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, 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 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. 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 1977 New Jersey Custom Brass (NJCB, Custom Brass) imported brass models made by Lhee Do. Custom Brass imported 10- and 11-window coaches as well as grille cars. The cars were unpainted with no interiors, but were reasonably accurate.
In the 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 October 1936. Pullman Standard built cars 8200-8249 as Lot W125000 from December 1934 to February 1935. 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.
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!
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.