1926 B&O freight car fleet

B&O 90596 at the AC&F Wilmington, Del., plant for repairs in 1922. From the Jackson & Sharp Collection in the Delaware Public Archives.

Do you recognize this box car? I know you recognize the railroad name, but do you recognize the car design? I’ll bet most readers are not familiar with this car design. It does look similar to many box cars used in the first four decades of the 20th Century, but this was the most common B&O box car until 1926. There were 9988 listed as in service in an October 1926 Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER). Are you surprised?

As my railroad modeling is focused on 1926, I’ve found the freight car fleets of many railroads to be starkly different from the fleets of the post-WW2 years. I posted a summary of the 1926 Wheeling & Lake Erie fleet several years ago when I was modeling a portion of that railroad. I’ve been working on a B&O version for several months. It’s a much bigger fleet.

A partial view of Brunswick yard, circa 1920. The cars in the foreground are on a repair track.

The B&O fleet summary won’t fit nicely into a blog page so PDF files have been created to share the fleet information, similar to the Accurail model summaries. The amount of info has dictated splitting the summaries into a few parts. A look at the box car fleet is now available for your review and enjoyment. Gondolas will be next, then hoppers, and the final installment will cover the remaining cars of the 1926 fleet. These will all be available through a resource page at the top of the menu along the right side of the blog.

This has been an enjoyable excercise and has helped me understand the B&O freight cars I need to focus upon for future additions to my model railroad. Yes, M-8 class box cars are at the top of my list.

Several people have assisted with this project. I thank James Mischke, Bob Witt, Ed Kirstatter, and Ray Breyer for sharing details, photos, and proofreading as this summary has lurched ahead over the months. I think we all learned a bit more in the process.

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13 Responses to “1926 B&O freight car fleet”

  1. rob dove says:

    Eric great work on the car fleet. I suspect some of those models could still be around in the fifties even if reaching the end of their useful lives. Great read and thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

    • Eric Hansmann says:

      Rob, I think “some” it shte operative word in your comment. The K brake ban moved many railroads to scrap the older cars rather than update them. Lots of 36-foot cars went off roster after WW2. Many went to maintenance duty but many more were scrapped or sold off. Purchase a B&O Summary of Equipment for a period close to your interests and you can see what remained of the older fleet. – Eric H.

  2. Shawn Hogan says:

    Hi Eric,
    Wow! Thank you for your work in compiling this data. Love the pie chart showing car type. I am still thinking over what a layout set in the upper Shenandoah Valley(Harrisonburg/Staunton/Lexington) would look like particularly in regards to train make-up. Based on conversations with some locals with generational roots in the area, I may have trains with more stock cars in them than the ratio in your chart. This Valley has long been a source of beef cattle and a number of the stations had loading pens located near them. In active use up through the 30s!
    Regards, Shawn

    • Eric Hansmann says:

      Shawn, the B&O mainly leased their stock car fleet from the Mather corporation. While they are listed under the B&O in the ORERs, the cars were owned by Mather and lettered for the B&O. I’m trying to figure out how to present the stock cars as the B&O did not assign classes to them. – Eric H.

  3. Bob Chaparro says:

    Thanks for the great research and photos.

  4. Ben Sullivan says:

    Tremendous work! I really enjoyed the presentation of data and breakdowns of each class. I research & model the Georgetown Branch of the B&O. My focus for the layout is the mid 1940s-50s so I may have to find a few of these more popular classes to feature on the railroad. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Eric Hansmann says:

      Ben, I recommend purchasing a B&O Summary of Equipment that is close to your modeling era so you can see what the fleet was like at that time. There were many changes through the 1930s as older cars were retired or rebuilt. A few thousand of the M-15 class were rebuilt into the first wagontop cars. – Eric H.

  5. Shawn Hogan says:

    I have a question: what make/model/type are the trucks under the M15e car you have showing the M15 class? They look different than any others I’ve seen.
    Regards, Shawn

    • Eric Hansmann says:

      Shawn, I’m away from my resources but I think those are Verona trucks. If you have a copy of Bob Karig’s “Coal Cars” book, they are among the illustrations in the truck section. – Eric H.

  6. David Keith says:

    Eric, great PDF. Looking forward to your next work.

    I presume the B&O Summary of Equipment is available from the B&O HS. Do you know if other railroads such as PRR, NYC, etc… have similar books?

    • Eric Hansmann says:

      David, I don’t know if other railroad historical societies have similar publications. I do know the PRRH&TS groups has a couple nice books documenting classes of gondolas and flat cars. There is not a specific era focus but more of an overall review of the car classes over time. The B&O books are reprints of official summaries the railroad produced. Others have told be there are similar equipment summaries tied into annual reports of many railroads. I haven’t researched those yet. – Eric H.

  7. Eric Lombard says:

    Another very fine blog post, Eric. I very much admire and appreciate your careful work. A comment on the paragraph near the end of the post:

    “There were five other box car classes in 1926; M-25, M-20 M-19, M-17, and M-9. The quantities were small with a combined total of 682 cars. The M-25 cars came from the Coal & Coke Railway, which the B&O acquired about 1920. One or two of the other car classes may have been former Morgantown & Kingwood cars. The M&K was acquired about the same time as the C&C. I suspect the cars in the other classes came through acquisition and merger of smaller railroads.”

    M-17, B&O 76995-76999, 5 cars, built by South Baltimore Steel Car & Foundry 3-1912. These built to M-15 plan but with 6-0 door. All on roster 1-1935, gone 1-1936.

    M-19, B&O 185650-185999, 350 cars, built by Ryan Car Co. 1917-1918. #185901 last car active 1-1941, gone by 1-1942.

    M-25, B&O 186000-186456, 414 cars, RENO from C&C 101-619 1919-1921. 4 active 1-1938, gone by 1-1939. C&C 101-619 built by South Baltimore Car & Foundry 1902-1903. (curiously, there is a 2nd M-25: B&O 167450-167516, 67 cars, RENO out of C&O 8000-9499 (class B5-2) 1964.)

    there are several small series that appear 1917-1922 where my poking about has not turned up a class designation. M-20 may be one or more of these.

    Thanks again, Eric, for your blog

    Eric L

    • Eric Hansmann says:

      Thank you Eric for those extra details! I had a few of these details but your info answers many other questions. – Eric H.

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