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The "Missing" Pacific Parlour Car in Illinois


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#41 printman2000

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:48 PM

Seems I remember hearing that Amtrak added some sleeping rooms for OBS to some of the hi level transition cars.

#42 Big Iron

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:49 PM


Serviceable condition? They look pretty rough to me. I'll bet that you can buy a new trainset for what it would take to buy these and get them into running condition.

Amtrak's fleet strategy is pretty emphatic about the fact that they're tired of dealing with 50+ year old mismatched equipment and are trying to get away from it as fast as they can.

Thanks for sharing the pictures, they were pretty incredible.


I cant really speak for the running condition of the cars, but from the inside... most looked in pretty good shape. A couple of coaches look like they could still be in service if you didnt know any better (or see the April 1997 Amtrak magazines sticking out of them). Before the trip down there last month, I had no idea that Amtrak had buffet-style dining cars... I sorta like that concept because you could choose what you wanted to have. Then again, I'm a sucker for Ponderosa and those Buffet places... haha.

But yes, that was the point, the owner(s) were planning on IL buying them for return to service.

It was sad to see the PPC just sitting there... :(



When the Auto Train was single level it ran for a time with a buffet car with an adjoining table car. I also recall seeing them on the Silver trains as well. The link below has some information.


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#43 rtabern

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:53 PM



Illinois could have had these running on their routes for under a million a piece. That would have been a bargain. Now the money is for new bilevels, so these cars will probably never run again, unless some other state see's it as a cheap way to start up/enhance a corridor service (Georgia? North Carolina? Colorado?)


I would not scrap them just yet but they do need to "shop around" for another customer, I also would not limit this to the states, there may well be other countries that would be interested in this, Canada is an easy option, but I would not rule out any nation that uses a standard gauge system.

-- also I find it kind of silly that Amtrak would not want the bi-level sleepers, I get they are a pain to maintain, but 1. It is extra revenue and 2 it would show congress they need a new order.

There aren't any bi-level sleepers (unless they're Superliner wrecks). The Santa Fe hi-levels included only coaches, lounges and diners.


One of the cars was half coach/half sleeper... but I think the sleeper was for crew only

#44 Anderson

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 09:54 PM

Alright, they're all coaches. I figured they were, but I did want to ask to be sure. Now, since we're talking about them, did "buffet" cars actually feature a buffet of some kind or another? Also...I do remember hearing about such service from one long-time rider, and I didn't hear too much good about it (at least when they used it as a substitute for a diner rather than to augment it). I wouldn't be opposed to seeing something in that vein attempted on some LD services (I speak of "improved cafe" services...I'm not sure if you could make a good bridge with something like this, but if you want to beef up one or more LD trains (say, doing a larger CHI-DEN consist), you could do something along these lines as an option for coach passengers and offer a bit more variety/quality than is currently available in the cafe.
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#45 jphjaxfl

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 10:25 PM

You may be referring to the double unit dining cars. These were originally built for high volume trains like the Broadway Limited, Panama Limited and other trains. These were two full cars of that always ran as a pair with one car being the traditional dining car with kitchen and tables and the other car with tables only. The cars were connected by automatic doors so wait staff could move in between. Amtrak last used them on the Silver Service offering Buffet Style meals. One car had the buffet line and the other car had tables. Passengers helped themselves on the buffet line and then were seated. This was the only meal service offered on the Silver Trains in the late 1980s/early 1990s in one of the previous cost cutting attempts. The idea for this type of service came from the original pre-Amtrak Autotrain which offered buffet meals to customers. The buffet service did not go over that well on the Silver trains and the food offering was not that great. It was a far cry from the excellent meals served on the prior New York-Florida trains such as the Florida Special, Champions, Sliver Meteor and Silver Star and that service continued the first 10 years on Amtrak until Congress decided to "fix" the dining car deficit.

