• NYC RS3 locos on P&LE

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by mopacbuff

First post here (other than the required introduction) after quite a bit of lurking. Very fine site.

I'm a lifelong fan of the Missouri Pacific (my family has been involved with the MP/UP since the '70s), but I've lived in Ohio now for 16 years and my interests have wandered (or evolved). Lately I have absolutely fallen in love with "The Little Giant", the P&LE. I find myself devouring anything and everything I can find to read about this amazing railroad, and I've visited Pittsburgh a few times, which has sealed the deal (the P&LE terminal station is a beautiful structure). I now realize that since I'm at an age and in a position in my life to finally pursue building a serious model railroad (I've been involved in various ways with model trains for 25+ years), that I want to model the P&LE. It seems absolutely perfect for modeling, especially in the '40s & '50s.

I've narrowed my modeling era (I think) down to 1952, the year my Dad was born. Mostly because I want to include lots of passenger trains and first generation diesels along with steam locomotives.

Having said (rambled) all of that, here's my question.

I really like ALCO RS-3 locomotives. According to my research, the P&LE didn't aquire RS-3s until '53. So, what was the possibility/likelyhood of NYC RS-3s operating on the P&LE at least occasionally in 1952?? I guess I'm just not familiar (yet) with how common it was to see NYC power on the P&LE during this time period, if at all.

Thank you for any input. I'd also appreciate if you could point me to any references that would "confirm" what I'm looking for, as I want to be as accurate as possible.

  by Noel Weaver
I am not an expert on this territory but seeing that P & L E locomotives showed up from time to time on the New York Central proper and Penn Central after that, I think it is only fitting that probably some New York Central locomotives showed up on the P & L E as well and that includes RS-3's which could and did go everywhere east and west.
Noel Weaver
  by bill8106
You picked a great year to model the P&LE!

Per Noel's comment, it is reasonable that RS-3s showed up on the P&LE, and you are correct that they didn't get their own until late 1953. Those RS-3s were among the very few on the Central or its subsidiaries that did not have steam generators. For passenger service in 1952, the P&LE had a few PAs and steam-gen equipped GP-7s, but that doesn't mean that an RS-3 never ever pulled a passenger train on the P&LE. But it would be more prototypical of PL&E operations to have a PA or Geep on a passenger train.

By 1952, the P&LE had EMD switchers, Alco S2s, and I think even a few Fairbanks Morse switchers. They eventually got S4s too but they got there about the same time the RS-3s.

You can really have fun with steam since the P&LE received the last steam locomotives anywhere on the Central in 1948, the A-class 2-8-4 Berkshires. They didn't last long but were definitely active in 1952. I don't know about any other active steam at that time.

Resources: for diesels, you definitely need NYCS Diesel Locomotives by William Edson. NYC Later Power by Stauffer and May would be good as it covers steam as well as diesels. Google "George Elwoods Fallen Flags" for photographs.

One more thing...you may find it impossible, or at least very difficult, to find out-of-box locomotives in New York Central lightning stripes sub-lettered for the PL&E. Atlas came out with P&LE N and HO scale GP-7s a few years ago but they were painted in the cigar-band (i.e., the 1960's) scheme. I was looking to do an N scale P&LE RS-3 a few years back but couldn't find decals, but I admit that I didn't look very hard either. Hopefully other modelers will have better news on that front. You may have better luck with rolling stock, at least freight cars.

Have fun!

  by mopacbuff

Thanks so much for the replies.

That was my thinking as well, and I'm leaning very hard that way, I'm just looking for accounts/evidence of it. Could you possibly point me to photos of P&LE units on the NYC?

Thanks, I really think 1952 is a great year to model on the P&LE, all things considered. I was thinking of the RS-3s for freight trains, and I'm really liking the PAs owned by the P&LE for passenger trains. Beautiful locos!!

The S2s and the FMs are one of the reasons I selected '52 (other than my Dads birth year), I think they're very cool looking units. Steam is another reason for choosing '52, thanks for the info on the Berks, I'm gonna dig into what other steamers were still in use at the time.

BTW, what paint scheme would a NYC RS-3 be wearing in 1952?

Thanks for the input guys.

Anyone else?

  by charlie6017

Welcome to the forums!

George Elwood has a GREAT site on all fallen flag railroads, and this link will take you to the
P&LE's part of the website.


But here is the link to the main page, it's really a treasure trove for model railroaders!


  by mopacbuff

Thanks for mentioning Elwoods page(s), I found them previously and have enjoyed exploring them, a lot of great pics there.

I have some other, more general, P&LE questions. I think I'll post a new thread for those.

Thanks to all for input on the RS-3s. I feel comfortable including at least 1 or 2 on my P&LE, as soon as I determine the proper paint scheme for 1952.

  by bill8106
mopacbuff wrote:
BTW, what paint scheme would a NYC RS-3 be wearing in 1952?
Black carbody with gray and white lightning stripe.

Their GP-7s also wore the lightning stripe scheme but some passenger geeps had gray carbodies, like the PA-1 and -2s. I believe the second group of the P&LE's passenger GP-7s were gray and all others were black. (A general rule of thumb for the Central is that passenger units were gray and freight units were black, but this isn't a hard and fast rule as, for example, ALL RS-3s were black, some passenger GP-7s were black and some freight geeps were gray. Per Charlie's post, this is where Elwood's fallen flag site is essential, and Morning Sun Books publishes many books of color photos of NYC engines).

