Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

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Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby dlandw » Wed Feb 23, 2011 10:31 pm

Hello all,

The idea for this thread began with a number of nostalgic posts under the “Why MP15s for Passenger Power?” thread.

So... here are some “fond memories” of the LIRR "Grimeliner" diesel-hauled fleet of the 1970s and 80s. Before the interior refits that began around 1984, which added M-1 style seating and carpeted walls, they were pretty awful.

The pre-refurb cars were filthy, inside and out. What had once been reversible walkover seats were welded in place. The bench-style seat backs were thin, and the textured vinyl upholstery captured ground-in dirt remarkably well.

The dark green windows gave the outside world and the car interiors a surrealistic green tinge, but no matter – the windows were nearly opaque due to scratches and (so they tell me) chemical detergents. But, judging by appearance, the diesel trains didn't run through the wash racks very often. The roofs were rusty, and all the painted surfaces were sticky with diesel grime.

They were air conditioned -- theoretically. The air conditioning in many of the pre-refurb cars either did not work at all, or was just no match for the summer heat and humidity. Fortunately, the conductors tended to keep the sliding end doors propped open to maintain air flow. Things were somewhat better after the refurb, but still not as comfortable as the M-1s.

Toilets? Not gonna even touch that. In later years, many of them were permanently locked shut.

Ride quality? Bouncy, with plenty of track noise, and noise from the jangling chains that protected the passage between the cars. Given that they were lightweight MU cars (including those that were intended to be hauled by locomotives from the getgo), they definitely did not have the smooth ride that more modern diesel-hauled coaches on other commuter railroads did.

By contrast, Metro North's ex-New York Central MU fleet of similar design and vintage was only recently retired, and I believe a few sets remain on the property for overflow periods. What a difference more attentive maintenance and cleaning can make.

That being said, the diesel trains always attracted more interest than the bland sameness of the M-1s. The Alco FAs alone were enough to make them attractive. As for the coaches themselves... well, they had character. Love 'em or hate 'em, they were the thing that made the LIRR a "real railroad."

Coincidentally, while I hated the green coach windows, I've chosen the same green tint for my last several pairs of sunglasses. Go figure.

Cheers,
Al "dlandw"
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby mirrodie » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:14 pm

THis thread sucks without photos ;)

SEriously, I only recall the diesels in the 90s ( I never really rode them prior to that) but had seen them on the Central all through the 80s and also at Morris Park.)

I LOVED riding on the fleet, especially in the vestibules, either right behind the engine or on the last car if there was no engine.

I loved the air and the sound of that power. Physics in motion always fascinated me.

One anecdote:

I left the RR to get into medicine. One day I rode behind an engine in the vestibule and was in clinic the next day as an intern. We'd practice on each other and so another colleague did an eye examination on me. I was wearing contacts.

HE called over the residing doctor and then another...no one could figure out what was in my eye (I didnt feel anything, so I was wondering too!)

Turns out it was blue paint that landed on my contact lens, no doubt from the engine, and was in the matrix of my contact lens. And I didnt feel a thing.

While the vestibules may have posed a threat to safety, were there ever incidents of passengers getting killed?? Or hurt? I know it was a'liability' in todays litigious society but did that ever come to fruition?
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby workextra » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:32 am

This thread should get a good discussion going.
For those that were there Let's here the good and bad about the era.
I'm happy I got to at least experience them a had full of times before they were retired. What we have not can never live up to the respect the old battle worn and duct taped together equipment did.
I do recall them being bouncy and the noise in the vestibules was loud. If the coach door actually closed it was not bad inside the coach, most if not all the windows were hazed over. Most of the time I spent on them were in the open vestibules anyhow.
The Parlors, even smelling like rat piss, still were a class act compared to a fixed seat C3. And yes I remember very vividly smelling rat piss in the parlors as well as coaches. 96-99 era.
for you litigious lawyers, I never seen anyone get sucked off, and the doors were sometimes open on both sides.
A little latch type lever allowed anyone to open the doors- passengers too,in the 2900 cars If I remember correctly.

