Railworks X30

The PRR built one X30 class 70' 6" box car in Sept. 1931 for the express purpose of shipping fire equipment from the American LaFrance plant in Elmira, N.Y. It was designed to haul their longest, at the time, ladder truck from the plant to any destination on the continent. It featured double 6' Youngstown doors, an end door. As built, the lettering read "EXPERIMENTAL" but was shortly thereafter changed to "AUTOMOBILES".

This car has been produced in brass by Railworks.

 Bowser X32

In 1932 the PRR designed boxcars that would be specifically used for the automobile industry. To maximize capacity they used a new unique roof design, where it curved at the edge, termed a “round roof” or “wagontop”. The X32 and X33 classes were both 50 '6" cars with staggered doors. The X33 differed from the X32 in that it also had end doors. Both X32 and X33 cars were built in 1933. Then, in 1936 after some design improvements, the X32a and X33a classes were constructed. While the X33 class was specifically designed for carrying finished automobiles, the X32 boxcar classes, while designed to haul finished automobiles also hauled auto parts around the country as well. The resulting need for specific service X32’s resulted in different batches and classes being built, which introduced the X32b class. In 1940 auto loading racks were applied to some X32b, which created the X32c class. Finally, starting in 1953 through to 1956, X32a/b/c boxcars were rebuilt with a single door into the X32d class.

Although considered large capacity when first built in 1933, line side clearance improvements made the cars obsolete, so in 1959 the PRR stripped the superstructure of 1,000 X32 and X33 subclasses cars to build their X51 class of boxcars. By April of 1968, the PRR only had less than a dozen X32/X33 cars in revenue service. (Source: www.mountvernonshops.com)

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Tangent Scale Models G31B

The G31 series were the first post-war gondolas, introduced in November 1948. The class featured a 52'-6" interior length and a fishbelly design. These cars lasted well past the Penn Central merger. Sub-classes ran from A through N and included multiple builders and spotting features.

Alco Pass Shark

Freight Locomotives

Baldwin DR 4-4-1500 "Early Shark", Class BF15 / BF15a

The Baldwin DR-4-4-15 was a 1,500-horsepower cab unit-type diesel locomotive built for freight service by the Baldwin Locomotive Works between November 1947 and June 1950. It was produced in two different body types, nicknamed the "Babyface" and "Sharknose" styles by railfans, though Baldwin used the same model number for both. 22 "Babyface" cab-equipped A units were built, along with 11 cabless booster B units; 36 "Sharknose" A units and 36 B units were constructed, making a total for all models of 105 locomotives built.

robert gunnarssonbill caloroso 

The Northern Central Railway (NCRY) caught my attention early in my love for the Pennsy. Two excellent reads on the line are Robert Gunnarsson's The Story of the Northern Central Railway and Bill Caloroso's Pennsylvania Railroad's Elmira Branch (pictured above).

The Northern Central Railway was a Class I Railroad connecting Baltimore, Maryland with Sunbury, Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna River. Completed in 1858, the line came under the control of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) in 1861, when the PRR acquired a controlling interest in the Northern Central's stock to compete with the rival Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). For eleven decades the Northern Central operated as a subsidiary of the PRR until much of its Maryland trackage was washed out by Hurricane Agnes in 1972; after which most of its operations ceased as the Penn Central declined to repair sections.


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.

Paragon2ReadingT120130912 0002.1The Pennsy was known to operate on its rails locomotives which it did not own. These inclued railroad test units, builder test units, demonstrators, and leased units.

Railroad Test Units

July and August, 1924: The PRR borrowed a 37-ton GE gas-electic at the piers in New York City.

1937: The PRR borrowed an EMC 600 hp switcher for potential use at the General Motors plant in Linden, New Jersey. The Pennsy purchased the unit afterwards -- Class ES6 #5911.

1947: The Pennsy tested an F-M H20-44 as a potential helper west of Altoona. They eventually went with EMD F3's for this purpose, in an A-B-A configuration.

I consider the following Pennsylvania Railroad model railroads to have a high degree of fidelity to the prototype. They are not freelance, protolance, etc., but depict specific locales on the Pennsy based on historic documentation with a minimum of "modeler's license."

Those in bold I have had the opportunity to operate on. Those in italics are on my "bucket list" to visit.

 Alco RS3ph1a

Alco RS-1, Class AS10s / AS10am / AS10ams / AS10as

The ALCO RS-1 was a 4-axle road switcher diesel-electric locomotive built by Alco-GE between 1941 and 1953 and the American Locomotive Company from 1953 to 1960. The Montreal Locomotive Works built three RS-1s in 1954. This model has the distinction of having the longest production run of any diesel locomotive for the North American market. The RS-1 was in production for 19 years from the first unit Rock Island #748 in March 1941 to the last unit National of Mexico #5663 in March 1960.

prr9456 mp

FM ERIE-A / B, Class FF20 / FP20 / FP20a

The Erie-built was the first streamlined, cab-equipped dual service diesel locomotive built by Fairbanks-Morse, introduced as direct competition to such models as the ALCO PA and EMD E-unit. As F-M lacked the space to manufacture the units in their own plant, the work was subcontracted out to General Electric, which produced the locomotives at its Erie, Pennsylvania, facility, thereby giving rise to the name "Erie-built."

PRR GP7 8553 1

Four Axle General Purpose (GP) Road Switchers

The following tables illustrate the various spotting features of EMD GP7 and GP9 units purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The basis for these tables are from a Jim Williams presentation at the May 2000 annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society.

EMD GP7 vs. GP9

  GP-7 GP-9
Build Dates October 1949
- May 1954
January 1954
- December 1959
Horsepower 1500 1750
Louvers at Rear of Car Body 2 Full Rows 1 Single Louver
Louvers on Battery Box 3 Single Louvers 1 Louver



The Track Segment series documents track segments as indicated in the CT1000 of 1945 in conjunction with the Employee Timetables of 1954. Where available, locations indicated may link to a corresponding On Location series article for more detailed information.

The On Location series takes a deep dive into a Pennsylvania Railroad location as indicated within the CT1000 - List of Stations and Sidings.

The Interchange series contains articles about railroads that interchanged with the Pennsy, including fleet statistics and paint schemes with era-appropriateness guidance.