New York Central needed a new concept in intermodal to help escape its desperate cash-short state in the 1950's. Several concepts were reviewed, including the Ryan/EMD Trailer Transport system, C&O's Rail Van and the Steadman side loader, as well as the system developed by Malcolm McLean. The one that was finally decided upon was Flexi Van. Strick Division of Fruehauf developed an experimental car in 1957. They delivered an old 42 foot flatcar with a new single, hydraulically-operated turntable powered by a motor-driven pump. Power was supplied by the terminal tract units.

     The experimental car worked as designed. The Strick van backed at right angles to the flatcar until its bottom rails lined by with the car's turntable mechanism. The driver then unlocked a pin in the demountable bogies, and backed the van off the wheels and into slots on the turntable. When the van was fully engaged on the turntable, a pin locked it in place. Using a push rod mounted on the Commando hostler unit, the driver engaged the van, pushed it 90 degrees until it paralleled the flatcar and locked into place on the car.

     The production cars contained double turntable, capable of handling two 40-foot vans with or without nose-mounted reefer equipment. They were a skeletonized frame car. The lighter container (minus running gear) saved almost a quarter of the car and van tare weight of a standard pig flat with trailer. The lower center of gravity and reduced wind resistance, also paid dividends in the high-speed Flexi Van trains. In a joint test with Santa Fe in October 1966, it was found that depending upon speed, the Flexi Vans produced a five to ten percent savings in rolling resistance.

- Piggyback and Containers by Davd J. DeBoer, pages 63-65.

     On the Santa Fe, skeletal flat cars of class Ft-65 were built in 1968 by Greenville car Company with Rockwell high-speed trucks. Built for hauling Flexi Vans, the cars saw plenty of action on the Super C trains. The cars were 87' 3" in length. The cars were modified for container loading in 1972. Cars can be loaded with two 40' containers, four 20' containers or one 40' and two 20'. All have since been retired.



     During the Summer of 2004, Joe Atkinson found this Santa Fe trailer in Council Bluffs, IA, was able to photograph the trailer.

     Jim Eager provided background information on the trailer: It is a 13' 6" Flexi-Van trailer from the series SFTU 204201-204500, built by Strick prior to April 1969, probably in 1968. Santa Fe received their Ft-65 Flexi-Van cars from Greenville in 1968. After the Flexi-Van Service was phased out, the Santa Fe used these trailers in regular TOFC service with the bogies attached. The trailer could be seen TOFC well into the early 1980's.

     Joe Atkinson adds if anyone is interested in purchasing the trailer, it is currently owned by Batten Trailer Leasing in Omaha, NE (402-339-1429).



     QStation would like to thank Joe Atkinson, Jim Eager, and Paul Anderson for their help and expertise in the production of this website.


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