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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While watching an old black & white video of NYC trains I noticed a wide variety of differences between the various heavyweight style roof tops.

I would guess that the video was taken somewhere around the 1950's (or earlier) as there were no streamliners.

Aside from possibly air conditioning, can anyone explain what all the different shapes on the coach rooftops might signify?

For that matter why would there be so many different types on a single passenger train?

Thanks,

Jerry
 

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Jerry,

Some of the cars were probably sleeping cars. Using all of the avialable 'air' space pushed the roof out further than on a standard coach. Depending on the type of sleeping car, the roof line was different.

Mark
 

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Jerry

Passenger cars over the years were built with three distinct roof styles and these with their variations were all in everday usage throughout the middle years of the 20th century.

Initially heavyweight cars (built roughly 1910-early 30s) were built with the traditional clerestory roofline. This shape signified non air conditioned cars with a clerestory for light and ventilation. The shape was kept despite the fact that the clerestory windows were largely plated over by the early 30s. In a passenger train from the 40s-50s era, these roofs would typically appear on head end equipment and short haul coaches.

By the Depression, new heavyweight construction ceased. However, existing heavyweight cars were rebuilt and modernized, an effort which almost always involved adding air conditioning. The air conditioning duct work was placed in the roof giving the rounded shape which eliminated the clerestory. Most of the time, the air conditioning only covered the revenue portions of the cars and thus the rooflines tended to be a bit mixed and unstreamlined. Modernized heavyweight cars were in general usage on most railroads into the 1960s and could be seen in most any train.

Lightweight streamlined cars were built from the mid 30s on in new construction though most of these cars were not built until after the Second War. The rooflines were entirely rounded and smooth.

Most folks associate lightweight cars with diesels. While this was true for a very few name trains, most trains on most railroads were a mix of cars and a mix of steam and diesel power right through to dieselization in the late 50s.

For example, the Canadian National used mostly heavyweight cars (both air conditioned and non airconditioned) behind steam on the Continental during the Postwar years. When the Super C was introduced in 1955, diesels and streamlined cars were front and centre BUT the consist always included several heavyweight cars. Pics of the Super Continental behind steam in the mid to late 50s are also common when the diesels were unavailable. If this happens on a railroad's number one train, imagine the mix of equipment on lesser trains.

Regards ... Doug
 

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To put soome pictures to my previous ramblings ...

Here is a pic of a standard heavyweight coach that has not been air conditioned



Here is a heavyweight car that has been modernized by adding air conditioning ducts over part of the space



And lastly, a streamlined lightweight car




Regards ... Doug
 

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Jerry,
To add to Doug's list let me add the Harriman style heavyweight which had a full arched roof as opposed to the celestory style center section
Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks to everyone for their (current and future) comments.

Another question came to mind.

In the film I happened to notice one train with a boxcar between the locomotive(s) and the passenger cars.

Since I believe steam was often passed from the locos to the passenger cars for heat, how then would that steam be passed through the boxcar? Were there special boxcars fitted to have steam pipes?

Perhaps the train was running in the heat of the summer and steam was not needed by the coaches?

Jerry
 

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Without seeing the box car in question, my guess would be that it was a dedicated express freight box car, and would have steam lines. If I recall, passenger car couplers are set slightly higher than freight car couplers (36" as opposed to 33"), so simply placing a standard box car between the loco and the rest of the train wouldn't be advisable.

Later,

K
 

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Many railroads used boxcars as well as reefers in express service. Express cars were always fitted with high speed trucks and steam lines for signals and heating ...

Regards ... Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks guys,

In many ways it is what I don't know about real railroading that makes this hobby so interesting - because there is always something new to learn about it.

Regards,

Jerry

PS...

Steam lines for signals?
 

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Jerry

The train signal line to allow the conductor to communicate with the engineer. It was one of the steam line connections between each car ... also included was the brake pressue line and steam for heat and other purposes.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi Doug,

I am always impressed with the depth of your knowledge (and others as well) of railroad operations.

