Project Background/Beginning

The Arizona Railway Museum has received the donation of Tucson, Cornelia & Gila Bend 40’ Boxcar #204 and 40’ flatcar #304.  Originally built in 1909 for the Denver & Rio Grande Western as a 40’ wood side sugar beet car, this car eventually was rebuilt and sold to TC&GB and placed in service on the Gila Bend-Ajo line where it served until 1996 when it was sold to a former mine employee.  Since 1996, this car has sat in silent repose at the Phelps Dodge mine in Ajo, Arizona.

A recent mine property clean up program has placed these cars (and others) in peril of being scrapped.  SCRAPPERS ALMOST TORCHED THESE CARS!  The Arizona Railway Museum has worked in conjunction with two other non-profit organizations to provide safe/secure homes so that future generations can experience the craftsmanship of early “transition” combination wood-steel cars.

These cars are 100% intact and have not received any “modern” upgrades as they were used primarily on Phelps Dodge property for mine service.  The boxcar still retains the original roofwalk and roof-mounted brake staff.  The wood side exterior is intact, (but will need replacement) and the roof, interior, and floor appear to have no significant weather damage.  Adding these cars to the ARM collection will enable the museum to tell a more complete story of Arizona’s railroad history.

However, this “rescue” has a price.  The owner is willing to donate the car (to save it from destruction) but the costs of loading and transportation from Ajo to the Museum in Chandler will cost approximately $2000.  Please consider making a small donation to assist with the rescue, preservation and restoration of these pieces of Arizona history. 

Please mail Donation to:

Be sure to note the project →

Arizona Railway Museum

TC&GB Boxcar/Flatcar Project

PO Box 842

Chandler, AZ 85244



The beginning:

The donation of this fine example of pre-WW1 freight equipment happened through the fortuitous contact by Gene Caywood of the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum (SATM).  Gene contacted the ARM and explained that three pre-WWI wood side boxcars were in peril of being destroyed.  These cars were purchased from Phelps Dodge by Dr. Sokol (former mine doctor at the Ajo facility).  The cars sat in storage at the mine property until a recent property cleanup put them at risk of being scrapped.  Dr. Sokol was contacted and requested to remove the cars from the premises.  With no place to store these cars, Dr. Sokol contacted the SATM and through them, homes for all three cars was found.  Dr. Sokol has donated car #204 to the ARM.


One was donated to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum in Tucson, AZ.

One was donated to the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler, AZ.

One was donated to the Heritage Square Museum in Los Angles, CA.


A three-party alliance was formed between the three organizations to combine skill/effort to save these cars.  Several group trips were arranged to inspect and prepare the cars for shipping.  The combined effort allowed all three cars to be dismantled and loaded using a single loading contractor with previous experience in handling vintage railroad equipment.

Car Data


New information borrowed from the D&RGW Historical Society shows the following information:


Series Lbs Type I L CuFt Bldr Blt - Yr Ret Commodity Design
62000-63499 80 XM 36-00 2448 ACF L5537 10- 09 Rblt Gen Serv SUF, Dbl sheath
62000-63499 Rbld 80 XM 36-00 2448 Rblt - 26
Gen Serv Rblt with 7/7 recessed Murphy ends


First line on information shows cars were built by ACF (American Car & Foundary) - Plan #L5537 starting in 1909.  Second line shows the cars underwent a rebuild in 1926 where the ends were rebuilt with steel covering.


Historical Photos

Photo of #204 in 1976.  Photo by: Bob Trennert



Geee, where do we start?


TC&GB Flatcar #304


Evidence this car was built to handle sugar beets.  Note interior wall sheathing only covers bottom half.


Interior wood detail of car door.


View of interior.  A little (OK, a lot) dusty, but intact!


#204 stenciled on diagonal support.  Very light "D&RG" and "62470" stenciled along top side support.


Dalman cast freight car truck with TC&GB RR cast into side. 5-1/2x10 journals.


Brake Rigging plate indicating D&RGW lineage.


ARM "Rescue Squad" - (L to R) - Tom Klobas, Richard Bennett, Steve Whisel, Russ Lassuy, Andy Szabo.

February 4, 2006


Reinstalled the Retainer Valve.

December 18, 2005


Disassembled and rebuilt plugged Retainer Valve.  Appears to be in fine working condition.  Repacked with new grease.  Ready for installation!


Valve as removed from car.  Wasps filled the exhaust fitting and the valve body with "mud".


Disassembled Retainer Valve prior to cleaning and rebuild.

