New Product Spotlight – American Flyer Diesel Sounds Boxcars

25 08 2014

Are some of your American Flyer locomotives sounding a bit too quiet? Now you can add realistic diesel RailSounds to any American Flyer train simply by coupling up to one of the new RailSounds boxcars!

6-48870 Great Northern - Steam

6-48870 Great Northern – Steam

These boxcars feature the same great RailSounds you’ll find in our new diesels and steam locomotives. Simply couple the boxcar behind your locomotive and enjoy the same rich sounds you’ll get from our current releases in a train from any era. Diesel engine / steam chuff sounds are in sync with the speed of the train and the horn / whistle and bell is controllable by your conventional transformer.

6-48871 Erie - Steam

6-48871 Erie – Steam

Boxcars feature a holder for a 9 volt battery. Installing a battery will allow your sounds to continue even as you pass over switches, crossings or dirty track. A volume control knob is also included in the car so you can adjust the sound to your taste.

6-49064 New Haven - Diesel

6-49064 New Haven – Diesel

The diesel boxcars are available in New Haven and Union Pacific. Steam sounds cars come decorated for Erie and Great Northern. All feature metal frames, opening doors, and die-cast metal trucks with operating couplers and will negotiate an S-36 curve. Cars retail for $169.99. See your favorite American Flyer dealer to order yours today!

6-49065 Union Pacific - Diesel

6-49065 Union Pacific – Diesel

Advertisements




Freight Car Friday – Pullman Standard 86′ Boxcars

15 08 2014

We’ve covered auto parts boxcars on Freight Car Friday before, but with the new Pullman Standard 86′ cars coming later this year from Lionel, let’s take a closer look at their specific prototype.

Pullman Standard began production of its 86′ 6″ high cube boxcars in 1964 at its Bessemer, AL facility. They were not the first to release a car of this size, but with the efficiencies of the large boxcars proven and auto makers and railroads demanding cars to the new standard, Pullman Standard jumped on the idea.

Pullman Standard built 14 boxcars for the SLSF in 1967. 10 other railroads received similar cars at the time.

Pullman Standard built 14 boxcars for the SLSF in 1967. 10 other railroads received similar cars at the time.

Production of the large cars came in batches. Typically, one railroad would put in a large order. Additional orders from additional roads would then get tacked on to this production run, sometimes these orders could be even larger than the initial one. Doing this allowed Pullman Standard to save costs by ordering raw materials in larger quantity and reduced downtime in having to stage assembly lines for different products. It was not uncommon for five or more railroads to receive cars at the same time.

Conrail operated the largest fleet of autoparts boxcars with cars coming from its own predecessors and many purchased from other carriers. This is a former PRR car built by Pullman in 1966.

Conrail operated the largest fleet of auto parts boxcars with cars coming from its own predecessors and many purchased from other carriers. This X60G class is a former PRR car built by Pullman in 1966.

While there would be some small changes in the details of these cars over the length of their production, within the order blocks construction was very standard. So cars built at the same time for different railroads will share the same details. Interestingly, this often included the stenciling for data on the finished car. Comparing builders photos shows that once the stencils were cut, workers kept using them – even if it meant a different font or size from what the railroad normally specified.

Many of the cars chosen by Lionel for the first run came from the same production run. Our Frisco cars for example carry the Pennsylvania’s “X-60G” class and the “CUSHIONED CAR” graphics are clearly made from the stenciling used on the PRR cars. The Frisco cars were part of order 9275H, the PRR ordered 10 identical cars on order 9275B. Our Santa Fe and Milwaukee Road cars were also part of this big 1967 order.

The Milwaukee Road ordered 5 cars at the same time as the Frisco car seen above. This too was an "X60G."

The Milwaukee Road ordered 5 cars at the same time as the Frisco car seen above. This too was an “X60G.”