What happened to pride-innovation-skill- and ingenuity The ability to take old and make it new. Make something out of nothing.
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby railfan365 » Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:47 pm

I'm prompted by this thread to date on the memory of my "free mistake" in dealing with the railroad. One day in 1994 or '95, I was traveling by car to visit one of the truck renting companies on Borden Avenue. When I got to a street railroad crossing, i stopped to look both ways and tralized that I had gone too far when I was staring into the nose of a GP-38, which had 7 P-72's hitched to it. Luckily for me, the train was just parked there while the engineer was on break, and I was off to my business appointment once my heart started beating again.
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby wilsonpooch » Thu Feb 24, 2011 6:59 pm

You did not smell rat piss, trust me on this.. you smelled human waste.
On the old equipment the toilet was usually nothing more then a hole that dumped the waste on the roadbed below.
Anyone remember the do not flush in station signs? There was a good reason for this.
There were no holding tanks and the waste was let out of the car when flushed.
The waste would then get all over the trucks and brake riggings, making for a lovely smell when the brakes were applied.
I am not saying there were never any rats on the equipment, but I never saw one on the trains in my years there.
In stations and yards, yes.
I did see roaches on occasion, but never rats.
On one occasion I was in the stationmasters office in NY, and a train reported passengers had seen rats in an M-1.
It was a train that connected with one of the fire island trains at Babylon.
Turned out they were not rats, rather gerbils.
The station master that day Mr. Joe A, got a good laugh out of that, as we all did.
As a worker, I liked the p-72's and converted mp-72's better then the bi-levels.
I dont recall green tinted windows on the 72's.
I do remember them on the converted worlds fair cars, or zip cars
The zip cars bounced like a basketball and had those hideous green tinted windows. I think they were designated mp-75's
Image
In this photo, the lead Car is a zip car, or worlds fair car. The second car is an mp-72, further down in the consist the two grey cars are mp-54's.
there are obvious diferences, some are the square window for the engineer, instead of the round ones on the 72's.
Also there is no off side window for the Conductor or observer.
Look just above the engineers window, that long thin thing is the trains whistle.. yep they still had whistles not horns.
(although on some equipment whistles were replaced with horns towards the end)
The windows on the side of the cars are long and rectangular on the zips, on the 72's they are smaller and square.
To me there was nothing better then working the old 72's on a hot summer night, and hanging out in the vestibule with the door open and the resulting warm summer breeze.
Mp-72 with the whistle still intact
Image
mp-75
Image
Last edited by wilsonpooch on Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby dlandw » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:29 pm

Hello all,

I was not able to find any interior pictures of actual pre-refurbishment LIRR coaches in service, but here are a few photos from elsewhere to give you an idea. Please bear with me, I was not able to get the images inserted in this post, but hopefully someone else can figure out how to insert them (with proper credit to the original websites).

This is an ex-LIRR P72 or MP72 coach, converted for tourist train service with sliding windows installed:
http://sturmovikdragon.livejournal.com/90224.html

This is how the seating appeared when the cars were in service prior to refurbishment. The upholstery colors were either the aqua blue seen here, or tan/pale orange.

This is a Metro North 1100-series ex-NYC ACMU coach. They were nearly identical to LIRR cars:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v327/ ... 8-2004.jpg

The LIRR cars might have looked like this when they were brand new. In contrast, the Metro North cars still looked this good in 2004!

Cheers,
Al "dlandw"
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby wilsonpooch » Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:40 pm

interior of mp-72 before the m-1 seats
Image

mp 72 with horn instead of whistle
Image
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby No Door Light » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:42 am

Say what you like about them, i loved em! I guess it's a sentimental thing because when i was little this was the equipment that my mom and i rode on to visit family on the island. I'll always remember taking the train from FBA, and the best part was changing at Jamaica or Huntington to board the diesel. Although there was no RFW to peer out of up front, still great memories. This was the era of the blue stripe running through the middle of the cars, rather than the later stripe painted lower. I still remember when the walkover seats actually worked, and the green tinted windows.

