Information Sheet for the “Greenville” 52’-6”, 70-Ton, Drop-End Steel Gondola Car
A.M.C. Design 70-ton, Drop-End 52’-6” Mill Gondola
During the steam era, gondola cars were among the most versatile freight cars with more than 300,000 in service owned by U.S.
railroads and private companies during the mid-1950’s, plus 12,000 by Canadian roads. They came in a wide variety of lengths and
heights, .xed and drop ends, and built mostly according to the needs of each customer. The cars transported a diversity of heavy and
bulky commodities, steel products, machinery, minerals, lumber and scrap metal.
In October 1940 through March 1941, the Erie Railroad built 325 gondolas at their Dunmore, Pennsylvania shops with a design that
was to become an industry de facto standard, but not an A.A.R. standard design: A 70-ton mill gondola with drop ends, an inside
length of 52’-6”, and 14 full-length side posts. This length would accommodate a number of steel products from pipe to structural
beams, many of which came in 50’ lengths, and the 52’-6” inside length provided some cushion for easier loading and unloading.
The design originated with the Advisory Mechanical Committee (A.M.C.) of the Van Sweringen railroads, of which the Erie Railroad
was a member. The railroad ordered an additional 500 cars built in 1941 to nearly identical specs by the Greenville Steel Car Company
in Greenville, Pennsylvania. This was the first of 4,050 cars of this description built by Greenville Steel Car Company (GSC) for six
railroads to also include DT&I, NKP, NYC, PM and WP. The car design erroneously became known in modeling circles as the Greenville
The Despatch Shops, Inc. of East Rochester, N.Y., built 5,000 cars of the same design for NYC and P&LE. Additional cars came from car
builders Bethlehem Steel Co. (3,450), Mt. Vernon Car Manufacturing Co. (100), American Car & Foundry Co. (400) and Pullman-Standard
(1,500). Two railroads built cars in 1949-1953: Burlington Lines (200 cars for CB&Q and 70 for C&S) and Rock Island (500 cars).
By the end of 1957, nearly 15,600 cars of the same basic design were manufactured, of which only 4,050 were built by Greenville
Steel Car Co. While construction of the body followed the same general design, all with the distinguishing number of 14 outside posts
with a wider center panel, each railroad had preferences for various components to include the drop ends and locking devices, floors,
tie-down hardware, ladders and hand holds, and safety appliances.
Variations in the prototype cars and Protocraft models include four ends: Dreadnaught, Improved Dreadnaught, Pullman Corrugated
and ACF Corrugated. Tie downs varied considerably, and Protocraft has diligently replicated these individually. Most cars had
folding stake pockets on the interior sides with corresponding rivets on the outside, and a number of cars were built with side hold
down clips welded along the outside. Next came the Wine Lading Band anchor tie-down mounted on the top of each side. South
Bu.alo and Patapsco & Back River speci.ed their own design of this band. All cars came with a row of 1-1/4”chamfered cable holes
along the top rail. Wine door locks are made from 5 individual lost wax castings and function as in the prototype. The draft gear,
designed by Steve Grabowski, while modified to function in model railroad operations, is basically from the prototype, springs in but does not
have the ‘draft’ feature, necessary to eliminate any ‘caterpillar effect’ in model train operations. The draft gear is fitted with a scale
Symington-Gould “E” type coupler with magnetic operation or - as in the prototype - bottom lift bar operation. Interchangeable
“dummy” Kadee design couplers are supplied in each box as well.
Floors include those with wood planks, others representing the Nailable Steel Floor and the basic riveted steel floor. Frisco’s steel
floors came with welded joints that were also welded to the interior side sheets.
Variations in the hand brakes include different types of side-mounted power type and end-mounted lever-type (pump handle).
Brake steps could be steel plate, rectangular open grid, U.S. Gypsum expanded metal and Morton with punched holes for the safety
Three types of trucks used on the cars have faithfully been reproduced, and each model comes with the correct 70-ton, 5’-8” wheel
base. Trucks run on ball bearings and have working journal covers, available in O scale or Proto:48.
All of the above features display an interesting array of similar but different versions of the A.M.C. 70-Ton Gondola - all varying according
to each individual railroad’s engineering departments speci.cations. Built in Korea by Boo-Rim Precision to very exacting
standards from original builder drawings and with Ed Hawkins as a consultant for the entire project, these all-brass models are exquisite
in accurate detail and dimensions. For more detailed information regarding the prototype, consult Railway Prototype Cyclopedia
Volume 3, pages 52-67.
Never before offered in O scale brass - and unlikely to be reproduced again. The following cars are offered in this series:
The A.M.C. Design 70-ton Drop-End Mill 52’-6” Gondola by Protocraft
#3606 P&LE and a different version for the NYC
#3607 Patapsco & Back River - and South Buffalo
#3608a C&O - cars handed down from the PM with minor modifications
Decals are available for each car plus repaints at Protocraft Decals