Bowie Race Track Question(s)

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Bowie Race Track Question(s)
Posted by Miningman on Friday, April 13, 2018 1:23 PM

Todays Photo of the Day shows Pennsy trains at the ready at Bowie Racetrack in Maryland. 

Understandable with the E Units, but what is up with those 2 Baldwin switchers? It's December and there is snow on the ground so how were the cars heated? I find it hard to believe they were there to just do switching manoveres as these would be fixed consists for a special event. 

2nd Question is a a non Classic Quiz, quiz.

Something very extraordinary, a mystery that has NEVER been solved, occured at this racetrack in March of 1955. What was it that was found there?

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, April 13, 2018 9:23 PM

Miningman
Something very extraordinary, a mystery that has NEVER been solved, occured at this racetrack in March of 1955. What was it that was found there?

Be willing to bet someone could have solved this with a little applied research.  I confess I have always wanted to reproduce a prank of this particular scale and joy.  You are referring to the boat, are you not?

I suspect the Baldwins have been borrowed from an adjacent yard turn to do the work of the 'light' GG1 that was sent down the Princeton branch after all the trains on major football weekends.  There was a holdover yard just short of the stadium into which the trains pulled, each headed by a GG1 ... but of course there was no wye or loop for the trains to turn, and miles to back over uncertain iron to get out.  So the light GG1 would hook onto the back of one consist (becoming its head end going out) and the locomotive that had pulled it in (and had been heating it in cold weather) would be uncoupled.  That consist would leave, and the remaining GG1 would be moved to the next consist.  This would be repeated until all the trains had departed, leaving ... one light GG1 to follow them out.

The only problem with this hypothesis for Bowie is that the two switchers are elephant style, and even assuming they are in MU they will not be able to move the first consist off the E units that pulled it in...

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, April 13, 2018 9:58 PM

Yes indeed...the track opened to find out someone had placed a cabin cruiser floating on the infield water 'lake' ..mystery who did it and how never solved. 

Sort of like various Universities, Queens In Kingston being one, whose engineering students place the Deans car on the roof peak of the University for all to see. I suspect whatever Engineering U is nearby being the culprit. 

Sounds like a somewhat complicated and expensive (in terms of crews and time) move for the Pennsy but what can you do. 

Did the Pennsy have mobile steam generator only cars? Surely there was no steam generator in a switcher, even if it was a Baldwin. Don't think they had flexi-coil trucks for out on the road either. 

Amazing to be reminded how important, functional and service oriented railroading was back then, not that long ago really. 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, April 14, 2018 9:20 AM

The Bowie racetrack was originally opened in 1914 and was serviced by the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis electric trolley line.

When the WB&A was abandoned in 1935 the Pennsy built a two mile extension from their main line, but never electrified it, so obviously no GG1's ever went there.  They added eight platform tracks, plus a wye to turn engines, and engines only.

The trains going there were racetrack specials, so I'd suspect those Baldwin road switchers were part of the power for that particular train, the PRR used Baldwin road switchers on the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore line as well.

The Bowie track was the first in the East to introduce winter racing, so the heat in the trains had to come from somewhere.  More than likely those particular Baldwins had some kind of steam generator to suppply heat.

On the other hand, those switchers may have been there just to pull the passenger consists up to the far end of the staging tracks to allow room for the road power to couple on to the other end.

A cabin cruiser in the inland lake?  That's a good one!  Rates right up there with the guys in the "Power Mechanics" class my senior year in high school who took apart a Volkswagen, re-assembled it inside the school, and ran it down one of the hallways! 

Then there were they guys who went around the school one night welding the doors shut...

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, April 14, 2018 11:44 AM

Firelock--Great information, many thanks. Simply amazing that the Pennsy built all that to provide service to a racetrack. That would never happen today...the 'investors' and groups of their manipulated shareholders would have the vapours. Even if the racetrack paid for it.

So perhaps the switchers were the power?! Its not unheard of, but...would this be ok with the unions and also a few other things come to mind as well. Yes I do seem to recall articles/photos on their use on the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Line.

If the consists were only coaches, which is likely, they could just flip the seats if they have that feature. Even if they had a 'bar car' or parlour for the swells they could run it reverse, big deal. 

Sure would be fun going on the those trains with the rounders and railbirds for a day of horse racing. 

