The prototype Admiral was considered a part of the Pennsy’s “Blue Ribbon Fleet” running from Chicago to New York. The eastbound Admiral, train #70, was inaugurated on April 27, 1941, and somewhat strangely, its westbound counterpart, train #71, not until a year later on April 26, 1942. The train offered reclining seat coaches, a diner, and sleepers in a wide range of accommodations. By the late 1940’s, in addition to its New York to Chicago sleepers, the train handled a transcontinental sleeper for the California Zephyr and the Overland Limited on alternating days.
Since, in my fantasy world, I was in charge of the Pennsy’s passenger service at the time, this represented my last ditch effort to establish transcontinental passenger service. The train consists of five transcontinental ( through ) sleepers, all of which were either originally 10-6 or 10-5 sleeping cars, a full diner, and a parlor-lounge-observation car. The sleepers have all been converted from their original configurations by eliminating one of the roomettes and converting the space to luggage storage for the passengers in that car ( notice there is no baggage car on this train ), and eliminating a second roomette and installing in that space a changing room and shower. Once in Chicago, the train would be broken down and the individual sleepers hooked up to their representative trains for departure to the West coast.
In reality, none of these car conversions were ever made, and there was normally only one transcontinental sleeper on a Pennsy train running from New York to Chicago. Since I wanted to collect and highlight as many of the through sleepers as I could, I just decided to make up an entire train of them.
Here is some further detail on the train in the video. The prototype E-7A locomotives were built by EMD in August of 1947. The models are from BLI, painted DGLE.
The first sleeper is the Pennsy’s Silver Rapids, purchased to run as a through sleeper on the California Zephyr. The prototype was built by the Budd Company in 1948, and ran as a transcontinental sleeper until 1957. This car is still in service today, available for private charters. The model is from BLI. Note the California Zephyr name on the letterboard at 2:19 of the video. It is difficult to see, but on small plates at either end of the car ( one is next to the top of the vestibule door ) are the letters: PRR.
The second sleeper is the Pennsy’s Blue Rapids, painted to run as a through sleeper on the Overland Limited. The prototype was built as a 10-6 sleeper by ACF. The model is from Rivarossi, which I modified by changing the wheelsets and adding IHC diaphragms. For the Union Pacific exchange cars, you’ll notice at 2:28 of the video that the letterboard says PENNSYLVANIA.
The third sleeper is the Tippecanoe Rapids, painted to run as a through sleeper on the Union Pacific’s City of Los Angeles. The prototype was built as a 10-6 sleeper by Pullman-Standard. Short backstory: A model of this car is what introduced me to the Pennsy’s through sleepers of the early 1950’s. Thirty plus years ago, I spotted a Rivarossi model of this car at a railroad show and thought I’d stumbled onto the model railroading equivalent of finding an old airmail stamp with the plane flying upside down. Imagine seeing a car lettered for the Pennsylvania Railroad and painted Armour Yellow and Harbormist Gray. My bubble was soon burst by the dealer however, who gave me a helpful introduction to the through sleeper days. The model in the video is from Walthers. ( 2:35 )
The next car represents a Budd built dining car from the early 1950’s. The model is again from Walthers.
The fourth sleeper is the Pennsy’s Cascade Ravine, painted to run as a through sleeper on the Saint Louis – San Francisco Railway’s Meteor. This is a car which almost certainly was never seen in Chicago. The Cascade Ravine was carried from New York to St. Louis on the Pennsy’s Penn-Texas, then transferred to the SLSF’s Meteor from St. Louis to Oklahoma City. The car was built as a 10-5 smooth side sleeper by Pullman-Standard in 1948. To visually match the corrugated sided cars of the SLSF, the Cascade Ravine was painted with silver sides and shadow lines were added. The model is a nice representation from Walthers, shadow lining and all. ( 2:52 )
The last sleeper is the Pennsy’s Cascade Hollow, painted to run as a through sleeper on the Missouri Pacific Railroad’s Eagle. Again, it is very unlikely that this car ever saw Chicago. The Cascade Hollow was also carried from New York to St. Louis on the Pennsy’s Penn-Texas, then transferred to the MoPac’s Texas Eagle from St. Louis to Houston. This car was also built as a 10-5 smooth side sleeper by Pullman-Standard. The model is again from Walthers. ( 2:59 )
Bringing up the markers is the Pennsy’s George Washington, a parlor-lounge-observation car built by Pullman-Standard. The prototype is a squared-off rear end car with a diaphragm and striker plate glued on. You know what I mean. It normally saw service on the east coast, usually on the Congressional. The model is a compromise. I wanted an early 1950’s Pennsy observation car, and one that would match visually with the diner on this train. The best I could find was an offering from Con-cor. I had to change out the trucks, add a front end diaphragm, and create an interior, which at least turned out to be a fun project.