Saturday, February 19, 2022

Central Vermont Drop Bottom Gondolas

CV drop bottom gon 4462. 
This is the third post reviewing individual classes of Central Vermont freight cars; the two previous ones featured the 40,000-series Howe truss cars, and the 42,000, 43,000 and 44,000-series boxcars

This time, our subject is perhaps the least documented of Central Vermont's roster, the four “drop bottom” gondolas. I know they existed since they appear on the CV Freight Car Classification sheets, although they apparently were never used in revenue service as they didn't appear in the ORER.

They tend to stay hidden in plain sight until you know what you're looking for - then they really jump out at you! Since they were assigned to cinder service they tend to appear in locomotive servicing areas such as New London, White River Junction, and St. Albans. I first noticed the end of one in a photo of New London. 

The end of the one of these gons is clearly visible on the New London cinder track

According to a CV Freight Car Classification Sheet, these cars were built by Pressed Steel in 1923. They were 42'-11" long, with a width of 10'-3-1/2" and a height of 9'-1". The car classification sheet makes it seem as if all four were identical, although the capacity ranged between 44,900 and 47,200.  Although they were built in 1923, I suspect the CV got them later than that – possibly acquiring them from another railroad. 

Adding to the confusion about these cars, the ones in the Classification Sheets show they were numbered 4463-4469 (obviously not consecutively!). I was thrilled to find the relatively clear side view of these cars. But note the numbers on the cars shown here. Of course, these photos date from 1951 and 1953, so perhaps the cars were renumbered at some point. But if so, why? 

Also at New London

Although I don’t know much about the early history of the cars the few photos that have come to light show enough details to allow a reasonably accurate model (see the photos in this post). They were equipped with drop bottom doors, as evidence by the actuating rod for the door along the bottom of the sides.  The cars had flat steel plate ends with one or two ribs. 

I haven’t seen any photos showing these cars in the pre-World War II Roman lettering (of course, if they arrived on the railroad later they may never have been painted in the Roman lettering). Sometime during the war years they would have been repainted in the then-standard “stacked” Gothic lettering with the Central Vermont roadname spelled out. During the late steam era the cars were painted standard Mineral Red (CN Red #11 from Scalecoat or Modelflex is a good match for this color). As they were used in cinder service, these cars tended to weather heavily.

Modeling Notes

My current layout doesn't have an engine servicing terminal, so I don't really need one of these cars but I'd still like to build one simply for the conversation value. I plan to use a Details Associates drop-bottom gondola kit as a starting point, although the Red Caboose (now Intermountain) GS gon may offer a better starting point. I actually have one of each in kit form in the stash! Detail Associates even offers an end (6222) that looks very close to those on the prototype. I will do a detailed post on the model when its complete. 

This post is hardly a definitive history on these cars. I'm posting what I have now in the hope of unearthing some more details on these cars. If any readers have any info on these cars please share in the comment section! 

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