Image

My mom, being a smoker would always get upset when the conductor would flip the little sign on the ceiling at the front from smoking to no smoking. Great memories indeed, just felt more like old railroading than todays diesel fleet. It also seemed like there weren't any equipment trouble with the fleet either, guess i'm just an old school type of guy. Photo from rr-fallen flags, no photographer info
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby keyboardkat » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:55 am

dlandw wrote:Hello all,

The idea for this thread began with a number of nostalgic posts under the “Why MP15s for Passenger Power?” thread.

So... here are some “fond memories” of the LIRR "Grimeliner" diesel-hauled fleet of the 1970s and 80s. Before the interior refits that began around 1984, which added M-1 style seating and carpeted walls, they were pretty awful.

The pre-refurb cars were filthy, inside and out. What had once been reversible walkover seats were welded in place. The bench-style seat backs were thin, and the textured vinyl upholstery captured ground-in dirt remarkably well.

The dark green windows gave the outside world and the car interiors a surrealistic green tinge, but no matter – the windows were nearly opaque due to scratches and (so they tell me) chemical detergents. But, judging by appearance, the diesel trains didn't run through the wash racks very often. The roofs were rusty, and all the painted surfaces were sticky with diesel grime.

They were air conditioned -- theoretically. The air conditioning in many of the pre-refurb cars either did not work at all, or was just no match for the summer heat and humidity. Fortunately, the conductors tended to keep the sliding end doors propped open to maintain air flow. Things were somewhat better after the refurb, but still not as comfortable as the M-1s.

Toilets? Not gonna even touch that. In later years, many of them were permanently locked shut.

Ride quality? Bouncy, with plenty of track noise, and noise from the jangling chains that protected the passage between the cars. Given that they were lightweight MU cars (including those that were intended to be hauled by locomotives from the getgo), they definitely did not have the smooth ride that more modern diesel-hauled coaches on other commuter railroads did.

By contrast, Metro North's ex-New York Central MU fleet of similar design and vintage was only recently retired, and I believe a few sets remain on the property for overflow periods. What a difference more attentive maintenance and cleaning can make.

That being said, the diesel trains always attracted more interest than the bland sameness of the M-1s. The Alco FAs alone were enough to make them attractive. As for the coaches themselves... well, they had character. Love 'em or hate 'em, they were the thing that made the LIRR a "real railroad."

Coincidentally, while I hated the green coach windows, I've chosen the same green tint for my last several pairs of sunglasses. Go figure.

Cheers,
Al "dlandw"


You obviously never rode this equipment when it was new, or before the 1966 MTA takeover. The PRR management took care of its equipment. It was the MTA that put that horrible textured vinyl on the seats and welded them in place to save crews the bother of reversing the seats. As built, the cars had smooth dark green vinyl upholstery on moveable walkover seats. The green tinted windows were added so as to replace the dust catching, easy to break window shades, and as far as I was concerned, that was fine. The windows were not opaque until the MTA replaced the glass with an early version of Lexan, which was etched into opaqueness by the chemical cleaning solvents. The air conditioning worked 99 percent of the time or better, and was dynamite. The ride was smooth and quiet, especially compared to the P-54s with their shop-type trucks. Close the end doors and you rode in relative silence. If you were far back in the train, you couldn't hear the diesel horns.

