Southern boxcar comes to life in North Carolina

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SPENCER, N.C. — The North Carolina Transportation Museum has restored Southern Railway No. 550555 to its original commemorative paint scheme. In 1970, the 50-foot cushioned boxcar was the 200,000th freight car built by Pullman-Standard at their Bessemer, Ala., plant. The factory opened in 1929. Southern Railway president W. Graham Claytor Jr. and Pullman-Standard president George L. Green led an acceptance ceremony and news conference.

No. 550555 was part of a thousand-car, $17.5-million order. Its spring-cushioned draft gear underframe protected fragile cargo from rough handling. The car served Southern and successor Norfolk Southern until 2016, when the railroad donated it to the museum for static display.

During its service life, the original paint scheme was hidden underneath a coat of standard boxcar brown and the original sliding doors were replaced. Museum volunteers replaced the car's doors to match No. 550555's as-built appearance and straightened bent grab irons and other parts. Carolina Soda Blaster sandblasted the car down to bare metal and the Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railway painted the car at the museum using about ten gallons of paint donated by Axalta Coating Systems and FinishMaster. Volunteers finished the project by reassembling and lettering the car.

More information is available online.

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