Diesel "B" Units in NH Line/PC service Pssgr or Frght

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Otto Vondrak
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by Otto Vondrak » Wed Dec 03, 2008 4:06 pm

If you're talking the New Haven era, then any variety of locomotives could have appeared on passenger trains... but still curious as to what "B" units you would have seen on a passenger train (or a NH freight train for that matter... how many Alco FB's did they own?). You asked about cabless units, and the only operation doing that in the 1970s and 1980s was the Long Island Rail Road with FA's and F9's.

-otto-
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by TomNelligan » Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:19 pm

Sarge wrote: So they would have been called "B" units, but not on the FL9. I'm positive I remember seeing them, but it must have been NH or PC days, then, and probably a long distance train.
No one has yet mentioned the passenger B-units (E7Bs) that the New York Central and then Penn Central ran with E7s and E8s on mail and express trains on the Hudson Division and then down the West Side freight line. PC had a fair number of F7Bs in service into the early 1970s (although I believe only F7As lasted to Conrail). PC's F-units were concentrated in the Midwest, but did come east as late as the early 1970s. And a couple of the New Haven's Alco FBs were still active in freight service into the early PC period, through 1969 at least, although they usually ran out of Boston. The NH never had any passenger B-units.

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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by Otto Vondrak » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:21 am

Absolutely true... but I think Sarge was asking about the 1970s and into the Metro-North era, and the B's were long gone by then... as far as I know...

BTW- still the best book on Metro-North operations and their heritage:

http://www.amazon.com/Commuter-Trains-G ... 0915276453
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by Noel Weaver » Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:39 am

I am not sure just what we are getting at here regarding engines into Grand Central Terminal. Over a long period of years a
lot of different diesels have made an appearance in the terminal. This includes E-7 and E-8 A units but I do not ever recall
seeing a B unit in the terminal. RS-3's, GP-7's and GP-9's, and of course the B-23-7's. I am not sure about this but I seem to
think U-25b's may have appeared there once or twice too. I do recall seeing an Alco/GE yard engine (S-1 or S-2) many years
back too. None of these diesels were supposed to go into GCT and when they did there were many restrictions as to their
operation and where they could and could not go.
I remember a snow storm in 1969 or so when a job from Chatham came in with two RS-3's and snow piled on the front of the
lead engine right up to the headlight, they must have had some trip down the Harlem that Sunday night.
I remember the former Reading cars but I don't think they were ever MU'd into Grand Central Terminal. In order to properly
operate the FL-9's on electric you needed two jumpers, one for the regular diesel operation and the other for the electric
functions like changeover, starting the diesel, shoe operation etc. I remember going out of GCT one evening on 979 with
no 21 point jumper and the rear unit was not running, while I was stopped at 125th Street, I had to run back and start it,
then go to the cab to insure that it was changed over to diesel. One unit would have barley maintained the schedule with
the train but not with a second unit adding its weight and not doing any of the work. The Harlem ran on a wing and a prayer
until they had enough MU equipment for all of the trains to Brewster.
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by DutchRailnut » Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:22 am

There is a picture of a pair of FL-9's with a B unit in book Diesels to Park Avenue.
The unit was a converted B unit owned by EMD and used as test car ET909 The picture is on page 49.

Noel is correct on the jumpers only time I ever set up a train with the MUed locomotives was on a two car two FL-9 Dover plains shuttle.
When terminal superintendent found out he totrally freaked out but crews liked it so I kept doing it.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by Jeff Smith » Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:54 am

Thanks everyone. Clearly, the B units, whichever diesel they were on, were not in the MNRR era, so this should be a PC or NH topic. Otto, if you would do the honors for me, we're clearly out of MNRR operations now.

Dutch finding a picture of the FL9 with a B unit is interesting. I'll pick up that book on Amazon, thanks for the tip, Dutch, and thanks to Tom, Noel, Otto, et al for their replies. This was just such a random memory to pop up, I really wanted to know.

As for GCT and B units, I recall the various railroads ran diesels into GCT in spite of a law prohibiting it due to a shortage of equipment, even while trying to minimize it. I'm sure B units were rare indeed. However, my question pertained to childhood observations in Mamaroneck, not in GCT. It could well have been that these units were running into Penn (still, NYC diesel ban) under intercity operations, or were borrowed from LIRR under PC umbrella?

Regarding the NYC units mentioned running on West Side Freight Line, how did these units avoid the diesel ban? Does that just pertain to pax terminals?
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by Otto Vondrak » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:41 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:There is a picture of a pair of FL-9's with a B unit in book Diesels to Park Avenue.
The unit was a converted B unit owned by EMD and used as test car ET909 The picture is on page 49.
That's the only instance I know of, as a testing unit when the FL9's were first delivered.

-otto-
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by Otto Vondrak » Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:44 pm

Sarge wrote:As for GCT and B units, I recall the various railroads ran diesels into GCT in spite of a law prohibiting it due to a shortage of equipment, even while trying to minimize it. I'm sure B units were rare indeed. However, my question pertained to childhood observations in Mamaroneck, not in GCT. It could well have been that these units were running into Penn (still, NYC diesel ban) under intercity operations, or were borrowed from LIRR under PC umbrella?
Various railroads? NYC, NH, PC, MTA... that's it. And I'd venture a guess that diesels didn't start venturing into Grand Central until the "bad old days" of the 1970s when the electric portion of the FL9s were simply not maintained.
Regarding the NYC units mentioned running on West Side Freight Line, how did these units avoid the diesel ban? Does that just pertain to pax terminals?
Huh? No diesel ban on the West Side Line. Locomotives that ran there were electric, diesel, or battery powered (or all three, depending on the era we're talking about). You're confused with the steam ban south of such-and-such street on Manhattan Island.
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: "B" Units

Post by Tom Curtin » Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:32 pm

To answer various and sundry questions in this thread:

1. No FL9 B units ever existed.

2. You would see now and then a "pull pull" consist made up of an FL9, a couple of coaches, and another FL9. The purpose of this was simply convenience, i.e., to avoid any kind of runaround move anywhere. The trailing FL9 was simply being dragged along for the ride.

