The New Haven RR in 1959                 
                                                   ...gone but not forgotten

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Lightweight Coaches

The Pullman-Bradley Lightweight Coaches

To be specific, these cars were manufactured at the Osgood Bradley plant of the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company. Osgood Bradley was a long-time car builder providing head-end and passenger cars to the New Haven for use in both electrified and non-electrified regions of the railroad. The prototype lightweight cars have several names including Pullman-Bradley in recognition of the company and plant location. This name is more correct than Osgood Bradley since by the time these cars were delivered to the New Haven, Pullman Standard was the owner of Osgood Bradley. Another name established by railfans is the “American Flyer” car.

Shortly after the New Haven received these lightweight cars, the Gilbert Company (based in New Haven, CT), which sold American Flyer brand trains produced models of these unique cars in several scales. HO scale versions of these coaches (and a baggage/RPO) were cataloged under the American Flyer banner as early as 1939. When the coachers were painted in the McGinnis New Image scheme they gained another nickname; “Black Knights”.

As delivered there were three basic configurations of the prototype for a total of 205 cars on the New Haven; 10-window, 84 seat Deluxe coaches; 11-window, 92-seat Deluxe Coaches and 53-seat grill cars (5 cars) that were later rebuilt to 92-seat, 11-window coaches. Beginning in 1940 and continuing through 1949, one group of 10-window coaches was converted to 64-seat coach, 16 seat smoker section cars.

All cars were delivered with side skirts that concealed all underbody equipment and most of the trucks. The skirts were part of the lightweight, aerodynamic styling of the cars. Between about October 1947 to February 1952, removal of the skirt sections covering the trucks and sideframes were removed. By 1957 sections of the skirts between the trucks were being removed for the practical reason of facilitating maintenance, and by 1960, photographic evidence suggests that all skirting except for a small section immediately adjacent to the vestibule steps was removed.

From the time the first group of cars was delivered in 1935, these cars served the New Haven well with many still in service until the end of the New Haven in 1968. The cars were transferred to new owners Penn Central in 1969 but revenue service was limited and scrapping began. None of the coaches was used in Amtrak service when they took over Northeast passenger rail service from Penn Central.

As far as HO scale models go, as mentioned above American Flyer made a “shorty” version before 1940. At the time, many passenger cars were shortened from prototype length to accommodate small-radius model railroad curves commonly used on layouts at that time. For more than 30 years that was the only choice for a “ready-to-run” model or for attempting to kit-bash a prototype length coach. Bennington Scale Models released a multi-media kit (photo-etched brass sides and vestibule steps, wood roof, die-cast details) of the 10-window coach in the early ‘70’s (my kit instructions were drawn in 1966 and revised in 1972) that, until 2010 was the most accurately detailed model one could hope to build.

In the very early 1980’s, E&B Valley & Company produced an all-plastic kit of the 10-window coach that was picked up by Eastern Car Works when E&B Valley closed their doors. This kit is reasonably accurate but without the fine detail of the Bennington kits. For it’s time, this was considered a very good product, but heavy rivet and window frame detail are considerable detractors for some modelers. The truck side frames and bolsters are all-plastic construction that require assembly and some modelers find the assembly troublesome and performance problematic. 

The kit was designed so the side skirts could be customized by the modeler to represent every period from delivery (full side skirts) to the end of the New Haven (skirts completely removed except a small section by the vestibule steps).

Announced in 2009, delivered in 2010, Rapido Trains, Inc. has produced the ultimate, state of the art 10-window coach. Not only is the coach very well done, it has been offered with full and partial skirts in almost too many paint and lettering schemes to count. The cars are equipped with full interior detailing and battery-powered lighting.

8200-8269 series 10 Window, 84-seat Coaches were delivered to the New Haven between December 1934 and February 1935. Pullman Standard built cars 8200-8249 as Lot W125000 by. Cars 8250-8269 were built as Lot W6495 in October 1936. From this second group, Car 8251 was converted to Car 5107, Southport Club, in 1952.

E&B Valley Coaches – except for three cars, all my 10-window Osgood-Bradley coaches are E&B Valley or Eastern Car Works kits. I purchased two of the excellent Rapido cars painted and lettered in schemes I do not own and I have one Bennington Models kit to be built.

As stated, the E&B Valley cars are not in the same class as the Rapido cars, but they can be worked on to some level of improvement with very little effort. All of my E&B Valley/ECW cars are detailed with screen added to the roof vents. The screen is from the pyramid tea bags from Lipton flavored teas. The two saloon vents mounted on the roof at the “A” end of the car are also thinned as recommended in the kit instructions. The cast on louver detail is removed using a chisel blade from the car end to be used at the “B” end of the car.

