2017-05.4: Deciphering freight car data

26 May 2017

Average: 4.8 (16 votes)
24:28 - May 2017 Act IV - Deciphering freight car data (2017)

There’s a lot of information stencilled on the side of a freight car.  Rolling stock builder Pierre Oliver gives us some insight into why all those abbreviations and numbers are required, in preparation for lettering our own models.

For the next segment on applying decals, see:
Notch 8: Applying waterslide decals


I really enjoyed the video and learned quite a few things from it. I never even thought of all the grime or dirt build up adding to the weight of the car but it makes sense. Looking forward to the next video.

This was very informative - now I know what all those numbers mean on the sides of freight cars!  Thanks!

LV.U23B.501's picture

Thank you!!  The video was excellent!  Well done!! 

Fascinating. Learned some new things here.

Just curious - was there any sort of directive on what fonts a railroad could use or was it left completely up to them?

Love to learn more about prototype practices, adds another dimension to understanding and applying to our models. Ordering an empty based on our lading and matching the size of the car???  YIKES! Well done. 


Good question!
There is certanly some form of commonality is most lettering, but there are variations observed. I'll have to do some checking and get back to you.

Recently I nerded out on a book about N&W Coal Cars, which covered gondolas and hopper cars used in coal traffic. Early Coal cars made of wood were reweighed for the reason stated in the video however, even metal cars lost weight over their lives due to corrosion - a serious issue when Coal met steel. Apparently 1/2 to a full ton could be lost in this manner.