Possible Dumb Question - Railcar Length

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by rockislandmike, Nov 20, 2002.

  1. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    When one sees a reference to a 40' boxcar, or 50' boxcar, or 54' covered hopper, is that the INTERIOR length, or the EXTERIOR length. Obviously there could be a big difference, esp. in the case of some covered hoppers.
  2. babydot94513

    babydot94513 Member in training

    Can't be a dumb question because I'm not sure of the answer!!!

    However, my gut tells me that it is the exterior dimensions you are referring to.
  3. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Inside I think. I looked at one of my 50 ft boxcars and the info on the side said int. 50' ext. 51'11".
  4. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Dumb Question?

    Hey, Mike!

    If that was a dumb question, then I guess I must be a dummy, too.:D I have no idea.
  5. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    No comment on the intelligence of hte questions or answers...:D :D :D

    This is a "A.A.R 50 ton, 41 ft. 6 in., light-weight, high side gondola car with fixed ends and solid bottom."

    Attached Files:

  6. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Look closely at the reporting marks on any given prototype car. Some where in all of that stenciled on lettering it will give the inside and outside dimensions. This may not be true on a model as the mfgs. often use the same data stamp for different cars and hope that no one will notice....sneaky ain't they? :D
  7. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    These are not catagorized by length, only by tonnage and cu. ft. capacity, level and ave heap :D There is a knuckle to knuckle dimmension of 24' and an inside dimmension of 19' 7 9/16"

    Attached Files:

    • ore.jpg
      File size:
      100 KB
  8. babydot94513

    babydot94513 Member in training

    To take this one step further, it would seem to me that the important measurement would be the exterior one as the trainmaster has to know the overall lenght of the train so they can account for siding length issues.

    If the interior dimension of a boxcar is that important to a shipper in that "inches" will make a difference, I would like to know who is shipping what that it is that critical?

    Now that I think about this, Mike you did raise a good question that has me thinking about the car types I have and whether or not they are truly prototypical for the industries I have.
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    There will be two critical dimensions: inside length and length over pulling faces. IL shows up on the side of the car (unless it's a bulk car); not sure about the other.
    "Length over pulling faces" is the dimension between the insides of the coupler knuckles, the amount that adds up to the length of the train. This is significant in ore cars -- they stayed the same size because of the spacing of the unloading chutes in the ore docks -- and new ore docks were built to match the cars.
    I think there were similar considerations with warehouse doors.
  10. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    My 1953 ORER (Official Railway Equipment Register) lists Inside Length and Outside Length. This is the book that an would be used to select a car for the load. The Outside Length is over strikers and not over pulling faces. As an example, a CIL (Monon) 40 foot steel box (XM) has an Inside Length of 40' 6" and an Outside Length of 41' 10" with a door opening of 6'.

    Now, as is listed in the appendix pages, if you want 'Coupled Length' you add coupler head and coupler horn clearance of approximately 15 inches at each end of car. A newer ORER would probably have another dimension for this as well with the extended couplers.

    Bottom line? We are modelers. A 40' box is about 40' feet long. 41 feet is still about 40 feet long. To be specific tho, it is Inside Length as that is where the cargo is carried.
  11. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    FYI Roger, my October 1981 OER has the same two dimensions: inside length; outside length.

    The reason I started wondering is that I've ended up compiling some stats for some of my railroads, and was curious whether, when a boxcar (etc.) of a specific length is indicated, whether I should be looking at the inside/outside length to compare to, say, Walthers Catalogue.
  12. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    Never thought about it. You would just have to measure a 'known' scale car to verify what they are using. I can say that some of the old craftsman kits meant 40' over strikers when they said 40'. But that was then and with people looking for true scale models. that would be different today.

    What was it that they used to say? "Measure once and cut twice." Hmmm? Or maybe that should be "Measure twice and cut once."

    Anyway, good luck in the quest. It will interesting to see what they do mean...

Share This Page