fate of ACL's ex-NYC smoothsided "River" sleepers

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Info needed on the six NYC "Bridge" series 4-4-2 sleepers bought by ACL in 1962 and rebuilt for the FLORIDA SPECIAL as the "River" series (Cape Fear, Kissimmee, Manatee, etc.) These smooth-sided cars were rebuilt into 4-4's and painted dull aluminum. They don't appear in any ACL or SCL public timetable consists later than the '62 season. Were they disposed of? If not, did any make it into SCL lettering and emblems? Info on SPECIFIC cars welcome, but not vital. THANKS!

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), May 29, 1998


You said it Joe! It was INDEED a lot of work to modify the bedroom side (the aisle side is ok as is, thankfully). If someone doesn't care too much about authenticity, the Walthers example should do fine. Having said that, the only thing one may want to do is plug the small upper berth windows, which ACL closed during remodeling. Still you'd have to repaint and reletter after puttying (decals available). This would add greatly toward more accurate look.

For me, the most satisfying part of my remod was the floating and positioning of sixteen individual small letters to form the name CAPE FEAR, which wasn't offered on the society's decal sheet!

As far as a substitute car side, I may have a Union Station car side- also a 4-4-2 -that might be easier to work with. But thanks to Florida's weekly hurricanes, I've got too much stuff in storage blocking my access to it. Maybe by November I can get a look at it. Since the ACL 4-4's were so unique I doubt anything ready to use is available. I've never worked with replacement window bands, but if enough interest is generated, it may be worth producing them. That may be an effective and inexpensive way to go.

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), September 29, 2004.

Bob, If you can,look around at other cars and see if there might be some other car that we can swap one side with in order to make a correct ACL car without all the window blanks and other changes.That is a lot of work.I have seen the new cars and they are nice.It might be easier to just live with them as is.

-- Uncle Joe (uj67@mindspring.com), September 28, 2004.

Walthers had now come out with their version of the ACL "River" series sleeper. It's painted and lettered nicely and includes all six river car names on the decal. But be advised, it's still the same 4-4- 2 they already offer, with no modifications to the bedroom side; some window plugging, respacing and resizing will be needed to make it an accurate ACL 4-4 River car for anyone's 75th Anniversary Florida Special. I had luck finding the correct Challenger trucks on eBay. Underbody detailing will need some changing, unless you don't care about that area.

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), September 26, 2004.

To Bob V. and all who are interested. The ACL 4-4's were originally built by PS in 1938 for the NYC as 4-4- 2's.ACL purchased these cars from NYC in 1962 and had PS rebuild them into Floor plan B-8651,lot 6540. NYC George Washington Bridge became ACL Cape Fear River NYC Rip Van Winkle Bridge became ACL Kissimmee River NYC Suspension Bridge became ACL Manatee River NYC Bay Bridge became ACL Ortega River NYC Bear Mountain Bridge became ACL Savannah River NYC High Bridge became ACL Suwanee River When rebuilt,the locations of the upper windows were changed as well as other window locations and therefore had to be blanked.IE-lined up with a partition.That is why the Walther's model is not correct for an ACL car. The most claring thing I found here is the discrepancy about Rip Van Winkle Bridge.I have read where this car went to the IC to use on the "Seminole" NOT? Maybe that is why I cannot find a picture. The above information is from an official ACL LW equipment diagram book.

-- J.Oates (jlosal@mindspring.com), August 11, 2003.

...that JMJ video is "Vintage Rails Vol. 5" (not Diesels...sorry)

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), August 10, 2003.

From what few photos I can locate showing the bedroom sides, the ACL cars had their upper berth window removed, at least on "Kissimmee" and "Manatee River". JMJ's "Vintage Diesels #5" video shows an ACL train with a similar type car in the consist. It kept its upper berth windows, but after nearly going blind freeze-framing the scene, I believe this may be a Rock Island "Golden State" 4-4-2 instead of an ACL 4-4, but it's too blurry to make out any lettering.

