When, where, and what equipment gave the smoothest ride?

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When, where, and what equipment gave the smoothest ride?
Posted by Miningman on Friday, November 16, 2018 7:54 PM

Perhaps some of us can remember or have ridden in 6 axle heavyweights. I'm sure Forum members Johnny Deggs and David Klepper have slept in heavyweight Pullman's. 

Back in 'da day', meticulous trackwork was the order of the day for major passenger carriers like the New York Central. Was that a game changer?

So I ask the gathered masses on the Classic Forum, ' just what combination of equipment, what time period and where was the ride incredibly smooth. 

Was it the route of the Century, C&O sleep like a kitten, Santa Fe's Super Chief, the hi-level equipment of the El Capitan or something else somewhere else?

Heaveyweights on stick rail gave a very smooth ride, despite the clickety clack from what I recall. Those beautiful cars with their plush seats were quite steady. Also I recall in 2009 on VIA equipment through Northern Ontario was like skimming over glass or ice from the dome car, exceptionally smooth, so older 50's equipment on welded rail, more a function of making double stacks happy than the folks, but man that was smooooooth. Took the Lakeshore Chicago-Buffalo 2004 in a sleeper and that was horrendously rough and rattled and shook every which way. Worse around the Cleveland area but overall very nasty. Exhausting.

So is there a definitive answer?

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, November 16, 2018 8:21 PM

Miningman

Perhaps some of us can remember or have ridden in 6 axle heavyweights. I'm sure Forum members Johnny Deggs and David Klepper have slept in heavyweight Pullman's. 

Back in 'da day', meticulous trackwork was the order of the day for major passenger carriers like the New York Central. Was that a game changer?

So I ask the gathered masses on the Classic Forum, ' just what combination of equipment, what time period and where was the ride incredibly smooth. 

Was it the route of the Century, C&O sleep like a kitten, Santa Fe's Super Chief, the hi-level equipment of the El Capitan or something else somewhere else?

Heaveyweights on stick rail gave a very smooth ride, despite the clickety clack from what I recall. Those beautiful cars with their plush seats were quite steady. Also I recall in 2009 on VIA equipment through Northern Ontario was like skimming over glass or ice from the dome car, exceptionally smooth, so older 50's equipment on welded rail, more a function of making double stacks happy than the folks, but man that was smooooooth. Took the Lakeshore Chicago-Buffalo 2004 in a sleeper and that was horrendously rough and rattled and shook every which way. Worse around the Cleveland area but overall very nasty. Exhausting.

So is there a definitive answer?

 

Sad to say, I never slept in a heavyweight Pullman. My first trip by Pullman was in January of 1962--a roomette from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to Birmingham. All of my nights in berths--upper and lower--were in lightweight cars.

I did spend several nights in heavyweight coaches; indeed one of the most comfortable nights I spent I slept on the seat next to the men's room in an OLD coach and was able to stretch out on the seat; there probably were newer coaches in the consist, but since I was riding on a pass I was put into an old coach. At that time, the Southern main was in good shape; I do not recall waking from soon after the train left Atlanta until we were up in North Carolina.

Also, going between Bristol and Chattanooga in heavyweights on the Birmingham Special, in the mid-fifties, I generally was able to stretch out with my feet on the seat opposite to the one on which I was sitting, and I slept well there, waking occasionally. The seat backs really reclined, and the footrests (if I did not have two seats facing) were good--not as good as legrests, though).

Johnny

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, November 16, 2018 10:34 PM

Thanks Johnny. 

Do you think, in your opinion or knowledgable expertise, that travel in the, say 1935 20th Century Ltd, was just as smooth or smoother, jolting and bumping free, and something that perhaps we have only or could attain again with modern technology? Or better yet in the 1939 version?  I actually did sleep in a heavy weight Pullman Toronto- New York but I was a toddler and don't remember much. Initial boarding and arrival in the concourse at Grand Central are misty snapshots and feelings, that's it. 

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, November 16, 2018 10:34 PM

In the early '70s I spent considerable time on the Clockers between NYC and Philadelphia, in the days between Amtrak and Amfleet.  By far the smoothest ride I can remember was in one of the old P70s ... velvet upholstery, bronze seat frames, concrete in the deck like a GG1.  You could distantly hear excitement as the wheels tracked crossovers and joints, but none of that was perceptible in any axis of motion, and the generally dim lighting added to the soporific effect.

