Woodies or Steelies?
#1
I recently bought a United Models Santa Fe 1950 class 2-8-0 and decided to model a freelance Santa Fe branch line set in 55/56 in Louisiana or Missouri. I will be using Accurail 40' cars.
I have studied several on line photos of 55/56 and had mixed results..My own 1956 railfan experience is questible at best since as a eight year old I was more interested in taking photos of PRR fading steam and shiney new diesels. A sad trend that would follow me several decades of my railfaning.
So,my plans call for a end of the branch line switching layout complete with station,water tank and house track/team track with three other industries of which one will require inbound loaded reefers(Santa Fe,NP and PFG). 
So.... Should I use a combination of wood and steel cars or all steel?
Been decades since I modeled a steam era layout and to be honest I'm a tad beyond my dieselized ISLs experiences..
Larry
Engineman
SSRy

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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#2
Larry, a mix would be in order leaning heavily toward wood. I am currently scanning a bunch of slides from the late 60's and I am amazed at the number of wood cars still in regular service (as well as the small number of roller bearing equipped cars. 

Charlie
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#3
I agree with Charlie.  The railroads would be loath to scrap a revenue-earrning car just because it was made of wood. 
Steel boxcars date back to the early teens, at least, but thousands of wood or wood/steel cars were made under USRA directives, and many thousands more during WWII, when steel production was directed towards  military needs.  Those latter cars, especially, would still be in decent condition in the mid-'50s, and a surprising number of them were still running in the late '60s.


Wayne
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#4
looking through my railroad books it appears that there might be a bit more wood than steel in service in the early 50's , by mid 50's it has swung the other way , one  book published in 58 has what looks between 60 to 70 percent steel.
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#5
Don't be "stuck" on just 40' cars. There were many 50' cars in the 50s. These includes boxcars, flat cars & gondolas. Exactly what kinds depends on the industries on your layout. Being a Santa Fe modeler, have you looked for track charts &/or CLIC books for your modeling area? Also look at aerial pix on Bing, Google &/or historicaerials.com. In the 50s many steam locos were being replaced by diesels on Santa Fe. In fact by 1956 most Santa Fe steam engines were gone & the few kept around were just for company excursions or railfan trips. According to Worley the last 2-8-0 was scrapped by 1954. So you might want to push your era back about 10 years. Also on a few branch lines, Santa Fe used doodlebugs to pull short freight trains (<7 cars).
Andy Jackson
Santa Fe Springs CA
ATSF/LAJ Ry Fan & Modeler
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#6
Santa Fe started re-building their wooden reefers, like this one...

[Image: RECENTFREIGHTCARS028.jpg]

...into steel cars, like this one...

[Image: RECENTFREIGHTCARS003.jpg]

...in the late '30s, but were still doing so into the '50s.

50' wooden boxcars, usually single sheathed, became quite prominent in the '20s, with steel versions appearing more commonly in the mid-to-late '30s.

Santa Fe's Bx-3 and Bx-6 boxcars, along with their 50' Fe-Rs, built in the early '20s, lasted into the '50s, albeit sometimes modified or in other than the original service for which they were designed.  I'm planning on scratchbuilding several of them, as they'll fit well into my late '30s-era layout.

Steel gondolas and flat cars, in both 40'/41'6" and 50'/52' versions became common in the late '30s but appeared earlier, and by the '50s were predominant.  There were still a lot of 40' and 50' composite gondolas around in the 50's.    
Walthers...


[Image: 2016-2017%20CHALLENGE%20CARS...%20039.jpg]

....and Intermountain both offered nicely-done versions...

[Image: freight%20cars....%20002.jpg]

Another thing to keep in mind is the wide variety of house-car heights still in use in the '50s, from the 8'6" inside height of  Pennsy's X-29s...

 [Image: ROLLING%20STOCK....jpg]

...and  Central's USRA-designed steel box and automobile cars...

[Image: PampLE%20boxcar....jpg]

...to the 10'6" inside height of the 1937 AAR cars, most of which were built in the late '40s and into the '50s...

[Image: SEABOARD%20AIR%20LINE%20BOXCARS%20021.jpg]

Train Miniature covers the lower-height cars quite well, both wood (single- or double-sheathed) and steel, and they can be made into decent models or used as-is.  They're widely available at train shows and on the re-sale market on-line, while Intermountain/Red Caboose offer more accurate versions of the steel cars.
For the taller 40'ers, the Athearn Blue Box car is a reasonable starting point, as are those from Accurail, Intermountain, and likely many others. 
Bowser offers some nice steel boxcars, both AAR and Pennsy-style
suitable to your layout, too, while Accurail is an affordable choice for the higher 40' wooden cars, both single and double sheathed...

[Image: Freightcarphotos040.jpg]

[Image: ViewsatElfrida037.jpg]

...and the 40' AAR steel car...

[Image: EGEwreckdetour021.jpg]

Wayne
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#7
(03-16-2019, 12:09 PM)lajry Wrote: Don't be "stuck" on just 40' cars. There were many 50' cars in the 50s. These includes boxcars, flat cars & gondolas. Exactly what kinds depends on the industries on your layout. Being a Santa Fe modeler, have you looked for track charts &/or CLIC books for your modeling area? Also look at aerial pix on Bing, Google &/or historicaerials.com. In the 50s many steam locos were being replaced by diesels on Santa Fe. In fact by 1956 most Santa Fe steam engines were gone & the few kept around were just for company excursions or railfan trips. According to Worley the last 2-8-0 was scrapped by 1954. So you might want to push your era back about 10 years. Also on a few branch lines, Santa Fe used doodlebugs to pull short freight trains (<7 cars).

Andy, The reason I'm sticking with 40' cars is due to my limited space here at the rest home.. They allotted me 9'  so I have 1'x 9' to play with in the hobby area and 40' cars is the better choice for this space.

This is more of a "love" thing because I love my United Santa Fe 2-8-0 I bought in the early 60s and I have always regretted selling it and I love this one more because its nicely painted and lettered. I waited years to find one at the price I was willing to pay and that came about on e-Bay.

In my HO world 1978 still labors away on borrowed time in '55. In fact this engine, combine and station is on the endangered species list and could go extinct any time.  Icon_e_surprised   I'm sure a Zebra stripe  GP7,RS-3 or maybe a RSD-4 will be eventually  sent to replace the 1978. Icon_cry Icon_mad
============================
Wayne, Great looking cars..
Larry
Engineman
SSRy

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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#8
From my experience researching freight cars from 1952 for my Erie Harlem Station layout, I came to the conclusion a lot of older wood cars were still in service. It was particularly true of reefers. My guesstimate would be that about a 50%-50% mix wouldn't be far from truth and would bring some diversity in the fleet.
Proudly modelling Quebec Railway Light & Power Company since 1997.

Hedley-Junction Club Layout: http://www.hedley-junction.blogspot.com/

Erie 149th Street Harlem Station http://www.harlem-station.blogspot.com/
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