Boston and Maine Freight Equipment after 1920

Copyright 2005-2021 by James B. Van Bokkelen . This document may be duplicated and distributed for non-commercial purposes only, all other rights reserved.

Until 2005 I was focused on passenger equipment and engines, and also knew several people who understood B&M freight equipment better than me. But none published, either in print or on the web. Particular thanks to Tim Gilbert and Charles Harmantas for their research, to Bruce Bowden and Bob Warren for their efforts in getting issue after issue of the B&MRRHS Modeler's Notes out, and to Don Valentine of NERS and Bill Dulmaine of Yankee Clipper Models for their efforts in producing commercial models of B&M freight cars.

This document contains five sections:

NOTE: For most of this period, milk refrigerators usually ran in passenger service, and are covered in my Boston and Maine Passenger Equipment after 1940 page.

Notes on Boston and Maine Freight Service

Contributed by Tim Gilbert

The Boston and Maine always terminated more traffic than they originated. Generally, incoming traffic was dense raw materials received from other sections of the country. These were either consumed by the populace, or used to produce lighter manufactured products and merchandise which were delivered throughout the country. Because the number of inbound cars was still greater than those outbound, many inbound cars when unloaded were, in turn, reloaded with outbound traffic, thus reducing non-revenue empty car miles in compliance with the First Rule of Interchange. Because so many empty foreign cars were used for traffic originated on the B&M, the B&M did not have to own as many freight cars to support originated traffic as a road with a better ratio of originated to terminated traffic than B&M's would have.

The B&M's largest interchange was at Mechanicville, NY with the Delaware and Hudson, which handled about twice as many loaded cars as were interchanged with the New York Central at Rotterdam Jct., NY. Because the B&M was the most efficient outlet for Maine using all-American routing, Portland's Rigby Yard was a large interchange point, primarily Maine Central; although Portland Terminal did connect to the Grand Trunk, most interchange was done farther north on the MEC. Much of the traffic, although certainly not all, via Rigby used the B&M as a "bridge line" to Mechanicville, Rotterdam Jct. and Worcester, MA for points south on or via the New Haven. Worcester was also the gateway for traffic between New Haven points and B&M stations east of the Connecticut River.

The Springfield, MA interchange with the New Haven handled about a third to a half the number of loaded cars interchanged at Worcester. The Boston & Albany (NYC) was an insignificant interchange partner with the B&M except during WW II. Then the B&M delivered loads, many of them oil tank cars, to the B&A at Grand Junction in Boston. The switch was necessary because of the wartime gridlock on the B&A. Traffic from Canada funneled through White River Jct. (Central Vermont) and Wells River (Canadian Pacific). Outbound traffic through those two junctions included both loads for Canada and to the American Mid-West. Parsimonious shippers took advantage of a differential tariff (lower rate) for westbound shipments to and via Michigan through Canada.

Because it was possible to use a high proportion of foreign cars for loads originated, the B&M did not need to own as many freight cars as the average RR - B&M's cars owned as a percent of the daily average of cars on line ranged between 40% in 1940 and 61% in 1970 (vs. the national average of 90% - privately owned cars made up the remainder nationally). Because of the vast number of commodities which could be loaded, B&M's boxcars and general service flat cars were, in effect, B&M's contributions to a national pool. It was not rare for a B&M boxcar to stay away from home for four years. In good times, about 5% of the boxcars on the B&M were B&M-owned. In bad times, that percentage increased: As fewer loads were available, more B&M boxcars returned home empty, and were placed in storage tracks until the economy turned.

Hoppers, however, could only carry a few commodities so reloading possibilities were from slim to none. The B&M did need to own some hoppers in order to supply cars in the ports of Boston, Portsmouth and Portland. Here, tide coal from colliers & barges was transferred to rail for customers inland. B&M hoppers were not seen off-road much except during WW II when B&M hoppers could be used to reduce the nation- wide hopper shortage. Come the first coal miners' strike after the War, those hoppers came home empty fast. In terms of going off-line, B&M's gons were somewhere between boxcars and hoppers.

