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Pennsylvania’s Congressional, c1943-1952

Pennsylvania’s Congressional, c1943-1952

Fred Klein, 2010

The Pennsylvania railroad PRR was the largest in the US by revenue and traffic, and called itself the standard railroad of the world. The Congressional was the premier day train connecting New York City with Washington DC. It catered to businessmen, politicians and government people as well as travelers in the northeast corridor. Various trains covered this route almost hourly through the day, but the Congressional featured first class parlor cars for an upscale clientele. The trains made the run in 3 hours 35 minutes with 16 stops.

 

The PRR began passenger service from New York City to Washington in 1885 that eventually spawned the "Congressional Limited Express." In the 1920s, all-steel heavyweight cars were the norm. In January 1935 the line was electrified and the Congressionals were the first train to get the new GG1 electric locomotives. About 1952, the New York and Washington route was served by new 18-car streamliners called the “Morning Congressional” and “Afternoon Congressional”. Until 1952, cars on the Congressional were primarily older heavyweight cars. The 7 drawing room heavyweight car Willow River (next to last car in the consist) was available to hold small, private meetings because there was no need for a sleeper on a day train.

 

The “fleet of modernism”, with its two-tone pinstripe paint scheme designed by Richard Loewy that started in 1938, changed the appearance of Pullman sleeper cars, but did not seem to change the Congressional. The Pennsylvania adopted a solid tuscan paint scheme with three thin yellow stripes in 1948. The Pullman parlor cars on the Congressional have detailed documentation on their paint history in this 1940s-1950s era (http://pullmanproject.com/). They never did receive the Loewy FOM paint scheme, and were repainted with the three yellow stripes between 1949 and 1954. The coaches are probably the same. Thus only a few cars would have stripes toward the end of the 1943-52 time frame of this model train.

 

This consist was published by Robert Wayner in Passenger train consists of the 1940s, page 18. It is a wartime train from September 6, 1943, was on a labor-day weekend, and thus probably maximizes the number of coaches to accommodate soldier and other wartime and holiday traffic to Washington. It is in fact the northbound Congressional train of the Frankford Junction train wreck, which occurred near the Kensington area of Philadelphia, killing 79 people and injured 117 more. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankford_Junction_train_wreck. (Robert Wayner is rumored to base many of his consists on train wreck reports). Travelling at a speed of 56 mph, the journal box on the front of car #7 seized up and an axle snapped, catching the underside of the truck and sending the car catapulting upwards. Car #8 wrapped itself around a signal gantry upright in a figure U.

 

Description: scan.jpg

The Congressional on the Delaware River bridge in the late 1930s behind a GG1. From page 96 of Kratville’s Steam Steel & Limiteds, Kratville Publications, 1967

 

Good N-scale models exist of the GG1 locomotive, coaches and parlor cars. The heavyweight parlor cars are prototypically represented by the Microtrains model introduced on 2010.  The lounge, diner, sleeper (meeting) car and buffet-sun room cars need substitute models. The 7 drawing room heavyweight car Willow River is not available in N scale. In 1943 it was painted in the Loewy FOM scheme, and repainted in plain Tuscan with 3 pinstripes in 1953. The best substitute I have for this meeting car is a lightweight 13 double bedroom car in the County series in FOM paint. The picture shows the hallway side of the car and the 13 room windows are not seen, only 7 windows, imagined to be 7 drawing rooms. My model cars are not fully detailed: the state of air conditioning ducts, truck types, steps, and numbers and car names from the decal sheets are only approximations as close as I can easily get them.

 

Table of prototype and model consists

 

Prototype car

Prototype number

Model car

Model number

Brand

prototypical?

