Fowler type boxcars

Re: Fowler type boxcars

Postby Marquette » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:01 am

Ben, that looks about right to my eye re: the "true" 40' "Fowler" owners.

And although I can attribute a good 2/3 of my knowledge to them, I do have a few issues with the folk at STMFC, and their tendency to get hung up over "proper designations" and other such minutiae.

Namely - what are we doing? Are we being industrial archaeologists, or are we attempting to model railways?

If the former, then definitely - these minor details are very important. Doing the latter accurately also requires a fair bit of the industrial archaeology, too, or at the least, paper-based research on it... but a lot of those little details are either more or less irrelevant (who built car X and how much it cost), or they're literally so small as to get lost when scaled down to model sizes, and thus become relatively irrelevant. I think many of the STMFC guys lose sight of this fairly easily. (Also, they seem to have a tendency to get annoyed if you question their assertions - even with proof on your side - as I learned a number of years back, but that's by the by).

In any event, the point I'm trying to make here is that I think it is perfectly valid - and indeed preferable, from a modeller's viewpoint - to care less about proper designations and more about the actual physical appearance of the cars. In other words - keeping on topic with this thread - if it's close enough in appearance to the GC model that it can be kitbashed from it, then it's "Fowler" enough, it won't be impossible to model something using that kit just because the prototype wasn't a "true" 40' "Fowler".

And that was my intent with putting this and the other such lists together - these are the cars that fall within these parameters, that can be modelled with greater or lesser amounts of work using this model as a basis. And that I will stand by as being more useful o modellers than splitting hairs over nomenclature.
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Re: Fowler type boxcars

Postby scaro » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:52 pm


i have run afoul of them on numerous things now. but minutiae is a game two can play. i even won one spat on the atlas DS rebuilt USRA car. haha.

i suppose there are some there who are worth paying attention to in terms of what looks right, and others who are perhaps too focused on the minutiae. some probably are industrial archeologists. but there's no shame in it, if they are up front about their intent.

but the back read is that there are some nice guys there who quietly send me articles and plans that i wouldn't otherwise be able to get.

in TT, it was brought home to me that a stickling concern for accuracy would mean *dispensing* with a lot of detail ... for example i was getting hung up on numbers of planks in a boxcar side and whether this or that bit of evergreen styrene was going to be right going on the number of planks. one of the UK STMFCers pointed out that it simply doesn't matter ... in a well coopered boxcar side in HO, even, you'd have a hard time telling whether it was wood planked or steel sheathed.

that said i wouldn't personally use a fowler as as stand-in for the other howe truss cars, unless they are also around 8' IH. guess that's part of hanging around STMFC. you do start to see the difference and the shape of the fowler body looks too different, to me anyway. others' mileage may vary.

the down side is that i have to make a howe truss car ... that's going to be fun. thinking of C&EI who got a bunch from the Ga & Fla.


Re: Fowler type boxcars

Postby scaro » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:38 am

just going over old correspondence on fowlers that i didn't get to. i was told on the RITS and RI Models list that a handful of RI wooden ended fowler clones made it to 1962 but were gone by 1965.

the MR cars were mainly captive to their line, used to carry supplies into logging camps, but most were converted to flats by the 1940s.

upshot is that if you want to use GC fowlers and model the diesel era, a good bet is a D&RGW or RI car as they can at least be assumed to have been in interchange through the 50s and plausibly, the 60s. to be absolutely accurate, the RI car would need a different roof - as per the san juan 0 scale car: ... ne-boxcar/

if i find more about the salzberg lines' alleged ownership of these cars i'll add here. i have found a shot of what looks like a model RI B-2 boxcar lettered for the fort dodge, des moines and southern, a salzberg line.

cars like this did get around even in the 70s ... the salzberg lines bought old cars for cheap, specifically to earn the per diem on them.

the idea was they would be out there earning a buck, not sitting on home rails. they were popular in grain service; once reconditioned, low capacity was no handicap ... they would weigh out before they bulked out.

Re: Fowler type boxcars

Postby scaro » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:42 am

ok. salzberg owned ex - RI fowler clones included the following:

the Ft Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Ry - 62 former RI B2 class cars (w/ 8' 1" IH) in various series / groups : #s 9, 11, 12, 27 and #s 8001 - 8138, and 8200 - 8203. also Des Moines & Central Iowa cars which were probably very similar. (source: Bob Massey, RITS list)

useful as the FDDM&S and DCI mainly rostered cars to earn the per diem on interchange use. they may have run to the late 60s and even 1970s.

pics of models:

the salzberg roads are actually pretty interesting. if it was old, they bought it and ran it ... and they had 1400 boxcars spread over eleven roads.

