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December 1999 - Page 48


F REIGHT CAR O L O GY

60' Auto Parts Boxcars
b y David G . Casdorph
Photos courtesy F r e i g ht Cars Journal

he recent releases of five 60 ' auto parts boxcar mode l s (two HO, three N) has prompted me to take a l ook at this group of designs. I don ' t often get "romantic" (read sentimental ) about freight cars and certai n l y have no emotional attachments to speci fic rai l roads. However, this group of cars strike a vein . When I started getting i n terested in fre ight cars back in the l ate Seventies in southern Californ ia I found the usual variety of Santa Fe, Southern Pacific and U nion Pa c i fic l umber, paper, can goods, chemicals traffic, etc. But, one train that usually came in every Friday on the SP was what some of the S P crews called t h e GeMCO train (not because at that t i me i t went to a location behind a Gemco s tore ) . The G e M CO train went to the GMCO ( G e neral M o tors) plant i n the valley with auto parts for Pontiac's Firebird assembly l i ne. In addition to the autoracks on this train - there were a whole bunch of auto parts boxcars. And, as I hope you ' l l see from t h i s brief d i s c u s s i o n , auto parts cars are very different from paper and l um ber boxcar . A u t o p a r t s c a r s , l i ke m a n y t y p e s o f

T

freight cars, come in a variety of shapes and s i ze s . Two broad c a t e g o r i e s n e e d to be

6 0'

( listed from most to least common)
1 . P late E centered single sliding door

Auto PClrts BoxcClr Types

(see note A ) 2 . Plate E offset double sliding doors (door-and-a-half) 3. Plate F+ centered single sliding doors 4 . P late F+ centered double p lugdoors (see note B ) 5 . Plate C centered double s l iding doors (equisized) (see note C )
N otes: A . Also some Plate F cars that look pro portionally similar to P late E cars ( i .e., there is j ust a small dimensional difference between the two). Most had 1 0 ' wide doors. B. Plate F+ is now called Plate G . C. Some are Plate E that are close i n dimensions t o Plate C cars.

addressed fi[st: t i me frame and car size. The time frame I ' m referring to here is roughly the post- 1 963 era. Within this era there is the 70-1 1 OO-ton sub-era that lasted until the mid N i neties (though there were few auto parts cars produced between 1 982 and 1 997) and the I I O-ton sub-era that recently emerged. With regard to size, there have been 5 0 ', 5 2 ', 60' and 8 6 ' boxcars bu i l t for auto parts ser vice since 1 963. The focu s of t h i s art i c l e relates to the recently rel e ased model s , i .e . , the S i xties, Seventies a n d Eighties 7 0-/ I 00-ton s u b e r a . F o r a d i s c u s s i o n o f c o n t e m p o r a ry I I O-ton auto parts cars p lease see Freighl carworld, N o . 3 3 . F i rs t o f a l l , m o s t n o n - i n s u l a t e d 6 0 ' boxcars bu i l t s i n c e the m i d - S i x ti e s have been for auto parts service. The 60 ' non i n s u l ated boxcars bui l t for other purposes h av e g e n e ra l l y b e e n for the p a p e r a n d l u mber or t h e appl i ance i ndustries (there are al ways exceptions ) . So, w h at m ade the 6 0 ' auto parts boxcars d i fferent than other 60 ' boxcars during the S i x t i e s , Seventies and Eighties? Take a l o o k at the "60 ' Auto Parts B oxcar Types" s idebar.

WP 3771 was built in January 1 97 9 by Berwick (M icro-Trains" model). A very distinctive design. This type was operated by a number of rai l roads in relatively small quantities. Series: WP 3768-3775. Type: 60' Plate F+ centered dou ble plug door car. Note the "waffled" sides. Photographed in December 1 985.
4 8 T M O D E L RAILROAD I N G D E CE M B E R 1 999

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