Re: FGEX ex-PRR R7s

Don <riverman_vt@...>

--- In STMFC@..., "John Hagen" <sprinthag@...> wrote:

Bruce, Richard,

Compare the performance of PRR's K4's to NYC's Hudson's. It's sorta like
comparing a blacksmith job to cutting edge development but the K4 did the
job. PRR mechanical department had the ability to carry a basic, inexpensive
design to the nth degree. And yes some went too far before they realized
they had upgraded to electric lights. So far as their locomotive design
influences only in the east, that is very true as the eastern clearances
were more restrictive. The fact that they were able to get the kind of
performance they did speaks very well for them.

Frankly I never liked the Pennsy steamers until I started to do a lot of
reading on them. That is when I started to admire them.

John Hagen

From: STMFC@... [mailto:STMFC@...] On Behalf Of
Bruce F. Smith
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2012 12:13 PM
To: <STMFC@...>
Subject: Re: [STMFC] FGEX ex-PRR R7s

Richard makes a couple of excellent points and one completely off the wall
assertion.... I mean, seriously, comparing the PRR's mechanical department
to "vesties"? Rather than calling people names, I favor a thoughtful
analysis of the actions of railroad management in the context of the times.
My feeling regarding the PRR is the first part (self absorbed) might well be
true, but they were regarded as anything but clowns or buffoons. The PRR's
mechanical department presents interesting contrasts. They were outrageously
conservative, yet at times extremely innovative. They were among the 1st to
use all steel construction in passenger and freight cars. The X23/R7, the
X25, the X28/29, the X31/32/33 were all trend setters. No debate that the
PRR, like many large american companies (Eastman Kodak perhaps being the
most recent victim), suffered from the innovation impairing "our way is the
right way" mentality and among many SPF's the phrase "standard railway of
the world" is used with bemusement as well. However, think about the subject
car. What PRR did was to create a "standard" car in the X23 that was adapted
to many uses, including increased height automobile cars (X24), refers (R7),
and stock cars (K7/K7a)... and it was neither the first not last time they
did it. Ultimately, perhaps the duplexes best define the PRR's mechanical
department. Outrageously innovative locomotives, with performance to match
(for the most part) yet built when steam loco technology was just being
eclipsed by the diesel. (I know some argue that the duplexes were failures,
but much has been published that indicates that had they not been competing
against diesels, they would have been considered very successful)

BTW, weren't the AT&SF mechanical department the, ahem, "bozos" who came up
with the idea of a boiler that hinged in the middle? Really??



Bruce F. Smith

Auburn, AL

With all due respect, Bruce, I wish you could see the Pennsy in the light which far more of us in the Northeast than you may realize view it. Speaking for myself, I have called it the "Standard Scrapyard of the World" for over 40 years now. Another member of this list kidded me for several years for modeling what he called a "backwoods railroad like the Rutland" when we were both "regulars" at the MIT Model RR Club years ago. The kidding quickly ended after no less a light and Pennsy fan than Bert Pennypacker published an article on Rutland motive power in the April 1970 issue of Railroad magazine. In the article Pennypacker quoted one Joe Manning, an acquaintance of his who was a retired Pennsy shop foreman and summered beside the Rutland mainline in Charlotte, Vt., as stating, "Yes, sir, those old Rutland mills ran like fine watches
and I wish some of our older power on the Pennsy had run as well.
I'd like to have had several of those Rutland machinists in my Pennsy shop because they always had the valves set and squared up perfectly". One of the jibes I had often received was about the Rutland's 90 lb. Dudley main line rail in comparison to the Pennsy's 155 ib. iron. All of the comments about the Rutland stopped with the publication of that article. As I stated to my friend, clearly the Pennsy had to use 155 lb. rail because the glorified blacksmiths they called machinists didn't know how to set the valves square and anything less than 155 lb rail was quickly pounded to pieces!!! (-:

And management???? Look at what the Pennsy spun of to the rest of us after they had been "trained" on the Pennsy. Lenore Loree, who nearly brought the D&H to its knees with his antiquated thinking, and David Fink, who reduced rail traffic on Guilford to a pittance of what it had been when the MEC and B&M were independent in less than five years time. So much for your Pennsy way of doing things. However, it gets better. As a supplier to New England railroads for many years I was acquainted with the MEC's E. Spencer Miller and was also a member of the New England Railroad Club, the latter being comprised of rail officials and suppliers. I will never forget Mr. Miller speaking to a group of us at a club presentation one evening around 1980. He had just returned from a California vacation during which he had enjoyed a visit with Mr. Symes, president of the Pennsy before Stuart Saunders took over. Mr. Miller related to us that in the course of their conversation Mr. Symes had stated that he believed if the Pennsy and NYC had not merged the NYC would be in solid black ink while the Pennsy would have been in a sea of red. To those of us who were present that was a pretty telling admission and confirmed much of what was thought about the Pennsy within New England, where it was viewed as simply another railroad and not a very well run one at that.

Sorry to rain on your parade once again but whether one is discussing the maintenance of steam motive power or steam era freight car design there was little about the Pennsy that impressed many in New England.

Cordially, Don Valentine

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