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

2236 views
39 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 8:48 AM

CMStPnP

 

 
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

 

 

CMStPnP:  Agree.  I think the maintenance record of the Milwaukee shops looks pretty good compared to the shabby condition of former NYC cars running on PC passenger trains, if that is any indication of the quality of work.  Or do folks think those PC passenger trains were exemplary?

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,696 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 9:23 AM

If you talk with Private Passenger Car Owners, they all avoid Beech Grove, like it is a Leper Colony and the criticism is centered around the lack of quality in their repair approach.    You'll hear raves about ATSF Topeka shops and hear them praise other private shops but nobody will say anything positive about Beech Grove.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 992 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 10:31 AM

I never knew the shop was open to private car work. The pv cars owners I talked to and the experience I had with private shops we're very mixed. Thier are some very good shops out thier and some  with very questionable business ethics.

I can't imagine the work at beech Grove would be inexpensive, being an all Union shop. All I can say is that Amtrak and thier various shop have kept a fleet of ever  aging equipment  road worthy. I can not recall ( correct me if I am wrong ) any major Amtrak incident do to equipment failure.

My guess is that Amtrak is to stringent on pv owners, keeping many cars from turning a wheel on a Amtrak' train.

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,696 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 8:28 PM

ROBERT WILLISON
I never knew the shop was open to private car work.

Your making that conclusion.   It could very well be they bought the car from Amtrak and the maintenence records show where it was maintained.    I know on DB in Germany the practice was to put the maintence log for the passenger car in the electrical cabinet in the vestibule of the car, there was a metal sleve for it in the electrical cabinet which was locked by a conductors key.     No idea what American Railroads do but I would suspect similar.

Also in some cases of Private Car ownership, if the repair is to fix a condition that limits the cars movement (and makes it more expensive to ferry), they might not have a choice on what shops to use.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 992 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 7:50 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
ROBERT WILLISON
I never knew the shop was open to private car work.

 

Your making that conclusion.   It could very well be they bought the car from Amtrak and the maintenence records show where it was maintained.    I know on DB in Germany the practice was to put the maintence log for the passenger car in the electrical cabinet in the vestibule of the car, there was a metal sleve for it in the electrical cabinet which was locked by a conductors key.     No idea what American Railroads do but I would suspect similar.

Also in some cases of Private Car ownership, if the repair is to fix a condition that limits the cars movement (and makes it more expensive to ferry), they might not have a choice on what shops to use.

 

my experience with buying Amtrak equipment is a bit limited. Our organization purchased a car at an  Amtrak auction in Miami FL. The cars were where is, as is. We submitted a bid on a car and if Amtrak accepted  it,we had to submit a bank check with in 48 hours. Thier were no mechanical  records provided by Amtrak, you basically made a visual inspection of the cars.

Once the deal was finalized, Amtrak provided a one way move to your location at the new owners expense. Once at your facility, the car had to be reinspected by a qualified Amtrak car inspector. All defects had to be repaired before Amtrak would move the car again. The car would undergo a 40 year inspection, including the trucks,  side seal's, frame and major operating components.  If the a major defect was found and could not be repaired, the car was basically condemned and would never be handled by Amtrak. The car had to heped and modern plumbing and holding tanks installed.

We purchased the former sp 10/6 sleeper the 9001, built for the post war sunset limited. The car had retained much of it's orginal sp look with some 1970 decor added in.

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,696 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, August 10, 2017 11:33 AM

ROBERT WILLISON
We purchased the former sp 10/6 sleeper the 9001, built for the post war sunset limited. The car had retained much of it's orginal sp look with some 1970 decor added in.

Isn't there a generally agreed upon rule though that if a mechanical breakdown occurs on the car that limits it's movement..........the host railroad it is on currently makes a repair to get the car moving again and rebills the owner OR does that only apply to freight cars?

What I read about this in the past was either in Private Varnish publication or on the AAPRCO website somewhere.   The article was pretty clear among several owners they though Beech Grove did meatball surgury compared to quality repairs.   Would be curious what the folks at Illinois Railway Museum think as they have a number of former Amtrak cars.    Also, I have seen it advertised on Ozark Mountain Railcar when they put up a ex-ATSF car for sale that never ran outside of ATSF ownership, car "impeccably" maintained at Tokpeka Shops.   Pretty sure that is a coded language dig at ex-Amtrak cars.    However read more than one comment from AARPCO members they had high respect for ATSF passenger car maintenence at Topeka shops.

  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 1,091 posts
Posted by Buslist on Friday, August 11, 2017 10:08 AM

CMStPnP

 

 
ROBERT WILLISON
We purchased the former sp 10/6 sleeper the 9001, built for the post war sunset limited. The car had retained much of it's orginal sp look with some 1970 decor added in.

 

Isn't there a generally agreed upon rule though that if a mechanical breakdown occurs on the car that limits it's movement..........the host railroad it is on currently makes a repair to get the car moving again and rebills the owner OR does that only apply to freight cars?

 

 

At this point it only applies to freight cars, once did apply to passenger but they are no longer considered interchange equipment. The billing you refer is in place only if both parties are signatories to the AAR interchange agreement.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 992 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Saturday, August 12, 2017 3:46 PM
There you go.
  • Member since
    August, 2006
  • 286 posts
Posted by alphas on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 12:37 AM

In regards to earlier postings, although the PRR closed the Altoona passenger shops in the mid-50's, it kept the Renova Passenger car shops open until sometime in the mid 60's to make major repairs.   I can't rmember if it was 1962 or 1964 that it closed down.   However, passenger cars were scrapped in Renova until about the start of Amtrak.   

  • Member since
    January, 2001
  • From: MP CF161.6 NS's New Castle District in NE Indiana
  • 1,809 posts
Posted by rrnut282 on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 9:17 AM

One point that I haven't seen mentioned (or I missed it) is Beech Grove shops had both locomotive and passenger car buildings co-located, making for a smaller footprint and fewer facilities to maintain.  

Mike (2-8-2)

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy

Search the Community