Mid-train Observation car on Silver Star

greenspun.com : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

The SAL Silver Star ran with an observation car (styled like the one on the Meteor) rigged up with a diaphram so that it ran mid-train. The Star usually ran with no obs. at the end. Does anyone know why this was done? Anyone modeling this train might want to include this oddity in the consist.

-- Jim Coviello (jcovi60516@aol.com), September 25, 1998


I need to clarify the fact,the "Lake Okeechobee"was built as square ended.

-- Joseph Oates (jlosal@gte.net), December 14, 1999.

More worms to chew over. Michael's answer stirred me enough to wonder about this--------- "ACL learned this almost at the begining". ACL and FEC both bought lightweight trains and operated them together but the FEC DID NOT square off their TO's.Why? Where were these cars during the time until the strike in 1963? Did they just sit? Where they used on FEC locals? Sounds like to me that the ACL DID NOT want round-end cars,so why weren't they modified? FEC had five TO cars,"Bay Biscayne","Lake Worth","St.Lucie Sound" "Hobe Sound" and "Lake Okeechobee".The "Hobe Sound" was scrapped in 1963.The "St.Lucie Sound" and the "Lake Okeechobee" ran on the strike train from 8-2-65 to 7-31-68.The "Bay Biscayne" and the "Lake Worth" went to the SAL in 1965 and had diaphrams applied by (SAL?) Well---I hope this is Radio Shack----"I want answers"

-- Joseph Oates (jlosal@gte.net), December 14, 1999.

The real reason was cost and flexibility. Having an observation car at the end of the train is a costly luxury. The car has to be turned at terminals, and this involves a switching crew, and sometimes a seperate movement.Switching moves are costly and in the mid 1960-s most railroads tried to reduce or even eliminate them. You cannot use a round end car safely in the middle of a consist since there is no protection for passengers going between cars. Having the lounge at the end of the train is a problem for the first class passengers who have to walk all the way back, past the diner, and God forbid, through the coaches. Not all trains had sufficient first class patronage to require a Pullman sleeper lounge, so longe car users had a long hike, especially on an 18 car train. The ACL learned this almost at the beginning and after the first two round end cars were supplied, all other observations were built as flat end cars. Even the remaining original round end car ( 251)was rebuilt as a flat end car in 1957.

The SAL in its expanded series of Meteors in 1940 ordered flat end cars for the three tavern coach observations. These cars could be run mid train and then after the west side section was switched out, they could run as observations. The original Meteor coach-observation, car 6400- was rebuilt in 1943 as a flat end car by Budd, after the Seaboard tried to do the same thing out on the road, unauthorized by the home office.

In order to avoid the cost of rebuilding its observation cars, SAL added diaphrams and a walkway to the rear of three of the cars. When the FEC cars came over in 1965, two of the prewar round end cars from the Champion and the Henry Flagler, came over and they too were fitted with rear end diaphrams and walkways.

The Meteor was SAL's Flagship train, and there, it was felt that the public relations aspect, as well as being one of the last trains in the US to have an observation car, was worth the inconvenience and cost.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak@MNR.org), December 13, 1999.

The above "as simple as" answer is probably the right one,, At the time, I was so miffed at Amtrak for running such a stately round end obs mid-train ,,and as oft as not BACKWARDS yet! , that I asked Amtrak,,, their response was,, "We no longer want to have to turn these cars and place them as the last car,, (read labor intensive) so we are treating them as if they were regular lounges in the lineup.

-- Ron Loving (mlmp@mindspring.com), August 16, 1999.

I observed the mid-train observation while living in the West Palm Beach area and watching trains '65-'68. The Star at that point had all it's parts broken off so the obs. should have been at the end. As far as I can tell, nothing went somewhere else on the northbound train. I found some old Official Guides from '65 and '67 and found that the consist of each SAL train is listed from front to rear. The Star had a Tavern Observation car listed mid-train running between Miami and Washington. Maybe it went somewhere else at D.C. but I could not find any listing of thru connectons for part of the Star at D.C. Maybe the answer is as simple as that they needed a tavern mid train and did not have enough regular tavern cars to fit the bill. Let's keep digging. Thanks for the comments so far.

-- Jim Coviello (jcovi60516@aol.com), October 01, 1998.

I'm sorry to say that the answers given so far,are not correct.The question intrigued me so much that I'm trying to research it now.So far I have not come up with a good answer.Please give me a little more time and I will let you know what I find.

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

I think Doug has the right idea here. I believe that I read somewhere that it was due to sections of the train being broken off to serve different areas. Logically then the obs would be on the end of the remaining consist. I think this is pointed out and mentioned in Streamliners-New York to Florida. One of my favorite books!

-- Marc Hamel (gigsup@aol.com), September 29, 1998.

I can' say with 100% certainty, but if they did it for the same reason then as Amtrak used to do, the diner went through on the Miami section, and the mid-train obs/lounge went to Tampa/St.Pete as its food service car.

-- Doug Riddell (railroaddoug@erols.com), September 29, 1998.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