I presume this was one of the P70s with rebuilt trucks, but had no way to verify that at the time.

On the other hand, the WORST ride involved a stretch rebuilt with concrete ties, and an Amfleet consist: the ride and vibration got so abrupt, so suddenly, that I thought for nearly a minute we had derailed an axle...

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, November 16, 2018 10:51 PM

On a family vacation in 1959 we went from Garrett, IN to Chicago on the Shenandoah to catch the Panama Limited to New Orleans, after several days a NOLA it was on to Jacksonvill aboard the Gulf Wind.  Renting a car at Jacksonville to enjoy a week at Daytona Beach and then coming back to Jacksonville to catch the Silver Meteor to Baltimore for several days with friends and family and then taking the Capitol Limited back to Garrett.  Pullman all the way.

All the sleeping accomidations were in lightweight cars and I don't recall any as being extreme, either good or bad.  That being said, one portion of the trip stands out in my memory from 59 years ago.  The diner on the Gulf Wind was a car named Crossed Key Tavern, a heavyweight, it rode like something that should have been called 'Square Wheels Tavern'.  The food was of reasonable, if not exemplary quality (what does a 13 YO know about food) but the ride was worth of the mechanical bull from Gilley's in Dallas.  It being a L&N car it got switched out at Mobile (I think - or maybe Flomaton), a SAL diner got switched into the train at Chattachoochee when it came onto SAL tracks.

Little did I know at that time but later in my career the route from New Orleans to Jacksonville as well as from Jacksonville to Savannah and Richmond to Washington would be part of the areas I would be responsible for.

         

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, November 16, 2018 11:18 PM

Thanks Overmod-- That confirms that heavyweights, concrete floors, solid seating, all their characteristics provided an exceptionally smooth ride, perhaps something taken for granted, just as a P70 was, and rarely matched today, at least in North America. 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, November 17, 2018 7:59 AM

"When, where, and what equipment gave the smoothest ride?".

July 28, 1939, New York Penn Station, Best Pacific K4s + Rebuilt P70s coaches - The Trail Blazer Cool

Although lightweight coaches of Santa Fe looked fabulous...

Confused

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, November 17, 2018 8:44 AM

When the hi-level El Capitan was being introduced, a trainload of equipment was brought to Washington DC for all the normal publicity trips.  With my fathers position with B&O our family got the opportunity to ride a dinner trip from Washington Union Station to Point of Rocks and return - very smooth riding equipment and a pretty good dinner as I recall.  Somewhere in my possessions I have a coin that was a commerative of the publicity trips.

         

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Posted by Jones1945 on Saturday, November 17, 2018 9:06 AM

Did you keep the coin? : )

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, November 17, 2018 10:00 AM

I am sorry, but I do not feel qualified to comment on ride quality outside the South until my first experience outside the South, which was in 1968.

I will say that the first experience of rough riding came four years ago, when I rode the Crescent from Washington to Charlotte and back, sleeping in a Viewliner both ways. Below Charlottesville, the I did not notice any special roughness, but above the Charlottesville the ride was rougher than any other I had experienced; I had trouble going to sleep southbound and woke about Charlottesville northbound. My engine trip from Reform to Aliceville and back on 10 mph track in December of 1970 was not as rough.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, November 17, 2018 1:13 PM

Jones1945
Did you keep the coin? : )

I have it somewhere, I just don't know exactly where!

         

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, November 17, 2018 1:18 PM

Deggesty
My engine trip from Reform to Aliceville and back on 10 mph track in December of 1970 was not as rough.

Have ridden too many engines on 'excepted track' where when the lead truck of the engine runs of the near rail joint, the far end of the rail visually kicks up a inch or two.  Needless to say this was at 10 MPH or slower.

         

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, November 17, 2018 4:00 PM

Jones1945 declares: "When, where, and what equipment gave the smoothest ride?".

July 28, 1939, New York Penn Station, Best Pacific K4s + Rebuilt P70s coaches - The Trail Blazer Cool

 

Also your admitted favourite railroad, train and equipment so I'm thinking a certain bias here!... but I could be wrong, maybe it was. 

