RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 12 . . Narrow . . Part 4
RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 4 of Chapter 12 . . . Narrow. A new part will be posted every Thursday. Recent chapters stand alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 12 . . . NARROW . . . Part 4
Dan received the job of lettering all of the first narrow gauge cars at the insistence of Charles Billmeyer. It started out as a simple job of stenciling “D & R G” and the car numbers onto each railcar, then filling in the letters to eliminate stencil marks.
The short four-wheeled railway construction cars were the first ones produced. The very first car that Dan lettered was the No. 501 Gondola Car. After he had lettered several of these cars, David Small and Charles Billmeyer came by to inspect the cars. They also delivered several additional stencils: “Billmeyer & Small, Builders, York, PA”, “Wt 3500”, and “10500 Capacity.”
Billmeyer and Small added this additional lettering to advertise the fact that these narrow gauge cars carry three times their weight in payload. As opposed to standard gauge cars that can only carry slightly over one time their weight in payload.
By the time the short four-wheeled railway construction flat cars and box cars were ready to be lettered, additional stencils were supplied. The “D & R G” lettering lengthened to “D & R.G.R.W.” for Denver & Rio Grande Rail Way. Charles Billmeyer and David E. Small also wanted to highlight the reason why these railcars carried so much more payload compared to their weight; by proudly adding the lettering, “3 Ft GAUGE.”
After all, the new Billmeyer & Small production building was designed exclusively for the manufacture of narrow gauge cars. It had the capably of turning out from ten to thirty new cars each working day. Charles and David wanted to make sure it was fully loaded quickly and that it stayed that way.
The short four-wheeled railway construction flat cars started off with the No. 1 Flat Car. These flat cars weighed 4,000 pounds and had a payload capacity of 10,000 pounds. The short four-wheeled railway construction box cars started off with No. 1001 Box Car. These box cars weighed 4,500 pounds and had a payload capacity of 9,500 pounds.
David E. Small’s pride and joy, the 8-wheeled narrow gauge railcars, cause much excitement. David was continually bringing railroad planners and executives through the factory to show-off these railcars. These ongoing visits quickly generated so many orders that their new factory reached full capacity in only a few months.
The first 8-wheeled D & R.G.R.W. flat cars started off with the No. 1501 Flat Car. These flat cars weighed 6,250 pounds and had a payload capacity of 19,000 pounds. The first 8-wheeled D & R.G.R.W. box cars started off with the No. 2001 Box Car. These box cars weighed 8,800 pounds and had a payload capacity of 17,600 pounds.
Dan never questioned the stencils that he was given to letter these railcars until late one day right at quitting time. Charles Billmeyer was walking through the plant and had a comment to Dan, “Years from now, you’ll look back with pride when you see your lettering on the first narrow gauge railcars ever used in this country.”
Dan questioned, “I don’t mean to be picky, but all the stencils have omitted the period following the D in D & R.G.R.W. Maybe I should have brought it up sooner, since we only have a few cars left to complete that order.” Charles smiled and boasted, “That was done on purpose. I told our stencil maker to eliminate that period.”
Dan learned something new about Charles’ family when Mr. Billmeyer added, “My first son was named Daniel; he only lived 8 months. My Father was named Daniel, he died when I was only 4-years-old. I wanted to secretly honor them by making the D stand out; with no period. I also did it because I’m proud to count you as one of our family.”
Go to Part 5