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I have developed an interest in the PRR mp54 cars hauled by steamers. I have read about combines and seen photos of mail/passenger commuter cars. My question is did these consists ever include the heavyweight 6 wheel trucked headend cars, such as BM70s and/or B70s? I read a post on another forum (site misplaced) that referred to a rule/directive that the p54 cars should not be placed between heavy steel cars or between the locomotive and a heavy steel car. Any thoughts?

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On the Pennsylvania RR, a lower case mp54 is a passenger car that has not been equipped with electrical equipment to become an Upper Case MP54 Multiple Unit car.  I think a p54 is a coach that was not built with possible future electrical conversion planned.

The letter of the rule/directive could be obeyed by keeping the heavy steel cars on the head end of the train, between the engine and the lighter cars.

Forwarded:

Bill Lane <Bill@lanestrains.com>



I am by far not the MP54 expert but……

P54 coaches could be hauled by steam locos because they were not powered.

MP54 were powered. I have not seen an unpowered car of any kind in a MP54 train. If a baggage was needed a MP54 type car was added. See photo.

(photo © Bill Lane.  Reproduced with permission,)

I am not a member of that page if someone wants to comment for me.

Thank You,
Bill Lane

Modeling the Mighty Pennsy, PRSL & Reading in 1957 in S Scale since 1987

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Thanks for all replies. Jimboylan: You may have read the same or similar historical info on the initial introduction of commuter cars of the "p54" design. They were built to be hauled by nonelectrical engines or by electrically powered units. I have read that there were mail and baggage combine p54 units on some commuter trains.

To clarify my question: Regarding the mu p54 cars hauled by engines (steamers, GGs, diesels) did those consists ever include the 70 foot headend cars?

It might be a rare instance. However, depending on necessity and availability of headend cars it might have happened. Just curious because I have read that types of appliances such as trucks, brakes, weight, mixing "p54" cars in trains was somewhat complicating.

If you wanted to have a model consist of, say, a K4, a heavyweight baggage car and 4-5 MP54 unpowered trailers with their pans down, I don't see why not.   Long as the MP54s are behind the heavyweights, it would work.  I don't know of any occasion this occurred in real life, but it could have, I suppose.  Such a consist might have required a generator car as well to run the lights and such on the MP54s...

Mitch

You are asking a tough question.   You might try the PRRT&S (Pennsylvania RR Techincal and historical society).

I  understand that MP54 or mp54 ( I did not think there is/was a difference) were the powered versions of the cars.    The P54 or p54 was the unpowered ones.     The original cars were built as P54s but with the capability for eventual conversion to electrial powered cars.   

There were unpowered trailers  used in the commuter service.   I do not know if these had pantagraphs or not.

As for pulled by locos, there have been notes of P54 s being used in commuter service around Pittsburgh, where there is no overhead electric.    There was a note on "what happened on this day when - -" historical site for the PRR that listed the last run of P54s on Pittsburgh commuters and the date as I remember was in the mid 50s.    I don't know if they were also used around Chicago by loco pulled trains.   

I have no ideas or knowledge about their use with heavier cars and how.

The B70 is a much older car than the B60.     The P54s were at least partly developed for use through the tunnels to Penns Station in NY City when they banned wooden body cars.    Since the B70 is an earlier car, it might make sense that they would show up in trains with P54s  

You might look for pictures of Sunnyside  yard in NY to see what kinds of cars you see together there.

If you wanted to have a model consist of, say, a K4, a heavyweight baggage car and 4-5 MP54 unpowered trailers with their pans down, I don't see why not.   Long as the MP54s are behind the heavyweights, it would work.  I don't know of any occasion this occurred in real life, but it could have, I suppose.  Such a consist might have required a generator car as well to run the lights and such on the MP54s...

Mitch

During the PC era, GG1s pulled strings of de-motored MP54s using the pantograph on one of the cars for train lighting and heating. 

To clear up some nomenclature, mP54 was a coach built without the electrical gear but upgradeable to be a full MU car.  the MP54 was fully motorized.

There was no true P54 class according to PRR archives.  Only mP54s that never got the upgrade to MU cars.

To make matters more confusing the lower case letters are only used as way to indicate that the 'm' is actually capitalized, but with a shorter text height.

For detailed information this is a good Link.  You will note near the end of the thread that GG1 hauled troop trains did have D78 diner and a PB70 in the mix during WWII.  Goes to show it really doesn't matter as it's your railroad.

