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Dirty PRR?

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Dirty PRR?
Posted by wobblinwheel2 on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 9:56 PM

After binge watching a bunch of vintage Pennsylvania Railroad videos on YouTube, I have a question: Why does it look like, particularly during the steam era, that the PRR didn't CLEAN ANYTHING...? Well,. I guess I'm paying more attention to the locomotives, and they are NASTY! I understand freight locos aren't always kept clean, but the passenger K4's, and the T1's all look like GARBAGE! I've seen a lot of UP, N&W, etc, passenger videos, and it appears they kept their stuff relatively clean. I would've thought the Prr would have had a little more "pride?" in the appearance of their passenger equipment. Is just an "illusion" from the old videos?

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 11:46 PM

I don't see how what you are seeing could be an "illusion".

It looks to me that railroads in the northeast (hopefully, with exception) gave up on appearances.  And that railroads in the west did not.

Generally.

In the early sixties, I rode passenger trains across the US.  In the east, it was visually depressing.  In the west, no.

I don't agree that PRR needed a little more pride.  That is, as they say, simplistic.

Sorta like saying a buffalo needs a little more pride as lions take him down.

 

 

Ed

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, July 20, 2017 12:40 AM

wobblinwheel2
, etc, passenger videos, and it appears they kept their stuff relatively clean. I would've thought the Prr would have had a little more "pride?" in the appearance of their passenger equipment. Is just an "illusion" from the old videos?

No illusion about it PRR was a filthy railroad..The mighty PRR just didn't care because it was always  in financial need and the paint they used was not the best color because it faded within months.

As a 18 year old student brakeman I was shocked to see the deplorable conditions the engines and cabins was in..

Any PRR Alco by '66 was considered a "O.T" locomotive because the of the high failure rate.

Larry

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Posted by Attuvian on Thursday, July 20, 2017 1:02 AM

BRAKIE
The mighty PRR just didn't care because it was always in financial need .  .  . 

Well, some of the western railroads didn't maintain that reputation for good looks.  In its later years my beloved SP really took a dive into dismal appearance.  Apart from the grime, one would think many of those "bloody nose" diesels had spent their winters back in the Great Lakes area where unwashed cars could rust out in five years.  Then again, coastal ops can produce the same result.

John

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Posted by DSchmitt on Thursday, July 20, 2017 3:35 AM

Attuvian
In its later years my beloved SP really took a dive into dismal appearance.

In the eary 1980's I compared SP ATSF & UP locomotives

SP faded and worn looking but clean.  ATSF clean, good looking.  UP looked good from a diatance, but painted over dirt. 

I also noticed track gang equipment

SP clean, generally appeared well maintained, some expedient repairs like damaged windows replaced by plywood.  ATSF filthy appeared to be poorly maintained, oil leaks etc.   UP clean and well maintained. 

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by JOHN C TARANTO on Thursday, July 20, 2017 9:00 AM

It wasn't just the PRR.  My beloved New York Central looked the same way, during the DECLINE of the steam era.  Have you noticed that most archival footage was shot during the "transitional period" when roads were replacing mainline steam with diesel?  It was like it finally dawned on railfans that steam was fading away, so there was a rush to capture as much as they could on film.  Unfortunatly, by this time maintance of steam was minimal.  More attention was given to diesels.

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Posted by oldline1 on Thursday, July 20, 2017 9:16 AM

I have to agree about the Pennsy having filthy equipment. Growing up near Baltimore during the 1950's-60's I spent a lot of time at Penn Station and around the city in yards and along the mainline. I also frequented the B&O locations around the city as often. The B&O stuff was always cleaner, not pristine. I remember a lot of GG1's coming by where it was virtually impossible to read the name or numbers. Often the number on one end would be wiped clean enough to read. Watching them switch out head end cars at the post office was the same. So many B60's and X29 express boxes and all were just solid grime.

My Grandfather worked in the station many, many years ago and the station was called Union Station then as they shared it with the Western Maryland. He said when a WM passenger train pulled in and stopped the engineer would get down and oil his K-2 Pacific and the fireman would go out the front of the cab and continue wiping down the boiled with waste. Every time they would stop the fireman would pick up where he left off. He said the PRR crew would sit in the cab with their feet propped up and just laugh at them. 

Look at all the zillions of Pennsy books and you can hardly read any names or numbers on the steamers. Steam was dirty and picked up a lot of grime traveling down the line but it seems the Pennsy was about the worst.

In fairness, most railroads with many mountains and tunnels on certain divisions exhibited the same tendency to have funky engines and cabooses even those noted for clean equipment. 

Not picking on the Pennsy as it's one of my favorite roads but pictures DO tell the story.

