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 Post subject: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:00 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:57 pm
Posts: 247
Location: Birmingham, AL
Anybody have any experience operating bi-level commuter cars in excursion service? I would think the upper level single seating wouldn't appeal much to families. I rode them in the '60s on the CNW, but can't recall whether or not the lower level seating was "crowded" or not.
THX
Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 3:06 pm
Posts: 33
Location: North Palm Beach, Fl.
I rode them for 27 years. The old bi-levels had flip over seats so that a family could face each other; however, there is not a lot of room for your legs.


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:55 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8358
Location: Baltimore, MD
The Gold Coast RR Museum in Miami picked up a quartet of these ex-C&NW cars from a broker when they were desperate for seats for an upcoming Thomas the Tank Engine event. I'm not sure they were happy with the broker or CSX--graffiti guys got a hold of one side during a long CSX-induced layover, and the cars didn't have open windows, meaning they would have been murder if they didn't find a way to run AC--but you could pick their brains for their opinions and experiences.

From an engineering standpoint, I understand these cars are in devastatingly sound condition for being basically 50 years old. The downside of these cars is simply that they recreate the classic commuter crush or sardine can. I'm told that passengers tend to accept them if they've not ridden much in anything else (say, Nashville's new commuter service, for example), but if they had previously experienced anything like MARC's ex-PRR "Clocker" coaches, new coaches, or Amtrak cars, the term "cattle cars" gets bandied about rather quickly.


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:24 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:37 pm
Posts: 244
Location: Niles Canyon Railway, near Sunol, CA
S.P. ran bi-level coaches in San Francisco - San Jose commute service from the 1950s (behind steam locos) until after Caltrain took over in the 1980s. They never had enough bi-levels for the whole service, and usually ran a 1921-1923 "Harriman" commute coach as the smoker, plus there was always at least one solid train of the "Harrimans" though 1985.

The bi-level passenger experience is OK as basic transportation. There are no opening windows and no dutch doors, so they're not very desirable for steam-powered excursions.

- Doug Debs


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:37 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 4996
Just for the record, the C&NW cars in commuter service out of Chicago, also initially ran behind steam power. I remember seeing a photo of a C&NW 4-6-2 leading a mix of the old dirty Pullman Green heavyweight cars and the bright yellow and green bi-levels. I don't know how long they lasted behind steam power, but I don't think it was long.

Also, the CB&Q had some Budd-built stainless steel Bi-Levels that it initially ran behind its Pacifics in commuter service. I believe that the Burlington's cars originally had steam heat and required at least one heavyweight car with a generator in the consist for air-conditioning. I am not sure about the C&NW cars.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:23 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 3:30 pm
Posts: 142
Location: NH Shoreline
What was (is) the power requirements for the C&NW bi-level cars? Originally built to use trainline 32VDC? They were modified for 480VAC?


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:20 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8358
Location: Baltimore, MD
Yes, 480-volt.

I found the old specs pages for the cars that Behr & associates had for sale a while back; though I think SOME of the info on these pages is now somewhat obsolete (I understand the E9 was sold, for example, and at least some of these cars did get brokered off, as I recall), the data haven't changed:

http://www.cl.ais.net/~dbehr/Equipmnt.htm

http://www.cl.ais.net/~dbehr/7600Spec1.html (2 more pages as well--see links)


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:58 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:50 pm
Posts: 113
Location: www.easttroyrr.org
The Wisconsin and Southern RR regularly uses their fleet of ex-C&NW bilevel coaches for local excursions. They are well-received because so many folks in Wisconsin haven't ridden trains before, and also because the cars are comfortable crowd-swallowers. An additional bonus - they have functional restrooms. How many excursion trains can boast that?

The kids usually make a beeline for the upper seats, while the older people stay downstairs. The families really seem to like them.


