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Photo of the Month - April 2009

 Cooling Down the Pullmans



     To appreciate what this man is doing you need to let your imagination go back to the pre-air conditioned days of railroading when a steel Pullman car has been sitting out in a 90 degree plus day.  You, in your nice white shirt and light wool suit get on the car and start to roast.  You open a window to get whatever breeze is blowing just in time for the engineer to start the train.  He gives a little too much throttle spinning the drivers and sending nice wet cinders in all directions, some to land on that nice white shirt.

     Out workman is loading the Pennsy's newest customer pleasing contraption with ice.  It can hold 1800 lbs of ice.  He puts the flexible air duct through the car's window, shuts the door to the ice bunker, turns on the big fan and cools the car. 

     While I don't think this photo was taken in Columbus, Columbus was reportedly one of the stations this was tried.  It would not be too long before the railroads and the Pullman Co. installed this equipment on the cars thus making air-conditioning practical for railroad companies.  At first ice was used later mechanical air-conditioning units were developed.  The duct work would be added on the roof along side the clerestory and the ice bunker and fan were installed under the car floor.

        Here is the text from the September 1932 Popular Science magazine from which this clipping came.

"Through a new system know as 'pre-cooling,' sleeping cars of the Pennsylvania Road are now made comfortable for travelers on warm summer nights. Before the train leaves, a blast of chill air is blown through the car for an hour and a half.  This air, forced through a compartment containing 1,800 pounds of ice, is led into the car through a flexible duct."

        This reminds us just how creative the "Standard Railroad" was.  They were constantly trying new things.  Later in the 1960's with the railroads in decline that would all change.

News clipping & photo from the Irv Layton Collection.