On another note, ACL apparently changed the bedroom-side window arrangement when it converted these into 4-4's; the spacing and size of the smaller windows near the car ends are slightly different than that on the Walthers models. The aisle sides look unchanged.

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), August 10, 2003.

Heads up! Looks like the folks at Walthers have put out sevaral HO- scale versions of the 4-4-2's per their web-site. But be advised that their undecorated version shows full side skirting per their web photo. If anyone plans to model an ACL 4-4 car, these didn't have skirting.

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), August 06, 2003.

While visiting the railway museum at Green Bay,I photographed as much as possible of the entire collection. Unfortunately, the -River series sleeper wasn't on display at the time(summer,2000).It certainly could have been in storage elsewhere.

-- Paul Coe (paul_coe@yahoo.com), August 01, 2003.

The windows you refer to were the upper berth windows provided for the upper berths in the drawing rooms. Such windows were provided to make the upper berth experience less claustrophobic, but were a maintenance headache and were removed by Pullman starting in the early 1950's. The windows were mostly gone by the early 1960's.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak@mnr.org), August 01, 2003.

Does anyone know if the repainted PRR or IC 4-4-2's had the upper windows that are on the Walther's model?

-- J.Oates (jlosal@mindspring.com), July 31, 2003.

Apparently one of these six "River" cars has survived. A look at the equipment listing of the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay WI shows ACL sleeper "Manatee River" on the roster. Unfortunately their site has no photos available. Can anyone confirm this? Thanks.

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), July 30, 2003.

My sources (various books on NYC cars) indicate that all except 1 (I think Manistee River) were scrapped by D. J. Joseph, with the exception cannibalized by Amtrak for parts. My major focus in rail history is NYC, but with a secondary major is streamlined/lightweight passenger cars in general, so I figured I might be able to contribute something of value on this one.

Hope this helps!

-- Tim Totten (nedry@excite.com), March 15, 2002.

In addition to the ACL River series cars, 6 pre-war PRR 4-4-2 Imperial cars were repainted silver-gray, with black lettering for use on the 75th anniversary Florida Special. these cars were the Imperial Park,Pass,Plateau,Point,Range,Terrace. According to PRR Passenger Car Painting and Lettering book, they were painted silver in October 1962 and repainted Tuscan red in May 1963.

-- Michael W. Savchak (savchak@MNR.org), August 06, 1999.

Bob: You may already have it, but there's an article on the river sleepers plan 6013 in the March '94 issue of "Mainline Modeler."

Merrill Crissey

-- Merrill D. Crissey, Sr. (mdcrissey@juno.com), October 11, 1998.

On a similar note: Rip Van Winkle Bridge was leased to IC, painted Chocolate & Orange and used in Seminole service which also puts it ( albeit indirectly) on ACL tracks in the early 60's. Unlike all other of the ex NYC Bridge cars sold, or leased, off to other roads... RVW Bridge rode on pre-war triple bolster 43R trucks to bitter end ( the junkyard ).

-- Buck Dean (big4@prodigy.net), August 12, 1998.

I have slides of 4 of the cars waiting to be scrapped by D.J.Joseph shot in May 1970. The cars were Savannah River, Ortega River, Manatee River & Kissimmee River. They are all lettered ACL. Hope this helps

-- Stanley Jackowski (stanjack@gte.net), June 04, 1998.

I saw Ortega River in service in Atlanta in Feb. 1967. The DeGolyer library in Dallas has photos of Kissimmee River and Savannah River in service in Dallas on 1-1-67. Would like to hear where else they were seen and dates. Evidently they were used only for overflow accommodations, or on other RRs, after the 62-63 Fla. Special season.

-- Larry Goolsby (LGoolsby@apwa.org), June 01, 1998.

Some,if not all of these cars were scrapped by D.J.Joseph in Tampa. None,that I know were ever painted SCL.In 1968 or 69 SCL scrapped massive amounts of older LW and HW cars.

-- Joseph Oates (jlosal@gte.net), May 30, 1998.

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