I also found some suitable venetian blinds on the internet and resized and cropped the image for use in my passenger cars. It’s not a bad match to the blinds in the Rapido cars if I say so myself! One problem with all the E&B Valley New Haven-decorated cars is all the lettering has to be removed and replaced with Accu-cal or Microscale decals. The heralds are not quite the right size and are incorrectly positioned and the NEW HAVEN lettering on the letter board is not correctly spaced. For this reason, buying an undecorated kit is in some cases better than buying a decorated kit.

In addition I added floors to both coach (below left) and smoker (below right) versions. Floor patterns for both were originally produced by New Haven modeler Ted Jones many years ago. These were formatted to print on a larger piece of paper than I had available for my printer, so I re-drew them and created a layout that will print on standard 8½ x11” paper.

As shown in the photo, the smokers also get a partition made of a piece of clear 0.005” styrene sandwiched between two pieces of painted 0.005” sheet styrene. These interiors still need seats, but I build my passenger cars with removable roofs when possible since I don’t always detail the interior completely before running them on the layout, so adding seats at some future point will be easy.

The floor patterns above were revised after I added them to my first coach and smoker models. The smoker floor section was shortened to align with the correct location of the partition and the area for the aisle was corrected. In addition, the alternating black and blue tile area was changed to represent a marbleized black area. In both coach and smoker flooring, the area of the blue-grey saloon flooring was improved to extend to the saloon wall partitions.

Coach 8209 was modeled from a 1957 photo showing the skirting in the area of the battery box removed. I think this adds just a small bit of variety to the roster, and besides; I don’t have a 1959 photo of this same car to prove the rest of the skirts were removed by then! Most of my 10-window coaches are built without skirts, but I couldn’t resist modeling this one. 

Coach 8224 represents the more typical appearance of these cars in 1959 with all skirting removed and painted in the “Black Knight” McGinnis New Image scheme.

Rapido Trains, Inc. Coaches

Car 8208 is one of two of the fantastic Rapido cars I purchased. This is a model of the car in the 401 Green scheme. My second car is in the Pullman Green scheme. My other green 10-window cars are #212 Hunter Green as will be seen in the 8500-series section, so you can see how I have cleverly avoided “conflicting” greens on my layout!

8300-8349 series 11-window, 92-seat coaches were built by Pullman Standard at the former Osgood Bradley plant in Worcester, MA and delivered to the New Haven in October 1937.  The first lot, W6518 consisted of car numbers 8300-8349. 

Coach 8306 - This is an 11-window Osgood Bradley coach, commonly known as the "American Flyer" type and represents a car from the first production lot.  This particular model is a brass car produced by Soho and is from the collection of noted New Haven modeler Bob Vancour.

8350-8369 series 11-window, 92 seat coaches were built by Pullman Standard at the former Osgood Bradley plant in Worcester, MA and delivered to the New Haven in October 1938. This lot, W6558, consisted of car numbers 8350-8369.  Later on in 1952, the New Haven's Readville Shops converted lightweight Grill Cars 5200-5204 to 92-seat, 11-window coaches which were renumbered into this series as 8370-8374.

8500-8529 series 10-window, 84-seat coaches converted to smokers - Thirty coaches were built in September 1938 as Deluxe coaches in Lot W6557 and delivered to the New Haven. However, beginning in 1940, and in 1947-1949, Readville Shops converted these cars to 64-seat coach, 16-seat smoking section cars. It’s interesting that these cars were still being converted to smokers when the newer 8600-series coaches that were all built with 14-seat smoking sections were being delivered in 1947-48.

Upon conversion to smokers, these cars were repainted into a scheme with black roof, #212 Hunter Green sides, aluminum window frames, sans serif NEW HAVEN on the letter board and script heralds centered over the truck sideframes. It’s reasonably certain the lettering was originally silver-gray, but color photos tend to show the lettering as white and it has been reported that the paint whitened with weathering in any case. It has come to light this scheme was not unique to the 8500-series smokers as at least one confirmed photo of an 11-window coach in this scheme has surfaced. The 8500-series cars were also repainted into the McGinnis New Image scheme, becoming among those cars identified as “Black Knights”.

Two spotting features to identify the 8500-series 10 window coaches from other 84-seat coaches are; the rectangular roof-mounted hatch for the air conditioner unit located at the “A” end of the car, and the one motor driven exhaust fan located on the roof at the “B” end of the car (on the same side of the car as the mens’ saloon – but opposite end). This fan had a visibly larger housing that the other three exhaust ventilators, and was only present on the 8500-8529 series smokers.

Car 8505 represents a Portman Hobby Distributors custom run of E&B Valley kits decorated in the smoker scheme produced quite a long time ago, . The vent on the left side of the roof has been modified to be larger than the other roof vents per the prototype.

Car 8525 represents a smoker repainted in the McGinnis New Image scheme.