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Needless to say, it is the older, largely surplus equipment that first gets sent to troop train service. In the Great War, it was outdated Varnish equipment. In the World War, the early Gothic heavyweights, mostly sidelined during the Depression, have been the first called up.
A 12-1 can sleep 36 in the sections (one in the upper, two in the lower) plus three in the drawingroom: a typical Army platoon and its three leading sargeants. The less common 16 section cars, shown here, are prized for their higher capacity of 48. Being Pullman cars, they come complete with porter and all the usual amenities one expects on a Pullman sleeper: although, no doubt, the men often turn to and help with making up sections and other housekeeping tasks.
The Great Depression had sidelined almost all of the early first generation "Gothic" heavyweight cars, which sat on storage sidings for years. In the late 1930s, a number of the 12-1 and 16 section sleepers were rebuilt into some of the all-room versions that were popular at the time. Still, when the State of Emergency was declared in 1940, most of them were still in storage. Pullman had not scrapped them (even though they were obsolete and surplus at the time) because the equipment trusts were still in effect: they had not yet been paid for.
The second World War returned nearly 1500 "Gothic" cars to service, where they lived up to their builder's reputation for quality and durability through four long years of non stop service with no more than essential maintenance. Once the war ended, most of these cars - now worn out - were scrapped.
The shortage of diners has been even more critical, as there are fewer of them, most are owned by the individual railroads and are needed for the packed civilian trains. So, at War Department insistance, various railroads have converted older head end cars into field expedient kitchen cars such as the old truss rodded wood baggage car shown here.
Facilities are minimal: at either end of the car are iced coolers. In the center is any of a variety of ad-hock cookstoves- many welded up out of plate and angle iron in the car shop- together with coal bin. At left is a sink and a pair of garbage cans.
Even with 40% of Pullman's inventory committed to troop train service, there is still a critical shortage of rolling stock. It was quickly realized that the campaigns ahead would require massive troop movements and that more equipment had to be built. However, both Pullman and the War Department were not happy with the time and materials needed to build that many conventional passenger carbodies. So Pullman - at War Department insistance - developed a fast, cheap and dirty troop sleeper based on the ubiquitous PS-1 box car.
What these cars lack in style, they do not make up in comfort. During the day, the upper two bunks are folded away and the lower used for three across seating. At either end is a washroom and toilet. Nominal capacity is 29 plus the porter. (As the war progressed, the practice of assigning porters to these cars has gradually diminished.)
These cars are not air conditioned and ventilation is a haphazard process of opening the windows or doors. What makes it worse is that these cars roll (if one can call it that) on an experimental 4 wheel high speed truck known as the "Allied" truck. These monstrosities are rough riding, maintenance intensive and prone to derailment. (They have since been outlawed in interchange service.)
Why Pullman allowed their proud name to be desecrated by placing it on these cars is beyond comprehension. Many historians believe that the unpleasant experience of riding a troop MAIN is a major influence in the growth of automobile travel in postwar years.
Following up on the theme started by the troop sleepers above, Pullman also built400 kitchen cars on the PS-1 box car pattern. The kitchen facilities follow the same basic pattern as the ad-hoc baggage car conversions, but are better laid out. Notable additions are more table space, a sink for washing utensils and - next to the coffee urns - a milk machine. Unlike their prececessors, above, these cars also have a large overhead water tank.
Most were disposed of after the war and are used for MoW service. However, unlike the sleepers, several dozen of these cars remained in the War Department inventory through Korea.
The invasion of Japan was expected to produce as many as a million Allied casualties. In anticipation of this deluge of wounded, the War Department contracted early in 1945 for several lots of hospital cars; including these built by the American Car and Foundry.
These are a peculiar design: a lightweight carbody sitting on 6 wheel drop equalized heavyweight Pullman trucks for the smooth ride (nothing too good for our boys) Other than that, these are modern lightweight passenger cars in every sense: thermopane windows, welded truss carbody and all.
At right is the loading door for stretcher cases (ambulatory patients enter through the vestibule at left). Inside is a triage area where patients are examined, given rudimentary treatment such as changing bandages, then are moved down the corridor to the berths. At the end of the car are a toilet and an iced locker for perishable medical supplies.
Leaving the triage area, there are a pair of sections for ambulatory patients who can sit up during the day. The hospital staff make the berths up at night. Next to that are some of the several lockers for medical supplies. The center of the car has two rows of double stacked perminent berths for stretcher cases.
At the other end of the car (at left) is a medical station where routine treatment such as changing bandages takes place. Normally, no operations would be performed on board these cars: although emergency surgery could be performed in urgent cases. Around the medical station are lockers for surgical supplies, wash sinks and a desk for the duty medic.
Thankfully the War ended without these cars having to go into service. In the postwar selldown, these particular cars were snapped up by the Monon, who rebuilt them into luxury lightweight chair cars.
The last hurrah of specialized troop rail equipment are a relative handful of cars built during the Korean War, which include these kitchen cars from St. Louis Car Company. St. Louis Car is essentially a transit builder (they produced most of the PCC streetcars), but they have diversified in the postwar years and are producing small lots of lightweight head end equipment, freight cars and specialty equipment such as shown here.
Where the World War 2 kitchen cars were adaptations on a box car, these are a variant on the standard lightweight passenger carbody used for RPO equipment. The kitchen layout is essentially the same as their prececessors above, although they have substantially more pantry and cold storage capacity. This allows them to serve greater numbers as well as go longer without reprovisioning - useful on the transcontinental long hauls.
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North East Rails © Clint Chamberlin.