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  • Pennsylvania's X-29 and Other X's in the Family


    A pair of classics far from home, on a team track at Alief (near Houston), Texas in 1954. The car at left was one of the first X29's built in 1924; it has early sheathing (see text); been given the red and white "Merchandise Service" logo in modern times, it resembles the Train-Miniature kit No. 8086 but has plain ends. PRR 53086 at the right was built in 1929 and features the changes incorporated in Jeff Freeman's model; compare this with other photos of cars built about the same time. Note the running board supports of z and "U" type, cut away so that only little angle feet rest on the root. Joe R. Thompson photo.
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    For their invaluable research help the authors are indebted to Andy Hart and Pete Stanley.


    The X29 is an Eastern box car that was born amid the blast furnaces of Pennsylvania, but it by no means is limited to Eastern modelers as a sentimental favorite. Whether taking bolts to Biloxi or bringing veneer from Vancouver, this pioneer all steel box car of the Twenties (29,000 strong) became an American favorite. Standing out in relief among the monotonous strings of newer, taller cars the X29 is as noticeable as a collector's stamp.

    It's real fame, however, stems from the fact that it turned American railways to standardization and all-steel box cars. Built for the Pennsylvania Railroad from 1924 to 1934, it is now in the midst of its golden anniversary; the remaining 33 cars in revenue service are rapidly being retired from the Conrail and Amtrak main lines as a result of the ICC 49-year rule.

    Lionel in O and OO, American Flyer in S and HO, along with several other manufacturers made the standard box car of the "Standard Railroad of the World" a common model in the 1930's-40's; it was brought back by Train-Miniature in 1972. The purpose of this article is to help make your Train-Miniature model more authentic.

    Whether you're building a stock T-M model, kit-bashing an X29 from an Athearn freezer in O, improving the AF S car or the Atlas/Life-Like in N, or scratch building in any of the scales this article will help. In addition, since there is such a strong relation to the wood sheathed cars of the American Railway Association (the rest of the Train-Miniature line), we'll show you how to authenticate those cars and cross-over the modular parts.


    The X29 stands as a watershed in the history of American house-type freight car design. A strong case for standardization and a steel-sheathed ("all-steel") box car generated this trial model. It was so successful that thousands were built for an entire decade by the Pennsylvania and copied by other roads. In up-dated form, it was simply reborn as the car the American Railway Association developed as "proposed recommended practice" in 1932; and the car the Association of American Railroads finally adopted as standard in 1937 and 1942; the (Athearn/All-Nation) classic modern box car.

    The steel industry had been agitating for greater sales of steel for the railway car construction since the late nineteenth Century; the use of steel not only for fasteners, but also for structural purposes. Andrew Carnegie's Pittsburg, Bessemer & Lake Erie showed the practicality of all-steel hoppers and box cars before the turn of the century. By 1901, the Pennsy, always convinced of the virtues of standardization (a road with a heavy concentration of steelmakers and users as shippers) began building a fleet of 36-foot, 40-50 ton capacity, steel underframe cars with a variety of wood bodies: flat, gondola, box, stock, refrigerator, etc. The inside width was 8'-6", inside height at the eaves was 7'-11", and the built-up roof had clasps similar to the future USRA design. This was at a time when the use of small, 30 ton, all-wood cars with truss rods was universal on other roads and the only inter-road standards organization was the Master Car Builders Association was just beginning to advise the roads of the many advantages that car standardization would bring to their operations.

    One of the last of the 37,000 Pennsy Class XL box cars, built in 1912, already had a form of the angle-bar eave that was to become so important. (See photo in Wayner's album Cars of the Pennsylvania Railroad.) One is on display on the Strasburg Railroad near the Pennsylvania Museum in Strasburg. Notable for its fish belly center and side sills (especially side sills), it may be reasonably kit-bashed from a Roundhouse 3021 Series HO box car. (See research article, plans, and photos on the XL and related classes by Gary Rauch and Robert Johnson in The Key stone, 9 /72 and 12/72.)

    1912 also saw the next leap forward with the Pennsy again leading the railway industry (not to slight New York Central's 36-foot car 9 1124 of the same year) with the advent of a 42'-6". 50 ton, all-steel chassis having a heavy fish belly center sill but without fish belly side sills; their structural role was assumed by the advent of the 8'-10" wide inside steel house body frame of forged, rounded, tapered struts specially made for the railway cars The inside length of 40'-6" became the industry standard ever after. Box car wood sheathing behind the frame still ran vertically in the old-fashioned way and requiring more (horizontal) steel framing than most modelers are used to in their familiarity with later cars.

    Page 8: Main predecessor of the Pennsylvania X29 and ARA 1923 steel box car design was the Pennsylvania X25, the all-steel, double sheathed member of a family of standard cars, all of which had parts in common, that Pennsylvania built from 1914 to the United States entry into World War I (others in the family were the X23 box, X24 auto, K7a stock, and R7 freezer). Although retired from Pennsylvania by age, X25's survived into recent times like this one of the Sonora - Baja California Railroad, Mexico. Car is pictured here in 1962. R. W. Biermann photo.

    Page 9: Pennsylvania's X25a's supplemented an old double-door variant of the 36' X-Class wood box cars that, along with the 1,900 or so X24's, had been doing auto duty. X25a's all had 8'-6" wide by 8'-9" high end doors which, like all auto end doors, would become inoperable car by car from the day they were built. Like the X25, the X25a may be reasonably kit-bashed from an X29. Note that the doors are skewed right and may be either panel or corrugated. This 1929 photo is from the collection of the Altoona Area Model Railroaders (Altoona, Pennsylvania).
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    This was a low car, just 8-feet high in side; it represented carryover from the old days. It also had the old 5'-0" spacing from the striker (face of coupler pocket)-to-truck kingpin. Most roads went to the 5'-6" striker-to-kingpin spacing when they went from the old 5'-0" trucks to modem 5'-6" trucks. The old spacing, however, remained standard on Pennsy for another twenty years even on the favorite N5 caboose which represent ed another radical idea that began to appear in 1914: it was all steel.

    Class X24 was an automobile version of the X23; it was 9'-1" high inside and had double doors on the sides and one. end with wood lining only (the inner skin of the car is properly called "lining" and the outer skin "sheathing," although the industry was not consistent on that). It may be seen in the 1925 Car Builders Cyclopedia (Newton K. Gregg reprint No. 61), Keystone 9/70, and in the Wayner Pennsy album. It apparently was converted to a K7a stock car in 1934 (1940 Car Builders Cyclopedia, Wayner Pennsy album, and Wayner Pennsy Car Plans).