Would you care to comment on how you have come to have such comprehensive knowledge of railroad operations?

I would also be interested in hearing from others about how they have developed their knowledge of railroads as well.

As we all grow older it seems inevitable that the reservoir of such knowledge that will be available to hobbyists in the future will be significantly diminished.

In my case I knew virtually nothing about railroading when I entered this hobby. For me that was a great advantage because a decade later I am still interested and impressed with new knowledge that I continue to discover.

Regards,

Jerry



Posted By Dougald on 08/26/2008 6:13 AM
Jerry
The train signal line to allow the conductor to communicate with the engineer. It was one of the steam line connections between each car ... also included was the brake pressue line and steam for heat and other purposes.
Regards ... Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This is the first reference I have read to there being a difference in coupler height. I'm not disagreeing - it just seems strange to me that there would be an incompatibility of couplers when (I thought) one of the reasons for diesels being superior to steam locos was their ability to handle both freight and passenger (or mixed) trains.

As I understand it then a "fast freight" car would be configured like a passenger car and standard freight cars would not normally be connected to a passenger train.

Would this be different for narrow gauge which seems to be where mixed trains were more common?

It seems that coupler variances may be an interesting subject by itself.

Thanks,

Jerry



Posted By East Broad Top on 08/25/2008 6:42 PM
Without seeing the box car in question, my guess would be that it was a dedicated express freight box car, and would have steam lines. If I recall, passenger car couplers are set slightly higher than freight car couplers (36" as opposed to 33"), so simply placing a standard box car between the loco and the rest of the train wouldn't be advisable.
Later,
K
 

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Jerry

Diesels were able to handle a wider variety of services than a specific steam loco could. That said however, diesels assigned to the passenger pool on most railroads (pre Amtrak) had to be specially equipped. They normally received a higher gearing plus they were outfitted with steam generation boilers plus the passenger lines for steam and signals and brakes.

It is interesting to note that most American railroads chose 6 axled units like the EMD E series or the Alco P's for their passenger trains. Mountain climbing American roads plus the Canadian roads favoured EMD F units and Alco F's for passenger service. In the former case, the locos were unsuited to freight service and in the latter, the freight units were modified to be part of the passenger equipment pool.

Similarly, rolling stock in the passenger pool had to be specifically equipped to meet the higher safety standards and generally higher speeds of passenger service. This pool of equipment had, in fact, vastly more head end cars for mail and express (and the small amount of checked baggage) than all other passenger cars (coaches, sleepers, diners etc) put together. Express reefers and boxcars were very common for expedited delivery of express for which the railroads charged a premium price.

LCL traffic usually travelled in priority freight trains but there was a lot of small package service as well as high value shipments that went via express. In the USA this was handled most often by the Railway Express Agency (REA) while in Canada, it was dealt with by the individual railroads. An example of a high valued cargo in the Canadian context was the shipment of Lake Winnipeg whitefish. Whitefish bound for Canadian markets in Montreal and Toronto was shipped east in daily reefer blocks carried by CN symbol freights. But whitefish bound for the big American markets on the east coast (like New York) came east in express reefers - it was not unusual to see 3-5 reefers of fish per day in the consist of the Continental or the Super C. In fact a second section of this train was often run for the purpose of moving the heavy express traffic.

The narrow gauge was of course much different. NG was an anachronism by 1920 ... American railroads did not buy modernized passenger equipment outside of a very few well publicized examples ( the Tweetsie fully vestibuled cars for example). In North American ng, only the Newfoundland RR maintained a modern passenger service including steel heavyweights, lightweight streamliners, sleepers and diesels ... and of course, the Rewfoundland RR carried significant express traffic as well. But in the main, ng passenger trains were really pale imitations of the service provided by standard gauge railroads.

Mixed trains were quite different. Typically, in mixed service, a coach or combine tailed a short string of freight cars pulled by a picturesque ten wheeler on a weed grown secondary branch line. This romantic notion had exceptions but was generally the norm. The lone coach or combine was rarely air conditioned and heating was usually provided by a coal stove. In other words, passenger facilities were not provided for in the train but passengers, if there were any, were treated more or less as freight.

