Atlas Model Railroad Co. - Freight Car Nomenclature?
Atlas Model Railroad Co.
Save Password

Forgot Password?
  Atlas Model Home   Forums   Events Calendar   Rules   FAQ  
Active Topics | Members | Online Users | Forum Archive | Basic Forum (Mac / Netscape Users) | Search | Statistics
[ Active Members: 0 | Anonymous Members: 0 | Guests: 84 ]  [ Total: 84 ]  [ Newest Member: RaymondLok ]
 All Forums
 Atlas Model Railroad Forums
 N Scale Model Railroad Forum
 Freight Car Nomenclature?
 Forum Locked |   Topic Locked |   Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic: Glue for styrene/foam Topic Next Topic: do you use a scanner?  


Posted - 2009 April 06 :  5:55:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit Spookshow's Homepage
As I plod through my research for the N Scale Freight Car Encyclopedia, I've encountered a rather bewildering variety of nomenclature used to describe wooden freight cars (box, gondola, hopper, whatever). EG -

Wood Sided
Wood Sheathed
Single Sheathed
Double Sheathed
Outside Braced
Old Time

Anybody care to take a whack at sorting this all out for me? If at all possible, I'd like to use a standardized set of terminology for these wooden cars - and hopefully boiled down to a couple of "correct" designations.


Dear Atlas - Please Make More DME/ICE Models!

Country: USA | Posts: 5560

victor miranda

Posted - 2009 April 06 :  6:11:06 PM  Show Profile
you left out truss rods...

most of the descriptions are an attempt to 'sell' the car to the shippers
and so new cars are better than old cars.

my understanding is that cars progressed from all wood to all steel

and except for WWII it was newer cars had less wood

First floors or frames then the ends, roofs
and then doors and sides.

the cars grew is size also.

I think old time and wood are the same thing
usually it means the ends are wood.
some times they mean truss-rods equipped.

Sheathed is the same as wood sheathed
buuuut... I think this meas better weather protection mostly. often metal ends.

Outside braced and single sheathed look the same to me
and composite is a war needs compromise
they look like outside braced cars
of newer design. usually a Hopper term.

All of this comes from looking at pictures
and models and reading the various descriptions.

call it a composite understanding.

Edited by - victor miranda on 2009 April 06 6:14:36 PM

Country: | Posts: 4519 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 April 06 :  7:56:14 PM  Show Profile  Visit 3rdrail's Homepage
There were all wooden cars, but these were generally built pre-1900. This would be a "wood" car. What some refer to as a "wood-sided" car has a metal roof and underframe and probably metal ends. Most likely "double sheathed", which means there is wood siding on both sides of the side and end bracing. "Single sheathed" simply means the exterior siding is left off. "Outside braced" is a railfan description of a single sheathed car. "Composite" refers to box, hopper, and gondola cars built during WW II that used wood planking for siding instead of steel.

Wood was widely used in boxcars up until 1970 for both flooring and interior side and end walls. Something was needed to nail blocking and bracing to... Flats and gons had wooden floors for the same reason.

"Old time" is anything that predates the era you model.

Country: | Posts: 4453 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 April 06 :  8:23:15 PM  Show Profile  Visit Spookshow's Homepage
Hmm, I guess this query isn't going to work "out of context" (IE, without talking about specific models).

I guess I'll just wait for knowledgeable visitors to the eventual encyclopedia to hopefully provide me with more accurate (IE - not dreamed up by some AHM marketing guy) nomenclature


Dear Atlas - Please Make More DME/ICE Models!

