M1 RPO Black Doors?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Thu Dec 14 08:25:44 EST 2017

You are correct and I do remember the streamline dome cars being trimmed in blue. The N&W RPO’s did have doors that were the same color as the rest of the unit.

Another memory is Dad talking about adapting to having the first woman in his crew. The big issue was  “rest room” facilities. The toilet was just there with no privacy. I guess it would have been a real challenge to ask one to go twelve hour shifts and not need to take care of business. They did work it out and the mail continued on.

The RPO men I met were some of the most intelligent people you could know. Dad frequently had to go for testing on the infamous mail distribution schemes. His route required knowing the systems from  Illinois to North Carolina and points in between. I can still see him practicing for his exams with hundreds of flash cards and a box with numerous slots with labels showing different cities.

They often carried valuable mail and each clerk wore a USPS badge and was armed. The history of that service shows trains were held up and there was risk involved in their work.

Howard Leedy

From: NW-Mailing-List [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On Behalf Of NW Mailing List
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 3:59 PM
To: NW Mailing List
Subject: Re: M1 RPO Black Doors?


    I think you may have meant Wabash blue RPO's and dome cars, the Nickel Plate head end cars were all Pullman green, the coaches the same except for the stainless steel with blue number board coaches/sleepers.


On 12/13/2017 1:55 PM, NW Mailing List wrote:
My Dad was a mail clerk on N&W RPO”s for thirty plus years. From the early fifties to the demise of mail on trains in the seventies, we often met the trains 3 and 4 or 15 and 16 in both Portsmouth, Ohio and Bluefield to help with the materials he had to carry as the crew foreman.

The doors were Tuscan or N&W red that matched the rest of the car. Look at the RPO car in the rail museum in Roanoke for correct colors. I do not recall any black N&W RPO car doors. I do remember the old Nickel Plate Blue cars and the dome car that were used after that merger. Do not remember seeing any blue RPO’s on those trains.

Dad often said they could tell the which engineer was on duty as they went from Cincinnati to Bluefield and return  through the various Divisions and RR crews. He once said they had ridden over a million miles behind the 600 engines. One time we went to Northfork, WV, to watch the RPO grab a mail pouch with the car hook. What a lost art.

This is another piece of our history we need save and part of the reason model railroading is so interesting.

Howard Leedy
Bluefield, WV

From: NW-Mailing-List [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On Behalf Of NW Mailing List via NW-Mailing-List
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 11:07 AM
To: NW Mailing List
Cc: NW Mailing List
Subject: Re: M1 RPO Black Doors?

My experience with Micro-Trains (and many other mfgrs like Division Point) is their stuff can be subject to question due to errors they have made.

I can understand where Evan may think the doors of some cars were black. I don't have any photos of M-1 RPO's with black doors but I do have some B&W's of BMH #16 and BMg #11 that "could be" black doors. They certainly are blacker than the remainder of the car. The rub plates next to and below the doors seem to be about the same shading and if they are black as per normal practice then it is possible these cars have black doors. For contrast here's a shot of #96 with red doors and the black areas.

The shot of BMF #1203 shows something else of interest. The black wear areas higher up on the body next to the mail catcher used to prevent or minimize damage to the thinner body sheet metal from the force of mail bags striking when picked up on the fly. Like the lower scuff plate, these were made of a much thicker metal to limit damage to the car proper.

Disclaimer: I understand B&W but the distinct difference between the body color and this "trim" color can't really be ignored. The same can be said of the color shots and movies where the doors on cars seem to be a different shade than the body color. No matter how much one claims "color shift" and "retinal differences" the obvious difference in the red colors between body and doors is there.

Roger Huber
Deer Creek Locomotive Works

From: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org<mailto:nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>>
To: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org<mailto:nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>>
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 5:47 AM
Subject: Re: M1 RPO Black Doors?

The M1's did not have black doors at any time (nor did any other N&W passenger cars). They did, however have black facings on either side of the doors and a black plate at the bottom. When N&W went from red to blue (1966) they stopped painting these areas black. There is some evidence that they may have stopped painting the facings black before that, but I don't have any timeline on that.

Jim Nichols

On Tuesday, December 12, 2017 5:49 PM, NW Mailing List via NW-Mailing-List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org<mailto:nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>> wrote:

Hello everyone, Micro-Trains recently released their model of a M1 RPO with black doors.  I'm wondering how long did the M1's retain their as-delivered black doors and did any make it to retirement with them?

-Evan Miller


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