• Disposition info: CVAL/Valley 154 (heavyweight diner)

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  by lvrr325
Anyone have dispositon info for Conneticut Valley 154, a 6-axle heavyweight diner? Shows a 1987 repack on the friction bearings. Found it and some other cars (markings not easily visible) sitting derelict on a track in southeastern NY state. Curious who owned them and why they're here. Other cars might have been coaches, all were clerestory roof heavyweights.

  by HighlandRail&DEY-7 652
I beleive that would be the ex D&H car Lyon Gardner that was there for a while. My father tells me it was a decent car when he worked there.

  by red baron
"Lion Gardiner"
Maybe more than you wanted to know:

Originally built 1914 by Pullman as NYC #450
Rebuilt 1936 by NYC, renumbered #518
Sold to D&H 1949, renumbered #154
At some point Empire State Railway Museum took ownership (late 1960s/early 1970s). Not sure if somebody else (besides D&H) had it before them.
Gained some notoriety during that time as it ran on a number of High Iron fan trips.
Named the "Lion Gardiner" (founding father of Old Saybrook) after "prompting" by the then Chairman of the VRR. Made a few trips on the VRR in the early 1970s. I remember at least one "company" wedding on it, when it and the "Springfield" both ran to Deep River. Can't think of any other time when that the "Springfield" left the yard, but memory is fading.
Regardless, "Lion Gardiner" was really a rarety, not too many "intact" (i.e. not gutted from work train service) heavyweight diners then, never mind now.
Condition deteriorated, became somewhat of an orphan, and was stored (for years coupled to another sad story: the 8-1-3 (?) "Arsenal Tower", on the track of gloom - the A.M.F. siding) where it was repeatedly vandalized. Looked nice on the outside, but was somewhat doomed even in the early 1970s because of its relatively early build date, and the usual problems that occurred when former heavyweights were equipped with a.c. Lots of rot in the kitchen area as well.
If I recall, VRR was hesitant to put any money into it because of ownership by ESRM. Eventually shipped back to ESRM when it reorganized in the late 1980s.
Would like to see what it looks like now. Do you have pictures? Where is it?
1987 - that was almost twenty years ago and it was bad then. Can't imagine it got a lot of work since then.

Photo from D&H days:

http://www.trainweb.org/dhvm/images/dhr ... 154-01.jpg
Last edited by red baron on Wed May 18, 2005 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by omar
BLAST FROM THE PAST. The last I had to do with it was at the VRR removing the battery boxes via forklift in the dead of night and hoping nothing else fell off!!! The thing was a rolling rust drooler. Nice interior, but you didn't want to look under the rugs. Every hitch we made resulted in about 10 lbs of rust dropping to the roadbed. I was very suprised that ConRail actually moved it out of Saybrook! Someone had some pull, or the trainmaster was out to lunch that day.....

Sends shivers up my spine that it got to Kingston in 1 piece...

  by Otto Vondrak
Where is this car now?

  by H.F.Malone
It was on High Iron trips in 1967; the concessionare operating it then was Bill Whitehead, who was the original founder of the Black River & Western in NJ, when it was on CNJ's Chester Branch (1962-63). The 154 was stored in CNJ's E'port yard by ESRM, until it (and ERSM-owned heavyweight Pullman "Arsenal Tower"--ex-ACL, now at Steamtown NPS) went to Essex in mid-1969--- 154 and the "A.T." were among the first 5 cars at SX. ESRM bought the two cars about 1965, and actually ran the "A.T." on at least one GCT-Montreal trip on the NYC-D&H "Montreal Ltd." in 65 or 66.

154 has a "modernized" (1940s) interior, with lowered ceiling due to the internal air conditioning ducts. It was painted in the VRR dark green in 1971, and was used for various charters, special events (a publication party for the book "The Shay Locomotive" was one of the first events, in Oct. 71), even the wedding mentioned-- (was that Bill S.' first "gittin' hitched"??) until the car started showing just how much work it needed. I seem to recall a water pipe that was not proerly drained, and then froze, and burst with predictable results. The kitchen floor (and the corridor floor next to the kitchen) was horribly punk, like every old dining car not built by Budd. Kitchen was complete, though. It was a neat car, but needed lots of dollars. Those early (1910-1920) steel cars had high-carbon steel, very prone to serious rusting, especially after being a/c'ed and sweating on the inside (condensation).