The first order of the cars went to the Pennsylvania, with 152 being assembled in November – December 1964. Add on orders quickly followed for the New York Central and N&W into January. These were all 4-door cars like the Lionel models. As soon as these orders were filled, production shifted to 8-door cars in January, 1965, with the PRR again showing the lead order (50 cars). Add on orders for identical cars came from the B&O, Milwaukee Road, Rock Island, Missouri Pacific, Texas and Pacific, New York Central, Rio Grande, Union Pacific and Southern. Look for Lionel models of these 8-door versions in the future! In total, Pullman put out 476 cars by the end February of 1965.

The Grand Trunk served many auto plants. In addition to cars purchased new, the GT also acquired cars from DT&I.

The Grand Trunk served many auto plants. In addition to cars purchased new, the GT also acquired cars from DT&I. The Lionel models represent prototypes built for DT&I in 1966.

By the time production ended in 1969, the Bessemer plant had turned out 2,689 total boxcars. 2,125 of these were the four-door model with just 564 of the eight-door cars built. The 8-door cars were preferred by General Motors for their Chevrolet and Oldsmobile lines. Ford and Chrysler both specified 4-door cars for their pools and the 4-door cars could be found at some GM plants as well.

The late 1960s were colorful years on American railroads and these boxcars fit right in with that craze. As these cars operated in regular pools between specific plants, it was not uncommon to see cars from several different railroads mixed together in the same train. And as the familiar names on the sides of the cars disappeared into mergers, new bold paint schemes came forward to take their place. The sales of these cars between companies have led to some interesting pedigrees – cars built for the New York Central now work for Union Pacific, while Norfolk Southern and CSX both roster cars originally from the Santa Fe.

Higher Cube? CSX has rebuilt some former Conrail cars to make them even taller! This rebuilt car serving its fourth owner and wearing NYC reporting marks for the second time

Higher Cube? CSX has rebuilt some former Conrail cars to make them even taller! Don’t be fooled by the NYC reporting marks; Pullman Standard built this car for the Pennsylvania.

Today, these cars continue to show up on freight trains in auto parts and other service roles. Some have been repainted four or more times through mergers and sale. Others continue to display their heritage to this day, albeit in well-weathered form. No longer the biggest things on rails, these High-Cube boxcars are still as impressive as they were when they hit the scene nearly 50 years ago.

 





Freight Car Friday – Pacific Car and Foundry

11 07 2014

Pacific Car and Foundry, best known in its later years for its mechanical refrigerators and insulated boxcars, had its roots in the logging industry. The small company has had ties to major carbuilders and projects but for most of its history was a family business.

log car

It should come as no surprise that PC&F’s first freight cars would serve the logging industry.

The Pacific Car and Foundry name first appeared in 1917 as a result of a merger between the Seattle Car and Foundry Company and its top regional competitor, Twohy Brothers Company. The corporate history however dates back to as early as 1901 when William Pigott first established the Railway Steel & Supply Company.

This firms first railcars were logging disconnects. These cars were not much more than trucks which were placed beneath either end of a large log. The first skeleton log cars came in about 1908 under the Hercules trade name. These cars were much safer than the disconnects yet still had a much lower tare weight than conventional flat cars.

SP 691752

PC&F’s “Beer Cars” are one of their more common designs. For a view of the opposite side of this car, see last month’s blog on the subject.

Logging cars would continue to make up the majority of sales for the then Seattle Car and Foundry Company from 1911 through the merger in 1917. Total production had averaged less than 800 cars per year. Shortly after the merger however, the new United States Railway Administration delivered the company an order for 2000 boxcars.

In the 1920s, the company began to develop two different but successful product lines. Its Renton plant continued to turn out quality products in large quantities for the logging industry. Increasingly however, the trucks were of the rubber-tired variety. Meanwhile its Portland plant had developed a successful line of refrigerator rail cars.

 

Lionel reefer

A PC&F car originally built for Pacific Fruit Express served as the prototype for Lionel’s O and S scale models.

