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PC: Re: PRR #2549

  In messages to the Freight Car and the Penn Central mailing lists dated 21 
July 1999, Lon Godshall asked:

<< I was looking through my dad's slides from 1975 and I saw an oddball. I 
have yet to find anything on it. PRR 2549. It is maybe 70' long, expess 
trucks, and 2 doors. One on the left side and one on the right. No ORER has 
it listed, yet it was in a freight in Morrisville. Any suggestions? >>

  I can't find the exact series-numbers for this car either, but it's 
obviously a 60-foot class X42 BX.

  A black and white photo of similar PRR 2546 can be viewed at:


  I was linked to this image from the X42 page at Rob Schoenberg's PRR 
Freight Car Page at:


  Even though this entry at his Pennsy Home Page site claims that:

<< No description for this class is available yet. Sorry. Would you like to 
write one? >>

Rob really doesn't have to apologize, since his X42 page includes a link not 
only to that photo, but to an equipment diagram, which describes the unsual 
60-footer with the odd spaced-apart door configuration as a "Mail Storage 
  Furthermore, his bibliographic tables have references to 3 photos and a 
"Class Diagram" available in print resources.

  Not mentioned is a 3/4 view of PRR 2542 on page 95 of the 1953 Carbuilder's 
Cyclopedia, the caption stating it was "Built at railroad shop."

  Also, there's an especially informative advertisement on page 55 of the 26 
March 1951 Railway Age for the COMMONWEALTH BOX-EXPRESS CAR TRUCK.
  "It's New!" proclaims the ad, which lists the truck's virtues: "Provides 
Smooth Riding, Protects Car Contents, Reduces Damage Claims."
  At the top of the ad is a close up of one of the trucks with the caption, 
"Arranged with clasp brakes and roller bearings."  At the bottom is a side 
view of X42 PRR 2548 over the caption "Pennsylvania Railroad 60-foot Long 
Box-Express Car with Commonwealth BX Trucks."

  The text of the ad reads as follows:

<< Especially designed to meet the demand for a practical, rugged 
light-weight truck for Box-Express Cars operating in passenger train service, 
this newest type COMMONWEALTH Equalized Swing-Motion Truck provides a 
smoother riding car, protects car contents, and greatly reduces upkeep costs.
<< The swing bolster arrangement permits effective lateral control, assuring 
smoother riding with less shock and damage to car contents, car body and 
track structure.
<< The one-piece cast steel truck frame has integral pedestals, machined to 
maintain the axles in tram at all times, which is essential whether plain or 
roller bearings are used.
<< COMMONWEALTH BX Trucks are arranged for either clasp or single shoe type 
<< For real dependability and real economy, it will pay you to apply 
COMMONWEALTH BX Trucks to your [italicized and underlined] express, 
refrigerator and merchandise cars in passenger train service. >>

  Though somewhat rare, I've long been familiar with this car, coming upon 
that 1953 Cyc photo soon after taking an interest in railroad modeling.  It 
and a couple of other early Pennsy 60-footers were early entries to my (long 
and still mostly unmaterialized) list of modeling projects.
  Because of the number and variety of interesting rolling stock in its 
fleet, as well as the amount information available on them, the Pennsylvania 
was probably my "favorite" railroad back when I was scratchbuilding freight 
cars out of stripwood and Strathmore, materials which were even 14 years ago 
were out-dated - something I failed to recognize back then.
  For instructions on creating a "primitive" 1/87 version 60-foot PRR 
automobile car, see the H.O. Williams article reprinted in Kalmbach's 
"Easy-To-Build Model Railroad Freight Cars."
  For a nice 1/87 scale drawing of one of those double-door X40's, plus one 
of a single door X40b in Merchandise Service, look up Allen J. Brewster's 
work on pages 46-7 of the June 1970 Model Railroader.

  I have to confess that trucks have never been a strong point of interest 
for me, and though I carefully collected and saved (but only skimmed through) 
all of those long versions of the "When Were Roller Bearings..." thread, 
which seems to pop up on this list even more frequently than the "When Were 
Roof Walks (hey, make that "Running Boards") Outlawed" question, I probably 
just fitted (bottomed-off rather than topped-off) those half-dozen or so PRR 
box cars I finished with something like "Athearn Bettendorfs."
  However, after quoting the ad above, I find myself looking forward to 
reading the definitions offered by list members of exotic terms such as 
"integral pedestals," as well as their explanations as to why they must be 
machined in order that the axles be, and this is apparently essential, 
maintained at all times "in tram."

      Tom Jelinek

      Bx39crle -AT- aol.com

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