Rock Island Flat car ca. 1931
I am going to model a load of John Deere tractors circa 1931.  The factory is in Waterloo, Iowa and the Rock Island was the rail service provider.  Can you guys help me out with what type of flat car would be most correct for the year 1931 in HO scale?  I was thinking the Athearn car is too modern, maybe something pre cast frame, with arch bar trucks?  40 foot?  Or were cast flat cars around by then?  I am having trouble finding much info or photos of prototype Rock Island flat cars.

Dave: I think archbar trucks were outlawed for interchange service for most of the 20th century. I can't find any exact dates in my quick reference search.
Found: Dec 31, 1939.

For 1931 I would avoid anything that could be "Old Timey".
Moderato ma non troppo
Perth & Exeter Railway Company
Esquesing & Chinguacousy Radial Railway
In model railroading, there are between six and two hundred ways of performing a given task.
Most modellers can get two of them to work.
arch bar trucks banned for interchange 7/1/40 wooden underframes banned in late 20 but truss rod ones were   still  allowed  so a 40 ft truss rod car with arch bar would be possible .
Tichy offers some kits for decent-looking 40' flatcars, based on some real 50 ton flatcars built by ACF in 1928....a good match, I think, for your 1931 tractors.
The car has straight sidesills, with 12 stake pockets and a fishbelly underframe.  There's a metal weight, included in the kit, which fits into the underframe. 
The car comes with one-piece Bettendorf-style trucks, with plastic wheelsets. 

Here's a photo of one of mine, lettered for my hometown TH&B...


(Archbar trucks were banned from interchange on July 1st, 1940)...the TH&B had 1500 65 ton hoppers, all on archbar trucks, built in 1914, with some operating well into the '60s...their interchange occurred only on lakeboats....empties (along with rolls of newsprint) were sent across Lake Erie, to Ashtabula, Ohio for loading with coal, for the steelmills in Hamilton, Ontario.)

The Tichy flatcar kits were also a good starting point for some scratchbuilt gondolas...



...and I also added a cinder car for my freelanced EG&E...


...but it too is a copy of a TH&B prototype.

Here's a LINK to the Tichy catalogue.  You can order direct from Tichy.


This link shows a 42" steel,  fish belly side sill flat car lettered for Rock Island. I would suggest that the Gentleman has done his homework.
Hope this helps, 
Cheers, the Bear.  Icon_e_smile
"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."
Thanks for that link, Bear.  There's lots of interesting information there, and even though it's directed at '20s-era modellers, I find that a lot of those same cars are also appropriate for my late '30s-era layout.  I do, however, take some liberties by including some "too modern" cars on my layout, specifically covered hoppers - there were definitely some of them around, but many were modified boxcars, rebuilt with roof hatches and underbody discharge gates.  I scratchbuilt four of them as modified Dominion-Fowler cars, but also have over a dozen all-steel covered hoppers, built from a variety of kits, the majority of them originally undecorated.

I was tempted to reply to the link, but decided that it was better to simply enjoy the information offered, rather than make it look like I considered my chosen-era more interesting....which is definitely not the case.


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