    Class X25 was also built on the X23 chassis from 1914 to the entrance of the United States in World War I and proved an equally durable car for the road, some were duplicated later as automobile cars and designated Class X25a. Like the X24, it was 9'-1" high inside. This was the first "all-steel" box car in wide use and was the direct precursor of the X29: steel sheathed on the outside and wood lined on the inside, it was probably the first to use the X29's channel-post internal steel frame., the first to use what Pennsy called a "plain end" (plain flat riveted plates), the fIrSt to use a side of ten steel plates like the X29 and the future AAR car,.and, with the X24, the first to use a recessed eave roof vaguely similar to an X29. In fact, it is so similar to an X29 that it is shown as one of the conversions of the Train-Miniature kits. This was the car that convinced the Pennsy. A photo appears in this article and more can be found in Wayner's Pennsy album. T

    he X25 had in common with the X23/X24/R7/K7 the same underframe (so if that's available it can be duplicated), the thin steel roof with seams covered by narrow riveted strips of the same material, the leftward-sliding Creco (panel) door (X24 and X25a were also "backward" to familiar practice with their double doors on the right rather than the left half of the side), and the same trucks. This was the truck designed by Pennsy in 1912, with and without journals cast integral in identical steel frames, that superseded the old arch bar truck with its built-up bar frame and bolted in journals. It was Pennsy's standard for the next 22 years and, happily, Train-Miniature's "Bettendorf" is a close reproduction of it.

    Meanwhile, the Master Car Builders Association had evolved a set of standard car designs, apparently including a steel sheathed box car. No photo or plan of the cars as such is known to exist and apparently the roads built few or none. However, when New York Central got into steel box cars in 1916 (Lot 324-B, 330-B, and others), some of the cars had the telltale dimensions, 8'-6" inside width and 8'-11" inside height, which may show they were close examples of the MCB designs as noted below. They retained the fish belly center sill of the past but the true Z-bar eave was evolved and on some, even the method of lapping the ten narrow side sheets (opposite the X25) and the 42'-3" length over strikers suggested the X29. These cars continued to run into modern times and may readily be kit-bashed from the Train-Miniature X29; the undersize Red Ball/Wabash Valley auto door end No. 1551 seems to have been made for it.

    In 1917 a car of the same dimensions (9'-0" high) showed up on the Pennsy - car No. 36985 - and it ran a long time - certainly an anomaly amidst the Pennsy continuity before and after of cars about 8'-10" wide. It was the first car marked in the Register as "Z-bar eave." And it was curiously stigmatized throughout its life as Pennsy Class "Ara." Does that mean there was more to the relationship with the New York Central cars than a coincidence of dimension? Yes. Because "Ara" doubtless refers to the American Railway Association: the Master Car Builders Association merged with and became the Mechanical Division of ARA in 1919 (the ARA started out as a rail executives' society, the General Time Convention, in 1872; it adopted the new into it of many other rail organizations). Perhaps directly related to this car, also in 1917 William Erastus Williams patented the Z-bar eave. This, ingeniously applied a standard piece of structural steel for a weathertight, structurally solid, yet simpIe connection from the roof to the sides. It would come into increasing and then universal use, creating the "recessed eave" look of the X29 and later cars. Who the unsung hero was - was he a car company executive? - a Pennsy executive? - an engine wiper who had an idea that made him rich? - may never be known because the Association of American Railroads has destroyed the record.

    In 1918 the federal government nationalized the railways because most roads simply lacked the equipment and organization to keep the war effort rolling smoothly. The "good old days," (pre-standard days) were characterized by each road building a great variety of custom designs, first out of necessity and then out of uneconomical pride. By 1917, however, 90% of the roads were so poor they were obliged to get by on their own or other road's hand-me-downs. It was obvious to all but the diehard provincials that the time had come for the standardization that would create the efficient modern car needed without exorbitant cost.

    In the following two years the United States Railway Administration produced a remarkable series of locomotive and car standard designs credited to USRA in the Simmons-Boardman Cyclopedia all these years were that standard set from Master Car Builders Association, as James E. Lane suggested (his "USRA Freight Cars: An Experiment in Standardization" in Railroad History, the bulletin [No. 128, Spring 1973] of the Railway and Loco motive Historical Society, is the definitive work on the USRA cars, with photos, bibliography and tables of data): USRA became operative January 1, 1918; a committee consisting of executives of five car companies was appointed to design cars; they reported thirteen designs ready by March; and five of those types were put into production on May 1 - it's rather obvious they drew on an existing bank of car designs - their own. Consider: the 40 ton "USRA double-sheathed" wood box (fish belly center sill, wood and steel body frame) seems to have been Lot 322-B running on the New York Central in 1915; the "USRA steel box," an approved design never built for USRA, was almost identical with New York Central Lot 330-B, etc. of 1916 mentioned above and identical with the Pennsy Class "Ara" of 1917 (which Rauch and Johnson say had the X25 style vertical seam end shown as optional on the "USRA steel" car in the Cyclopedia); and the classic New York Central box cars of the 1920s seem to have continued directly from it as we shall see below.

    In the days of yesteryear automobiles where shipped in a little different way than they are today. This photo clearly illustrates the way it used to be done. The unloading techniques are a little different today as well. One of the more interesting cars in this photo is the second in line, this is one of New York Central's comparable 1916-vintage narrow-sheathed, steel auto cars; note that the doors are skewed left like later general practice. Photo is from the collection of E. P. Alexander.
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    The only box cars the USRA ordered were the "double-sheathed" mentioned above and a 40-50 ton (depending on axle diameter), wood lined, steel framed car with a straight center sill. Some 49,500 box cars were built for 43 roads, according to Lane. Many more were built privately more or less to the same designs into the 1930s and they lasted well past the next war, making them the second greatest car family at that time. These are the jewel-like cars Kadee makes in N and nobody makes in O or HO! Walthers does make the fish belly underframe in HO, No. 854, and All-Nation in O, No. 3028. They may be kit-bashed in S from Kinsman/"Scenery Unlimited and Regal /Wisconsin Central/DMK kits. Silver Streak/Walthers wood-sheathed cars have USRA similarities but the dimensions are of a more modern car and the ends can not be shrunk. Needless to say, a lot of O and HO gaugers really wish those Kadee cars were available in their scales.

    The "USRA steel box car" design was a steel-sheathed, steel-framed, 50 ton, straight sill. The straight sill makes it comparable to an X29 but the side sheathing was quite different, three wide and one narrow sheet either side of the door. If your road has an imaginary prototype you might want to put its name on the "USRA steel" design in-as-much as, once engineered, it was available for any road to copy. All the "USRA" box cars had in common a 42'-1112" outside length over strikers, 5'-6" kingpin-striker spacing, a pressed-steel, tightly corrugated end and, except for the steel car, an old-fashioned built-up and overhanging roof all around with clasps spaced like battens. For plans see the 1919 Carbuilders Dictionary (Gregg reprint No. 9).

