SINGLE DOOR EXTERIOR POST BOXCARS
The first steel boxcars had an interior sheathing of wood, which provided a soft surface which could be nailed into to secure the load. By the late fifties, loading devices were becoming commonplace, replacing the inside wood sheathing with steel walls. This made the outside steel wall superfluous, and car builders began producing boxcars with exterior ribs. Though Pullman Standard was building exterior post boxcars as early as 1961, production didn’t take off in earnest until the seventies.
However, money was tight in the railroad industry at this time. What little capital that was available for rolling stock was spent primarily on specialized cars such as intermodal flats and covered hoppers. This resulted in a boxcar shortage that was relieved by Railbox and incentive per diem (IPD) boxcars. Railbox was a subsidiary of Trailer Train and provided a pool of free-running boxcars for member railroads. The first Railbox car appeared in October, 1974 and by 1981, the fleet had grown to over 24,000 cars. In the mid-seventies, the per diem charge was increased on new boxcars. This created an opportunity for investing in boxcars. Companies like National Railway Utilization and SSI created fleets of free-running boxcars that were leased to short line railroads which received a percentage of the revenue. By 1980, approximately 30,000 IPD boxcars had been built for dozens of railroads in a riot of colors.
Between the IPD boxcars and new covered hoppers, the late seventies were the most colorful period for freight trains in railroad history. However, this golden age did not last long. In 1980, the country went into recession and the Staggers act deregulating railroad car-hire rules was passed. The major railroads had always chafed at paying the per diem on IPD boxcars, and sent them back to their short lines. Few of the short lines had sufficient business for all their cars, or even space to store them, so the majority of the IPD boxcars were hastily sold and patched for their new owners. In addition, Railbox sold off all of their smaller “Plate B” boxcars in 1983, creating even more patched boxcars.
Researching this boxcar diaspora is difficult, as some boxcars were sold so quickly that they never appeared in the Equipment Registers. For those short-lived series, the quantity of cars built is indicated with an asterisk next to the number in either the “10/75” or “7/81” column. Larger roads such as Canadian National and Illinois Central Gulf aquired small lots from different builders and lumped them together in one series. While the built dates for freight cars are widely available, the acquisition dates for second-hand cars is difficult to find, so quite a few are blank in the charts. In addition the quantities listed for the nineties include only the series that I was able to positively identify.
N-scale models of exterior post boxcars have been available for a long time. Roundhouse introduced a line of FMC and Pullman Standard boxcars in the seventies, while Micro-Trains brought out their line of FMC models in the eighties. Many of the paint schemes on these early cars are stand-ins for cars from other builders. However, most of the cars were similar to FMC’s with seven-panel sides, ten-foot doors and box-corrugated ends. More recently, N-scale models of cars from ACF, SEICO, Evans and Gunderson have appeared from several manufacturers. For those who’d like to learn more, Railmodel Journal ran a long series of articles on IPD boxcars containing many color photos of the cars in their prime. The first installment appeared in the December 1999 issue and ran through September 2002.
ACF PRECISION DESIGN BOXCARS
In 1971, American Car and Foundry introduced an outside-post version of their Precision Design boxcar. Like many other outside post cars, they had seven panel sides and ten-foot doors, but retained the dreadnaught ends of earlier cars. By offering a standardized car with few variations, ACF was able to offer an inexpensive boxcar at a time when many railroads were strapped for cash. Production was limited, however, as ACF once again changed their boxcar design in 1974.
Atlas produced an N-scale model of the rib-side Precision Design boxcar in 2003. Made in China, the model features etched metal end platforms and truck-mounted couplers. With seven subsequent production runs, it has been offered in nearly every road that owned them (except Union Pacific). Most of the road names offered are accurate models, with the few exceptions noted below. A few of the Micro-Trains and Roundhouse FMC models are standing-in for this body style and have been included in the chart below.
ATLANTIC & WESTERN (ATW)- Atlas 50001285 is numbered for a series of similar Pullman Standard cars acquired from the Chicago & North Western.
GRAND TRUNK WESTERN (GTW)- The Grand Trunk’s cars were former Rock Island cars which had gone to the Union Pacific before being sold to Canadian National. They had been modified by adding vents to the sides and strengthening the ends for paper pulp service.
ILLINOIS TERMINAL (ITC)- Illinois Terminal’s Precision Design boxcars had non-standard nine-foot doors.