Major Groups of Freight Equipment:

Through 1960, the B&M owned about 5,000 freight cars, but a 1966 Official Railway Equipment Register only lists 3,500. Much of the reduction was the retirement of most of the B&M's hoppers and gondolas as "tide coal" shipments ended.

I intend to eventually cover all the groups of cars either purchased or undergoing substantial rebuilding between 1920 and the Guilford merger. I won't get into details of service lives, as that's available by year and month in the ORER, either original or reprinted, or as digitized by Ken Akerboom on the B&MRRHS website.

NOTE: So far, I've got most of the cars in service 1940 - 1966. I'll extend this as I have time, but the fleet was more complex both before and after this time period.

Boxcars - rebuilt or renumbered

20, 21 (Renumbered from 77000s 1962)
50 foot PS-1s equipped for handling bagged cement.
1000 - 1174 (Renumbered 74000s 1961)
All remaining 40 foot PS-1s from the 74000 series sold; only 175 leased back.
2000 - 2709 (Renumbered 75000s 1971)
All remaining 40 foot PS-1s from the 75000 series sold and leased back.
67000 - 67039 (Renumbered from 74000s pre-1955)
40 foot PS-1s with four grain hatches in the roof ('LC'), restored to 'XM' by 1973.
67040 - 67067 (Renumbered from 73000s 1964)
40 foot 1937 AAR boxcars with four grain hatches in the roof ('XMP').
69700 - 70987 (Renumbered from 71000 - 72999)
Most of the XM-1 fleet was sold to two brokers who refurbished and leased them back to the B&M in 1955 and 1956. Only one car remained on the roster in 10/66.


70000 - 70499 (ACF 1919)
Double-sheathed 40 ton USRA boxcar. 16 left in 1953. Off roster by 1955.
71000 - 71953 (Standard Steel Car 1929)
Single-sheathed 50 ton with "reverse CRECO" doors, ARA "Type Y" trucks, 12 cars unrebuilt 1/60.
71954 - 71974 (Standard Steel Car 1930)
Steel 50 ton ARA (X-29) with "reverse CRECO" doors, ARA "Type Y" trucks.
71975 - 71995 (Standard Steel Car 1929)
Single-sheathed 50 ton boxcar as above, assigned Mystic Terminal Corp.
71996 - 71999 (Standard Steel Car 1930)
Steel 50 ton ARA (X-29) as above, assigned Mystic Terminal Corp.
72000 - 72999 (Standard Steel Car 1930)
Single-sheathed 50 ton with 6-foot Youngstown doors, Murphy roofs, ARA "Double-Truss" trucks. 12 cars unrebuilt 1/60.
73000 - 73199 (Magor 1942)
40-ton steel 40 foot 1937 AAR boxcar, 6 foot Youngstown door.
74000 - 74024 (Pullman 1947)
50-ton steel 40 foot PS-1 boxcar, 7 foot 7-panel Superior door, assigned Mystic Terminal Co.
74025 - 74499 (Pullman 1947)
50-ton steel 40 foot PS-1 boxcar, 7 foot 7-panel Superior door.
75000 - 75749 (Pullman 1951)
50-ton steel 40 foot PS-1 boxcar, 7 foot Youngstown door.
76000 - 76538 (Pullman 1957)
50-ton steel 40 foot PS-1 boxcar, 8 foot 9-panel Superior door.
77000 - 77999 (Pullman 1956)
50-ton steel 50 foot PS-1 boxcar, 9 foot Youngstown door

Stock Cars

27200 - 27239 (rebuild 1923)
Class SM, wood bodies with steel outside bracing on 1907 pressed steel flatcars from the 33000 - 33499 series, Fox trucks.
27500 - 27514 (Rebuilt from 71000 series 1945)
The 8 survivors were converted back to boxcars as part of the XM-1 sale/rebuild/leaseback program in May 1956.

Refrigerator Cars (non-milk)

13100 - 13299 (MDT 1923)
40 foot SUF ice bunker refrigerator cars, all remaining in non-revenue service (mostly passenger car icing) by 1951.

