20s in interchange service then, but old home road cars could conceivable be used in revenue service if kept on the owning RR. Of course, by the '70s it would be unlikely to find cars in their original paint schemes.

Date: 07/24/06 07:54
Re: looking for information - any help appreciated
Author: rbx551985

FROM THE WEBSITE http://www.trainsarefun.com/tutnews.html comes these answers to your questions. This is the "TUT - Train Update Tonite Newsletter --- A collection of tips, thoughts, emails, pics, news, and other model railroad stuff, both prototype and freelance..." I didn't write this (BELOW); I only FOUND it online by typing "Interchange Rules for Billboard Reefers" into the Google.com Search Engine, and here's what I found (among DOZENS of LINKS):


I'm just getting into model RRing (N gauge), and since my layout would
reflect the late-1950s/early-60's era, the Atlas 40' billboard reefers
has caught my eye for add a touch of personality and color to the
layout. While I'm more interested in creating an atmosphere than
exact-science stuff like whether a loco's road number matches the proto,
I still want to keep *some* realism to it. Questions:

1) Did the brands advertised on those reefers reflect the loads inside,
or were they just general advertising?

2) How likely would it have been in real life to see RR reefers in the
West with products/companies more familiar in the East? It occurs to me
that there were beer brewers on the West coast, so it would seem odd
that you'd see, say, a Schlitz reefer from Milwaukee in Washington
state. Or would you?

3) Or did (or do, even today?) *all* different types of cars from
different regions belonging to different RR carriers just get all
jumbled up and end up in different regions and on different lines?

Or should I just not be concerned about this sort of stuff in the first
place? AJS

Billboard marked cars (there were more than just reefers that had advertising on them) were generally privately owned cars. As such, they carried the companies products from the central plant to distributing centers about the country. Thus, the Blatz beer car would indeed be found anywhere in the country from LA to Bangor. You'd find most of them tho in the Milwaukee area. Then there were the cars that had advertsising on them of the railroad itself. The UP map cars come to mind here for one. Back before recent (relatively) changes in car movements, cars tended to more stay on the home roads so there tended to be a bit of regionality to the cars on any particular railroad. Today, cars can and do spend a large part of their lifetime just wandering about without regard to who actually owns them. BM

Billboard reefers and box cars became the victim of an ICC ruling in 1934 making all future lettering smaller than 12" and were banned from interchange in 1937. Probably most of the cars in beer company paint schemes were gone when prohibition kicked in about 1920 and not seen again. By the mid 40's most all would have been repainted. Some cars though in a less colorful paint were in service up to the 60's. Bruce

The 'Billboard' outlaw ruling was only if the car was carrying another product. If the owner was only going to ship his own product in the car, the 'Billboard' lettering could stay. A good example of this was the HAMX cars that carried Hamm's beer from the brewery in St Paul.
They even has 50' cars in the 60's with the special Blue/White paint scheme and lettering. The cars were replaced with rather plain standard leased cars due to the cars being broken into while sitting in interchange yards. I worked for the CB&Q in the late 60's, nd the CMO would deliver loaded cars in the 'North Yard'. We needed a railroad cop to watch the cars until a yard job could run up from the Dayton's Bluff yard to retrieve them bury them deep in the main yard bowl. The fancy lettering would attract hooligans within 15-30 minutes! Jim Bernier

The main reason for the ruling in the first place was when shippers objected to the railroads delivering cars to their plants painted for a competitor's product.

The reefers were not owned by the companies, but rather by refrigerator car companies like URTX, GATX etc. The actual "outlawing" was a rule that shippers could refuse to load a car if it was lettered for a competitor, and the railroad and refrigerator car company had to deliver a different car at their own expense. Rather than face the hassle of trying to keep track of which car could go to whom, the reefer companies simply stopped using the advertising lettering. In the case where a shipper used enough cars that he actually owned the reefer line, the lettering stayed ("Swift" is an example that comes to mind). Don

'Hope this helps with your research!

Date: 07/24/06 09:49
Re: looking for information - any help appreciated
Author: stivmac

I have used an old article from Model Railroading in my economics class for years. It gives % of freight cars by year and by type in the US for 1948. At that time, close to 2/3 of freight cars were 15-30 years old, and of those, something like 12% were more than 30 years old. I'm quoting from memory so the figures aren't exact, but they're close enough. Since the US was just emerging from WWII AND the depression, it meant that a huge number would have to be replaced in the next decade. If you are doing the 50's, you could still have 30+ year old freight cars out there. With 100 cars in oyur fleet, the % would be about right! Pix of RRs in the 50s show a fair number of outside braces wood sheethed cars still rattling along.

Date: 07/24/06 14:40
Re: looking for information - any help appreciated
Author: n6nvr

I expect that the older cars weren't long for the world once the need to put roller bearings on came along for whatever reason. They got rescued by WW2 and Korea and by the time the truck changes came along they were no longer worth the effort.

That said, the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard on Terminal Island in San Pedro still had some ancient arch bar trucked flat cars waddling around in the mid-1980's. Probably never got outside the gates but they were there.

Date: 07/26/06 20:41
Re: looking for information - any help appreciated
Author: scottp

Around 1972 a limit was imposed-- 50 years at first, but every year the limit dropped by a year, until it reached 40. So every year "another two years worth" of cars were banned from interchange. Cars could still run over their owning road to haul revenue freight up to age 50.
Some articles have spoken of "the forty year rule" eliminating various cars in the 1950s or 60s, but cars were actually retired according to certain obsolete (unsafe) features, such as wood underframes, or because the owners decided they were "worn out." Shippers demanded more modern, better-maintained cars-- but even then, old inferior cars might be assigned to carry animal hides or some other contaminating commodity.

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