Why Beech Grove? Why does Amtrak have a repair shop in the middle of Indiana not on a main line

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Why Beech Grove? Why does Amtrak have a repair shop in the middle of Indiana not on a main line
Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Friday, August 04, 2017 1:41 PM

Whats the history here and why Beech Grove? Why not have the main car shop in Philly or Chicago?

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, August 04, 2017 7:11 PM

What car shops were there in Chicago and Philadelphia?

The New York Central had a shop in Beech Grove--and it was closer to the center of long distance car usage than any other existing shop. So, why build a new car shop instead of using an existing faciilty? At the time that this facility was chosen, there was daily passenger train service to Indianapolis.

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Posted by n012944 on Friday, August 04, 2017 7:49 PM

Deggesty

 At the time that this facility was chosen, there was daily passenger train service to Indianapolis.

 

 

There still is.  

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Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 05, 2017 9:55 AM

Deggesty

What car shops were there in Chicago and Philadelphia?

The New York Central had a shop in Beech Grove--and it was closer to the center of long distance car usage than any other existing shop. So, why build a new car shop instead of using an existing faciilty? At the time that this facility was chosen, there was daily passenger train service to Indianapolis.

 

Didn't the PRR build and maintain passenger cars around Altoona?  The Milwaukee Road built superb cars in Milwaukee.  The C&NW had its California Avenue Shops.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, August 05, 2017 6:10 PM

I think thier we're few reasons why Amtrak selected the former  beach Grove shop.

Fisrt it was a major NYC shop, that did major over hauls on steam, diesels freight and passenger cars. The shop was  also large enough to handle the ex atsf hi level cars and future super liners cars ordered in 1974.

The shop was Centrally located on two Amtrak lines, NYC to KC, the National limited. And the Chicago to Cincinnati  James Whitcomb riely, which morphed into the wasington- chicago  George Washington and later the Cardinal.

I think the Penn Central opted to keep the former Altoona shop for its own. Making beach Grove surplus.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, August 05, 2017 7:22 PM

schlimm
Didn't the PRR build and maintain passenger cars around Altoona?  The Milwaukee Road built superb cars in Milwaukee.  The C&NW had its California Avenue Shops. Add Quote to your Post

Off topic a little but....

A lot of the Milwaukee's equipment was auctioned off locally and formed the basis of firms such as Northern Railcar (not sure if it is still in operation).    Avalon Railcar just West of Miller Stadium and the VA grounds on the former Milwaukee Road Airline stub did the VIA Rail Canada Prestige Class cars along with some other rebuilds recently..........Wikipedia says Avalon Railcar was formed by former employees of Northern Railcar in 2000, they are still doing fairly good business in 2017 with mostly private and museum railcars but some public firm railcars as well.

If the state ever gets into the owning passenger cars they have a decent firm in Milwaukee to contractually maintain them fairly close to the Amtrak Depot............they do not need Talgo, even though Talgo is now rebuilding subway cars for someone in Milwaukee at the same former Tower Automotive plant they whined about not being able to use in the lawsuit with the State of Wisconsin.   The Tower Plant is the former A.O. Smith plant that used to make auto frames for Detroit and I believe it is accessed via the former Milwaukee Road North line that branches off the main at North Milwaukee.  

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, August 05, 2017 7:46 PM

ROBERT WILLISON

I think thier we're few reasons why Amtrak selected the former  beach Grove shop.

Fisrt it was a major NYC shop, that did major over hauls on steam, diesels freight and passenger cars. The shop was  also large enough to handle the ex atsf hi level cars and future super liners cars ordered in 1974.

The shop was Centrally located on two Amtrak lines, NYC to KC, the National limited. And the Chicago to Cincinnati  James Whitcomb riely, which morphed into the wasington- chicago  George Washington and later the Cardinal.

I think the Penn Central opted to keep the former Altoona shop for its own. Making beach Grove surplus.

 

And, if Penn Central chose to keep the  Altoona shop, it obviously was not available for Amtrak to use.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, August 05, 2017 8:25 PM

Deggesty
obviously

that is correct . Also Beach Grove was NYC primary passenger cars shop.

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Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 05, 2017 9:15 PM

Deggesty
I think the Penn Central opted to keep the former Altoona shop for its own. Making beach Grove surplus.   And, if Penn Central chose to keep the  Altoona shop, it obviously was not available for Amtrak to use.

As I recall, PC/CR only kept part of Altoona in operation, not the passenger car shop because it was no longer needed.  Obviously, if so.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, August 05, 2017 10:22 PM

schlimm

 

 
Deggesty
I think the Penn Central opted to keep the former Altoona shop for its own. Making beach Grove surplus.   And, if Penn Central chose to keep the  Altoona shop, it obviously was not available for Amtrak to use.

 

As I recall, PC/CR only kept part of Altoona in operation, not the passenger car shop because it was no longer needed.  Obviously, if so.

 

obviously Amtrak took beach Grove

 

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Posted by schlimm on Sunday, August 06, 2017 11:45 AM

ROBERT WILLISON

 

 
schlimm

 

 
Deggesty
I think the Penn Central opted to keep the former Altoona shop for its own. Making beach Grove surplus.   And, if Penn Central chose to keep the  Altoona shop, it obviously was not available for Amtrak to use.

