Issues with Old Passenger Cars

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Dreezy
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Issues with Old Passenger Cars

Post by Dreezy » Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:17 pm

I've occasionally heard it said when reading the Amtrak forum that one of the reasons why the new Viewliners were ordered is to replace—at last—the few remaining Heritage dining and baggage cars, which is certainly a worthy goal, since the Heritage cars seem to have required more maintenance and were limited in terms of top speed on the Northeast Corridor. From what I understand, they are all Budd products, with no Pullman or ACF cars still around.

My question is, what exactly happens to passenger cars when they get really old? Obviously most stuff manufactured by humans eventually wears out, but what things are specific to rail cars that necessitates their replacement? I'm not really a railroader, so I wouldn't really know myself. And also, something else I am curious about, are/were Budd products more durable or reliable than those from Pullman or one of the other manufacturers?

Fan Railer
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Re: Issues with Old Passenger Cars

Post by Fan Railer » Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:50 pm

Dreezy wrote:I've occasionally heard it said when reading the Amtrak forum that one of the reasons why the new Viewliners were ordered is to replace—at last—the few remaining Heritage dining and baggage cars, which is certainly a worthy goal, since the Heritage cars seem to have required more maintenance and were limited in terms of top speed on the Northeast Corridor. From what I understand, they are all Budd products, with no Pullman or ACF cars still around.

My question is, what exactly happens to passenger cars when they get really old? Obviously most stuff manufactured by humans eventually wears out, but what things are specific to rail cars that necessitates their replacement? I'm not really a railroader, so I wouldn't really know myself. And also, something else I am curious about, are/were Budd products more durable or reliable than those from Pullman or one of the other manufacturers?
Railcar specific issues are frame deterioration (rust) from the elements, and running stresses, truck wear and tear (mitigated by occasional overhauls, but not forever), and body wear (also mitigated by overhauls). Overhauling a railcar can extend its life by renewing key parts like trucks, bodies, and interior, but frame deterioration is not feasibly reversible. Eventually, it becomes more cost effective to replace the entire car with one that has newer technology and etc.

Patrick Boylan
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Re: Issues with Old Passenger Cars

Post by Patrick Boylan » Sat Nov 09, 2013 4:35 am

My guess about Budd durability vs other manufacturers would be that since Budd was a stainless steel pioneer maybe the Budd equipment that we still see running is stainless steel. Does anybody know if that's true?

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Re: Issues with Old Passenger Cars

Post by 25Hz » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:23 am

Patrick Boylan wrote:My guess about Budd durability vs other manufacturers would be that since Budd was a stainless steel pioneer maybe the Budd equipment that we still see running is stainless steel. Does anybody know if that's true?
That is correct. Amfleets, metroliners (now cab cars), M3/a for MTA, venerable R32 subway cars, body shells of the AEM-7's and the aforementioned diners and bags were built to last using the best design and manufacturing possible at the time. The trains running when the heritage diners and bags were new topped out at around 100 mph, so limiting them to 110 is literally a vestige of a bygone era. When those cars are retired, all electric trains will be good for 125, and soon possibly 135 on the upgraded "speedway" in NJ. Diesel locomotives top out at 110 so no issue there, which is why they have lasted so long without replacement i think.

The major issue plaguing older cars is structural fatigue and corrosion. Usually the frame was made of mild steel with the body shell of stainless steel.
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electricron
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Re: Issues with Old Passenger Cars

Post by electricron » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:31 am

25Hz wrote:
Patrick Boylan wrote: When those cars are retired, all electric trains will be good for 125, and soon possibly 135 on the upgraded "speedway" in NJ. Diesel locomotives top out at 110 so no issue there, which is why they have lasted so long without replacement i think.
Acela may be abe to go 135 mph on the "speedway", but not Amfleet I and II and Viewliner I and II cars. As the FRA regulations are today, all passenger trains in the USA are limited to 125 mph except those meeting the specifications set for Acela trains and their likes.
I'm not suggesting new single level corridor cars Amtrak may build in the future will not meet those specifications, but certainly the existing Amfleet corridor cars will never meet them. Stop suggesting they will....

David Benton
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Re: Issues with Old Passenger Cars

Post by David Benton » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:41 am

Stainless steel has its own issues. Its more prone to cracking in the heat affected zone of welds than mild steel, especially where there's vibration.
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Desertdweller
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Re: Issues with Old Passenger Cars

Post by Desertdweller » Wed Nov 27, 2013 9:10 pm

Traditionally, the use for old passenger cars that remained in service was to use them as non-revenue equipment. There was a time, as late as the 1970's, when you could get a pretty good idea of a railroad's passenger car history by looking at its work train equipment.

From what I've heard, the Maintenance of Way crews and union eventually complained enough of having to live in camp cars at job sites that they were replaced by the use of motels. The move toward off-track maintenance equipment helped this trend, as there were plenty of places now for track crews to ride to the motel and back.

When I first started studying the railroad industry, heavyweight passenger cars were commonly used as camp and support cars. Coaches and sleepers were used for camp cars, diners remained diners, baggage cars were used to carry equipment. They were painted in the road's MOW color scheme. Milwaukee Road's cars were oxide red or gray; CB&Q cars were orange. AT&SF's were painted silver. I remember seeing short, open-platform branch line passenger cars in work train service on the Milwaukee.

Some railroads, like the Milwaukee, had special work trains for different crews. Building & Bridges had their own train as different from the Track Maintenance.

There was other interesting equipment, too. CB&Q had a series of water tenders, painted orange, that were small steam locomotive tenders. Milwaukee Road had a rotary snow plow in my area that was painted yellow. It had originally been set up to run off electric overhead, then was rewired to take power from a dedicated F-unit booster. They also had one piece of steam-powered equipment that overlapped my service time on the Milwaukee. It was a pile-driver, also painted yellow.

Streamlined passenger cars were also used this way, but were less common. Stainless steel cars were rare, but older carbon steel cars were seen. Especially baggage cars.

Some old passenger cars had their bodies removed and were used as 85' flat cars for light-duty loads. Idler cars for cranes was a common use.

Les

Nasadowsk
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Re: Issues with Old Passenger Cars

Post by Nasadowsk » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:36 am

David Benton wrote:Stainless steel has its own issues. Its more prone to cracking in the heat affected zone of welds than mild steel, especially where there's vibration.
People also forget that passenger cars twists, stretch, compress, sag, etc. I once had the pleasure of being in the first amfleet behind the locomotive on a NEC train where the HVAC system was off (for whatever reason - the car was comfy in any case, and it was beautifully quiet), and as we accelerated, you could hear the wall panels creak slightly. Well, the carbody's stretching slightly. Do the math - it's there, even if it's a fraction of an inch.

For a real fun time, go to the rear of a 747 in flight and watch the front carefully...

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Re: Issues with Old Passenger Cars

Post by Milwaukee_F40C » Sat Dec 14, 2013 5:41 pm

Stainless steel has its own issues. Its more prone to cracking in the heat affected zone of welds than mild steel, especially where there's vibration.
Budd's controlled shotwelding process results in stronger connections than normal welds or rivets, supposedly not altering the properties of the metal very much. So as long as the stresses don't exceed the typical strength of the metal, the area around the welds should be good. If Budd welds are fatigued, the rest of the metal probably is too.

I've read about some flaws with Budd cars having to do with regular steel components attached to the stainless steel side sills, which cause the sills to deform when the steel components rust and expand. I guess repairing this on private cars is common.
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