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.
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.
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.
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.