But there was a marked deterioration in service and in the condition of the equipment once the MTA bureaucrats took over running the railroad. They decided that the cars simply had to be repainted in MTA platinum mist and blue, so they slapped on this paint job with no sandblasting or priming so that it peeled immediately and looked lousy. It also showed dirt quickly, and the MTA never bothered to wash the cars, it seems. We "had" to have welded seats, we "had" to have textured vinyl, we "had" to have paint between the windows that looked like "little flowers." If the MTA had maintained the equipment to PRR standards, you would have been riding a different fleet during the '70s and '80s.
Fairbanks-Morse forever!
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby LongIslandTool » Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:52 am

Amen, Kat. Probably the best riding, safest and most cost efficient cars the LIRR ever owned.
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby BobLI » Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:16 pm

I have to agree with LI Tool regarding the ride qualities.. My uncle worked in Dunton car shops and I remember him telling me those Zip cars were a pleasure to work on.
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby LongIslandTool » Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:37 pm

I think you'll find similar sentiments with most of America's products of the 50's and 60's.

Our nation was at the height of its production, design and manufacturing, before the destructive influence of government regulation like affirmative action, punitive trade agreements, high taxation and bogus environmental limitations.
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby jhdeasy » Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:43 pm

Here are a five photos of PP-72 class "Sunrise Fleet" parlor cars between 1975 and the late 1990s. These 12 cars were the first class segment of the vintage diesel hauled fleet for approximately the last 25 years of the 20th century.

Interior view. If the image was in color, you would see the 2 and 1 moveable chair seats were upholstered in red, with red carpeting. Note the small bar located mid-car.
http://www.dominionrailvoyages.com/jhd/lirr/PP72interior.jpg

2011 in the yard at Montauk, summer 1975. Note the car still has a blue (rather than red) window stripe.
http://www.dominionrailvoyages.com/jhd/ ... uild_1.jpg

2014 in the yard at Montauk, June 1983.
http://www.dominionrailvoyages.com/jhd/lirr/2014rebuild_2.jpg

Four parlor cars just east of Jamaica, car numbers 2017 and 2015 visible, mid/late 1990s. Note small "meatball" style M logo.
http://www.dominionrailvoyages.com/jhd/lirr/2017rebuild_1.jpg

2020 spotted at the bumper post of the mainline in Greenport, June 1986 fantrip.
http://www.dominionrailvoyages.com/jhd/lirr/2020rebuild_1.jpg
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby mirrodie » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:26 am

"This is an ex-LIRR P72 or MP72 coach, converted for tourist train service with sliding windows installed:
http://sturmovikdragon.livejournal.com/90224.html"\

Thanks for educating :) I just took my kids on a Day out with Thomas excursion last summer and these were the coaches pulled by the Thomas tank engine. I searched for any trace that these were former LIRR cars but did not see any. These trains were spic and span, BTW.

So the Zip cars were around on the island near the end, yes?
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
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Re: Vintage Diesel-Hauled Fleet

Postby wilsonpooch » Sat Feb 26, 2011 1:38 pm

The zip cars were around till the very end, along with the 72's.
The seminole gulf Railroad in florida has at least one zip car, in this video, the lead engine , 501 is ex LIRR, 621, and the rear car is an ex lirr zip'They run them push pull, just like the LIRR, 501 and 502 are hotel power with no traction motors
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZv3tBK1K1s&NR=1
Here is an interior shot of a seminole gulf ex lirr zip car, taken at christmas time 2 or 3 years ago
Image
Image
about as close as you will get to the old lirr of the 70's, 80's and 90's now, ex lirr power pack pulling a zip..
Image
Now close your eyes and think... poof
Image
I guess I worked this train that day, because the cream colored dodge aspen parked in front of the RR van was my car..( yeah I know Bobby T owned the same car, but by the time this photo was taken in the 90's, he had sold it to me)
In fact I zoomed in on the photo, thats my fat right arm sticking out from behind the box on the platform, holding my ever present dunkin donuts Iced coffee.
The dodge aspen of that era did not have the high brake light as the cars do today, so Bobby T put one inside on the rear deck, made out of an M-1 exterior door light. It lit when one hit the brakes. Of course I kept it on the car.
My two favorite branches to work were Oyster bay, and Ko to greenport, both more layed back, and less hectic then the rest of the RR.
Did not get to work them as often as I would have liked, untill the last few years. Thats because all the guys with more seniority felt the same way..
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