    Page 12:Looks like Fibber McGee's closet. This is the way they loaded 'em before palletization and may give you an idea for your model loading dock. The car is most interesting; it was one of the first five hundred fifty X29's built (in 1924) for the Pennsylvania's Eastern Region - note detail of original sheathing and rivet pattern and centered door stops. This photo was made in 1940 or later and the corrugated door almost certainly was a replacement. Photo is from the collection of Andy Hart.

    Page 13: The Pennsylvania X28 automobile car of 1922-1923 was virtually a twin of the X29. The same in construction, dimensions, and details, it differed only in that it was eight inches taller inside and had an extra half-door skewed left. It may be built by the same techniques as a model X29 (using Wabash Valley No. 1552 ends in HO) or kit bashed from an X29 kit. X28's never had end doors. They were built for only a few years and in the 1930s all that survived were converted to common box cars by re placement of the half-door with sheathing. Photo is from the collection of E. P. Alexander.
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    The preferred name of the end is "corrugated" end. After pioneering it on the NYC 91124 in 1912, the New York Central used it universally and got it into USRA design; it continued to turn up on many cars, including non-PRR X29 variants, until the 1930's.

    Other New York Central penchants of the time seem to have been bottom-supported, rightward-opening doors which USRA and Pennsy adopted along with Bettendorf T-Section trucks. USRA, however, principally used the "Andrews" truck that had an other wise cast frame into which old arch bar truck journals could be bolted.

    Pennsy had only two more ventures with wood boxcars: Class X26 built in 1919-1920 was the USRA wood-lining only car (photo in Wayner Pennsy album), also built for the New York Central in 1919; and Class X38b, built about the beginning of World War II, was a 50', single door, wood-liner-only approximation of its 1942 AAR-size X38 50' steel auto car, apparently an accommodation of the war effort (plan in Wayner Pennsy Car Plans).

    With the return of the roads to their owners in 1920, we come to the serious attempt of the industry to solve the standardization problem in a free enterprise way. Pennsy had considerable influence in the setting of the ARA standard. The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society, in their publication Keystone, notes that W. F. Kiesel, Jr., mechanical engineer of the Pennsy, was chairman of the ARA car design committee.

    ARA was to approve two box cars of the largest dimensions tolerable in universal interchange among all roads, both 50 ton with straight sills, both fully steel-framed, 40'-6" long inside: one wood-liner-only to be called XM-1 and one with steel sheathing to be called XM-2. Pennsylvania and New York Central no doubt argued that steel was the key, in the words of the1931 Cyclopedia (p. 105), "obtaining cars of adequate strength, minimum weight, minimum cost of maintenance, and... meeting present-day requirements." Too, standardization would make it possible to approach steel mills and order special shapes most advantageous to car construction rather than make the best of ordinary structural steel shapes. Thus the special-rolled, ARA-section center sill saved considerable weight over the built-up USRA sill.

    The committee might have used Pennsy car 36985 (built in 1917) as a starting point, but those were New York Central dimensions and the Pennsy oriented committee characteristically wanted more width and height. It is known that the committee's first sub mission never got past the vote of the whole committee; it was sent back "with criticism by committee members and car building companies." This, most probably, was based on the enigmatic Pennsy X27: it was 8'-10W' wide inside and 9'-0" high inside, developed from the X25. It must have been aborted on the drawing board along with the first K8 stack car concept, both bowing to ARA pressure for lower, narrower cars. The automobile, however, was not well-suited to such tight clearances; in 1920-21 New York Central produced 1,500 virtually exact 9'-2" high copies of the USRA steel car and 250 of a 1 1/2-door auto version (Wayner NYX album p. 48, 1925 Cyclopedia p. 113 and 419, and Cockle p. B33-35); subsequently, in 1922, Pennsylvania and the committee were planning the X28 as an 8'-9" wide, 9'-3" high, Ph-door "ARA standard" auto car. Pennsy didn't have an X29 drawing until 1923.

    In 1922 New York Central began what turned out to be six years of building Lot 437B et seq., 17,000 strong. A car distinctly resembling the X29 but only 8'-6" wide and having the USRA sheathing pattern, a new 42'-OW' length over strikers (that New York Central was to standardize for many years) in 8'-7" and 9'-4" high and 1 1/2-door versions. It also had NYC corrugated ends, T-Section Bettendorf trucks, and an inverted T-Section batten roof slightly lipped over the Z-bar eave with no setback at the end (photo in Wayner NYC album p. 37; Cockle p. B41-44, B49, B55; and also the car in the "Murphy solid steel roof" detail photo, Cyclopedia p. 370). The Lackawanna always close to the New York Central, built identical cars on Bettendorf trucks in 1930 after a 1925 wood-sheathed version (photos of both in the 1931 Cyclopedia). Loosely related Pittsburgh & Lake Erie and its Pittsburgh McKeesport & Youghiogheny built 2,500 of an 8'-4" high version with 5'-0" kingpin-striker spacing in 1923-24 (Cockle p. B45).

    In 1923 the Pennsy-headed committee's redesigned cars (one of which must have been the 8'-9" wide and only 8'7" high X29) passed the committee and failed and then passed a general membership ballot but snagged principally on the traditional PRR-NYC argument over the inside width of outside-sheathed cars. Thus, only the 8'-6" wide XM-1 was approved as "recommended practice" in 1924 along with Pennsy's 1912 cast truck frame which, line for line, became ARA "standard" (the same frame with bolt in journals failed). The XM-1 appears for the first time in the 1925 Cyclopedia with 5'-0" kingpin-striker spacing.

    Page 14: Near likeness of the ARA 1923 steel box car design and the Pennsylvania X29, in their proportions and some details, were New York Central Lot 437B and seventeen lots like it built from 1922 to 1928, a total of 17,000 cars. These cars may be considered as derived from the "USRA" steel box car design with their 8'-6 " inside width, wide sheathing, and corrugated ends (actually it seems more likely that, as the "USRA " wood double-sheathed box car had been in use on New York Central two years before "USRA, " both the "USRA" wood-sheathed and steel-sheathed box cars had been Master Car Builders' (ARA developmental de signs that "USRA" appropriated in the war emergency). As detailed in the text, after World War I New York Central perfected this design as a great family of cars it built throughout the 1920s - this was the low car, 8'-7" high inside (like an X29) - others were 9'-2" high, 1Ih door cars (like X28 and X28a) - all were on the same 42'-02" chassis and had the same construction. These were the great New York Central classics. Designs were copied by Lackawanna and other roads. In modeling them in fIO along side an X29, note that the different roof must be used (Athearn 40' freezer), different side sheathing, and Walthers No. 797 ends. Note the grab irons rather than ladder. New York Central 1 06487 (Lot 439B), is seen here in San Jose, California, in 1953; it was built in 1922 in the 98000 or 99000 series numbers and was renumbered twice by 1944.Photo by W. C. Whittaker.

