Passenger Equipment

Heavyweight Coaches - CB&Q 6144 & 6148

Builder: Pullman Company
Built: 1922
Original Owner: Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Capacity: 84 seats
Class: PB-20
Acquired: 1990s

As railroad travel gained popularity in the second half of the 19th century, railroads and passenger car builders sought to improve rider safety. Wooden railcars posed a fire threat in the event of a derailment due to the coal stoves used to heat them. Further, wooden cars were more likely to “telescope,” with one car piercing the end of its neighboring car due to the forces of a collision. Toward the end of the century, steel railroad cars began to appear, offering reduced risk of fire and significantly increased strength in derailments. Most steel cars were built on a robust metal frame and concrete floor, increasing the total car weight over the wooden equipment they were replacing. To help spread the load, most rode on six wheel trucks. As a result, many early 20th century steel cars were nicknamed “heavyweights.”

By the time coaches 6144 and 6148 were built for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, steel passenger cars were commonplace. Ordered for the CB&Q’s premier trains with 54 other coaches, these cars provided comfortable seating for 84 passengers. Car 6144 offering a separate smoking section for 32 of its riders. Air conditioning was added to the cars in the early 1930’s. As “the Q” modernized its marquee trains with newer cars similar to Age of Steam’s lightweight train set, the venerable heavyweights were bumped to Chicago commuter train service and renumbered into the 7300-series. The CB&Q’s heavyweights were gradually retired in the 1960’s as passenger service declined, with the last commuter cars being surviving until 1973.

Coaches 6144 and 6148 were retired in 1967 and sold to the Illinois Railway Museum. After passing through subsequent owners, the cars were sold to Jerry Jacobson and moved to the Ohio Central Railroad. Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum crews performed repairs and repainted the two coaches into their classy “Pullman Green” livery in 2019.

CNR Lightweight Passenger Car Set

Builder: Canadian Car & Foundry
Built: 1952 – 1954
Original Owner: Canadian National Railway
Capacity: 52 – 76 Seats
Class: Lightweight Passenger Car
Acquired: 1990’s

By 1952, the Canadian National Railway needed to modernize its passenger trains. Older coaches, dining cars and sleeper cars were worn out after heavy use during World War II. The automobile and airliner were ever-growing threats to CNR’s passenger business. Finally, post-war sensibilities were increasing the expectations of comfort and convenience in rail travel.

To answer these needs, CNR placed a massive order for an entire fleet of new lightweight passenger cars. Montreal’s Canadian Car and Foundry received the order for 218 new 80-seat coaches, while Chicago’s Pullman Standard was tasked with constructing accompanying dining cars, sleeping cars, and parlor cars. All were based on previously built Pullman “lightweight” designs, which used structural steel car bodies to save significant amounts of weight over previous body-on-frame “heavyweight” cars. All cars were delivered by July of 1954.

With a flourish of advertising, CNR put their new cars to work on their marquee trains, notably the Super Continental. Passengers responded, and ridership increased for a time. As the passenger rail business changed in the 1960’s, the coach fleet received modifications to better fit customer needs. Some had snack bars added for shorter runs where dining car service would no longer be offered. Cars keeping their coach-only status relinquished four seats in favor of end-of-car luggage racks, bringing total car seating to 76 people.

When CNR passenger trains were handed over to VIA Rail (Canada’s national intercity passenger, similar to Amtrak), the passenger car fleet was transferred as well. A handful of coaches received further modification, converting them into coach – baggage combination (“combines”) to handle baggage on secondary lines. VIA sold off the former CNR fleet in the early 1990’s, and many of the cars found their way to tourist train service. Age of Steam Roundhouse’s 10-car lightweight fleet is listed below:

Coach – Baggage 9300 seats 52 passengers and has a separate baggage area with sliding doors to carry passenger luggage.

Coach – Cafe 3208 seats 76 passengers and includes a small cafe counter for serving beverages and snacks.

Coaches 5443, 5444, 5499, 5582, 5583, 5584, 5595, and 6542 seat 76 passengers.