GG1 locomotive

PRR 4930

GG1 locomotive

PRR 4935

Kato

yes

Coach

PRR 4706

Coach (HWT)

PRR 4318

Con cor

yes

Coach

PRR 3854

Coach (HWT)

PRR 4319

Con cor

yes

Coach

PRR 3940

Coach (HWT)

PRR 3407

Con cor

yes

Coach

PRR 3751

Coach (HWT)

PRR 3172

decal-Concor

yes

Coach

PRR 3971

Coach (HWT) P70

PRR 8012

decal-Model Power

yes

Coach

PRR 3861

Coach (HWT) P70

PRR 8092

decal-Model Power

yes

Coach

PRR 1860

Coach (HWT) P70

PRR 1600

decal-Model Power

yes

Coach

PRR 3941

Coach (HWT)

PRR 4017

Rivarossi

yes

Lunch counter-kitchen

PRR 8023

Diner (HWT)

PRR 7991

decal-Concor

substitute car

Diner

PRR 8024

Diner (HWT)

PRR 4412

Rivarossi

similar

Parlor (28 seat-1 draw)

Quaker Valley

Parlor (28 seat-1 draw)

P. Big Walnut

custom-Microtrains

yes

Parlor (28 seat-1 draw)

Susan B. Anthony

Parlor (28 seat-1 draw)

P. Ford City

custom-Microtrains

yes

Parlor (28 seat-1 draw)

Bay Head

Parlor (28 seat-1 draw)

P. Sandy Ridge

custom-Microtrains

yes

Parlor (30 seat-1 draw)

Richard Henry Lee

Parlor (28 seat-1 draw)

P. Spring Meadow

custom-Microtrains

yes

Sleeper (7 draw rm HWT)

Willow River

13 dbr (lightweight)

Lancaster county

Intermountain

modern substitute

Parlor-buffet-sun room

Alexander Hamilton

Obsevation-lounge (HWT)

Pull Federal Flags

decal-Concor

substitute car

 

Power and coaches

Description: cong43-1.jpg

The GG1 electric locomotive in Brunswick green paint was used on the Congressional in this 1943-52 era. The 3 coaches shown above are factory decorated Con cor (Rivarossi) cars. They are prototypical for the Congressional, except they probably had air conditioning ducts under a new roofline at this 1943 date.

 

More coaches

Description: cong43-2.jpg

The 1943 wartime consist had five more heavyweight coaches. The cars shown above are one custom painted Con car, three custom painted Model Power cars (the Pennsylvania P70 coach is the prototype for this car), and a Rivarossi factory decorated car.

 

Lunch counter and diner cars

Description: cong43-3.jpg

The food cars were the pair PRR 8023 and 8024, with the lunch counter and kitchen in the first car and the dining room in the second car. I do not have a model of these cars, but substitute two heavyweight Rivarossi diners. The first is custom painted and the second is factory painted.

 

Parlor cars

Description: cong43-4.jpg

The four Pullman parlor cars were for passengers travelling first class. The cars were acquired by PRR in 1930. Pullman sold the cars to the PRR at the end of 1945 but continued to operate them under contract. The Microtrains model introduced on 2010 is prototypical for the heavyweight parlor cars. The cars are custom painted and decorated with Microscale decals with parlor names used by the PRR, though probably not on the Congressional.

 

Drawing room (meeting) and Parlor-buffet car

Description: cong43-5.jpg

The 7 drawing room heavyweight car Willow River is not available in N scale. In 1943 it was painted in the Loewy FOM scheme, and repainted in plain Tuscan with 3 pinstripes in 1953. The best substitute I have for this meeting car is a lightweight 13 double bedroom car in the County series in FOM paint. It is a factory painted Centralia car shops car. The picture shows the hallway side of the car and the 13 room windows are not seen, only 7 windows, imagined to be 7 drawing rooms. A custom painted, Con cor heavyweight observation car substitutes for the parlor-buffet-sun room car, which had a closed solarium rather than an open platform.

 

References

Kratville, William, Steam Steel & Limiteds, Kratville Publications, 1967.

Wayner, Robert, Passenger train consists of the 1940s, Wayner publications.

 

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