All the glitteratie and swells on the 20th Century and the Super Chief would not tolerate rough track or equipment so I'm thinking those routes were better or at least the equivalent of anything we have today.

Not sure but I'm thinking  the Sante Fe likely never got put into a deferred track maintenance spiral, think they always maintained a high standard and kept impoving. They were always winning some kind of industry award. 

Not "The Water Level Route, You Can Sleep"....but could you??

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Posted by Penny Trains on Saturday, November 17, 2018 7:07 PM

Miningman
"The Water Level Route, You Can Sleep"....but could you??

Heck no.  I've never ridden a passenger train farther than 25 miles (50 round trip) on an excursion but I wouldn't be able to sleep.  Can't sleep on airplanes either, too exciting to be there!  Big Smile

Big Smile  I'm Cuckoo For Choo Choo Stuffs!  Big Smile

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Posted by rcdrye on Saturday, November 17, 2018 8:00 PM

The Hi-Levels' immediate predecessors were Budd-built 48 seat coaches built in 1953.  Smooth riding with the incredible Heywood-Wakefield Sleepy Hollow seats.  In Amtrak's Heritage Fleet era whatever shop rebuilt them retained the seats and much of the interior design.  Still a good ride in 1990 on the Lake Shore.

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, November 17, 2018 8:20 PM

My first experience in overnight travel outside the South had me going coach from Birmingham to Carbondale on the Seminole, thence to St. Louis on the IC, and up to Chicago in a parlor on the GM&O. I continued to Washington in a Slumbercoach on the B&O--and I went to sleep in Indiana and woke as we were leaving Cumberland. Having spent the first night sitting up in an IC coach, I was not at all surprised at my sleeping well the second night. this was in June of 1968.

I did sleep in NYC's version of Slumber coaches in 1969 and 1970- going from NYC to Detroit and going from  from Rensselaer to Chicago. Again, I slept well each time.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Sunday, November 18, 2018 3:15 AM

Miningman

Jones1945 declares: "When, where, and what equipment gave the smoothest ride?".

July 28, 1939, New York Penn Station, Best Pacific K4s + Rebuilt P70s coaches - The Trail Blazer Cool 

Also your admitted favourite railroad, train and equipment so I'm thinking a certain bias here!... but I could be wrong, maybe it was. 

 

No need to take my opinion too seriously on this topic, Miningman. Stick out tongue It was more like a wild guess than a declaration since I didn't even have a chance to ride on these legendary coaches and sleeper. But judging from the popularity of the train and the first-hand experience from Overmod (on a P70s with rebuilt trucks in the 1970s), rebuilt heavyweight coach like P70s should be good enough to provide a smooth ride, if not the smoothest. 

Your poster of Broadway Limited makes me rethink the different riding quality between lightweight and heavyweight coaches and sleepers. It reminds the story of B&O's decision of using heavyweight rebuilt cars for their premier train (I forgot which one) instead of their new lightweight cars. Maybe it was the reason why Pennsy kept using heavyweight sleepers on the General for a while after 1938. 

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, November 18, 2018 7:42 AM

B&O used heavyweight rebuilds for the Capitol Limited, National Limited, Royal Blue Limited and the Cincinnatian.

 

B&O purchased two lightweight train sets for the Abraham Lincoln and The Royal Blue.  The Abe operated on the B&O owned Alton between St. Louis and Chicago; the Royal Blue operated between Washington and Jersey City with connecting ferry/bus service to multiple locations in NYC.

Daniel Willard after first hand experience did not like the ride quality of the lightweight train set on the Royal Blue and had that train set sent to the Alton to pair with the Abe as the Ann Rutledge.  Thereafter, during Willard's reign, all B&O primere trains were 'streamlined' with heavyweight rebuilds, for both ride quality as well as economy.

After Willard's passing the B&O did order two lightweight streamlined train sets that included a low height dome car from Pullman Standard for the all coach Columbian between Washington and Chicago. 