Re: Fowler type boxcars

Postby LVG1 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:41 pm

@ scaro:

Most posts of the recent time in this thread are yours. But don't think, you were a solo entertainer. I follow your posts very attentive. It's extremely instructive and makes me aware of many things, I should keep an eye on. Please, don't decrease your efforts to share your knowledge with us.
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Re: Fowler type boxcars

Postby scaro » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:40 pm

thanks. i like older boxcars and rolling stock in general. it's stimulating my own modelling. whittling away at a USRA rebuilt DS car at the moment. i tend to remember odd facts, so this kind of history interests me. if i can set up to do casting where i live, i may do a few TT masters, but i'm not interested in production ... i'd hand the masters over to someone else for that.

Re: Fowler type boxcars

Postby scaro » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:51 pm

Marquette wrote:
St Louis, Brownsville & Mexico (Missouri Pacific) StLB&M 2901-3400
STLB&M 3383.jpg

done a bit of digging, which turned up some stuff about these cars as i'm researching the MP and its subsidiaries a little.

they were sawtooth boxcars, and as such, rather unusual in their own right.

sadly, they were gone by 1950 according to ray breyer's mammoth list of data culled from ORERs.
Last edited by scaro on Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Howe Truss type boxcars

Postby scaro » Sat Oct 12, 2013 9:15 pm

[quote="Marquette"]7-8 Murphy (protruding) ends

This was the most common steel end on the 40' Fowler clones.

Kansas City Southern KCS 16000-16500
KCS 16027.jpg

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RI 157500-158699
RI 158209.jpg

St Louis - San Francisco "Frisco" SLSF 147000-149499
SLSF 147556.jpg

to find more about these cars, please visit and select sunshine flyers 39a 'MP 46000, IGN 6201,9401,16000, NOT&M 3601 series 8'6" IH Howe truss boxcars' and 'Mixed numbers steel sided rebuilt 8'6" IH Howe truss boxcars' which specifically deal with the cars like this owned by the frisco, MP and subsidiaries.

be aware that these cars are designs of howe truss boxcar built in opposition to the ARA pratt truss design, and which turned out to be far more popular than that design. these cars were the default 'standard' composite 40' boxcar in the midwest.

as our awareness of what a 'fowler' or 'dominion' car is has moved on, there is a debate about whether 'fowler' is the right term to be using at all for any vehicles of this type, seeing as it is not really clear what the fowler patent covers (source: ray breyer who is examining the patent documents.) what complicates things is that in the US, IC had boxcars 'stretched' from what we would term a 36' to a 40' fowler design prior to the issue of the fowler patent.

with these discussions, it gets a bit exasperating ; at the moment, many of us don't know what to call these cars other than 'howe truss 40' composite boxcars', which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

leaving that aside, what is clear to those uninitiated into the mysteries, like myself, is that the KCS, frisco and MP et al cars are not fowler or dominion cars or clones. the narrower, higher look of the body gives it away.

you may detect however the rock island cars have some kind of fowler 'heritage', being an evolution from their B-2 boxcars in the 40700-42199 and 42200-44699 series, bought in 1913 and 1915. i would also say the MILW / GBW cars look a little like a fowler, but they are 7" too high. and the CV car in this thread looks very like the IC one.

the MP and frisco series were built by AC&F, Pullman, GATC and others. they survived well into the 1960s. frisco rebuilt many cars with steel sheet replacing the wood planking, but retaining the howe trusses; scroll down to the last image on the page.

MP did a more ambitious rebuild with all new steel sheet sides and a diagonal roof. not all cars were rebuilt, however. both roads did not change the 8'6" inner height of the car. MP around the same time embarked on all-steel rebuilds of their 36' cars, which may be handy to modellers lacking space. a 36' TT car is as long as a 50' N car, and these cars looked every bit as modern as a postwar PS-1 for example.

though being more of a moderniser than frisco or MP, KCS also had 131 of its 16000 series on their roster in 1959.

why were small, old boxcars worth keeping in traffic? well, MP, frisco, the rock etc were granger roads. grain is heavy; the car would hit its maximum loaded weight well before it was filled. i have seen shots of strings of composite boxcars still in use on branchlines in periods where shots of them running on mainlines are rare. (edit: this was early fifties though ... later than that, i am doubtful about.)
Last edited by scaro on Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:25 am, edited 2 times in total.

Re: Fowler type boxcars

Postby Marquette » Sat Nov 02, 2013 6:35 pm

I dunno, I'm thoroughly of the opinion that if we're focussing on modelling, terminology is utterly irrelevant, so long as everyone involved is on the same page as to what's being discussed. It's this sort of nitpickiness (as opposed to nitpickiness over actual physical details) that in part led to me getting exasperated with this hobby.
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