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Date: 06/25/20 11:45
Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: Sp1110

In the 1970’s Conrail was in charge of operating several commuter trains. These routes were inherited from Penn Central. I think most of these trains were eventually taken over by the state governments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Were these trains all electric or were diesel locomotives involved too?

Were some of these trains steam-heated or were they all HEP?

How are the lights powered on steam-heated passenger trains?

What about the equipment in the dining car? Did dining cars of that era have their own diesel generators?

Does anybody remember when Conrail operated their last passenger train?

Thank you.



Date: 06/25/20 12:26
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: ctillnc

Dining car on a commuter train... you're kidding, right? Well, some trains that served high-rent neighborhoods did have a tavern or lounge car. Before HEP, passenger cars had batteries that were recharged by generators coupled to an axle. When the train moved, the batteries were charged. The batteries provided electricity while the train was stopped. During layovers, the batteries were switched out of the circuit so that they wouldn't drain. Some cars had connections to take electricity from an outside source during layovers, if a source was available. It's also possible for a car to have its own self-contained electricity from a Waukesha-style generator burning propane, although that's a pretty expensive set up for a large fleet of commuter cars. And in theory, you could install a steam turbogenerator like the steam locomotives had.. but I've never heard of a modern passenger car that did so. 



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/20 12:30 by ctillnc.



Date: 06/25/20 12:50
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: HotWater

Sp1110 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In the 1970’s Conrail was in charge of operating
> several commuter trains. These routes were
> inherited from Penn Central. I think most of these
> trains were eventually taken over by the state
> governments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
>
> Were these trains all electric or were diesel
> locomotives involved too?

Depended on the route.

> Were some of these trains steam-heated or were
> they all HEP?

Most likely steam heat.

> How are the lights powered on steam-heated
> passenger trains?

Batteries, with axle powered battery charging. 

> What about the equipment in the dining car? Did
> dining cars of that era have their own diesel
> generators?

Commuter trains did not have dining cars. However, back in the steam trainline days, the dining cars were steam heated, with charcoal stoves. No diesel generators.


> Does anybody remember when Conrail operated their
> last passenger train?

No.

> Thank you.



Date: 06/25/20 13:15
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: RevRandy

HotWater Wrote:  (in part)
 > However,back in the steam trainline days, the dining cars
> were steam heated, with charcoal stoves. No diesel
> generators.

On the NYCRR the stoves used Presto Logs, not charcoal



Date: 06/25/20 13:41
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: ctjacks

Conrail also inherited commuter lines from Erie Lackawanna and Jersey Central.  These lines all were unique to some extent.  For locomotive-powered trains they typically used steam heat and DC-battery A/C and lights - although only some of the cars - mostly the secondhand ones - had closed windows with a/c.  The open window cars didn't have a/c and just had batteries for lights.  There were exceptions, such as the NJDOT equipment on the ex-EL lines.  For a better answer, we need to know which lines you are interested in.

I presume the last day Conrail operated passenger trains was the day before NJT took them over in New Jersey - I think that was in 1982, or maybe in 1983.



Date: 06/25/20 14:31
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: MEKoch

Dining car kitchens entering NYC were all presto log stove with a charcoal broiler. Western trains has propane stoves, which was a much cooler kitchen.
A few cars had Waukesha generators but they were rare.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 06/25/20 16:05
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: filmteknik

I think commuter trains could not generate sufficient power from axle generators to light the cars and the locomotive provided supplemental power.

That ruled out electromechanical A/C so Waukesha Ice Engines were probably the most common A/C on commuter trains. This is a propane-burning engine turning the compressor & condenser fan

Commuter trains went with HEP first. A lot of junk could be swept away and a limited, captive car fleet need not be compatible with the rest of the nation.



Date: 06/25/20 16:56
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: tomcough

Conrail inherited commuter train services in 11 states and the District of Columbia. With the exception of EMU’s on the corridor from New Haven to DC and RDC’s in 6 of those states, the only HEP equipped trains at the time were the Pullman Standard push-pull sets built for Erie Lackawanna service in NJ/NY in the early ‘70s. All the rest were steam heated and ran with the traditional axle driven generators (although the CNJ GP-7’s had train lighting generators.) If the batteries were well maintained, commuter trains did o.k. with axle generators.

If the batteries were not well maintained, there could be issues. As a regular rider in the 70’s in and out of Boston, I remember times when a train would make its stop and the lights would dim then go out as well as A/c When the train started moving, the trainmen would walk through the train and reset the lights and a/c.


Tom Coughlin
Stow, MA

Posted from iPhone



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/20 17:26 by tomcough.



Date: 06/25/20 17:55
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: Lurch_in_ABQ

Did steam ejector air conditioning survive into Amtrak?



Date: 06/25/20 18:00
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: AndyBrown

Lurch_in_ABQ Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Did steam ejector air conditioning survive into
> Amtrak?

