PS-1 SD Boxcar, Rock Island # 33939
Beginning in the 1960s, automakers approached rail carriers with the desire for larger freight cars to transport auto parts from suppliers to manufacturing centers. In response, the 60' auto parts boxcar was introduced. Carrying a wide variety of auto components including engine blocks, transmissions, brake drums, and others, these cars were a fixture throughout North America for the next four decades and can still be found in service today. Often times, entire trains of auto parts and related cars could be seen near major production facilities as automakers switched to just-in-time delivery methods, requiring prompt deliveries from the railroads providing service. It was common to see trains consisting of 50', 60', and 86' boxcars, specially modified flat cars to carry lightweight chassis, and autoracks all destined for one auto or truck manufacturing facility. As the auto industry supply chains evolved and manufacturing facilities were consolidated, many of the 60' boxcars were used in other markets and could be found hauling a variety of goods including appliances, paper goods, cardboard, and similar items.