Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum Home        Ghost Train Journal Back Issues

Ghost Train Journal logo
Jeffrey Ricard, Editor  Volume 5, Number 8, August  1997 

New Haven 8600 Coaches
--By Bill Jeske

Our recent acquisition of two ex-New Haven Railroad stainless steel coaches was a milestone to our museum.  When these items became surplus to the Railroad Museum of New England along with former New Haven Caboose C-618, Bill Sample contacted me and offered them to us at one dollar each.  It is to the Railroad Museum of New England's credit to unload surplus equipment to other museums, rather than let it deteriorate until they are worthless and impossible to restore.  I only wish other museum's would do the same.  Hats off to RMNE for their forward thinking policy.  I would like our museum to do the same if the situation exists someday.  Now on to a little of the 8600's history. 

When wartime restrictions were lifted at the end of World War Two, the New Haven found that its passenger fleet was aging and worn out from the WW2 heavy usage.  In 1945 the railroad ordered 103 stainless steel coaches from Pullman Standard.  The coaches were built in Pullman's Worcester, Massachusetts facility and delivered to the New Haven in 1947.  The total order which included coaches, baggage-lounge cars, baggage-lounge-parlor, full parlor, parlor-lounge, observation-lounge, diner, grill cars, and 14 bedroom-four roomette sleepers.  Total number of cars was 207 at a cost of 20 million dollars, a very large investment. 

The original coaches were delivered with a hunter green roof and side window band with NY, NH, and H script herald on the sides.  The cars were distinctive for having a tubular shape with round roof ends.  The coaches were equipped with 64 reclining seats upholstered in blue mohair, with a 14 seat smoking section at one end having movable chairs in tan pigskin which was separated from the rest of the car by glass partitions. 

When Pat  McGinnis took over the railroad in the 1950's the cars were repainted with black roofs and orange window bands, and  block heralds on the sides.  The one serious flaw in this type of car construction was that the stainless steel fluting was welded to the Cor-Ten steel exterior side wall.  Water would become trapped behind the Stainless Steel and cause the Cor-Ten wall to rust.  No effective way could be found to resolve this problem and by the time the problem became evident the New Haven was in dire financial straits.

After the merger into Penn-Central the cars  soldiered on for a number of years with only a few being repainted into PC green.  Other cars went to the Long Island RR, as well  as Conrail, Amtrak, Metro-North and MBTA in Boston.  This is where our two coaches ended up at.  The MBTA invested some money to structurally rebuild some of their coaches in White River Junction by a private contractor.  This work was done in the Central Vermont facilities.  The cars were overhauled and hotel power was also installed at that time. 

The coaches ran on the MBTA until 1987 when they were retired and stored.  In 1988 twelve coaches were leased to the Cape Cod and Hyannis and returned to MBTA in 1989. 

In 1989 the Railroad Museum of New England acquired these twelve coaches with hopes to someday restore them and put them in service.  Ten of the cars were sold a few years back with RMNE keeping the best two of the twelve.  So here we are up to the present 
with these last two NH 8600's in New England.  They are 50 years old this year, but don't look their age.  It's hard to believe that these coaches started their lives behind I-5 steam engines.  The historical value to our museum is priceless, and we should make an effort to restore these cars as soon as possible. 

Meanwhile back in Rhode Island Dave Pina is reconditioning the brake system.  New member Eli Ellis has done a spectacular job of shimming the couplers up 3 1/2  inches.  The stainless steel sides have been fastened with self-threaded screws and steel banding. 

Mechanically these cars should be in good shape for many years.  When they arrive in Willimantic,  they will need an immediate cleaning of the interior.  Hopefully we can put at least one car into excursion service by next year.  These coaches will be a spectacular addition to our rapidly growing collection of rolling stock and locomotives. 

Information supplied by "New Haven Power" by Jack Swanberg, Vol. 21 issue #1 NHRHTA "Shoreliner" and  Vol. 22, #8 RMNE "Along The Line" newsletter.

 

Order Board

The electrical power pole was installed  along with the necessary electrical boxes to supply our site with the much needed electricity.  We hope to have the connection made to CL&P very soon. 
 
In my haste to get out the last  GHOST TRAIN JOURNAL , your Editor made a small typo that has caused much confusion.  The Engineers class was listed in one location in the journal as a donation of $500.00 and then was listed on the tear off form as a donation of $300.00.  The Officers have met and have made a change to the donation structure for the Engineer class, we hope this solution will be acceptable to all those that have made donations. 
Engineer 
Conductor 
Brakeman
$300 or more 
$250 
$100
The chapter wishes to thank the following members for their generous donation to the locomotive fund: 
William Kronis 
Milo Tsukroff 
Harry Vallas 
Lee Johnson 
Joseph Toth 
William Zenko 
Henry Roos 
Marguerite Levis 
Kevin Crosbie 
Robert Daly 
Mark Granville 
Conductor 
Brakeman 
Brakeman 
Engineer 
Brakeman 
Brakeman 
Brakeman 
Brakeman 
Brakeman 
Engineer 
Conductor
 

Last week we had some trouble at the site again.  Our neighborhood vandals decided that it would be fun to break into the locomotive compound and destroy the windows on the 25 ton locomotive.  Once the windows were destroyed they entered the locomotive and attempted to cause more damage.  We have since started the locomotive and it is still in running condition.  We will now have to replace the glass and do some addition maintenance. 

On the same note, some other fine people decided to have a drinking party in the cab of the 44 tonner.  Luckily nothing was damaged. 

We would like to ask that any members that happen to be passing by the site stop in and just do a quick check to make sure that all is well. The more eyes we have on the site the better. 

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS

Please welcome the following members to the chapter:    Sen. Don Williams and Jerry Griffin.
 

Previous Issue     Top     Next Issue


Copyright ©1997 Connecticut Eastern Chapter, National Railway Historical Society July 18, 1997