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 Post subject: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:28 pm 
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In a history of the John Ringling private railroad car, they say that wooden bodied railroad cars were banned from the tunnels serving NYC railroad stations (due to fire concerns?)

So far I can't find a specific law or date for this... does anyone have more information. If true (and i am assuming it is) it would explain the sell off of many private passenger cars in the teens.

Randy

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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:29 pm 

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Location: Southern California
Randy,

John White in his The American Railroad Passenger Car implies this decision /act was self imposed by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

But the origin came from the IRT subway in New York; and that in response to a fire in the Paris subway. The IRT decided that composite (steel-framed, wood-body with copper covering cars) cars were not safe enough and sought help of the A. J. Cassatt (President of the PRR) and others. President Cassatt of the PRR felt that the railroad should have fireproof cars to transit the tunnels then under construction.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:05 pm 

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Location: Northern Illinois
Chicago had a similar ban, although I don't have a citation for the ordinance. It dates to the opening of the State Street subway during WWII, and was in part responsible for the demise of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin in 1957... the new expressway transit line that replaced the CA&E's entry into the city led to a subway, which the CA&E couldn't use unless they could re-equip with all steel cars, which they could not afford to do. This resulted in a cross platform transfer in what here-to-fore had been a single seat ride, which had an adverse effect on ridership.

Fast forward to the 1980's when the Chicago Transit Authority was running "Car No. 1" in fan trip service. The system wide excursion I was on needed to make use of the subway to get to the north side lines; all the passengers were unloaded at the last station before the subway and told to ride the following service train. The excursion train went through empty and was waiting for us in a pocket north of the subway.

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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:15 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
From what I see, the requirement of steel cars in Penn Station NY was at least initially PRR's idea.

In 1903, the IRT subway opened with composite cars. IRT also contracted with PRR to build a prototype steel subway car, which was built in Altoona and became IRT 3342 (1904). IRT acquired only steel subway cars after that. The IRT continued to use the composite cars in the subway after 1910, but they went to elevated-only service in 1916.

RR Museum of PA has PRR experimental steel coach 1651 (1906) which did not go into series production; PRR standardized on the P70 coach instead. (RRMPA has P70b 1006)

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:00 pm 

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Yes and no. A lot of wood cars were sold - not just by private car owners, but also by railroads. Not all in the interests of regulations/rules prohibiting such in the tunnels. Much of it was common self-preservation - wood cars could not be compatible to life in rear collisions, and PVs were often on the rear.

Another factor were the tax codes. Just like the sell-off of private planes a few years back, a lot of formerly private cars (owned/used by people associated to railroads) were simply taken over by the railroads, put on their asset sheet, and still used by the people in question. However, due to the first point, many were SUF/SUV in that era too - quite a few Repair Lots in that time frame. Or they were simply pushed down into company service and new steel cars were purchased, created, or modified. The Rio Grande took several of their 1910 steel cars and converted them to company use (business cars, instruction cars, etc.).

Wood cars wear out quickly - so cars built in the "hey day" of PVs (1890s) were nearing the end of their lives. They either got SUF/SUV or they were sold off. New technology begets new cars. In the 30s, many Parlors, 16 Section, 12-1s, lounge-obs and the like were converted to Business / Private cars for the same reason. It should be noted here that these were people that hadn't been touched by the Depression, their purchasing power went up due to the deflation. A/C Lots are common for PVs and BCs at this time

The onset of war prep & the USRA had much to do with the sell off - more than 100 BCs and PVs were requisitioned by the USRA for their work on the railroads. This was not a surprise to many of those with PVs and they sold out prior to the requisition.

Attributing a possible sell-off to one factor is not really realistic, everything has to be put into context. Wooden cars deemed unsafe / Steel is "NEW" new is better / War Prep / Income Tax / Trust busting / Aging of the PV population / The Titantic incident (do you have ANY idea how many of the victims were PV owners? A LOT) / Self-Preservation / Structural updates (sheathing, SUF, SUV,wheels,trucks) required - buy new. There were still quite a few PV/BC/OCs being built. Pullman had a fleet of PVs for G/S charter, they were refreshed as well. Just a conflation of multiple causes. The rules by the PRR/Kaufman/IRT are part of it to be sure, but the larger picture has to be included.


[quote="Randy Hees"]
If true (and i am assuming it is) it would explain the sell off of many private passenger cars in the teens.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:49 pm 
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Hi Bob, all good points.... The USRA use during WWI is an issue I had not considered.

The car I am researching is Ellsmere, a 1888 Wagner Palace car built for the President of Wagner, Dr Webb. Webb a fleet of private cars, but apparently Ellsmere was his favorite. She is also written about with some regularity.

