Monday, February 8, 2021

Pontoons on the NH

This is a series of pictures of gondolas loaded with containers  pontoons on the New Haven.

Jack Consoli noticed the Navy Pontoon markings on them, and provided several links in the comments below. I'll leave my comments on container loads here.

There is a long article on container loads in this Freight Traffic Report, you'll need to go to pg 311 (the actual page number is 186) for the start.

Chapter 8 of this book is also very interesting, but it's a preview, so some portions are not available.

I'm not sure I recall seeing any in service photos of containers on the New Haven, so it was nice to get a small collection of them. They all seem to use the same types of containers, and one I haven't seen before. I don't know if these were purchased by the New Haven and these are outbound. Perhaps this is a record of a test. In any event, they are shown loaded into gondolas from several roads.

These first is a B&LE 36608, The 3rd number looks like a '6' to me, but could be an '8.'

Here's a B&O gondola of an unknown road number. The journals were repacked in July of 1943, and the repack markings are pretty clean. There's a nice collection of chalk marks too.

This is one involved in an accident, reporting marks are not visible.

Canadian Pacific, repack '43. Note the white ring painted around the hole for the brake release rod.
"Note broken bands & wires" is written under the photo.

Southern, repacked in '43. It's a 65' 0" long mill gondola. While Southern purchased some AAR Standard 65' gondolas, that was much later than this photo. 65' gondolas were also considerably narrower than shorter gondolas to maintain clearances. Compare the amount of space between the sides and the containers with the photo of the CP car above.

And PMcK&Y 90318, repacked in '42.

Note Alton (C&A) 38802 next to it. 

Obviously these pontoons wouldn't have come my way, but what's not clear to me how widely containers were used. For example, I don't know whether they would be likely to show up in New Britain. I think the biggest surprise for this group of photos was the number of different roads represented. Unfortunately, there are no HO scale models in plastic or even resin kits for any of these classes of gondolas as far as I know.

The Rapido 52'6" mill gondola looks close to the CP one. The only version I've seen has a 1953 build date, and has external tie down anchors on the exterior, which aren't on this particular prototype. I don't know if the ends differ, but otherwise they look like they are very similar cars.


  1. Randy,

    The repack date on the PMcK&Y gon is 1942 and if you zoom in on the B&LE photo, you can read US NAVY T-6 Pontoon, and some other stuff plus then again Pontoon gear. A quickie internet search shows that these aren't containers, they are pontoon modules for us in the war. Here are a couple links discussing them. One mentions RI as a possible source of these loads.

    Jack Consoli

  2. Isn't the CPR gon the same as the Rapido model? I have one that even has the 10 43 build date.

    Bob Thompson

    1. Interesting. I was only aware of the ones they released with a 1953 build date, and while I hadn't done an extensive comparison to see if I could spot any differences, it does look very similar, if not identical.

  3. This type of load would have been used on the Liberty ships which were built in the Boston Shipyard during the war years 1941 to 45. Also to the New London and Groton CN, as the Submarine builder General Dynamics and the Coast Guard were there.

  4. The Sea Bees had a base in North Kingston at the Davisville Naval Air Station on the New Haven RR. This base was in existence until closed by the Nixon Admin in 1972. The Construction Battalion received Pontoons, formed steel for the Quonset Hut, which they invented, Heavy equipment like bulldosers, bucket loaders, and scrapers.

  5. Thanks for the info, I'm always looking for info that will help clarify commodities and loads.