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  • Santa Fe World War II Rebuilt Boxcars

    When the railroad was caught short they modified hundreds of wood cars

    BY RICHARD H. HENDRICKSON
    MODEL PHOTOGRAPHY BY THE AUTHOR

    Page 14: Santa Fe No. 272566 i s a 1945 rebuilt class Bx-46 boxcar. Extra wartime traffic forced Santa Fe to rebuild about 3000 wood-sheathed boxcars into all-steel configurations. The car above, seen in early 1970's revenue service, has been repainted since its rebuilding, but is otherwise the same as it was in 1945.

    Page 15: AT&SF No. 122399 is an example of one of the wood cars before wartime rebuilding. It is a class Bx-9 car, featuring (like Bx-10's) radial roofs, early-style Dreadnaught ends, corrugated steel doors, ARA underframes and Dalman two-level trucks.

    Rebuilt class Bx-42 No. 270844 looked like this when it rolled out of Santa Fe's Topeka shops in February of 1945. The entire body of the car is new, and only the underframe and trucks reveal its origin as a wood-sheathed class Bx-9 car.

    Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 14 Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 15

    The staggering volume of freight traffic generated by World War II resulted in severe shortages of freight cars. Even before war was declared, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway found itself in urgent need of modern boxcars, not only for general merchandise service but to handle the huge annual grain harvest in the plains states. Thousands of new cars delivered by Pullman in 1940, 1941 and 1942, plus almost 3000 former USRA boxcars rebuilt in the railroad's own shops enabled the Santa Fe to handle the onslaught. Even more boxcars were needed though, and war production quotas imposed in 1942 made new cars all but impossible to get. The alternative was to continue rebuilding existing cars that were be coming worn out and obsolete, so the Santa Fe turned its attention to 3000 wood-sheathed boxcars of classes Bx-8, Ex-9, and Ex-10 which had been built to ARA specifications in 1928. The aging bodies of these cars needed to be renewed, but their ARA standard underframes and Dalman cast-steel trucks were still serviceable, so it was decided in the early 1940's to construct new steel bodies on their existing underframes and running gear.

    By the time the last Bx-49 rolled out of the Topeka paint shop, more than 2400 late-1920's vintage boxcars had been transformed into modern all steel cars, while 490 cars (mostly Bx9's and -10's) remained in their original form. The surviving wood sheathed cars disappeared from the Santa Fe roster in a short time. The rebuilt steel cars on the other hand, lasted for many years. About 1600 were still in revenue service in the mid-1960's and 133 remained on the active roster in January of 1973, while others spent their final years in stores department and maintenance-of-way service.

    Page 16: When photographed at Gainesville, Texas in 1970, the vintage lettering of this class Bx-45 boxcar was barely visible. Opposite side of car had the SUPER CHIEF slogan.

    Seen here as it looked in the late 1950's, Santa Fe Bx-42 rebuild No. 270675 displays the paint scheme featuring slogans used from 1947 to 1959. The sides and ends of the cars were mineral red, the roofs black.

    This Bx-49 rebuild has the newer Dreadnaught ends, barely visible, differentiating it from other AT&SF wartime rebuild boxcars, Bx-49's also had metal-grid roofwalks and later-style slogans. Otherwise, they were identical to their predecessors.
    Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 16 Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 17

    From the sills up, the Santa Fe World War II rebuilds were essentially AAR standard steel boxcars, with Dread naught steel ends, panel-steel roofs, and corrugated doors. The cars built 1944-46 were identical in appearance except for their trucks. The Bx-41 and Bx -45 classes received Dalman one-level trucks from their Bx-8 predecessors, while the Bx-42's and Bx-46's had Dalman two-level trucks inherited from classes Bx-9 and Bx-10. All four classes were stenciled in the map/slogan lettering schemes, with a Santa Fe system map on the right side of the car and one of five advertising slogans on the left. The last class of rebuilt cars, Bx-49, was different from the previous classes in several respects. The Bx-49's had improved Dreadnaught-style ends instead of the earlier 5-5 type, and steel-grid roofwalks instead of wood. They were also among the first Santa Fe boxcars to receive the revised lettering scheme introduced in April of 1947, in which the SCOUT slogan was dropped, the other four slogans revised, and the map replaced by the leg end SHIP AND TRAVEL SANTA FE ALL THE WAY. Reconstruction of the three Bx classes was delayed for some time and started slowly owing to wartime short ages of materials. The first rebuilt cars, classes Bx-41 (former BX-8) and Bx-42 (former Bx-9 and Bx-10), began to emerge from the Santa Fe car shops late in 1944. The assignment of number series 270000-270499 to the Bx-41 class reflected the Santa Fe's intention to rebuild all 500 Bx-8's at this time, but in fact only 135 cars were actually completed as Bx-41's. Similarly, 1012 Bx-42's were authorized, but only 534 were rebuilt. Most of the remaining Bx-8's were rebuilt in 1945 as class Bx45 (Nos. 271 600-27 1999), with 328 cars completed. At the same time, another 500 Bx-9 and -10 rebuilds were authorized as class Bx-46 (Nos. 272000-272499), of which 478 were carried out. A further authorization for the conversion of 500 Bx-9 and -10's into class Bx-47 was cancelled. Instead, these cars, which were to have been numbered in the 272478-272977 series, were included in class Bx-49, series 272981-273918, which eventually numbered 937 cars when completed in 1947-48. At this point, with the postwar supply of new cars catching up to the demand, Santa Fe called a halt to its rebuilding program.