A VW in the hallways, I'm sure they had adequate ventilation to take care of Carbon Monoxide. Welding the doors shut is good...we have a welding class in our Trades School next building over...hmmmm..maybe I should take Matt out to lunch one day and 'suggest' a few things. 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, April 14, 2018 3:08 PM

I'm sure CO emissions never entered into the mechanic's minds, I mean, who worried about that stuff 40-plus years ago?

I'm not sure they even got punished.  Back in 1971 if they caught you doing something wacky in school that didn't involve drugs the "powers that be" weren't sure if they should punish you or give you a medal!  Yep, even back then, although "back then" is when "it" all started.  God help us.

Now they guys caught welding the doors shut, that was another matter!

Northern New Jersey, it's a whole 'nother world!

Glad you enjoyed my info on the Bowie Race Track.  I got it from an article in the Summer 2013  "Classic Trains," the one I've described as "The Big Interurban Issue."  The article's called "Bad Day At The Races" by Wiliam E. Hopkins, and it tells the story of the February 2, 1961 wreck at the switch off the PRR main line due to excessive speed, long story short.  Mr. Hopkins described the Bowie Race Track as a "...blue-collar, unpretentious, no-frills track..." so I doubt there were too many "swells" going there to play the ponies, but on the other hand, who knows?

Obviously the Pennsy thought there was money to be made running race track specials, and it must have proven true.

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, April 14, 2018 3:34 PM

Thanks again Firelock--I just recieved some information on the Bowie racetrack wreck ...seven dead ( one account states six),  50 injured. The pictures from the Baltimore Sun are horrific. 

The engineer took a 15 mph curve at 55 mph. Although an experienced engineer he had never been on this route before. He claimed the brakes  were inoperative but the recording devices told a different story. 

The 2 mile spur is gone with only a few tossed aside rotting ties left. Apparently the right of way is now a very rough trail and that only in spots. 

The racetrack still exists but not for the betting public. It is used as a training facility for thoroughbred horse racing.

I 'bet' it is a very nice area.   

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, April 14, 2018 5:36 PM

You know Vince, great minds must think alike.

I looked up the Bowie Race Track myself out of curiousity, and found out racing ended there in 1985.  It was then used as a horse training facility until fairly recently, but as of 2017 was an abandoned eyesore; overgrown, collapsing buildings, you name it.

The consortium that owns the property (and the Pimlico Race Track as well) has responded to local political pressure to clean the place up.  What the future plans are for the former racetrack are uncertain.

Wayne

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, April 14, 2018 7:12 PM

Geez sorry to hear that but not surprised. Horse racing has steadily declined everywhere with the popularity of casinos with their fast pace, glitz and glamour and their comps. 

Can't get the Racing Forum hardly anywhere any longer and you must have that. Folks say "you can get it on line" and I say baloney, what good is that...you need those 2 giant pages laid out in front of you all together so you can compare the entries for each race or its useless. 

At least we still have the Kentucky Derby, and several other key note races still. 

It is a big and important industry and I think it will stage a good comeback in the future. 

Now...about those Baldwins??

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, April 14, 2018 8:43 PM

Hmmm, Baldwin diesels.  Don't know much about 'em except some were pretty good, some not so good, some were flat-out flops, and by the time Baldwin really came out with a winner like the Sharknose it was too late, the battle had been lost.

Still, there's a place in Paulsboro NJ were the orphaned Baldwins went to live, it's SMS Rail Lines, an industrial and switching/delivery railroad with a big stable of Baldwin diesels.  They use 'em all the time and they love 'em!

Here's a roster, http://baldwindiesels.railfan.net/sms .

From what I've read SMS is very railfan friendly, they're proud of their Baldwins and enjoy showing them off.

Ah yes, the decline of interest in horse racing.  You think it's because we're running out of full-blooded Irish?  Who else would write a song called "The Galway Races?"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnkISSjcdko

My grandfather, that is my mother's father, was Irish and a big one for the "harses."  When we 'd go to the New Jersey State Fair he'd always disappear and head for the horse trials.  I'm sorry now I didn't go with him, I might have learned a lot.

By the way, see those girls in the video doing the Irish step dancing?  My mother used to do that when she was a young woman.  God help her if she tried it now, she's 89!   Or maybe she'd go with a smile on her face?

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, April 14, 2018 10:23 PM

Nice link re Baldwins. Thank you.  Always admired those Trona units working tirelessly out in the desert. Have 2 custom painted in N scale, highly kitbashed, not 'perfect' but came out pretty good and great paint job. 