Covered Hopper Cars

3400 - 34xx (ACF, ex-D&H)
100-ton steel, 42 foot, 3-bay, 4460 cu. ft.
5200 - 5299 (Portec )
100-ton steel, 42 foot, 2-bay, ??? cu. ft.
5400 - 5419 (US Ry. Equip. )
100-ton steel, 54 foot, 3-bay, 4780 cu. ft.
5500 - 5519 (ACF 1946)
70-ton steel 32 foot, 1958 cu. ft. (5500, 5501 sold Revere Sugar by 1960)
5520 - 5545 (Pullman 1956)
70-ton steel 35 foot PS-2, 2003 cu. ft.
5550 - 5563 (ex-L&NE 1963)
70-ton steel 32 foot ACF-built, 1790 cu. ft.
5600 - 5649 (leased 1962)
70-ton steel 32 foot ACF-built, 1790 cu. ft.
5680 - 5691 (ex P&WV 1966)
70-ton steel 32 foot ACF-built, 1958 cu. ft.
5700 - 5719 (Pullman 1966)
100-ton steel, 51 foot, 3-bay PS-2CD ribbed-side, 4427 cu. ft.
5720 - 5725 (North American ???)
100-ton steel, 51 foot, 3-bay 4427 cu. ft.
5750 - 5754 (ACF ???)
100-ton steel, 3-bay center-flow, 3560 cu. ft.
5800 - 5804 (General American )
77-ton steel, 42 foot, Airslide, ??? cu. ft.
5810 - 5814 (General American )
77-ton steel, 42 foot, Airslide, ??? cu. ft.
5900 - 5917 (General American )
100-ton steel, 49 foot, 3-bay, 2785 cu. ft.

Hopper Cars

7000 - 7099 (ex-C&O 1934-5)
50-ton steel 30 foot IL outside-braced twin hopper, 7 ribs, 2015 cu. ft. Last 3 scrapped 1954.
7100 - 7199 (Bethlehem 1941)
50-ton steel AAR Standard offset-side twin, 9 ribs, 2190 cu. ft., Wine door locks. 32 left 1/60, 3 left 10/66.
7200 - 7270 (ex-?? 1962)
70-ton steel 34 foot hopper, 2050 cu. ft., 26 cars in 10/66.
7300 - 7322 (ex-?? 1962)
70-ton steel 41 foot offset triple hopper, 2760 cu. ft.
7400 - 7414 (ex-??? 1962)
70-ton steel offset quad hopper, 2755 cu. ft. 5 ladder rungs vs. 6 on 8000s.
7500 (ex-?? 1964)
70-ton steel 41 foot ribbed triple hopper with woodchip extensions, 3600 cu. ft.
7502 - 7519 (ex-?? 1964)
70-ton steel 41 foot offset triple hopper with woodchip extensions, 4700 cu. ft.
8000 - 8469 (Standard Steel Car 1929)
70-ton steel ARA offset side quad hopper, 2748 cu. ft.
8470 - 8499 (Standard Steel Car 1929)
70-ton steel ARA quad hopper as above, assigned Mystic Terminal Corp.
8500 - 8999 (Standard Steel Car 1930)
70-ton steel ARA offset side quad hopper, 2748 cu. ft. Of the whole 8000 - 8999 series, 340 were sold to the DL&W 1951, 35 remained in 1/60, but all were gone in 10/66.
10000 - 10299 (Pullman 1957)
70-ton steel ribbed-side PS-3 triple hopper. Leased out at various times, including 150 to GN 1962 - 1972.
15000 - 16467 (ex-WM 1966, only 45 cars)
70-ton steel 34 foot "channel-side" twin hopper, 1835 cu. ft., later renumbered 7260 - 7299.

Gondola Cars rebuilt or renumbered

9200 - 9209 (converted from 92000s 1952)
50 ton steel "solid bottom, fixed ends" per ORER. Drop-bottom gons rebuilt to wheel cars, renumbered to WHB200 - WHB205 (non-revenue) 1955.
9210 - 9561 (renumbered 92000 series)
50 ton steel solid-botton gondola, sold & leased back.
9600 - 9899 (rebuilt from 92000 series)
50 ton steel solid-botton gondola, sold & leased back.
29000 - 29099 (rebuilt from 81000s 1929)
50 ton steel gondola, archbar trucks, side drop doors with wood superstructure and larger side doors added for pulpwood service. Last retired in 1949.