    Page 18: Here is the author's model of AT&SF rebuild No. 273397. The Bx-49 car has the SHIP AND TRAVEL slogan, modified door and door tracks, and rebuilt side sills. Note the transverse-mounted air reservoir, a feature common to most Santa Fe steel boxcars.

    Page 19"Above: A Bx-42 model. The slogan, reporting marks and dimensional data are the original Athearn lettering, and the rest is from a Champ decal set. Opposite side of car displays a straight-line-style AT&SF map. The three models shown on these pages are painted mineral brown, with black underframes and anti-skid black roofs. Below: A Bx-49 car with the improved Dreadnaught ends, used only on that class of rebuilds. All lettering for this car is from a Champ set, including the post-1947 SUPER CHIEF slogan.
    Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 18 Prototype Modeler - July 1986 - Page 19

    Classes, car numbers and construction dates of the World War II rebuilt boxcars are summarized in the nearby table.

    Modeling one of these rebuilt Santa Fe cars in HO scale is relatively easy. Athearn's 40-foot steel boxcar kit provides a good representation of a Bx-41, 42, 45 or 46 car if the underframe and side sills are reworked and the steel roofwalk is replaced by a wooden one. In modeling a Bx-49, the kit's steel roofwalk is retained, but the ends must be changed. I used improved Dreadnaught-type ends cut from a Model Die Casting 50-foot plug-door boxcar body, but some other plastic kits have similar ends and Athearn refrigerator car ends can also be spliced together to yield improved Dread naught ends of suitable height and the correct 4-4 arrangement of corrugations.

    In reworking the underside of the car, the side sills are first removed from the Athearn body just below the horizontal row of rivets at the bottom of each side. New side sills are then built up as shown in the drawings and the Athearn underframe modified to represent an ARA underframe. In addition to these revisions, I also made some changes to overcome minor short-comings in the Athearn kit. I reworked the door tracks to make them smaller, modified the doors to look more realistic and thinned the roof walks to about half their original thickness. In addition, I added Cal Scale AB brake equipment, brake rigging, door latch handles and uncoupling levers made from. 015" brass wire. The prototype's unusually large sill steps can be modeled using flat wire staples. No Dalman-type trucks are available in HO scale, but Athearn's early plastic Bettendorf trucks bear a fairly close resemblance to those on the prototype cars (the Bettendorf trucks now offered by Athearn do not have this similarity), and Model Die Casting No. 2923 or Walthers No. 824 Bettendorf trucks can also be used.

    Painting and lettering conforms to standard Santa Fe practice o f the 1940's, with sides and ends mineral brown (a dark shade of freight-car red), black underframes and trucks, and "anti-skid" flat black roofs. Wood roofwalks were mineral brown, steel walks black. For the later lettering style used on the Bx-49 class and on cars repainted in the 1950's, Champ decal sets HE-18 (EL CAPITAN), HE-20 (SUPER CHIEF), HB-136 (CHIEF) and HB-137 (GRAND CANYON LINE) are correct. Note however, the HB-19 (SCOUT) set is not correct, as the SCOUT slogan was dropped at the end of 1946 and thus was only used opposite the map, never opposite the SHIP AND TRAVEL... slogan. For the map/slogan lettering applied before April of 1947, the slogans in Athearn's "steam era" kits are good except for the SAN FRANCISCO CHIEF slogan, which was first used in 1954 and never appeared opposite a map. The Athearn maps, on the other hand, are not correct. They are the 1940-vintage, curved-line style, and also, one must remove the DF symbols. Athearn's maps can be replaced by Champ decals, however. Another approach is to use Champ maps and other lettering with Walthers slogans, which are some what oversize for a 40-foot car but are otherwise correct. The only completely correct decal set currently available is Champ's HE-19M set with SCOUT slogan and map.

    Article Details

    • Original Author William R. Jones
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date July 1986

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