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freight Freight Cars...
    Freight cars are the meat and potatoes of any train.  More than 90% of the train is made up of freight cars, yet they are usually the least targeted part of model railroading.  Locomotives and cabooses are very popular, but the freight cars that are stuck right in the middle deserve some attention too.
    Chessie owned just about every type of freight car imaginable.  In an undated roster I have, Chessie lists 115,701 freight cars owned system wide.   They were broken down into the following:  69,227 Hoppers, 17,642 Boxcars, 10,581 Gondolas, 8,027 Covered Hoppers, 3,136 Coil Cars (includes gondolas converted for coil service), 1,986 Autoracks and 977 Flat Cars.   This is good reference point for the proportions of cars your railroad should have.
    To see pictures of real Chessie cars look under the "prototype pics" link at the bottom of this page.


    By far the most common type of car on the Chessie System.  About half of all freight cars were open hoppers.  Realize that Chessie was a coal hauling road.  Chessie painted them black with yellow markings.  Predecessor paint jobs for B&O and C&O were black with white markings.  The WM predecessor paint scheme was oxide red with white markings (though they did have some that were light grey with black markings).  Coal cars never get washed so model yours with plenty of coal dust (oversprayed dark grey and black).   Bowser makes a great 100Ton Hopper and Stewart makes a great 70Ton Hopper.  Chessie also had a neat way of turning a coal hopper into a covered hopper.  Yellow plastic lids called "hopper toppers" were put on them to provide a surge capability for the fall harvests and lulls in coal traffic.  Chessie only used its newest hoppers for this service.  I have never seen a hopper in a predecessor paint job with a top on it.  McKean offers the "hopper toppers".  They are out of business now, but you can still find them occassionally on eBay.
Click here to see the model hoppers

    All three Chessie roads had them, and they were all seen system wide.  Normal Chessie boxcars were blue with yellow markings.  40 foot box cars were rarely seen in Chessie blue, mostly they were too old to worry about and stayed in thier predecessor scheme.  50 foot and larger boxcars were free game for the painting crews.  Chessie had all types, smooth, ribbed, waffle, etc.  Like all modeling, the best thing to do is find a photo of the real thing.  Chessie painted their insulated boxcars with blue ends and the sides yellow.  The sides had blue markings, the ends yellow.  The roof was either blue or silver.  The predecessor roads also had yellow sided insulated boxcar paint schemes.  It was normal to see some Chessie and some predecessor paint jobs on cars side by side in the same train.
Click here to see the model boxcars

    These hard working cars hauled anything that could fit in them.  Like dump trucks they got pretty beat up.  Chessie painted theirs black with yellow markings.  Predecessor paint schemes for the B&O and C&O were black with white markings.  The predecessor WM paint scheme is oxide red with white markings.  Most gondolas were plain (with nothing inside of them for hauling loads like scrap metal).  They also can have special interior fixtures to haul less than car load containers, spent carbon, bar steel, pipe, mounted wheel axles, tin plate, loose wheels, plate glass and copper billets.  Most gondolas come with fixed ends, but Chessie rostered some with drop ends for easier loading.  Additionally, some Chessie gondolas came with covers to protect their loads from the elements.   
Click here to see the model gondolas

Covered Hoppers
    All three roads had them.  The predecessor schemes were all light grey with black markings.  The Chessie scheme was all yellow with blue markings.  They came in two main sizes, large (3 and 4 bays) and small (1 or 2 bays).  Large covered hoppers carried low density material like grain.  Small covered hoppers carried high density material like sand or cement.  Both large and small types came ribbed sided (Pullman-Standard  or PS) and smooth sided (American Car Foundry or ACF).  The small 2-bay ACFs are really characteristic of Chessie and any Chessie model railroad needs some.  Covered hoppers are some of the most frequent cars you see on the rails today.
Click here to see the model covered hoppers