Roger Huber

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, July 20, 2017 9:31 AM

D&RGW did try to wash their diesels during until the late 1980's but it operated in a tunnel environment and things got sooty and grimy pretty fast.  After the merge with SP in 1988 things went down hill and eventually people started referring to Rio Grande as Real Grime.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by Attuvian on Thursday, July 20, 2017 11:50 AM

Good observations about the effects of tunnel ops, whether steam or diesel.  But this entire thread kind of hints at what is likely the more critical issue: did inattention to surface dirt and grime always accompany poor maintenance of the innards and essential operating components? I'd bet that sooner or later it did.  And can associations also be made with the level of maintenance of right of way and facilities?  Again, sooner or later.  I'd be willing to bet that the overall purchase cost of equipment pales in comparison with the cost of its maintenance.  And I'd bet that good railroad bean-counters and CFOs were mostly bald, both not from genetics. 

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Posted by DSchmitt on Thursday, July 20, 2017 8:35 PM

Attuvian
thread kind of hints at what is likely the more critical issue: did inattention to surface dirt and grime always accompany poor maintenance of the innards and essential operating components

Probably mostly true but there were exceptions.

 A true story in Trains by a Fireman about his last run on steam.  His Division had been dieselized for a long time so he was dismayed to find a filthy decrepit looking steam locomotive assigned to the train that was running over an hour late. The locomotive type had once been the pride of the railroads fleet. 

After checking out the operation of the locomotive, they were soon running at the speed limit until the came to a many miles long neary straight section of the Division where they accelerated to over 100 miles/hr.  The Dispatcher apparently saw what they were doing and cleared the path.  All signals were green where normaly that would have not happened.

They arrived at the next Division point on time where they were verbally chewed out for violating the speed limit.  The matter was then "officially" forgotten. 

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Saturday, July 22, 2017 11:55 AM

About the regional difference in grime level.  Weren't most of the western (especially southwestern) lines oil fired?  Oil can be controlled for a clear stack a lot more easily than coal.  And PRR coal was not the best quality.  I've heard it referred to as, "Real estate," due to the quantity of dirt and clinker it contained.

Grime on a steam locomotive is like grime on the hood of my pickup.  It has no affect on operation.  As long as the piston and valve rods are shiny and the bearings are lubed, it can run.

Once committed to diesels, even the relatively pristine N&W let their steam slide.  I have one photo of a Y6b with a smokebox front that's half grunge and the other half rust, taken a few months before N&W dropped their last fire.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964 - grunge-colored steam burning poor quality coal)

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Saturday, July 22, 2017 12:14 PM

This doesn't have a whole lot to do with the subject at hand, but I've always heard that eastern coal is 'stickier' than western coal. Whether it's higher sulphur content or 'tarier' deposits . . . I don't know. Might just be apocryphal.

Robert

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Posted by Attuvian on Saturday, July 22, 2017 2:05 PM

Grew up learning that there were two major kinds of coal, anthracite (hard) and bituminous (softer).  The hard stuff was to have burned hotter and left less residue and the bituminous was not as efficient in operations and much dirtier.  Just checked Webster and it says that the latter "yields a pitch or tar when burned", so there you have it for more grime and smoke.

I'm not sure about the geographic distributions of the two types but seem to recall that coal itself was more prevalent as an easily marketed commodity east of the Mississippi.  I suppose that not only that was a consideration of what a particular line burned but distribution, cost and other market factors as well.

Wonder how early the bigger western lines (NP, SP, UP, ATSF, etc.) went to oil.

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, July 22, 2017 2:45 PM

Attuvian

 

Wonder how early the bigger western lines (NP, SP, UP, ATSF, etc.) went to oil.

 

The NP, for one, never did go to oil.  They had a source of coal, and stayed with it.

I think all of UP's steamers were delivered as coal burners.  And their last ones were during the early forties.  I believe, generally, that UP used oil conversions on the locomotives that went up to Portland/Seattle and down to LA.  Thus, there were Northerns and Challengers fitted for oil burning.  The 4-12-2's and 4-8-8-4's never were thus fitted.  And they stayed away from the west coast.  Some of UP's locos were converted back and forth, depending on supply.

For the Santa Fe and the SP, I would imagine the oil conversions started about the time Southern California became big oil producers.  Note, by the way, that SP had coal burning non-cab-forwards:  class AC-9.

GN was heavily into oil burning in the west and coal in the east. 

SP&S was exclusively oil burning.  I don't know Milwaukee.

 

In summary, I expect western roads that didn't have a ready source of coal were very willing to burn oil WHEN it became readily available.

 

 

Ed

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, July 22, 2017 3:14 PM

Thumbing through an excellent book by Edwin P. Alexander, "American Locomotives, a Pictorial Record of Steam Power 1900-1950" brings up some interesting info:

 

ATSF bought 86 compound 2-10-2's in 1903.  40 were coal and 46 oil.

 

WP bought, in 1909, some 4-6-0's (20) fitted for oil.

 

SP bought a 2-8-8-2 (SP 4000) in 1909 fitted for oil.  And in 1910 bought cab-forwards, necessarily oil burning.

