Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pullman Standard Hydro Frame 60 Boxcar

Hello Everyone,

Just back from vacation and thought I'd post this blog entry while I continue my research for the NYC-PRR Throw Down Series. I recently acquired a few boxcars from fellow modeler Bobby G. who I know from TrainLife.com. Bobby is moving to O scale and disposing of the last of his HO rolling stock. One the cars I purchased from Bobby was an Atheran BB 50' Kansas City Southern ribbed side boxcar with the words
PS HYDRO FRAME 60 keeps loads SAFE from SHOCK in big letters.

PS Hydro Frame 60? Interesting. I checked my box car fleet and discovered an Athearn BB New Haven 50' boxcar also had this lettering but in a circle. So what was this Hydro Frame 60 from Pullman Standard?

Hydro-pneumatic cushion gear for railway car
US 3917075 A

In a railway car underframe center sill structure, an end-of-car cushion unit of the hydro pneumatic type for absorption of buff forces and located in the cushion pocket at the end of the center sill and coupled with the yoke and coupler arrangement. The cushion unit has a moveable hydraulic fluid containing cylinder connecting with the yoke and coupler arrangement and fixed piston having its inner piston rod end connected in the center sill and its outer piston head orificed within the cylinder to receive reciprocably a central metering pin fixed in the cylinder for transfer of hydraulic fluid to either side of the piston head and in and out of draft chamber portions of the cylinder. A moveable gas piston is in the inner end of the fixed piston and has gas under pressure on the piston inner end, the piston outer side being in hydraulic fluid communication with the orifice. The gas piston has a rolling seal connection and stop within the fixed piston. A rolling seal in the form of a boot connects the cylinder and piston and acts as a dust protector for the piston rod. An alternate form of gas piston slidingly floats in the hydropneumatic chamber in the fixed piston. The cushion arrangement is also provided with buff cylinder stops that hit the striker and provided with recessed draft cylinder stops near the outer end of the cylinder.

For much more on this check this link: https://www.google.com/patents/US3917075

From the Virginia Museum of Transportation
  • Manufacturer: Pullman Standard
  • 100 produced for the Richmond Fredericksburg & Potomac in 1963. The RF&P ran exclusively in Virginia and was partially owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia Retirement System.
  • Equipped with the Pullman Standard Hydro frame-cushioning device, this spring loaded coupler softened the impact when cars were switched. The device added approximately 10 ft to the length of the car.

# 2305

  • Built in 1963
  • Served the RF&P for 24 years
  • Retired May 1987
  • Donated to the Museum by the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad in February, 1988

RF&P Boxcar

Kansas City Southern 1365 proudly display it's PS HYDRO FRAME advertisement. Checking the RF&P car above note the extension of the coupler box on the end of the car. 

KCS 1365 coupled up to a 40' NH boxcar (also from Bobby G).

Cleaned up but standard under frame on the car. Now to see if I can find a way to make this an actual PS Hyrdo Frame 60 boxcar. And yet another modeling project is born! 

 A quick search reveals that Details West offers a cushioned coupler box that might work quite nicely for extending the coupler pockets on this car. They also offer a hydra frame  that might work as well.

Friday, July 17, 2015

New York Central System vs Pennsylvania Railroad Throw Down Round 2

Greetings Blog Followers,

Today is round 2 of the New York Central System vs Pennsylvania Railroad throw down! As promised today we look at how both roads continued to court L.C.L. traffic

NYC Flexi-Vans vs PRR Truc Train

New York Central Flexi-Vans

In the late 1950s the New York Central System was focusing promotion efforts on its new intermodal concept, the Flexi-Van, a hybrid design of today's freight container and TOFC (trailer on flatcar) equipment. One problem of traditional TOFC service was that the highway wheels had to be taken along as parasitic tare; further the wheels result in a flatcar load of excessive height. Loading and unloading TOFC cars at this time was slow and labor extensive. NYC introduced this distinctive container technology in concert with the Strick Division of Fruehauf Corporation. 

The Flexi-Van Spine Car boasted a turntable at each end that swiveled to allow a truck trailer to slide off the rear bogie and onto the turntable. The turntable could then swivel and be locked in place. Flexi Van possessed the advantages of low weight, low center of gravity, reduced wind resistance, random access to containers at terminals and low clearance requirements for NYC routes into Boston and New York City.

Ultimately NYC bought over seven thousand vans and 859 Flexi Van flatcars equipping the railroad to run 50 daily high speed Flexi-Van trains dubbed Super Van trains. Unfortunately few other railroads embraced the concept and the Flexi-Van became a NYC-only offering. The need to interchange intermodal traffic became overwhelming and in 1964 NYC bought into the Trailer Train consortium to assure a supply if more familiar trailer on flatcar piggyback.

