PRR 347000 G27 E10465 040333

In 1936, the Pennsylvania Railroad led in the U.S. railroads in extending the length of gondolas by the introduction of its 52'6" interior length G27 all steel mill gondola. From 1936 to 1939, the PRR built 4500 of this innovative design. The PRR was the largest steel hauler in the U.S. and the purchase of these new gons reflected that fact.


In 1949, the all steel GS class was the largest block of gondolas on the Pennsy and the fourth largest group of any gondola class of freight cars on the road. In that year, there were 14,485 of the original 32,700 cars in revenue service -- declining to 300 cars in 1955. The total number of GS gons was greater than the entire fleet of roads such as Pere Marquette, Western Maryland, New Haven, Delaware & Hudson and CNJ/CRP.

X41b MS A34 color BillLane

In 1945, the Pennsylvania created a lightweight 50' boxcar unique in appearance, all welded and with slightly excess height, the X41 series. The use of sheet steel only .07" thick welded to vertical posts every 2' yeilded a car side with a mass of wrinkles. The interior height of 10'8" added to the massive appearance. The X41's were the PRR's last major home design.

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I first met Ron Hoess years ago, I believe at the Malvern RPM. Between that and the PRRT&HS annual meetings, I've had the pleasure to sit in on a number of his clinics and have awed at the amount of detail he puts into his modeling.

Ron models the Pennsy's Chestnut Hill, Stifftown, and Midvale branches in the late 1950s. These locations connected with the PRR main line just soutch of North Philadelphia, in the Philadelphia Terminal Division. Noteworthy customers from the 1945 CT1000 Listing of Stations and Sidings included Linde Air Products, Erie Steel Co., Pittsburgh Plate Glass, General Motors, and the Budd Company.

Employee timetables provide a treasure trove of information about a division. They were typically updated in April and September. They include listings of interlockings and block stations, passenger train schedules, arranged freight train schedules, and rules specific to the division.

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Many years ago, at a Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society annual meeting in Ohio, I procured a packet of documentation pertaining to MO tower at Cresson, Pa. The notes started in the early 19-teens and extended through the end of Pennsy.

One section included a study conducted during the middle of World War II to determine the feasibility of installing bi-directional signalling between SO (South Fork) and MO (Cresson) on the west slope. In a form dated April 7, 1942, Pittsburgh Division management requested authorization for the expenditure of $149,883 for "Reverse signals on number three track -- "MO" to "SO" and changes to crossovers at interlockings". The justification was as follows:


The Pennsylvania Railroad was a pioneer in the development of trailer on flat car (TOFC) service and was the principal partner in the formation of Trailer Train Corporation.

PRR 6000 HP EP20 leaves UD with the Penn Texas

The Penn Texas was a named passenger train of the Pennsylvania Railroad that ran from New York City's Pennsylvania Station to St. Louis' Union Station from 1948 to 1970. The train also interchanged cars at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with Washington, D.C., via York, Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Maryland.

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Tangent Scale Models G31B

The G31 series were the first post-war gondolas, introduced in November 1948. The class featured a 52'-6" interior length and a fishbelly design. These cars lasted well past the Penn Central merger. Sub-classes ran from A through N and included multiple builders and spotting features.

X31a E9736 Side BillLaneBowser X31A

In the middle of the depression in 1934, the Pennsylvania began a massive car building program in it’s Altoona, PA shops. The round roof design was adopted to achieve the maximum cubic foot capacity loading and still clear tunnel restrictions, and the X31 series became their new and distinctive standard box car. Two basic roofs were adopted - one flush to the sides and the other with a 2” setback at the top of the roof. Cars were both 40‘ in length and came with either single or double doors with 6' and 12’-1-1/2” or 14‘-6” openings respectivly. During one period between March and April 1936, many of these cars were contracted out between builders AC&F, BSC, GATC, GSC and PSC. In 1939 and through 1940, the PRR modied the roofs of 690, 40’ double-door cars with a distinctive extended roof to accommodate jeep shipments. These were designated as X31F and classifed XAR.

 Bowser X32

In 1932 the PRR designed boxcars that would be specifically used for the automobile industry. To maximize capacity they used a new unique roof design, where it curved at the edge, termed a “round roof” or “wagontop”. The X32 and X33 classes were both 50 '6" cars with staggered doors. The X33 differed from the X32 in that it also had end doors. Both X32 and X33 cars were built in 1933. Then, in 1936 after some design improvements, the X32a and X33a classes were constructed. While the X33 class was specifically designed for carrying finished automobiles, the X32 boxcar classes, while designed to haul finished automobiles also hauled auto parts around the country as well. The resulting need for specific service X32’s resulted in different batches and classes being built, which introduced the X32b class. In 1940 auto loading racks were applied to some X32b, which created the X32c class. Finally, starting in 1953 through to 1956, X32a/b/c boxcars were rebuilt with a single door into the X32d class.

Although considered large capacity when first built in 1933, line side clearance improvements made the cars obsolete, so in 1959 the PRR stripped the superstructure of 1,000 X32 and X33 subclasses cars to build their X51 class of boxcars. By April of 1968, the PRR only had less than a dozen X32/X33 cars in revenue service. (Source: