Arkansas Valley Auto Parts Boxcar Fleet
© 2023 JOE LOGGANS - Guest Author
The automotive industry has always been a big part of the Arkansas Valley. Serving both the GM and Ford plants in Kansas City, it was common to see both the AV four-door and eight-door 86-foot auto parts boxcars roaming the country. From 1965 through 1977, the AV had a small number of the 86-footers in the fleet. The first 50 car order was split between the Greenville four-door version (AV 28000-AV 28024) and the eight-door version (AV 28025-AV 28049). These cars were painted in the original federal blue.
In 1966, the Arkansas Valley went to Pullman Standard for the next group. These were all four-door cars delivered in the new "Sperandeo Blue" and numbered AV 28050-AV 28074. In 1968, the AV wanted 25 more cars. Unfortunately, PS and Greenville’s books were full so they went to Thrall for the last group numbered AV 28075-AV 28099. These were the last ones purchased until ten years later.
Who could have foreseen what was about to happen just a few short years later because of the oil embargo. The auto industry was turned upside-down. With the decline in the automotive industry in the 1970’s, the original 100 cars were more than enough to suffice. Ten years later, with the pending purchase of the ex-Frisco line from Ft Smith, AR to Paris, TX, the AV purchased 60 more Greenville cars for service to Mexico in 1978. These cars would be numbered AV 29000-AV 29059.
Manufacturers had started to transfer parts production to Mexico and the AV wanted to be ready. Within months of the purchase from the BN, the AV started running scheduled auto parts and auto rack service.
By 1987, age was catching up with the original cars. Due to the continued decline in the auto industry and the recession, a number of the cars were put in storage. Many were picked up by leasing companies and ended up on other railroads. Several cars ended up on the Benton and Southern to supplement the 10 cars at James Mansfield in 2003. Unfortunately, most of the rest of them ended up being scrapped. By 2004, only the Greenville 86-foot boxcars were left on the roster.
The AV continued to use the remaining cars, but in limited service. About 30 of them were kept in the Ford pool out of Kansas City. The remaining cars were on an as needed basis. In 2001, James Mansfield opened a fiberglass insulation plant near Clarksville, Arkansas on the Benton and Southern. Mansfield was looking for a way to move large amounts of insulation to a distribution center in Idaho. The AV had the perfect solution. Working with the B&S railroad, it was decided to refurbish 10 cars for dedicated service for Mansfield. These cars were perfect for this service and JM was very pleased with how they turned out!
Other industries started to take notice as well. Hampton Plastics in Ft. Smith was expanding its operations to make use of the left over materials they used in their production of auto seat cushions. Scrap foam was shredded for packing materials and the 86’ car fit the bill nicely.
With the expanded use of these magnificent cars, you should be able to catch one running the rails anywhere in the USA and Mexico. It’s kinda cool seeing a solid block of these “Mighty Blues” rolling down the tracks. If you want one for your operation, contact the Home Shops sales and leasing department. They can get you set-up!
Joe Loggans and his freelance Arkansas Valley have been an influence in the freelance model railroad niche for many decades! Many thanks to Joe for penning this blog post and allowing us to include the Arkansas Valley in the Home Shops family!
Our first Arkansas Valley car, the Tangent PS-4750 covered hopper car sold out quickly. Home Shops has worked with Tangent Scale Models to produce a magnificent 86-foot Arkansas Valley auto parts boxcar available in two road numbers: AV 29044 and AV 29059. Both cars are in-stock and can be purchased below:
Limited Edition - Only 56 Produced!
Limited Edition - Only 56 Produced