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New York Central streamlined passenger cars-Colors, styles and roofs?

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New York Central streamlined passenger cars-Colors, styles and roofs?
Posted by Mjorstad on Saturday, August 03, 2019 11:18 AM

So I’ve been trying to find some appropriate postwar NYC streamlined equipment to put behind a Hudson.  However, after looking through photos and videos I’ve had some confusion over the variety of lightweight NYC cars I’ve seen.

 

So some of these cars are fluted and some not.  I’ve seen fluted and non-fluted roofs on the fluted cars (which I believe are part of the Budd postwar order?), with some fluted roofs appearing to be painted black, unless the lighting is just hitting them funny in the media I’ve seen.  I’ve also seen smooth-side cars and those usually have black roofs but varying colors on the sides.  

 

I’ve been using this website (http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/NYC-MODELS-PASS-PAINT.htm) as a source, and it’s been very helpful, but I haven’t been able to find explanations for the roof colors and variations in particular.  Does anyone have more information on these variations?  I would appreciate it if you could share them.  Thank you!

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, August 03, 2019 3:54 PM

Hello,

In quite general terms, you are correct that the fluted stainless steel roof is the product of the Edward G. Budd Company. Pullman Standard, American Car & Foundry, Pressed Steel and others used a flat sheet steel roof which was usually painted with an asphalt-based paint.

Over time this appeared as a grimy black. The Budd roof was not originally painted and they, too, became crusted with soot and road grime until they appeared to have a black roof coating but in reality they were not coated in any way until some developed leaks in later years.

The car cleaning machinery generally did not scrub the roof of the cars so the grime continued to build up. 

Many of the post-war passenger car orders were so backed up that in some cases it took two to three years to fill an order thus the railroads bought from several builders in order to fulfill the demand for new equipment.

Budd-built cars were made entirely of stainless steel and this method proved to add considerably to their longevity, many in service even after Amtrak assumed ownership. The Pullman and ACF built cars suffered from severe corrosion beneath the stainless steel sheathing as water migrated between the sheathing and the steel side sheets. Some railroads stripped off the fluted sheathing and made repairs, others merely scrapped the car earlier than expected.

Here's a look at three former NYC Budd cars now under Penn Central ownership. You can see that the roof "almost" looks painted but that is simply an accumulation of road grime.

 P-C_1000 by Edmund, on Flickr

Similarly, here's a look at a Budd 10-6 and diner where the roof may appear to be painted black however, this is only the build-up of grime:

 NYC_Dayton by Edmund, on Flickr

On close inspection you can see the uneven line where the car scrubbing brush does not reach much above the roof-rail:

 NYC_Dayton_edited-1 by Edmund, on Flickr

There were a few all-aluminum cars built for NYC by ACF where the roof was unpainted, smooth metal but these were the exception. I believe a few of the rebuilt "Harbor" cars made into Sleepercoaches did have a black painted roof, again being the exception rather than the standard.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by NHTX on Saturday, August 03, 2019 4:03 PM

NYC cars with "smooth" roofs are either Pullman-Standard or ACF built.   Budd built cars have the corrugated roof.  The roof color can vary from stainless steel to black, with many shades of grime in between. Checking photos of cars from all builders in Morning Sun's New York Central Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment Volumes 1 and 2, show the roof color to be a build-up of exhaust soot, road grime, and general atmospheric pollution that is not removed by the car washing machines.  Most of NYC's streamlined fleet possibly excepting the Budd slumbercoaches was old enough to have run behind steam.  That is why the older Budds have black roofs in many cases.  Look at the roof on most Budd RDC's.

On many cars the roof color does not come all the way down to where the roof joins the sides, giving a good indication the roof color is not paint.  Also the areas that would begin to be out of reach of the brushes show a scalloping of the roof color along the joints in the roof panels where they join the sides.  Southern Railway experienced the same situation with its streamlined cars.  The New York Central System Historical Society can give you a more definitive answer to your question. 

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Posted by Piper106a on Saturday, August 03, 2019 4:26 PM

Thanks for the answers.  I had been wondering the same thing about the 'black roof' Budd streamliners.

 

 

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Posted by chutton01 on Monday, August 05, 2019 8:39 AM

All these years, I just thought the NYC had gone with a rather cool* unpainted stainless & painted black roof scheme for most of their streamlined passenger fleet, and now I learn that in most cases it wasn't intentional, they just didn't wash the roofs...

*Cool as in slightly cold, menancing and post-industrial look silver and black, like the Oakland Raiders uniform colors or even the high-end home sound equipment of the 1990s...

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Posted by Autonerd on Monday, August 05, 2019 10:53 PM

Okay, but here's the bit I don't get -- I've only seen the black roofs on cars with dark gray letterboards. Cars that have no color on the letterboards sometimes have dirt on the roofs, but not to the point they look black. And while I look at *way* more NYC passenger cars than anyone else's, I don't recall seeing other roads' cars with a roof that looked that deep black.