As a wooden underframe car she was said to weigh 120,000 lbs...

There is some confusion about her status when Wagner was purchased by Pullman on Jan 1, 1900... Barger says she was sold to Pullman, renamed and sold to Ringling Bros. But other evidence says she was retained by Webb though 1914. She then "disappears" for 6 years, showing up on the Texas & Pacific as a business car in 1920.

The confusion can be traced to an 1891 Wagner car list that includes two cars named Ellsmere, both with the same number, one noted as "stored"... We believe that the older car is the car which was transfered to Pullman, while Webb retained the newer car.

She was retired by the T&P in 1961. She was displayed as a privately owned automobile museum in the Ft Worth area... that museum closed, and the entire collection including Ellsmere, was sold to a Las Vegas auto collector. Initally he tried to restore the car for use as a cabin... but eventually donated the car to the Nevada State Railroad Museum...

She is a complete car, with an intact interior. She has received a steel under-frame, new late 1920's Pullman trucks, U brakes, ice A/C and a new kitchen. At the end of her life she was sheathed in Plywood, and had a faux arch roof (the original clerestory intact underneath)... The collector re-sheathed the car with poplar t&g car but that work quickly started to rot.

We are in the process of cleaning the wood work, doing minor repairs, and reinstalling some missing brake rods. Any further work will require a preservation study (commonly called a restoration study) which we have started to compile... I see trips to Vermont to look at the Webb papers, to Smithsonian and Chicago to look at Pullman and Wagner records...

Webb has a home in Manhattan, so the fire regulations limiting the use of wooden cars would make the car unsuitable for his use. The USRA use would correspond to the missing years in her history... I guess that I will also visit the National Archives to see what their records say.

Randy

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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:13 pm 

Joined: Thu May 03, 2007 9:19 pm
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You might look at MARQUITA - NYC BC...in the Pullman Documentation on PVs, this is the ELLSMERE.

The Newberry has the records from the Pullman Company (the operating arm after the Divestiture). This includes the Private Cars, and may also include the notes and documents on the Wagner acquisition. Additionally, the Smithsonian obtained records of the Earlier (pre-1900) Pullman Company - these had been at Princeton in the 80s. Princeton supposedly still has some, according to records - but all inquiries have been unanswered.

The Lincoln Library in Springfield has some of the Dubin collection (as does the Smithsonian & Oak Forrest).

There are well over 1,000 unnamed PV Floor Plans at the Pullman Library. As they go back to the early 1880s, the encompass quite a long time frame.

There have been some who think the Lot series 3nnn contains just Wagner cars, but that is a gross error. There are Pullman built/owned cars, NYNH&H cars, ex NYNH&H sleepers & parlors, Red Cross & Military-used cars, a plethora of private use cars, and some Wagner. But it is not complete (in terms of Wagner) nor is it JUST Wagner - not by a long shot.

There is this car - which is likely the one you discuss:
1 "Private Car - Wagner Palace Car - 11/1888
Former Wagner Palace Sleeper - Plan A-30
ELLSMERE [W.S. Webb Pres of Wagner Palace Car Co.]" 1888 WAG Lot 16 Floor Plan 3088
And this:
MARQUITA New York Central Ketchum 1885 Floor Plan 27-F in 1896 - Wagner Car - Private use by Dr. Webb NYC with ELLSMERE
And this:
1 "Private Car - Wagner Palace Car - 12/12/1901
Former Wagner Palace Sleeper - Plan A-30
PILGRAM ex ELLSMERE - Remodeled from Plan 3088" 1901 Lot - Unk Plan 3088-A (and later -B)










[quote="Randy Hees"]

The car I am researching is Ellsmere, a 1888 Wagner Palace car built for the President of Wagner, Dr Webb. Webb a fleet of private cars, but apparently Ellsmere was his favorite. She is also written about with some regularity.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:34 pm 

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Webb is an interesting character from a preservation POV. Ellsmere, Rutland #500 and his Shelburne, VT farm all remain. Together, they give an interesting look into the life of a wealthy family 125 years ago (he married a Vanderbilt, if I remember correctly). Rob

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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:25 pm 
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Again Bob, very helpful...

MARQUITA and ELLSMERE regularly operated together. MARQUITA is sometime described as his wife's car (his wife was Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt, Grand daughter of the commodore) Alternately, Marquita is described as the nursery car... A third Wagner private car, Glassmere is also mentioned as Dr. Webb's...

Our car has "Ellsmere" in yellow paint on the bottom of most of the drawers... tying it back to that name... I have checked doors for a lot number, so far without success, but suspect that it is Lot 16, which would match the believed construction date... the "Old" Ellsmere would have been built by an outside builder before Wagner built their own factory. Webb is known to have had an earlier private car built by Barney & Smith.

