Sunday, November 24, 2013

Combination Boxcars

An early photo of the SP system's 34-foot combination boxcar.
AHM/IHC's version of the combination boxcar.
The term "combination" as applied to boxcars meant a universal car to the folks at the Central/Southern Pacific. It came equipped with various barred openings in the sides and ends which could be closed by internal sliding doors. Close the doors and you have a secure and weather-tight car. Open the doors in various combinations and you had a stock car, a ventilated fruit or produce car or a car suitable for carrying flammable liquids. In the latter case, the lower doors allowed any vapors from leakage to be blown out of the car rather than accumulate.
   The SP system had hundreds of these cars starting with the outside-braced cars of the 1870s (kits made by Rio Grande Models) to 28-foot cars (no kits) to the 34-foot cars which are the subject of this post. The 34-footers made their first appearance in 1891 and were distributed around the SP system for accounting purposes. This resulted in reporting marks for the SP, CP, O&C, SP of Arizona, SP of New Mexico and others. See Tony Thompson's Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Volume 4 for more details.The combination cars were replaced by iced refrigerator cars and most were off the roster by 1900 but there were still many around in 1895
The reworked AHM cars.
 I chose to model four cars for my railroad, one each lettered for the Southern Pacific, Central Pacific, Oregon & California and California Pacific. Fortunately, AHM and, later, IHC produced plastic cars based on this prototype. The cars are generally crude and do not have the end doors so some modification was needed.
End doors were cut and barred. This car represents one with
the openings closed by the inner solid doors.
To make my cars, I removed the truss rods, molded-in brake staff/chain and cut three square holes in each end of the car. The bars on these openings were made from .020" styrene rod. Nylon fishing line truss rods with Grandt turnbuckles were installed along with Cal-Scale brake wheels. The grab irons were 23" and 18" preformed pieces made by Westerfield. In this period, the SP used a one-piece grab-iron which wrapped around the end of the car to form both the side and end irons. I used the Westerfield irons installed with Art and Adrian Hundhausen's ( method to try and get the proper appearance. Intermountain wheels replaced the plastic wheels which came with the car although the truck frames were used. The end result is not an exact copy of the prototype but it works for me at least for now.
   In 1895, there were few of the 34-foot cars compared to the 28-foot cars. Although Mantua/Tyco made a car similar to them, my version, when I get around to making them, will have to be scratchbuilt. Another project for another time.