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:07 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 443
Location: Illinois
IRM has 3 former CNW bilevels, a Pullman Standard cab car, and 2 of the original St.Louis coaches (built as steam heat and 32 v lighting, all converted to 480v HEP)

The design of the windows on the St Louis cars tends to allow for a bit of rainwater leakage into the walls, causing a bit of work to remove, and reseal the windows (almost 100 screws per window assembly to remove and replace, 48 windows per car).

The air conditioning is old, and can be a bit cranky, but is VERY neccessary in a Chicago area summer (or fall). If you lose the AC in 1/2 of a car, it quickly becomes a rolling sauna.

The upper seats are less popular among the general public, but rail fans tend to like riding in the upper seats of the "front" end of the cab car, for the "over the engineers shoulder" view, if the engineer has left the rear cab door open.

Image

Jeff

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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:48 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2447
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Having ridden those bi-level cars a lot in my commuter days... commuters tend to travel solo. The commuter is looking *first* for those upstairs single seats. They mean never having to share a seat, so you can spread out your notepad/newspaper/laptop.

In an excursion setting, I concur with other opinions that families want to be together. When they buy tickets, they have in their mind's eye an expectation of 2x2 coach seats. So my suggestion would be to exclude the gallery seats from the inventory you offer the general public. Ticket them totally separately, push singletons toward them, and make clear exactly what they are.

I would think the single best use of a gallery coach in a railway preservation setting would be to educate people as to how Chicago commuters got to work. Personally, I'd rather educate people as to how Toronto commuters got to work :)


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:27 pm 

Further, when we researched them, the option of removing the top for open-air seating would not work because of the "unibody" type construction. Also - the insulation problem. The resulting car would look bad with the middle entry. Not a lot of useable parts in terms of trucks, couplers, etc.

Overall, there was a reason they went free for the asking.

Jim


  
 
 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 2:13 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 661
Location: Philadelphia Pa
Jdelhaye wrote:
IRM has 3 former CNW bilevels, a Pullman Standard cab car, and 2 of the original St.Louis coaches (built as steam heat and 32 v lighting, all converted to 480v HEP)

The design of the windows on the St Louis cars tends to allow for a bit of rainwater leakage into the walls, causing a bit of work to remove, and reseal the windows (almost 100 screws per window assembly to remove and replace, 48 windows per car).

The air conditioning is old, and can be a bit cranky, but is VERY neccessary in a Chicago area summer (or fall). If you lose the AC in 1/2 of a car, it quickly becomes a rolling sauna....

Jeff



I think that is with most St. Louis built Cars. The silverliners built by them that SEPTA uses are the main reason the Company is retiring the entire fleet for new. The Budds are holding up well, but the S. Louis's are falling apart as they roll along, leaking, bad AC, body twisting more then they should.


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 1:28 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
Bi-levels apparently do a pretty good job of insulating sound. On a certain short lived excursion operation that used bi-levels behind steam, the main complaint I heard was "We couldn't tell it was a steam locomotive pulling us. We'd occasionally hear the whistle blow, and that's it..."

Generally speaking, they weren't well recieved.


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 12:23 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:20 pm
Posts: 448
Question: Has a Budd stainless steel bi-level commuter car been preserved yet?

In a search I found an expired "for sale" listing on Ozark for a few ex-CB&Q cars (here).

Just for eye candy, below is a push-pull Milwaukee Road Budd car.

Image source: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 937&nseq=8
"Elmwood Park, Illinois. June 13, 1962. Mid-day train to Elgin."

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Bi-Level Commmuter Cars
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:20 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:27 pm
Posts: 111
Location: Flat Rock, MI
Yes, in a certain sense. SRI has been running them behind 1225 for the past 2 years for their "Economy" class for the Polar Express. They are MDOT/Mi-Train cars that were rebuilt by Great Lakes Central shops in Owosso (the same cars in your ad) and have yet to see the Ann Arbor-Detroit Commuter Service we, the taxpayers of this state, are paying for.

Supposedly, they are now surplus with the new cars and locomotives due to be arriving on the Michigan Services for Amtrak late next year.

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