Throughout the midth century the design remained virtually unchanged thanks to its redundant, flat deck layout allowing it to handle numerous commodities. The definition of the flatcar is rather self-explanatory, a basic design consisting of a flat, horizontal surface deck that usually equipped with standard two two-axle trucks to transport any type of cargo capable of withstanding any type of weather condition during its trip. The basic flatcar can haul anything from farm equipment and containers to industrial parts and even rails.

Its flexibility and redundancy has nearly always made the car desirable by railroads. As a result its general shape and design changed little for more than a century. The first known use of a flatcar occurred on America's first operational railroad, the Granite Railway of Quincy, Massachusetts. This horse and mule-powered operation began service in to handle large chunks of granite from a quarry to the Neponset River using a wooden-railed right-of-way later replaced with iron. According to Mike Schafer's book, " Freight Train Cars ," some rocks weighed as heavy as 65 tons and the railroad employed timber-planked cars on four wheels two axles resembling wagon wheels to handle them.

The company developed a so-called "baggage container car" which featured end and floor railings to tie down wood crates loaded with baggage.


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As railroads began hauling more and differing types of freight specialized cars were needed to do so, particularly to keep some products out of the weather. This soon led to the develop of the gondola and boxcar both of which can trace their origins back to the flatcar.

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The most significant change to the flatcar has been its increased length, the addition of standard two-axle trucks which occurred around the middle of the 19th century , and the various types now available to haul specific loads. During the s flatcars were being constructed partially of iron with lengths of 25 feet by 8 feet wide.

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They also featured side pockets whereby iron or wooden stakes could be placed to keep large, high-centered loads from shifting or falling off such as logs or lumber. During the 20th century the car continued to grow reaching 40 to 50 feet in length and 10 feet wide. This became the standard until the post-World War II period when specialization and other factors led to the car's size growing to 85 feet or more allowing it to handle truck trailers. Similarly, COFC, or container-on-flatcar service dates back to at least when the Pennsylvania Railroad tested the idea using specialized foot flatcars which carried five containers.

It was discontinued in TTIX cars added to fleet. Cars equipped with combination winches, lading ties, side stake pockets and hydraulic end of car cushioning EOCC. Thomas F.

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Wells becomes President and Chief Executive Officer. Historical Timeline. First ft cars entered service. First cars equipped with End-Of-Car Cushioning devices were purchased.

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First ft and ft general service cars added to the fleet. First ft flatcars entered piggyback and autorack service. First all-purpose flush deck prototype cars entered service. First ft bulkhead flatcars entered service. First ton ft flatcars entered service. Two prototype lightweight, 2-unit drawbar-connected hitch cars are built at Hamburg. Railgon formed as a subsidiary of Trailer Train on May 24, Modification of over 20, cars to handle two ft trailers Twin begins. One prototype single-axle, single-platform hitch car and two articulated hitch cars are tested.

The reason is not known. The success of this line soon prompted management to order a second Fowler locomotive of similar size. By the Koloa operation needed more powerful engines and ordered a ton, T locomotive from the Hohenzollern Co. Today this engine is preserved by the Grove Farm Homestead Museum in operating condition—it is the oldest functioning plantation locomotive in Hawaii and is put in steam occasionally for special events.

None of the railroads on Kauai were intended for passenger service, although on special occasions flat cars were outfitted with seats and canvas roofs.

Workers often rode out to the fields on the railroads and returned on the last trip of the day. The daily work on these railroads involved moving cars loaded with cut cane from the fields to the mill and the bags of processed sugar to the nearest ship landing, as well as moving supplies and equipment to the plantation from the landings.

The expansion of the plantations increased the length of the railroad lines and the improvements in the sugar processing plants enabled much greater production capacity. A steam locomotive crosses a trestle in the glory days of Kauai sugar. As the lines increased in length and management wanted to move larger quantities of sugar cane per trip, the locomotives were upgraded to larger units. The Baldwin Locomotive Works, of Philadelphia, became the prime supplier to most Hawaii plantations and Kauai was no exception.

At one point there were more than 20 of these engines in service on Kauai at the same time.


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Three of them survive in the collection of the Grove Farm Homestead Museum, two of which are operational. The Kauai Plantation Railway has been fortunate to locate and recover a pair of these Baldwin tank engines that once ran on the Honolulu Plantation Co, on the Island of Oahu.

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Unlike the other Kauai railroads, these are 36 inch gauge, which was common on all the other Hawaiian Islands. Once restored this will raise the number of Hawaii narrow gauge steam engines on Kauai to six, the largest surviving group of Hawaii sugar engines in existence. By plantation managers began to experiment with internal combustion engines and a ton Plymouth diesel was placed in service at the Kekaha Sugar Company and was soon followed by similar units on other operations. In management at the Lihue Plantation purchased a ton Whitcomb diesel-mechanical engine, which proved to be successful.