Category Archives: SP/SSW

All SP/SSW Hi-Cube boxcar related projects

Site seeing – February 15


Today’s site seeing adventure is for those of you interested in railroad operation, in this case dispatching. Today’s link came across the wire thanks to the ‘Ry-ops-industrialSIG’ SIG group on Yahoo! Groups.

Site 1 – Train Dispatching

Today’s link points to Train Dispatching by J. G. Lachaussee. It has two separate sources of the same article (one from Scribd – the other directly on the site.) The article is as published in ‘The Sandhouse’ – A Publication of the Mississippi Great Southern Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

I’ve had a quick read of it and found it to be really interesting to see the information presented by a long time dispatcher himself. You can read more of the article here: <Offsite Link>

The article is by J. G. Lachaussee; published in the November 2011 issue of The Sandhouse.

Site 2 – Scribd

A while back I began a short history of the 40’ Hi-Cube Boxcars that rode the rails for a short period from the late 1960s through to the 1980s. So far I’ve only completed the SP and SSW part of the document and have not yet completed the other owners or operators or the modelling section for the final eBook.

There seems to be an inordinate amount of modelling interest in these very specifically operated cars; the model manufacturers have made a lot of them over the years. In fact there are more models available than those produced by the car makers themselves.

They’ve lived in model form for longer than they ever did during their prototype railroad days. If you’d like to take a look at the first part of the eBook please go to:

Now it is time to go model with my 10-year-old son.


40 foot Hi-Cube article has been quoted in Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine

Originally published on the old HVL blog November 07, 2012

An article I wrote on the Shorty Hi-Cubes has been quoted by Joe Fugate in the most recent Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine, available for free here.

I love these cars, as they are modern era cars, but short enough to fit onto all model railroads. They’re available in O scale too.

There will be a much longer article available shortly that will be posted here with more information on kit-bashing the cars, and industry options for you to use on your layout. They are not the most common of cars but they really stand out and while they are not in use now, they were in use during the period from the mid 1960s through to the early 2000s.

Have a great day.

A Short History of the SP/SSW 40 foot Hi-cube boxcars and notes on modelling them

Originally posted on the old HVL Blog – August 10, 2010


The forty foot, 70 ton, Hi-Cube boxcars were built in the mid-1960’s specifically for high volume low weight cargo and were most often used in captive service between appliance manufacturers and distributors. They occasionally branched out into furniture and paper loads. Manufactured by Pacific Car and Foundry and Pullman-Standard ultimately their small size, and the load limitations this imposed saw them leave the rails in a relatively short time. Other larger boxcars from around the same era ride the rails when this article was being written.

The forty footers were a stop gap car. They allowed double (vertical) loading of refrigerators and freezers that still fit on the then current 40 foot door spacing of many warehouses. Within a short time, as new warehouses were built, and the older ones closed or rebuilt, 60ft High-Cubes, which could haul a vastly larger load became the norm. However, there is photographic evidence of the cars riding the rails until at least the beginning of august 1984. I have seen photos showing one of the cars in revenue use in the early 2000s.

Southern Pacific and Cotton Belt B-70-36 Box Cars

My interest in these cars is primarily the Southern Pacific (SP) and Cotton Belt (SSW) hi-cube box cars were all built to the same design by Pacific Car & Foundry in 1966 and 1967 featuring a 5001 cubic foot capacity, Hydra-Cushion underframes and 10′-6″ Youngstown sliding doors. These cars came to be nicknamed the “Ugly Ducklings” due their awkward  appearance.
Initially intended for appliance service, internally their dimensions were 40′-6″ long, 9’ 6” wide and 13’ high. This allowed double stacking of freezers allowing greater loads than regular boxcars. Up until their introduction the second layer of freezers were laid on their sides. This in turn led to problems with damage to the second layer due to train handling.Externally the cars had an overall coupled length of 45’ 5”, a maximum width of 10’ 8” and stood at their highest 16’ 10” above the rail height. It should be noted that the 1969 ORER shows the 11 SP cars one inch higher at 16’ 11”.

A roster of the class B-70-36 Hi-Cube box cars for the Southern Pacific (SP) and the St Louis Southwestern (SSW) or Cotton Belt is provided in Table 1 below:

Road    Number Range    Number    Load Specific Data
SP    659100-659111        12        DF-B loaders
SSW    36014–36026        13        DF, DF-B, Car Pac loaders
SSW    36027–36081        54
SSW    36082–36120        39
SSW    36121-36126          6

Total Cars: 124

Table 1: Southern Pacific Railway System 40’ High-Cube data

The Cotton Belt had one other set of Hi-Cube cars (SSW 36000-36013). These had been rebuilt from cars in the SSW 33850-33949 series built by Pullman-Standard in 1951. The roofs were raised and they were given new 10′-6″ wide by 11′-9″ tall doors. They were converted at Pine Bluff between December 1965 and January 1966[2].

Operationally the Cotton Belt (SSW) had the lion’s share of these 40 foot cars. It would appear that they were delivered in four different lots during 1966 and into 1967 and thus while consecutively numbered were given different listings in the ORERs of the time.

Modelling the 40 foot Hi-Cube

A word of caution

It should be noted that these cars were a minority car, and for the most part in captive service between the major white-goods manufacturers and the regional distribution locations hauling high volume low weight cargo. While used from the mid to late 1960’s they appear to have all be off the roster, or at least mostly out of use by the mid 1980s.

Having said that if you have a need for or want to model these cars the details below, which were found on the Yahoo! group “Railway Operations SIG” will be of assistance to you.


  • The cars manufactured by Pacific Car and Foundry for Southern Pacific (SP) and the Cotton Belt (SSW) match the Athearn exterior-post model. (#1950 40′ Ob Hi Cube Box Car – PC&F for SP 659100-659111; SSW series 36014-36126, both class B-70-36) failry closely
  • The Transco (ATSF), Maxson (CNW) and UP’s home built car match the Athearn plug door model; these also match the rebuilt cars of the SP. (#1960 40′ Plug Door Hi Cube Box Car – UP class B-50-4 appliance car)


  1. This data was sourced from the January 1969 Official Railway Equipment Register.
  2. Source: for more information please visit:
  3. (updates to the site have since rendered this link inoperable, check out the wayback machine for the link to see what was their)