Intermodal Favorites for HO Freights
* Underbody Detail * Great for Intermodal Consists * Fully Assembled * Metal RP-25 Wheels * Working Knuckle Couplers * Modeler Installed Grab Irons * ACF & P-S Style Hitches Included
The introduction of the 89' flatcar in 1960 opened the door for a new generation of piggyback service. Equipped with a pair of collapsible hitches, these big cars could easily handle the older 35' and/or the newer 40' trailers. The universal hitches also eliminated the need for complex tie-downs, allowing trains to be loaded faster. Bridge plates were attached at each end for the standard circus-style ramps (the work was similar to the way circus wagons were loaded on flatcars years before) favored by most railroads.
Within a few years, railroads began using special cranes to load trailers, eliminating the need for the deep channel side sills that had served as rub rails to keep trailers from being shoved over the sides, but also limited the width of equipment that could be carried. In the mid 60s, new cars were introduced with flush decks, which simplified trailer loading, and also made it possible to fit special equipment on board.
The 1980s marked a turning point for intermodal technology as 45' trailers became standard. But many railroads and TTX found themselves with fleets of 89' flats that could only carry one of these larger trailers. By 1982, Trailer Train, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific began a modernization program, developing the Twin 45 flatcar. By moving the hitches, and allowing for a slight overhang at each end, a pair of 45' trailers could be carried. Collapsible hitches and bridge plates were also removed. Many of the cars selected for rebuilding were newer flush deck cars, which allowed for easier loading of any combination of trailers up to 90' long (such as a 45' and 40'), or refitting with specialized load equipment.
For years to come, these cars were the backbone of intermodal fleets on many railroads. As still larger trailers and containers arrived, they were adapted to new roles as auto racks and specialized flatcars, where they remain in use today.