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Stock cars, needless to say, were used for carrying livestock.  The western roads had large stock cars fleets for transporting cattle to the packing houses in Chicago.  However, the big eastern roads also had large fleets. Though stock cars usually bring cattle to mind, sheep and pigs were transported, too. Because of the size differences in livestock, there were several types depending on what animals were to be carried.

    The AAR designations for the various types discussed here are as follows:


SA-  A double-deck livestock car with a fixed upper deck located sufficiently high enough to allow loading of cattle on the lower deck.  These were found primarily on the Union Pacific.


SC-  A double-deck stock car that can be converted to a single deck car.  This was normally accomplished by raising the upper deck with chains or pulleys.


SD-  A single-deck stock car having drop doors in the floor, which could double as drop bottom gondolas.  The Milwaukee Road and Santa Fe had cars of this type.  The Santa Fe cars had roof hatches and were used to haul coke.


SF-  A stock car with a fixed double-deck, generally not suitable for cattle.  This classification was retired sometime in the seventies and all double deck cars were classified as SC.


SM-  A single-deck stock car normally used for transporting cattle.  Though pigs and sheep could be hauled in a pinch, it was not as efficient as a double-deck car. 


ST-  A triple-deck stock car.  The Union Pacific had a fleet of these in later years.


  Livestock required expeditious handling as the law required livestock to be periodically removed from the car for food and water.  Stock cars were normally placed at the head end of a train to facilitate quick handling at terminals.  In addition, the livestock got a smoother ride as slack action is less severe at the head end of a train.  Of course, solid stock extras would be run when the traffic justified it.


    Livestock traffic declined steadily through the 50’s and 60’s and was virtually extinct by the early seventies.  By then, mechanical refrigeration had made shipping meat long distances practical.  Union Pacific was the last road to haul livestock, running stock extras into the 1990’s.  As the stock trade gradually evaporated, stock cars were sometimes put to use hauling other commodities that didn’t need to stay dry such as railroad ties.  Wayner’s Freight Car Pictorial contains a photo of a Rock Island stock car that had been converted into a boxcar by lining the inside with plywood sheets.


   Generally, stock cars were painted various shades of freight car red (referred to as brown in the charts below) with little more than reporting marks and dimensional data.  Below is a brief rundown of colorful stock car paint schemes offered on N scale models.


ATCHISON, TOPEKA & SANTA FE- The ampersand was dropped from reporting marks in 1938.  The doors on double-deck cars were painted yellow.  Small round delineators were added in the early sixties.  I can’t find any historical basis for the dark green cars offered by several manufacturers.


BURLINGTON NORTHERN-  Although the BN listed stock cars from predecessor roads into the early eighties, none of my Equipment Registers lists Burlington Northern stock cars.


CANADIAN NATIONAL / CANADIAN PACIFIC-  In the early years, Canadian stock cars were painted brown with the bottom two thirds was painted white.  All of the lettering and dimensional data was in the brown band at the top of the car.  This was done because quicklime was applied to the cars as a sanitary measure.  While Canadian Pacific seems to have continued this practice well into the seventies, Canadian National seems to have discontinued this practice in the sixties. Photos show solid brown Canadian National cars with the dimensional data in the normal location (though still stained white from quicklime).


CHICAGO & NORTH WESTERN-  The C&NW and subsidiary CMO began rebuilding a large number of 40’ boxcars into stock cars in 1954. They were painted in a green and yellow scheme.


GREAT NORTHERN-  The GN began rebuilding a large number of 40’ boxcars into stock cars in 1953.  The first few batches were painted brown, while the bright red scheme was used beginning in 1956.  A group of sixty-foot stock cars built in 1964 were painted in the Glacier Green scheme.  Only one forty-foot stock car is known to have been re-painted into the Big Sky Blue scheme in 1969.


MISSOURI-KANSAS-TEXAS-   A 1937 photo of an MKT stock car showed a dark colored car (presumably brown) with light lettering.  I believe the yellow & black scheme was adopted in the fifties.  However, no manufacturer got it quite right; most left out the black band along the bottom, while Micro-Trains didn’t paint the roof brown.


MISSOURI PACIFIC-  Minitrix 3217 is a yellow Missouri Pacific stock car sub-lettered for subsidiary NOT&M.  I suspect that the paint for this car and the 3218 Missouri-Kansas-Texas car were mistakenly switched, as it is the only brown MKT stock car offered in N-scale.


SOUTHERN PACIFIC-  SP’s post-war cars were painted brown. Between, 1946 and 1953 the reporting marks were replaced by the name spelled out over the car number.  I think the black stock cars represent an early scheme used on thirty-six foor cars, but it’s hard to tell from black-and-white photos.


