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Single-Sheathed Box Car Rebuild Program

Here is an example of an old class of car for which a rebuilding program is underway at the Suffolk Shops:

The 21xxx series is a class of 575 single-sheathed 9'-ceiling boxcars the railway purchased in the mid 1920s.  They were originally built with wooden ends, wooden doors, and vertical-staff hand brakes, as exhibited by the sooty, faded, not-yet-rebuilt car 21417 on the right.  It's still showing its old-school lettering and herald, including the vertically stacked roadname, the use of "Railway", and the non-AAR reporting marks.

The two freshly painted cars have recently undergone rebuilds.  The rebuild program includes new Dreadnaught ends, Youngstown doors, power handbrakes, and a new all-steel roof on a slightly shallower rake, allowing a higher ceiling at the sides and higher capacity in cubic feet.  And of course, fresh paint in the current scheme.  

The almost perfectly clean car 21473 has only been out of the shop for a few months, sporting an 11-51 built date.  Its slightly dirtier sibling 21285, on the left in the top photo, is a 1949 graduate, the year the program started.  

The story behind all this is that my friend Tom Patterson, of Chesapeake Wheeling & Erie fame, gave me the wood-end car, which his father had built in the '70s from a Scotia models wood craftsman kit.  It had been in the box ever since, never having made it to the lettering, trucks & couplers stage.  It's a beautiful car, too pretty and too nice a gift not to use.  But I'd been trying to exorcise most of the wood-end cars on the layout, since they wore out easily and were starting to get scarce by the early 50s.  Then I noticed that the Scotia car looked a lot like some Accurail 6-panels I had on hand - and behold, they turned out to be a virtually identical design, save for the modern updates.  

So, a story was born of a rebuild program - with examples of the "before" and "after" versions running on the layout to tell it.  (And thanks, Tom!)

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