The ‘tough’ part of working for Trains: a day on the Quad Graphics private cars

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lounge area of the Silver Chalet. Jim Wrinn photo.
Northbound CN freight at Sussex, Wis., from the back platform of the Silver Chalet. Jim Wrinn photo.
Another northbound CN freight from the dome of the Silver Chalet. Jim Wrinn photo.
Quad Graphics private train. Wouldn't an E-unit or an F-unit look great on the point? Jim Wrinn photo.
A southbound CN train passes the Silver Chalet, temporarily emblazoned with our Trains logo thanks to Associate Editor Steve Sweeney. Jim Wrinn photo.
Production Editor Angela Pusztai-Pasternak highballs a northbound CN trains with NS power. Jim Wrinn photo.
SUSSEX, Wis. – I like to think that I work hard. I know the Trains staff works hard. But I have to admit, some days at Trains are so embarrassingly good that what we do doesn’t seem like work at all.

Such was the case Wednesday when we held our annual staff planning meeting on board a private car that belongs to our printer, Quad Graphics. Our meeting site was a 1948 stainless steel dome car built for the legendary California Zephyr. Today, it and three sisters serve as a stationary meeting place for the printing firm, and the cars make trips behind Amtrak trains from time to time.

On one of the coldest days of this winter, we settled into the warmth and charm of the Silver Chalet, a 1948 Budd product for Western Pacific that passed through Burlington Northern and Amtrak before going into private ownership in 1981. At some point, the car got a round-end open platform, making it a bit odd but still possessing tremendous charm. Quad takes good care of this car and three others, Silver Shore, a 1948 Budd built 10-6 sleeper made for the Burlington and now configured as a sleeper/kitchen/lounge; Silver Lodge, a 6-4 sleeper built for Burlington in 1952; and Silver Express, a 1950 Budd baggage dorm that today includes a bar and dance floor. I call it a party car. The four-car set is stunningly beautiful. Heck, all you need is an E- or and F-unit and you’ve got a pocket streamliner.

We spent the morning in the Silver Chalet’s lounge, enjoying the swivel rockers and a constant parade of Canadian National freights on the adjacent main line. While we discussed ways to improve the magazine and Web site, we were one comfy crew, munching on bagels and drinking juice. Amazingly, everyone stayed awake, even after lunch when we moved to the dome. Our afternoon meeting went well, and CN once again provided a slew of trains, most with one unit up front and one buried in the middle.  We also could observe the Union Pacific’s Adams Line from our lofty perch.

Even though the train wasn’t moving, the Silver Chalet proved to be a magnificent office for the day. The only bad part came when we had to leave and go home for the day. Maybe we can move the weekly staff meeting here.  I think I will check.

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