UNION PACIFIC-  The UP switched to yellow lettering for its freight cars in 1947.  The first yellow “Livestock Despatch” cars with OSL reporting marks appeared in 1947, with the UP cars appearing in 1950.  These cars were for dedicated service on the Union Pacific.  In 1964, rebuilt cars began appearing painted yellow with silver roof and ends and red lettering.  The shield logo commonly seen on some models was apparently never applied to stock cars.  .

   Though just about every manufacturer has offered an N-scale  stock car, accurate models are relatively few. Because stock cars were largely home-made affairs, they differed from road to road, particularly in the location of letterboards.  I suspect that many early N-scale models were simply adaptations of boxcar tooling, and some are a bit oversized to fit on one-size-fits-all underframes. In addition, many of the early “train set” stock cars are decorated in dubious paint schemes.

   Structurally, stock car models can be divided into four broad categories according to number of panels (seven or nine) and type of truss (Howe or Pratt).  For example, the Micro-Trains car has a nine-panel Pratt truss. In a Pratt truss, the diagonal ribs slope downward towards the bottom of the door.  The current Atlas stock car has a seven-panel Howe truss.  In a Howe truss, the diagonal ribs slope upwards toward the top of the door.  Note that the door is counted as a panel. 


Now let’s look at the models available in N-scale…


Athearn 36' stock.jpg

    Roundhouse produced a model of a thirty-six foot old time stock car, which is now offered by Athearn.   It is a model of a Colorado Midland car with a seven panel Howe truss with solid sheathing along the top. Though the Clinchfield and Canadian National had similar cars, the model would be a generic stand-in for most post-war era thirty-six foot stock cars.  The truss rods under the model are probably an anachronism in the post-war era.  In addition, the model features arch bar trucks which were banned for interchange in 1940.    Though many of the road names offered are pre-war schemes, there are a few that are appropriate for the postwar period.


  Some forty foot cars are actually stand-ins for thirty-six foot cars. The Micro-Trains car is offered in Soo Line, which only owned thirty-six foot cars.  Broadway Limited’s Canadian Cars are numbered for thirty-six foot car series as is the early Atlas Canadian National car.  Finally, some of the last thirty-six foot cars were built by the Rio Grande in 1939, these had a seven-panel Pratt truss and are similar to the early Atlas car.


  In order to provide an accurate picture of overall stock traffic in the post-war period, I’ve included all the major owners of thirty-six foot stock cars in the chart below.  The right-hand column lists the appropriate Athearn cars, while the left-hand column lists Roundhouse.

Chart 36' stock car.jpg
Arnold 40' stock car.jpg


   The Arnold Rapido 40’ stock car is a somewhat oversized model of a double-deck car built for the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern in 1912.  It is an unusual car with offset main doors and two small upper deck doors on either side of the car.  The Iron Mountain was absorbed by the Missouri Pacific in 1917, and by the postwar period, the cars were gone.   Arnold offered this model lettered for both the abovementioned roads, as well as Union Pacific.  

Micro-Trains 40' stock car.jpg



   The Micro-Trains stock car is a model of a series of type SC stock cars built for the New York Central in 1947.  Numbered NYC 28000-25499, 500 cars were converted from USRA boxcars at the Central’s Despatch Shops in East Rochester, NY.  An additional 200 class SF cars numbered NYC 27200-27399 followed in 1948.  In the late fifties, about forty of the 28000 series cars were converted to single deck cars and numbered into the 22500-22744 series.  Micro-Trains issued this car in jade green in the early seventies, but I haven’t been able to confirm if this is accurate.  The October 1966 Equipment Register listed nine single-deck, one double-deck and five convertible cars.  All had been retired by the Penn Central merger in 1968.

   The Micro-Trains model makes a decent stand-in for other double deck cars as other railroads rebuilt USRA boxcars to produce similar eight-panel Pratt truss stock cars.  Among them were the Union Pacific, UP subsidiary Oregon Short Line, Great Northern, and Canadian Pacific.  Between 1941 and 1950 Santa Fe rebuilt about 4,500 boxcars into stock cars.  Though they were nine-panel Pratt truss cars, the upright ribs were channels and the diagonals were flat straps.  Finally, Norfolk & Western, Wabash, Western Pacific and Chicago & North Western all owned nine-panel Howe truss cars.    


   Years ago, Atlas offered a stock car model based on the same prototype as the Micro-Trains car.  Made in Austria, it was offered in four road names with catalog numbers 2251-2254.  Though New York Central was offered, it was the dark green NISX scheme, which I think was only used on fifty foot cars.  The car was later re-issued by Roco, who offered a few decent road names, most of which were also offered by Micro-Trains. 