I like Overmods explanation of how the trains were handled. If that is what Pennsy did in practice and handling in other locations you would think it highly likely thats is what they did here. 

On the other hand perhaps these are the trains lined-up ready to go as is and the 2 Baldwins are going to haul the trains a-la Pennsylvannia Reading Seashore lines. 1953 might be a bit early for this practice as Diesels were still new and Pennsy pride would not allow this. 

Still some steam around on the Pennsy as well but perhaps no infrastructure left on this division. I do not associate the PRR with Maryland at all so not too sure. 

Could it be that they just haul it the 2 miles to the main line junction where a GG1, E, or Bp20 is waiting. Thinking they could get away with no heat for 2 miles. 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, April 15, 2018 12:10 PM

I think we're at the point we need a Pennsy fan to sound off.

Concerning those race specials, and it's just a guess on my part, I'd guess they originated in Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, with stops between those points and the racetrack.  I can't see the PRR using a GG1 to haul a racetrack special to the track spur, then handing it off to a diesel.  It just wouldn't be an efficient use of the GG1, because then what do you do with it?  It can't just sit there waiting for the end of the racing day.

I could see, maybe, a GG1 hauling a racetrack special from the New York area if needed, but there's other horse racing tracks up that way so I can't see a track in Maryland holding any special attraction for the New York crowd, so in my opinion that also eliminates a GG1 for race track power.

Steam was disappearing pretty quickly on the PRR in that part of the country, the exception being the partly PRR owned New York & Long Branch commuter railroad in New Jersey.  PRR steam lasted there until 1957.

As I said, I think we need a Pennsy expert at this point.

And that 1961 wreck?  A lot of the uninjured survivors got off the train and slogged through the snow to get to the track!  They must have really needed their racing fix!

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 15, 2018 8:09 PM

I used GG1s only as an example of how the power was turned.  The situation was a bit less complicated at Princeton because, with the Gs being bidirectional, there was no need for a wye -- that would have been handled at Bowie by the wye 'just long enough for engines' (or by swapping cabs in E units MUed cabs-out, like the units at the left of the picture)

But the thing I can't figure out is all this reference to Baldwin 'road switchers'.  Those are not road-switchers, they are plain ordinary switchers and, I suspect, not very powerful ones.  I think there were only six (5978-9 and 9180-3) that even had MU in that era, and not even the famous Tuscan one at Sunnyside had steam generation ... which leads me to wonder if at least some of the 'race specials' even had train heat.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Monday, April 16, 2018 7:06 AM

Plain old switchers?  OK then, they were probably there just to work the yard tracks, I can't see running wintertime passenger trains with no heat.

Even the most fanatic horse race fan doesn't want to freeze on the way to the track.

We had a saying in the Marines, "You don't have to practice to be miserable!"

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, April 16, 2018 9:33 AM

Miningman
Firelock--Great information, many thanks. Simply amazing that the Pennsy built all that to provide service to a racetrack. That would never happen today...the 'investors' and groups of their manipulated shareholders would have the vapours. Even if the racetrack paid for it.

So perhaps the switchers were the power?! Its not unheard of, but...would this be ok with the unions and also a few other things come to mind as well. Yes I do seem to recall articles/photos on their use on the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Line.

If the consists were only coaches, which is likely, they could just flip the seats if they have that feature. Even if they had a 'bar car' or parlour for the swells they could run it reverse, big deal. 

Sure would be fun going on the those trains with the rounders and railbirds for a day of horse racing. 

A VW in the hallways, I'm sure they had adequate ventilation to take care of Carbon Monoxide. Welding the doors shut is good...we have a welding class in our Trades School next building over...hmmmm..maybe I should take Matt out to lunch one day and 'suggest' a few things. 

In the early 20th Century sporting events were limited, when compared against what is available today.  Horse Racing with parimutual wagering was big business.  Business railroads coveted.  While the PRR ran race trains to Bowie and most likely Delaware Park; the B&O ran race trains to Laurel, Charles Town and Delaware Park.  The race tracks coordinated their racing dates so normally only one track was operating at a time.

In the middle of the 20th Century a traditional part of TV Sportscasts was the reporting of race results and the pay outs for win-place-show of each race.

All of that has basically gone away in the 21st Century.  Horse race tracks are struggling for economic survival.  Bowie no longer is a active track, being used as a training track.  Laurel and Pimlico have limited dates.  While Pimlico still holds the Preakness (middle jewel of the Triple Crown) the track is in a less than prosporess section of Baltimore City and is having financial issues.