I have mPB54 in 2 rail brass arriving tomorrow that will I will be converting to powered status and as a template to upgrade a set of 3R Lionel MP54s to 2 rail with improved details.  Interesting cars indeed and not as easy to follow on the history for sure!

Getting into baggage, baggage mail, and other configurations makes the puzzle even more confusing.

Last edited by GG1 4877

I disagree. P54 coaches were in use as the standard PRR coach, until the advent of the longer P70.
When electrification was first installed on the suburban Philadelphia line. A number of extant P54 coaches were converted to MU use. In addition new MP54 were built at the time.

Refer to Michael Bezilla’s definitive ‘Electric Traction on the Pennsylvania Railroad’.

To answer the original question. Yes B70 and BM70 would have appeared ahead of P54 in consists. As was the rule with head end equipment.

I recalled seeing something in Al Staufer's about the 54 series cars.  According to Staufer, the P-54 coach was "the standard suburban coach for steam operation before the Paoli line was electrified in 1915". The photo in Pennsy Power II, shows a P-54 with spoked wheels.   Again, according to Staufer, many of the P-54's were rebuild into MU cars at Altoona.  Addditional cars were built at Altoona and some outside builders (he could not confirm who, but they were build to the same specs).  The total fleet was 819 cars which included "numerious" passenger-baggage cars, full baggage and RPO's.  41 cars were rebuilt as unpowered trailer cars another 227 were build as powered trailer cars semi-permanently coupled with power cars.  It also appears that, over their long life they were rebuild a number of times.

Other information points to some of the 54 series cars going originally to the Long Island in 1906/07 where they ran on 3rd Rail electric power.  Yet other's went to the PRSL with trolley poles and 3rd rail shoes.  

As for rebuilds, yes, they had many rebuilds.  My favorite version is when the windows were replaced with the aluminum frames.  They gave the cars a more modern look.  Regardless, they served their owners well even if they were really uncomfortable to ride in.  Septa retired the last sets in 1981.  My uncle commuted from the Philly suburbs from 1965  to the mid 1990's and even as a railfan he still comments how much nicer it was when the Silverliners came online.

Time for a series in the PRRT&HS Keystone!

@GG1 4877 posted:

Other information points to some of the 54 series cars going originally to the Long Island in 1906/07 where they ran on 3rd Rail electric power.  Yet other's went to the PRSL with trolley poles and 3rd rail shoes.  

As for rebuilds, yes, they had many rebuilds.  My favorite version is when the windows were replaced with the aluminum frames.  They gave the cars a more modern look.  Regardless, they served their owners well even if they were really uncomfortable to ride in.  Septa retired the last sets in 1981.  My uncle commuted from the Philly suburbs from 1965  to the mid 1990's and even as a railfan he still comments how much nicer it was when the Silverliners came online.

Time for a series in the PRRT&HS Keystone!

I left the Long Island and PRSL out since this was murky enough without them.  No doubt both got rebuilds as well as some new builds.  I grew up in Jamaica, Queens about a block and a half away from the LIRR mainline and saw lots of these owl eyed cars including the combine and full baggage version but don’t recall seeing any RPO’s.  I never did ride on any.

I found this link for LIRR information which includes P54 trailers and further down, the powered version.

http://www.trainsarefun.com/li...sengercarhistory.htm

@pennsynut posted:

I have developed an interest in the PRR mp54 cars hauled by steamers. I have read about combines and seen photos of mail/passenger commuter cars. My question is did these consists ever include the heavyweight 6 wheel trucked headend cars, such as BM70s and/or B70s? I read a post on another forum (site misplaced) that referred to a rule/directive that the p54 cars should not be placed between heavy steel cars or between the locomotive and a heavy steel car. Any thoughts?

Wouldn't this rule apply with the simple fact that the p54's were lightweight ping pong cars with the lighter trucks. There would be a concern with the heavyweights behind them, especially in a derailment, this would according the m54's given there lightweight.

When I pull our dinner train I feel the heavyweight shove on every hill, I barely notice the P54D's back there. The heavyweight is the first car in the consist.   

While the Long Island unpowered cars were referred to as ping pong’s and rode on a very light duty truck, the Pennsy P-54’s rode on a conventional trucks as other passenger equipment of the time.  Their intended use as steam hauled commuter service, plus there 64’ length, would have kept them out of long haul, heavyweight consists.

Last edited by Danr

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