Atlas USA 40' stock.jpg


  The current Atlas offering is a model of Union Pacific’s S-40-12 type SA stock cars which were delivered in 1950.  Three hundred cars numbered 47400-47699 wore the yellow “Livestock Despatch” scheme, which were for dedicated service on Union Pacific lines, while two hundred cars numbered 46800-46999 were delivered in the standard brown scheme with yellow lettering.  Two essentially identical classes totaling one thousand cars followed in 1951 and 1952.  Many of these cars were rebuilt into type SF or ST cars in the sixties, and the last cars were retired in 1979.

  This model of a modern stock car is a bit taller than most stock cars, so the rest of the road names offered would have to be considered stand-ins. However, both Great Northern and Wabash owned taller stock cars.  Model Power has also produced copies of this car; road names include Great Northern and Canadian National.

Intermountain ASTF stock car.jpg


Intermountain’s model represents several classes of stock cars built by the Santa Fe in 1928 and1929. Class SK-R, numbered 50500-50999, were type SM single-deck cars, as were class SK-T and SK-U numbered 60002-60801, for a total of 1,300 cars.  Class SK-Q and SK-S were type SC double-deck cars numbered 68600—69100, for a total of 500 cars.  The doors on the double-deck cars were painted yellow.  Intermountain offers each class in three different schemes:  as-built with the ampersand in the reporting marks, post-1938 without the ampersand, and post-1962 with the circular delineators along the bottom of the car.  Some of the late cars feature an ACI  placard, which first appeared in 1967.  These cars lasted until the end of stock traffic on the Santa Fe; the January 1972 Equipment Register listed 345 single-deck and 24 double-deck cars. 

Broadway 40' stock car.jpg


  The Broadway Limited stock car is a model of the Pennsylvania Railroad’s K7a stock cars.  Numbered 134079-135499, 1,420 of these type SC cars were rebuilt from X24 boxcars in 1934 and 1935.   The fleet dwindled rapidly in the late fifties, with 643 cars listed in the July 1957 Equipment Register, five in the April 1960 issue and three in the October 1966 issue.

   The six-panel zig-zag truss and diagonal end braces on these cars were unique to the Pennsy.  The Rio Grande, Milwaukee and Texas & New Orleans all owned seven-panel cars with composite ends.  The Canadian National and Canadian Pacific models more closely resemble their thirty-six foot cars, and indeed carry numbers from thirty-six foot car series.

ConCor 40' stock car.jpg


  I’m not sure what prototype the Con Cor stock car represents, my best guess would be a somewhat oversized model of the AAR stock car from the thirties.  With its large size, this model best represents larger capacity stock cars built in later years.  The closest match I could find was Union Pacific class S-50-15; a group of 300 single-deck cars built in 1956. Numbered 42000-42299, they were painted brown with yellow lettering. Con Cor’s UP model (1101B) is painted in yellow with red lettering, a scheme used on double-deck and triple-deck cars rebuilt from S-50-15 and other seven-panel Howe truss cars beginning in 1964.

  Con Cor’s Great Northern model (1101K)  is the only Great Northern car offered in brown, and could represent larger seven-panel Pratt truss cars rebuilt from larger boxcars.  Numbered 55600-55749, they were class SM cars built in 1954.  A second series of class SC cars numbered 54000-54124 painted vermillion red followed a couple years later.

  Sadly, the rest of the road names offered don’t have much to offer; there are better choices for NYC, SP, PRR and Swift, while the BN, B&O (blue) and PC cars are probably fictional schemes

Atlas Rivarossi stock car.jpg


  For many years, the “standard” N-scale stock car was a six-panel Pratt truss stock car that was offered by a number of companies.  I count at least four different dies: Bachmann (Hong Kong), Minitrix (Austria), Atlas (Italy) and Model Power / Life Like / MRC (Jugoslavia).  My best guess is they are all models of an ARA stock car from the 1920’s.  All were essentially the same six-panel Pratt truss car with minor detail variations in letter boards or roof details.  Most version of this car feature a square panel for a logo on the right side of the car, while the Minitrix car has an elongated letterboard on the upper left side.


  Though I haven’t been able to confirm it with a photo, I think the prototype for these models was a series of Chesapeake & Ohio cars built in 1936.  Atlas 2416 features the “C&O for Progress” logo adopted in 1947.  The Denver & Rio Grande owned similar thirty-six and forty foot cars; Life Like 7739 and Bachmann 5048 are the better choice as the flying “Rio Grande” is on the right side of the car.   Bachmann 5044 could stand in for two series of Great Northern seven-panel Pratt truss cars.  However, they had steel boxcar doors and lacked the large right side placard.   The Minitrix car would be a better choice if you decide to kitbash one.