December 11, 2005


Installed Service Portion including new Pipe Bracket air filter. Cracked the Dust Trap Bowl during installation. 




Was able to replace with spare bowl found in ARM spare parts.  Air tested the brake system.  No leaks in rebuilt Service Portion, but with major leak fixed, small secondary leak discovered as pipe connection between Pipe Bracket and Reservoir.  Also discovered the Retainer Valve (yes, still there and still located near the roof) was fouled with a mud wasp nest.  Removed Retainer Valve for cleaning.

December 4, 2005


Spline wrenches arrived.  Removed the various "chokes", cleaned and replaced the fiber dust filters.  Completed the rebuild of the Service Portion.  Added lubrication to the piston oil reservoir (it was bone dry).  Ready to install!


The Pipe Bracket Air Filter was also showing signs of age, so a replacement was ordered.

November 26, 2005


A rebuild kit was obtained for the Service portion of the AB brake system.  The valve was removed and disassembled.  The interior passages and slides appear to be in fine shape.  Rebuild was put on hold until the appropriate "spline" wrenches can be obtained to remove the delicate air chokes.  The Dirt/Moisture Collector was also disassembled and found to be in great shape.  No major dirt or corrosion.  The last indicated rebuild was 2-19-65 (almost 41 years ago!).  The only leak was in one small place on the Service Portion Cover gasket.  It appears that a small piece of crud was trapped during the last rebuild (41 years ago) and caused a weak spot in the seal.  Since the new rebuild kit contains all new rubber gaskets, all will be replaced.


Last rebuild: 2-19-65.  Emergency Portion (left, painted red), Pipe Bracket (middle), Service Portion (right).


Service Portion removed to bench for rebuild.


Piston removed and cleaned.


New gaskets going into Quick Service Limiting Valve.


Service Portion Cover and offending gasket.

November 5, 2005


Two new air hoses were installed.  Air was applied to the system for the first time in ages.  The brake system worked!  When the air was released from the trainline, the brakes made an emergency application, when the air was reapplied, the brakes released.  There is a leak in the brake valve.  It appears to be a faulty gasket.

October 29, 2005


First "full" day on ARM property.  Car was swept clean inside by Andy Chinn.  All the previously removed brake rigging was inventoried and installed.  New mounting bolts were purchased to replace bolts that were too rotted or had to be cut during moving preparations.  Museum locks installed on both doors.


In better light, more evidence to suggest that this car was built in September 1909 making the car 96 YEARS OLD!

Faint "9-09" stenciled along top side support.

October 28, 2005

Moving Day - Part 2!

The moving company arrived at the ARM shortly after the 9am curfew.

Unloading commenced at the intersection of Delaware and Detroit St with the flat car being first.  The ARM locomotive crew arrived just in the nick of time to use the Plymouth to pull the flatcar back and make room for the boxcar.

The boxcar was unloaded without event. and everything was shoved into the fenced display area.

Everything was done by lunch time.  Yeah!

October 27, 2005

Moving Day - Part 1!  Thursday was an interesting day to say the least!

Basically here is the summary of the day:

1.  All four cars were loaded and safely removed from the PD property with no injury to people or property.  Yeah!

2.  The forklift did not arrive till closer to 8am and the "first" truck for the ARM was late through a paperwork snafu by the loading company.

3.  AS much "thought" and planning that went into the logical "load order", the actual loading order was completely,100% backwards due to above truck delay and other factors.  Everyone was OK with the idea of pulling their tucks onto the "rough" side of the cars, so they did.

4.  Several cars required more time than anticipated to get loaded due to primarily the "science" of rigging/blocking the loads to the satisfaction of the individual truck drivers (who get final call on loading).

5.  Last car off the property was about 3:30pm.

6.  Due to an unknown travel "restriction" the ARM cars did not make it to Chandler in time to beat the in-town curfew of 5:30-6pm.  By the time the curfew was lifted, the sun had set and everyone had a long day.  Plus unloading the cars in the dark did not seem like a smart thing to try.  So, the rigs were parked 2 miles away from the ARM (ironically on the site of our new home at Tumbleweed Park).

7.  The forklift/trucking crew for ARM was basically at the end of their service limit anyway by 6pm.  One driver left Kingman this morning at 4am.

8.  Final unloading of the ARM cars will occur (hopefully) on Friday after the 7-9am morning curfew (aaargh!).

9.  At the end of the day, everyone (as far as I know) went home with all their fingers and toes intact AND all of the equipment was safely loaded and well on their way to their new homes.  Had I known about the curfew, I probably would have tried to push for faster loading, but better everyone goes home safe.