N&W P4 Observation in Saudi Arabia
NW Mailing List
nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Jul 25 09:01:43 EDT 2013
Sorry for the overlong post, but this subject is close to my heart. I've wanted one of these cars back for years. I just recently participated in getting one of my other wish list cars back to the N&W in the form of former sleeper Scioto County.
Bear in mind those photos are now 28 years old, it could well be still in place, but no one has really been there to positively identify the car in recent time.
Back some years ago, when we first learned that the car still existed, about 20 years ago, we set out to see what could be done.
First the complications of dealing with the Saudi Arabians is vast. To the best of my knowledge, we (as in the fan community) don't have anyone with high enough power to even get through to who actually owns the car, can it be parted with. We went to our senator and provided information about the car, where and what and why, as far as I can tell, it was one of those things that was not a high enough priority to invest much effort into. So, nothing further was done apparently. I had a promise of free ocean transport at the time, but that person is no longer with that company.
Second, assuming that first hurdle can be passed and the Saudis say we can have or purchase the car. I'm no expert on international relations, and I have no idea of our current relationship with the Saudi government and people, both factors can be huge in this mission.
If this is indeed the Saudi government, money likely is not an issue to them, since they are oil-rich. So buying the car would be like pocket change, and they'd like wonder what is in this for them? Surely, we might trade some arms, like Ed mentioned a couple of F15 fighters, hopefully, he was being somewhat sarcastic. That would mean the US government that will hand over a $20 million dollar each airplane for what might be $12,000 worth of possibly scrap metal. I personally don't think anyone, anywhere in the US government would be willing to hand over tax dollars like that for a small interest item like this car is. However, something like that might be the only way to get the Saudis to pay attention to you.
The logistics on this are really overwhelming, and will take someone quite knowledgable, and someone who is going to be able to devote a huge amount of time to the process.
So, with the assumption that the Saudis say the car is available, and we have someone who is really able to devote a lot of time to it. Not to mention money, which is going to be another huge factor.
First you have to be sure the car is suitable to lift and move. Remember this car is getting ready to head into its 64th year come late fall. Pullman Standard cars of that era, even with good car all have problems, this car has been sitting, albeit in dry air, for at least 30 years, and possibly longer. It would also have been lesser maintenance for at least that long, perhaps longer. As I recall, a photo in Trains in the 1980s depicted the car in a train, with a huge air conditioning system on the roof, that seems to be gone now. Anytime you change the roof structure on these cars, you are potentially opening it up to more rot and damage.
So, you've had the car inspected, which probably means that someone in the states has made a trip over, and it is going to be OK to lift and move. The Saudi government or state railway will have to either move the car to a port, or free it up to be lifted onto a truck or flatcar to a loading facility at the port. Then a load onto a ship, out of the Persian Gulf and then to Norfolk, then another lift off and then take it to where it is going to be restored.
Now to restore it to current operation condition, and bear in mind, I have no idea what the interior is like at present, will probably set you back at least $200,000 based on recent experience with other cars of this vintage, and that number can go higher easily.
Now, I have no real idea on the cost of loading, reloading and transport, unloading and final movement to an appropriate shop, not to mention any sort of acquisition cost. But to send someone to Saudi Arabi to inspect, would cost probably $10,000 per trip. All in all, I'd guess you might get off easy on this project for $1 to $1.5 million. Not to mention the $40 million for two jet fighters!
Now, if someone is really good, maybe they can get all that donated by various companies, but again, it is going to take a lot of someone's time.
Makes the 611 project look pretty small by comparison.
I'd love to see the car home, but if we cannot raise enough money to see the 611 run in a month, the chances of this succeeding are pretty slim. Not to mention the huge complexity of it.
Now, who can take on this project and has the money?
On Jul 24, 2013, at 8:19 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
> Check out this photo I found on the web of what sure looks like one of the two former N&W observation cars. Looks like the rear door and windows were plated over. Can we get it home?
> Phil Miller
> From: nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On Behalf Of NW Mailing List
> Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 11:05 AM
> To: NW RHS
> Subject: RE: N&W P4 Observation in Saudi Arabia
> That is way cool! Now, how do we get 'em back? Can we trade them for a couple of F-16s?
> Ed Svitil
> Norfolk & Western Railway
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