American Car and Foundry acquired PC&F in 1924 but the company continued to operate and market its cars under its own name. Pigott’s sons, William J. and Paul, bought the company back from ACF in 1934. That decade would challenge every car builder of course, but PC&F remained intact. Declining car sales were offset by ventures into other manufacturing and corporate diversification from the 1930s through the 1960s. Following ACF control, the primary railcar product remained reefers. Notable among the other operations was the structural steel division which produced steel for Seattle’s Space Needle and New York’s World Trade Center.

boxcar

Although best known for insulated boxcars and reefers, PC&F also built cars for other service. This auto parts car is one example.

The third generation of the Pigott family, Paul’s son Charles, assumed control of the company upon his father’s death in 1961. In 1972, PC&F was reorganized as PACCAR, and Pacific Car and Foundry became a division within the company and continued to build freight cars until 1984. Although the company is no longer serving the rail industry, PACCAR remains a major supplier for its trucking competition.

Although they have been out of production for thirty years or more, many of PC&F’s boxcars and reefers can still be found roaming the rails. A few earlier examples of their craftsmanship have found their way into museums.





New Product Spotlight – American Flyer Waffle-side Boxcars

23 06 2014

A new boxcar is coming to the American Flyer line this year – the waffle-side boxcar! A similar car has been available in O Gauge for many years. Now S Gaugers can enjoy this distinctive car as well.

6-48855

6-48855 American Flyer Lines

The prototype for this car is a Pullman Standard design built for many railroads from the mid 1960s to 1970s. This era saw a variety of bright color schemes and graphics – some of which certainly provided plenty of headaches to the paint shops that had to apply them over those lumpy side sheets! The cars are similar in overall dimensions and design to the company’s standard and incredibly popular 50′ PS-1 boxcar.

6-48856

6-48856 New Haven

The many corrugations which give the cars their nicknames provide room on the interior of the car for anchoring straps and tie downs. Looking at the car from the inside, all of these load restraints fit into pockets between the side posts and give a smooth interior wall which maximizes the loading space and reduces damage to both the loads and tie-downs. For a more detailed look at waffle-side boxcars, see this earlier Freight Car Friday post!

The new American Flyer models debut in three roadnames: American Flyer Lines, New Haven and Chicago and Northwestern. The cars feature

  • 6-48857

    6-48857 Chicago and Northwestern

    All new body tooling

  • Opening doors
  • Metal frame
  • Die-cast metal trucks
  • Operating couplers

The trucks will use traditional American Flyer wheels and will operate around S-36 curves. Suggested retail on the cars is $49.99 each. See your local Lionel dealer to order yours today!





Freight Car Friday – Strange and Unusual Part 2

16 05 2014

Sure there are many freight cars that look alike and many versions of cars that only the “rivet counters” can tell apart. But every now and again something completely different passes by in a train to reward the watcher who doesn’t put their lens cap back on as soon as the locomotives go past. We featured four of these odd characters on a Freight Car Friday post in 2012. This week, let’s look at a few more specialty cars that have evolved to meet the unique needs of customers.

Calcium Carbide Car

calcium carbide

CCKX 720 carries an interesting load of calcium carbide casks through Nebraska.

The small casks on this car look similar to the coke casks available for Lionel’s scale gondola car. The load isn’t coke however,  but calcium carbide (CAC2).

Calcium carbide is primarily used in the making of acetylene. This is created when the calcium carbide is mixed with water – hence the dangerous when wet placards on the containers. Calcium carbide is also used in some steel making operations. Toy collectors may also know it from its use in some toy cannons.

Thirty small 5,000 pound casks are loaded on a flatcar and tied down with four large covers. Although hard to see, there are small bulkheads at the ends of the car to keep the loads from shifting. When they arrive at their destination, the casks can be placed on top of a small tower and emptied from the bottom hopper.

Notice that each container and the flat car carry warning placards. The flatcar is also labeled “DO NOT HUMP.” The reporting marks belong to Carbide Industries. This car was spotted heading east along the edge of Union Pacific’s massive yard in North Platte, Nebraska.