Yes, Santa Fe's fleet and maybe others were steam jet.  The guy from Houston posts about it every so often.

Andy



Date: 06/25/20 18:29
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: Hou74-76

AndyBrown Wrote:
 The guy from Houston posts about it every
> so often.

That guy from Houston, me?  

Well, Southern had some snack bar coaches with steam ejector AC that lasted to the late 70s.  But most cars on Amtrak, Southern, Rio Grande and Rock Island were electro-mechanical systems that used R22.  Nostalgia aside, the best thing I saw Amtrak do was eliminate steam on trains.  I saw simply too many accidents and malfunctions with steam systems.  They were a pain.



Date: 06/25/20 19:05
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: MojaveBill

What I loved about steam heat was resting my left foot on the radiator cover all those years...

Bill Deaver
Mojave, CA



Date: 06/25/20 20:29
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: RailThunder

The commuter operators in New Jersey got a sizable fleet of coaches from BN that were exGN and steam heated. Those were interesting times. The huge challenge with steam heat was while the same in some principles there were different standards among different passenger railroads in the pre-Amtrak era. Once Amtrak began there was dispersement of these cars nationwide. That created problems as a car maintainer in St. Petersburg might not be familiar with the operating system on a Union Pacific coach and so on. This in it's own way generated reliability issues in addition to the age of the equipment that thankfully brought about the HEP program.



Date: 06/25/20 20:29
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: RuleG

I recall that 1983 was the last year Conrail ran commuter trains in the New York City, Northern New Jersey and Philadelphia areas before these operations became the responsbilities of Metro North, NJ Transit and SEPTA, respectively.  If any of you know otherwise, feel free to chime in.



Date: 06/25/20 20:53
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: CCDeWeese

I was at SEPTA 1982 - 1984.  We took over operation of the Conrail service 1/1/83.  I think NJT and MTA were at the same time.
 



Date: 06/25/20 21:21
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: OregonHoosier

CCDeWeese Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was at SEPTA 1982 - 1984.  We took over
> operation of the Conrail service 1/1/83.  I think
> NJT and MTA were at the same time.
>  

I think you are correct, and also that MARC may have been on the same date.

I sometimes have to remind myself that there are members of this board who ask about things that I generally remember (perhaps not exact dates or details, which I have to look up), because they are younger and didn't personally experience them like I did. When I came of age, I still had resources such as Official Guides and a guy named David P. Morgan to teach me many things I didn't know and was trying to figure out. Since the original poster inquired about Conrail commuter trains, it occurred to me that he might not even know about three lines from Chicago to Valparaiso (ex-PRR), Detroit to Ann Arbor (ex-NYC), and Cleveland to Youngstown (ex-EL). The first two were taken over by Amtrak but later discontinued; the third was discontinued by Conrail in (IIRC) 1977. Somewhere I remember reading that Conrail had a track gang almost literally following the last train out of Cleveland Union Terminal, pulling up track to make sure the train never returned. I don't know if it's true or not, but it makes a good story.

I almost included the ex-P&LE train from Pittsburgh to Youngstown, later cut back to College, Pa., and then discontinued. But then my memory saved me from error by reminding me that P&LE was never part of Conrail....



Date: 06/25/20 21:55
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: 41bridge

I can still remember looking in the open kitchen door of a PC or early Amtrak dining car and seeing 5 or 6 bundles of presto logs stacked waiting for use in preparation of that nights's dinner. Good food, too. Not today's slop!



Date: 06/25/20 22:48
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: YoungOldHead

The Pennsy had an HEP equipped train built in 1956. Not excatly a commuter train as it ran New York to Washington. As I'm not certain it's ok to include a wikipedia link and it's not exactly "recognised" source information. Look up Pennsylavania Keystone (train) or Pennsylvania railroad Tubular train.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/20 22:49 by YoungOldHead.



Date: 06/26/20 04:37
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: RuleG

CCDeWeese Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was at SEPTA 1982 - 1984.  We took over
> operation of the Conrail service 1/1/83.  I think
> NJT and MTA were at the same time.
>  

Thank you, CCDeWeese.



Date: 06/26/20 06:38
Re: Questions about steam heated passenger trains
Author: ghCBNS

RevRandy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> HotWater Wrote:  (in part)
>  > However,back in the steam trainline days, the
> dining cars
> > were steam heated, with charcoal stoves. No
> diesel
> > generators.
>
> On the NYCRR the stoves used Presto Logs, not
> charcoal


I was a kid back in 1967......the year CN leased Atlantic Coast Line diners 'Greenville' 'Tarboro' and 'Fitzgerald' for the 'Cabot'...... a new train CN was running between Montreal and Sydney NS. I can remember the smoke rolling out of the roof vents and smell. I always though it was coal smoke...perhaps it was Presto Logs??



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