Sep 24, 2014
Between 1972 and 1973, Penn Central began purchasing the first of the 50' X72 boxcars from US Railroad Manufacturing (Evans) Blue Island, IL, plant. These cars would eventually find their way to Conrail in 1976, retaining their PC numbering series while getting CR reporting marks. However, many X72's can still be spotted in their original PC green paint scheme and PC reporting marks, though fairly rusted and faded. If you model modern North American railroading, you need several CR/PC X72 boxcars in your collection! Given the ease of modeling this class, there is no reason not to.
There is only one subclass of the X72, the X72A. But as Jim Six points out in his Railroad Model Craftsman article, there appears to be no external distinction between the X72 and X72A. Both cars have welded panel construction, with 6-panel Superior doors. Yet I have photographed one X72, CR 269272, with a 6-panel Superior door with raised X-panels, for which no detail part is available.
The X72 is a general purpose boxcar that can be found in nearly every service, making is a very common boxcar. Some cars are equipped with DF Belt Loaders for assisting in loading and unloading of special equipment, while other cars are equipped with Dual Air Paks for shock control of goods, and pallets. These specially equipped cars are in assigned service to specific industries for specific loading.
As a side note, Conrail's X68 50' boxcar is a nearly identical cousin to the X72, but the X68 has tapered end sections on the side sills and is made of riveted construction.
The detailed rosters below are based on a January 1977 and an October 1991 Official Railway Equipment Register and reflect those roadnames that were in service at that time. I have made every effort to check them for accuracy, though cars that were taken off roster might still appear in service several years later. Plus many errors crept into Conrail's rolling stock fleet over the years. Please use these rosters only as a guide for your modeling efforts, combining them with photographic evidence.
During the early years of the railroad, as reflected in the 1977 roster below, Conrail had higher priorities than repainting their massive freight car fleet. As a result, there were usually more freight cars still numbered and lettered for the predecessors than for Conrail. If you model these years, as I do, knowing the ratio of predecessor to Conrail lettered cars is essential if you're striving to be as prototypically accurate as possible.
Therefore, at the end of every line in the 1977 roster below is the total number of cars in that series that were lettered and numbered for Conrail at that time. Unfortunately, we do not know which cars these were, nor do we know if they were total repaints or simply CR stencil jobs. Compare this roster to the 1991 roster following it and notice the number of boxcars that were repainted or at least renumbered for Conrail.
Penn Central Rosters
As mentioned above, there were usually more freight cars still numbered and lettered for the predecessors than for Conrail. But by the 1990s most predecessor rolling stock had been either repainted into Conrail colors, had at least been stenciled for Conrail, or had been retired.
At the end of every line in the 1991 roster below is the total number of cars in that series that were still lettered and numbered for PC at that time. Conrail began a massive boxcar rebuilding program in 1980, therefore new series are present in the 1991 that were not in the 1977 roster.
Note that all except the following in this series are X72 boxcars: 269205, 269241, 269248, 269283, 269328, 269375, 269382, 269304, 269424.
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