         

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, November 18, 2018 9:29 AM

My first heavyweight Pullnan ride was in a camp special attached to the State-of-Maine, Grand Central Terminal - Concord, NH. age 6, 1938.  My last was in Dovyer Colony around 1990, Seattke - New York, vi\ the Pioneer, Cal Zephyre, and Broadway, with meals and sightseeing in LV 353.  Last standard gauge non-special ride, Boston - NY, NYNH&H "Dollar Saver Sleeper, 1960.  Then Newfy Bullet narrow-gauge sleeper 1968 or 1969  with Maurie Kleibolt.

Ride qualitiy was never an issue anytime in any heavweight sleeper.  For the very smoothest lightweigiht sleeper ride, I would say the the IC's Panama in 1958 and 1959.   But some of the roughest in 1969!   Sante Fe always gave a smooth ride in any kind of equipment.  I did not have any problems sleeping on either the Broadway or the Century in their all-Pullman days.

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Posted by Jones1945 on Sunday, November 18, 2018 10:07 AM

BaltACD--- Thank you for your pics and historical background of B&O's limiteds! Reminds me the "battle" between the Cincinnatian of B&O; designed by Olive Dennis, and the broken dream of C&O and Robert R. Young's: The Chessie. Too bad that the C&O Turbine didn't work out. We can only imagine the result of the battle between the Cincinnatian (using heavyweight betterment cars) and the never happened Chessis (using brand new lightweight equipment). 

Dave and Johnny--- It's very generous of you to share your first-hand experiences of traveling on different railroads and equipment! Thanks for that!

 

Robert R. Young's unrestrained gambling (Note the unmodified front end)

B&O's wisdom.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, November 18, 2018 10:34 AM

Plain fact of the matter was that C&O Turbine was an over-engineered nightmare, no-one could make it work, much less run it with any degree of skill.

N&W's "Jawn Henry" was a lot better, it did have it's bugs which could probably have been worked out, but since it didn't do the job much better than a Y6b, and no other railroads seemed interested in the concept, the N&W decided not to persue it. 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, November 18, 2018 11:32 AM

Firelock76
Plain fact of the matter was that C&O Turbine was an over-engineered nightmare, no-one could make it work, much less run it with any degree of skill.

Could have been made to work -- just no point in it.  Just like the Heilmann locomotive (and the TE-1 as a "65mph locomotive") the putative benefits of turbine-electric drive were just not there.  Even before carbon and water started to work their magic on an insufficient number of traction motors, and the relative lack of double-salient control made running the thing on any C&O profile worthy of that kind of single-unit power a likely one-armed paperhanger's exercise.

For more unworkability in large form factor, see Bulleid's Leader, the functional near-but-not-quite-equivalent of an M7 tank engine...

 

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, November 18, 2018 11:49 AM

David Klepper-- " Ride qualitiy was never an issue anytime in any heavyweight sleeper. "

Now that's the kind of definitive answer I was seeking. I believe a heavyweight car gave a far superior ride with less rattle. I was perhaps 8-10 last time I ride in a heavyweight with my mom to go into Hamilton and definitely with my grandma going on holidays to Port Dover. Later in life riding lightweight equipment, sleeping on board CPR 'Canadian' and Ontario Northland 'Northlander' also CNR 'Super Continenntal' things were just not quite the same. Plenty of lurching and resonance rattling of things, none of which I recall from heavyweight cars. 

Amtrak hi-level equipment, if seated up top, was smooth and so were dome cars if up in the dome. 

We can only imagine a heavyweight consist on the Century with well maintained and groomed  track, or even The Dominion or Milwaukee's west coast Olympian when heavyweight equipment was the standard. 

Thinking lightweight is ok when newer and well maintained to a very high standard and on perfect track.

So thanks David. Confirms what I suspected. 

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Posted by M636C on Sunday, November 18, 2018 4:32 PM

The smoothest ride I know of is that provided by the current suburban trains in Sydney, Australia. These trains, known as Millennium and Waratah trains, have a single airbag centrally on the truck, which flexes to allow rotation, and roll is controlled by huge torsion bars.

The older trains with two air bags per truck, one each side, can't match the ride of the new trains. There is no real difference between the power cars and trailer cars as far as ride is concerned. The power cars have most of the equipment at roof level, (apart from the traction motors) so being double deck have a high centre of mass.

I have only travelled in the oldest TGV trains and I found them and the Spanish Talgo IIIs to be rather disappointing, particularly when compared to the 1964 Mistral cars which I thought were very smooth (and not much slower than the TGV).

