Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Freight Car Placards

Before the use of computers to keep track of car lading, cardboard placards were used to convey information to those handling the cars at industries or along the line - consignees and railway employees, respectively. These were most commonly affixed to boxcars (stapled or tacked to a tackboard on door or car side) and tankcars (inserted in purpose-built metal placard holders). Spending time trackside, I would occasionally find a placard that had blown off a passing freight car, sometimes obviously run over by the train! In time, these grew into a collection, and decades later, here is a Trackside Treasure post on a very unusual type of treasure found trackside. I've photographed the placards and added some text pertaining to the shippers, contents and fascinating fine print found on the placards.

Placards in the first four photos were likely from boxcars. The fragile nature and high value of newsprint rolls often called for specially-equipped boxcars to prevent handling damage. Wood productse were often loaded from one side, blocking the opposite door(s). The boxcar would have to be spotted with the side to be unloaded facing the consignee's dock. Here are some examples from the former Kingston Weldwood lumber yard, now a Home Hardware store without rail service.
 Above: (all photo caption information in this post - top to bottom and left to right)
-Domtar Pulp Ltd, Lebel-sur-Quevillon, QC
-Scott Paper Co, Chester Operations
-Weldwood of Canada Limited, unique due to double-sided printing -on reverse "Unload From This Side"
-Domtar Newsprint

-Canadian International Paper Co
-American Can Co. Green Bay, WI
-Domtar Newsprint, handwritten note "59-44 1/4-59 Horizon Pocket Books"
A variety of forest product companies are represented by the placards. Some of these companies have since been subsumed or otherwise bought out by others.
-British Columbia Forest Products Ltd, Victoria Plywood Division, Victoria BC
-Great Lakes Forest Products
-Weldwood of Canada Ltd.
-Generic "Newsprint Do Not Hump"
This one always gets a snicker:
-Generic "Do Not Hump", found at Kingston VIA station May 12, 1979
-Generic "Notice to Trainmen Spot at Consignee's Siding" printed by CGC 6/73
A plethora of Dangerous (usually tank car) placards follow. These were to be flipped over once unloaded, to show the car being empty but still containing residue from the contents (below right). A placard in the placard holder, usually welded to the tank car sill contains a sample placard (below left). Notice how the printing was omitted from areas on the placard that are covered by the holder cross-braces.
Some placards were produced by the railways as noted after the commodity, while others were generic, for use by various shippers.
-Gasoline CP Form 1080
-Sulphuric Acid 98% faded Graphics Form 2334
-Sulphuric Acid 98% Graphics Form 2334
-Ammonia CN 861-|F (5/74)
-Isopropanol CN 861-F ( 5/74)
-Anhydrous Ammonia 29-0030 [Band 100]
-Flammable Liquid St Catherine CP Form 1080, also labelled TH&B 3221 27-07-79 (boxcar series originally numbered 3000-3299, rebuilt to 3600-3849
-Ammonium Nitrate
-Propane Form R-134 6/78 150541
-Liquefied Petroleum Gas CN 861-F (5/74)
-No commodity CP Rail Form 1080
-Anhydrous Ammonia Form No. 349
-Acrylonitrile 862-29
-Acetone CN 861-F (5-74)
-Flammable Solid CN 861-F (5-70) handwritten CMBU 2230372
-Propane CN 861-F (5-74)
-Ammonium Nitrate Form No. 328
-Anhydrous Ammonia Form No 249
-C-I-L This Car Contains UREA-MAP-DAD
-Non-flammable Gas 2 Labelmaster Chicago, IL, 60660
-Corrosive 8 Form No 23085
-UN 1075 2
-Flammable 3
 Reverse of three of the above:
Placarding rules were included as part of the Uniform Code of Operating Rules and other subsequent railway regulations. Changes in placard formats and other Transportation of Dangerous Goods regulations in the 1980s are a related topic, somewhat outside the scope of this post. Clearly, there was a need to simplify placarding as tank cars were used mainly for one commodity, diminishing the need to label each time and to flip the placard.
Below and top photo:
-plastic UN 1075 2 MarkMaster Toronto ON M9W 5E8
Can the above placards be used for modelling? Perhaps an enterprising Trackside Treasure reader can reformat and print these placards in scale, to be affixed to model boxcars or tankcars. Not to be overlooked is the use of placards on Maintenance of Way equipment, such as CN's flammable storage boxcars.

Running extra...

Another episode of TLC's new show Railfan Sisters! In this episode, my sister has ventured north from North Carolina and finds herself stopped by crossing protection at the Coronation Blvd crossing near Mi 182 Kingston Sub. First a westbound with 2244-2443 with DPU 2245, then an eastbound single-unit train(?2200) with DPU 2670 pass before her in the snowy, sun-shimmering south-facing scenery. She knows what she must do, popping out her camera phone, knowing the ensuing photos will be shared with Trackside Treasure readers:


Allison said...

Always feel privileged to run extra on my bro's blog!
Hard to resist a long freight in the winter sunshine!

Eric said...

Thanks, sis. Nice job at the crossing. It was the least I could do to present your photos collaboratively!


Robert in Port Townsend said...

Computers or no, placards are mandatory on all exotic goods.

Years ago, I was startled to see a "DO NOT HUMP" placard, framed, hanging in my girl friends bedroom.

It was given to her by her former admirer, a Union Pacific brakeman ...

Eric said...

Funny story there, Robert. As I said in the post, it always rates a snicker.

A co-worker mentioned a British TV show called the Wheel-Tappers and Shunters Social Club, in a similar vein. Or as we would say in North America, 'car-knockers' which is also snicker-producing in its own right.

Thanks for your comment,