Both photos Collection of Paul Koehler
Between 1923 and 1924, the Southern Pacific and the members of the SP family of lines purchased 6,675 single sheathed box cars. The Espee received an allocation of 1,000 USRA fifty-ton single sheathed box cars and it can be assumed, due to the size of this purchase and the subsequent B-50-15/-16 classes that the road was pleased with the single sheathed design.
The cars were split into two classes: the B-50-13 and the B-50-14. For all intents and purposes, the two classes were the same with small differences. Both featured fishbelly center sills, composite ends with lumber doors in the A end, zee-shaped structural members in a Howe truss with three diagonals on either side of the door, long single diagonal straps in the end panels. The cars were also delivered with unpowered vertical staff type brakes, Carmer cut levers, KC brakes and Bettendorf T-section trucks. Both classes also employed an unusual ladder design that was comprised of L-shaped structural members with rungs inserted into holes in the members.
One notable quirk was present on the subsidiary Pacific Electrics cars. Because they operated on the tight radii of the curves present on the line, the brake rodding connected to the hand brake was different than on the other cars in these classes. The rod ran to the outside of the truck sideframe on the B end, rather than between the truck sideframes. This arrangement necessitated the addition of an extra brake lever to transfer the line of the rod from a position adjacent to the center sill to one adjacent to the side sill.
The 13s were all delivered with the Murphy XLA roof, which was a simple wood roof sheathed in metal. Most of the cars came with Camel #32 doors, but 1,000 received the unusual Camel-Allen door. The Camel-Allen door was like other wood doors in most respects, but the door hardware was located on the right hand side of the door, even though the opening was on the left.
The 14s displayed more variety in the roofs employed. 1,175 of the cars received Murphy radial roofs, 1,000 were equipped with the Hutchins Dry Lading roof and an additional two hundred received the Chicago-Cleveland Viking roof, an early design iteration of the popular Viking roof introduced in the early 1930s. Eight hundred of the B-50-14 class received Camel-Allen doors, while the majority were equipped with the Camel #32 door. In addition, four hundred of the 14s were rebuilt from members of the B-50-6 class.
Over the course of their existence, many of the cars were refurbished and upgraded. The most visible change was the addition of 4/5 Dreadnaught ends to many cars. While the change in ends was the most obvious alteration, cars fitted with new ends also had two straps added to the end panels in place of the original single long strap. Some of the rebuilt cars received powered hand brakes of a few different types. The early rebuilds were fitted with vertical staff hand brakes that were geared at the bottom, resulting in a power hand brake. Later rebuilds received horizontal geared hand brakes with housings. A small number of cars also had their trucks changed to cast sideframe versions. The rebuildings were not wholesale and many cars spent their entire service lives as built, with the possible exception of the replacement of the original KC brakes with AB brakes.
Sunshine Models offers accurate HO scale kits cast in resin to model all variations of these cars.
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