A Mark IV Flexi-Van flat with two 40' containers.
This car measures 87'3" and was assigned to passenger service.

The Milwaukee Road was one of the few that embraced the Flexi-Vans

Throw Down Power two EMD GP20s lead the Flexi-Van (Super Van) Train

Close up of an 86'9" Mark III car built in 1962

Low clearances are no problem for the Super Van Train. Note the height of the TOFC cars.

Click the below links and you can see some interesting Flexi Van loads




Here's a good look at an Flexi Van Trailer's under carriage.


Pennsylvania Railroad Truc Train

PRR Truc Train was launched in 1954 as the PRR still sought to profit from LCL freight traffic. Hardly a new concept the PRR was one of the pioneers to embrace piggyback on a grand scale. The Truc Train venture was a combination of the PRR's own trucking service picking up a shipment, loading the truck trailer on a train and then off loading it at the end to it's final destination. Truc Trains also handled common carrier truck lines. Both types of movements could be found on the same train. In March 1955 the first dedicated Truc Trains from Kearney NJ to Chicago debuted carrying the symbol TT1 and TT2  (no surprise there). These were the fastest freight trains on the PRR .

The Truc Trains were highly successful and in November 1955 the PRR, The N&W and the Railway Trailer Company of Chicago incorporate Trailer Train Company. Trailer Train is owner 25% by the PRR and 25% by the Rail Trailer Company. The rest of the shares to be reserved for other railroads that join. The firm survives today as the TTX Company. 

Here is an excellent link for an overview of  PRR Truc Train Service

PRR 75' F39 flats with two 32' trailers showcase the early PRR Truc Train Service.

To the delight of the local gentry today's Truc-Train power are two monster SD45s.

The Truc Train rolls under the Empire City Viaduct

Early Truc-Train car and trailers

In 1956 Trailer Train bought all the Pennsy's flatcars relettering them Trailer Train

Two 40' refrigerator trailers on an 85' Trailer Train Flat, class F85A

Here is a link to the TTX website

And the Judges Scorecards: With a heavy heart I score round 2 in favor of the PRR. The NYC buying in to Trailer Train in 1964 and Trailer Train continuing to this day tilts this round firmly to the Pennsy's side.

Round 1: NYC Pacemaker vs PRR Merchandise Service: Winner NYC
Round 2: NYC Flexi Van vs PRR Truc Train: Winner PRR

If you can't beat em, join em!

Next round coming up in a few weeks will be the NYC 20th Century Ltd vs the PRR Broadway Ltd. Until then I have a few other projects to work on and write up. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

New York Central System vs Pennsylvania Railroad Throw Down! Round 1

Greetings Blog Followers,

This week we are going back prior to the New York Central System - Pennsylvania Railroad merger to showcase some good old fashioned hate. Both of the highly competitive arch enemies are being represented on the layout this week to fight it out in a NYC - PRR throw down. Kind of like a Bobby Flay show without the food.

In our family we have avid fans of both the NYC and PRR meaning father (me) and son. Over the years we have enjoyed getting our model trains out on the layout and watching them duke it out while we each claim our railroads to be the superior carrier. Usually the insults are flying and the debates over which was the better system rage on.
So let's get started and in no particular order here we go....

First we'll take a look at how each railroad addressed Less than Car Load Traffic. After World War II and into the 1950s this freight traffic was being lost to a trucking industry that was aided by government sponsored highways. Both the NYC and PRR were susceptible being they had relatively short routes that could easily be driven by truckers.
Here's a link to some early LCL Freight on the NYC 

Round 1

  New York Central System Pacemaker Freight Service vs Pennsylvania Railroad Merchandise Service 

NYC Pacemaker Freight Service

NYC Pacemaker Freight Service was introduced in 1946 to to recapture Less than Carload (LCL) freight. This was a dedicated fast express service that did not require handling or switching. Pacemaker cars had the distinctive vermilion and gray livery with "Pacemaker" written on the side. The NYC Despatch shops built approximately 1,000 of the 40' boxcars equipping them with high speed trucks and rubber cushioned couplers. Originally a Manhattan to Buffalo, Buffalo to Manhattan high speed train by 1950 Pacemaker Service had spread to most of the NYC's mid western service regions. This high speed LCL train ran at speeds up to 65 mph and used the passenger train tracks on the NYC's four track main line.

Like the prototype an early Pacemaker Freight Train powered by a NYC 4-8-4 Niagara.
The Pacemaker would soon be a recipient of diesel power

Like the prototype a single Erie Built has this Pacemaker train well in hand as it runs down
 the upper tracks through Empire City. Looks like some of Empire City's biggest rail fans are
track side for the event.

An eye catching string of vermilion and gray boxcars were part of the marketing scheme 

A trio of Pacemaker Freight Service cars in a symbol train roll through the North Side.