Coil Cars 
    These cars are technically specially equipped gondolas for coil service, but are commonly referred to as coil cars.  The coil car for the purposes of this website were cars designated "CS".  This included both converted gondolas and ones built from the ground up to transport coiled steel.  This purpose designed type of car was invented with C&O help.  The C&O had the largest fleet in America.  B&O had the #2 fleet.  WM didn't have any.  The WM transported coiled steel in regular gondolas.  Coil cars are very characteristic of Chessie.  Model quite a few.  Walthers offers them.  Remember that those hoods come off and get swapped around.  It is rare to see a car with two matching hoods.  Usually one Chessie and one from another road is accurate.  They rust like crazy too, so weather them lots.  You can buy spare hoods and change them around to create lots of new looks.  Hoods come beveled or rounded on top.  Chessie had both.  They painted their hoods yellow with blue markings and blue with yellow markings.  You need some of both color schemes to be accurate.  Chessie even had a few yellow fiberglass hoods. 
Click here to see the model coil cars

Auto Racks
    The C&O was all over Michigan and with that comes automobile traffic.  Auto racks came initally in unenclosed or open carriers.  Eventually in the Chessie Era, sides were added, and finally the all enclosed auto rack came about.  These cars are pooled through a jointly owned company called Trailer Train.  This means which ever railroad needs cars, (UP, Santa Fe, etc) they take them from a pool.  So, a C&O auto train may only have a few C&O labeled racks on it.  Mostly it is an even distribution of road names.  Additionally, this means that B&O and C&O auto racks do not come with B&O or C&O road letters, but rather ETTX or BTTX letters for Trailer Train.  Just the upper rack is painted for the B&O or C&O.  These cars are very long, so if you have tight corners in your layout, stay away from these.  Accurail offers good two and three level open auto racks and enclosed auto racks.  Walthers offers enclosed auto racks too.
Click here to see the model Auto Racks

Flat Cars 

    A good for everything car.  These usually hauled strange loads that didn't fit in boxcars or gondolas.  Chessie painted them black with yellow lettering.  Predecessor C&O and B&O paint schemes were black with white markings.  The WM predecessor scheme was oxide red with white markings.  Flat cars come in either general or specialized service.  Specialized flat cars are for pulpwood, lumber, auto frames, wallboard, aluminum sheet, castings or trailers.  Concentrate on the top of the flat car, the sides are too small to get much attention.
Click here to see the model flat cars


Maintenance of Way:
    MofW cars are usually the oldest cars on the railway.  They are used to haul stuff for work crews to repair track, ballast, and everything else of the physical plant.  Gondolas, flat cars, coal hoppers, and  passenger cars were used for MofW.  Very few of these pieces of equipment got painted into Chessie paint.  But those that did were either green or red.  The red was a B&O specific color that was a hold over from pre-Chessie days.  Most MofW equipment was restricted to their home rails and not allowed to switch or interchange to another railroad.  Most MofW equipment in the Chessie Era dated from the 40s and 50s.  If you model a specific piece of Chessie line, stick with that line's MofW equipment.
Click here to see the model maintenance of way cars

Safety Cars
    The Chessie System was big into safety.  They painted several passenger cars and boxcars in a special safety green scheme.  These are really unique cars, and finding decals for them will be nearly impossible.  The best bet is to make your own decals.  I haven't modeled any of these since they are so unique.
Click here to see the model safety cars (No link, none modeled to date)

Passenger Cars:
    The Chessie System ran a few special trains behind steam engines.  The cars for the "Chessie Steam Special" are very colorful.  They would make great models in their yellow with orange and silver trim.  Also, Chessie had track geometry trains that ran passenger cars in a black with orange and yellow stripe scheme.  The B&O also had some dark blue Chessie passenger cars for special trains.  Again, these are very unique, these aren't everyday sort of trains.
Click here to see the model passenger cars (No link, none modeled to date)


    Trailers on flat cars (TOFC) was the first way intermodal transportation was done.  Today there are specific rail cars designed to handle semi-trailers and containers.  But in the Chessie Era it was still TOFC.  Some TOFCs carried just one semi-trailer, but most carried two.  These cars were also owned by Trailer Train and did not have B&O, C&O, or WM reporting marks, but are included here because it is a freight car you would see with a Chessie System logo on the load.  Chessie ran unit trains of TOFC.  That means the whole train was just one type of car.  These "Trailer Jets" as they were called ran a very high priority route across the system.  Nothing on these cars shows B&O or C&O ownership, but the trailers sure did.  You would see B&O, C&O, WM predecessor paint schemes as well as Chessie System marked trailers.
Click here to see the models of TOFC


    As my modeling skills improved and my standards evolved, certain cars were no longer needed.  Listed here are the cars that I have retired from service, with a quick bullet why these cars are not used any more.
Click here to see the retired cars
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