P&LE road diesels had "New York Central System" spelled out on the carbody with "P&LE" stenciled in small letters on the carbody or cab. NYC proper units had "New York Central" only spelled out. Here are two photos from Elwood's site for comparison:

Except for very very few examples, the Central's switcher units (e.g., SW-8s, S2s, S4s...) were all black, no lightning stripe. P&LE switchers had "...System" and the P&LE stenciled on the cab just like their road units.
  by bill8106
mopacbuff wrote:Could you possibly point me to photos of P&LE units on the NYC?
You will either have to take my word for it or get your hands on these books as I couldn't find these photos on the web. In David Sweetland's "NYC Lightning Stripes Vol. 1" (a Morning Sun Book), there's a picture of E8 #4076 leading a P&LE PA on the Hudson Division in 1957. The angle of the photo is too steep to see the PA's road# but "New York Central System" can be seen on the carbody, and only P&LE PAs had "....System" spelled out, NYC proper PAs did not.

In William Edson's "NYCS Diesel Locomotives", PL&E PA-2 #4214 is photographed in Elkhart, IN, coupled to an FA-1 and surrounded by F7s and Baldwin Sharks. The photo isn't dated. And this is just a guess, but as the P&LE's PAs became surplus,they may have been added to the general freight pool, and that is why this unit is photographed among freight cabs in Elkhart. I've seen pictures of NYC proper PAs on freights towards the end of their careers, so it's possible that this happend to the P&LEs.

On the flip side, here's a picture from Elwood's site of NYC proper Baldwin DR-6-4-15 #3505 and an EMD F3B on a passenger train on the P&LE in Pittsburgh, at least that's what the caption says. This photo is also undated but it has to be between 1955 and 1960, as these Baldwins were renumbered from the 3200 series to the 3500 series in 1955 (after they were re-engined by EMD) and they were retired by the end of 1960.

And here's another one you'll need to take on faith or find the book; in "Lightning Stripes Vol.2", NYC proper GP-7 #5772 is photographed on a very short passenger train on the P&LE in 1962.

Once again, have fun!

  by mopacbuff

Thanks for all the great information. I'm going to search for the books you mentioned, I LOVE buying books for my library.

The more I read about it and the more pictures I see, the more perfect the P&LE becomes for modeling.

I'm going to keep doing my research, one of my favorite parts of the hobby, and I have more questions, but I'll post those in another thread.

  by shlustig
Post WW 2, there were 2 roundtrips PGH to BUF via P&LE / Youngstown / NYC identified as Pittsburgh - Buffalo Express. Power and consist ran through, so it was not unusual to have NYC units in PGH. (The trains also had NYC diners and sleepers.)
  by BR&P
Guys, I agree Elwood's site is an incredible resource, and it's constantly growing as folks contribute new photos.

One word of caution about it though: Elwood does not pretend to be an expert on everything, and the photos are identified as they are submitted. You will occasionally find something on there which has the wrong model number or class number, or an incorrect date or location, just because that's how it was sent in. For example, I believe there's a picture of a B&O snowplow supposedly taken at Syracuse NY.

This isn't meant as a put-down. It's still a great web site, but if you are new to it just be aware that it's not 100% guaranteed gospel. The captions are only as good as what was sent in.
  by mopacbuff

Thanks for all the replies. What a great resource.

I'm interested in these 2 run-through trains, can you shed any more light on it? Did they use any P&LE equipment or strictly NYC? Do you have any idea of their #s (I have some timetables from that era that I can reference)?


Thanks for the heads up on Elwoods site. I refer to it a lot, seems like a great resource, I will stay aware of possible discrepencies going forward.
  by shlustig

Go to the Terry Link's "Canada Southern Railway" site and check out the NYCS Public Timetables section.

That will have the information.
  by clehman
Just a note on P&LE GP-7 and RS-3 colors. The dark color on these P&LE diesels is not black, but a very dark green, like olive drab. As the Sun, weather, and road grime aged it, it looked black. Also, two model manufacturers have offered P&LE painted H.O. diesels in the past. Atlas offered P&LE GP-7s in two prototype paint schemes. One is all dark green with white lettering. It is Item #20 000 227 GP-7 Locomotive New York Central (P&LE) - Road #5676. The other is in the one-of-a-kind paint scheme. It actually has a black body with two white stripes and a gray band under the lower white stripe. It has a red NYC oval herald on the cab side. P&LE had one GP-7 painted in this scheme. I've seen photos of it in a couple of books, but photos of it are pretty rare. It is Item #20 000 229 GP-7 Locomotive New York Central (P&LE) - Road #5684. I purchased one each of these Atlas H.O. diesels a couple of years ago and don't know if they are still available. If you are willing to fudge on the year you are going to model and include 1953 when P&LE purchased their own RS-3, Athearn offered a great model a couple of years ago too. It has a dark green body with a gray lightning stripe. It is 94044 Pittsburgh & Lake Erie RS-3 Locomotive 8353. Good luck with your P&LE modelling, and I hope you can find the P&LE factory painted locomotives I've mentioned. There may be others, but these are the ones I have and know about. Carl
  by bill8106
Excellent point about the green paint, it was Pacemaker green, and if I recall correctly, even the P&LE's switchers were delivered in green paint. Exceptions to this were the passenger GP7s and PAs, which were passenger gray.

Here's a picture of the one-of-a-kind scheme from George Elwood's site (I've seen a color picture somewhere but can't remember where): http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/ple/ple5684.jpg