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Double-Sheathed USRA Box Cars


In 1924 the railway received an order for 850 double-sheathed boxcars based on the USRA 40' design, in the 20xxx series.  Strongly built with stout fishbelly underframes and steel Murphy ends, most of these cars have held up well, even through the rigors of wartime traffic.  

World War II labor and material shortages meant keeping everything rolling by any means necessary.  So cars pushing 20 years old, which in peacetime would long since have been sent to the shops for an overhaul, remained in continuous service to the war effort, receiving only the most crucial  repairs, paint patches, and repackings needed to tide them over to VJ Day.  

Car 20612, having yet to receive her appointment to Suffolk, is a surviving demonstration of this wartime frugality and resourcefulness.

With the war over and things returning to normal, cars that had been on extended tours of duty could at last be sent to Suffolk for some R&R - eventually.  Sister 20608 received its facelift in May of 1950, and began the second half of the century showing off the "hex" herald and the shortened roadname.  

Although most in the class were in decent enough shape to warrant a fresh coat of paint and new sheetmetal for the wooden roof, as an aging car with a wooden superstructure, these were not envisioned as having more than maybe another decade of life expectancy.  That influenced the decision not to spend a lot of money on upgrades, hence the making do with original handbrakes, and doors as well wherever possible.  Replacing ends was certainly off the table - cars whose original corrugated ends had not fared as well as these examples did not make it home from the shops.

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