    Page 15: This is the mid-run, the classic X29, more than 8,000 were built for the Eastern Region in 1929-1930. Car 50525, built in 5/29, is seen here at Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, in 1950, the photo catches an unusual transitional door stop arrangement: the original-style stops are spread to top and bottom and show no evidence of ever having been centered (this, apparently, was also true of most R&D copies). Note the patch the full length of the side. Photo is by L. P. Cummings.
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    In 1924 things really began to roll; the committee shook off PRR-NYC domination and announced that there would be a revision of the XM-1 and that the XM-2 would be wood-sheathed, not steel (i.e., two cars almost identical to what the roads had been used to building before all the interference). Pennsy and New York Central never had any of these cars al though the XM-1 was almost identical to Pennsy's K8 stock car of 1924. Pennsy, instead, in 1924 began to produce first the X28 and then the steel X29, the car that failed to be ARA standard but succeeded in turning America around.

    Pennsy made one small revision in the 1923 plan before building any for itself, then built a few thousand in a year or so before deciding on oneoftwo rivet patterns. Afterward, Pennsy continued to revise it so that later X29's kept up with the state of the art. The first of these is the car represented by Train Miniature No. 2051 in HO. Close copies of the 1923 ARA plan were built by the Baltimore & Ohio in 1925 and the Central of New Jersey in 1927. By 1929 the Lehigh New England, Maine Central, Wheeling and Lake Erie, and apparently the Erie had more or less faithful copies followed by the Chesapeake & Ohio and Pere Marquette in 1930. This at a time when it seemed that 90% of American roads still had only 36' wood cars, if any; even New York Central built 100 in 1925.

    The X28 was also copied; For example, the Norfolk & Western and a duplicate and CNJ had a 10'-0" high version in 1926. NYC built 2,000 of an 8'-9" wide, 10'-0" high, Ph-door, auto end-door version of its standard 42'-OW' car from 1926-29; the second Dreadnaught end (which may be considered a twice-removed improvement of the corrugated end described below first used on some of these cars; Cockle p. B53). NYC produced the modern (Athearn/All-Nation) steel box car that was 9'-2 " wide, 10'-0" and 10'-6" high on its standard 42'-0%" chassis, with second Dreadnaught ends and a 12'-0" wide auto side doorway in 1929 (Cockle p. B57). Closely related Nickel Plate and Lackawanna built about the same thing at the same time (photos of all three, 1931 Cyclopedia p. 143). Pennsy turned nearly all its X28's into X28a's (i.e. tall X29's) in 19 33-36 by eliminating the 4'-4" half door (anticipated but 10'-0" high by the High Point Thomasville & Denton in 1929 and an 8'-6" wide, 9'-3" high look alike by. the Reading in 1930) to be copied exactly but for an early Dreadnaught "cavity" end (see below) by the C&O about 1937. Three X28a's were still in revenue service in 1976.

    It is believed that Pennsy devoted a major portion of its first two years' production of X29's, probably more than 500 cars, to a steam-line-equipped version for express shipment service in passenger trains. This is because photos show these cars predominantly in the 2000-2549 series, car number 2500 excluded, and at least some of which are dated 1924 showing the 1923 ARA plan method of lapping sheets which was not used by Pennsy for long. All these cars were in service by 1928. It is probably that Series 4300-4400, 6692-6698, and 6895-6999 (another 200 in service by 1929) were also X29's; according to Rausch and Johnson, however, all express numbers previously belonged to X25's which are believed to have been retired about 1924. By 1938 all but 216 of these cars had been retired or downgraded to lower speeds and freight numbers. During or after World War II, though, there was a need for more X29's in express service than ever; 1143 of them were found in a 1962 Passenger Equipment Register. Northeast residents will recall even the older cars, so dirty they appeared black and unlettered, still in fast passenger service behind GGl's in the mid-1960's. Numbers and details are considered below; they reveal, incidentally, that some freight-numbered X29's were passenger-equipped, some flat end, and some Dreadnaught.

    Pennsy didn't stop building the X29until 1924 after two more box car designs. The X30 of 1930, one-of-a-kind 59861, in effect spliced two X29 under frames together for a 70'-6" inside length. It was 10'-0" inside length. It was 10'-0" high inside, had a pair of full 6'-0" wide corrugated doors on each side, and a Dreadnaught auto door on one end; otherwise, it was the same in all structural and superficial respects as an X28. It was still in revenue service in 1969.

    The X31, X32, X33, and their various sub-classes a, b, c, etc. of 1933-37, the next and last Pennsy classic and favorite of modelers, were the famous and successful wagon top cars in 40'-6" and 50'-6" lengths with box and auto versions. They had surprising departures and similarities to the X29 family; for example, the underframe is the same except that Pennsy finally went to 5'-6" striker-to-kingpin spacing and cross bearers were added with the result that the pieces were re-spaced (see 1940 Cyclopedia). Roof sheathing was the same except, of course, that it was arched: like the X30, they were nominally 10'-0 " high but the ends were second Dreadnaught (see below). Incidentally, research turned up both Z-bar and flush (actually lapped and riveted) eaves on the X31 and X32 so the old Athearn metal HO car with the latter seems to be right; it is also correct for Norfolk & Western as well.

    Apparently, experience on the road induced Pennsy to adopt corrugated doors, Dreadnaught ends, and AB brake systems as original equipment and replacements as X29's passed through the shops in later years. The last batch of X29's built from 1932-34, received them as original equipment along with high power brake wheels (Ajax and others); this is the car represented by American Flyer in S, Train-Miniature in HO, loosely attempted by Atlas/Life-Like in N, Varney/Life-Like/MPC/AHM in HO and AHM in O. None of these, however, got the end right. This curious end had the the stamped impressions turned inward so it is called the first "Cavity version," whereas it was more common to turn the impressions out, a "convexity," or what we call the second version. (Perhaps this was due to the particular vendor believed to have been Union Metal Products Company.) There were a few other users of this end, notably Santa Fe as will be pointed out below, and an instance of one road turning the "corrugated end" impressions inward, not to mention on end. None of the roads copying the ARA 1923 steel box, though, used anything but the original flat end except in 1930. At that time, the "cavity" Dreadnaught on the C&O and the strange buckeye end on the Erie were both in use.

