Builders of Wooden Railway Cars ... and some of other stuff

Standard Steel Car Company

Standard Steel Car Corporation

The Standard Steel Car Company was incorporated 2 January 1902 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Its founders were two men formerly associated with the Pressed Steel Car Company: John M. Hansen, its chief engineer and James Buchanan “Diamond Jim” Brady, its general sales agent.

Brady had been largely responsible for both the founding and the success of the Fox Solid Pressed Steel Company in 1888, as well as the consolidation of its successor Fox companies with the Schoen Pressed Steel Company into the Pressed Steel Car Company in 1899. But the merged company was quickly taken over by financial people unfamiliar with railroading, and Brady resigned his position with Pressed Steel and sold his interest in the company in the fall of 1901. {235}

Brady was about to take a position with the newly-organized American Car & Foundry Company when Hansen proposed they start their own company. The two railroad men obtained financing to the tune of $3 million from Andrew Mellon, head of the Union Trust Company of Pittsburgh. Hansen became the new company’s President and Brady its Vice-President in Charge of Sales. Mellon’s people took the rest of the officerships and most of the Board positions. The two railroad men were allotted  large blocks of stock and were to run the company while the financiers handled the financing. {235}

The fledgling company began operations that spring at Butler, Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh, in works provided by Mellon. Things progressed so smoothly that the first cars ordered were ready for delivery 90 days after the business’ organization. {235}

Brady and Hansen’s timing was fortuitous to say the least. Much earlier, and the steel car would not yet have reached the point of being widely saleable, and much later and much of the machinery and methods for making steel cars might have been patented, and thus more costly. {235}

Standard Steel had the usual advantage of not being the first into a new industry. Pressed Steel and others “first into the water,” so-to-speak, had to design and develop machinery which then needed improvement and replacement as new techniques were developed. Standard Steel could begin from scratch developing new machinery that built on the base of experience already gained.

Besides, Hansen was the one who had designed most of the machinery then in use by Pressed Steel, and could now put his new ideas to work without being encumbered with “old” machinery. {235}

The first thing Hansen did was to design a new truck [“bogie,” for those across the pond] to replace the Fox patent truck. The size and weight of steel cars was rapidly making that pioneering machinery obsolete. Brady was soon able to sell his old customers this new, improved truck. In his first year with Standard Steel he was able to do more business than in any two years with the old company. {235}

It is hard to tell the story of the early success of this company better than Morell, so we’ll let him tell it {235}

“Acting directly upon [Brady’s] suggestions, the officers of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad decided to build no more wooden coal cars and to adopt as standards, [his] 50-ton steel hopper bottom and 40-ton steel gondola cars. Two years later, at the end of 1904, the railroad had 16,000 of these in service and had placed orders for 5,000 more. The Pennsylvania placed an order for 4,000 of the 40-ton steel gondolas; and the Philadelphia and Reading, whose stock had laid the foundation of [Brady’s] fortune six years before, presently gave him his first million-dollar order. George Stevens, president of the Maine Central, and one of [Brady’s] closest friends, gave him practically a one hundred percent monopoly on car business—and a few years later almost forced the Standard Steel Car Company to buy the Osgood Bradley Car Company in Worchester, Massachusetts, just so that [Brady] could supply the Maine Central with passenger coaches too. Henry M. Flagler was another transportation tycoon who favored Mr. Brady with orders. Nearly every car on the Florida East Coast Railroad, a Flagler line, was supplied by [Brady] and the Standard Steel Car Company. And little Edward H. Harriman was known in the business for his favoritism to [Brady].”

And all this was just a sideline for Brady, who continued selling railway supplies for the company that got him started as a salesman: Manning, Maxwell and Moore. {235}

Additional plants were either built or bought in Baltimore, Maryland, Hammond, Indiana, Middletown and New Castle, Pennsylvania, Richmond, Virginia, and Sagamore, Massachusetts. In 1904, the seven plants were capable of producing 24,000 cars a year. All built freight cars, while Butler and Hammond built passenger cars as well. {245}


Middletown=Middletown Car Co. was not acquired until 1910.
Richmond=Richmond Car Works acquired about 1931
Baltimore=Baltimore Car & Foundry acquired 1910.
Siems-Stembel 1930
Hammond=Illinois Car & Mfg. Company 1928
Sagamore=H.T. & I.N. Keith 19??]

In 1910, Standard gained control of the Osgood Bradley Car Company at Worchester, Massachusetts, then the second largest car builder in the United States (only Pullman being larger).

During the 1st World War, the Hammond plant produced railroad cars for military use, shell forgings and 240 mm Howitzer carriages. During the 2nd World War, it produced M-3 and M-4 tanks.

Jim Brady died in 1917.

The company built all types of cars for steam railways as well as electric street cars and interurbans. From 1916 to 1921 it tried building automobiles, but sold its auto plant to the American Austin Company.

