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The "Missing" Pacific Parlour Car in Illinois

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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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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.

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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.

Yes - I'm quoting a two year old post...

 

I believe that these Hi-Levels belong to John Radovich of John's Cars in Dallas. But the only time I am personally aware of them being run was back in 2004 during the inaugural (and only) Blacklands Tejas Special Excursion between Commerce and Sulphur Springs, TX. See these pics.

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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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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.

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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

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Guest crew
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...

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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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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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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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And without extra/more cars in the system, then any attempts to grow Amtrak will have reached an upper asymptote and be pointless... not a happy picture of a future.

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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.

It operates a handful of them, on one route, at great expense, and frequently has to pull them for repair.

 

It's also far easier to keep something in operational condition than it is to bring (far more) back into operational condition. Its would likely be cheaper to buy a new car than get one of these back on the road, and the ongoing maintenance costs would be *significantly* cheaper.

 

The PPCs don't have toilets, so that issue alone would be enough to disqualify them.

 

This is a terrible idea and I'd be pissed if Amtrak wasted their limited resources trying to make it happen.

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This is a terrible idea and I'd be pissed if Amtrak wasted their limited resources trying to make it happen.

I agree.

 

But this is also a perennial. It comes up at least once a year, brought up by someone who probably has not seen the last cycle. Unfortunately there is a lot of emotion involved involved when it involves a Budd car of any sort.

 

If Amtrak found that kind of money, it should first strip and rebuild its own Superliners, which could do with that sort of tender loving care.

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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.

A standard 17-gallon recirculating (blue water) Monogram tank(now a part of Zodiac) can fit within the shroud of a 16-18" height toilet. Don't ask me how I know this... Sometimes my job is pretty crappy.

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Guest Nathanael
If Amtrak found that kind of money, it should first strip and rebuild its own Superliners, which could do with that sort of tender loving care.
Yeah; not only do the Superliner Is need some serious work, Amtrak actuallly has a plan for getting more sleeping compartments into the Transition Dorms. That would probably cost less than rehabilitating one of these 1950s cars, and would get Amtrak sleeping compartments.

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Its would likely be cheaper to buy a new car than get one of these back on the road, and the ongoing maintenance costs would be *significantly* cheaper.

The PPCs don't have toilets, so that issue alone would be enough to disqualify them.

 

Ryan... if you have ANY proof that building a new car is significantly cheaper than I would totally agree with you.

 

Also.. please note that I never suggested Amtrak themselves rebuild and maintain these cars... I suggested they enter a lease agreement with the current owner of the cars to restore and maintain them.. so Gateway would be in charge of that.. that way Amtrak for sure comes out ahead.

 

Finally.... I really can't believe you brought up the toilet issue again, but Mid America Rail Leasing has a fully operational High Level Coach that has the compliant Restrooms so this is possible.

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This is a terrible idea and I'd be pissed if Amtrak wasted their limited resources trying to make it happen.

I agree.

 

But this is also a perennial. It comes up at least once a year, brought up by someone who probably has not seen the last cycle. Unfortunately there is a lot of emotion involved involved when it involves a Budd car of any sort.

 

If Amtrak found that kind of money, it should first strip and rebuild its own Superliners, which could do with that sort of tender loving care.

 

What emotion? Funny.. you are the one who mentioned Budd built them.

 

And why would it be a better use of Amtrak's money to rebuild cars that are currently operating rather than put MORE cars into operation?

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Guest Nathanael
Sorry for the 3rd post but as a cost comparison Pullman Rail Journeys is taking cars from rotting to luxury for $750,000 - $1.2 M each.

http://www.travelpulse.com/pullman-rail-journeys-to-launch-with-chicago-new-orleans-route.html

Lighter duty cycle.

 

This is an important point. You can get cars in good condition for museum service or occasional charter service a *lot* easier than you get get them in condition for reliable service on the punishing duty cycle Amtrak puts on long-distance service.

 

So, the conclusion I come to is, Amtrak should perhaps lease these cars for Thanksgiving. With enough spares, they might work for an isolated one-a-day corridor like the Heartland Flyer. But for regular long-distance operation, they're just not going to be worth it.

