Express Boxcar ?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sun May 22 13:32:02 EDT 2011

In support of Jim's thesis, compare the side sill shapes. The cars in the
Thieme photo have side sills like the BS/BSb in that picture. In
contrast, here's a B-8 from the NWHS Archives -

( . Also, this picture confirms Jim's point
about the doors.

So, while apparently some B-8's were modified for this kind of service,
that's not what's in the Thieme photograph.

Dave Phelps

In a message dated 5/22/2011 10:24:23 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
nw-mailing-list at writes:

This photo is on page 24 of the Thieme book. These are not Class Ef box
express cars; those cars had an inset door, like a baggage car, that opened
by sliding it inside the body; additionally, the doors were shorter in
height and there was a section of the side that was "solid" above the door ope
ning. Here is a link:
The cars in the Thieme photo are definetely freight boxcars that have been
converted for passenger train service. These are not Class B-8 boxcars;
the B-8 cars had an 8-foot wide door and clearly these are 6-foot wide
I believe these are Class BSb boxcars; here is an image of the Class BS
At some point, these cars were rebuilt; some were made single door cars
with a door opening of 6-foot and reclassified BSb. The info I have suggests
the original class was built in 1927-28 time frame. The Railroad Spec -
Bill of Materials is No. 373 and a General Arrangement Drawiing of G-27252.
The BSb class is what I believe to be represented in the Thieme photo.
As Gordon has pointed out, cars in passenger service require different
equipment. My "guess" is these cars were excess boxcars that were modified to
run in passenger service; they were pressed into service as mail storage
cars and used during the Christmas season. Remember, in the 1950s, there
was no UPS or FedEx; and the REA relied on the railroads as well. Another
"guess" is that once converted, these cars were simply stored when not
needed. Perhaps somewhere in the Archives there is documentation of this
The B-8 cars were virtually brand new when this photo was taken by Mr.
Thieme. The N&W would not have made extensive changes to a new car for a
temporary service. There were some cars, classed B-8A I believe, that were in
dedicated LCL service.
Jim Brewer
Glenwood MD
----- Original Message -----
From: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
To: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
Sent: Saturday, May 21, 2011 11:33:36 PM
Subject: Re: Express Boxcar ?


Here are a few comments that others may be able to augment. First, I'm
not convinced that the two box-express cars are B8's. Second, whatever they
are, in order to operate in a passenger train they would have to be
equipped with a passenger-type air brake control valve, a communication signal
line and a steam trainline. So, equipment converted like this should be
listed somewhere by the N&W.

I found information on Class Ef box express cars No. 220 - 228 and 230 -
239 in N&W Motive Power Data Book No. 1. These are the only box express
cars listed in the two copies of Data Book No. 1 that I checked. One copy is
dated Aug. 15, 1951 and the other is dated April 1, 1953, so these
bracket the listed date of August Thieme's photo, Dec. 6, 1952.

Both copies of Data Book No. 1 have the same information for the Class Ef
cars, viz., No. 220 - 228 "Roanoke Shops 1929," and No. 230 - 239
"Converted from BSb box car 1941." So, these must have been the cars in service
when Thieme took his photo. Incidentally, the Class BSb box cars had
"Dreadnaught" corrugated ends similar to the ends visible in the photo.

Gordon Hamilton

----- Original Message -----

From: _NW Mailing List_ (mailto:nw-mailing-list at
To: _nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org_ (mailto:nw-mailing-list at
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2011 8:50 PM
Subject: Re: Express Boxcar ?

A Google search took me to the OGR Forum, where someone pointed out that
per the NWHS web site, N&W had converted some B-8 boxcars to express
service. If you look closely at the end corrugations of the first car, it screams
"Pullman PS-1" at you, i.e. B-8. However, a quick look through my
reference materials yielded no details, listing of cars converted, or installation
of passenger air brake systems. So, that's about all I can contribute -
hopefully others have more information.

Dave Phelps

In a message dated 5/20/2011 7:43:05 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
nw-mailing-list at writes:

Can someone enlighten me as to what class of box car is seen in the
following photo behind the K1 locomotive?


What color they may they have been painted?

Jimmy Lisle

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