mid-train obs: flat-end vs. round-end

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Both the ACL and SAL rebuilt many round-end observation cars into flat-ends for mid-train use. Was there any operational or safety benefit to these conversions, or were they carried out strictly for aesthetic reasons. OK, Michael, have at it! Thanks.

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), December 12, 2000


I find this conversation and the articles on this subject most interesting. What is the origin of the round ended observation car with a diaphram that is on static display at the former FEC Boca Raton train station?

-- Dick Kearns (rhenryk3@att.net), December 14, 2000.

OK Bob-here it goes-Go back to my article on Observation Cars in the previous issue of Lines South. I believe that I covered these issues in depth there. There were only two observation cars rebuilt as flat end, as Joe Oates pointed out. The first was SAL 6400 which was "rebuilt" after the Kittrell wreck-see the current issue of Lines South which has an article on this wreck. The reason SAL rebuilt the car was that its experience using these cars as solely rear-end only cars was mixed. After it purchased the 6500 series of flat end cars, it realized the benefits of such a configuration. The railroad could operate it in any position in a train safely. The ACL figured this out at the same time and all of its observation car orders after the first two cars were also flat end. ACL's first round end obs 250-was wrecked at Milan NC-see this current Lines South- and its sister car, the 251, was only used at the rear end until ACL had Budd rebuild it in 1957 as a flat ender.

SAL added diaphragms to all but three of its round end cars-it was cheaper to do so than to send the cars to Budd for rebuilding.

To answer Doug Riddell's question in the current issue of Lines South, the three school cars used by the SCL were the three coach- observation cars from the SAL-cars 6400, 6401 and 6402.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak @MNR.org), December 14, 2000.

The only car that I can recall that SAL owned, rebuilt into a square end was the 6400,after being wrecked in 1942.They did take some round end cars and add diaphrams.This was for operational purposes.

ACL 251 was rebuilt by Budd in 1957 to flat end.All other ACL cars were built as flat end. As you questions says,neither railroad rebuilt round end into flat end. Of interest here and something I did not notice until now,the ACL 251 always had to be on the rear until it was rebuilt,a period of six years.Any pictures?

-- J Oates (jlosal@mindspring.com), December 13, 2000.

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