#46 Anderson

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 10:36 PM

You may be referring to the double unit dining cars. These were originally built for high volume trains like the Broadway Limited, Panama Limited and other trains. These were two full cars of that always ran as a pair with one car being the traditional dining car with kitchen and tables and the other car with tables only. The cars were connected by automatic doors so wait staff could move in between. Amtrak last used them on the Silver Service offering Buffet Style meals. One car had the buffet line and the other car had tables. Passengers helped themselves on the buffet line and then were seated. This was the only meal service offered on the Silver Trains in the late 1980s/early 1990s in one of the previous cost cutting attempts. The idea for this type of service came from the original pre-Amtrak Autotrain which offered buffet meals to customers. The buffet service did not go over that well on the Silver trains and the food offering was not that great. It was a far cry from the excellent meals served on the prior New York-Florida trains such as the Florida Special, Champions, Sliver Meteor and Silver Star and that service continued the first 10 years on Amtrak until Congress decided to "fix" the dining car deficit.


Ok, that's what I heard about from Mr. Haldeman when we talked...he mentioned that service was great in the early days (when they were still using a lot of the SAL/ACL/SCL equipment, I believe) and then it nosedived in the 80s with what you mentioned. He mentioned that, as a sleeper passenger, your one "big perk" at the time was that you got your buffet tray brought to you. As to the buffet/table cars...that feels extremely tragic, having those old twin units used for such substandard service.
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#47 Guest_Chris K._*

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 11:45 PM

Back to the Hi-level cars, for a moment... These cars would only be coach seating. The El Capitan was the coach-train counterpart to AT&SF's all-Pullman Super Chief. These cars were built to that idea and the Santa Fe pushed the passenger industry into a new stage with these cars (I believe). The only cars that I would think to have sleeping compartments in would be the Transition cars because Santa Fe built them that way for use as Crew Dorms during the ride. If there are cars that have sleeper rooms that aren't transition cars, yet are still old Santa Fe Hi-Levels, then my guess would be that Amtrak reconfigured the car's layout in the early years. It would be really amazing if someone did get those cars back into service as private cars or for a competitor to Amtrak. Plus, they are a piece of Railroad history (as is the Mark Twain Zephyr with its two fourth car add-ons) that should be kept for future generations to experience and enjoy.



#48 bgiaquin

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 08:09 PM

Amtrak would much rather the states buy new cars.

From the Fleet Strategy Plan (page 45 where they discuss why they plan on scrapping the cars once retired):

It was noted that the fleet is already older than desirable and, by the time of retirement, this situation will only be worse. The value of the vehicles on the open market will be very low and the scrap value will probably be better. Moreover, Amtrak does not wish to operate these vehicles once they are retired. Should they be acquired by a third party that than requests Amtrak to operate them, the point of disposal would have been circumvented.


If Amtrak has no desire to operate their current cars once retired, you can imagine they'd be even less interested in operating even older cars brought back from the dead.

 

They better not scrap the Budd Diners! :angry2:



#49 Ryan

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 08:11 PM

All depends on who is willing to pay what for them. Some of them may be saved if someone wants to buy them that will pay more than scrap value.
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#50 bgiaquin

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 08:28 PM

All depends on who is willing to pay what for them. Some of them may be saved if someone wants to buy them that will pay more than scrap value.

 

Yeah. OTOH, they are in really good condition inside & out (considering their age) and would be worth the price for any museum, tourist RR, or VIA Rail.



#51 Acela150

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 12:40 AM

Good condition to an extent. Most of the parts on the cars aren't made anymore and Amtrak has to handmake the parts. Which is costly. 


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#52 bgiaquin

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 07:55 AM

Good condition to an extent. Most of the parts on the cars aren't made anymore and Amtrak has to handmake the parts. Which is costly. 

 

I know but still worth preserving. I mean come on they were built by Budd, probably the best passenger railcar builder of it's time. That is why they have lasted so long. Anything built by Budd is a cherished piece for museums & heritage railroads, & these diners would make great additions to one of those collections.



#53 VentureForth

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 08:05 AM

 

Those probably belong to the Dallas RR museum.They are in the process of moving that museum to Frisco Tx. They had an old Pulman car on display and information about the move in Dallas on NTD


I don't think these belong to the RR Museum as they are on the opposite end of the Park (over by McDonalds for those who know the area). Someone told me that property belongs to a railway equipment broker.
 
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#54 Ryan

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 08:31 AM


Good condition to an extent. Most of the parts on the cars aren't made anymore and Amtrak has to handmake the parts. Which is costly. 