The only example I am aware of today of a modern mixed train in regular revenue service was the Ontario Northland's Little Bear/Super Bear. This train ran between Cochrane Ontario and Moosenee on Hudson Bay across about 200 miles of wilderness with no roads. The train frequently had as many as 25 freight cars and a half dozen passenger cars plus some "head end equipment". The passenger cars trailed the freight cars with HEP (head end power) provided by an APU made of a converted F7B unit. This car ran at the end of the string of passenger cars toward the end of the train. The head end equipment included a baggage car running between the passenger cars and the freight cars plus a canoe rack car (a converted bulkhead flat) and an ATV/snowmobile car (a converted boxcar) which trailed the converted F7B. This train ran in regular revenue service for many many years. The opening of the Victor Diamond Mine near Moosenee caused enough upswing in regular freight traffic that the Little Bear (and summertime Super Bear) has been discontinued as of June 2007 in favour of year round operation of the Polar Bear Express. This ends the last regular revenue mixed train service in North America that I am aware of.

Here is a pic of the daily Northlander between Toronto and Cochrane

http://www.onrgallery.com/preview0597.html

A pic of the mail baggage car assigned to the mixed service ... it is positioned after the freight cars and ahead of the passenger cars.

http://www.onrgallery.com/preview0611.html

Lastly a shot of the switch crews in Cochrane as they put together the passenger section of the Little Bear in winter 2006.

http://www.onrgallery.com/previews/preview0487.html

Regards ... Doug
 

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Jerry,

Coming by the information on railroads is just like coming by information on any subject for which one has an interest, personal research, association with other people, boards like MLS, etc. It typically starts with a question like yours and invariably, the more you find out the more you want to know if it a subject that either interests you from the start or becomes more interesting as your knowledge grows.

Most prototype railroads have both e-mail groups on Yahoo and fairly active historical societies that are a wealth of information. There are also groups for specific areas like operations, passenger cars, signals, etc. The National Railroad Historical Society is also a good place to link up. http://www.nrhs.com/

Mike
 

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Jerry,

Also some roads used heater and steam generator cars in their list of head end equipment to add and/or suppliment the services needed that the available loco couldn't supply

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Once again thanks to everyone who responded.

I had joined the NRHS awhile back (Arkansas Chapter) and went to St. Louis when the UP 3895 was there but I was surprised and disappointed when there apparently were no NRHS organized activities to see or do anything (that I was able to find out about anyway).

As a result I lost interest and did not renew my NRHS membership. I keep thinking about rejoining but never get around to it. Back then I was working so attending a meeting while I was traveling 5 states was problematic. Now it is the cost of gas that keeps me procrastinating about rejoining.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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Posted By dltrains on 08/25/2008 4:12 PM
Jerry,
To add to Doug's list let me add the Harriman style heavyweight which had a full arched roof as opposed to the celestory style center section
Dave



The Harriman coaches had an extraordinarily long life. After mainline service in the heavyweight era, they ran in commuter service for several decades into the lightweight era.

Mark
 

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Jerry,
The car on the extreme left in Doug's 2nd photo looks like it could be one of the Harriman cars. If not one of the cars at least it has the appearance of their roof line I was trying to discribe

Dave
 

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Dave

The car you referred to in my second pic does have the roof shape of the Harriman cars but it is in fact a lightweight car built by CCF.

Harriman cars were of course most often found on the American roads controlled by Harriman but were also widely used by the NYC. That influence extended to NYC partnered railroadas including the TH&B and the CPR.

The Ontario Northland (or Temiskaming and Northern Ontario as it was known in the distant past) was closer to CN in their practices. Their heavyweight cars were built mainly by Pullman and most of their modern eqipment is either Budd or Pullman Standard with head end cars by CCF but acquired second hand.

Regards ... Doug
 
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