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Sep 24, 2014


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The Conrail Cyclopedia - Serving Conrail fans world-wide since 1998.

X73 Boxcar You need to ship a product that does not need refrigeration but does need protection from extreme temperatures. You cannot use a standard boxcar, since they are like ovens in the summer and freezers in the winter. So you ask your local Conrail freight agent to send you one of their 50-foot insulated boxcars. A few days later an empty X73 appears on your siding.

The X73 was one of the most common sights in Conrail general merchandise trains. They hauled products such as fruits, vegetables, canned or bottled foods and drinks, paint, floor wax, liquid detergents, and many other water-based or chemical products needing protection from temperature extremes. Since they hauled such a variety of products, X73's could be found nearly everywhere.

During late 1974, Fruit Growers Express built a total of 319 RBL insulated boxcars for the Penn Central and 75 cars for the Erie Lackawanna, all of which eventually became Conrail X73's in 1976. Unlike some similar cars that the PC/CR owned, the X73 was a Plate C boxcar with two-part r4/4 late Improved Dreadnaught ends with a beveled, rectangular top rib. The class also had doors that were 10' high by 10'6" wide at the opening, with a slightly wider door. They had cushioned underframes, low ladders, and an overhanging, diagonal panel roof with no roofwalks. Their construction included what Jim Eager calls a "double rivet pattern at the side sheet seams," a key spotting feature of these cars. Some cars also have additional, small reinforcement plates along the roofline. These plates extend down to about the second rivet from the top and are located within the rivet lines.

But not all Conrail X73's are not alike. Those originally owned by the Penn Central contained Dual Air Paks, though some also had pallets for assigned service. Cars originally owned by the Erie Lackawanna contained two air-activated Duo Pak Load Dividers plus pallets. The El cars were also equipped with a Hennessey power door opener on each side; this is the wheel on a track to the right of the door.

Most people assume that Conrail owned these cars outright, like they did with their other boxcars. But that is not true. FGE actually built then leased the cars out to various railroads. Usually these cars were given RBNX reporting marks and numbered in the 94000's to 99000's. Penn Central, Erie Lackawanna, and then Conrail, like several other railroads, chose to apply their own reporting marks and assign the cars to other number series so the RBLs fit into their existing rosters better.


Rosters
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.

Conrail Rosters
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.

At the end of every line in each roster below is the total number of cars in that series that were numbered for Conrail in that year. 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. During the 1980s, Conrail did not renew their lease of series CR 360582-360656 (EL 360582-3606560) and CR 369000-369070 (PC 369000-369070), returning them to Fruit Growers Express.
January 1977
CR Series       Class  Equipment      CR
========================================
360582-360656   X73                    0
369000-369070   X73    Dual Air Pak    1
369071-369320   X73    Dual Air Pak    2

January 1991
CR Series       Class  Equipment       CR  
=========================================
360582-360656   X73                     0
369000-369070   X73                     0
369071-369320   X73    Dual Air Pak   237


Erie Lackawanna 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 each roster below is the total number of cars in that series that were numbered for Erie Lackawanna in that year. Unfortunately, we do not know which cars these were. During the 1980s, Conrail did not renew their lease of series EL 360582-3606560 (CR 360582-360656), returning them to Fruit Growers Express.
January 1977
EL Series       Class  Equipment          EL
============================================
360582-360656   X73    Duo Pak Load
                       Dividers, Pallets  75

January 1991
EL Series       Class                     EL  
============================================
360582-360656   X73    Duo Pak Load
                       Dividers, Pallets   0


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 each roster below is the total number of cars in that series that were still numbered for Penn Central. During the 1980s, Conrail did not renew their lease of series PC 369000-369070 (CR 369000-369070), returning them to Fruit Growers Express. By 1991, nearly all the cars in series PC 369071-369320 had been transferred to series CR 369071-369320.
January 1977
PC Series       Class   Equipment       PC
==========================================
369000-369070   X73     Dual Air Pak    69
369071-369320   X73     Dual Air Pak   240


January 1991
PC Series       Class   Equipment       PC
==========================================
369000-369070   X73     Dual Air Pak     0
369071-369320   X73     Dual Air Pak     4     

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