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 Post subject: RPO cars???
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:27 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:44 am
Posts: 50
Location: Southern California
Were RPO cars always lettered for the railroad they were operating under? Were there any that were "leased" and lettered "United States Post Office" where the RR name would typically be?
If there was such a thing would anyone have a photographic example?

Thank you

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 Post subject: Re: RPO cars???
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2165
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
The railroads owned the cars and provided "space" to the USPO, at set rates for a 15, 30 or 60-foot "apartment". The 60-footers were usually a full RPO car; the 15 and 30-foot apartments were a portion of a baggage-mail combine. Some railroads had a mail section at one end of a coach, with no baggage section.

Payment was based on the apartment size, and if an assigned car with a 30-foot RPO section was replaced by a full 60-foot RPO car (out for maintenance, let's say), the railroad was only paid at the 30-foot rate.

Railroads did lease RPOs to and from each other. In 1968, during the New Haven's last year of existence, its mail carrying cars were in such horrible shape that they leased 4-year old AT&SF Budd 60-foot full RPOs. NH still had some lucrative mail contracts, while the USPO had pulled the mail off AT&SF passenger trains (thus idling the new Budd RPOs). The cars ran with "Santa Fe" lettering, not "NH".

I have never seen "RPO" of "US Mail" lettering on the letterboard. The size, wording and placement of such was very specific in the USPO standards for railway mail carrying cars.

Howard P.

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 Post subject: Re: RPO cars???
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:29 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2004 12:56 am
Posts: 341
Location: Northern California
So Howard, when a car changed assignment, or was in a temporary assignment, who changed all the markings on the mail slots? Was there a crew that came in to set the car for a particular route, or did the regular crew have to remark everything at the beginning of their shift?


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 Post subject: Re: RPO cars???
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:37 pm 

Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:06 pm
Posts: 2165
Location: Thomaston & White Plains
Not sure about the "post office details"!! I do know that on most cars, there were 4-sided rubber square "name tag holders" under each slot, that could be rotated to one of four positions and thus one of four town names.

Howard P.

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 Post subject: Re: RPO cars???
PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 11:29 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:55 pm
Posts: 252
Location: San Diego area
For lettering, check this photo of PSRM's ex ATSF RPO #74:

http://psrm.org/roster/passenger/rpo74/dcp_3585.jpg

Note that the construction is typical ATSF in that the side sheets do not extend all the way to the bottom of the frame - an ATSF "trademark." Same as our ATSF café-observation car #1509 and the other ATSF heavyweights in our collection


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 Post subject: Re: RPO cars???
PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:44 am 

Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:56 pm
Posts: 78
David Johnston wrote:
So Howard, when a car changed assignment, or was in a temporary assignment, who changed all the markings on the mail slots? Was there a crew that came in to set the car for a particular route, or did the regular crew have to remark everything at the beginning of their shift?


Lettercase clerks carried card "headers" lettered for their particular sorting scheme for their run that were placed inside each pidgeonhole in the case . Pouch men had card "slides" printed out with destination and RPO routing.


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 Post subject: Re: RPO cars???
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:53 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:07 am
Posts: 328
I just watched a 1956 training film for RPO transportation clerks, and was surprised to learn that they wore revolvers as part of their uniforms. Didn't know that. But it makes sense as RPO's carried money and other valuables.

Here's the link. Warning: You will find this film tedious unless you want to learn all the little, minute details of RPO car operations, such as how to stack mail sacks, drag mail sacks, put labels on sacks, pouches and boxes, set up tables in the car, and so on. One item I learned was that the clerk stamps a "facing slip" with "his name, RPO train, and date", and this slip gets attached to every bundle of letters dropped off along the line. The slip allows mis-sent mail to be traced back to him. The film is nearly 30 mins long.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaRuj8BtymQ


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 Post subject: Re: RPO cars???
PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:49 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:49 am
Posts: 231
Location: Cambridgeshire UK
Slightly off topic, but this is a classic over here in the UK. If you're talking RPO's………


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkLoDg7e_ns


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 Post subject: Re: RPO cars???
PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:47 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 728
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Back in the day, firearms were standard issue equipment for the RPO clerks and letter carriers in some areas. There are historical records of attempted train robberies where full fledged shootouts broke out between the clerks and the outlaws. Express messengers were also armed-often with a shotgun and some railroads also armed freight train crews many years ago.

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