 
I know but still worth preserving. I mean come on they were built by Budd, probably the best passenger railcar builder of it's time. That is why they have lasted so long. Anything built by Budd is a cherished piece for museums & heritage railroads, & these diners would make great additions to one of those collections.
 



Doesn't matter, unless you also have the means to preserve them.

I agree that it would be great for some of them to be preserved, but sadly, I don't have the money to do that. :(
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#55 gmushial

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 09:10 AM

Any guesses in terms of what the scrap value might be, ie, a number above which one might have to bid to save/collect them? Then of course the question would be: where to "save" them and how to get them there, ie, merely becoming the owner thereof is not the last of the expenses.



#56 oldtimer

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:12 PM

These high levels need extensive modification to be put in service; i.e.

 

the toilets must be converted to retention type, a real PITA as they are on the lower level with very little clearance under them.  They need to have a vacuum system such as on the superliners because the waste storage tank will be above the outlet level of the toilet.  We all know that water does not flow uphill, neither does our waste.

 

Another major problem PITA is the 1950's style HVAC system, very antiquated and it needs a total of 288 pounds of R-12 (now out of production).  The current price of R-12 (if you can get it) ranges from $40.00 to $70.00 PER POUND.  Also the piping of the AC system  is very vulnerable to damage and severe leaks,  Many times in my working days I have seen these cars come in dry of  refrigerant. 

 

replacement parts?  What are those, we had to fabricate many just  to keep them running 10 to 15 years ago.


Edited by oldtimer, 04 September 2013 - 05:14 PM.


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Posted 04 September 2013 - 05:32 PM

All depends on who is willing to pay what for them. Some of them may be saved if someone wants to buy them that will pay more than scrap value.

 

Yeah. OTOH, they are in really good condition inside & out (considering their age) and would be worth the price for any museum, tourist RR, or VIA Rail.

Or some inspired entrepreneur could use them to restart service in Mexico...



#58 TVRM610

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:01 PM

These high levels need extensive modification to be put in service; i.e.

 

the toilets must be converted to retention type, a real PITA as they are on the lower level with very little clearance under them.  They need to have a vacuum system such as on the superliners because the waste storage tank will be above the outlet level of the toilet.  We all know that water does not flow uphill, neither does our waste.

 

Another major problem PITA is the 1950's style HVAC system, very antiquated and it needs a total of 288 pounds of R-12 (now out of production).  The current price of R-12 (if you can get it) ranges from $40.00 to $70.00 PER POUND.  Also the piping of the AC system  is very vulnerable to damage and severe leaks,  Many times in my working days I have seen these cars come in dry of  refrigerant. 

 

replacement parts?  What are those, we had to fabricate many just  to keep them running 10 to 15 years ago.

 

how is converting these toilets any different then putting in brand new toilets into new superliners? It clearly can be done. 

 

what type of HVAC system does the Parlour Cars have? And again... even if you have to rip it out and put in a new one that doesn't cost more then buying brand new HVAC systems for new cars. 

 

again... replacement parts seem to be available to keep the Parlour Cars running. Imagine how much EASIER it would be to have replacement parts for High Levels if there were a fleet of 50 or so of them running out of St. Louis?  

 

I mentioned in another thread recently... Amtrak needs a lease agreement with Gateway Rail to fix these guys up and use them. The agreement can include maintenance if Amtrak doesn't want to worry about unique parts etc. Base the cars out of St. Louis and use them on the Eagle, Heartland Flyer, etc. 

 

This is a way for Amtrak to add high level coaches to the roster in the short term.


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#59 Ryan

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:07 PM

I'm going to go ahead and agree with the poster that has actual experience in maintaining these systems over some clueless foamer that says "how hard can it be?" after it's explained to him why it's so hard.

But hey, that's just me.
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#60 TVRM610

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 10:30 PM

go right ahead.  and I'm gonna look at the facts that Amtrak operates this style of car every single day. 

 

I never said the cars wouldn't require extensive modifications to be operational. The biggest issue could even be ADA issues which hasn't even been brought up!  I'm not some foamer that thinks every old piece of rail history should be kept around forever... but if Amtrak is short on equipment this could be a great short term solution to feed more cars into the system. 


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