In efforts for financial survival the tracks have embraced various other forms of gambling that each state has legalized.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 16, 2018 3:59 PM

Firelock76
Plain old switchers? OK then, they were probably there just to work the yard tracks, I can't see running wintertime passenger trains with no heat.

What someone needs to do is look at the actual track plan and compare it with the direction these trains are facing.  If I am 'right' about what's going on, we are looking at the outbound-facing trains after the engines have been swapped to the outer ends of the consists on the left, and the Baldwins are pulling an intermediate consist forward so its engine can be moved or wyed as necessary to couple up to that end in a few minutes.  The train would be 'off heat' for the duration of the engine move, but no more.

It was simpler for GG1s to do the appropriate moves without any switchers for several reasons, one being relatively easy switch of cabs for bidirectional moves and another being high instantaneous and hourly horsepower; it is also true that Princeton was a long way for friction-bearing switcher power to be run! If you consider the fun inherent in trying to move consists with only E units and monkey tails, the idea of diverting a couple of likely-temporarily-idled industrial units to the task might be attractive even if 'double crews' were used...

It would be interesting to see records of how other facilities that used stub-end yards to access racetracks or other attractions handled the issue of turning the power.

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Posted by gmpullman on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 8:53 PM

Hello,

A track diagram may help.

I only have a small window of time at the moment. Perhaps I can come back later.

 Bowie_PRR2 by Edmund, on Flickr

 Bowie_PRR_TTb by Edmund, on Flickr

Regards, Ed

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 9:47 PM

Well, according to Ed's track chart the wye is capable of taking over twice the consist length that would fit into the longest track - it is indicated as 2215'.  Perhaps I am missing a decimal point if it is 'engines only'. 

I believe the tracks we see in the picture are the shorter ones, only a tad over 600' long.  Note the interesting ladder arrangements for alternating tracks.

We need an account of how this branch was worked on a typical race day.  I have more questions about how the engines would be turned than before -- were a couple of consists switched into the wye by the switchers, then their engines turned and staged on multiple standing trains? Was the whole train pulled and wyed and then backed into its track?

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Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 11:07 PM

Thank you gmpullman! Nice pamphlet and schedules too!

Now we have some options. Also with that wye capable of turning the whole consist, which maybe they didn't, it really brings up 'why the Baldwins'?

It was an hour locomotive transit time to Philadelphia, 1/2 hour to Washington according to the provided schedule. So the switchers must have been sent out from either of those 2 locations.

But with that big wye, why? ( see what I did there?, kinda spiffy eh!)

Ok serious...think we can rule out that the switchers were used as road power to haul a consist, even the 1/2 hour job to Washington.

As to the Cabin Cruiser found in the infield lake ....I suspect the Annapolis Naval Acadamy frosh initiation week, Or a graduating class.

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 4:53 AM

Back in the 1940's or early 1950's there was a Trains article on Bowie.  Those of you with the retrspective CD can look this up.  I believe from memory of the article:

The specials were powered to the racetrack by K4s.

They took turns backing into the wye to reverse to during the race; each consist in its turn.

There were specials from and to New York, and they changed engines at Wilmington, jsut like the through trains to Cape Charles that were still providing service at the time.

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 6:53 AM

Looking at the battery boxes on the Baldwins I can't help but wonder if the one closest to the camera is one of the Pennsy's RS12s.  The switchers most likely came from Baltimore, where a surprising amount of passenger switching was done.  PRR also had some local trains that operated from there on a couple of branches. Washington Terminal handled PRR trains at Union Station.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 2:09 PM

Interesting tidbit about the RS12.

The locomotive could be ordered with either a steam generator for steam heat, or dynamic brakes contained within the short hood. 

Is this the ah-ha moment?

If, if it's an RS12 ...thanks to rcdrye.

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Posted by NorthWest on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 2:19 PM

Looks to me like the trucks are different from the unit behind it as well...

Did any PRR Baldwin switchers have the train phone, or just the road units?

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 3:13 PM

Miningman
Is this the ah-ha moment? If, if it's an RS12 ...

... then you have to posit a passenger steam line on the trailing Baldwin, which is end-cab and clearly has switcher trucks.