Some 50 years ago, I travelled in some twelve wheel sleeping cars built around 1913 to 1920, with steel frames and wooden bodies. These weren't particularly smooth, and did not appear to be satisfactory at 75 mph. Strangely, my own car had been experimentally fitted with trucks from the current suburban trailer cars, casr steel coil primary and secondary springs and reasonable friction damping. This was effectively the same as the 1962 sleeping cars and was better than the old six wheel trucks.

Peter

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Posted by mvlandsw on Sunday, November 18, 2018 6:34 PM

The smoothest ride that I ever had on rails was on a  Pittsburgh Railways PCC car. For about half a block it seemed  as if the car was floating on air.

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, November 18, 2018 7:50 PM

Come to think of it, I have had at least two rides in heavyweight sleepers--both were day trips.

In 1964, I rode from Nashville to Birminham via the old main line in a section sleeper; I do not remember anything particular about the ride.

In December of 1970, when the Southern was moving the 722 and 630 from Atlanta to Birmingham, I rode in Lake Pearl as far as Anniston (and rode 722 the rest of the way). Again, I do not remember anything about the ride quality.

I do not recall riding in Lake Pearl on any of the round trips out of Birmingham and back; on most of the trips I was working, guarding a vestibule.

Johnny

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 6:13 AM

I was hoping for some comment on the gradual deterioration of the IC Mainline track quality from 1958 to  1967.   Has it been put in better shape since?

All heavyweights were not the same.  Pullmans with six-wheel trucks, ACL dining cars, C&O "Imperial Chair cars," B&O heavyweight long-distance coaches, again all with 6-wheel trucks, ride quality was not an issue.

But I guess Pennsy original-truck P-70s, Erie Stillwells, Long Island Ping-Pongs really should not becalled heaveweights.  They did not ride well.  Except on excellent track.  (PRR did still have some ezcellent track post WWII.)  Thus the name for the LIRR Ping-Pongs.

I did not have much experience, but I have been told that Milwaukee lightweight coaches, with their own distinctive trucks, rode very well indeed.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 7:44 AM

Older suburban cars with 4-wheel trucks did not ride well on poor-to-fair track.  Silverliners rode better than MP-54s, and the New York Central lightweight "ACMUs" 1000s and 1100s rode better than the original MUs.  The New Haven "wash boards,"  4400s rode very well when new but were not maintained adequetly, and then the older MUs rode better!

Mention was made of a smooth ride on a Pittsburgh PCC.   This was possible with most of the PCCs on most of the system.  But there where some spectacularly bad-track sections, one center-reservation stretch (Ashland Avenue?  It began with an A, and was east of the downtown area, toward the junction where one changed to the sparce service to Trafford), where the car jounced from side-to-side, and the  operator limited the speed to about 15mph.  A situation never repaired until the Allegainy Port Authority bustitution.

A useful posting would be car weights with some note of the type of truck.


s

 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 10:05 AM

I wish I have a chance to ride on PRR and NYCRR's betterment cars. I want to know the different riding quality of Pullman 6-wheel truck and PRR built 6-wheel truck.

^Rebuilt Pullman Heavyweight.

^PB70ER baggage lounge car with PRR built 6-wheel truck

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Posted by M636C on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 4:28 PM

I did not have much experience, but I have been told that Milwaukee lightweight coaches, with their own distinctive trucks, rode very well indeed.

The trucks developed by Nystrom in the 1930s and 1940s were indeed very good. These looked superficially like the standard Pennsylvania equalised truck but in fact the beam linking the axleboxes was a separate subframe which located the axles and there were no normal hornguides.

These were adopted by SNCF in France as the standard for high speed passenger trains, and variations of them were used on all modern locomotive hauled coaches in France, many of which were permitted to do 200km/h (125 mph) on a daily basis.

I discovered this link with Nystrom in a 1950s copy of "Revue Generale de Chemins de Fer" which provided an illustration of various current types of passenger trucks. The design in question was called the "Milwaukee bogie". The French designs didn't look much like the American originals, since they were largely welded fabrications rather than castings as used in the USA.

I can personally vouch for the performance of these trucks at 200km/h on the "Mistral" and "Capitole".

Peter

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