October 2003 - Page 25
ATLANTIC COAST LINE
O-31 Class Boxcars
by Jim Six
Model photos by the author; prototype photos as indicated
ACL 31527 is modeled after one of the class O-31 boxcars that was converted to carry bulk salt for Allied Chemical Co. The cars had yellow doors to make identification easier. Note the added roof hatches.
reparing prototype models of specific railroad equipment, in this case freight cars, is a lot of fun for me. I have long enjoyed modeling diesel locomotives, but in recent years I have acquired a real liking for building, detailing and weathering freight cars especially boxcars. I have now prepared a couple hundred detailed and weathered prototype models of various freight cars. The most prominent cars in my roster are Atlantic Coast Line boxcars. I practically lived at trackside throughout north and central Florida during the 1960s and 1970s, thus making ACL boxcars among the most
common freight cars that I saw. So it is only natural that I focus on these prototypes. In 1960 ACL received 700 50' boxcars, numbered 31000-31699, from American Car & Foundry. These cars made up ACLs class O-31. They had a capacity of 4,817 cubic feet and were rated at 50 tons. All had 8' 10" doors and a then-standard 10' 6" inside height. Noteworthy is that O-31 boxcars were the first to use the slogan Thanks For Using Coast Line . A hundred of the cars (31600-31699) were equipped with DF loaders. O-31 boxcars saw all types of service, being used for hauling paper, chemi-
cals, can stock, auto parts, various merchandise and tobacco products. 1 Several cars were randomly selected from the class to be assigned to bulk salt service for the Allied Chemical Company in Baton Rouge, LA. These specialty cars were identical to the remainder of the class with the exception of yellow-painted doors and four small circular roof hatches for salt loading. Almost the entire fleet of O-31 cars made it into the Seaboard Coast Line following the 1967 merger with long-time rival Seaboard. While the new SCL paint scheme was attractive in its own right, the railroad was in no hurry to repaint its older boxcars. Many O-31 boxcars survived in ACL paint into the early 1980s. I have a good time locating photos of a prototype freight car and doing some research with friends to learn more, then building models of the prototype. For me, this is prototype modeling. I dont take research to the level of some other folks, but I go far enough to help to prepare a credible model of the real thing as it may have appeared in a specific setting. My three ACL boxcars here came about in this way. I prefer working from photographs of the real thing rather than from technical drawings. For these models I used photos from Paul Faulks ACL Color Guide book and some provided by Larry Goolsby2. There is no need to make this into rocket science.
Atlantic Coast Line Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment, Paul Faulk, Morning Sun Books Inc. 2 Larry Goolsby is author of several books about the Atlantic Coast line and affiliated railroads and also a long-standing member of the ACL & SAL Historical Society.
Note the weathering effects on the roof, sides and end as well as the small extra details added to this Branchline model.
MODEL RAILROADING 25