Crew Car - "Conneaut"

Builder: American Car and Foundry Co.
Built: 1925
Original Owner: Wabash Railroad
Type: Baggage / RPO
Acquired: 1990’s

The crew car (sometimes referred to as a “tool car”) is a critical component for operating steam locomotives in the 21st century. When steam ruled the rails, the specialized equipment necessary to make a quick, minor repair could be found at every division point on the railroad. Today, these options no longer exist. Instead, steam operators must carry the necessary tools and equipment with them. Typically the crew car is positioned just behind the locomotive. Car 5012, named “Conneaut,” handles this important job for the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum.

This car was built in 1925 for the Wabash Railroad as a combination coach and baggage car. Some years later, the passenger space was converted to a Railway Post Office. Mail was picked up by this car and transferred between railway stations. During the trip, postal clerks sorted mail to ensure it went to the proper destination. The car continued in this service, transferring to the Norfolk and Western Railway after the Wabash was merged into it in 1964.

In the 1960’s after its mail-carrying career was over, the car was acquired by the High Iron Company (HICO) and converted for use as a crew car. High Iron pioneered the operation of steam locomotives on excursion trains, and modified one end of the car with racks and a workbench to carry the numerous spare parts, tools, and other equipment needed to perform repairs away from the home shop. In the central section, showers, lockers, a washer and a small vanity was installed to give crew members some of the comforts of home. Finally, a small galley, washroom and sitting area were included to give the steam crew a spot to relax between runs. As HICO had rebuilt Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 locomotive #759 in Conneaut, Ohio, the car was named after that location.

Jerry Jacobson purchased the Conneaut in the late 1990’s, continuing to use it for support of his steam locomotives. Many Ohio Central steam excursions included the Conneaut, with steam crew members enjoying the view provided through the open baggage doors when they were not taking their turn operating the locomotive. The car was transferred into the Age of Steam fleet with Jerry’s collection of steam locomotives.

The Conneaut has supported excursions with many famous preserved steam locomotives, including:

  • Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 #759
  • Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-4 #614
  • Reading 4-8-4 #2102
  • Grand Trunk Western 4-8-4 #6325
  • Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 #1293
  • Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0 #33

Pullman - "White Castle"

Builder: Pullman Company
Built: 1920
Original Owner: Pullman Company
Type: Heavyweight Sleeping Car
Capacity: Sleeping accommodations for 27 adults
Acquired: 1990’s

Our Pullman heavyweight sleeping car – named “White Castle” – boasts an impressive resume. Read on for more information on the many jobs this car has held over the years.

The Pullman Company manufactured and operated railroad sleeping cars during the first half of the 20th Century. Pullman developed a unique business arrangement with the railroads; Pullman built, owned, and operated the sleeping car service attached to overnight trains. In the process, the Pullman name became synonymous with comfort on the rails. Pullman typically employed African American men as porters. After unionizing in 1925, The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters became a powerful political organization which made significant contributions to the American Civil Rights Movement.

This car was originally named “Auckland” and included a drawing room, men’s and women’s washrooms, and twelve open sections, each section comprising an upper and lower sleeping berth. During the day, porters would convert the lower berth to passenger seating while the upper berth was tilted up and into the wall to provide more space. After an extensive renovation in 1936 which removed the drawing room and added two double bedrooms, the car was renamed “White Castle” and assigned to first-class sleeping car service on the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad.

Pullman eventually came under increased scrutiny by the US Government for monopolizing the sleeping car industry, and in 1944 was forced to divest its operations arm. As a result, the Pullman cars – including the White Castle – were sold off to the railroads on which they operated. This car continued in sleeper service with the P&LE until 1958, when it was transferred to wrecking train duty. Again the car was heavily modified, with six of the sleeping sections, both double bedrooms and one of the washrooms removed. In this empty space, a large kitchen dining area was installed to feed the wreck train crew. With six open sections remaining the car could still sleep twelve crew members.

When the declining P&LE sold off large amounts of equipment in the early 1990’s, Jerry Jacobson bought the entire McKee’s Rocks wreck train for his Ohio Central railroad. Spotted outside the Morgan Run Locomotive Shop, the White Castle provided accommodations for volunteers working to rebuild and operate Jerry’s growing fleet of steam locomotives. After being transferred to the Age of Steam Roundhouse, the car was repurposed yet again as the field office at the Roundhouse construction site.

Over the Winter of 2018-2019, the White Castle was cleaned up and repainted in a proper coat of Pullman green. New windows were installed, including recreations of the etched “P&LE” glass windows at the ends of the car.