Budd Rail Diesel Car

BuddRDCNewYorkCentral

Budd announced the RDC in 1949.
Some are still in use

NYCentralFirstBuddRDC1

The first Budd RDC-1 went to the New York Central for service on the Boston & Albany in 1950

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BMBudd02

Budd at Railroad Station in Troy, New York

The station in Troy was owned by the Troy Union Rail Road. The TURR lasted from the mid 19th Century till the mid 20th Century. It was owned by the New York Central, Delaware & Hudson and Boston & Maine. Access from the South was from Rensselaer; from the West, via the Green Island Bridge; from the North was street running almost the entire length of Troy. See Penney’s blog for more information (and a great movie from the 1950’s).

 

Lots of Boston & Maine RDC’s went to Troy

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BUDD RDC’s in CONNECTICUT

Meandering from Devon on the Northeast Corridor, through Derby to Waterbury is a 32-mile Metro-North branch usually protected by Rail Diesel Cars which are almost forty years old. About three RDC’s are available for use on the branch. They were used by AMTRAK until the State of Connecticut purchased newer-model SPV2000’s for AMTRAK.

Budd announced its RDC in 1949. Self-propelled passenger equipment had been tried in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Models used had inadequate power, involved maintenance and were fire hazards. Railroads wanted out of short-haul and commutation service. By 1949, passenger car orders had fallen to 109 units from 2993 in 1945.

Budd had built some equipment before 1949 that helped pioneer the concept. Representative of early self-propelled equipment was the Burlington “Zephyr” of 1934 and the Rio Grande “Prospector”. American Car & Foundry had built some “Motorailers” which Susquehanna and a few others used. World War II made the engineering of the RDC possible. Detroit Diesel’s V-6 had been made for tanks. They were a modest investment at $160,000. RDC’s never reached their full potential because they were caught in the timeframe when railroads were cutting back passenger service.

The RDC has outlasted most of the railroads that purchased them. Over one-half of them remain “alive”. They were used in secondary mainline service, on branch lines and in commuter service. Currently, the largest operator of RDC’s is VIA Rail Canada. Canadian RDC’s serve branch lines from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. RDC’s successor, the Budd SPV-2000 never quite made it. New York State ordered 10 and Connecticut ordered 13 (mostly for AMTRAK New Haven-Springfield service). They encountered severe maintenance problems, especially in cold weather.

AMTRAK made use of RDC’s in the Northeast for several years. When it was first formed and searching for equipment, AMTRAK found 24 RDC’s from Penn Central and Burlington Northern including half of Budd’s experimental “Roger Williams” production. This consisted of:

They were used on the New Haven-Springfield route, Providence-New Haven, and in Boston-New Haven service. Their only use outside the New Haven area was on the 182-mile Chicago-Dubuque “Black Hawk” between 1974 and 1976.

The RDC-3’s never turned a dollar for AMTRAK. The intention was to use the large baggage section as a food service or lounge area. In 1976 they were sold to the British Columbia Railway. The remaining RDC’s were rebuilt in the old Reading shops in 1973.

Before the “Maple Leaf” began service between New York and Toronto, VIA ran into Buffalo with RDC’s to provide a Toronto connection. The route followed Canadian National from Toronto to Hamilton, TH&B to Welland and CONRAIL (after Penn Central) into Buffalo over the International Bridge.

The unique “Roger Williams” was a six-car train built for the New Haven in 1956 for Boston-New York service. It was even equipped with third-rail shoes for Grand Central operation. Like the rest of the New Haven’s 1956 experiment (also “Talgo” and “Train X”), it flopped. Relegated to commuter service, the six cars (two cab units and four middle cars) went to Boston. Three middle cars wore out and the fourth was sold by AMTRAK to the B&O for Washington service. Eventually, the residue was seen on the New Haven-Springfield corridor.

Several ex-New York Central “Beeliners” and New Haven “Shoreliners” can still be found. All were Penn-Central also at one time. At least five are in Alaska. Five more were being used by Massachusetts (no longer self-powered). Metro-North has a dozen (4 New Haven and 8 Central). These are used mostly on the Waterbury, Danbury and Pawling branches. One was with the Blue Mountain & Reading while another went to the Bellefonte RR Society. An ex-New Haven RDC-3 ended up as a Northwestern track inspection car. Two were out of service on the AMTRAK roster. This status will become out-of-date quickly as time passes because of the advancing age of the RDC’s. It may even be so now.

