Freight Car Friday – Waffles, Anyone?

14 12 2012

Boxcars come in all shapes and sizes. While they may seem the same, boxcars are often built with special features to help with specific loads. Often these devices are visible only on the inside of the car, but sometimes you can spot them without having to look at the markings or inside the doors.

The "waffle side" cars featured protrusions on the exterior which held load tie-downs on the interior. Some railroads used boxcars as rolling billboards with dynamic graphics.

The “waffle side” cars feature distinctive sides. The added texture makes a bold color scheme like this quite a challenge for the paint shop!

So called “Waffle-side” boxcars are one of those unique designs. Exterior post boxcars (sometimes called “rib-sided” by modelers) offer a smooth wall on the inside of the car, with the support posts on the outside of the side sheets.

But this also comes at the expense of a little bit of cubic capacity inside the car. Since most loads in these cars are already packed on pallets or other special racks, the loss of space is not usually of great concern – until you need to secure the load.

CSX boxcar

This 60′ CSX car has a pattern of waffles of different sizes.

Adding additional load restraints not only takes up additional room, it breaks up the smooth wall surface. These hooks and straps can get tangled or scratch and damage loads as they are moved in and out of the car. So to get that space and that smooth wall back, the side walls of the car are bumped back out around the restraints.

From the outside, this gives the car a very waffled appearance with numerous protrusions in between the side posts. They are no deeper than the posts themselves, keeping the car within standard clearance dimensions.


Because of the bumps and angles, many railroads chose simple paint schemes for these cars.

The waffles can vary in size, number and location. Some cars may have only a few – others are completely covered. These distinctive features can also be found on boxcars of several different sizes and from different builders.

These cars can carry a variety of loads. Auto parts, appliances, furniture, manufactured goods are all common loads. But waffles of course are shipped in a reefer.



3 responses

14 12 2012
Andrew Falconer

I have several of the Waffle-side Boxcars. There used to be a lot of them in trains on the CN/GTW mainline in Michigan, until recently when traffic patterns changed. Most of them were C&O/Chessie System, IC/ILLINOIS CENTRAL, Seaboard System, and Rock Island/CNW. The CSX plug-door waffle-sided boxcars are still common. They might have been originally B&O or SCL or RF&P plug-door waffle-sided box cars.

The paint scheme and road names that can be done next are Seaboard Coast Line in Brown with white markings, SCL black with yellow graphics, the classic B&O and C&O brown with white markings, Pickens Railroad, Aberdeen & Rockfish railroad, and the Wisconsin Central Ldt..

Aberdeen & Rockfish in North Carolina:

16 12 2012
Andrew Falconer

There have been many of the SOUTHERN Railway waffle boxcars with the slogans “Southern Serves the South” and “Southern gives a green light to innovation” rolling through on trains from the 1970’s to today. There could be a whole train of just Southern Railway waffle-side boxcars produced to recreate freight moving scenes on the Soo Line and other railroads.

16 12 2012
Andrew Falconer

Once there was a single Illinois Central Waffle-Sided Boxcar that got the Orange body paint, but all the lettering was white and the logo was just the white split-rail without the black background. I have a photo of it taken in 1996. An unusual variation that Lionel can offer.

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