The two U.S. Army boxcars at BGRM are quite rare, and have an interesting story to their existence. At the end of World War 2, and the beginning of the Cold War, the military considered the possibility of a third conflict in Europe. During the Second World War, rail transportation was hampered by enemy armies destroying locomotives and equipment, and our own American equipment was generally too large and heavy to operate on European rails. A 'Knockdown' Rail Fleet was designed and built, consisting of the MRS-1 locomotives (of which we have two), and a fleet of railcars to be shipped in kits, and to be assembled overseas to support a war effort.
Initially the flatcar kits would be shipped and assembled, and as time allowed, these flatcars could have other kits installed onto them, such as high and low side gondolas, and these boxcar kits. The external braces over plywood walls were designed to be rapidly deployed, but not necessarily last for decades as normal freight cars are designed.
BGRM bought these two cars in 1985, and have been using them as dry storage space.
In Summer of 2007, Adam Klier and his Boy Scout Troop repainted both boxcars, and earned his Eagle Scout rank. He now serves in the U.S. Military.
The series of holes visible on the end sill of the car, level with the coupler that Adam is standing on, are to allow installation of European Style Buffers. The couplers are also removable, and Link and Chain connecting devices are able to be easily installed.
This is how the boxcars looked in Summer of 2009. Several options for lettering the boxcars were considered and tested, but after locating the appropriate Army Technical Manual, it was decided to make stencils and paint the letters onto the car.
The letters were drafted into a CAD program, and then resized for each of the required letter height. They were then printed, copied to cardstock, cut out, and used as stencils for the car markings.
These are before and after photos. The stencil gaps are visible to the right, and were later filled in.
Again, the mounting holes for the Car Buffers are easily visible. Also notice how there are two brake wheels, one on either side of the car, to allow setting the handbrake from the sides, and not having to move between the cars for that purpose.
To the right is the emblem of the U.S. Army Transportation Corps, from 1942 until 1986. The outermost portion is a Ship's Wheel. The red Shield is the symbol of the U.S. Highway System. The small yellow wheel on the heavy black line signifies a steel Railroad Wheel on a Track. Then wings symbolize Air Transport. All four transportation modes are vital to the mobilization of the U.S. Army. This emblem is stenciled on the sides of the boxcars.
These photos show how the completed boxcars look. They were completed in Summer of 2010.
Visible in these photos, on the sides, are the outside braces, and underneath, truss bars. These spotting features are generally associated with much older equipment, but were incorporated into the Knockdown Fleet design to lower the weight of the unassembled 'kit'.
Special thanks to Sherwin Williams of Versailles, and Signs Now of Lexington, for their considerate donation of in kind materials and labor.
Other rolling stock examples from the Knockdown Rail Fleet are on display at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, VA, and at the Museum of Transportation, in St. Louis, MO.