  Missouri Pacific stock cars (Atlas 2414) featured placards with the “Buzzsaw” logo, but they had seven-panel Howe trusses.  Atlas 2415 is lettered for the Reading, which owned seven-panel Howe truss cars.  Finally, Model Power 3442 is a Northern Pacific car in the “Pig Palace” scheme.  Though they were seven-panel cars, they were rebuilt from steel boxcars and had a high profile with no diagonal braces.


The charts below include forty-foot boxcar totals for all the major railroads.  Where two models are listed in the manufacturers column, the one on the right is the closer match.  Finally, if any of you manufacturers are reading this, how about a Mathers stock car in N-scale?  A body with separately applied placard and letter boards would permit accurate stock cars for; B&O, C&NW, CB&Q, GM&O, GN, L&N, NISX, and NP!

Chart 40' stock car 1.jpg
Chart 40'stock car 2.jpg
Atlas 50' stock.jpg


   In the early sixties, several roads found it necessary to upgrade their aging stock car fleets.  Stock cars were normally handled on the hottest trains, and their ancient stock cars were causing problems and delays.  Livestock traffic was declining rapidly, so investment in new cars was out of the question.   The economical solution was to rebuild old boxcars.  Since livestock shipments did not weigh much, fifty-foot cars were the logical choice. 


  Atlas offers a model of a 50-foot stock car in N-scale.  If it has a prototype, it would presumably be the series of Burlington stock cars numbered 50500-50599.  Built in 1964, they were the only fifty-foot stock cars ever to be built new; however, I haven’t come across a photo yet.  Atlas deepens the mystery further by offering the car in two different Burlington schemes.  Another possibility I haven’t found a photo of yet is Great Northern’s double-deck series 153000-153004.  However, the model features a Howe truss, while the boxcars Great Northern would have built them from boxcars with Pratt trusses.


     For the rest of the road names, the model is a very generic stand-in.  Built by cutting various shaped holes into the sides of steel boxcars or splicing together forty-foot stock cars, most 50-foot stock cars and bore little resemblance to the Atlas model.  The Pennsylvania and Wabash cars were built from round-roof boxcars, while the NISX cars were constructed by splicing two forty-foot stock cars  The January 1993 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman featured an article entitled “The Last Stand of Stock Cars in the East” which contains photos of some of these cars.


   Lima of Italy also produced a fifty-foot stock car.  Like the Atlas model, it has an eight-panel Howe truss, but is only forty-five feet long.  I suspect it is a model of a forty-foot car that was stretched to fit the Lima underframe, which is a bit of a shame, as model has a nice low profile.  Though most of the schemes are too colorful to be real,  the New York Central and Pennsylvania roadnames could be halfway decent stand ins.  However, these roadnames aren’t available on the Chinese-made version currently available from Model Power. 

   The chart below is a comprehensive listing of fifty-foot stock cars.  Perhaps Atlas will issue another run featuring the few schemes they haven’t done yet.  Of course, what I‘d really like to see is Bowser’s model of Pennsy’s K9 stock car in N-scale!

Chart 50' stock car.jpg
Atlas 86' stock car.jpg


  Satisfied with their fleet of 40-foot “Pig Palace” cars, the Northern Pacific built an 85-foot “Big Pig Palace” car in 1964.  This car, numbered 84200 is the basis for the Atlas 85’ Hi-cube stock car model.   While this car was short-lived, the Northern Pacific ordered 22 more 85-foot stock cars from Ortner Car.  Numbered 84300-84321, they were nearly identical to the 84200; the primary difference being the lack of running boards on the roof.

   Atlas offered this car in three additional private owner schemes, all of whom received 85-foot stock cars from Ortner.  However, these cars differed substantially from the model, having diagonal braces across the entire car.  The PRR Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment has a photo of a Food Fair car in a train rounding Horseshoe Curve.  All three of the Private owner companies had home points in Philadelphia, so these cars were probably a common sight on Pennsy freight trains.


   Though Atlas described the model as a “Hi-cube” car, these cars had an extreme height of only fifteen feet; about the same height as the boxcars of the day. Only Southern Pacific had true Hi-cube stock cars, with an extreme height of seventeen feet.  The chart below is a complete listing of 85-foot stock cars.  The GASX cars are similar to the private owner cars.  I recall reading that they were once used for the seasonal transport of golf carts between the Northeast and Florida.  The chart below is a comprehensive list of 85-foot stock cars.

Chart 86' stock car.jpg
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