Webb is also credited with ordering Grand Isle, the preserved private car at his preserved home, Shelbourne Falls.

Randy

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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:27 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:34 am
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Location: Port Jefferson, NY (LIRR MP 57.5)
Brian Norden wrote:
John White in his The American Railroad Passenger Car implies this decision /act was self imposed by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

But the origin came from the IRT subway in New York; and that in response to a fire in the Paris subway. The IRT decided that composite (steel-framed, wood-body with copper covering cars) cars were not safe enough and sought help of the A. J. Cassatt (President of the PRR) and others. President Cassatt of the PRR felt that the railroad should have fireproof cars to transit the tunnels then under construction.


The IRT connection interests me because it would seem to show the influence of August Belmont, who was not only chairman of the IRT but also a board member of the LIRR (a PRR subsidiary) and had an influential role in the Pennsylvania Station project. (For example, the 700-volt DC over-running third rail used by the PRR in its initial electrification to Manhattan Transfer as well as on the LIRR was based on the earlier IRT design.)

August Belmont was a prominent figure in New York high society of the era, involved in horse racing, polo, etc. (the Belmont Stakes horse race is named for him), and I'm sure he and Webb would have been personally acquainted given Webb's connection to the Vanderbilts and his interest in horses. (I can imagine them discussing railroad safety issues over cocktails.)

-Philip Marshall


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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:36 am 

Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:26 am
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rswebber wrote:
Yes and no. A lot of wood cars were sold - not just by private car owners, but also by railroads. Not all in the interests of regulations/rules prohibiting such in the tunnels. Much of it was common self-preservation - wood cars could not be compatible to life in rear collisions, and PVs were often on the rear. .



The 1906 death of Southern Railway President Samuel Spencer when his car was hit from the rear would have been a well known event to railroad officials of the time.


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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:51 pm 
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A bit of news on Ellsmere at the Nevada State Railroad Museum... Yesterday we took the time to look at the top of each door... we found "XVI" in four locations... One of the several possible histories of the car was that it was Wagner Lot 16, aka XVI... This leads us to the conclusion that our car is Wagner Lot 16, built in Nov 1888.

The car listed in Barger's Pullman Cars, Vol 2, as lot 16, sold to Pullman, named Ellsmere, sold to Ringling Bros., is an earlier car, listed in 1891 as "Ellsmere (old) stored" in a Wagner list... we are suspicious that it may have been a car built for Webb by Barney and Smith in 1885.

Our car was retained by Webb at the time of the Pullman purchase of Wagner.

Randy

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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:44 am 

Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:58 am
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Randy Hees wrote:
The car listed in Barger's Pullman Cars, Vol 2, as lot 16, sold to Pullman, named Ellsmere, sold to Ringling Bros., is an earlier car, listed in 1891 as "Ellsmere (old) stored" in a Wagner list... we are suspicious that it may have been a car built for Webb by Barney and Smith in 1885.


Randy, you're confusing me. Wagner had two "lot 16" cars, both named "Ellsmere"?


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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:46 pm 
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Wagner Lot 16 was a single car, named Ellsmere, numbered (Wagner's number) 289...

Per Barger, this car was included in the sale to Pullman, who renamed it Pilgrim designated it plan 3088a, and solid it to Ringling Bros...

But, an 1891 Wagner list lists two cars named Ellsmere, both numbered 289, noting that one is "(old)" and noting that car is stored.

The published Pullman floor plan, identified as 3088a does not match the floor plan published in the railroad gazette of Webb's Ellsmere. The Railroad Gazette floor plan does match the car in our collection.... Wagner only started building cars in 1887, so a "old" car could be quite recent but built by someone else for Wagner or Webb.

We have newspaper reports showing Webb in his Ellsmere in 1902...

Railroad history is not neat...

Randy

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 Post subject: Re: New York City wooden body railroad car ban
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:51 pm 
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Quote:
She was displayed as a privately owned automobile museum in the Ft Worth area... that museum closed, and the entire collection including Ellsmere, was sold to a Las Vegas auto collector.


Just out of curiosity, was the museum in Fort Worth the Pate Museum of Transport? I stopped by once; but the museum was closed; the collection was then scattered to the four winds.

It was quite an eclectic collection; besides automobiles, it had a compressed air locomotive (later spotted at a welding shop in Fort Worth, but can't figure out which one), a C-119 Flying Boxcar, a Pieski helicopter, T-28 Trojan, Gruman F9F Panther, a HU16 Albatross, a tank, and I think even a tugboat. All now gone.

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