ACF 50’5” EXTERIOR POST BOXCARS
ACF changed their design in 1974, the primary differences being box corrugated ends and slightly wider end panels. The first cars constructed for Railbox and Texas and Pacific were smaller plate B cars with a capacity of 5,090 cubic feet. Subsequent cars were plate C” cars having a capacity of 5,290 cubic feet. The design changed again around 1979; the long fishbelly side sill was eliminated in favor of a small straight sill underneath the door.
N-scale models of ACF boxcars are available from Atlas and Bachmann. Both are models of an early plate C car with a fishbelly side sill. The Atlas model is a part of their “Trainman” series, and features truck mounted couplers and molded-on doors and end platforms. The Bachman model features body mounted couplers and operating doors. While most of the road names offered by Atlas are accurate, some of the road names represent similar cars from other car builders. To their credit, Atlas does mention this in their ads. Bachmann was less diligent in choosing road names, but most at least do represent similar cars with seven panel sides and box-corrugated ends. The sole exception is Bachmann 19660, which represents a series of FMC McCloud River double-door boxcars!
In the chart below, those ACF cars that differ from the model are indicated as follows: an “S” indicates cars with Superior doors, an “E” indicates a precision design car, and an “L” indicates cars with a late side sill. Those models representing cars from other builders are listed separately at the bottom as stand-ins. Other exceptions are as noted below:
MIDDLETOWN & NEW JERSEY (MNJ)- Bachmann 19653 carries an ACF stencil, however I havcn’t been able to confirm the builder for this series. The NRU logo is printed directly on the door instead of on a placard, and NRU cars were typically equipped with door assists.
MINNEAPOLIS, NORTHFIELD & SOUTHERN (MNS)- Atlas 39953A is numbered for series 49800-49899; delivered in January 1979, which had the late side sill. An earlier series numbered 49700-49724 delivered in April 1978 had the early side sill, but came with Superior doors. Both series are included in the chart.
MISSOURI PACIFIC (MP)- Though these plate B cars were initially delivered to the T&P with Youngstown doors, photos of cars in the Union Pacific era show them with Superior doors.
NEW YORK SUSQUHANNA & WESTERN (NYSW)- I couldn’t find any reference to this series, but the Atlas model carries a “Made in Mexico” stencil.
ONTARIO NORTHLAND (ONT)- This model represents a series of boxcars acquired second-hand from the St. Lawrence Railroad. Built by Evans, they had Superior doors with a square placard for the NRU logo.
SOUTHERN/NORFOLK SOUTHERN (SOU/NS)- The Atlas models represent three series of early Pullman Standard cars delivered to Southern in 1970-1971. They had similar seven-panel sides and fishbelly side sills, but had corrugated ends and a different roof.
VERMONT NORTHERN (VNO)- Atlas 50000695 carries VNO reporting marks, but the January, 1978 Equipment Register listed Vermont Northern reporting marks as VNOR. Built by FMC, series 7700-7740 had the same built date and paint scheme as the model, and were presumably the same cars. The Vermont Northern was no longer listed in the January, 1979 issue, and the cars went to the Wabash Valley.
RAILBOX (RBOX)- ACF delivered the first of 3,400 plate B cars to Railbox in October 1974. The first 500 plate C cars, numbered were delivered in February 1978 with Superior doors, while the first of 1,600 plate C cars with Youngstown doors were delivered in January of 1979. In 1983, Railbox sold all but one of their plate B cars to member railroads.
UNITED STATES ARMY (USAX)- Atlas 50001546 is numbered for a small series of early Pullman Standard boxcars, possibly ex-Southern. Cars with USAX reporting marks are not listed in the Equipment Registers. The index indicates that such cars were for “intra-plant service” which means they would ordinarily not be seen on freight trains.
The Southern Iron and Equipment Company (SIECO) began construction of fifty-foot exterior post boxcars in 1972. These “Plate B” cars had a capacity of 5,077 cubic feet and featured eight-panel sides, dreadnaught ends, X-panel roofs and wide C-channel side sills. The side sills were reinforced by an angle iron under the doors and ended at the end side panels, creating a distinctive square cutout at each end of the car. A few cars were built by another Evans subsidiary, U.S. Railway Equipment (USRE). Except for their bifurcated Dreadnaugh ends, they were essentially identical to the SIECO built cars. The design was replaced by a “Plate C” seven-panel car with box corrugated ends when Evans acquired SIECO in the mid-seventies.
Athearn offers an N-scale model of the SEICO boxcar, which features truck-mounted couplers and photo etched foot stirrups. The doors do not operate, but models of NRU short line cars (NSL, PICK and PT) include a placard on the door for the logo. Most NRU cars also had door assists, which are not included on the model. Those models that represent USRE-built cars are indicated by an asterisk in the “ROAD” column.
