The Boston & Maine Railroad purchased several surplus cars in the early 1950's to convert to all steel baggage-express cars replacing the railroads ageing wooden bodied baggage-express roster.
B&M road numbers 3280 & 3281 are two of these converted baggage-express cars, one of which is circled in the photo below.
What originally piqued an interest in these B&M cars was the 1958 J. W. Swanberg photo below that had been used for reference when constructing models of New Haven EP-3 motors. Noticing that the baggage-express car behind the EP-3 in the photo had a vestibule on only one end verified this unusual arrangement was not a New Haven Railroad prototype.
Having photographic proof that this foreign road express car was in Danbury during the era of the layout, a model of this car is desirable for an occasional appearance when operating for a visual diversity from the usual home road express cars.
In the photo above there is no readable lettering to determine the railroad ownership of this car. A post on this blog was published asking for help in identifying this car and several knowledgeable persons kindly reciprocated.
Chesapeake & Ohio Origins
B&M cars 3280-81 were originally part of a 1930 Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad five car RPO/baggage/passenger combination car order built by St. Louis Car Company becoming C&O road numbers 400-404. Number 402 is shown in the as built 15' RPO/baggage/36 seat passenger configuration below.
Conversion to Baggage-Express Cars and use by the B&M
The C&O sold cars 403-404 to the B&M in January 1950 where they were converted to baggage-express cars while retaining the vestibule on one end, this is the configuration seen in the two lead photos.
The converted car retains a lavatory vent seen in the Swanberg photo, so the assumption is that the cars could have been used in messenger service. B&M messenger cars had the lettering "equipped with water system" and a star under the Railway Express Agency lettering on the car sides but this is undetectable in ether of the two photos of the converted cars.
Suggestion is that under B&M ownership these cars may have been regularly used for a time on the international train the "GULL" a 24 hour train between Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Custom agents boarding these cars for inspection during border crossings may have favored these cars because of their vestibules ease of entry/exit.
Express from the B&M with a destination for the REA terminal in the Bronx, NY could have been routed over the New Haven thru the connection with the B&M at Springfield, MA. Speculation is while one of these cars was at the Harlem River Terminal empty it was loaded for express to Danbury where it was photographed by J. W. Swanberg in 1958.
Enough Information to Build a Model?
I am only aware of the two photos shown above of these cars after their conversion to baggage/express cars by the B&M, but these two photos do show both sides of the car and part of the vestibule car end. The photo of the car in the original C&O configuration shows the opposite or RPO/baggage end which differs in construction from the vestibule car end. All three show the roof venting details.
The combination of the three photos, dimensional data from a C&O drawing and with information sent by the respondents to my request for help about these cars I feel this provides sufficient speculation to build a creditable model.
The side view Drawing below is what I speculate the model should look like. The dimensional data for the truck centers, overall lengths over the platforms and end posts are derived from a C&O mechanical drawing therefore factual. The 8' wide baggage door openings with double doors are also factual information gleaned from a B&M Mechanical Department document. The dimension to centerline of the baggage door openings from the end posts is conjecture on my part.
Model construction of one of these B&M baggage-express cars will begin with the next post.
A special thank you to John Horvath, Tom E. Thompson, Dave Varholy and Ed Shoben. Without the generous help that these gentlemen took time to provide, building a model of this car for my layout would not be possible. Thank you all!