Prototypical passenger questions (PRR)

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by FrankG, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. FrankG

    FrankG Member

    I just picked up a bunch of PRR passenger cars and loco at a local train swap meet. This is my first purchase of actual "trains" -- been too focused on building structures and all that other stuff that comes first.

    A few questions....

    I got a Life-Life Alco PA-1 loco. It's an A-unit (PRR 5752A). Can someone tell me about A/B units? Would A units prototypically run without a B unit? What's the purpose of the B unit? And....this loco would have been used for passenger service, right?

    Also, picked up a number of heavyweight pullman passenger cars. Don't have them here, so can't pull the info on them...but 2 of them that I remember are named Surfside and Poplar Glen.

    The loco is PRR Tuscan sheme with 5-stripe in gold-leaf. The cars are also tuscan, but in buff (not gold-leaf) and not 5-stripe. Can't even remember if they have a stripe at all. They almost look to me to be steam-era.

    Can someone give me info on these cars? Are these the same era as the PA-1...could they be (would they still be in service)? And what about paint scheme? Are there passenger cars out there that would match the 5-stripe loco? Or would it be prototypical for the loco to be one look and the cars another?

    Any info or Web links would be appreciated. Thanks.
  2. CalFlash

    CalFlash Member

    If the cars are Branchline, they are correct - the manufacturer took pains to make them so even to what type air conditioning and trucks!

    As for A vs B units some roads purchased only A units while others had both. I model Missouri Pacific which had all 3 versions of the PAs but no B-units. They often ran and EMD B-unit (usually E6B) behind the PAs when needed. Union Pacific on the other hand was famous for their multi B-unit lashups. Seems they liked a cab (A unit) in the lead and no where else! A-B-B-B lashups were not uncommon.
  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    As I recall, the five pinstripe paint scheme was the first, first in gold followed by buff and then the single wider stripe in buff. Wish I could remember where I read that. I think that the five "whisker" scheme originated on a streamlined Pacific-type steam loco, with matching cars. With the Pennsy being so big, I'm sure that you could've found either mixed or matching sets of cars and PAs with or without B units. Unless you're trying to replicate a specific train, don't be afraid to mix consists, both locos and cars. Lots of cars from other roads could been seen on many PRR passenger trains. As modellers, we too often try to run "pure" consists: all the same paint scheme, or road name, or even car types. On the prototype, equipment was merely a tool to do a job, so whatever was suitable to the situation could be used. I don't model the Pennsy per se, so what I've said may not be 100% accurate concerning the paint scheme question. If not, let's hope a real expert corrects me, if need be. In the meantime, I'll try to dig up more info.
  4. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Well, I've been digging through some books and magazines, and I found some more information. In the August 1992 issue of Mainline Modeler there is an article on detailing PRR FA-2s (I know, wrong model) that mentions the colour of the stripes. The gold stripes were used only on passenger engines and the gold colour was replaced by buff in the early '50s. In the December 1986 issue of the same magazine there is a limited discusssion of Pennsy PA1s. It notes that they received 10 PA1s and 5 PB1s in 1947, all in Brunswick green. By 1952, first-class assignments gave way to secondary service, mostly within the state of Pennsylvania. They were regeared (not clear whether this was in '52 or later) and repainted into Tuscan red, and thus became dual service locos. They were found increasingly in freight service and were also used on locals and in helper service, and were scrapped by 1962. In the book Portrait of the Rails, by Don Ball Jr., there is a photo on page 59 of a Loewy-styled K-4s and a GG-1, both with the multiple pinstripes (don't know the paint colour - b&w photo). And in the same book, on page 233, an A-B-A set of PAs, with pinstripes, on an ore train. Neither photo is dated, but based on the Mainline info, the latter picture was likely post-regearing. Finally, in my copy of the Champ decal catalogue, they list, for Pennsy diesels, 5 stripe version in gold, 5 stripe in dulux gold (buff), single narrow stripe in dulux gold, and single wide stripe, also dulux gold. Unfortunately, no dates are given for the time periods in which each version would be appropriate. I hope this information will be of some assistance.
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Frank: When the railroads first bought diesels, they would order, say, 3000 hp "loco" that would be an A-B-A. Some (e.g. Santa Fe) would number the units 73L 73A 73B (for Lead, A, B) 73B would be the second A unit and 73A would be the B unit. (A 4 uniter would be LABC) quite soon they found that they could mix them up.
    So, as long as the A unit is in front, you can string a variety of A and B units behind. (Check if the As have MU cables on the front!)
    (Santa Fe mavens: I know I have the number wrong.)
    I expect that the number of units might vary by day of week and season. There might be on A on low days and and ABBA set in high summer.
  6. FrankG

    FrankG Member

    But what exactly "IS" the B unit? Is it technically a second "engine"? Is it basically an unmanned locomotive?
  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    That's right, the B, or Booster, is just a locomotive with no cab. They did have controls so that a hostler could move them on their own around a terminal, but that was only at very low speed. With mu capability, the crew of the lead locomotive in a multiple unit lash-up of diesels controlled all of the units. This was one of the selling points of diesels: any number of locos on a train, but only one crew.
  8. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    The five stripes were in real gold (or planned to be real gold), some kind of paint that actually contained real gold at a time when PRR was prosperous and wanted to impress people. When the pocketbook got tighter, they switched to the fake gold (buff or dulux) and later went with the single large stripe. The single stripe occupies the area of the topmost 3 stripes of the 5 stripe pattern. The stripes were only on the locos, not the passenger cars, although some passenger cars for special trains had striped trim highlights.
  9. FrankG

    FrankG Member

    Ahh.....good info guys.

    Is there a good book(s) I can get on PRR equiptment? I'm not interested in passenger service.

    Same question for New York Central....plan to model both.
  10. ross31r

    ross31r Member

    yes there are several books out on PRR and NYC equipment, you just have to look for them!

    Ive got a dozen or so!
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Frank: there have been a couple of oddities in the B unit field. There have been hood units with the cabs blanked off or not built. Some yard switchers were built in "cow and calf" formation, where the calf is a cabless switcher.
    Then there were some early E units where what looked like a B unit was a loco with a very flat cab front. when the train split, the B took one section of it and the A the other. They were joined again on the way back.

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