Home > Photos > pom-jun2009

last - next

Photo of the Month - June 2009

 What's This?


        A challenge for you.  This  photo was taken in the Buckeye Yard car shop in Columbus.  What is going on here?  Send your answers to columbusrr@att.net


        The answer: In the 1970's toward the end of the Penn Central era the PC got the assignment to deliver new subway cars from the St. Louis Car Co. in St. Louis to New York City.  When NYC ordered subways cars the order could be in the hundreds.  The possibilities to transport the cars to New York were to either place the cars on flatcars or pull them is a train.  This  gondola and a second one were modified in the shops at the Buckeye Yard to add this radial subway type coupler on one end.  A string of subway cars could then have one of these adaptor cars placed at each end and hauled to New York in a freight train.

        The car shop crew under the direction of Ted Roberts, Columbus Division Master Mechanic, modified the two gondolas.  These couplers have the air and electrical connections built into the face of the coupler requiring a tight lock.  The couplers pivot from the end of the coupler shank.  The coupler head is supported by a rail shaped in a arc allowing the subway cars to make tight turns. 

        Penn Central also had a second set of adaptor cars, this time modified box cars, that they used to deliver the cars to New York.

        How did the readers do? - Very well.  One reader thought the gondula was in the shop being modified as an adaptor car.  He was right on that point.  Several figured out that the gondola would be used to pull transit cars.  One reader from Philadelphia had seen a similar arrangement on the B&O.  Another reader thought it was taking transit cars to either Chicago or New York.  One Columbusite remembers when these were being used, as the cars came through Columbus on the Pan Handle line.

        One reader wondered why they bothered to install the anti-climber on the end of the gondola.  Anti-climbers are installed on transit cars in case of a derailment or other accident.  It helps keep one car from telescoping through the other.  It didn't seem necessary to have one on the gondola.

        Thanks to all that sent in their answers and thanks to Dave Bunge for the photo and information.

Photo from Dave Bunge Collection.