 

As I recall, PC/CR only kept part of Altoona in operation, not the passenger car shop because it was no longer needed.  Obviously, if so.

 

 

 

obviously Amtrak took beach Grove

 

 

 

The question is why, not does.   Obviously that choice was made.  But was it wise?  Altoona and the Milwaukee shops actually designed and manufactured or rebuilt passenger cars.  Did Beech (not 'beach' Johnny) Grove do that?  Maybe they did and still do rebuilds, but given the problems with Viewliner 2 cars, would not perhaps an in-house builder have been useful?

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Sunday, August 06, 2017 12:20 PM

schlimm

 

 
ROBERT WILLISON

 

 
schlimm

 

 
Deggesty
I think the Penn Central opted to keep the former Altoona shop for its own. Making beach Grove surplus.   And, if Penn Central chose to keep the  Altoona shop, it obviously was not available for Amtrak to use.

 

As I recall, PC/CR only kept part of Altoona in operation, not the passenger car shop because it was no longer needed.  Obviously, if so.

 

 

 

obviously Amtrak took beach Grove

 

 

 

 

 

The question is why, not does.   Obviously that choice was made.  But was it wise?  Altoona and the Milwaukee shops actually designed and manufactured or rebuilt passenger cars.  Did Beech (not 'beach' Johnny) Grove do that?  Maybe they did and still do rebuilds, but given the problems with Viewliner 2 cars, would not perhaps an in-house builder have been useful?

 

NYC beech Grove shop did do extensive rebuilding of passenger cars. The most famous being the the Cleveland/ Detroit Mercury. Heavyweight coaches and diner/ lounges were stream line and modernized. They were in service from 1936 to the late fifties.

As for the prr  Altoona shops, the prr closed down the all but the diesel shops in 1956.The car shop was transferred to the new Samuel rea shop in hollidaysburg pa. It focused on building and shopping freight cars. The facility turned out thousands of freight cars for the prr, pc, and Conrail. It never produced passenger cars. In 1975 it was still active frt car shop for the Penn Central and not available for purchase for Amtrak.

 

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Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Sunday, August 06, 2017 1:40 PM

There is was the old Pullman plant in S Chicago and The old Budd Car plant in Philly.

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, August 06, 2017 1:58 PM

That ( Did Beech (not 'beach' Johnny)) is not my error. So far, I have referred to trees, not playgroundsSmile

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Posted by schlimm on Sunday, August 06, 2017 6:05 PM

Deggesty

That ( Did Beech (not 'beach' Johnny)) is not my error. So far, I have referred to trees, not playgroundsSmile

 

Sorry Johnny. I apologize for my error.  It was all in good fun referring to our recent peeves about homonyms.  It was Robert Willison who wrote beach, but on one quoted post (the one I was looking at) it showed up under your name.  This seems to happen on Trains Forum software.

And that explains why Beech Grove, not Altoona, though Milwaukee shops would have been a better choice, IMO.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Sunday, August 06, 2017 6:16 PM

schlimm

 

 
Deggesty

That ( Did Beech (not 'beach' Johnny)) is not my error. So far, I have referred to trees, not playgroundsSmile

 

 

 

Sorry Johnny. I apologize for my error.  It was all in good fun referring to our recent peeves about homonyms.  It was Robert Willison who wrote beach, but on one quoted post (the one I was looking at) it showed up under your name.  This seems to happen on Trains Forum software.

And that explains why Beech Grove, not Altoona, though Milwaukee shops would have been a better choice, IMO.

 

so why is the Milwaukee shop a better choice? How does it compare to beech Grove? How is it better? Just wondering?

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, August 06, 2017 7:41 PM

My personal preference goes to the B&O's Mount Clare Shops.  They rebuilt all the coach and non-Pullman cars that were used on The Royal Blue Limited, The Capitol Limited, The National Limited and The Cincinnatian.  However, I do believe by the time Amtrak was becoming a reality the passenger shop had been closed for several years.

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, August 06, 2017 7:53 PM

While we are on the subject of passenger car shops. what about Bear?

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Posted by schlimm on Sunday, August 06, 2017 9:23 PM

ROBERT WILLISON
so why is the Milwaukee shop a better choice? How does it compare to beech Grove? How is it better? Just wondering?

Also central, also on Amtrak routes and very experienced at car building and in an historically strong, union manufacturing city. Maybe no better than the NYC's shop, but as good.

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Posted by schlimm on Sunday, August 06, 2017 10:03 PM

Thanks.  So now we know.  Political.   Sen. Hartke helped start Amtrak, helped get Medicare, Medicaid, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act passed and was an early opponent of the wars in SE Asia. He also worked hard to get a bill passed that got dialysis centers established more widely, saving many lives.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, August 06, 2017 10:16 PM

schlimm
Thanks.  So now we know.  Political.   Sen. Hartke helped start Amtrak, helped get Medicare, Medicaid, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act passed and was an early opponent of the wars in SE Asia. He also worked hard to get a bill passed that got dialysis centers established more widely, saving many lives.