    Shortly after Pennsy stopped building new X29's they started dropping newer, wider, and taller bodies on the old chassis (X29b photo in Wayner PRR album, X29a plan in Wayner PRR plan book). The old body was simply torched off a few inches above the floor and an AAR (Athearn O/HO) 9'-2" wide, 10'-6 " high body was slipped on to about" 6" from the bottom. Apparently, several classes of old box cars were heavily modified during World War II, to get the most for the least, for the war effort. Sub-class X26c was made taller and given steel sheathing, sub-class X31f received an odd hump in its wagon top roof, and X29 rebuilds, down to sub-class X29m, are still running around identifiable by the truck location and sometimes b y the offset a t the bottom of the sides. New York Central was similarly adding height extensions and entire new bodies to cars as old as the Pennsy X25.

    Page 16: Pennsy car No. 52119, built in November of 1929, is seen here in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, in 1950; it retains its KD brake system and had no patches running along the lower edge. Photo is by L. P. Cummings.

    Page 16: Pennsy car No. 56734 was built in April of 1930, is seen here in Elizabethtown, PA, in 1950. This car has an AB brake system, retains a vertical brake staff, and has the usual patch running the full length of the side. Note that this and the preceding two photos show cars with full-length upper door guide; they were probably built with them, but it seems an unusual coincidence that these cars have Creco doors. As time went on, some X29's were built with corrugated doors and some received them as replacements. For end and roof details, the Keystone of 12/76 is an excellent reference. Photo is by L. P. Cummings.
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    Classes X35 and X36 of 1935-36 were each one-of-a-kind, both apparently on 41'-8" ARA 1932 chassis: the X35 of 9'-4" X28 or ARA 1932 height and the X36 9'-4" wide, 10'-0" high (with exterior ribs like some contemporary cars, photo in the Wayner PRR album). With X37 of 1939, Pennsy and AAR (now AAR) design streams come together again in the AAR 1937 standard (at last) box car (see below). It had taken 13 years, but the redoubtable X29, through summer and winter, clicking off the miles north, south, east, and west, had proved itself to the American rail companies and was to give way to a new king of the road: the AAR, the great American classic standard steel box car.


    How would you know an X29 from any other steel box car or even very similar wood cars if seen in a Register or a Cyclopedin or in the flesh? What are the touch points that make your model a model of one of these?

    First, the X29 is a Pennsylvania Railroad box car; Pennsy adapted for itself the 1923 plan it was so instrumental in designing for the American Railway Association. Any ARA member road could adapt the 1923 plan to suit itself and several did, but precisely speaking, it ain't an X29 if it ain't Pennsy. Applied to other roads it will be called the "1923-plan steel car."

    Second, the X29 and the other 192 3plan copies look all-steel although they have an inner lining of wood. Lots of mainly-wood cars were built to near or identical dimensions but it's not an X29 if it's not steel. If it was steel, the books used to say so.

    But lots of cars are steel, too. Next, look for inside dimensions printed on the side of the car or among the fine print in your reference books. Inside length must be 40'-6". Lots of cars are 40'-6" but if it's not exactly 4 0'-6" it's probably neither an X29 nor one of the steel copies. The 1923 design was exactly 8'-9 1/8" wide inside and 8'-7 3/8" high inside and Pennsy stayed with that; the CNJ copy, perfect in all but the roof, was 8'-7 3/4" high inside; if these dimensions miss by more than an inch it's probably neither an X29 nor one of the steel copies.

    Capacity should be 50 tons but New York Central claimed 55 (as it did of many cars) and Erie had some for which it claimed only 40 tons; that's mainly a matter of bearing size. Cubic foot capacity must be one of the following. Pennsy maintained that the figure was 3042 but by 1938 had given up and re-lettered its cars 3056, (which was the original Cyclopedia announcement had given in 1925 and which had been maintained by LNE, B&O, and W&LE through the years) but NYC, CNJ, and MEC always claimed 3041, Erie claimed 3071 and 3074, and C&O and PM claimed 3053. Simply a matter of how interior dimension inch-fractions are rounded off.

    Look for outside length over strikers to the face of the coupler pockets: if it's not 42'-3" it's not an X29 (USRA had a signature length of 42'-1 1/2" over strikers; Duryea cushion under frames and other revisions added as sub-classes by Pennsy and other roads added as much as a foot to the basic 1923 design). But watch out for this: NYC, B&O, RDG, CNJ, and some roads measure outside length over the end sills which is about a foot short of over strikers. A Pennsy X29 has a 6'-0" wide, 7'-1 1 1/4" high door, a real finger print. Some roads that copied the 1923 plan had a door in fractions close to 8' or 8'-1" high. The door, by the way, can be either paneled or corrugated.

    Visually, one of the first-noticed things is the "ARA" end (Pennsy "plain end"). The characteristic rivet pattern comes from the fact that there are three "hat" section steel posts behind the end, each with a double row of rivets. Most but not all X29's had it and an old upright brake staff; those built 19 32-34 had a Dread naught end with a flat top and a high power brake wheel. Likewise, many cars had an "ARA" end but might be close or no resemblance at all to an X29, even wood cars. That's what makes kit bash ing Train-Miniature cars for your particular prototype practical. But neither the Train-Miniature nor any other Dread naught end currently available in any scale is right for an X29 and we shall presently consider scratch building it.

    The "ARA" end is flat at the top, with roof recessed; the roof is also recessed at the sides adding one of the most distinctive looks to the car. This is the Williams Z-bar eave (see earlier). ARA acquired the patent in 1925 and made it available to all members free of royalty; by 1940 all new cars were being built with it. Un like some copies, however, the true X29 has no roof ribs, no battens, no radial (arch) roof: just an angle roof of almost invisible lapped plate seams (11 sheets).