Gondola Cars

9100 - 9199 (ACF 1923)
50 ton steel "Hart Convertible and ballast" per ORER. Off roster by 1960.
81000 - 81499 (Pressed Steel 1913)
40 ton steel gondola, archbar trucks, side drop doors. Retired 1939.
90000 - 91499 (Pressed Steel 1919)
50 ton composite USRA drop-bottom gondola. Off roster by 1953.
92000 - 92749 (Bethlehem 1937)
50 ton steel drop-botton gondola, delivered with "B&M" reporting marks
92750 - 93249 (Bethlehem 1942)
50 ton steel drop-botton gondola, delivered with "B&M" reporting marks. 188 cars in series unrebuilt as of 1/60, 133 left 10/66.

Specialized Flat Cars

5000 - 5007 (B&M 1941)
50-ton steel 32 foot well-hole flat with superstructure for gears and turbine rotors, two sold GE (Lynn) pre-1953, remainder sold 1973.
5010 (ex-B&C 1957)
50-ton steel 45 foot well hole flat, scrapped 1978.
5100 - 5103 (B&M 1941)
80-ton steel 38 foot depressed center flat, cast steel body.
5200 - 5209 (rebuilt from 34000s 1959)
50-ton steel 54 foot TOFC car, to original numbers 1962.
5300 - 5309 (rebuilt from 33500s 1954)
Bulkheads added to 1923 42-foot flat for gypsum board loading, off roster by 1960.
5320 - 5329 (Pullman 1957)
50-ton steel 54 foot bulkhead flat, for gypsum board loading.
5330 - 5339 (rebuilt 34000 series late 1950s)
50-ton steel 54 foot bulkhead flat, for gypsum board loading.
5400 - 5411 (Int'l Steel Car 1955)
50-ton steel 50 foot bulkhead flat, for pulpwood service to mill in Haverhill MA, sold MEC 1960.

Flat Cars

33500 - 33799 (Magor 1923)
55-ton steel 42 foot flatcar with 12 stake pockets. 29 left in 1/60, all gone by 1966.
34000 - 34089 (Pullman 1957)
55-ton steel 54 foot PS-4 flat car, 18 stake pockets.

Boston & Maine Freight Paint Schemes

In the 1920s, the B&M standard was that wood sided cars (which apparently included the 1929 steel boxcars) were boxcar red. Hoppers, gondolas and flatcars were black, although it is not clear how this was applied to the USRA composite gondolas. Either way, lettering was white. The reporting marks were B&M.

Several variations on heralds were applied at different times. The earliest was a white rectangle with the road name in white on a black background and a red upwards-facing arrow through the "B" and "AND". This was used on the USRA double-sheathed cars delivered in 1919. Later a multi-color "map" herald with "Minute Man Service" lettered underneath was tried on a few cars. The 1929/30 boxcars and hoppers had a simpler rectangular herald with the same "Minute Man Service" slogan.

After the 1938 change to "BM" reporting marks, the B&M only used two heralds on hoppers, gons and house cars: The earlier was the simple rectangle containing the road name, without the slogan:

B&M block herald

In 1946, the Minuteman herald came into use, and was applied to cars as they were shopped. When the railroad acquired covered hoppers in the late 1940s, they were painted gray with black lettering and a black Minuteman.

B&M Minuteman herald

When Patrick McGinnis took over the B&M in 1955, he put a lot of effort into showy graphics. After several experiments, his designer produced a couple of boxcar schemes: The 50 foot PS-1s (77000 series) were delivered with a blue body and black door, with an interlaced BM herald in white (B) and black (M, with white trim) to the right of the door. A little later, the third order of 40 foot PS-1s (76000 series) was delivered with a blue body and door, with an interlaced BM herald in white (B) and blue (M, with a white border) on a black panel to the right of the door. Lettering remained white. Later boxcars used a simplified all-white herald.

During the McGinnis era, flatcars, hoppers and gons remained black, receiving only the white/blue interlaced BM herald. Covered hoppers remained gray, but the 1956 PS-2s received a white/blue interlaced BM herald.

