Volume 3, No. 1- March, 2000
6300 Series Flatcars
Between 1922 and 1924, the newly reorganized Denver and Rio Grande Western went through a period of extensive rebuilding. A great deal of time, effort and money were expended on modernize the railroad's physical plant. On the narrow gauge this resulted in virtually all of the existing rolling stock being either rebuilt or scrapped and replaced. It is during this period that all of the different gondola types were rebuilt into the now familiar high-side configuration. The 3000 series boxcars were rebuilt as were the stockcars. This period of modernization also saw the building of the forty-foot refers as well as the long RPO's.
Entering this period the 6000 series flatcars were the predominate type of flat, but these cars were old, small and for the most part worn out. They were too lightly constructed to stand up to the ever-greater loads they were being asked to carry. Many of the cars in this series were retired during this period, and most of the cars that were retained were relegated to maintenance of way duties. To replace these cars two new series of flatcars were built. The 6200 series cars were rebuilt from standard gauge cars in two different groups. They were joined by fifteen 6300 series cars, which were built new, from scratch, as narrow gauge cars. All of the hardware used in the cars were typical Rio Grande castings and may have come from already existing cars, but it is clear no specific group of standard or narrow gauge cars were used in their construction.
The 6300 flatcars were forty-feet long and eight-feet, two-inches wide. They were of all-wood construction with frames very similar to the long reefer frames. They rode on four-foot, eight-inch trucks, which were much heavier and more robust than the standard three-foot, seven-inch D&RGW freight car truck. They were originally rated at 60,000 lbs., but this proved to be overly optimistic as the cars were prone to failure when heavily loaded. The forty-foot frames were simply not strong enough to support this amount of weight. The number of 6300 series cars decreased rapidly as there life span much shorter than expected.
In 1937 the D&RGW addressed the problems they were having with the cars by reinforcing the frames with rail clamped to the bottom of the side sills. This is the same type of solution that was later employed on the idler flats when they also proved inadaquate to the rigors of day-to-day operations. It is unknown how many of the original 15 cars received this modification. The modification must have helped some, but apparently didn't totally solve the cars' problem because their number continued to decline. Today there are only two examples of this type of cars in existence, and one of these has just recently been partially destroyed. In the end, these cars proved less successful than just about any other series utilized by the D&RGW. They were, however, unusual and interesting cars. At forty feet they were much longer than most other narrow gauge freight cars. They sat very low on their trucks and the addition of the reinforcing rail, which adds greatly to their oddball looks, makes them appear even lower.
What is even more important to the Rio Grande Southern fan is that these cars regularly graced the rails of our favorite railroad. Turns out that the flat car used to transport the tender tank that went behind the newly rebuilt 455 was a 6300 series car. Photos of these cars on the RGS are not uncommon, often loaded with cut lumber, .
This issue of the web page is divided into several sections. The first two contain photographs and commentary on the 6302 and 6314, the two existing cars. Another section features drawings of the two cars, followed by a section of model photographs with some thoughts on building these cars. Finally, there is a listing of published photographs of the cars on the RGS.
A word of caution, many of the sections contain large numbers of photographs, so be patient with the slow load rates.
An additional update on the status of RGS number 74 is also included. This locomotive, which was originally built as Denver Boulder & Western number 30, is undergoing restoration in Boulder, Colorado. The coach and caboose that share the park with the 30/74 are also being worked on.
6302 - 6314 - 6300 Flatcar Drawings - 6300 Flatcar Model Pictures
6300 Flatcar Prototype Pictures - 30/74 Revisited
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