keyboardkat wrote: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.
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.
All this makes me think of how the NYC Transit had "deferred" maintenance in the 1960's ,70's. and early '80's. Replete with buses that had exhaust backing up on the inside or a stench that smelled like insecticide while windows wouldn't open, subway cars that looked like they'd been through a war, and derailments as a daily occurence.