Monday, March 13, 2006

Sixteen Wheel Sleeping Cars

From: Pete McCue

... The current issue of Trains Magazine (April 2006) has a poster on page 65 for Pullman Dining Cars. At the bottom of the poster is an ad for "Pullman Sixteen-Wheel Drawing Room Sleeping Cars." This purports to be from a poster of about 1877 vintage. Lower on the page is a cut-away drawing of an 1895 Dining Car.

What wheel configuration would be used on a sixteen wheel car? ...

—Pete McCue

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


The trucks in question (8-wheel trucks under early Pullman cars) were patented by C. F. Allen on June 18, 1867. They were used under a number of Pullman cars produced in the late 1860s, and perhaps into the very early 1870s. It is patent #65,788, for those interested in the patent papers from the Patent Office web site. The original patent drawings are in the National Archives collection, and are reproduced in John White's American Railroad Passenger Car book on pgs 503-504. The design is essentually two 4-wheel trucks with a span bolster, with a couple of detail additions.

Allen also patented a 4-wheel truck (#54,085, April 24, 1866), shown in White's American Railroad Freight Car book, pg 453 (not the patent drawing). This was known as the California truck in some circles, and a variation of the design was used by the Central Pacific on freight cars in the early 1870s, and copied by the Virginia & Truckee (see White pg 238 under the V&T flat). Several V&T examples survive at the Nevada State Railroad Museum (along with examples of the pre-Allen Central Pacific standard truck of the 1860s that the V&T also copied – that I've never seen drawings of). A simpler version of the California truck, with a wood spacer between the truck transoms in place of the metal one, was pretty much the design used by many California car manufacturers such as Carter and Hammond.

Allen also patented a 6-wheel truck (#77,858, May 12, 1868) along similar lines. I'm less familiar with any actual use of this truck, although there may have been some. In passenger service I think the more familiar 6-wheel passenger truck dominated that service. The Allen 6-wheel truck may have seen some service on special heavy freight cars (although in the patent descriprion Allen makes clear he had passenger service in mind for the truck). It might even be the 6-wheel truck that the Central Pacific used under some tenders, but we need to take a closer look before we are sure.

On the Central Pacific, two versions of the Thielsen truck (#90,795, June 1, 1869) superceded the California truck in the late 1870s. First came a light version (15 ton), followed by a heavy version (20 ton). These are often not recognized as Thielsen trucks because the center casting between the truck transoms on the Central Pacific truck looks rather different than the style on more familiar Thielsen designs used on other railroads.

It appears that both Allen and Thielsen were associated with the CB&Q in the 1860s. It is likely that Central Pacific General Manager A. N. Towne and General Master Mechanic A. J. Stevens, also a former CB&Q men, may have known both Allen and Thielsen, possibly facilitating the adoption of those truck designs on the Central Pacific.

Note that the Allen trucks and the Thielsen trucks are swing-motion freight trucks, thought to be easier on equipment in the 1870s-80s. The 1860s Central Pacific freight truck was a rigid design, and the 1889 Southern Pacific design that replaced the Thielsen was also a rigid truck - found in tests to actually be better, and certainly less expensive to manufacture and maintain. Swing motion trucks continued to be used on passenger cars (and most cabooses) because they did give a smoother ride to the (human) occupants.


3/13/2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Russ C. Davies

... the most famous one of them all, the Presidential Private Car "United States," served as Lincoln's funeral car ... it had four 4-wheel trucks, two at each end.

Reference: a wonderful book, The Lincoln Funeral Train, The Final Journey and National Funeral for Abraham Lincoln by Scott D. Trostel, 2002.

—Russ C. Davies

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

3/15/2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


Peter McCue asks about 8-wheel trucks. Jack White's magisterial American Railroad Passenger Car lists nine index references to them, and illustrations on pages 249 and 347 show vehicles equipped with them.

I am trying to imagine the sound that they generated over rail-joints and diamonds....

—Andrew Dow

[from the R&LHS Newsgroup.]

3/15/2006 1:40 PM  

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