Abernathy Furniture Car Line
A Summer Project

Fellow modeler and Yahoo Early Rail Group member, Don Ball, while researching cars used on the SP came across a listing

Text not available

in The Official railway equipment register of 1895 which outlines the previously unknown existence of an Abernathy Car Line and includes numbers and dimensions. I am deeply grateful to Don for unearthing this nugget.

In the absence of more details (for example, builder and build date) or even photograph, I determined to proceed with some very large guesses. There was one photo (see below) that provided an intriguing however vague starting point.

The Abernathy Furniture Company in Kansas City during one of the frequent floods of the West Bottoms. There is a car spotted there that offered a tantalizing possibility for the Abernathy Car Line car. The arched lettering in the style of the day may well read on the left, Leavenworth, Kansas City; on the right Abernathy Furniture and in the space beneath each arch the word Car Line on the left and No. ## on the right. Of course this was the wildest speculation on my part.
Further evidence would seem to rule this car out but it was an interesting excersise trying to bring it to life.

Version #1

Version #2:

Version #3:

These were definitely "Could-a-been" and have the feel of the era.

Version #4:

This is probably closer to the truth. Following the thread on the Yahoo ER Group a photo turned up of a wrecked Abernathy car. This picture shows the side and "B" end to the left of the door well enough but the door itself and the side to the right are obliterated in the debris. Art Griffin's suggestion that a "curved furniture on the right" would be perhaps appropriate gave rise to version #3. But, without more evidence it may be safer (and easier to put together with individual letters) to assume it was the simpler Version #4. Anyway, that is the version I set out to build.

Building the Abernathy Car

The construction follows the basic pattern I used for the ATSF Furniture car with the inclusion of major details shown in the "Wreck Photo". The external cable end brace is the biggest difference between the two cars. This car will have exposed door tracks.

By the end of Memorial Weekend the paint is applied and the car is ready to be lettered.

The model finished with individual letters applied. I am nothing if not impatient and impulsive in these situations so I forged ahead with the wrong style and size of lettering, but that is what I had available. This is my car in 1895. I reasoned that the "wreck photo" is from around 1914 and therefore represents a later paint scheme and that in 1895 the cars had these much larger Railroad Roman letters.

Still, not satisfied, I turned the car around and set these smaller letters on the reverse...a dodge I am known and sometimes ridiculed mercilessly for...just to see if I liked that better. Well, the jury is still out.

The Final Verdict... (is finally in)

May 28, 2009. Art Griffin sent a message today and I quote,

"Some facts on the Photo and the ORER inputs.

1) 1892 ORER has the car #s as 10-55.The # on the Ebay photo I bought is #54. Yes, the photo is after 1912( a date on the left car in the wreck.)But, the time of the print says really nothing except the Car existed until that date and wreck.Meaning it is a 1892 car.

2) Both the 1892 and 1897 ORERs have the #s still beginning with 10 but now 1897 up to #67.Both ORER entries say "Cars of this Company are marked 'Abernathy Furniture Car Line'."

3) The photo was really hard to straighten. And the decal will have the style lettering as on the photo and an arch on the right side with "furniture Car " with "Line" below and the # 54."

Art, has evidently voted for version #3. Not only this but the decal is already ready and all I need do is send away for one and in a week or so I will have an authentic Abernathy Furniture car.

I will have to wait....(What mischief can I get into????)

August 11, 2009. I had finally gotten around to ordering the decal from Art and got to work scrapping those meticulously applied letters...a tough choice...and repainting. The car was a blank slate until the Friday mail held the long (couple of weeks) awaited packet from Art Griffin with the Abernathy Furniture decal. Last night I applied them and today I have the results. Plainly the version that Art chose was akin to version 3. The pictures below and at the top of the page show how this version looks on my car.

This project is now at an end and I am planning my next foray into car construction with a pair of Kansas and Texas Coal co. gondolas. As always I will boast about my accomplishments here. See ya' then.