I have a copy of Hahn's PRR Diesel Locomotive Pictorial volume 2.  Now that I have access to a larger screen to look at the picture, not only is that an RS-12, it's possible to assign it a number: 8776.  This was the second RS-12 delivered to PRR, and it had roller bearings, and MU connection ... oh yes, it was assigned to Baltimore.  If you look carefully you can see the ATC box in its 'recess' ahead of the battery box.

The other RS-12 equipped with Trainphone was 8975.

 Quite a few of the S-12s (17) that worked the DelMarVa peninsula had trainphone, some with distinctive antennas.  These units also had roller bearings and MU for road service.  Just to complicate things, ONE more had plain bearings, but trainphone, MU, and train control/cab signals, 8773 (later 8173)

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 6:16 PM

Dang And Blast! You are right.

Well David Klepper has weighed in...now I do have the complete collection disk along with most of the late 40's and all of the 50's actual issues so that's the next project. 

When I saw Davids post come up I was hoping he was going to confess to a secret vice of horse racing and made many a trip to Bowie behind those K4's and E's to both ride the train and play the ponies. Then we could get a definitive eye witness account. 

A picture is developing though and we will get to the bottom of this.

The Kentucky Derby coming up first Saturday in May. There used to be a huge railroad presence with that and I think still some private varnish but with the changes at Amtrak maybe thats over as well.

L&N was the huge player there with cars coming from all over the US. 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 7:23 PM

No, if David wanted to play the ponies he had two perfectly good tracks available to him up in New York, Belmont and Aqueduct, just a short train ride away on the LIRR.

And they're still there!  Although latest word is developers are sniffing around the Aqueduct property like a pack of hyenas. 

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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 8:15 PM

Overmod
Not only is that an RS-12, it's possible to assign it a number: 8776.  This was the second RS-12 delivered to PRR, and it had roller bearings, and MU connection ... oh yes, it was assigned to Baltimore. 

Very good information, Overmod.

If anyone would like to see a few photos of the steam generator, roller bearing equipped 8776 and her ilk, there is an issue of The Keystone Modeler (opens as a .pdf file) here:

 

http://www.prrths.com/Keystone%20Modeler/Keystone_Modeler_PDFs/TKM%20No.%2094%20-%20Autumn%202015.pdf

 

Scroll down to page 7. It is a review of the Bowser HO model but there is some prototype information as well.

I have a few dates I can add to the discussion, gleaned from an excellent article by Frank A Wrabel, in the PRT&HS Keystone Vol. 49, No. 4, Winter 2016, titled To The Racetrack By Rail: PRR Race Train Service in Maryland.

In 1936 PRR "tepidly" looked at the former WB&A route into the racetrack. Further property negotiations were ongoing to purchase land from the Massaponax Gravel Corporation in order to build a wye connection at Arundel (MP 118) which was completed Nov. 6, 1936.

Light bridges, a steep grade and tight curves hampered the siding. Nothing heavier than H8 or H9s 2-8-0s could be used on the siding.

A three year struggle to get PRR to improve service to the track was realized 9-23-1938, when a new siding entered service. Racetrack Specials, now powered by the new GG1 motors would originate in NYC, Philly, Baltimore and Washington and run to Arundel (Del).

Upon arriving the motors would be cut and three or four H class 2-8-0s would take the trains to continue to the racetrack.

The GG1s would be stored along the main line on the freight siding and wait for the return trip. The Hs would switch the cars and have them ready for the return trip after the 9th race.

WWII halts Bowie Races. Between 1938 and 1941 PRR felt a temporary block station was needed, named Center. From 1942 to 1946 no races were scheduled and the PRR needed every available passenger car to support War service.

When peacetime returned PRR upgraded the branch again and strengthened the two bridges and replaced many ties, reworked curves and installed a new block station, named Track. This allowed K4s to operate on the branch. 

One H9s was stationed at the track as a pusher and a shifter. The investment was working well for the PRR. PRR pressed former troop cars with wooden benches and older heavyweight coaches into race train service.

I hope that helps. More to follow as time permits and I don't want to plagiarize the author but just give a summary. Anyone interested in learning more and to see photos, would do well to find a copy of the above cited Keystone.

 Thank you,

Regards, Ed

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Posted by wanswheel on Thursday, April 19, 2018 1:27 AM
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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, April 19, 2018 10:20 AM

The only PRR roster I can find doesn't show a steam generator on PRR 8776, but Keystone Crossing's model has S/G vents and stack.  I doubt that the S12 had a steam line.

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