Autorack info

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Sep 15 17:19:36 EDT 2014


Thanks for jogging my feeble memory about this car and my involvement with it.

To start with the name, SNAPak was an acronym for "Ship New Automobiles Protected."  The innovative feature of this design was that the automobile tie-down chains, with slack in them, could be attached to the automobile before the automobile was driven into the rack car, and as the car was driven in, the chains would tighten automatically so that the driver was freed from the time-consuming chore of tightening the four tie-down chains manually after he had spotted the automobile in the rack car.

I was working in the N&W Car Department at the time, and I was assigned to accompany this rack car on its first loaded trip, along with reps of several other railroads.  The car was loaded in Detroit and traveled over the DT&I to Delta, OH and the N&W interchange there.  So, I flew to Toledo, OH, where the Car Foreman transported me to nearby Delta to board the train with the SNAPak car.  The destination was the Los Angeles area--N&W to Kansas City, ATSF to LA.  The SNAPak car was the last freight car in the train and was followed by a business car for us observers.  At each crew change point during waking hours, we left the business car and boarded the SNAPak car to check for any problems with the automobile tiedowns (we found none).

We had an N&W business car from Delta Yard to Kansas City, and two ATSF business cars from Kansas City to LA.  Our host on the latter business cars was the ATSF's General Manager, Lines West.  Naturally, the business cars were staffed with chefs to prepare fine meals for the group.  One downer to the trip, however, was that no alcohol was served during the entire trip because our excursions out of the business car to inspect the SNAPak loads subjected us to Rule G!

It was impressive riding on a freight train on parts of the ATSF and watch the speedometer in the ATSF business car stuck on 70 mph for mile after mile!

Traveling in business cars across country was rough duty for me!

Gordon Hamilton

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
To: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at>
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 11:42 AM
Subject: Re: Autorack info 

> James Wall asked:
>> Can anyone provide information on this autorack?
> First, proper credit for the photo needs to go to Dennis Schmidt who
> contriubed his photo to the Fallen Flags website:
> This can was a single prototype "SnaPak" car - basically, an early
> test of a fully enclosed autorack.It was developed jointly by Ford,
> autorack manufacturer Whitehead & Kales, N&W, DT&I, L&N, SCL and UP.
> (Why only N&W and DT&I got their logos applied I don't know.) Built
> April 1973, lasted under the same number until lasted 1983.
> Subsequent production cars were called "Safe-Pak" instead.
> The Morning Sun book "Wabash/Nickel Plate/DT&I Color Guide to Freight and
> Passenger Equipment" by James Kinkaid has a better, more side-on photo of
> the same car, and is from where I borrowed the above informtion. This book
> is still available from the NWHS Commisarry:
> (3rd book up from the bottom of the page)
> Joe Shaw
> Christiansburg, VA
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