Tuesday, September 26, 2017

B&O P-11 Flatcar: Prototype Info & Photos

F&C kits are great in that they provide a wide variety of freight car types and are often the only model available of a particular prototype. But they do seem to lack a little bit in the prototype info and photo department. I'm certainly no expert, having built only 4 resin car kits in my life so far, but three of those were F&C kits (2 boxcars and a caboose). And all three benefited from additional prototype research and photos. No matter what railroad you focus on modeling, if you do any freight car interchange you're gonna have to know at least a little bit about equipment from other railroads.

Unfortunately, there's precious little available information or photos of the Baltimore & Ohio class P-11 flatcar (106002-106699 series). I know Google is my friend, but sometimes friends let you down. Thankfully, Google isn't my only friend - I put the question out on the internet (through my blog and the Steam Era Freight Car yahoo group - a.k.a. "STMFC") and got some great information back.

I always thought the mighty B&O was all nice and profitable until the Dark Ages of the 1960s when Merger Mania happened. But apparently, it had its share of hard times and bankruptcies just like most other railroads. And in 1901, just as it was coming out of bankruptcy, the Mighty Pennsylvania Railroad gained control. It was during this period, specifically in 1902, that the B&O's class P-11 flatcars were built - duplicates of the PRR's FM class cars.

Great image from here
Sooo...... while info on B&O's P-11 flatcars is fairly hard to get, info on PRR's FM flatcars is much easier to find. Specifically, this page devoted to the class. According to the information there (compiled by Rich Orr), there were 1,951 of these cars in service as of October, 1948.

By contrast, there were only 485 P-11s left in service as of the October, 1948 ORER - this out of a total flat car roster that year of 829 cars, all but 19 of which were of 50 ton capacity.

Ogden, UT - September 3, 1947
Here, courtesy Gary Laaskso (via STMFC), is a photo of one of these cars in service way out west. Ed Bommer (again, via STMFC) weighed in with some info on this shipment. Apparently, a company by the name of Welin Boat & Davit Co. in Perth Amboy, NJ built these aluminum life boats and this one must've been on its way to a west coast shipyard to outfit a former WWII troop transport that was being refurbished & upgraded. After the war, some of these old transports were being converted by the American President and Matson Lines to serve as ocean liners all around the world. VERY cool info - thanks to Gary and Ed for providing the story of one of the jobs these flatcars performed.

It certainly wouldn't be much of a stretch to have Welin ship a boat or two along the Shore Line through Saybrook - at least that's what I'm counting on!

And if I wanted at some point to follow a prototype conversion, I have Tim O'Connor to thank for a photo of one of the P-11s used for pulpwood service:



I don't have much use for a pulpwood car on my railroad, but if you do, this F&C kit could provide an appropriate starting point.

Anybody that's read this blog for a while has probably guessed that one of the reasons I'm a prototype modeler is that I really love the research involved. I mentioned to someone recently that it's not as if there's some sort of "freight car kit transubstantiation" that occurs when you're at the workbench, but when I'm building one of these car kits - especially if I've learned anything about the prototype, how it was built, what it was used for, etc. - it's as if I'm working on the real thing. At the very least I hope, through engaging with the kit this way - and sharing my experience here - that I'm able to help keep the memory of these lowly freight haulers alive, at least a little.
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Thanks again to Gary Laakso for the boat photo, to Ed Bommer for the additional information on those shipments, and Tim O'Connor for additional photos. And a very special thanks to Eric Hansmann for the PRR prototype info and other great tidbits about these cars. Click here for photos of one he built from this same kit.

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