    Page 19: With about 3,300 cars built in the 1932 - 1934 time period, the Pennsylvania brought a decade of X29 production to a close. Both cars shown here were in this group and were built in late 1934. Note that as on car No. 101753, shown here in the builder's photo, they were built with the Westinghouse AB brake system, Ajax brake wheel, corrugated doors with an improved latch mechanism, and two grabirons at the left end of the side (this last item was the last official change to X29's and was dated 8/32). Note that the air reservoir was mounted transverse to the car, a peculiarity of this group of X29's. Car No. 102767, shown here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1957, is much pock-marked and dented with use, it has the lower patch running the full length of the car side. Modern lettering was applied so recently that the old lettering still shows plainly through the paint. Note the Dread naught end characteristic of the last group of X29's, also, presumably, an equipment trust plaque located in the upper right comer of the car side. Upper: Photo is from the collection of Andy Hart. Lower: Photo is by L. P. Cummings.
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    The 1923 design used the old give narrow sheets of steel sheathing on either side of the side door rather than the 3-in-1 narrow pattern preferred by New York central on "USRA" cars. These were lapped and riveted on the same sort of "hat"-section posts as the ends, thus the characteristic double rivet line. The manner of lapping was left-over-right to the right of the door and vice versa to the left; hence, the seam, if visible at all, should appear barely to the right of the left row of rivets, etc. The Train Miniature rivet rows are much too close together with the unfortunate result that the seam loses the left-right distinction and just bi sects the rivet rows. At this point Pennsy changed something and the difference is esotoric but it's one of the things that makes a true X29 for those who care: as detailed in Keystone 1 2/76, about 1925 Pennsy decided it would be structurally better to lap right-over-left, so that the seam should appear just to the left of the left row of rivets; but Pennsy always kept the last-seam-on-the-right on the right of the right row of rivets (got that?). With regard to the latter, authors Rauch and Johnson in Keystone, 1 2/76, suggested that Pennsy changed this design itself before it ever built any X29's, so that the post there would correspond better to the point of stress, at the bolster, and so reduce side sheet buckling (thus the X29 and the ARA are not the same, precisely speaking, even from the beginning). The other roads never caught this fine point and neither did Train-Miniature - so the Train Miniature side is a better model of B&O, CNJ, etc. It's the Atlas/Life-Like N side that's the fine model of the X29.

    After a few year's use many X29's and copies, unlike later steel cars, required foot high welded patches, sometimes across one or two plates and sometimes full length, across the bottom of the sides. Water collected inside and rusted through. Such a patch on a model would be another layer of the side material or a piece of typing paper added to the Train Miniature model, including rivets in the same place.

    The car side should be 4 1'-2 1/2" long outside from corner to corner exclusive of poling pockets (the Train Miniature body is about 8 " short), the end should be 9'-4 1/4" wide (TM is 9'-6"). and the height from top of rail to lower eave should be 12'-1 5/16" (Train Miniature is correct). The X29 and all variants had a straight sill at the bottom of the side; a similar car with an uneven sill is not one of these.

    Pennsy put the kingpins 5'-0" from the strikers in the 1923 design, as that's the way the Pennsy liked it; and several roads kept that feature, even with wood sheathed copies, rather than re-engineer it for 5'-6" spacing. An X29 has to have the 5'-0" spacing. Strikers should be 7" beyond the ends, not flush, which means you have to modify the kit chassis; it's just not an X29 if the wheels don't line up with the ends. Train Miniature's chassis bears no relation to any car we're talking about anyway; the center sill ought not to have a fish belly, the cross bearers are the wrong shape in the wrong place, and the body bolsters lack the cavity shown in plans. Be particular about trucks: Pennsy used only its own design, the Train Miniature Bettendorf, but other roads used others.

    There's more..... the visible but fine detail on the outside of the car also distinguishes one car from another - but it becomes exceedingly esotoric and we'll come back to this in consideration of individual cars below. But it's in the execution of those tiny details that the Train-Miniature body is at its beautiful best.


    No. The caption in the 1925 Car builders Cyclopedia (Gregg No. 6 1) says precisely that; but the Simmons-Boardman publications used the words "standard," "proposed," "proposed standard," "recommended practice," etc. with confusing ambiguity before and after that date. It looks like different sections of the publications, written by American Railway Association member committees assigned to those respective specialties, were internally consistent in reflecting their particular roads' interpretation of words like "standard" and the rest; and it must have been a slow process of painful discovery, back in 1920-23, that over the concept of "standard" there was an irreconcilable breach between certain roads.

    First comes the Pennsylvania Railroad, for whom the concept "standard" had been a long-developed and high art. It had reduced locomotives, cars, track, and all to mass-produced perfection to the point where it called itself the "Standard Railroad of the World." Surely close be hind but jealous of its own power, prestige, and designs was the New York Central, the "Greatest Railway System in the World." For these, a "standard car" would follow on, would be even more perfect and universally binding than what they had done.

    Too, Pennsy was a giant. Al Staufer remarked in his Pennsy Power that Pennsy once had more of its K2 class - 215 loco motives - than nearly any other road had for an entire locomotive roster. Pennsy was a giant obliged to be cold-eyed serious when it would be investing in any new car design by the tens of thousands.


    Published plans for the Pennsylvania's X29 class box car have appeared in various publications over the years. The following listing includes most, if not all, of these plans.

    The 1925 Cyclopedia plan is good for the X29 as first revised by the Pennsy, adding the lower door guide and changing the location of the last side post near the end.

    The 12/76 Keystone reprinted the official PRR X 29 General Arrangement Drawing of 1923, with all revisions, the last of which was dated 1932. Not shown are the changed side sheet lapping, corrugated doors and ends, changed bottom of brake mast, and the change from top to bottom operated couplers, which were on other, apparently unavailable, drawings.

    For the the 1931 Cyclopedia the Simmons-Boardman draftsman traced the latest revision of the above official drawing, changed the uncoupler lever with its poling pocket and "corrugated" the panel door (beware: not true), but missed extending the upper door guide, missed the brake mast change, and didn't erase the old door stops. The same drawing was used in the 1940 Cyclopedia and was reprinted in the Model Railroad 1959 Cyclopedia. A 1929 vintage car was the 1931 photo and the 1932 car was the 1940 photo, also in the MR Cyclopedia.

    We bought quite a few Train Miniature X29/ARA steel box car kits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey hobby shops at the time this article was being written. Only one came with the Pennsy 1912 design (ARA standard) Bettendorf truck. The rest came with Bettendorf T-Section trucks. We have never seen a photograph or anything else to give us any reason to believe Pennsylvania ever used anything but their own design on these cars; of other roads that copied the car the only truck we pointed out in the article, Bettendorf T-Section trucks were used extensively by New York Central (and Lot 437B cars which look like X29's at first glance had T-Section Bettendorfs) but even New York Central got away from this older truck in the 1920s. It's a pity that Train Miniature is making the truck harder to get, because theirs has been the best one currently available. It's worth trying to get the dealer to swap trucks where you buy the kit. Of the ten other brands we saw, only Kadee was available combining close to the right look with good operation. Kemtron and Quality Crafts are of that prototype but Kemtron is said to be expensive and hard to get.

