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While the fifty-foot boxcar dates back to the turn of the last century, it wasn’t built in great numbers until the 1960’s.  Until then, its primary purpose had been for hauling automobiles.  Like their forty-foot counterparts, fifty-foot boxcars were designated according to the equipment they carried as follows:  


XF- A boxcar with an interior coating to prevent contamination of processed foods.


XL (Formerly XML)-  A boxcar equipped with loader devices, consisting of perforated side rails, crossbars or bulkheads.  These cars often carried markings such as “DF” or “LD” indicating the type of device.


XM- A boxcar suitable for general service.


XP (Formerly XMP)- A boxcar specially equipped for a specific commodity, and not suitable for general service.  The commodity is usually noted in the Equipment Register. The designation of “XAP” was formerly used to indicate cars equipped with racks for auto parts.


XI- A boxcar that is wholly or partially insulated, but not equipped with ventilation or refrigeration equipment.   This designation was later retired by simply adding an “I” to the other designations.  In addition many cars of this type were re-classed as type “RB” or “RBL” refrigerator cars.


  The rise of the fifty-foot boxcar coincided with the dieselization of America’s railroads, which made it possible to run much longer trains.  While this saved the railroads money, it also increased freight damage due to slack action.  Because of this, many of the new boxcars of the time were equipped with various loading devices designed to secure loads from moving.  When these devices were new, they were often advertised on the car sides, which can be found on many of our models.  These devices were expensive and complicated, and have been largely replaced by inflatable cushions.


   The chart below details the growth of fifty-foot boxcars on the New York Central Railroad between 1947 and 1966.


Chart NYC 50' boxcars by type.jpg

This chart lists New York Central's fifty foot single-door boxcars by type.

NYC 40' SS boxcars by type.png




  The Milwaukee Road constructed a vast fleet of boxcars in their own shops. These unique cars were of all-welded construction with horizontal ribs welded to the sides. In addition to thousands of forty-foot cars, they constructed 975 fifty-foot single-door cars.  In 1964, the Milwaukee began rebuilding nearly half of the cars with ten-foot doors and loading devices.  Other cars were rebuilt with nine-foot doors. 


   The Fox Valley model represents the cars as originally built with six-foot doors.  The door width is indicated in the charts where it differs from the model.  A few cars were used in passenger service; the Official Passenger Equipment Registers don’t indicate door width, however.

Chart MILW ribbed 50'.jpg
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