Can Stock Car

Canstock car

CSX 504123 shows its offset door.

All boxcars look alike? Not really. While it was traditionally the railroads’ catch-all car, boxcars have become increasingly specialized since the 1960s. Whether it’s a giant high-cube for auto parts, or a kaolin car with roof hatches, the demands of different loads can create many interesting construction variations. One of the more rare modifications to boxcars are a select few customized for can stock service.

Can stock is, as the name implies, thin steel or aluminum used primarily in making metal cans. Unlike other steel coils carried in coil cars or gondolas, these are best transported by boxcar. In order to maximize the payload in these cars, the B&O went to Pullman Standard with a request for new cars in 1972. Moving both doors closer to one end of the car better accommodated the lift trucks and pushed the capacity to 8 coils from 6.

With the doors both offset toward the “A” end of the car (without the brake wheel) a plexiglass panel was added to the roof near the “B” end to allow some light in to the far end of the car. These panels were later replaced as along with the light, they also let in water.

Only 75 of these offset door cars were built. Over the years they have worn B&O, Chessie and CSX emblems.

Vinegar Tank Car

Vinegar Tank

SBIX 1634 is preserved at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis.

Looking like something from another era, wood-sided tank cars remained the best mode of transportation for vinegar well into the mid-1900s.

Vinegar is highly corrosive to metal and would have destroyed the early steel tank cars. Today, special liners can be applied to prevent this problem. Steel was used for the frame and bulkheads however which gave the car the structural integrity necessary to be handled in trains of all-steel cars. Although not all cars were painted this way, the silver paint seen on SBIX 1634 was a common way of keeping the contents cooler by reflecting the sun’s rays.

At least three vinegar tanks survive in museums in St. Louis, Toronto and North Freedom, Wisconsin.

Hot Ingot Car

hot ingot car

Looking like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, LHFX 25000 carries a steel ingot fresh from the furnace.

The steel industry is a haven for interesting railroad equipment. These hot ingot cars are no exception! Looking like something designed to haul top-secret military loads or nuclear material, it’s just hot steel now. But when Lehigh Heavy Forge is finished, that steel could easily be headed to a Navy yard or nuclear power plant.

Lehigh Heavy Forge operates out of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. They are the only open-die forging company in the Western Hemisphere and produce an amazing variety of heavy forged parts for power generation, the military and industrial applications. Formed in 1997, the company carries on the rich steel legacy in this historic steel town.

The special steel used in many of their applications is produced not far away in Steelton, PA. The ingots are shipped hot to Bethlehem for forging. These heavy cars, originally belonging to Bethlehem Steel, carry the ingots inside well insulated covers. The cars can also be used to ship product to other regional mills for finishing. Because of the time-sensitive nature of the loads, it was not uncommon for Conrail or Norfolk Southern to run a dedicated train or place the cars on the head-end of priority intermodal trains to get them to their destination quickly.

Lehigh Heavy Forge has a handful of cars like this, but in classic steel industry tradition, no two are exactly the same. They would certainly make an interesting, and challenging, modeling project.

Cars like those seen this week are a great example of what makes freight cars such a great learning tool. What starts off as a curious car in a passing train can open a window into the history and operations of a whole new industry. What will the next train teach you?

 





New Product Spotlight – Presidential Series Boxcars

17 02 2014

Happy Presidents Day! Our Presidential boxcar series began in 2012 and marked the return of production to the United States. Each year we introduce four more cars into the line, with plans to build a car for each of our 43 Presidents here in the United States. Here’s a little Presidential trivia and a look a this year’s new cars.

New for 2014 will be Presidents Reagan, Jackson, Harding and Eisenhower. Each of these Presidents left their mark on history and the railroads of their time as well.

  • Jackson

    6-81488 President Jackson

    Andrew Jackson has the distinction of being the first sitting President to ride a train in 1833. Jackson came to office when railroads were still a novelty. But within the span of his two terms, the potential of these new “Iron Horses” was sweeping the country with unparalleled vigor.

