Friday, January 23, 2009

Boxcars for almost everything

Once upon a time, nearly everything moved in a boxcar. Grain, finished lumber, automobiles and parts, tools, house wares, clothing, aircraft parts, and nearly everything else imaginable could be found moving in a boxcar. Today, containers have replaced boxcars in most applications but a few remain in service for special applications such as newsprint and pulp. A few of the classic boxcars survive in museums including the Northwest Railway Museum.

The Museum has several great examples of typical boxcars and one of them is in the Conservation and Restoration Center for some rehabilitation work. Skilled workers of the Northern Pacific Railway built boxcar 14794 in September 1932 at their Brainerd, Minnesota shops. It has 80,000 pounds capacity and is 40 feet long; it was part of an order of 500 cars. It features composite wood and steel construction, and has a classic rolling corrugated steel door. The t & g roof is clad with interlocking sheet metal to keep the inside dry; this was a relatively new innovation in 1932. Much of the design and construction is simple but robust, which allowed it to serve the Northern Pacific Railway for an astoundingly long period - nearly 50 years!

Rehabilitation work is replacing the fascia board along the top of the car side (see old and new comparison photo to the left), and is injecting all other deteriorated wood with epoxy. Wood and steel surfaces are being prepared and coated with appropriate primer (gray Awlgrip for the wood) and top coated with an appropriately tinted boxcar red.

Thanks to Rich W. for historical data used in this post.


Brian said...

I'm curious as to where your line currently ends. I searched the museum's website, but I couldn't find a map or anything.

What I was really wondering about is the plans, if any, to lay more track and reclaim some right of way. For example, from the observation platform at the falls you can see a trestle in the distance. I'm guessing that's part of the old line to Preston. Do you run as far as that trestle these days, or no?

Anyhow, just curious. Thanks.

Spike said...

The track ends 300 feet west of bridge 31.3, at the east end of what was once bridge 31.2, which was torn down by Puget Power in the early 1980s. There are no plans to extend the track.