Prototype finds

My wife and I were driving around our new area recently and we stumbled upon a small railroad museum in Newtown Square, Penna. An old box car caught my eye and we had to circle back for a closer look.

It’s not every day that a double-sheathed wood box car appears at the side of the road. Especially one that seems to be of New York Central heritage.

The inward pointing Murphy corrugated steel ends were the first tip off. The car also seemed to be 40-foot, although I did not pace it off.

The car was on T-section Bettendorf trucks. These were popular on many railroads. The NYC used them on many box cars built in the Teens.

Much of the wood sheathing seems to be replacements, but I was surprised with how much of the door hardware remained on the car.

The museum was closed, so we couldn’t get a closer look at the equipment. There was a sign with some details on the displayed rolling stock. The box car notes don’t quite gel with what I’ve seen in period photos. This is definitely not a Pennsylvania Railroad class box car, that much I’m certain. The notes indicate the car came from the Steamtown collection.

I was puzzled for a bit then realized Steamtown was originally in Vermont and operated on part of the old Rutland line. Ah-HAH! The Rutland had some box cars like this one! Could it be? Post your thoughts as a comment and we shall see what emerges from the collective minds!

Another car on display is a very old passenger coach. The signage notes it is a Pennsylvania Railroad PK class car built in 1902, and the only known survivor of 600 built. It is a beauty.

For more details on this museum, check out their website for the rest of their collection and hours of operation.

With modern cell phones, it’s easy to snap a few images as you find neat stuff during your travels. Take the time to capture a few photos now. You might not return to the place for awhile and there’s no guarantee it will be there when you do return.

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20 thoughts on “Prototype finds”

  1. I found 2 cool old boxcars in Sharon Springs NY on the D&H’s Cherry Valley branch. I think they are both D&H cars. One car has reverse Murphy ends. How can I add photos here?

    1. Blake, you can email the photos to me and I can use them in an additional post on freight car finds. You will be credited and we can add details. What do you think? – Eric H.

  2. Eric,
    There is more to be seen in the freight house. Also in the nearby St. Albans church there was/were a model railroad group – St. Albans Rail Road Fellowship – STARR for short. Not sure how active they are these days.

  3. “An old box car caught my eye and we had to circle back for a closer look.”

    Great post! But I gotta know – did your wife roll her eyes?


  4. Eric,
    Yes, the steam town stuff was in Bellows Falls, VT. We were there when we lived in CT in the late 60’s. I’m trying to sort out photos – after scanning and digitizing for two years – and i may come across some photos. But then it may be a year before i find them.

    RR progress has been really slow – Sandy is not well, so non-RR stuff has priority. Sadly Div 5 keeps shrinking. We get an occasional new member, but not enough of them.


    1. Ted, I visited the Vermont Steamtown location in the early 1970s with my family. We were on our way to New Hampshire and Dad decided to stop for a look around and a train ride. I may have been twelve at that time. I also have photos hidden away, somewhere…! – Eric H.

    1. Thanks, Mark! I now live about an hour east of Strasburg and need to visit. I look forward to taking my granddaughter for a train ride and a walk through the RR Museum of PA. – Eric H.

  5. I can confirm that this is indeed a Rutland car. Besides the fact that no NYC cars are known to have escaped scrapping or rebuilding with steel sides in the period before the end of the steam era, the Rutland cars are distinguished by features this car has: 1) the 6 over 8 ends as opposed to NYC’s 7 over 7 (except for a small lot of Cincinnati Northern cars), and 2) the upper corner gussets on the sides are elongated whereas the equivalent NYC gussets were near 45 degrees.

    I have been trying to document the fate of all the Rutland 40-ft cars, and it has been difficult to determine which cars were relocated by Steamtown from Vermont to Scranton; in all likelihood this is one of those cars, possibly 8050 whose fate I have been unable to determine.

    The Rutland obtained two lots built by Youngstown Steel Car Co. in 1924: 300 single-door cars in the 8000 series, and 200 double-door (4ft+6ft) cars in the 9000 series. Some cars from both of these lots were rehabbed in the 1940s and placed in the 6000 series. Cars known to be preserved presently are 9194 and 6081 at Strasburg and 8085 at Danbury Railway Museum. Steamtown may still have one unrestored car, although I notice the Newtown Square car’s condition is similar to the one I saw at Scranton a decade or more ago: sill steps, ladders and running board are all missing.

    I have not been aware of the car at Newtown Square before now. If anyone has the opportunity to go there, it might be possible to crouch down and read the car number on the side of the center sill, preceded by the reporting mark “R”. Or stencilled on the truck bolsters.

    1. Thanks, Jeff! Next time I visit the museum, I hope to check these spots for identification. I’m sure they would want to update their provenance files, too. – Eric H.

  6. thanks for your post. My older iPhone has a ruler app that dispense with a tape measure. I forget I have it all the time. So you cp may have a similar utility. Here is hoping you have even more finds. Andy

  7. Based on a reprint of diagram descriptions( reprint of 1923book) NYC system had 7,405 cars built with similar ends and the fish belly under frame. I think I read somewhere that R had added cars to a NYC order for some of their rolling stock.
    Nevertheless, R had 4 series of steel under frame cars totaling 600 40’ and 500 36’ cars. I don’t have any information on the ends.
    NYC system also had many steel under frame cars with wooden ends. The ends on the car in question seem a little different in that the lower section seems to have more convolutions than the upper, which seems a bit unusual for as-built ends. So I thinking this might be a NYC car with steel ends as a retrofit.

  8. Hi Eric,
    With the characteristics of fishbelly under-frame, inverse Murphy ends and 40-foot length in mind, I have trawled through the boxcar engineering drawings obtainable from the NYCSHS, and while there are several designs of boxcar that are similar, there are none that are an exact match. The NYC designs that are closest date from the period 1914 to 1918. However, it appears that they all had 7/7 Inverse-Murphy ends, whereas the car you found has an 8/6 pattern of inverse ribs. The triangular reinforcing plates at extreme ends of the sides at the top corners are longer than on the NYC cars, and your car is single-door whereas all similar NYC cars were door-and-a-half auto boxes – of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean much, because lots of auto-box cars had their doorways reduced as changing traffic patterns made them unnecessary.

    That said, the series of cars listed on NYC freight car diagram B-33, with lot numbers in the range of 328-B to 366-B totaling 9,500 cars built 1917-1918, are very similar right down to the spacing of the horizontal bars on the doors, and a good set of drawings exists for lot 365-B that could be used with a few tweaks to build a model of your car. I’d love to know how it came to be that this car appears to be closely related to the NYC design and yet the ends were changed….there doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason for this.

    1. Thanks, Paul! I think Jeff English has hit the mark with his Rutland comment. So it’s related to an NYCL design but not an exact match for an NYCL car. – Eric H.

  9. The first thought that came to my mind wasn’t railfan in nature: “I wonder if this is the type of car the Boxcar Children would have sought refuge in.”

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