Alaska Railroad 8000 CLASS HICUBE box cars
Commentary by Pat Durand
Photographs courtesy of the randy Thompson collection
The Alaska Railroad shops in Anchorage built HICUBE box cars from retired 8000 class box cars in 1973. The retired box cars were cut longitudinally and spliced together to increase the height and volume of the car.
The top of the base car was removed with a cutting torch flush
with the rivet line at the top of the side and end. The second car
was cut just above the window rivet line and then stacked on top of the base
car. The joint was arc welded with any necessary patches installed
inside the wall of the car to close the gap.
Extended height doors were fabricated by welding parts of two doors together to the appropriate height. These joints were made at random on the doors as they salvaged the best parts of any pair of doors.
The 8000 series cars were originally Pullman Troop Sleeper Cars built in 1943 and then rebuilt into box cars in 1947/48. They were in poor shape when the HICUBE project was undertaken. The old Allied full cushion trucks were abandoned for Bettendorf trucks at the same time. The ARR. briefly used these cars in interchange with foreign roads via rail barge service between Whittier and Prince Rupert, BC. As a result of salt spray they were heavily rusted particularly around all the splice joints and cut marks where ladders and roof hardware had been removed. Four rung ladders and the lower brake position were used on all these cars which became the 8000 class.
Capacity went from 110,000 down to 80,000 pounds while the light weight went from 52,000 to 57,800 pounds. Mineral red paint with white lettering was used. The large round Alaska Railroad, McKinley National Park Route logo is 8'4" in diameter on these cars.
As of August 2001 car #8019 was still in service as storage for the engineering department in the ARR. Anchorage shop complex. In October 2001 this car was donated by The Alaska Railroad to the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry in Wasilla, Alaska where it will be preserved as the only remaining example. Two cars less trucks are used in a machine shop yard in Seward, Alaska as of July 2001. At a recent "Old time" railroaders picnic I showed the models to some of the ARR. retirees. Comments: "Those darned things were only good for shipping Ping-Pong balls and Kotex." "We dreaded sending them to Whittier in the winter for fear they would blow over in the wind and they did some times."
[Added 11/29/07] Photos of 8000 and 8001 show a transition from the standard circle ARR logo to the 8' 4" Large ARR Circle Logo. Randy Thompson surmised that after the first car the crew realized the logo needed to be bigger. As the job wore on they got tired of painting the logo in any size and photos of 8026 and 8027 have no circle logo at all. For modelers this gives you some options to obtaining the large logo and some more variety if you plan to build a fleet of Alaska Railroad HiCube cars.
For modeling information click here.
For an engineering drawing click here.