locked Southern Railway "F-Cards", Part 2

George Eichelberger

Here are links to two files that provide an example of a Southern Railway freight car Specification (F-17), an F-Card drawing list (F-5)
and the General Arrangement drawing (SF-1011) of the steel frame hopper cars in the Spec. and Card List.

No explanation has ever been found that explains WHY the Southern decided specifications and drawing lists should use the same "F-"
labels on two different documents. Confusing the F- numbers on Specs and Drawing Lists is easy to do. The two IDs might be the same F numbers
but that is not the case after the first few Specs were published. Some specifications include Truck (FT-) Specifications. FT numbers may be the same as the car spec but because trucks specs were used multiple times, the F- and FT- labels are probably different.

Specifications would be the first document produced when the Southern decided to purchase rolling stock. They could be written by the Southern or
submitted to the railroad by a carbuilder. Not every Spec resulted in an order for cars. Some were issued to solicit ideas from carbuilders for a similar car, other were simply to learn what carbuilders could offer. The railroad could provide drawings with the Specs to provide more details on the cars they wanted to buy. If they decided to purchase cars from a particular carbuilder, the builder could either submit their own design drawings, negotiate to build the Southern's drawing or create a new drawing that would be acceptable to the railroad that they could provide.

The Southern did not accept many variations from their specification. In some cases, that eliminated the carbuilder from negotiations. One particular problem was the railroad defined many of the wood components in early cars as standard "parts" they kept in stock for car repairs. If a carbuilder did not want, or could not, provide 8"x10" white oak side sills (the Southern's standard for that "part"), for example their design could be rejected.

Because car designs could vary between the original spec and what was delivered, details in the specifications may not be accurate for what was built and delivered.
As a result, there are drawings in the SRHA archives that were never used.

The third link is the draft of an index with car numbers, Spec. and F-Cards. It is not complete for various reasons; Southern subsidiaries may have used the same specification or F-Cards and the Southern may have re-ordered additional groups of cars without showing the new car series on the spec or Card List.

The SRHA archives contain Card Lists F-1 to F-213, New Car Programs (NCP) NCP-2 to NCP-59 and Specifications F-1 to F-200 and (early) F-A to F-H.
Comparing data in the various documents, correspondence and drawings for every car series is a major project that certainly needs to be done!