Lumber doors in Seaboard B3/B4 boxcars : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

A gentleman on another RR list recently mentioned that Seaboard B3/B4 boxcars had "lumber doors" installed in at least one end. I've never heard of this. He says this tidbit of info comes from his 1948 ORER. Has anyone ever heard of this? Anyone got any photos of these doors? Thanks in advance for your assistance!

Richard Stallworth

-- Richard Stallworth (, May 01, 2001


Richard...I need to get Pauls book out and look at it. Last night I was deeply involved in helping Goolsby sort out the roof color of business car 303 (from his post to this forum). :-)

Here's food for thought. Most dimensional lumber of the era would have fit through the side doors just fine; however, longer "beam" lumber would have required an end door to allow it to be put through the side and out the end and back into the car in a "see saw" move due to its length.

I'll look !

-- Buck Dean (, May 03, 2001.

Buck: Is that definately a lumber door in the end of the MofW boxcar on page 121 of Paul Faulk's SAL Color Guide to Freight & Passenger Equipment? It certainly is a small door. How much lummber could have fit through there? Would extra long pieces of wood been left sticking out the door? Thanks for the info!

-- Richard Stallworth (, May 02, 2001.

Hi, John. Do you want to share the address for that Steam Era Freightcars List?

Lumber doors in cars came in all sorts of varieties. Small doors in the ends to full operable (Camel) doors (or similar) for sheet plywood loading by forklift. Generally long and random length dimensional lumber could be slid into the car through the side doors...that is to a point. Then the balance of the car was filled through the end door and unloaded likewise.

Makes for a nifty little detail, doesn't it.

Buck Dean (Contractor by profession) Membership Director - ACL/SAL HS

-- Buck Dean (, May 02, 2001.

-- Bill Donahue (, May 02, 2001.

Hi Richard, I started the threat on the "Steam Era Freight Cars List" (there seems to be a list for everything now!) because I'm still researching for some HO scale B-3 models. I'll pass on the information that I've learned so far. The guys on the list said the cars, technically, are Pratt Truss cars (the term "Pratt" refers to the fact that the diagonals point toward the bottom of the doors, as opposed to a "Howe" Truss car, in which the diagonals would be reversed...I think Pratt = diagonals in tension, Howe = diagonals in compression). The rest of the conversation is repeated here, ver batim: "There was some discussion here awhile ago about several experimental box cars that were built under ARA auspices ca. 1917 (one each steel-sheathed [PRR], double wood sheathed [ATSF] and single sheathed [IC RR]. They were, in effect, forerunners of the USRA standard designs, not the 1920s ARA designs which were derived from the Pennsy X29. The latter didn't exist before 1923. The Seaboard B-3 class box cars were actually built in 1924 and followed the ARA recommended practice design, which was basically a single- sheathed variant of the Pennsy X29, except that thay had 7-8 Murphy corrugated ends and Hutchins Dry Lading steel roofs. They were followed by two other similar classes with the same arrangement of side framing and sheathing. The cars of class B-4, delivered in 1929, had X29-style flat riveted roofs and ends >>often referred to as "Pullman Ends"<< and fishbelly steel center sills. The cars of class B-5, delivered in 1930, were the same as the B-4 class except that they had corrugated steel doors (the doors on the two earlier classes were wood) and Dalman-Andrews trucks (the trucks on the two earlier classes were ARA cast steel), and geared hand brakes (Miner, it appears from photos, where the previous two classes had vertical staff hand brakes). The other defining difference in these cars was that the B-3 & B-4 had lumber doors, while the B-5 did not." The above was related by Dr. Richard Hendrickson and Mr. John Nehrich. Richard, this is a revelation (to me, at least!) because I didn't know the different classes of these cars although there are many photos of them floating around. In fact, I had a copy of each class up on my PhotoPoint site but wasn't sure of the cars' lineage--hence the question. Concerning lumber doors, a notable photo appears in Paul Faulk's excellent SAL Color Guide on top of pg. 121. Pictured is the A end of a B-4 (according to Dr. Hendrickson's description above) in MofW service that has been re-built with plywood sides. On the top right of the A end is a small door...and I think that's the mysterious lumber door. The same fixture can be seen on the cars on pg.118 (center) and pg.119 (top). Another notable photo on top of pg.126 shows the B-3 (according to Dr. Hendrickson) in it's original configuration, also in MofW service. Hope this helps! JG

-- John Golden (, May 01, 2001.

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