Who used rider cars?

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Who used rider cars?

Postby NKP1155 » Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:53 am

In 1936 the Nickel Plate Road started to convert old box cars into what they called "riders". These side door, no cupola cars were cut in behind the locomotive on local freights. The head brakeman, extra brakeman (Swingman on the NKP main, Listman on the Clover Leaf District) and conductor rode this car, leaving just the flagman on the caboose. These cars had a desk, stove and bench. They were used to haul company mail and packages, as well as Railway Express parcels. Since there were not enough riders to go around, some locals had a caboose assigned to this duty. My question is, "What other railroads used a vehicle like the rider car, where, and in what capacity?"
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Re: Who used rider cars?

Postby Desertdweller » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:50 am

This sounds like services usually provided by a mixed train. A mixed train with out passengers, in this case.

Some railroads used cabooses equipped with side doors for this service. Rock Island comes to mind: I've actually been inside a couple of these (converted from small wooden boxcars).

I think generally the practice was to equip these cabooses with extra seats and operate them as a "caboose mixed". Passengers could then be accommodated without needing an actual passenger car.

When I worked on railroads in the caboose era, company mail and small amounts of company material (small parts for locomotives, for example) were generally carried on the caboose.

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Re: Who used rider cars?

Postby mmi16 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:32 pm

B&O used cabooses on both ends of some locals - more for crew convience and efficiency than anything else.
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Re: Who used rider cars?

Postby v8interceptor » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:27 pm

NKP1155 wrote:In 1936 the Nickel Plate Road started to convert old box cars into what they called "riders". These side door, no cupola cars were cut in behind the locomotive on local freights. The head brakeman, extra brakeman (Swingman on the NKP main, Listman on the Clover Leaf District) and conductor rode this car, leaving just the flagman on the caboose. These cars had a desk, stove and bench. They were used to haul company mail and packages, as well as Railway Express parcels. Since there were not enough riders to go around, some locals had a caboose assigned to this duty. My question is, "What other railroads used a vehicle like the rider car, where, and in what capacity?"


As I recall (mainly from the writings of Tony Koester who did a lot of research on NKP operations) the rider cars were a direct result of Indiana having a specific law on crew size for trains operating within the state (esp. way freights) which meant they were required to have a larger crew than elsewhere. Why NKP went with the use of Rider cars while NYC,Monon etc. did not is an interesting question.
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Re: Who used rider cars?

Postby Tadman » Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:35 pm

The South Shore was known for running freights with a caboose at each end during the electric freight era. This wasn't an "always" thing, it tended to be on operations using the 700-series ex-NYC motors and 800-series Little Joes. Especially the Gary job, a local that switched everything from the Miller Beach area to the Wabash main.

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Re: Who used rider cars?

Postby mmi16 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:31 pm

v8interceptor wrote:
NKP1155 wrote:In 1936 the Nickel Plate Road started to convert old box cars into what they called "riders". These side door, no cupola cars were cut in behind the locomotive on local freights. The head brakeman, extra brakeman (Swingman on the NKP main, Listman on the Clover Leaf District) and conductor rode this car, leaving just the flagman on the caboose. These cars had a desk, stove and bench. They were used to haul company mail and packages, as well as Railway Express parcels. Since there were not enough riders to go around, some locals had a caboose assigned to this duty. My question is, "What other railroads used a vehicle like the rider car, where, and in what capacity?"


As I recall (mainly from the writings of Tony Koester who did a lot of research on NKP operations) the rider cars were a direct result of Indiana having a specific law on crew size for trains operating within the state (esp. way freights) which meant they were required to have a larger crew than elsewhere. Why NKP went with the use of Rider cars while NYC,Monon etc. did not is an interesting question.

Indiana had laws that required a 3rd Brakeman for trains of 70 cars and larger. Trains of 69 cars and smaller did not require the '3rd man'. I found it funny that trains operating between Washington, IN and East St. Louis would have their 3rd man dismount at the station at Vincennes, IN - a little over a mile from the Wabash River bridge that formed the border between Indiana and Illinois.
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Re: Who used rider cars?

Postby BAR » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:59 am

The Monon used rider cars also know as a Head End Caboose on the CI&L. I saw them on the head end of trains passing through Bloomington in the 1960's. An internet search of "Monon Rider Cars" will produce photos and a roster of twelve Monon rider cars.
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Re: Who used rider cars?

Postby John_Perkowski » Thu Jun 23, 2016 1:12 pm

mmi16 wrote:Indiana had laws that required a 3rd Brakeman for trains of 70 cars and larger. Trains of 69 cars and smaller did not require the '3rd man'. I found it funny that trains operating between Washington, IN and East St. Louis would have their 3rd man dismount at the station at Vincennes, IN - a little over a mile from the Wabash River bridge that formed the border between Indiana and Illinois.


Not in the least. Makes perfect business sense. Have him clear the clock and go off hours. That's a business decision, pure and simple
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Re: Who used rider cars?

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:20 pm

... and not unique. The PRR line from Williamsport to Elmira and points north was subject to the New York State "full-crew" law; a "swing" brakeman had to be aboard a southbound freight for the first 3 miles from Elmira to the Pennsylvania state line at Fassett, where he would bail out and wait for the next northbound freight. (The word was that a fishing pole was kept in the wayside shack there.) The brakeman just rode the regular cabin car, however--no rider car provided.
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Re: Who used rider cars?

Postby mmi16 » Sat Jul 09, 2016 6:17 am

John_Perkowski wrote:
mmi16 wrote:Indiana had laws that required a 3rd Brakeman for trains of 70 cars and larger. Trains of 69 cars and smaller did not require the '3rd man'. I found it funny that trains operating between Washington, IN and East St. Louis would have their 3rd man dismount at the station at Vincennes, IN - a little over a mile from the Wabash River bridge that formed the border between Indiana and Illinois.


Not in the least. Makes perfect business sense. Have him clear the clock and go off hours. That's a business decision, pure and simple


Has nothing to do with business decisions. The LAW applies to 178 of the 179 miles B&O traversed in the state of Indiana. If it was 'safe' to operate the final mile from Vincennes depot to the Illinois line without the 3rd man, logically it was also safe to operate from the Vincennes depot to the Ohio line. The Law - don't try to make logical sense of it.
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