Locked Re: Numbering of 19th Century Rolling Stock

George Eichelberger


I’m sure the drawing is representative of Southern “combines” of the period but it should not be associated with any specific order or car numbers without more research.

When I first started assembling the drawings and data to produce the Southern wood and steel frame freight car passenger car era books, I attempted to “match” the various General Arrangement drawings in the SRHA archives with specific cars, or series of cars. The Gen. Arrt. drawings of that period tend to include notes and drawing lists that evolved onto different drawings by about 1910-12. It was only by noting drawings listed in the Specs issued by the railroad and comparing that list to the “as built” drawings in the Card Lists (P-Cards) I realized that what had been sent out by the railroad may/may not have been what the car builder actually offered to build.

Part of the reason for differences between the spec and as-built designs came down to the Southern’s desire to maintain as small an inventory of repair parts as possible, to provide parts (new or used) out of its own stocks or to purchase items in bulk for better prices. I did not think of items such as wood for center or side sills as being a “part” but the Southern did. There are multiple pieces of correspondence with car builders discussing the finished size and type of wood they wanted to use vs the specified material. One thing the car builders absolutely hated was that the Southern would have “specialties” such as trucks or brake equipment shipped from its own inventory or drop shipped from the manufacturer on a Southern purchase order.

In other cases, the Southern just wanted to know current prices or what alternates the car builders could offer, a drawing may not be associated with any cars actually purchased.

Southern freight car orders of the time tended to come in groups of cars from any number of builders. In advance of those car orders, the Southern would negotiate prices on the combined quantities of third-party hardware; trucks and brakes were most common, to be used in the new cars. Car specialties were like radios in 1950s automobiles…the dealer wanted to sell them as an add-on to make additional profit. Problem for them was…are they going to “no bid” an order for 500-1,000-1,500 cars?


On Sep 22, 2020, at 8:06 AM, Joel Walker <loneloper@...> wrote:

Thanks for the scans. The diagram, especially, is useful.

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