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.
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.
An HO Scale Pacemaker Freight Train in Action
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.
This would be the MS1 paint scheme
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
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.
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.