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Coach Yards

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Coach Yards
Posted by Jeff1952 on Thursday, February 25, 2021 4:53 PM

Hey Guys! After cars arrive at their destination and the cars removed for servicing and/or placed into the Coach Yard... how are the cars "parked"/arranged? Are the diners placed separately on a track? Do the Sleepers, Chair cars, Dome cars, etc each have their own "area" in the Coach Yard? And when the consists are assembled... does the Switcher just grab the next Sleeper in line, or are they looking for a particular car number?

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, February 25, 2021 8:39 PM

Depends.

Railroads had a love/hate relationship with observation cars which required turning at terminal coach yards. Some roads modified or specifically ordered their observation cars in later years to be able to occupy a location in the train other than at the tail end.

"Cuts" of cars generally stayed together, coaches, diners, lounge cars and sleeping cars could be serviced as a group in the coach yard by the specific trades involved.

Dining cars were serviced by the commissary department. They would have their own trucks for hauling linens, supplies and foods and beverages. The Pullman Company would clean and change linens in their operated cars. Coach cleaners were employed by the operating railroads.

Turn-around time played an important role in how much handling the cars would get. In some larger terminals, Sunnyside Yard on the PRR and New Haven, CN in Toronto, CP in Vancouver all had loops where the entire train could be turned in a single operation. Of course mechanical defects sometimes required a car to be set out for shopping and a replacement car found, if possible. NYC had a stand-in for the Century observation cars, PRR didn't and I saw the Broadway operate without the obs on several occasions.

The New York Central's main New York City coach yard was about ten miles north of Grand Central. It was built within a wye and cars could be turned as needed. Sleeping cars generally stayed with the room side facing the view of the Hudson River so were not normally turned.

 Mott_Haven-track-layout-1927 by Edmund, on Flickr

Dining cars on the NYC were turned, if time permitted, to have the kitchen-end trailing as it was believed to keep some of the kitchen smells out of the dining area.

The passenger sales department would be in communication with the operating department to have an idea for the needs of the outgoing trains. If more than say, eight Pullmans were needed on a particular train a second section may be justified to handle the extra traffic.

Cars of specific accommodations would have to be pulled and assembled. Business men prefered sections or roomettes. Couples or families in bedroom or bedroom-suites and some of the more seasoned travelers wanted drawing rooms or compartments, generally.

The yardmaster of the coach yard knew how many of a particular type of car was on hand to fill the anticipated traffic need based on ticket sales and patterns of demand such as during holidays, special events or charters.

A teletyped list of that trains' makeup was transmitted to the parties involved and the "system" went to work.

There are several good books that can be had which explain passenger operations. Sometimes these are found at very reasonable prices on the used book market.

Some Classic Trains, and More Classic Trains {Dubin}, Night Trains {Maiken}and The Run Of The Twentieth Century {Hungerford} are four that come to mind.

The above is just a general overview. Various railroads had their own operating principals and, of course, this information is era-specific, too. In the late 1950s and through the '60s all sorts of cost-cutting measures were instituted to reduce train handling and, of course, many trains were reduced to a single coach tackked on to a string of mail and express cars.

 NYC133 by Edmund, on Flickr

You would do well to narrow down a specific train or trains, era and railroad and research the operations of that run. Sometimes cars are dropped and picked up en route, dining cars were sometimes shared or combined with other runs and many other specifics worthy of research.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by ndbprr on Thursday, February 25, 2021 9:18 PM

prr had a publication that had the type car and the number of them for every train. Whole trains,were turned on a balloon track at Sunnyside in new York and wyed in chicago on the Burlington connection.  Trains were backed into St. Louis station. Restocking and repairs were made very quickly as well as cleaned and linens put in the rooms.  

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Posted by ndbprr on Thursday, February 25, 2021 9:20 PM

prr had a publication that had the type car and the number of them for every train. Whole trains,were turned on a balloon track at Sunnyside in new York and wyed in chicago on thein Burlington connection.  Trains were backed into St. Louis station. Restocking and repairs were made very quickly as well as cleaned and linens put in the rooms.  In the summer ice would be added to the air conditioning duct to provide cool air.

