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Billmeyer & Small Company produced a large variety of Specialty Cars

Billmeyer & Small Co.s’ Eight-wheeled Narrow Gauge Double Drop Bottom Coal Car for the East Broad Top Railroad in PA. This Illustration is the Car X within the Ad in Asher & Adams’ New Columbian Railroad Atlas of 1879 (Boston Public Library)

Asher & Adams’ New Columbian Railroad Atlas of 1879 is very large format; about 18 by 24 inch pages.  To get a lot of written material into a Billmeyer & Small ad appearing on page 408, the text is very small.  Small text coupled with the ad being reduced to 8-1/2 by 11 in all copies I have seen, renders the text on copies virtually impossible to read.

The written material in this ad essentially reads as if someone interviewed Billmeyer & Small on the state of their business in 1879.  On Wednesdays, in four parts, I’m posting a transcript of the text from the original of the 1879 ad.  This is the fourth and final part of the series, the other posts in this series are:


Billmeyer & Small Company produced a large variety of specialty cars.  The illustration in this post is their Car X; an eight-wheeled narrow gauge double drop bottom coal car.  This specific car is painted for delivery to the East Broad Top Railroad in Pennsylvania. As with almost all rail cars of the era, the car is predominately fabricated from wood.

This coal car points out the perceived advantage of narrow gauge railroads over standard gauge railroads.  A standard gauge car typically only carried an amount of cargo approximately equal to the weight of the standard gauge car.  This narrow gauge coal car weighed 9,000 lbs., yet it could carry 20,000 lbs. of coal.  In December I’ll post a detailed explanation of the difference between standard gauge and narrow gauge railroads.

Part 4 Text from Billmeyer & Small full-page-408 ad in Asher & Adams’ New Columbian Railroad Atlas of 1879

The Narrow Gauge Cars are a specialty of this concern, and though they have built up a very large business in that particular line of production, it is very far from being their only line.  Many thousands of the Billmeyer & Small Company’s Wide Gauge Cars are running upon the most important roads in the United States; such as the Pennsylvania, the New York Central and Hudson River, the Baltimore and Ohio, the Northern Central, the Erie, and other equally well known railways.

As to the quality of the work produced at this establishment, it needs only to be said that their earliest customers, those who ordered cars from the concern when the original firm first commenced operations in 1852, continue their orders to this day and are among the Company’s largest customers—notably the Pennsylvania Railroad.

As we have already said, the York Car Works is one of the largest and one of the most complete establishments of the kind in America.  It is equipped with every appliance that can aid in the production of thoroughly good work, that can save physical labor and cheapen the cost of production.

The utmost care is exercised in the purchase of raw materials of every kind used, and none but the best of anything is every accepted.  The irons used are purchased from the best makers, and every piece of iron work is tested; clear and only thoroughly seasoned lumber enters into their constructions, and only skillful workmen are employed.  Whatever comes from these Works may be relied on.

In addition to their main business—the building of Railway Stock—the Company are prepared at short notice to supply Iron Castings, Wrought Iron Work, Brasses, Wheels and Axles; also, Passenger Car material of every kind for Repairs and New Work, for Wide or Narrow Gauge Rolling Stock.

Address:  Billmeyer & Small Co., York Car Works, York, Pennsylvania. U.S.A.

Go to this post for an index of everything on YorksPast about 19th Century Rail Car Builders of York, Pennsylvania.  Check back often, as the posts on this subject expand to include all manufacturers.

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