The very antithisis of what the Senate is on both sides of the aisle today.

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Posted by JOHN L CLARK on Sunday, August 06, 2017 11:15 PM

Beech Grove also did passenger car overhauls during the Penn Central era and also there is a large diesel shop there as well that can handle several units at the same time.  I've been in the Beech Grove shops many times over the years and the work flow from one building to the next until the car leaves is quite impressive.  

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Posted by mudchicken on Sunday, August 06, 2017 11:23 PM

C&O must think Bear, DE is "chopped liver" (1902 PRR Shop Complex) and talent to man the shops can just walk in off the street. ATK got a good facility with excellent staff and it saved their butts in the early years and got them beyond bubblegum and bandaids for tired equipment of many pedigrees. Then the politician penny pinchers, non-railroad mismanagers, unions and the rapid brain drain almost did-in the ex-Big4/NYC/PC shops. (you can't lay off people like they kept doing and expect them to stay)

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, August 07, 2017 12:18 AM

ROBERT WILLISON
so why is the Milwaukee shop a better choice? How does it compare to beech Grove? How is it better? Just wondering?

Well there is no comparison to Beech Grove, in my view.   Milwaukee Shops would have won hands down only because they fabricated everything onsite including the wheel sets, trucks, seats, upholstery, flooring, trim and every single part used in Passenger Car construction.    The Milwaukee shops complex manufactured and stored a good portion of the railroad's inventory for the most part.   Rails, Ties, Tie Plates, Spikes.     They ordered the rails, ties and tie plates from other firms but had their own creasote plant for the ties........which the EPA had to cleanup after.    Massive shops complex.   They also built freight cars from the ground up in Milwaukee.    There is a good youtube.com video on the Milwaukee Shops complex showing them constructing freight cars.   They calculated they saved I think it was about $7 million building most of the Hiawatha trainsets in house vs ordering them from exterior car companies.    They did order specialized cars like the Dome Cars from Pullman, they of course bought the sleepers and LD Skytops for the Olympian Hiawatha from Pullman as well.    Milwaukee had problems with curved glass and hence on the Twin Cities Skytops they only use flat glass cut angularly which makes it look curved but it is straight.........this is probably the reason they outsourced the dome cars and LD Olympian Hiawatha Skytops.....just a guess though.

Beech Grove has to import parts and is not self contained.    However, understandable why they picked Beech Grove over Milwaukee.    Milwaukee shops were older and spread out over far more acreage so would have been more costly to operate.

BTW, Avalon Railcar has a facebook page with pictures it looks as large as Beech Grove on the inside but maybe it is the photo perspective.

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Posted by RME on Monday, August 07, 2017 5:11 AM

schlimm
Thanks. So now we know. Political.

Yes, but why say this disparagingly.  From what I can see, Hartke was one of the first on record to confront Roger Lewis over the "Amtrak is only to help phase out those money-losing passenger trains" secret agenda.  Shouldn't he get credit for that in particular?

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Monday, August 07, 2017 7:05 AM

For what I can find the last batch of passenger  cars were built for the four generation of Hiawatha trains between 1933- 1947. No cars were produced thier after that date.

By 1975, when Amtrak was looking for a shop. The Menomonee complex was freight and  Diesel  shop only. Passenger car building was in its very distsnce past. Passenger car servicing ended in 1971. Even the railroad itself only had 7 years to live and had been on life support since is failed merger with c&nw 1969/70.

I'm not saying it wasn't a tremendous facility in it's time. But I doubt Amtrak ever considered it.

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Posted by schlimm on Monday, August 07, 2017 8:17 AM

RME

 

 
schlimm
Thanks. So now we know. Political.

 

Yes, but why say this disparagingly.  From what I can see, Hartke was one of the first on record to confront Roger Lewis over the "Amtrak is only to help phase out those money-losing passenger trains" secret agenda.  Shouldn't he get credit for that in particular?

 

In my book, the word "political" isn't a term of contempt, as it is with so many forum members.  Sen. Hartke was outstanding, but not above using his influence to benefit his own state, which is, in fact, commendable since it also was good for Amtrak.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, August 07, 2017 8:43 PM

ROBERT WILLISON
Passenger car servicing ended in 1971.

You would think that was true because it was when Amtrak was formed.    I would agree that major operations of the Passenger car shops ended before 1971.

  Milwaukee Road was in the passenger business and had a passenger department until at least July 31, 1972 out of Milwaukee (running the Milwaukee to Watertown route at it's own expense).    Further they had a fleet of office cars they maintained in Milwaukee like most other major railroads so there were some in the Passenger department post 1971 to maintain and service cars........though I do not know how many. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjmwde3Zju8

 See "Cannonball" on below link:

http://www.schaarcommunications.com/brookfieldrails.html

 

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 6:43 AM

Thier ya go,the cannonball continued the Milwaukee  road proud history of passenger service.

Kinda of like the Hooterville cannonball, can't keep a good train down.  Lol

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