A New York Central Pacemaker boxcar and Pacemaker caboose

A NYC Pacemaker boxcar

An HO Scale Pacemaker Freight Train in Action

Pennsylvania Railroad Merchandise Service

The Pennsylvania Railroad, like a lot of U.S. roads, developed a system to streamline the yard to yard movement of trains called "symbol" trains and known to the PRR as "Arranged Service" trains. The trains were given alpha numeric symbols or codes which reflected their routes. An example is LCL-1 a New York - Chicago run tailored for less than car load shipments. It made the 900 mile trip in 32 hours. A sister train LCL-3 ran from New York to St Louis in 37 hours.

The following information is excerpted from an article by Ben Hom starting on page 47 in the October 2004 Keystone Modeler. Special thanks go to Bill Wilcox of TL for alerting me to this article.

 The PRR had a total of 696 LCL boxcars in it's fleet in 1955. Many  cars were painted with the Merchandise Service banner between 1947 and 1957. The cars were fitted with special handling equipment for the LCL loads. The majority of LCL loads on the PRR were handled in ordinary boxcars. A note from author Hom is that contrary to popular belief the Merchandise Service cars did not run in passenger trains. They were strictly freight trains. Ultimately the Merchandise Service cars were reassigned to regular freight service but were not immediately repainted. It is reported that the cars ran in this scheme into the 1960s.

A PRR Class K-4 4-6-2 Pacific with a Merchandise Service Train.

A PRR Erie Built handles an LCL Merchandise Service Train over the Empire City viaduct

A close up of the distinctive Merchandise Service boxcars.
This would be the MS1 paint scheme

  Six PRR Merchandise Service 40' boxcars roll through Empire City's north side
From left to right we have the MS1 paint scheme on the first three cars, MS1 paint on the red with black roof Athearn RTR car and the MS2 paint scheme on the two cars to the right   

A Merchandise Service Train in Action

In the end both NYC and PRR shifted their focus away from L.C.L. boxcar traffic. The railroads continued to court  LCL freight, both in their own unique way. "Flexi -Van trains for the NYC and Truc Trains for the PRR. Next round we'll take a look at these two distinctive services.

The Judges score cards....

My vote is the NYC wins round 1. One thousand dedicated freight cars, authorized speeds up to 65 mph, tight scheduling, use of passenger train tracks and the newest motive power prevails.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

An A.P.R.R. Story Part 2

Greetings Blog Followers,

Today we present part 2 of the popular an A.P.R.R. Story series. Let's take a look at what A.P.R.R. CEO 1/87th scale Sir Neal and the gang are up to today...

A group of 1/87th scale railroaders gather on the sidewalk down the block from Neal's Lumber and Hardware prior to meeting over lunch at one of 1/87th scale Sir Neal's favorite spots, Moriarty's Pub & Restaurant. The lunch time summit has been called by 1/87th scale Sir Neal to discuss and hopefully implement an idea that could revolutionize railroading. 

    Gentleman, we now have mechanical refrigeration said 1/87th scale Sir Neal... 
 I want everyone here to think Juice... Juice! Replied the other 1/87th scale railroad owners. 
Yes, Juice replied 1/87th scale Sir Neal. Specifically orange juice. 
Check out the siding before we sit down to lunch.

And there it was, a 50' mechanical reefer painted for Tropicana Orange Juice. Boys imagine a dedicated train of modern Tropicana reefer cars hauling orange juice from Florida to Kearny NJ  for distribution to the tri-state area. Kearny NJ? Where the heck is that and why there said the group? 1/87th scale Sir Neal just shook his head and replied it's in New Jersey right near my Rock Ridge Yard. Come inside and I'll explain further. 

1/87th scale Sir Neal explained that he had the connections with the Seaboard RR, was certain the RF&P would join in and that all he needed was to get the cooperation of the Penn Central. 1/87th scale Sir Neal had a few Tropicana Reefers already painted but would still need a slew of reefers to make this train a reality. For that he called upon all his railroad connections to route their newest mechanical reefer cars towards Rock Ridge Yard.

And so it begins...

A.P.R.R. #358, PC 8024 (liberated from the Kings Port Division) and a NYC GP35 (from the N.Y.C.T.L.) on point of an early juice train. As time went on the Juice Train would become
 "pure" Tropicana Mechanical reefers and ultimately a completely CSX train.

1/87th scale Sir Neal's plan was audacious for the times. This would be the first food product unit train in history. Tropicana would save 40 million dollars in in fuel costs alone in the first ten years of operation. A win-win for the railroads and Tropicana.

An early 1/87th scale juice train with Tropicana cars from Athearn, Lionel and Tyco. 

                                         The plan worked so well that it is still in use today!
                                              The current CSX version of the Juice Train




                                       Sir Neal's 1/87th scale Tropicana Juice facility.