Gimme Pig Request -ATSF Auto Carrier



I’m just kidding about the request, but I’d never seen this before and thought it was worth sharing. It’s a frame capture from an ATSF film titled “Assembling a Freight Train” ( The film was produced in the 50’s and is worth watching if you’re interested in that era of US railroading. If you work for OSHA or are in a management position for a railroad you should probably have a medical team standing by when you view it because you’ll probably go into cardiac arrest at some point given (by today’s standards) the numerous safety violations.
I've watched those old ATSF videos myself. I agree they're quite amusing and pretty scary. I like the ones that show how to work safely in the yard and to pay attention.

This load too is quite interesting, and I can only imagine what the cars looked like by the time they arrived at their destination! This would be somewhat easy to replicate in Trainz using cars and attachments, I think. I've never done it, but I'm sure it can be done. :)

Coming at this just after getting home from dimensioning random objects for an engineering class, and having an idea of physics, I HAVE to believe those bodies are being held by a Hangar Rack or some sort.... What a thing to see......

After that, the only major safety violations I saw was handling of high pressure air-hoses with no protection, and brakemen riding on and between uncontrolled cars (But this is just how the railroads did things up till the invention and distribution of Retarders and such).

Very interesting video. Its so mundane its boring (The narrator's "Professional 1950's White Bread Voice does nothing to aid this), and then you realize that this is a piece of history as things are no longer, nor probably will ever again, done this way.

Also have to point out, living in Western WA, I'd bet those Car Cards would turn to Mush pretty quick in wet weather XD.

My take on the Santa Fe "auto carrier" is that those cars are scrap loads, given the lack of protection of the finish of the roofs of the cars from potential damage from scraping the sides of the Gondolas. And I don't expect they're moving very far, either. If we assume (for simplicity) that the car bodies are 15 feet long, and the floor is about 4 feet high, the load is close to 19 feet, greatly exceeding plate C (15' 6", limited interchangeability).

They may be scrap but cars were carried that way, There was a special car, a Chev I think that was carried in a special auto rack. The cars were driven onto a ramp and fixed in place then the ramp was raised to the vertical. The car had special fittings on the engine and reservoirs to control fluids while in this position. I found this info just the other day when I was researching how cars were loaded into autoracks.
For extra credit.
What year and make of car is this? Note that we are looking at the back end of them.
My guess is a '55 or so Buick, but I'm no American car expert.

If the picture showed a Volkswagen, I'd be able to tell you the year nearly instantly. :p

They're definitely primed bodies without fittings such as glass and not scrap cars.

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Yea, those aren't scrap cars.... Even back then Scrap Cars were thrown around like toy dolls. Magnetic Cranes aren't a new invention.... Neither are torches...

As far as their being loaded like that.... The 1950's wasn't a Lawsuit era.... If a company could do it and it made a buck, it was done..... Further, its not like ATSF didn't run over miles and miles of Desert with few if any Tunnels, bridges, or underpasses along much of its stretch.

I find it interesting that whatever car it was that was being transported was offered in a Wagon as well as what I would have to assume (Big Boot aside) would be a Sedan.

They may be scrap but cars were carried that way, There was a special car, a Chev I think that was carried in a special auto rack. ... < snippage> ...

The Chevrolet Chevette is the car you are thinking of, and the car was a TTX Vert-a-Pak. WHen in transit, the cars were not visible, as the "ramp" on to which they were driven was lifted to form the side of the car.

Might have a Line on what kind of car the ones in the vid were:

They Made wagons too that have similar looking back ends:

Apparently they were "Unibody Construction". So Frame + Body as essentially one piece. I forget all the details, but I know it makes for vastly different construction methods compared to "Body on Frame" Construction. Figure they built the Body at one place and sent it somewhere else for Final Assembly?

Just found this one too:


Those two sure look like our back ends....

Its funny too actually. This whole incident reminds me of the movie "Cars" Anyway. The Mountains all through out "Carburetor County" are basically the back ends of Cars sticking straight up in the sky...... Combine that with one of the main characters being a Hudson Hornet....

Edited to add:
Been reading their history through the mid 1950s (The end of the Hudson line basically). The last three years, 54-57, involved alot of craziness that might have explained why they were loading Unfinished Cars into Gondolas Nose first...... I doubt this was standard practice from Detroit when Hudson was still their own company. Really dates that movie too, since so many of the Models made under the Hudson, Nash, and Rambler names were one year wonders. If anyone here really knows their Hudson History, they could probably pin point it.

2nd edit: To add another photo since the first one seems to be "acting out".

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The Chevrolet Chevette is the car you are thinking of, and the car was a TTX Vert-a-Pak. WHen in transit, the cars were not visible, as the "ramp" on to which they were driven was lifted to form the side of the car.


For this and other autoracks, TTX actually owned the flatcars and the railroads owned the rack. This is sometimes still the case, and you can see a different number on the rack than the flat.
I’ve had a chance to do a little research and came up with the following: “In 1941 special loading fixtures were installed in a single GA-46 class gondola for the shipment of Studebaker sedan body shells. Apparently, this experiment did not immediately yield results, as neither ATSF 169500 or any other cars were listed on the roster as being permanently assigned to this service. After the war, however, the concept bore fruit; 155 GA-46 class gondolas were equipped for auto body service…” p. 184. Richard H. Hendrickson. Santa Fe Open-Top Cars: Flat, Gondola and Hopper Cars 1902-1959. The Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society.

I’m certainly no expert, but I think they might be ’54 Studebakers.

EDIT: Apparently I'm not Photobucket qualified. It took a couple of tries to get the Studebaker picture to show up.
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After spending WAY more time on this then I ever could have possible forseen or anticipated, I can only say they *Might* be Larks, both wagon and Sedan. The Presidential is a possibility.... But the issue here is that alot of Studabakers ultimately wore fins (Even alot of their wagons), through this era.... Almost every auto manufacturer in the Nation including both Studabaker and Hudson had factories in Detroit, and thats the only place that makes sense for these cars to be loaded, though of course the closest ATSF got to that was Chicago (Though of course this doesn't preclude Off Road transit by another company, or even something as interesting as Rail Ferry).

I would also point out that the car # in the photo is 721XX.
that suggest it'd be a GA-85? Built 1954?

IDK.... Too many possibilities here. I'm still in favor of Hudson because of the Trunk Profile on the Sedans, but I'll happily admit I'm not an expert and that those cars could be one of at least 2 if not more possible Auto Manufacturers.

I picked the 1954 Studebaker because that was the first year they made a wagon and the film was produced between 1950-55. Hendrickson has a J. Howard Miller photograph taken at the Amarillo TX yard in 1949 showing gons loaded with auto bodies which the author says are Studebakers. These are all auto bodies with no wagons visible. All I know for sure is that the original 1941 "test" was done with Studebaker. It's entirely possible that by the mid-1950's other auto makers were also shipping body shells in this fashion.

The cars were probably going to Detroit, or wherever the assembly plant was located. These were body shells, not completed automobiles. The Miller photo also shows gons loaded with auto frames blocked with the shells. I may be wrong , but I think that the frames and the shells were probably bound for the same assembly plant.

Hendrickson notes that "Many [GA-46] cars converted beginning in the mid-1950's with side and end extensions for scrap metal loading and renumbered in the 71000 and 72000 series." It's not too much of a reach to speculate that the cars equipped to load auto bodies were renumbered as well.