Speaking of RDC’s, on June 20, 1988 a Metro-North train from Waterbury bound for Bridgeport left the station a little ahead of schedule. It left so early that the surprised conductor and engineer didn’t get a chance to say “All aboard”.

None of the dozen passengers on the 96-seat car were hurt in the incident which ended when one of the passengers pulled the emergency brake 200 yards from the station. Metro-North officials were trying to determine what caused the 7:07 a.m. train to leave at 6:57 a.m. They were focusing on the electric switch that governs the diesel-powered vehicle’s hydraulic brake system.

The conductor and engineer had gone inside the station for coffee when Self-Propelled Vehicle No. 992 took off on its own. It was in neutral and gravity alone may have caused it to start rolling down the tracks, which are pitched at a slight grade. The train was moving so slowly that two passengers who thought the train was leaving without them were able to jump aboard. One passenger was a six-year-old on his first train ride who asked his mother where the conductor was. She couldn’t answer him, nor could any of the other passengers. The passengers came out of the train blowing the horn so they wouldn’t be forgotten. The trip continued by – you guessed it – bus.

September 1989 CALLBOARD

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BuddRDCLehighValley

This Budd RDC still lives at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. It once ran for the Lehigh Valley

 

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UticaYardsPlowRDCBirdsEye

Budd RDCs and snow plow at Susquehanna yard in Utica, NY


(From BirdsEye View in Bing Maps)

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Budd announced its RDC in 1949

Now that they are disappearing, many of us tend to forget about Rail Diesel Cars (RDC). Self propelled passenger equipment had been tried in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Models used had inadequate power, involved maintenance and were fire hazards. Railroads wanted out of short-haul and commutation service. By 1949, passenger car orders had fallen to 109 units from 2993 in 1945.

Budd had built some equipment before 1949 that helped pioneer the concept. Representative of early self propelled equipment was the Burlington “Zephyr” of 1934 and the Rio Grande “Prospector”. American Car & Foundry had built some “Motorailers” which Susquehanna and a few others used. World War II made the engineering of the RDC possible. Detroit Diesel’s V-6 had been made for tanks. They were a modest investment at $160,000. RDC’s never reached their full potential because they were caught in the timeframe when railroads were cutting back passenger service.

Some features of the RDC:
o Simple to service
o Comfortable
o Doesn’t require turntable or wye.
o 64 cents/mile (1953 prices)
o Can be used as a coach.
o Can be run with a two-man crew on many railroads.

 

Total Budd 1953 Budd New Haven
RDC-1 (all-coach) 239 88 29
RDC-2 (coach/baggage) 67 16 2
RDC-3 (coach/baggage/RPO) 48 9 6
RDC-4 (baggage/RPO) 14 3 3
RDC-9 (coach/no cab) 30 0 0
“Roger Williams” 6 0 6
TOTAL 404 116 46

In 1966, the New York Central even made a RDC jet-powered. It got up to 183.85 mph between Indiana and Ohio.

AMTRAK made use of RDC’s in the Northeast for several years. When it was first formed and searching for equipment, AMTRAK found 24 RDC’s from Penn Central and Burlington Northern including half of Budd’s experimental “Roger Williams” production.
This consisted of:

No. Type Former Owner Seats
11 RDC-1 New Haven 90
2 RDC-2 New Haven 71
1 RDC-2 New York Central 71
3 RDC-2 Northern Pacific 71
3 RDC-3 Northern Pacific 49
1 RDC-3 Great Northern 49

They were used on the New Haven-Springfield route, Providence-New Haven, and in Boston-New Haven service. Their only use outside the New Haven area was on the 182-mile Chicago-Dubuque “Black Hawk” between 1974 and 1976.

The RDC-3’s never turned a dollar for AMTRAK. The intention was to use the large baggage section as a food service or lounge area. In 1976 they were sold to the British Columbia Railway. The remaining RDC’s were rebuilt in the old Reading shops in 1973.