After McGinnis went to prison, subsequent purchases and rebuilds economized by omitting the black doors and using an all-white herald. Covered hoppers reverted to black lettering.

Modeling the Equipment in HO (1:87) Scale

My modeling standards lie somewhere in the middle of the range; I've never built anything I'd expect to win a well-attended contest, but I do notice cars that aren't up to the Renssalaer club's Green Dot standards, with separate grab irons, realistic door hardware and near-scale roofwalks.

As I wasn't out taking pictures until the last few years of the B&M, in many cases I use photos of my own models to illustrate prototypes.

Double-sheathed USRA 50 ton boxcars:

These were termed "grain" cars in the Official Railway Equipment Register, which was probably a strategy to avoid loads which would contaminate the car (hides, ground glass etc.). As the PS-1s arrived, some were converted for MoW service and survived into the 1980s. In HO scale, these cars are available as a "shake the box" kit from Accurail with "BM" reporting marks and post-WWII Minuteman herald, and as a resin kit from Westerfield.

Single-sheathed ARA 50 ton boxcars (XM-1):

At or after delivery, 20 of these cars were lettered Mystic Terminal Corporation - At home on the Boston & Maine. As traffic declined in the late 1950s, many were sold to the Wellsville, Addison & Galeton and the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern, who operated them into the late 1960s. A drawing was publshed in the July 1986 Mainline Modeler and reproduced in the Yankee Clipper Models instruction sheet.

In HO, a resin kit originally marketed by Yankee Clipper is now available from Funaro & Camerlengo. Three versions are offered: Murphy roof with Youngstown door for the 72000 series as-built, flat roof with "reverse CRECO" door for the 71000 series as-built, and the stock car rebuilds from 1945. In later years, the "reverse CRECO" doors on the 71000s and K brake equipment on all of them were replaced with Youngstown and AB respectively. The included decals letter both the as-delivered paint, pre-1955 repaints with the Minuteman herald, and rebuilt/renumbered and leased back cars (also with the Minuteman herald) post-1955. I built B&M 72480 from the Yankee Clipper kit, with Kadee PRR 2DF8 trucks (a good approximation of the prototype"s ARA Type Y and Double-Truss trucks)

ARA Steel 50 ton boxcars (PRR X-29):

These 25 cars were bought as an experiment at the same time as the first order of XM-1s. At delivery, 5 of these cars were lettered Mystic Terminal Corporation - At home on the Boston & Maine. The Northern New England Color Guide shows one of these cars retained its "reverse CRECO" door into 1960.

In HO, they are best modeled starting with a Red Caboose X-29 model, but if you can find one, Bethlehem Car Works produced a custom painted kit with the as-delivered "reverse CRECO" doors. An alternative to the Red Caboose kit is the old Trains-Miniature HO RTR X-29 now offered by Walthers. AFAIK this car has never been offered in accurate B&M paint, and probably isn't worth the effort if you want a Green Dot car.

1937 AAR Steel 40 ton boxcars:

In HO, the Athearn 40 foot boxcar is close to the right body type, but for the extra effort, the Intermountain kit looks much better. New England Rail Service had a custom Intermountain car done with several different B&M numbers, which I used for B&M 73096.

Pullman-Standard PS-1 boxcars:

All of the 1947 cars (74000 series) that had not been modified with roof hatches for grain service and renumbered were sold to USLX in 1962. Only 175 (1000 - 1174) were leased back by the B&M.

The different production runs of B&M cars had a number of detail variations. A good PS-1 reference can be found in the March, October, November 1993, December 1994 Railmodel Journal. Also see Charles Harmantas' article in Modeler's Notes No. 50. He modifies an Intermountain HO PS-1 into a B&M 75000 series car by removing the end dimples, flattening the raised end panels, altering the side sill tabs and applying 7-foot doors with extended door tracks.