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Posted by dehusman on Friday, February 26, 2021 9:37 AM

Also remember that the vast majority of passenger trains operated didn't have to worry about that stuff.  The vast majority of passenger trains were all coach with no head end equipment, sleepers or dining cars. A major city that would have all the facilities you are discussing would probably run 20-50 all coach trains for every "Broadway Limited" style train.  

A lot of it depended on how amny trains or cars were going to be serviced.  If it was only a couple cars there wouldn't be a whole building and yard devoted to servicing sleepers.  The servicing people would drive a truck up next to the car.  Same with a dining car.  If it was only a couple cars a day, they would put the train in a track with a platform or road next to it and the commisary would bring a truck out to the car.

Premier trains had assigned cars, lesser trains had cars assigned out of a pool.  Cars were often assigned by configuration (number of compartments or rooms on sleepers, seating and kitchen capacity of dining or lounge cars.)  Some cars were connections from other railroads so had to be returned on the corresponding train to that railroad to make the reverse connections.  If the MP had a through sleeper from Denver to New York that it gave to the PRR at St Louis, then at New York, the PRR would have to put that car on the train to St louis that made connections with the MP going back to Denver.

Also railroads are creatures of habit.  They like to do the same thing day after day, so they will tend to run the same cars on a circuit of trains (this set of cars goes on train 105, then train 108 then train 127 then train 168, then back to train 105 and the cycle repeats).

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, February 26, 2021 11:18 AM

Northern Pacific trains started and ended in St.Paul Minnesota, at St.Paul Union Depot. One of the NP's landmark buildings east of downtown St.Paul was it's commissary building with the large "4-Dome Train West / North Coast Limited" rooftop sign facing downtown. Dining and Cafe cars would be switched to the tracks next to the commissary, so they could be cleaned and re-stocked for their next trip. Couldn't find a picture of the building (though I'm sure there are pictures of it online) but this is what the sign looked like:

http://store.nprha.org/multi-scale-np-4-dome-train-west-sign/

 

Stix
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Posted by Jeff1952 on Sunday, February 28, 2021 11:50 PM

Thanks guys for the great info, much appreciated. I will try to hunt down some of the books you've mentioned, but just what you've shared will help alot.

wjstix, I do have that NP 4-dome sign kit. I picked it up at a train show a few years back (remember those?)

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, March 8, 2021 1:39 PM

Jeff1952
I do have that NP 4-dome sign kit. I picked it up at a train show a few years back (remember those?)

I bought one direct from the NP Historical Society some time back but still haven't gotten around to building it. Part of my layout is set in St. Paul, so it would be a logical thing to include. I've thought about trying to simulate the sign being lighted (it was really a neon sign) by painting the letters with flourescent paint, we'll see. 

Stix
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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, March 8, 2021 3:03 PM

 Vista Dome North Coast Ltd by Bob Anderson, on Flickr

Regards, Ed

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Monday, March 8, 2021 3:52 PM

Fantastic pic Ed.

Andy

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 2:31 PM

Ed, you have some great photos in that album! Thanks for sharing!

Neal

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Posted by TheFlyingScotsman on Sunday, April 18, 2021 3:42 PM

The Reading Crusader had a pretty unique solution on a short run. Observation cars at both ends of the cut and a cowling extended back from the tender to shroud the curved portion of car 1. 

https://www.american-rails.com/crusader.html

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, April 18, 2021 8:35 PM

Doesn't Droege's "Passenger Terminals and Trains" have a chapter on effective coach-yard design?

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Posted by NP Eddie on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 7:39 PM

ALL:

I came off the NP side of the 1970 merger so these are my insights. On the NP, the dining car and Travelers Rest car were switched out at St. Paul and freshly restocked and re crewed cars did a St. Paul-Chicago-Seattle-St. Paul rotation. The Empire Builder had a similar arrangement.

"Dining Car Line" to the Northwest (McKenzie) is an excellent tool. "The Run of the Twenty Century" is a reference tool for NYC fans.

As information, the NCL and EB were wyed  in Chicago to be ready for the outbound trip.

David P. Morgan's "Diesels West" devotes one chapter ("Over Night, Every Night") to the operation of the Denver Zephyr.

Good Luck on your research.

Ed Burns

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