Pennsy, Arrogance, and Bad Management,What? Think again!

Greg Martin

First Viv Brice wrote:
Now I'm an SPF and proud of it, but I recognise that there are others that
may not be!! I also recognise that SPFs can be particularly one-eyed and
vehement in defence of their favourite railroad. However, it still surprises me
that there is another group, equally one-eyed and vehement, and that is the
Pennsy bashers. The Pennsy, love it or hate it, was and will always be an
American railroad icon.

Viv your correct, love to hate it, and hate to love, it's kinda like the,
"Yes, Dear, No Dear", thing.

Then Tony writes:
You may not know, Viv, that among the Pennsy bashers were many officials of
other railroads that had to deal with Pennsy officials. Their unending
arrogance was one reason; the minimal basis in fact for that arrogance was

Tony, come-on there is really not basis in fact for this statement. I define
the PRR as PROGRESSIVE not arrogant and most other Railroads of the time
(presuming we talking of the 30s & 40s era) were far too conservative and had no
ability for forward thinking and just wanted things in the box. Let me make
my points:

1.) After long debates on what should have been/should be the correct
"design car for 192?" the other railroads finally adopt a variation of the X29 as
the "NEW AND IMPROVED" car in 1932, many closely resembling the X29 from first
glance. But remember the X29 has been and is still in production during this
tome, but slightly revised. Arrogance on the PRR's part I hardly thing so I
believe the opposite is true. Other Mechanical department arrogance has
stopped their progress in car design. Remember some roads are still running around
with truss rod and double sheathed cars dominating their fleets. Just my
view, but furthermore...

2.) Now that the rest of the Railroads have decide to agree on something the
PRR introduces the X31/X32 car with a 10-foot interior height to the rest of
the world who are just tooling up for these new 1932 design cars and BAM!
The very progressive PRR has not rocked the chairs of the "old guard" once
again and the PRR guys are ARROGANT BASTARDS and are threatening embargo, so they
say (totally discounted by noted PRR author Bob Reid) if we don't comply. I
think it was different honestly. I believe that in the board rooms it was more
like, "well, we have sunk our pick on these cars and now this! What do they
expect us to do, not resist the new idea? We can't afford to change now...
we'll show them, you go back there and play the clearance card and get the
other guys to do the same or it's your..." But as usual the other railroads
follow suite and agree to the new height car about 4 years later...

3.) Then the PRR comes up with BS cast steel 70-ton flat, F30A. Not that
cast steel underframes was a new idea, let's face it the KCS had started
development on that already with a boxcar. But I believe the PRR saw a better wheel,
more gross weight on a car not just a reason for a new standard. Let's face
it more weight on one car meant the shipper could get more tonnage shipped
with less cars, and that equated to less maintenance for the railroad. It would
be a few more years until the 70-ton flat would even be considered as a
standard even if the means of fabrication changed and the even more years until
the industry would consider a 40-foot, 50-foot or 60-foot cast steel flat car
designs. When the war hit the 70-ton car was a blessing, let's face it you
couldn't put two US tanks on a 50-ton car sans the little Stewart tanks. Even
then the PRR saw what they perceived to be a better design than GSC with their
F41 design. Cast steel flats were also utilized by the CB&Q in their
contribution to Trailer Train with their version of the F39 (one has been saved
along with the original design).

I believe that the Pennsy was always thinking of the industry and that
sometimes meant going against the grain of the other carriers in favor of the
shippers. This was obvious in their venture into Trailer Train in the mid-1950s.

PRR arrogant? I am not sure that it wasn't the rest of the ARR/AAR that was
arrogant because of their lack of forward thinking. I, like Viv, see it as
more of a lack of folks on this list showing their dislike for the PRR more so
than the industry of the era. I think the other railroads had their hands
full just trying to stay afloat in tough times for railroads in general with the
demographics of a nation changing.

Greg Martin
A Member of the Gang of Four

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