Monday, May 20, 2024

Green Bay & Western Single Sheathed Automobile Cars

April 12, 1954, Muscatine, Iowa, Rich Wilson photo, John Harker collection, Remembering the Rock Island facebook group files*

Awhile back, I posted about some Milwaukee Road forty and fifty-foot single sheathed cars. I hinted in that post that in addition to kits for the fifty-foot cars, I also was entertaining the forty-footers. Since then, I have done some pattern work for the sides of the Milwaukee cars, as I have drawings for both the 40 and 50-foot cars and there are a lot of similarities. 

Feb. 23, 1954, Cedar Hill Yard, New Haven, Col. Chet McCoid photo, Bob's Photo

Recently, an image popped up online that had me go looking through my photos to see what I had on the Green Bay & Western's single sheathed auto cars. The GB&W car in the image made me think "Milwaukee" and I wanted to see if my instincts were on the money. I was correct, but there is a very interesting twist. The GB&W cars were built at the same time and by the same builder as one of the Milwaukee's group of cars: the Bettendorf Co., circa late 1929 to early 1930. The GB&W received 50 cars total from Bettendorf in 1930, assigned to series 14000-14050 and 15000-15098. Cars moved between these two groups depending upon whether they had auto loaders installed. The 14000-series cars originally had the loaders, although by the 50s there were not loaders in either group and there are no differences noted in the Equipment Registers of the time.

circa late 50s; no additional information about this image

The twist is that while the GB&W cars are identical to the Milwaukee cars dimensionally and in almost all details, the GB&W cars have the panels adjacent to the doors swapped, which quite noticeably changes the overall layout and appearance of the car sides (excepting the wood vs. steel doors, too.) An examination of the various rivets on the side sill and side sill supports illustrates that the GB&W cars used the same underframe; it's just the sides that were modified. Below is a composited image for comparison of the two sides. I have already (excitedly) worked out all the specifics to make a second side pattern to add the GB&W cars to this project, including the later single door versions, like GBW 15082 shown above.) What a cool discovery!

* from John Harker: "Rich Wilson captured this view looking to the northeast of the Milw derailment that occurred on the RI in downtown Muscatine, Iowa on Monday morning April 12, 1954. The derailment occurred about 5:00 am. This morning view shows some of the derailed cars that stretch from about Iowa Avenue by the Hotel Muscatine back to the southwest where Rich was standing. I scanned and edited this image from an original Kodak red bordered Kodachrome slide."


  1. Very interesting. I guess neither version is a centred door car, but the GBW car is closer to a centred door than the MILW. Are you able to say anything about how far they end up being offset I the two cars?

    1. On the MILW cars, the right hand door is centered while on the GB&W, everything is shifted approx 8.5" right (the amount is more precise, but that's a more rounded figure.)

  2. Ted, that is fantastic news about the GBW 14000 and 15000-series boxcars. I look forward to getting a few of these when they come out. If you need photos, contact me offline.

    1. Hello Andy - I am sure I will be contacting you... you're the GB&W guy, at least as far as I know!


Comments always welcome!