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.
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Iron ore travelled on the PRR from the inception of the steel industry. Until the 1940's, when the import of ore made any significant impact, the majority of the ore came from the Misabe range of Minnesota and was shipped via boat on the Great Lakes to eastern ports.
Until the arrival of cars specifically designed for the weight of iron ore -- the G38's and G39's circa 1960 -- almost any class of hopper came into use. H21a's were the most prevalent on the system, followed by GLa's.
Since iron ore was significantly heavier than coal, these hoppers could only manage one "scoop" of ore placed directly over each truck. This is why photos of ore in hopper cars make the cars look like they are largely empty. Filling the car or loading the center of longer cars would cause the car to buckle under the load! (An overhead view of an iron ore-loaded H21a appears on page 70 of Pennsy Steam Years, Volume I.)
Ken McCorry wrote "The H-21 class was the biggest on the PRR until the H-39 came along in 1960. Since the import ore business started in Phila in 1954 my educated guess would be H-21'a , GLa, H-31, H-35. The PRR knew the H-21 fleet was close to the end of it's economic life in the early 50's. They built or purchased the H-35 in 1956 as a possible replacement for the H-21 fleet. The H-36 and H-37 class were also built as a possible replacement. While most railroads would build a few cars for a test the PRR did it in a big way buying 1000-1500 of some of the pre H-39 classes. By the end of the 50's the 70 ton car was the norm and the H-39 became the replacement for the H-21. The ore business also showed the weakness of hopper doors keeping ore inside the car so thats one of the reasons the G-38's were built. When pellets became the norm the steam lance holes in the 38's would leak a steady stream of pellets along the right of way. The G-38 also cubed out with pellets before it weighed out therefore the G-39 class.
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The P70 was the first of the Pennsy's 80-foot all-steel coaches. Over 1,000 of the cars were built by Altoona and several other car builders between 1907 and 1929. The early cars featured 88 seats, but as of 1926 they were built with 80 seats. Depending on the builder, some vestibule door windows were one solid panel where others had a vertical divider. A group of cars built by American Car & Foundry had larger vestibule windows.
The "P" prefix designates a "passenger" car -- a coach specifically -- and does not include "passenger baggage" (PB), "passenger baggage mail" (PBM), "cafe" (PC), or "electric cars and trailers" (MP).
The "70" designates the length of the passenger compartment. The P70 series was an 80-foot car less two vestibules leaving a 70 foot passenger compartment.
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From a Westerfield kit...
The Pennsylvania Railroad installed nearly 7,000 box cars in 1912-13 as an intermediate step between its steel underframe fleet of the first decade of the twentieth century and its all-steel fleet commenced in 1915. Pennsy converted 75 X23 box cars to war emergency cabin cars beginning in May 1943. Classed NX23 the cars were numbered 478520-478594. They were rebuilt consecutively at Altoona beginning May 24 and ending January 29, 1944. There were at least three physically different versions. The first car used vertical sheathing on the side and as with all subsequent cars, horizontal sheathing on the end,. A full X23 ladder was mounted to the right of the side door. Photographic evidence shows that some cars received partial (3-rung) ladders with two drop grab irons finishing the five runds. All of these cars would have been rebuilt from standard X23 box cars. A third variation used cars rebuilt with horizontal side sheathing and the removal of horizontal side braces. Such upgrades were performed on "raised roof" X23B box cars but it is certain that X23B's were not used for the cabin car conversions. No records survive to show how many of each type were built. These cars were painted freight car color on all surfaces. All extant photos show the cars originally lettered for WESTERN REGION so it is assumed that all cars were so assigned.
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Over the years, I have had the opportunity to operate on many fine model railroads, including...
- Bill Blackburn's PRR Great Valley Division
- Jim Clay's PRR Cumberland Valley Branch (deceased)
- Jim Dalberg's New Jersey Northern
- Tony Koester's Nickel Plate Road
- Steven Mallery's PRR Buffalo Line
- Bob Martin's Central Pennsylvania Railroad (deceased)
- Larry Reynolds' PRR Altoona Area
- Dave Rohrbaugh's South Penn Railroad
- Dave Trone's West Penn Railroad
- Jeff Warner's PRR/RDG/WM South Central Region
- Bob Zeolla's Conrail Conemaugh Line
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From a Westerfield kit...
The earliest reference to conversion of XL box cars to maintenance of way and crew cars (or camp cars as they were called by the Pennsylvania Railroad) is 1937. Blueprints were issued for standard sets of cars. One set entitled "four car unit for living quarters" included a riding car, two sleeping cars and a kitchen/dining car. Another entitled "four car unit wreck train" included a tool car, cable car, riding/locker car, and commissary car. A third showed wire train cars: a riding car with cupola and pantograph and a tool/material car. These were far from the only variations as photos reveal many others. The details, especially smoke jacks and vents were added from available supplies, resulting in standard cars on which almost nothing was standard. The Westerfield models are based on the blueprints in most cases as the plans reveal the position of internal details making the location of ventilators more precise.
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