Freight Car Friday – The PS-1 Boxcar

6 01 2012

Among the most prolific freight cars during the transition era – as railroads converted from steam to diesel – was the 40′ boxcar. And among these cars there were several “standards.” One design which could be found on railroads all across North America was the Pullman Standard PS-1.

C&O PS-1

This C&O car represents a typical PS-1 with 6' Superior Doors.

So just what is a PS-1? Well the simple answer is it is any boxcar built by Pullman Standard from 1947 on. The design changed over the years – sometimes subtly, sometimes for customer request, and sometimes in a larger way. In general, most PS-1’s built from 1947 to 1961 share the same dimensions and basic construction techniques. These cars all had a length of 40′, a height of 10’5″ or 10’6″, welded sides and ends and roof of Pullman’s own design. The greatest variation was in the size and style of doors used. Pullman Standard also offered 50′ and later 60′ boxcars – also with the PS-1 designation.

L&N PS-1

In addition to a variation of "boxcar red" this L&N car also comes equipped with an 8' Superior Door.

So while there were variations between orders, to the casual observer of a passing train, the PS-1 was ubiquitous. The cars had been based on the latest AAR standard design for 40′ cars. Their height helped set them apart from earlier common designs of the 1920s and 1930s.

Rather than list the railroads that used PS-1’s, a shorter list might be companies that didn’t. Most were painted in a shade of “boxcar red” which could be anything from a burgundy to brown. Some wore more colorful schemes however, like the famous “State of Maine” cars and bright “LCL” service cars on roads like the New York Central and B&O. Even the Pennsylvania, with tens of thousands of cars built to its own designs owned a few (but just a very very limited few.)

Western Pacific PS-1

This Western Pacific car comes with an eye-catching paint scheme and an 8' Youngstown door.

The first major changes in the cars’ design and appearance started around 1961. By then, very few 40′ cars were being built at all. Older cars also saw modifications like shorter ladders, lower handbrakes and roofwalk-removal later that decade. A combination of age and lack of market for the shorter cars brought large retirements during the 1970s.

EL Ps-1

Many cars survived mergers to operate for multiple railroads. Cars from both the Erie and DL&W made it to Erie Lackawanna and even Conrail.

A PS-1, like the scale model made by Lionel, will be right at home on any railroad from 1947 to the early 1980s. Many can still be found today on shortlines, in work trains, or converted to storage sheds. The railroads couldn’t seem to get enough of them, so go ahead and indulge in a few more for your layout!



4 responses

30 12 2012
Andrew Falconer

Please make the PS-1 40′ Boxcar in the original PSX 1 Demonstrator scheme that looks like it is red, white & blue in a Black & White photograph. There are builder photos in the Pullman-Standard freight cars book from Signature Press.

30 12 2012
Andrew Falconer

How many door variations does Lionel have the ablity to produce for the PS-1 boxcars?

31 12 2012

Without changing the shell, we can tool as many different style doors as will fit the current opening – which I believe is a scale 10′ door. Some cars had doors as narrow as 8′ and others I believe were as wide as 12′. I’m not sure what plans may be in place for new tooling, but I will pass the comment and the suggestion for the demonstrator on to our product group.

27 01 2014
Andrew Falconer

Take a look at all the Seaboard Air Line and Seaboard Coast Line 40′ Boxcar photos on the website.

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