Several good quality HO scale PS-1s have been offered in B&M paint:
Kadee4816 (RTR)75000 as delivered, black roof, Minuteman herald
 5249 (RTR)76000 as delivered: blue, black R of door, BM herald, Superior door
 5260 (RTR)76000 blue, black R of door, BM herald but with Youngstown door???
 6015 (RTR)77000 as delivered: blue, black Youngstown door, BM herald
IntermountainKit for
Brooklyn Loc. Wks.
76000 as delivered: blue, black R of door, BM herald, Superior door
Other manufacturers have offered various cars decorated as B&M PS-1s, usually using less accurate carbodies.

70-Ton 2-Bay Covered Hoppers:

The early covered hoppers were bought for specialized services, hauling dense commodities like cement and sugar.

100-Ton 2-Bay Covered Hoppers:

70 ton ARA quadruple hoppers:

In HO, these cars are best represented by the Athearn quad hopper. The factory "pseudo-McGinnis" scheme of blue body with large interlaced BM herald never existed. The Salisbury Point RRHS once offered a late 1930s version, with rectangular herald and "B&M" reporting marks, but without the "Minute Man Service" slogan. Charles Harmantas' article in Modeler's Notes No. 32 outlines a Green Dot rebuild of the Athearn car, but you should also refer to the photos in Railway Prototype Cyclopedia Vol. 5; the ladders had six rungs instead of five. I built B&M 8900 using an Athearn kit and Charles's article.

50 ton AAR Standard offset twin hoppers:

A 1947 photo in the Railway Prototype Cyclopedia Vol. 2 shows a rectangular herald. In 1955, 64 cars were leased to the Norfolk Southern. Later they were sold to the NS.

In HO, this type of car can be based on the Athearn or Atlas offset twin. The B&M's cars had angle-section side gussets and channel end supports that only came to the bottom of the end sheet. Some time ago, New England Rail Service did a custom painted run of Athearn offset twins as B&M cars. To achieve a Green Dot car you'd need to change the end supports along with adding brake gear and replacing the steps and grabirons.

50 ton USRA composite gondolas:

The Intermountain USRA gondola is correct for these cars. The Steam Shack had a custom paint job done on the HO car in black with B&M reporting marks and a 1933 repaint date. It has been speculated that these cars might have been delivered in boxcar red due to the wood sides, but I haven't seen a color photo.

50 ton drop-bottom gondolas:

At delivery, 25 of the first lot of these cars were lettered Mystic Terminal Corporation - At home on the Boston & Maine.

The Yankee Clipper HO resin kit (presently available from Funaro & Camerlengo) is by far the most accurate way of modeling the 1942 order of 50 ton steel gondolas, either as originally delivered with drop-bottom doors, or as rebuilt with solid bottoms in the late 1950s. This kit was also offered in a Maine Central version. The modeler does face a couple of potentially tough choices - the interior side molding provides detail usually missing from gondola kits, but makes the sides twice as thick as they ought to be. And adding weight under the inner floor so the car can operate empty makes the inside depth less than it should be.

Depressed-center flatcars:

In HO, Eastern Car Works has made an injection-molded kit of a standard cast-steel depressed center flatcar which is right for the B&M 5100 series. I built mine with 28-inch wheels and lead shot held in the underbody openings with white glue, so I can operate it empty.

Well-hole flatcars:

There's a drawing and photo with load in January 1944 Model Railroader.I've never seen it, so I can't say if it's the same as the drawing and photo with load in February 1983 Model Railroader. In HO, Funaro & Camerlengo makes a resin kit of a well-hole car with the superstructure used to ship gears and rotors from General Electric's Lynn, MA works. This is right for the B&M 5000 series cars. I haven't built mine yet.

1923 42-foot steel flatcars:

In 1938, fifty cars were sold to the Barre & Chelsea, numbers 700 - 749. In 1954, ten were rebuilt with 6 foot 6 inch high bulkheads for gypsum board loading, but these cars were replaced by the 1957 bulkhead flats.

Red Caboose offered an as-delivered paint scheme on their HO 42-foot flatcar model with 12 stake pockets. This appears to match the photo in the Northern New England color guide, but needs relettering to suit use after about 1938.

General Freight Equipment Sources

NOTE: A general Boston & Maine bibliography may be found in my Unofficial Boston and Maine Railroad Page.

Maintained by James B. VanBokkelen .