A few of the models represent early Evans “Plate C” boxcars and are listed as stand-ins. These slightly larger cars had seven-panel sides and box-corrugated ends.
CANADIAN PACIFIC- CP series 211600-212805 consists of a large group of different cars acquired secondhand from U.S. railroads. Among them are SIECO cars from the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie and St. Lawrence; the quantity listed in the chart is a best guess.
CP also owned a small fleet of SIECO cars purchased new in 1976 numbered CPAA 207183-207322.
FLORIDA EAST COAST- In addition to the cars listed in the chart, FEC acquired a second series of SIECO eight-panel boxcars in 1977. Numbered 23075-23124, they had eight-panel sides with box corrugated ends.
With the acquisition of the Southern Iron and Equipment Company (SIECO), Evans changed their exterior-post boxcars to a more conventional “Plate C” design with a capacity of 5,277 cubic feet. The number of side panels was reduced to seven and the dreadnaught ends were replaced by box corrugated ends. The distinctive side sill with square cutouts remained for a few years, but was replaced by a straight side sill that went completely across the car in late 1979.
Exactrail offers N-scale models of both versions of the Evans boxcar. They feature truck-mounted couplers and photo etched foot stirrups and end platforms. The doors do not operate, but models have the NRU placards on the doors where appropriate. All of the road names offered are accurate for the body style, however the NRU short line cars (MISS, NSL) had door assists, which are not included on the model.
B&O CANSTOCK CARS
In 1972, PullmanStandard delivered a series of unusual boxcars to the Baltimore & Ohio. Designed for the canstock trade, they featured 12-1/2 foot doors that were offset far to one end of the car. A second series of nearly identical cars from Berwick Forge & Fabricating (BFF) was delivered in 1975. Despite their small numbers and specialized service they seem to have gotten around: photos on Railcarphotos.com show a B&O car in California and CSX cars in Georgia, Colorado, Ohio and New York.
Fox Valley Models offers an N-scale model of the Pullman Standard car. It is a state of the art model with etched metal details and body mounted couplers. The white band on the roof represents a translucent panel which allows light into the car. While the Chessie scheme represents a repainted Pullman Standard car, it could also represent a car from the BFF series, which was delivered in the Chessie System scheme. In the chart below, the quantities for CSX include both car series.
PULLMAN STANDARD WAFFLE-SIDE BOXCARS
ATHEARN and ROUNDHOUSE
The development of exterior post boxcars created a problem; the smooth steel interior walls lacked any way to secure lading inside the boxcar. This problem was solved by stamping indentations into the wall panels to accommodate loading devices. These rows of horizontal indentations and vertical ribs created the impression of waffles. The majority of waffle-side boxcars were built by Pullman Standard and southeastern railroads owned large fleets of them.
Roundhouse produced an N-scale model of a waffle-side boxcar in the eighties, which is currently offered by Athearn. It is a model of a six-panel car with four rows of indentations and Youngstown doors. Unfortunately, the model is an accurate representation of only a single series of 400 Louisville & Nashville cars. Although four other railroads purchased six-panel, four-row boxcars, all differed somewhat from the model as outlined below. Interestingly, most of those road names have not yet been produced in N-scale. The chart below divides the models into six-panel, four-row cars and those that are stand-ins for other types of cars. An asterisk next to the catalog number indicates a model that is not numbered for the indicated series. Note that several of the stand-ins represent early seven-panel Pullman Standard cars, which were similar except for the extra panel. Cars constructed by ACF had both small rectangular indentations and larger square ones.
DENVER & RIO GRANDE WESTERN- Athearn 25378 and Roundhouse 81702 represent a series of seven-panel four-row cars built by ACF in 1971 numbered 65300-65349 . Roundhouse 8174 represents a series of eight-panel four-row cars built by Fruit Growers Express in 1974 numbered 64100-64149.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL- In 1969-70, the original Illinois Central built 2,600 eight-panel, four-row cars in their company shops, while Illinois Central Gulf built another 600 in the mid-seventies.
ILLINOIS TERMINAL- ITC’s six-panel Pullman Standard cars had nine-foot superior doors and straight side sills. Prototype photos show these cars were painted yellow, while Roundhouse 8178 is orange.
LOUISVILLE & NASHVILLE- Roundhouse 8173 is an accurate representation of the prototype, while the remaining models represent seven-panel cars built by Pullman Standard and ACF.
MAINE CENTRAL- Maine Central acquired eight-panel, four-row waffles with plug doors from ACF.
ST. LOUIS-SAN FRANCISCO- Frisco’s six-panel four-row waffles had straight side sills, superior doors and a flatter roof profile.