As part of the 1985-86 "realignment" of ESRM, the Ulster County group wanted the car, and they got it-- it was shipped by rail (!!!!) to Kingston, NY in 1986, and it is still there today, at ESRM's Kingston storage yard, along with a CNJ coach or two, a 2-8-0 from Upper Michigan, one or two Soo line Alco RS-1s, and more. I doubt that poor old 154 has gotten better in the last 19 years....
  by lvrr325
Currently this car is gutted and sits just out of town on the main track. While I think it would move, time has not been kind to it.

There are at least two CNJ coaches and one other unknown passenger car - even with the leaves not out I would have needed a set of brush clippers to get in to determine what was there. In view of the facts that A: I was on my way home and found them by accident, B: a no trespassing sign prominently displayed in the ROW by the road; C: a state police facility across the street and up about 100 yards, and D: no way to know what if anything might be living inside, I didn't attempt to see anything else. Had I known there could be a steam engine up in there, I might have taken the chance though.

As for a storage "yard" - all this stuff is on the main track. No locomotives were visible, but then nothing was visible behind the second CNJ coach. There was another unknown passenger car between the 154 and the CNJ cars. All are derelict and have had 20 years for the kids to trash them - you could probably make open-air cars out of the coaches if they're not too rusted though.

One thing though, with the glass gone the rust may have slowed some - at least in the summer it can evaporate out of the car more easily. But you get snow melt every spring and rain all year, so who knows. It's not past cosmetic restoration and probably still would move, but from what I see here I would tend to assume it's past any economic sense to try to fix between rot, vandalism, and friction bearings. Just to give an idea, the kitchen end only has steps on one side. The end of the car was rotted clear to the middle door and the trap area just kind of flapped in the breeze.

When I get my roll of film finished and developed, I'll use the digital camera to take photos of my prints and post them up (I've done it before with acceptable results).

I'm going to run the heritage on this car by a guy I know who is with a group that collects NYC stuff, and he is a professional as far as railroad car refurbishing - maybe we can do a road trip to go down and evaluate the car better.

  by Otto Vondrak
I'm sure the CMRR would let you in to the storage yard if you brought your friend to evaluate the situation. We hate to even speak it these days, but with the price of scrap steel... if the 154 is deemed too far gone, perhaps its redemption could help pay for other CMRR projects.

I was the station agent during the early days of the Valley Railroad.Long before dinner trains came into existance we used the Lion Gardener for special charters. One was for Phil Hastings moving to Colorado. The train left Essex in the summer evening with the VRR 154 and the parlor car and engine 97. We had an extravigent dinner with Colorado primroses on each table and the best of table settings. It was really a class night train operation. The car was also used for CVRM now RMNE meetings and VRR board meetings.

  by shadyjay
Is that the same car that was in the movie Ragtime? There was a photo "collage" (SP?) in the conductor's room at SX a few years back of a bunch of photos taken at Essex during the filming of that movie.

There was an open platform car there too. I seem to remember seeing pics of the LG somewhere.

If memory serves me correctly the "open platform" car was one of the 500 series coaches (503, I think) modified with a wooden obs platform made by the movie set builders. It spent a while in the fire-up woodpile after the filming was done.

  by red baron
Lion Gardiner was not in Ragtime. Was languishing by then.
Li'l Buddy, was that the same car Desmond Tutu was interviewed in by 60 Minutes?
Well. I've killed an awful lot of brain cells since then (strawberry schnaaps will do that), but I believe that Desmond Tutu was interviewed along side the "Gon" shortly before coverage of the Skill saw throwing competition began. Or maybe it was during the rivet head body filling marathon. Jeez, that was a long time ago.

  by red baron
Ah, yes, Li'l Buddy. The Skilsaw hurling competition. Also can't forget:
Steam pump bolts
"stove coal, not engine coal"
"your west coast hotshot"
the Dodge key
your your yursa
"that's one of mine"
Innkeeper (aka Hank & Ethyl alcohol)
spruce goose
uniform roster and color coded track chart on locker

All from the same era as the "Lion Gardiner", so as not too stray off topic.

No VRR talk would be complete without reference to episodes of debauchery from the distant past. Hopefully WDS has comitted these antics to writing (names changed to protect the identity of those involved, of course)
Oh My!!! How the times have changed.

Any Monday morning 1983:
I wonder what the discussion about last night's episode of "60 Minutes" will be like today?

Any Monday morning 2003:
I wonder what color eye shadow he'll be wearing this morning?