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This is a terrible idea and I'd be pissed if Amtrak wasted their limited resources trying to make it happen.

 

I agree.

 

But this is also a perennial. It comes up at least once a year, brought up by someone who probably has not seen the last cycle. Unfortunately there is a lot of emotion involved involved when it involves a Budd car of any sort.

 

If Amtrak found that kind of money, it should first strip and rebuild its own Superliners, which could do with that sort of tender loving care.

 

 

What emotion? Funny.. you are the one who mentioned Budd built them.

 

And why would it be a better use of Amtrak's money to rebuild cars that are currently operating rather than put MORE cars into operation?

Just go to Trainorders or railroad.net and see the fun arguments :) - people making claims like because the cars are Budd built they would never suffer from metal fatigue and they'd have infinite lifespan. AU does not exist in isolation. ;)

 

It is better to use Amtrak money to rebuild cars that need rebuilding, and Superliners do need that. They are at or getting to that point in their life. Just because they are currently operating does not mean they will continue to do so forever. Already their reliability levels are not exactly what would be desirable. Those airconditioning and other failures are getting to be more frequent it seems.

 

As Nathanael explains, you won't get the sort of reliability needed for Amtrak's operational use of cars out of a $1.2 million rebuild of those cars. Their operating cost will remain higher than for newer cars. Every person who has worked in car maintenance and restoration that I have talked to essentially agrees with Nathanael's assessment.

 

Yes, it would be nice to have a pool of cars that can be leased occasionally. But the risk for maintaining such a pool should not be borne entirely by Amtrak. It should be borne by whoever is trying to make a business of leasing cars. Amtrak should just have to pay reasonable leasing costs. Whether that is a viable business sans subsidy is yet to be seen. In the UK considerable subsidy was required to create the ROSCOs (ROlling Stock COmpanies), but now it is quite a vibrant sector.

Edited by jis

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Also.. please note that I never suggested Amtrak themselves rebuild and maintain these cars... I suggested they enter a lease agreement with the current owner of the cars to restore and maintain them.. so Gateway would be in charge of that.. that way Amtrak for sure comes out ahead.
Having someone else do the work isn't magically going to make it cheaper. The costs (along with profit to make it worth their while) will just be rolled into the lease fees.

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Amazing collection. But most amazing to me is that the owner hasn't sold the obviously unusable metal for scrap. Wheel sets, badly damaged cars. Maybe he thinks the parts can be used? Then again every railroad I've been on in the last few years has thousands of tons of rusting steel just stacked up next to the tracks. A rough guess for that grade steel would be about 20cts/lb and rr would pay little for transport costs. Al sheeting is running maybe $0.70/lb. Just thinking out loud.

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With regards to an earlier comment about not all the ex-Santa Fe hi levels becoming Pacific Parlour Cars, I would be willing to bet the car that you toured through was indeed used as a PPC. I remember riding the Starlight in December of 1995, not too long after the upgrading of this train went through. The interior config of this car was not much different than its use as a regular lounge, and in fact if I remember looked pretty identical to the car photos you have. I think the upgrading of the cars to include overstuffed chairs and circular sofas came between 1996-1997, because I remember riding again in 1998 and that remodeling was complete.

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Yes, initially the Hi-Level lounges in PPC service hadn't been rebuilt and were in Amtrak lounge configuration they'd been in for a long time. They strung up white Christmas mini-lights to make it look more festive.

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Looks like someone thinks the cars are worth something...

 

http://ccrail.com/corridor-capital-confirms-discussions-with-michigan-about-new-passenger-trains/

 

From the "fact sheet" available in the above link.

 

 

"Remanufacturing the uniform fleet of Hi-Levels to today's specifications will provide cars virtually indistinguishable from Next-Generation cars in appearance, interior comfort, ride quality AND reliability. Plus, the Hi-Levels can be placed in service sooner AND at lower cost.

Built by the legendary Budd Company, the stainless steel Hi- Level fleet has safely, successfully, and economically operated for millions of miles on Santa Fe and Amtrak trains. Today, this indestructible equipment is ready for more, after a complete refurbishment, to provide millions of miles of more reliable and dependable service in a modern, safe environment."

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