The Canada Southern page Mjorstad mentions notes the dark gray letterboards added after the summer of '56, and adds:

"* As car roofs began to leak - some cars had F-1 car cement applied to roof to seal leaks ( F-1 car cement is BLACK ) "

Could that be what we're seeing?

Incidentally, Walthers reproduces some NYC and PC cars with a black fluted roof. Apparently NYC Sleeprercoaches were done with and without:

https://www.walthers.com/budd-streamlined-quot-slumbercoach-quot-24-8-sleeper-ready-to-run-new-york-central-black-roof

https://www.walthers.com/budd-streamlined-quot-slumbercoach-quot-24-8-sleeper-ready-to-run-new-york-central

Aaron

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Posted by Mjorstad on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 1:42 PM

Thanks all for the help!

As an addendum to the question above me, when did heavyweight coaches, diners, etc receive the two-tone grey scheme?  On the website it says 1953, but I see a lot of photos and videos with heavyweight cars painted in that scheme in the early 50s, and IIRC correctly some were taken before ’53.  Can someone clarify this?  Thank you?

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Posted by SPSOT fan on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 3:34 PM

While I know very little about the New York Central (or most eastern roads for that matter), I did notice that accumulated grime on roofs is reliatively common. I have seen pictures of SP&S cabooses with roofs so dirty that they appear black, when they really used to be red!

As far as modeling I've seen people both paint the roofs solid black or the original color, it just depends how dirty you want your cars to be!

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

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Posted by gmpullman on Wednesday, August 07, 2019 11:50 PM

Autonerd
Okay, but here's the bit I don't get -- I've only seen the black roofs on cars with dark gray letterboards.

Well, the gray letterboards came along right about the same time the Budd "Shotweld" roofing began to show signs of age — and leaking — so the roof cement was applied as needed. Seems like many of the coaches and parlor cars built for the 1941 Empire State Express were some of the first to get the asphalt cement treatment. 

Mjorstad
As an addendum to the question above me, when did heavyweight coaches, diners, etc receive the two-tone grey scheme?

In 1945 the Pullman Company began applying a nearly identical two-tone gray to many of their heavyweight pool cars. The earliest photo I've seen so far of NYC owned heavyweight equipment wearing the simplified two-tone gray of the 1948 design was taken shortly after this date in late 1949.

Most, but not all, of the head-end cars were simply a solid dark gray.

Two good references are the Pullman Paint and Lettering Handbook by Arthur Dubin and The Cars Of Pullman by Joe Welch, Bill Howes and Kevin Holland.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by Mjorstad on Thursday, August 08, 2019 3:29 PM

gmpullman

 

In 1945 the Pullman Company began applying a nearly identical two-tone gray to many of their heavyweight pool cars. The earliest photo I've seen so far of NYC owned heavyweight equipment wearing the simplified two-tone gray of the 1948 design was taken shortly after this date in late 1949.

Most, but not all, of the head-end cars were simply a solid dark gray.

Two good references are the Pullman Paint and Lettering Handbook by Arthur Dubin and The Cars Of Pullman by Joe Welch, Bill Howes and Kevin Holland.

Good Luck, Ed

 

 

Gotcha, thank you! That helps clear things up.

 

One more follow-up question to your answer: so was that two-tone initially only applied to Pullmans after the divestiture, and then the rest of the heavyweight fleet (diners, coaches, etc) in 1953 onward?  Or does this mean that NYC owned and operated cars also received the same scheme at the same time?  And for how long could Pullmans be seen in Pullman (or Pacemaker) Green after the war?

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, August 08, 2019 8:35 PM

The two-tone gray was used on pool cars well before the divestiture. I'll have to do some digging to get exact dates. Of course there were many other pool cars, some solid gray, many Pullman green and others in UP yellow or PRR Tuscan. It depended on where Pullman had the cars located and what lines the cars spent the majority of their time on.

The actual ownership transfer didn't take place until June 30, 1947. Not much visible change occurred, we're talking about 609 lightweight cars and the railroads had an option to buy 3,994 heavyweights at a steeply discounted, depreciated value.

The travelling public wouldn't have seen much of a difference, if any at all. Generally the dining cars were always run by the host railroad although Pullman did run some full diners and nearly all the club-lounge service.

The main difference in the New York Central's case was the replacement of the 7" PULLMAN lettering on the letterboard with New York Central. Cars that were leased back to the (new) Pullman Company then had a smaller 3" PULLMAN lettered at the car ends. Later this was removed as the leases expired and the railroads assumed more of the operation.

Many of the cars ran out their lives in Pullman green paint. Traffic was declining, more lightweight cars were available, railroads weren't going to invest in repainting heavyweights that were soon destined for the scrap line.

Again, this is all general information. There were certainly specific cars that were retained and cared for but these are the rare exception.

Hope that helps, Ed

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