  • Warren Harding held office when railroads were at the peak of their power. He worked with railroad labor unions in support of an 8 hour work day in 1922 following a great strike in 1921. Upon his sudden death in 1923 his body traveled across the country by funeral train.
  • Ike

    6-81490 President Eisenhower

    Dwight Eisenhower’s biggest contribution to transportation was certainly the creation of the Interstate Highway Act – a program which would come to have a major impact on the railroads. Eisenhower also made extensive use of air travel while President. While not an “anti-railroad” President, his time in office foreshadowed the coming decades of decline for the rail industry.

  • Ronald Reagan’s efforts to downsize the Federal Government put him up against several major railroad programs in the 1980s. His tenure saw the privatization of Conrail, transfer of the Alaska Railroad to the state and a constant battle with Amtrak. Reagan also signed into law the Staggers Act, which would play a critical role in the revitalization of the private rail industry in the coming years.

Lionel Presidential Series Boxcars

Harding

6-81489 President Harding

Like the previous cars in this series, each of these new boxcars will come beautifully decorated with the President’s portrait on the left and a brief bio on the right of the car. These cars are all decorated and assembled here in the USA.

The cars also feature sprung die-cast trucks, a metal frame and opening doors. The cars come attractively packaged so they can be displayed in or out of the box. They’d look great on an oval of track in your office.

The cars retail for $64.99. Our previous runs all sold out quickly. Don’t miss your chance to add to your collection!

Previous cars in this series:

Reagan

6-81487 President Reagan

2012

  • George Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Theodore Roosevelt

2013

  • John Adams
  • Andrew Johnson
  • Calvin Coolidge
  • Harry Truman




Freight Car Friday – Wine Cars

14 02 2014

How about a big toast for Valentines Day? Wine is certainly not at the top of any railroad’s books when it comes to commodities moved by rail, but over the years wine has been shipped by rail in many forms and in many different types of cars.

Wine

Shipments of wine in tank cars were not unheard of. “Tank car wine” did imply a reputation for quality however.

Wine, especially the finer varieties, is not typically associated with large-scale mass production like other beverages. Of course bulk shipping is what the railroads do best. Nevertheless, railroads are still an economic alternative for larger shipments over greater distances. A good example is carload shipment of bottled wines bound for distributers from coast-to-coast.

While wine does not require refrigeration, railroads must still take care to avoid big swings in temperature during shipping. The car of choice for bottled wine shipments is the RBL or insulated box car. Shipments originating in big production areas like California or Western New York may be gathered and shipped by rail to distribution centers and warehouses across the country. From here the boxcar-sized loads are broken down and delivered by truck to smaller centers and markets.

wine box

Boxed wine? A carload of bottled wine is headed to a distributer near Harrisburg, PA.

But wine has, and still is, also shipped in bulk in tank cars. As you might guess, these are not always of the finest variety. “Tank car wine” has long been used as a term to describe a cheap wine suitable for cooking, or simply as a derogatory remark about the quality of whatever was being served.

Wine tank cars have taken many forms. Many featured multiple domes – up to six. Today’s cars share the now-common construction features of frameless designs and (usually) a single small loading hatch. And where once the wine companies commonly placed their names in bold letters on the sides of the tank, today minimal markings are standard.

wine train

The Napa Wine Train is the best known of many excursions that combine fine dining and the romance of train travel.

The Eastern Wine Company moved its famous “Chateau Martin” wines across the country in former milk cars. These cars look similar to a boxcar or reefer on the outside but contained a pair of glass-lined tanks in the insulated interior. The cars were easy to spot in their purple paint and bold graphics and lasted into the 1970s.

Today you can of course also enjoy your wine on board the train. Excursion railroads all across the country offer “wine trains” where you can sample fine wines and dining as you roll along in restored rail cars. So if you’re looking to surprise your sweetheart with wine and a train this year, might we suggest such an excursion instead of a bottle of “tank car wine?”