Country: USA | Posts: 5560 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 April 07 :  12:07:06 AM  Show Profile
I think the prototype didn't really care what they were called other than a class of cars. I'm not sure what the correct modeling terms are, but I thought the main thing with War Emergency cars was they they were mostly rebuilds and composite because they used both metal and wood, where they could substitute wood for metal. I believe some roads replaced the single sheathed sides with metal sides and retained their earlier metal ends. The Milwaukee had cars ~1923ish that came after the double sheathed but had what I thought of as composite ends: Wood ends with steel bracing and a metal plate on the bottom of the ends.
It took me awhile to figure out why there weren't outside braced refrigerator cars (or at least I couldn't think of any). They were always rotting out so the double sheathed were easier to repair and keep in service. Somewhat related that there weren't many metal meat ice reefers because the rust. But perhaps they were waiting for mechanical reefers and kept the old fleet going until the technology stepped up.
There were also oddities like the ~1937 GN and NP cars that look like a throwback to double sheathed but they were otherwise current AAR. I suspect they were being loyal to the wood products industry as PRR was an early adapter for steel cars to support their customers.
I suspect many of us have selective focus on nitpicking the differences. I want my Milwaukee fleet to be close... but I don't want to be scratchbuilding 44' double sheathed boxcars, etc. so I'll paint and decal stand-ins. On foreign roads, I prefer to go with what the manufacturers come up with. There is a Bachmann car that I like for GN. I have no idea if it is right but it looks non-MIlwaukee. I am really glad Atlas has been turning out these prewar ARA 40' boxcars. What a nice variety. --Kirk Reddie

Country: USA | Posts: 226 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 April 07 :  10:50:52 AM  Show Profile  Visit 3rdrail's Homepage
Kirk, the reason double sheathed wood reefers were so common is twofold. Wood is a better insulator than steel, and horsehair insulation was placed between interior and exterior sheathing. AFAIK, PRR was one of the few railroads that had "outside braced" reefers, class R7, that went to Fruit Growers Express in the 1920's. A few lasted into the 1950's in Mathieson Dry Ice service.

It was only when the price of good wood sheathing skyrocketed after WW II that all steel refrigerator cars were generally adopted.

Country: | Posts: 4453 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 April 07 :  1:13:06 PM  Show Profile
That makes sense. Thanks! -Kirk

Country: USA | Posts: 226 Go to Top of Page

Mr Z

Posted - 2009 April 07 :  1:51:35 PM  Show Profile
I think another reason for wood reefers lasting longer than wood box cars etc. was sometimes reefers carried a mixture of ice and salt. This enabled them to keep the reefer colder but would eat through any metal parts.

Martin Z

Country: USA | Posts: 60 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2009 April 07 :  2:03:12 PM  Show Profile
Wood - A wood car is all wood construction, sides, roof, underframe. Tyical of cars built before the 1890's.

Wood Sided
Wood Sheathed - More or less the same thing. The exterior covering of the carbody is wood. Wood covered cars were built into the 1940's and 1950's. Non-specific.

Sheathed - Covered, has sides, non-specific.

Single Sheathed - Usually refers to a boxcar. A boxcar has a framework that supports the roof and sides and may provide structural support of the load. A single sheathed car has just siding on the inside of the structural framework. The framework is typically steel. A common design between the world wars.

Double Sheathed - Usually refers to a boxcar. The boxcar has both an interior lining and an exterior covering over the framework. The framework may be steel or wood. the lineing keeps the commodity from getting caught in the framework. A common design between the world wars. Actually most "smooth side" steel boxcars are double sheathed, having a wooden lining and the steel exterior.

Composite - Having both steel and wooden parts, such as a steel underframe or truss work and wooden superstructior or sides.

Outside Braced - Non-specific term, usually means "single sheathed" or "composite". Often used incorrectly to describe modern boxcars (correct term: exterior side post).

Old Time - Extremely non-specific. Can be anything from the 1950's to 1850's, depending on the point of view of the user.
Editorial: Since I model the 190 era, I generally consider the term "old time" to mean, "I really have no clue about it, but it has wood on it so I think it might be before the era that I model."

Truss rods - Metal bars or rods that usually run under the frame of a car to for a "deck truss" to support the load of the car. Used from the mid 1800's to just past WW1 when they were rendered obsolete by steel underframes.

Country: | Posts: 1130 Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic: Glue for styrene/foam Topic Next Topic: do you use a scanner?  
 Forum Locked |   Topic Locked |   Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Atlas Model Railroad Co. © 1709-2011 Atlas Models Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 3.43 seconds. Powered By: Snitz Forums 2000