The Pennsy Modeler

In order to portray Pennsylvania Railroad and interchange partners as accurately as possible, this blog contains articles which are essentially notes to myself, but are shared should the community desire the same information.

Articles are sorted by modification date, so if an existing article receives an update it will be presented at the top of the list again.






A Manual Block Signal system, the earliest form of block signaling, is nothing more than a series of sections of track, typically between stations (known as blocks) governed by fixed signals located at the entrance to the block (known as block signals), operated manually by the block operator, based on information received from the dispatcher by telegraph, telephone or radio.

Bob Johnson's comments, as coordinator of the archives of the PRRT&HS:

1 - As built in 1-1929 to 4-1929 the cars had no side ladders and had the end ladders on the right side of the ends as you stand facing the end of the car. The side sill steps at the ends were a two-step style.

2 - About 1932 some, but not all, R50B cars began to receive freight car safety appliances. This added side ladders, changed the side sill steps to a single-step type, moved the end ladders to the left side, moved the brake wheel, added a brake platform, added a platform above the end ladders, and modified many handholds.

3 - On 4-3-1940 a second handhold was added on the left end of the sides of R50B cars with freight car safety appliances, but not to cars that kept the original configuration.

4 - On 12-18-1942 the end details described in #2 above were made standard for all R50B cars. This made a new variation with full freight car safety appliances on the ends, but no side ladders. I haven't seen any photos of this variation.

5 - Beginning in 1952 the running boards and side ladders were removed.

f30d w trailer

The F30 were 50' flat cars and the predominant flat car class on the Pennsy roster during the 1950s.

N8 cabin car 478119 side view2

The N8 was the final cabin car (caboose) built by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Two hundred examples were built between December 1950 and June 1951, numbered 478020 to 478219. Cars 478100 to 478219 featured inductive trainphone antennas and battery boxes. Approximately half of the fleet had electrical lighting.

Besides brass, the N8 is available as a kit or ready-to-run from Bowser. Decals have been available from Mount Vernon Shops.

Kessler 12 5 Maple Brook

Dennis Sautters, a PRRT&HS member from Ohio, operates a business called Laser Horizons. He offers laser cut passenger sides for many PRR passenger cars. As of May 19, 2011, the following were currently offered:

The following is a chronology of movements over a 24 hour period at the passenger station at Harrisburg, Pa. For my personal modeling purposes, I needed such a chronology of events. The date (September 26, 1954) was chosen as many of my reference materials have publish dates of 9/26/54.

The consists were derived from the public timetables. Where known, I substituted the Pennsy class designation in the consist listing.

There are many time differences between documents published on the same date. Where conflict occured, I opted for the data contained within the Employee Timetable.

To make this chronology more manageable, I split it into four pages: this Overview, and three "Tricks". A "trick" is synonymous with a work shift. Though the actual breakdown of tricks varied depending upon job title and locale, most ran 7 a.m.-3 p.m., first trick; 3 p.m.-11 p.m., second trick; and 11 p.m.-7 a.m., third trick.

Your feedback and corrections are appreciated. Enjoy!


The economic success of the railroads depended on freight shipped in full cars. The idea of putting truck trailers on flatcars was a method of moving less-than-carload shipments economically. This "intermodal" concept held the hope of competing with trucks which were taking more and more of this business from the railroads.

In the mid-thirties, the Chicago, the Great Western and then the New Haven railroads began piggy back service limited to their own railroad. By 1953, the CB&Q, the Eastern Illinois and the Southern Pacific railroads had joined the innovation. Most cars were surplus 50's flatcars equipped with new decks by the railroads. By 1955, an additional 25 railroads had begun some form of piggy back service. A significant legal battle between the truckers and the railroads resulted in a ruling permitting interstate piggy back service using either railroad or privately owned trailers. The stage was set for rapid expansion of intermodal services.


Keystone Crossings was a web site published by Jerry Britton from 1997 through June of 2018. The site featured prototypic and modeling information relevant to the Pennsylvania Railroad and achieved a sort of "cult following" during its 21 years in operation.

My first exposure to the World Wide Web was in 1992. At the time, there were no graphical web browsers. Browsing was solely text based and I used a program called Lynx to get around. I started learning HTML programming and was responsible for the initial web presence of Elizabethtown College, my employer at the time.

Graphical browsers came along shortly thereafter, and by 1996 I had the itch to build something bigger. Rather than writing meaningless code, strictly for the sake of doing so, I wanted a "real" subject that I could build on. I chose the Pennsylvania Railroad, never expecting that it would take on a life of its own.

The initial Keystone Crossing site lived on America Online and consisted of about a dozen pages. Bruce Smith, Rob Schoenberg, and I seemed to have the only Pennsy sites out there at the time.

Andy Miller (PRR_Talk list) shares his thoughts on the HO scale Pullman Sleeper offered by Bachmann Spectrum:

I finally got a Bachmann Pullman today. Why does B do these things?? Its terribly frustrating to see them do such a fine job of mold making, include interiors, metal truck, lights, Kadee-compatible couplers; and then just ignore the prototype!

I did some research. This very rare car did exist. For those interested here's what I dug up in the Wayner reprint of the Pullman Co's 1950 list of cars:

PRR 120 JT

The Z74 series were the most common of the Pennsy's business cars. However, their history is also the most convoluted. Over their lives, individual cars were reclassified, renumbered, and renamed many times. To make matters worse, for the historian, names were often re-used among one or more physical cars. The following documentation represents a "best effort" to piece together the physical car histories. A number in parenthesis indicates the iteration of use of a specific car number.

In HO scale, Bachmann offers a "heavyweight observation" car that is actually an early era version of a PRR Z74 business car (no evaluation of sub-class offered).