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Ralston's Erie Railroad Freight Cars

Introduction 

        The Ralston Steel Car Company not only designed and built all-steel cars, they also reconditioned older cars applying steel underframes and other steel fixtures.  Examples of these are shown in this group of 6 Erie cars.  These cars exemplify some changes in freight car design and construction from wood cars of the late 19th century to all steel cars of the early 20th century. 

        The photographs are from the B. J. Kern collection.  Photo processing and research by William Johnson Sources for the technical and historical information given in the captions below are the 1913 edition of the Official Equipment Register and The American Railroad Freight Car by John H. White, Jr., published by John Hopkins University Press, 1993.

 

Click on the  photos to enlarge

 

Erie 11367 

        The 1913 edition of the equipment register classifies this as a "twin hopper bottom gondola" in the car number series 11000 15999.  A note in the register indicates that some of the cars in this number series were initialed Chicago & Erie R.R.  The date when this car was newly built is unknown.   This is a wood car with steel hoppers possibly added by Ralston.  This car has the cast iron or steel "dead blocks" on either side of the coupler to help absorb impacts from hard couplings.  The photograph is dated 2-15-09

Erie 11367 

        This is a side view of the same car.  The photograph is dated  2-10-09.

Erie 44792 

      The 1913 edition of the equipment register classifies this as a "twin hopper bottom gondola" in the car number series 44000 48999.  This photograph shows the condition of the car upon arrival at Ralston for reconditioning.  This car also has the cast iron or steel "dead blocks" on the car end sill.  The photograph is dated 12-0-09.

Erie 44792 

        This photograph shows the same car after reconditioning and the application of a steel underframe.  A stencil on the car says "Steel Underframe Mfd and Applied By the Ralston Steel Car Co. Columbus, O. Patd. Dec. 19 1905." The date of the photograph is unknown, but based on the numbering scheme used by the photographer, this would  have been taken in December, 1907 or January, 1908. 

Erie 44262 

        The 1913 equipment register classifies this as a "twin hopper bottom gondola" in the car number series 44000 48999.  Judging from the appearance of the interior of the car, it has arrived Ralston for reconditioning and probably the application of a steel underframe and steel hoppers.  Note the wooden "dead blocks" on this car.  Dates for the original construction of the car and the photograph are unknown. 

Erie 45899 

        The 1913 equipment register classifies this as a "twin hopper bottom gondola" in the car number series 44000 48999.  This car also appears to have arrived at Ralston for reconditioning and the probable application of a steel underframe and steel hoppers.  This car has the cast iron or steel "dead blocks" applied.  The date of the photograph is unknown.

Erie 16578 

        The 1913 edition of the equipment register classifies this as a "drop end gondola" in the  car number series 16000 17999.  It appears that Ralston reconditioned the car and applied a steel underframe.   The car is constructed of wooden ends and sides.  This car also has two cast iron or possibly steel "dead blocks" on either side of the coupler.  What may appear as silver and black "striping" on the car's side braces are the effect of raking sunlight, and shadows cast by the adjacent stake pockets.   The photograph is dated 3-20-07.

Erie 41301 

        The 1913 equipment register classifies this car as a "triple hopper bottom gondola" in the car number series 41000 41999.  This is a new, all-steel car built 1-24-12.  A prominent stencil on the side of the car indicates that it complies with the United States Safety Appliance Standards which were enacted in 1893 and made effective in 1900.  These new standards mandated modernized air brakes, couplers, and miscellaneous appliances such as handholds.  Note the horizontal handholds and more substantial foot stirrups compared with the vertical handholds and "homemade" shape of the stirrups on the wood cars.  Also note the absence of "dead blocks" on the end of the car indicating a more shock absorbent coupler and draft gear arrangement.  The date of  the photograph is unknown.