During the middle of the 1st World War, Brady executed an order from the French Government for more than $100 million worth of freight cars. Standard Steel filled the order, amounting to 38,000 cars, by building a plant in France to which it shipped car “kits” for erection by German prisoners of war. {241}

John Hansen retired from the company in 1923.

In 1930, the company was acquired by Pullman, Inc., which—through a complicated series of transactions—consolidated the property into the Pullman Standard Manufacturing Company [See below for description].

White {245}: "By 1948, the Butler plant had produced a total of 345,500 cars. It employed 1,500 men and occupied 136 acres. It continues [sic, 1978] today as one of Pullman's most active car shops and has specialized in the fabrication of hopper cars for many years."

On 18 February 1930, Osgood Bradley Car Co. (Massachusetts) and Pullman Inc. entered into a purchase agreement.

On 20 February, Osgood Bradley Car Corporation was incorporated in Delaware. Stock ownership was assigned by Pullman Inc. to Standard Steel Car Corp. (Pennsylvania). The Osgood Bradley plant was the single Pullman plant that was equipped for mass production of electrically operated streetcars and trolley coaches. The first passenger car built for steam roads came out of Bradley’s shop in 1833.

On 24 February 1930, Standard Steel Car Corporation was incorporated in Pennsylvania as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pullman Inc. This corporation was created as part of the Standard Steel Car Co. (Pennsylvania) and Osgood Bradley Car Co. (Massachusetts) take over agreement. The agreement permitted use of the name: Osgood Bradley Car Corporation (Delaware).

On 1March 1930, Pullman Inc. acquired the properties of the Standard Steel Car Co. (Pennsylvania) and subsidiaries and Osgood Bradley Car Co. (Massachusetts) in exchange for Pullman Inc. stock and cash. Included among the properties acquired was the Middletown Car Co. During 1907 the first freight cars from the Standard Steel Car Co. were completed at the Hammond shop. During 1909 the first passenger cars were completed in Hammond.

On 1 February 1931, Standard Steel Car Corp. (Pennsylvania) declared a special dividend of all the outstanding stock of Middletown Car Co. to Pullman Inc.

On 5 March 1931, the name of Middletown Car Co. was changed on to Pullman Standard Car Export Corp.

In 1931, the name of Middletown Car Co. (Proprietary) Limited name was changed to Pullman-Standard Car Corp. (Proprietary) Limited.

On 15 December 1931, Standard Steel Car Corp. of Delaware was incorporated in Delaware. All of the stock was issued to Pullman Inc. in exchange for all of the outstanding capital stock of Standard Steel Car Corp. (Pennsylvania).

On 23 December 1931, Dickson Car Wheel Co. became a subsidiary of Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Delaware), when Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Illinois) transferred all of its assets to the Delaware corporation.

On 31 December 1931, Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Illinois) was reincorporated in Delaware. Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Delaware) transferred all of its stock to Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Illinois) in exchange for the net assets of that company. Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Illinois) distributed the stock of the new Delaware corporation to Pullman Inc. Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Illinois) was then dissolved.

On 2 January 1932, the stock of the Pullman Railroad Co. was transferred to Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Delaware) when Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Illinois) was reincorporated in Delaware.

On 27 June 1933, Osgood Bradley Car Corp. (Delaware) changed its name to Pullman-Bradley Car Corp.

On 26 December 1934, Standard Steel Car Corp. of Delaware was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pullman Inc. Standard Steel Car Corp. of Delaware had as wholly-owned subsidiaries: Pullman-Bradley Car Corp., Richmond Car Corp., Lyndora Land & Improvement Co. and Standard Steel Car Corp. (Pennsylvania).

On this date, Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Delaware) participated in a statutory merger with Standard Steel Car Corp. of Delaware, Pullman-Bradley Car Corp. and Richmond Car Corp. The assets of these companies were transferred to Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Delaware). Lyndora Land & Improvement Co. and Standard Steel Car Corp. (Pennsylvania) were simultaneously liquidated and their assets transferred to Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Delaware). Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Delaware) issue stock to Pullman Inc. in exchange for the assets received from Standard Steel Corp. of Delaware and its subsidiaries. Pullman Car & Manufacturing Corp. (Delaware) continued in existence as Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Co.

For More Information

Kaminski, Edward S. Pullman Standard Freight Cars, 1900-1960. Berkeley, CA: Signature Press, 2007.

A rich treasure trove of some 400 photographs from Pullman and Pullman-Standard, as well as predecessors Haskell & Barker, Standard Steel Car Co., and Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company.

“Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company of Butler, Pennsylvania Records [ca. 1902-1982].” Pennsylvania State Archives. Online description of holdings.

Pullman’s Butler, Pennsylvania plant was the former Standard Steel Car Company.

12 May 2007

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