3. For a few years in the 80s when Conrail was operating the service they assigned some B23-7 diesels to MU with an FL9. This was done because so many FL9s had become unserviceable. The FL9 was necessary to provide steam heat and had to be the trailing unit. When MNR began on 1/1/83 the seven B23-7s that were on the property as of that day became MN engines (The conditions of the Conrail to Metro North transiaiotn was simply that all equipment on the property as of 1/1/83 automatically became Metro North equipment. That was how Metro North acquired 7 B23 engines!!! No kidding.) The use of B23's on passenger trains continued for a while until Metro North got enough FL9s shopped and reconditioned.

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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: "B" Units

Post by Noel Weaver » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:18 pm

Tom Curtin wrote:To answer various and sundry questions in this thread:

1. No FL9 B units ever existed.

2. You would see now and then a "pull pull" consist made up of an FL9, a couple of coaches, and another FL9. The purpose of this was simply convenience, i.e., to avoid any kind of runaround move anywhere. The trailing FL9 was simply being dragged along for the ride.

3. For a few years in the 80s when Conrail was operating the service they assigned some B23-7 diesels to MU with an FL9. This was done because so many FL9s had become unserviceable. The FL9 was necessary to provide steam heat and had to be the trailing unit. When MNR began on 1/1/83 the seven B23-7s that were on the property as of that day became MN engines (The conditions of the Conrail to Metro North transiaiotn was simply that all equipment on the property as of 1/1/83 automatically became Metro North equipment. That was how Metro North acquired 7 B23 engines!!! No kidding.) The use of B23's on passenger trains continued for a while until Metro North got enough FL9s shopped and reconditioned.
One exception to the fact that the FL-9 had to be next to the train. Metro-North outfitted one B-23-7 with a run through
steam line and after this occurred an FL-9 could lead the 807. Engine 807 retained this steam line for a few months until
for some reason it was no longer used. None of the other B-23-7 engines ever got one.
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by Jeff Smith » Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:37 pm

Otto Vondrak wrote:
Sarge wrote:As for GCT and B units, I recall the various railroads ran diesels into GCT in spite of a law prohibiting it due to a shortage of equipment, even while trying to minimize it. I'm sure B units were rare indeed. However, my question pertained to childhood observations in Mamaroneck, not in GCT. It could well have been that these units were running into Penn (still, NYC diesel ban) under intercity operations, or were borrowed from LIRR under PC umbrella?
Various railroads? NYC, NH, PC, MTA... that's it. And I'd venture a guess that diesels didn't start venturing into Grand Central until the "bad old days" of the 1970s when the electric portion of the FL9s were simply not maintained.
I'd say four (those are four legacy, counting CR as operator for MTA, plus MNRR) amounts to "various railroads". Unless you're parsing the definition of couple, few, and various. And yes, it was the bad old days. There was quite a controversy about it, with fines from NYC or NYS and everything. I don't recall all the particulars, but PC, CR or the MTA just basically ignored the fines and said they were doing the best they could.
Otto Vondrak wrote:
Sarge wrote:Regarding the NYC units mentioned running on West Side Freight Line, how did these units avoid the diesel ban? Does that just pertain to pax terminals?
Huh? No diesel ban on the West Side Line. Locomotives that ran there were electric, diesel, or battery powered (or all three, depending on the era we're talking about). You're confused with the steam ban south of such-and-such street on Manhattan Island.
No, not confused about the steam vs diesel ban at all. I am aware they are two different issues. Someone else raised running down the West-Side line (which prompted the question about whether a diesel ban applied to the west side line, or was it just for passenger operations / passenger terminals. I thought I was fairly clear in asking if the diesel ban applied to the West Side freight line, or was it just intended for the passenger operations. Nowhere did I mention steam.

Okay, so no FL-9B units except for the one test unit Dutch mentioned (the book is on my Amazon wish list if anyone feels so inclined!). So what did my admittedly hazy recollection see? I am positive it was a "B" unit. It had to be running on something. Back to my DVD's.........
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by Noel Weaver » Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:25 pm

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Last edited by Noel Weaver on Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: Power Units (non-cab trailer)

Post by Noel Weaver » Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:29 pm

Otto Vondrak wrote:If you're talking the New Haven era, then any variety of locomotives could have appeared on passenger trains... but still curious as to what "B" units you would have seen on a passenger train (or a NH freight train for that matter... how many Alco FB's did they own?). You asked about cabless units, and the only operation doing that in the 1970s and 1980s was the Long Island Rail Road with FA's and F9's.

-otto-
Just to clarify Otto's remarks a little bit, in the New Haven Railroad days right up to January 1, 1969, the New Haven only
operated electric motors, MU's and FL-9's into GCT except for the three ill fated lightweight trains of the late 50's which like
some of the stuff of later years were a bunch of junk except for the Budd equipment.
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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: "B" Units

Post by R Paul Carey » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:33 am

Sarge, is it possible that your recollection is that of a steam heat trailer, a "cabless" unit purpose-built for/by NYC, and retained until the retirement of steam-heated passenger equipment?

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Re: Diesel (FL-9) Question: "B" Units

Post by Jeff Smith » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:49 am

That could be entirely possible. It was almost 40 years ago. I appreciate everyone's efforts to come up with what I remember seeing. At the very least, it's generated a discussion of some of the odd combinations that went on. It's entirely possible what I saw was some type of one-off.
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