Sealed for Shipping…

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Milepost 793

…at least I think so. I think I told you that one of the loose-knit email groups I belong to is the Pirate & his crew. While we talk about model railroading in general (among other things), the guys originally got together because of their interest in early era modeling. That would be from about 1900 into the Depression. That means lots of wooden cars but not a ton of photographic records of the rolling stock of that time period. So when someone comes across a photo of an older car like the one above, it is dutifully shared with the other members of the group.

This one was of some interest to me because I’ve mentioned many times that I grew up only a few hundred yards from the W&LE tracks in Tiltonsville, Ohio, my home town. I also had family members who were employed by the Wheeling through the years. So I was glad when the above photo ended up in my in box.

I won’t go into detai about the car but wanted to focus on the unusual looking white vertical stripe along one edge of the door. What did this mean? It certainly looks like it was painted on… perhpas as some indication that the car was to be only used for certain types of freight. Maybe it meant that there was something special about that side of the car and the line distinguished that side from the other. You do know that railroad cars do have a left & right side, don’t you? But that’s another story for another day.

After I put the question to the rest of the pirate crew members, one of them responded that the stripe was actually probably a strip of paper that was nailed to the door after it was shut to seal the car from the elements. As you might guess, railroad cars take a beating. Today’s steel cars certainly show signs of that but you can only imagine how the much less hardened wood doors handled the daily abuse of loading & unloading. So when a car’s door got all dinged up from use, it wouldn’t always shut tightly and would allow the weather and other dirt into the car and thus affected the contents.

If that was the case, the doors were slid shut and locked. Then, a strip of heavy paper would be nailed onto the car’s side and overlap the edge of the door, thus sealing out most of the dirt & the elements. There you have it, the mystery solved.

Something like this wouldn’t be all that hard to model; a thin brown paper bag would supply more than enough material to do a whole fleet of battered doors but I’d only apply such a detail to one or two of them. I’d simply cut a thin strip of paper about an eighth of an inch wide and the height of the door then fold a Z fold into it long ways. Use a little tacky glue and glue it into place and you are done! Again, this would certainly make an interesting conversation piece and would be very simple to do and cost literally nothing.

Have fun!




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