Thursday, February 1, 2024

Pennsylvania Railroad G22 Gondola


Note the abuse to the grab irons on this G22... it's ok if your grabs are bent and dinged! Zanesville, Ohio, 1954, John C LaRue, Jr. Collection

With over 6,100 constructed from 1915 to 1917, the PRR G22 was the backbone of the Pennsy mill gondola fleet from World War One through to the start of World War Two and, numerically, was still a large fraction of the PRR fleet into the 1950s. In addition to their general service as mill gons, G22s were also used to haul containers, as shown. The container gons were assigned to class G22B.

G22 PRR 750902 had an interesting load when photographed. Merrilees Collection, National Archives of Canada, neg. no. PA204761

The G22 arrived at a time when the length of mill gondolas was increasing. Contemporaneous to the G22, the Wheeling & Lake Erie received 46' gondolas from Pressed Steel that were generally similar to the G22, and became the foundation for the USRA 70-ton mill gondola. The New York Central System rostered an impressive fleet of composite 46' gondolas built in the beginning and middle of the 1910s. 

PRR G22B was in container service when photographed in Mansfield, Ohio, on October 18, 1952 by Col. Chet McCoid. Bob's Photo. Note the large placard board in the centered on the car side and the 100-ton trucks.

The G22s were built in two styles: the G22 had fixed ends and four small hoppers in the steel floor while the G22A had drop ends and a tight steel floor. The quantities were roughly 2:1 with 4,000 G22s ordered and 2,150 G22As ordered. Beginning in 1930, cars from the G22 class were modified with tight floors for use in container service, creating the G22B class. Most of the hoppers were removed from the cars in the G22 class beginning in the late 20s and continuing forward. Cars with drop ends had them replaced with tight plate steel ends, with three stiffening ribs applied. For more info on this large and complex group of cars, I highly recommend Pennsylvania Railroad Gondolas by Al Buchan and Elden Gatwood, which contains a trove of information and photos about the massive Pennsy gondola fleet

I will have a follow-on post in a couple days about modeling these important cars in HO scale (there are a lot of options!)

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