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Re: PC: "Flex-Van" trademark

The Central's low clearances were another major factor in the development 
and adoption of the Flexi Van.  They ran solid, long Super Van trains that 
were often 100% NYC and MFVX Flexi Van equipment from its inception until 
into the PC era.  I too believe the PRR dominated management preferred the 
widely accepted TOFC over Flexi Vans, but NYC also bought into Trailer Train 
by joining in 1964.  I remember seeing four or five U25Bs on the point of 
solid Flexi Van trains at East Syracuse in the mid - sixties.  In 1971, I 
saw them on mail and express trains, with 4 or 5 E units pulling them mixed 
with baggage and express cars at what seems like 90 MPH through Newark NY on 
the old NYC mainline!
Also, other roads owned a limited amount of Flexi Van equipment.  These 
roads included the Pennsy, Burlington, Illinois Central, Tynan Meats, and 
some other trucking companies as well.  Look at any photo of Santa Fe's 
Super C train and you almost always saw quite a few Flexi Vans in the train. 
  They also hauled mail on many NYC passenger trains.
I believe that the Flexi Van system would have been widely accepted in 
today's environment.  COFC seems to be about even with TOFC now.  The spine 
cars with containers practically look like Flexi Vans, and they require 
either a piggypacker or overhead crane to load and unload them, as well as 
the chassis on which to place the containers.  That was one big argument 
against Flexi Vans - that special wheel bogies had to be available for the 
containers to be placed on at the end of a run.  It's no different today, 
really.  I sure wish that a plastic modeling company would reproduce these 
flats and containers in plastic and much more affordable than Overland brass 
($200+ for one car!).
The other thing that the Flexi Vans needed was (for the end turntable - 
loading containers and flats) was a special yard tractor to facilitate this. 
  This "Yard Commando" vehicle looked similar to a tractor - trailer cab, 
but had only a half cab on the driver's side.  It was equipped with a nose 
wheel and a push pole that extended out of the back of the truck.  They 
loaded them by backing the rear of the container onto the giudes on the 
turntables on the flat car.  The driver would disenegage the wheels (bogies) 
and disconnect the brake lines, etc.  Then the tractor would further push 
the container onto the turntable.  To position the container properly, an 
extendable "rod" came out of the tractor's rear side into a pocket on the 
container and pushed it completely into the locking position on the 
turntable.  The tractor would then lower the special front wheel, allowing 
the tractor to rotate itself around to a position perpendicular to the 
container, and then the front wheel was retracted, and the tractor backed up 
placing the container nearly parallel to the centerline of the flat car.  
The last step was for the operator to manually push the container the 
remaining distance until it was in position to lock in running position on 
the flatcar.  I believe this was the Mark IV and Mark V Flexi Van flats.  
The earlier, and shorter container flats had turntables that were placed 
such that the trailer rotated on its center, thus not requiring the special 
tractor to load and unload.  The development of the longer containers (40') 
and cars dictated the need for end - located turntables and the tractors 
with the pole and extra front wheel.
Lastly, NYC had a few "auto - carrying" Flexi Vans, although I believe they 
were only a few ever used.  Another problem they had was a tendency to 
become difficult to operate in the winter when ice would hamper the proper 
operation of the turntables and other gear related to the Flexi Vans.
In my opinion, when I saw these trains, this WAS the NYC at its finest, 
freight - era years.  It was as purely NYC as was their signal bridges, four 
track main, green cabooses and high speed operation.

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