Sunday, March 14, 2021

Pennsy freight cars, Part 7: other cars

 In previous parts of this series, I have discussed the major types of Pennsylvania Railroad freight cars, namely box cars and gondolas. In each case, I have concentrated on the largest classes of the car type discussed (and PRR classes were generally bigger than anyone’s). You can find any of these prior posts by using the search box at right, with the search term “Pennsy freight cars.”

But there are other car types, and car classes, that may be worth including in a model PRR freight car fleet, even if you are not a Pennsy modeler. The PRR fleet was so large, that even its minor members often represent a class bigger than many railroads’ entire population of that car type. In the present post, I will present a few that I find interesting.

To choose an example somewhat at random, consider the X28 box car. Built to the same principles as the X29 but as an automobile car in the 1920s, they were taller (9 ft., 3 inches inside, compared to the X29’s 8 ft., 7 inches). They also had double doors when built, but were soon superseded by the X31 and X32 cars being built in the 1930s. They were then modified with single doors, becoming Class X28A

It’s true that in isolation, you could easily mistake one for an X29 (flat roof, plate ends . . . ). But in fact that measly difference in height does show up. If you put an X28A next to an X29, you can see the difference, here being switched at Nipomo Street in my layout town of Ballard. (The X28A at left is an Overland Models brass version.) You can click on the image to enlarge it if you wish.

Yes, the X28A wasn’t a big PRR class, a mere (!) 5000 cars — nearly all of which survived to be converted to single-door XM types. So this might be an interesting “minor” PRR car to include in a roster.

Another possibly interesting car to add to a PRR roster is the X26. Originally, this was a Pennsy USRA single-sheathed box car, of which the PRR received 9900 cars, by far the largest single allocation of this 50-ton box car. They did not long remain in original form, however, for in the 1930s PRR gave them new Hutchins roofs and steel doors.

That wasn’t the end of changes. From 1945 to 1949, PRR rebuilt 3500 of the cars with new steel sides and roofs, retaining, as did many USRA rebuilds, the original underframe and corrugated steel ends. Those rebuilds became Class X26c. You can see those features in my model of one of the X26c cars, PRR 106869, built from a Sunshine resin kit, and shown here being switched in my layout town of Shumala. In 1953, there were still more than 3400 cars of Class X26c in service.

Another car representative, in a way, of the PRR is the specialized heavy-industry car. In its heyday, the PRR served the heart of industrial America (at that time), and rostered numerous freight cars for that service. A model example is the F33 class well-hole flat car. I described building a model of this class from a Funaro & Camerlengo kit in a previous post (see it at: ). Here is that model, weathered and in service, with chalk marks and a route card:

The floor of the well in these cars was ordinarily closed with removable boards, and they too were weathered a little differently from each other. Here’s a view of that:

A more humdrum car is the ordinary flat car. The PRR did not have a very big proportion of its fleet in the form of flat cars, but even so, a roster of the size of the PRR nevertheless did include a substantial number of flat cars. Among the really interesting ones was Class F22, a very short, high-capacity car, described by both AAR and PRR as a “gun flat” (naval guns) and classified by the AAR as Class FG. Shown below is such a car, PRR 435375, kitbashed by Richard Hendrickson from an Athearn flat car and at least one other model. It’s shown in a train on my layout’s SP Coast Division main line, with a transformer load.

The Pennsylvania was the owner of such a huge freight car fleet, easily the largest in the U.S. in the transition era, that even some of the (relatively) small car classes are worth including in a model car fleet. That’s the reason for showing the “minor” car classes shown in this post, and of course the reason I’ve chosen to model them.

Tony Thompson

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