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 Post subject: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:25 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 787
Location: Warren, PA
I was asked by a client a question they may be too embarrassed to ask themselves but it's still a good question to ask.

Has anybody ever taken a 'newer' (i.e. still eligible for interchange) 50' 70-ton steel boxcar and later cut it down as an open excursion car?

In terms of boxcars converted to excursion service several come to mind mostly on the narrow-gauge roads, but if it's ever been done to a 'modern' box I've never seen it.

Reason basically boils down to either having to truck in an historic boxcar or rail in an interchangeable car for temp storage purposes, and then being able to convert it to an open car down the road. Would like to see if anybody has done it; I'm thinking you're compromising the car too much structurally unless a new truss or girder side was put on. We're looking for a true open car with a roof option, not just cutting windows in the side of a boxcar.


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5872
Location: southeastern USA
Blue Ridge Scenic had one, maybe still does.

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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:32 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1386
I believe there's sufficient strength in the required underframe for interchange service to give the car the necessary stiffness and torsional resistance for a load of seated passengers. How much structure you use, or try to retain, to support a roof is in my opinion less critical. You will tinker carefully with the side bearings to match the new required "performance" expected in this service.

Where you're going to have the trouble is in the trucks. These will need to be stable at excursion speed, probably carefully re-springed to get the right combination of compliance and spring rate, and perhaps given lateral and yaw dampers. There is no inherent reason why three-piece trucks should give a bad ride, but leaving them as specified for a compromise between empty and full freight loading will certainly not help the effort.

I leave it to others to discuss best practices for matching braking effort and rate with the 'existing' passenger equipment, and if necessary making changes to the draft gear.

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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 5:51 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 12:56 am
Posts: 412
Location: Northern California
Once a freight car, always a freight car. Your car will be subject to full 49CFR215. No museum exceptions in 215.

After Southern steam excursion derailment NTSB recommended against converted freight cars is excursion service. Also no open cars. They had concerns about roll over derailments, even at very low speeds. Should read their recommendations.

Trucks will have to have major suspension rework to make the ride tolerable. Probably will have to custom make coil springs. Also some kind of snubbing will be needed to control bounce.


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:42 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 1074
Anytime someone asks a question like this, my mind immediately jumps to the Knox & Kane and Gettysburg's double-deck open cars. I became intimately familiar with the ride qualities of the Gettysburg car during my tenure as general manager there in the late '90's. It was like riding a rowboat through the rapids! It yawed and bounced and wracked, making terrible groaning noises. Over one winter, we jacked it up and rolled the trucks out, whereupon we discovered that the dampening devices were all completely, totally and utterly worn out. Replacing them helped a bit, but it wasn't until we were able to surface the track to Class II standards that the ride improved appreciably.

I know of two tourist railroads that have repurposed bulkhead flats into open cars. Both are 10mph operations, so other than the usual noises freight cars make at such speeds, they aren't too bad.


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:51 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 5:05 pm
Posts: 1078
The original Chalatchie Prairie RR based out of Battle Ground, WA had a few steel stock cars converted to passenger cars.


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:53 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1565
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
I remember the internal combustion modern streetcars in Galveston, Texas, mounted on motorized freight car trucks. Riding them felt like riding on a freight car.


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:03 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2005 2:46 am
Posts: 112
Location: Elko, NV
After having their leased open air passenger flat sold out from underneath them the Yreka Western cut the top off of a 50-foot, 70-ton incentive per diem boxcar and converted it to an open air excursion car. I never got to ride in it so I can't speak to how it performed. It didn't last very long before the YW excursion train shut down, the car has since been scrapped along with pretty much all the rest of their equipment.

Jeff Moore
Elko, NV


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 8:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:17 pm
Posts: 105
Doesn't the Reading and Northern have a converted freight car or a passenger car with the top removed?


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:01 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:56 am
Posts: 6
Dave wrote:
Blue Ridge Scenic had one, maybe still does.


They do, it was operating when I watched the train cross the Toccoa River earlier this year.
I believe that car was converted by the early days GSMR.

I've ridden in standard gauge gondolas at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, Three Rivers Rambler in Knoxville, as well as the Virginia & Truckee.

I also believe the Steam into History Railroad uses freight car frames and wheels for their wooden coaches but I'm not entirely sure about that.


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:05 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 886
Location: New Franklin, OH
David Johnston wrote:
Once a freight car, always a freight car. Your car will be subject to full 49CFR215. No museum exceptions in 215.

Partly true. Not an expert, but:
215.3(c) This part does not apply to a railroad freight car that is:
(4) Operated in a passenger train and that is inspected, tested, maintained, and operated pursuant to the requirements contained in part 238 of this chapter.

Part 238 Passenger Car Safety Standards
238.3(c) This part does not apply to:
(3) Tourist, scenic, historic, or excursion operations, whether on or off the general railroad system of transportation

However....
We've had FRA inspections on all our operating passenger equipment, both scheduled prior to interchange and by surprise, (passed with flying colors) so it behooves you to at least have the appropriate safety appliances, current COTS, and have no components that can be condemned. We're in the process of converting a flat car and we're paying close attention to everything from the wheels on up.

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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:54 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:29 am
Posts: 44
Boxcar conversion can be tricky. Usual not only the boxcar's frame also the body has some of the structural strength of the whole car.
When cut to open car must be sure the whole thing can be certified especially for interchange service.
Better to use a flatcar for conversion.
I recommend the US Army "Knockdown" Boxcar 1950s made. The frame itself has all structural strength, when used as gondola or box the sides are only to keep the load inside.

Here some background info:
https://myviewfromthecaboose.com/2017/0 ... own-fleet/

Then use Barber-Bettendorf caboose trucks with roller bearings and a smooth ride and interchange should be possible.

A few weeks ago a dozen of this cars was available here:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=44740

Also CassScenic RR has a dozen or more of these frames in storage.


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:03 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
Posts: 240
The Scenic Pend Oreille River train has converted several cattle cars to passenger cars. They ride quite well. They are standard gauge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBwwRTo ... e=emb_logo

The Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad has two steel gondolas you can ride in that are not modified by much and they did not ride very well.


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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2020 7:21 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:19 am
Posts: 610
Location: Scottsboro, AL
The old Wawa & Concordville used converted boxcars. Little River has two open cars that were either boxcars or stock cars. In both cases those were older, wood body equipment.

The Buckingham Branch passenger train has a boxcar employed as a concession car.

Gondolas are more common as open cars and it is probably easier to add a roof to a gon than to convert a boxcar.

I believe this is the Blue Ridge Scenic car referenced above.

- Alan Maples


Attachments:
Blue Ridge Scenic open car 697.jpg
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 Post subject: Re: Boxcar conversion to excursion car?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2020 7:44 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 9:19 am
Posts: 610
Location: Scottsboro, AL
Boxcar converted to concession car, Leadville, CO.

- Alan Maples


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Leadville, Colorado & Southern, Leadville, CO Aug 2018.jpg
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