    Model Railroader magazine, 4/63, had a photo and plan of Pennsy's 1925 car after the second sheathing change, which is to say after the first few hundred cars. The relocated post is incorrectly spaced with a resulting narrow side sheet; otherwise, the drawing is correct. There is no underframe plan. The statement that there were 7,000 cars in 1944 is, of course, incorrect and refers to only one early run of the cars.

    But then come the rest of the American roads, small, loosely organized, used to solving their own problems in dribs and drabs (often in unsystematic ways), and quite fond of their liberty. That the ARA could exist at all, which is to say that other roads would see some benefit in go ing along with the powerhouse-Pennsy and-New York Central toward "standards," common dimensions, and interchange ability of parts is simple testimony to the fear of further socialization of the railways after USRA on the one hand; and, on the other, grudging admission that it might also be the only way to economic survival.

    Obviously for these, "standard" would be a more embryonic concept, more nebulous, a goal. For Pennsy, the time for deviation and experimentation was what development was all about: "standard" meant "it's settled;" for the others "standard" meant "Pennsy thinks this is the best way to go, but we reserve the right to change as many parts as we want to."

    So, as mentioned earlier, Pennsy people were placed in charge of developing a standard stock car, standard wood-lined only box car (the XM-1), and a standard steel-sheathed box car (the XM-2), which Pennsy interpreted to include a standard auto car (Pennsy X28). Their first steel box car (Pennsy X27?) was shot down and their second (Pennsy X29 of 1923) was approved as "standard" by the whole ARA, but Pennsy found that the ARA use of the word "standard" would not even protect it against New York Central's habitual preference for a (narrower) 8'-6' width. The dispute was referred to the General Committee, which in 1924 with drew the approval the membership had given the steel car design. By the 1928 Cyclopedia the word "standard" had been expunged from reference to the X23, the X29, and the X28; by the 1931 Cyclopedia t he X28 was gone; the CNJ version was called "ARA proposed standard design."

    Page 20: Built in 1924, PRR No. 570270, shown here in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1951, was one of the first 7,752 X29's built for the Western Region of the Pennsy. Note the (original ?) Creco door, short upper door guide, and original sheathing pattern, yet only three small lower edge patches. This car has been modernized with the Westinghouse AB brake system and low door stop; note the rivets and rust spots where the old door stops had been. Note the marking to the right of the number: "Return when empty to PRR Buffalo for grain loading. " Photo is by L. P. Cummings.

    Page 21: Lehigh New England car No. 8413 as seen in San Francisco in 1963. This car, one of 747, built for LNE from about 1929 through 1938, was based on the ARA 1923 steel box car plan but has inverted "T" shaped roof ribs, a long upper door guide, and a corrugated door. Note the single grab iron, still, at the left end of the side. The car has the AB brake system with an Ajax brake wheel, flat ends. This road originated anthracite coal and slate and cement in eastern Pennsylvania and continued as a bridge road for New England traffic through New Jersey; the car was black with white lettering with a caboose red dot inside the white circle herald. Billboard lettering was a late addition. The Train-Miniature model, No. 2055, uses the wrong type face for the reporting marks; the car also needs an Ajax brake wheel and some painting touch-up on the herald. Photo is by W. C. Whittaker.
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    The ARA, which had included a standard steel box car among its basic priorities in 1920 and which by whole member ship vote had approved this design by the end of 1923, in May 1924 consigned it to limbo "to await service results." How could this be? Early enthusiasm was lack ing for ARA and few roads permitted their design people the time to participate; it took until 1924 to react to what a few led by PRR-NYC were doing. On the other hand, note that when the ARA Board of Directors ratified the general membership approval of the XM-1 in October 1924 it was careful to use the phrase "recommended practice" until the kingpin position and other Pennsy peculiarities could be redesigned. No steel box car even became "recommended practice" until 1932, and none "standard" until 1937, and it is not certain there was ever an official "standard" refrigerator car!

    ARA would frequently indulge in soul searching for the next ten years follow ing 1924 as to what "standard" meant, what was the good of it, how much liberty should be sacrificed. If the rest couldn't keep up, New York Central and Pennsy would continue on their own.

    The cars developed by the ARA during not the 1923 steel car or the X29. Attention was focussed on developing the wood-liner-only car, the XM-1, and a wood-sheathed version of the X29 or XM-2, using the XM-1's steel truss body frame. So hasty was the change, the first XM-1 and XM-2 wood drawings still used the X29 chassis with its 5'-0" kingpin striker spacing (see 1925 Cyclopedia, p. 120, and last plate of 1949 Model Railroad Cyclopedia), despite the fact that for some time only Pennsy had seemed to see the virtue of old practice. The chassis was soon changed to 5'-6" kingpin/striker spacing with consequent re-spacing of underframe cross bearers and body frame uprights. XM-2 inside width was narrow ed to 8'-7 3/4"; it was approved by mail ballot in 1925.

    Simply because the wood versions were far more widely preferred by modelers' prototype roads, they would seem to have greater applicability among modelers than the X29. From the 1930s to the 1950s, they were the next most widely dispersed cars among the roads after the USRA cars. And, because prototype parts were standardized and interchange this period are the ARA standard cars, able, it's worthwhile to try to do this with model parts to make authentic models of the various cars with only a reasonable investment of time and money.

    Modelers like the XM-1 for a couple of reasons. The X29, XM-1 and XM-2 add to the prototypical variety of heights in a string of cars: they measure about 12'-5" from rail to upper eave whereas USRA cars measure about 12'-10" to the eave and modern AAR cars about 13'-10" to upper eave. The XM-1 also has the interesting busy-ness of the exposed steel truss on the sides, a seven panel truss compared with USRA's nine panel truss.

    Train Miniature's three box cars suggest the X29, XM-1, and XM-2. It isn't an XM-1 for a fundamental reason: the truss diagonals run the wrong way. Is that be ing top picky? At first, a lot of people asked said yes. But, we believe that once you know the story behind the car, the illusion is spoiled for you and you apply more of the exacting demands to this car that you apply to your locomotives.

    If Train Miniature had in mind a broader applicability to the pre-ARA cars that were so numerous and varied, then they chose well to model what is called a Howe truss. On the other hand, these pre-standard cars were precisely that, non-standard, and ARA dimensions may or may not suit a prototype you have in mind. A good kit for such a car was the HO Frisco box car once made by Ulrich (Walthers).

    The roads were used to building Howe truss cars because most of their cars had wood frames and the braces (diagonals) had to be in compression from the upper middle of the car to the trucks (viz, in an "A" pattern around the door), wood not being well suited to tension. Even when they began using steel just before World War I they vastly preferred the Howe, either out of habit or due to a less expensive steel. The USRA wood cars had Howe trusses. But high quality steel made possible a Pratt truss in which the braces would be in tension (viz. in a "V" pattern around the door). hung off the top of the post over the trucks, a superior design. The squabble that broke out in ARA in 1923 was partly over the Howe vs. Pratt issue because steel-minded Pennsy, heading the car design committee, had given the XM-1 a Pratt truss design. Many roads wanted the freedom to use a Howe as well as other old habits such as wood doors, built up roofs, and arch bar trucks.