SEABOARD COAST LINE- Roundhouse 8171 is numbered for SCL’s first series of waffle boxcars, which were built by ACF and had eight-panels, four rows of waffles and nine-foot doors. They were followed by 3,379 early Pullman Standard seven-panel cars with nine-foot doors in 1969-1971. SCL received two series of later six-panel cars in 1974; they differed from the model by having plug doors and both carried the “Family Lines” logo. Series 24850-25699 were painted brown, while series 60300-60449 had cushioned draft gear and were painted black.
SEABOARD SYSTEM- Thought the number series doesn’t correspond, Athearn 81701 appears to represent a patched early Louisville & Nashville car. The quantities listed for Roundhouse 8183 and 8184 represents all Seaboard waffle boxcars not already included in the chart.
SOUTHERN- Southern owned thousands of six-panel cars with nine rows of indentations and Pullman Standard doors. Accurate models are available from Exactrail.
UNITED STATES ARMY- The Army acquired Pullman Standard seven-panel, four-row cars from Delaware & Hudson. According to the Equipment Registers, cars with USAX reporting marks were for intra-plant service only.
PULLMAN STANDARD WAFFLE-SIDE BOXCARS
In the late seventies, the Southern Railway acquired a large fleet of six-panel waffle boxcars with nine rows of indentations from Pullman Standard. These ubiquitous cars became a hallmark of the Southern Railway, who operated a fleet of 4,425 cars. This figure doesn’t include plug door and double-door cars! Though the purpose of the indentations was to accommodate loading devices, the majority of the cars were unequipped type XM boxcars. However, many were later equipped for paper loading and re-designated as type XP.
Exactrail’s N-scale model of features Pullman Standard doors and body-mounted couplers. There’s even a variation with Slidewell door assists. This sharp-looking N-scale model is a personal favorite of mine, as they were a common sight throughout my 42-year railroad career. Exactrail announced a second run of these cars in September 2022, adding five Southern Railway paint schemes and three Family Lines schemes. The chart below is a comprehensive list of six-panel, nine row waffle side boxcars with single sliding doors. Cars equipped with door assists are listed separately.
DAKOTA, MINNESOTA & EASTERN- The DME acquired their cars from the Southern, and retained their Pullman Standard doors into the 2020’s.
FAMILY LINES / CSXT- CSX inherited cars from Family Lines predecessor railroads Seaboard Coast Line, Georgia Railroad and Clinchfield. These cars had Youngstown doors, so differed slightly from the model.
SOUTHERN- Exactrail 50413 represents Southern’s first series of cars delivered in 1974 and carries a yellow “DF” on the door. The October, 1975 Equipment Register indicated that all cars in the series were loader equipped type XL boxcars. The DF loaders were apparently removed, as the January, 1978 register indicated that all but eight of the series were unequipped type XM boxcars. The figures in the chart for 50413 indicate the type XL cars, while the XM cars are included with catalog number 50401. Some cars carried sub-lettering in the upper right-hand corner for Southern Railway subsidiaries Central of Georgia (Exactrail 50408), Georgia Southern & Florida (Exactrail 50410), and Interstate. The Equipment Registers provide no information on the number of sub-lettered cars. Three car series were equipped with Slidewell door assists, and while they are still indicated in the July, 1999 Equipment Register, the latest photo I could find of a car with door assists was 1985. In addition, the latest photo of a car with Pullman Standard doors was 1988, photos after this date show cars with Superior or Youngstown doors.
PULLMAN STANDARD 5,277 EXTERIOR POST BOXCARS
ATHEARN, INTERMOUNTAIN and ROUNDHOUSE
Pullman Standard produced their first exterior post boxcars in 1960. By1973, they had developed a standardized design with six side panels and non-terminating corrugated ends. The design was available in a 5,077 cubic-foot plate B version as well as a taller 5,277 cubic-foot plate C version. Some of the early cars were constructed with fishbelly side sills but most were built with straight side sills.
Roundhouse produced an N-scale model of the Pullman Standard 5,277 boxcar in the seventies. It featured straight side sills and was available with either Pullman Standard or Youngstown doors. The initial Roundhouse release included cars decorated for Railbox as well as several mid-seventies schemes for large railroad systems. While the Railbox model was accurate, all of the others were either stand-ins for other body styles or generic cars numbered for non-existent series.
Roundhouse later released models of many of the IPD shortline schemes, as did Athearn who acquired the tooling from Roundhouse. Many of the models were representations of Pullman Standard’s later 5,344 cubic-foot boxcars, particularly those with Youngstown doors. Intermountain now offers a model of the 5,277 cubic-foot boxcars which feature Pullman Standard or Superior doors as appropriate.
