[N&W] RE: PRR Passenger - P-54/MP-54

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu May 6 23:24:09 EDT 2004

With all due respect, this is a secondary source intended for us railfans,
and I am reasonably certain they are just plain wrong.  What I know with
absolute certainty is that when I worked for the Long Island Rail Road in
the late 50's and early 60's, where the legacy of PRR control was still
extremely strong, the "M" designation absolutely meant a car with traction
motors, e.g. MP-54.  A car with the same basic carbody, but no traction
motors and no operator's controls, designed to run in train with MP-54's,
was called a T-54.  If it had no traction motors but did have operator's
controls, it was a CT-54.  All of these had electric heat.  Cars with steam
heat, arranged to be locomotive hauled, were P-54's.  (Or P-70's, or
whatever).  I remain reasonably certain PRR practice was the same, but my
source material is at home and this reply is being written from the office.

Having said that, the difference between "absolute certainty" and
"reasonably certain" requires that I indeed do a little research, which I
promise to do - to do otherwise would be "unreasonable!" (Ouch...enough


David R. Phelps

[then later from home...]

First, I hope our little tempest in a teapot doesn't bore all you fine N&W
fans; I guess it's justified because the N&W did buy some surplus P-54's and

Middleton, "When the Steam Railroads Electrified"; Volkmer, "Pennsy Electric
Years"; and Staufer, "Pennsy Power II" all speak uniformly and exclusively
about "conversion of P-54's into MP-54's."  However, I think Staufer, page
170, also solves the confusion.  Motorized MP-54's were MP-54E's; trailer
MP-54's were MP-54T's.  (Slightly different from the LIRR practice I am
familiar with.)  Thus, the quote from the "Photo Book" is understandable if
you read "electrical equipment" to mean propulsion equipment.  But, the
MP-54T's were half of the well-known "bride and groom" cars, not loco hauled
cars.  Loco hauled cars were P-54's.

Dave Phelps

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