    The Pratt truss prevailed, became standard, and was numerous. Now what we can't figure out is why Walthers, Varney, Life-Like, Train Miniature, Atlas N, everybody who ever got close to an XM-1, all gave it - you guessed it - the same wrong truss. (In defense of the manufacturers, we should admit that the roads persisted in building an unknown number of Howes; we are having difficulties in locating photos of cars with the Pratt truss.) For the same reason, the Train Miniature stock car fails to be an ARA or PRR K8 stock car. And there's no way you can salvage it, you can't turn it up side down, it's just a waste. It isn't worth swapping left and right panels - Train Miniature posts and braces are Z-section whereas the ARA design used special forged channel sections, although it can't be said the roads with their liberty didn't use what they pleased. You can try to live with it, but the lettering won't break in the right places across the braces. Most of these cars are also too wide - the model manufacturers used their AAR roofs, floors, and ends on them. On the other hand, we think a good time and money saver is to use whatever you need for a particular car from the X29 - ends, roof, floor, doors, etc. - and scratch build the sides from scribed wood or styrene with wood or metal shapes and parts from, say, Red Ball/Wabash Valley. One caution: the X29 or "Pennsy plain end" so commonly used on XM-1's and XM-2's, if you take it from Train Miniature, will have to be narrowed as we show below.

    Train Miniature's sides-steel car, XM-2, even the outside braced XM-1 - all make the side channel at the bottom thicker in' stead of thinner, a failure to closely read the section drawing. But American Flyer, Atlas, and about all manufacturers have made that mistake.

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    The value of the Train Miniature XM-2 is also diminished by a lack of clarity of eave detail (not recessed enough to be a Z-bar, a Murphy, or an overhung) and Northeastern wood recessed-roof stock is no help because it's AAR-width. It's as though the Train Miniature XM-2 tried to be all things to all people, including a pre standard car, and failed to be any of them as well. The ends are non-standard and the sides lack the characteristic belt rail. Sides, ends, and roof of an ARA car should look like they go together like the modules they are. You can try to live with it but, again, drawing on X29 parts with scratch built sides and other parts seems desire able.

    The XM-1 and XM-2 sides outside should be 40'-6" long, exclusive of the ends (Train Miniature is 39'-6"). Applied ends may only be as wide as the inside width but, if full width, will add 9" to the length of the sides. Height from rail to lower eave, as with the steel car, is 12'-1" (Train Miniature is correct). Outside width of the XM-1 over the liner only (not the braces) should be 8'-8" (Train Miniature is 9'-5"). Outside width of the XM-2 over the sheathing should be 9'-5" (Train Miniature is correct). Photos of classic examples in the 1931 Cyclopedia are: XM-1, L&N p. 109 and SAL p. 119 and 123; XM-2, UP p. 113 and SF Bx-9 p. 123.

    As some roads stretched the 1923 steel car upward and outward to make other cars, ARA tried to do that with the XM-2, too, essentially on the X29 chassis with the X29 roof and "Pennsy plain ends." ARA made complete plans available between 1926 and 1928 for 40'-6", 8'-8" wide, 9'-2" high, and 50'-6", 9'-2" wide, 10'-0" high auto cars, in 40 and 50 ton capacity. These may be kit-bashed from multiple X29's; it is believed that few to none were built, but you could build them for your own road. ARA could not agree and standardize these cars because it could not agree on larger car clearance standards. On the other hand, the 1928 Cyclopedia abounds with 40' and 50' wood-sheathed auto cars resembling the Silver Streak HO cars, more or less close to ARA. Many roads at the time "rolled their own" auto cars: the liner-only style was popular and this was often of steel.

    Meanwhile, the X29 was doing a good job. Already in 1929 ARA called for a review of the steel car question (one of our research associates sagely observes that the other roads had realized that the repair bills were nearly all on their cars, not X29's) and, in 1930, it was reported that 25,000 X29's and 1923 cars were in service and that the design had been improved.

    In 1931 lightweight alloy steels were announced that made possible rapid advances in payloads and, in 1932, these streams came together with the approval of a car the size of the old X28 (40'-6", 8'-9" wide, 9'-4" high); it had its roof, an. updated chassis, but with modern Dread naught ends and other builder options (Atlas and Life-Like also made this car in N). Apparently many roads began copying this design and, in addition, ARA committed five cars to punishment tests. The first car built to this plan in 1933 was bought by the New York Central in 1935 as number 100000. It's curious that none of the New York Central cars considered landmarks of the industry be came well known, not to say a sentimental object like the X29.

    In the early 1930s that old ARA clearance diagram made a big mistake - it got in the way of Pennsy's new tall wagon top cars. And Pennsy demolished it single handedly, according to PC Railroader, 11/73. ARA promptly branded the wagon tops "not legal for interchange," and Pennsy argued that the wagon tops would bump only 200 places in the United States and Canada, and by 4" at the most. Still rebuffed, Pennsy announced that any road that refused the wagon tops would be denied all PRR interchange. The Lackawanna got out and lowered its main in an offending location in a week - and by 1935 the Association of American we were young... those sunny days... how Railroads (renamed in 1934) had a whole well we remember the team track by the school... exploring the gimmick details of new set of clearance diagrams.

    That opened the door to tomorrow. In 1936 Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company showed a revolutionary 9'-2" wide, 10'-0" high partly welded box car made of low-weight alloy, high tensile steel. This became, the following year, the AAR "standard" box car. Another revision in 1942, to a height of 10'-6", brought the American standard steel box car to the state of the art as found when we were young … those sunny days … how well we remember the team track by the school … exploring the gimmick details of the box cars … the hotness of the metal roofs, the smell of wood … and so far up and down between the running boards of the low and high cars.

    We are deeply indebted to Fred Shaefer, Gary Rausch, and Bob Johnson for reviewing this manuscript and offering many helpful comments.

    Our appreciation is also due to Richard E. Burke for his significant assistance in obtaining and providing many of the photographs that appear with this article and to come.

    Additional photographs will appear in the December issue of Prototype Modeler of the many related rolling stock for cars similar to the X29 series. Also, a drawing will be included in the December issue which covers the X29 in detail and shows details that have only been "guessed-at" in the past.

    Article Details

    • Original Author Jack Amerine & Jeff Freeman
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date October 1978

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