The chart below includes those 5,277 boxcars delivered new, as well as models of second-hand cars. Letters in parentheses indicate the following: a “B” indicates plate B cars, an “f” indicates cars with fishbelly side sills, and a “y” indicates cars with Youngstown doors. Stand-in models are listed separately, and models representing later 5,344 cubic-foot Pullman Standard boxcars are listed there.
CHICAGO & NORTH WESTERN- Roundhouse 8132 is numbered for the series 162000-162599, a group of seven-panel Pullman Standard boxcars delivered in 1973.
The model could also represent series 163000-163299, a group of plate B cars with fishbelly side sills and Youngstown doors delivered in 1979.
CSXT- Athearn 2055 and Intermountain 67511 are numbered for a series of former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac cars. Also included separately in the chart are former Railbox plate B cars inherited from Chesapeake & Ohio.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL GULF- ICG acquired a large number of IPD boxcars of all types from the St. Lawrence and other NRU roads. Pictures are hard to come by, and the Equipment Registers don’t provide many clues, so there may have been more cars than those indicated in the chart.
MONTANA RAIL LINK- Intermountain 67518 represents a series of former Railbox late plate B cars with straight side sills acquired from Union Pacific. Intermountain 67525 represents a series of former Railbox early plate B cars with fishbelly side sills acquired from Southern Railway in 1993. They were rebuilt with taller roofs, cushion underframes and Superior doors.
PICKENS and ST. LAWRENCE- These NRU shortline cars were constructed from kits and differed from the model by having diagonal panel roofs, door assists and square logo placards on the doors.
SOUTHERN- Intermountain 67524 is numbered for a series of seven-panel cars acquired from Pullman Standard in 1970; it has L3 stencils and post-1985 dimensional data. Roundhouse 8131 is also numbered for a series of seven-panel Pullman-Standard cars numbered 550000-550949, however these carried the “Super Cushion Service” slogan instead of the “Serves the South” slogan on the model.
WISCONSIN CENTRAL- Roundhouse 8120 is numbered for a series of ex-Railbox plate B boxcars acquired from Southern Railway. A large number of these cars were rebuilt with plug doors and renumbered in the 27000 series. Athearn 2088 is numbered for this series and carries the conspicuity stripes adopted in 2005.
RAILBOX- Roundhouse 8121 is numbered for a series of plate B cars. The first 1,000 plate B cars numbered 14000-14999 had fishbelly side sills, while the remaining 2,100 cars numbered 15000-16499 and 21000-21599, had straight side sills. The first of 5,640 plate C cars arrived in 1978. In 1983, Railbox sold off their plate B cars to member railroads.
PULLMAN STANDARD 5,344 EXTERIOR POST BOXCARS
FOX VALLEY MODELS
In 1978, Pullman Standard again modified their design, producing a car with a capacity of 5,344 cubic feet. Except for a much flatter roof profile, they were essentially identical to earlier 5,277’s. Unlike their earlier counterparts the majority were equipped with Youngstown doors.
Fox Valley Models introduced an N-scale 5,344 in 2008. The early releases featured Micro-Trains truck mounted couplers, but later releases featured body mounted couplers with Fox Valley metal wheels. A nifty feature on these models is the paint overspray on the roof, which was common on the protoype. Fox Valley was recently purchased by ScaleTrains, who has not yet announced releases of the 5,344’s.
The chart below includes those 5,344 boxcars delivered new, as well as models of second-hand cars. A “P” in parentheses indicates cars that are equipped with Pullman Standard doors. The catalog numbers of Roundhouse 5,277 models that represent 5,344 cars are included here. An asterisk next to the catalog number indicates that the model does not carry the road number indicated in the chart.
CSXT- Fox Valley Models 8109 is numbered for CSX series 129700-130699, a group of former Railbox seven-panel ACF plate B boxcars acquired from Seaboard System. However, CSX did own a few former Port Huron & Detroit 5,344’s scattered through series 143598-143729, which had been sold to other railroads by 2005.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL- Illinois Central Gulf acquired about 560 Pullman Standard 5,344 boxcars from several IPD short lines in the eighties. In the July 1999 Equipment Register, 139 cars with ICG reporting marks remained and 28 cars carried IC reporting marks.
NEW ORLEANS PUBLIC BELT- The quantities listed for NOPB include 400 5,144 cubic-foot plate B boxcars. Numbered 3100-3499, they were five inches lower than the 5,344’s but otherwise identical.