 

I am surprised that use of oil was that early.  But there you are.  Here's a bit of a chat on early oil firing dates:

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?10,2250295

 

Note that a railroad wasn't necessarily ONLY an oil burning road.  GN, SP, UP were certainly mixed.  And so, apparently, was the Santa Fe in early years.

 

Also, the Burlington was, I think, an exclusively coal burning road.  And also the D&RGW, I'm pretty sure.

 

Ed

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Posted by Attuvian on Sunday, July 23, 2017 1:21 AM

Thanks, Ed, for your research.  Glad to be better informed because of it.

John

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Posted by ndbprr on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 5:16 PM

I think you guys are being a little hard on the  PRR.  In nearly every case the mail was cut off and switched to the post office particularly Philly and New york  So mail cars never made it to Sunntyside where the trains were run through the car washer.  Since most of the name trains left New York in the evening arriving Chicago early morning pictures were hard to come by.  The Broadway was always spotless when my father rode it as were all the other name trains.  Clockers are a different story as they rarely had down time.

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Posted by oldline1 on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 5:36 PM

ndbprr
I think you guys are being a little hard on the  PRR. 

I'm a Pennsy fan and modeler so I don't think I'm being too hard on the Pennsy. I'm just stating what I observed in my railfanning around Baltimore during the 1950's-'60's. Most of the passenger cars coming through the station and out on the ML I observed were fairly clean. Most of the diesels and electrics were filthy to the point names and numbers were generally not readable. Cabin cars varied greatly as to cleanliness. Head end cars were usually the worst looking and I'm sure that's because they would have been removed and expedited to the USPO. Photos of Pennsy steam (that I unfortunately missed completely) show the same filthy conditions after the 1930's. I have many dozen books, videos and photos that attest to that.

Roger Huber

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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 6:53 PM

While not steam this was the PRR I went to work for in '66. The photo was taken in '64..Notice the hump rider?

 

Larry

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Posted by oldline1 on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 7:27 PM

Wow! Memories of sitting at the top of the hump at Bay View Yard watching the guys riding the cars down the yard. Big ALCo's chugging away! Man, do I need a Time Machine and a one way ticket!

Roger Huber

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Posted by NHTX on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 10:15 PM

     The post war years were hard ones for most railroads. After waiting years to dieselize, they were not going to spend any money on steam and simply ran the remaining steamers right into the scrapyard.  The diesels were kept shiny until the novelty began to fade and passengers headed for the Chevy or airport instead of the depot.  Improvements in highways (government funded!) bigger and better trucks began killing branchlines, shortlines and railroads that maybe shoulld have never been built.  All of these factors contributed greatly to the lack of polish on all but a few lines.  The  lines that were in the region on the eastern end of the PRR also had to cope with onerous tax burdens.  Add all of this to the winters where washing equipment was an exercise in futility until late April or May and maybe the B&M, New Haven, NYC, PRR and others had good reasons they were not squeaky clean.  Even today, there are a lot of ratty looking class one diesels roaming the country.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, July 27, 2017 10:14 AM

NHTX
Add all of this to the winters where washing equipment was an exercise in futility until late April or May and maybe the B&M, New Haven, NYC, PRR and others had good reasons they were not squeaky clean.

Take a closer look at my photo..Those engines are about two years old and already look like they seen better days.

This photo was taken the following day and shows a difference between PRR and NYC.

Larry

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Posted by kingcoal on Thursday, July 27, 2017 1:03 PM

Railroads in general were a dirty endeavour in the era of steam. The prevelance of coal on the property was a significant reason for this, along with the lubrication technology of the time (look at well used steam era track and note the trail of what I'd suppose in journal oil waste), steam condensation attracting dust, etc.

Don't despair for the Pennsy, though. Take a look at the GodFatherRails website and rejoice in the equipment you see in John Dzioko's early '50's photos of the Standard Railroad. It appears they made an effort to keep a little sheen on the property, despite the hard financial times.

A little grime reflects a heavily used property. I like that.

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, July 27, 2017 6:44 PM

I don't know... Almost all pictures I see of railroading looks dirty to me.

.

It has aways interested me that model railroaders like to "weather" everything. However, when we weather stuff we make it look old, rusty, dilapidated, or in poor repair. We don't generally make things looks "dirty" or just well used. Dirty, seemed to be the norm, weathered was a bit more unusual from what I can find.

.

I tried to weather a car for the dirty well used look once, and it just looked dusty. I did not like it.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Thursday, July 27, 2017 7:24 PM

The world was a dirtier place.  The more urban, the more dirty too.  Even in my memory, urban places were filthy.  They're cleaner now.  I remember my dad telling me that the first time he ever visited my mom's family in PA was in the winter of 1978.  He said the first thing that struck him was that EVERYTHING had coal dust on it, even the snow.

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