Before the “Maple Leaf” began service between New York and Toronto, VIA ran into Buffalo with RDC’s to provide a Toronto connection. The route followed Canadian National from Toronto to Hamilton, TH&B to Welland and CONRAIL (after Penn Central) into Buffalo over the International Bridge.

The unique “Roger Williams” was a six-car train built for the New Haven in 1956 for Boston-New York service. It was even equipped with third-rail shoes for Grand Central operation. Like the rest of the New Haven’s 1956 experiment (also “Talgo” and “Train X”), it flopped. Relegated to commuter service, the six cars (two cab units and four middle cars) went to Boston. Three middle cars wore out and the fourth was sold by AMTRAK to the B&O for Washington service. Eventually, the residue was seen on the New Haven-Springfield corridor.

Some facts about RDC’s from a BUDD manual:
Length varies with model; usually 88 feet.
14 ft 7″ high
Anti lock disk brakes.
120,000 lbs (empty?)
80 or so passengers
Two 275 hp GM engines. 6 cylinder, 31 cubic inch each.
Drive line hydraulic/automatic to right angle drive to adjacent axle of truck.
Max speed not given, but I have seen 65 mph on good track

Pre RDC “Doodlebugs” were more of a success than they are commonly given credit for, especially in “fan” literature. They were not tradtional steam and they were not “flashy streamliners”. By the time the RDC was being designed, the proper power to weight ratio had been determined (by experiment) and adequate hydraulic transmission, based on tank development during WWII were available.

An Indiana shortline: the Louisville, New Albany & Corydon Railroad operates a small tourist line on the weekends using a GE 45 Tonner with a couple of older heavyweight passenger cars along with an RDC lettered for the Corydon Scenic Railroad. They also have another RDC with what looked like New York Central peeking faintly out from under much newer painted lettering (MARTA ?). I’m not sure where they got this particular RDC but think it was an old New Haven RDC. One of the employees was of the opinion that this RDC carried Penn Central number boards and although more details were not forthcoming about the origins of the various machines, he did say that they were looking to acquire yet another RDC. Another RDC does carry very faded New Haven lettering.

A Rail Budd car was blown up in November for a made for television explosion at Porteau Cove. “Basically, it means we will do anything for money,” BC Rail’s Barrie Wall said with a laugh. He hastened to add the Budd car, although genuine, is little more than a shell, its parts long ago cannibalized for other cars. Wall wouldn’t say how much the producers of the “X-Files” is paying for the privilege of exploding taxpayers property. “Just say we’re getting a good buck for the band,” he said. Fox Television, which produces the mad in Vancouver sci-fi drama, is also coy on the cost. “I haven’t a clue; I don’t know,” said Mary Hendrickson, assistant to the co-executive producer. “Suffice it to say a train car goes phlooey, smithereens.” Hendrickson said she hoped the big bang wouldn’t attract much public scrutiny because explosions “can be a little dodgy,” requiring crowd control.

February 1996 BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN

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BuddRDCLionel

Types of RDC’s

RDC1 – full coach

RDC2 – baggage coach

RDC3 – mail – baggage – coach

RDC3m – can be either enlarged baggage (covering the area for both the mail and baggage compartments) – coach or mail (encompacing the mail and baggage section) – mail

RDC4 – baggage – mail (some built without mail compartment)

RDC9 – full coach with a single motor and no oeprating controls

RDCA – “Roger Williams” cab – coach

RDCB – “Roger Williams” blind end coach

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NYCM-497BryanOhio1966WayneOhio

M-497 Jet Powered RDC New York Central at Bryan Ohio in 1966 courtesy of Wayne Koch

July 23, 1966 In a combination publicity stunt and test of how track functions under high speeds, a New York Central jet powered Rail Diesel Car hits 183.85 mph near Stryker, OH

 

M-497 still holds the record as the fastest passenger car to travel on a US railway system

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JetRDCwithAEP

M-497 with New York Central president A.E. Perlman


(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

Ever wondir how far an RDC could go on without refueling?

They have a 250 gallon tank giving it a range of about 450 miles.

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