The Train of Many Metals was brought back for a special vintage excursion trip made possible by the New York Transit Museum. This unexpected sold out trip made its way to Coney Island, starting from the brand new 2nd Avenue Subway line, which finally opened to the public at the beginning of this year. This vintage train has already been at different excursions since its debut in 2014. But for one subway car, it was originally built and intended for the 2nd Avenue Subway line back in the 1950s. The cars seen on this trip are described by the following order seen:
The R-11 subway car was built by the Budd Company, and first entered service in 1949. When first announced 2 years before, the price tag for each car came out to $1,158,000. Due to the fact of being worth about $1M and being the very first stainless steel car for the NYC Subway system, the R-11 earned the nickname of the “Million Dollar Train”. At first, 10 prototype cars were delivered to prepare for the 2nd Avenue Subway line that was still in planning phases for construction and expected to open in the 1950s. The entire contract order originally would’ve had a total of 400 R-11 cars. But the rest of the 390 cars were never ordered after budgeting was shifted away that caused the 2nd Avenue Subway to not being built.
In the time when the 10 cars were built, then-modern technology was introduced to combat air pollution, with forced air ventilation that helped circulate fresh air from outside to inside the car. A different kind of lighting system was used to combat airborne bacteria with the use of Preciptron lamps. In 1965, the cars were rebuilt under contract R-34 that gave the cars some mechanical improvement. The drum brakes were replaced with disk brakes, new fans were installed, and was made possible to be compatible with the R-10 through R-42 cars.
After extensive maintenance to keep the cars running, the cars were retired from service in 1977 following a yard accident. 9 of the 10 cars built were scrapped, leaving car number 8013 as the sole survivor. Despite being involved in the wreck, it was repaired and preserved for the Transit Museum in the early 1980s. The car remained inoperable until between 2013-2014 when it was restored to operable condition for vintage fan trips. The car with its original purpose to run on the 2nd Avenue Subway finally got its chance until now, but never took place in its 28 years of regular passenger service. When not out for excursions, its permanent home is at the Transit Museum.
R-42 (4572 & 4573)
The R-42 car is a subway car that was manufactured by the St Louis Car Company. It was the last model to be built in married pairs. It’s first 2 cars delivered made its debut in 1969 with a mixed consist of a prior model of the modified R40 car. Between 1988-1989, the R-42s received an overhaul both internally and externally. This model is still currently in service on the J and Z lines, as most of its cars have been retired with the arrival of the R-160 in the mid-2000s. The remaining R-42s are expected to be fully retired in the near future with the latest model the R-179 currently being delivered and tested. 4572 & 4573 were picked to be preserved by the Transit Museum, and these cars were famously featured in the 1971 movie “The French Connection”. The pair is housed at the 207th Street Yard, located in the Inwood section of Manhattan.
R-38 (4028 & 4029)
The R38 was also manufactured by the St. Louis Car Company, and first entered service in 1967. It was also the 2nd mass-produced model that was fully constructed of stainless steel exteriors. The cars were iconic as these were the first successful model to feature air conditioning, which became standard equipment for all future subway cars. Between 1987-1989, the cars received also received an overhaul both internally and externally. Destination and route roll-signs were switched in favor of Luminator flip dot signs, as the air conditioning equipment made it difficult to change the roll signs. The arrival of the R-160 cars saw the full retirement of the R-38s, and were gradually phased out between 2008-2009. Car numbers 4028-4029 were picked for preservation for the Transit Museum, and was restored to operable condition between 2013-2014. The pair is housed at the 207th Street Yard.
The R-10 was manufactured by the American Car and Foundry company, and first entered service in 1948. A prototype version of this car was first introduced in 1947 with R-7A car number 1575, when it was rebuilt from its original design after being involved in an accident. Due to different braking systems and being nearly cosmetically identical, the cars aren’t compatible to run together as the prototype car is still an R-7A. The R-10 was the last car to make use of pneumatic door engines. Car number 3184 was just recently restored to operable condition, and marking its first return since retirement in 1989.
The R-16 was built by the American Car and Foundry Company, and first entered service in 1955. It was basically an improvisation of the R-10 model, both cosmetically and mechanically while still having the same dimensions. The cars introduced a different arrangement of displaying its route and destination signs in 3 rows vertically on the sides, and became the standard from then on until the introduction of the R-40s in 1967. In 1956, a batch of cars were transferred for use on the A line ahead of the opening of the Rockaway Line that was formerly operated by the Long Island Rail Road. In the 1970s, the cars had their door motors replaced by having them mounted in the walls. It resulted in externally slanted wall panels. The R-16’s remained in service until 1987. This car is usually housed at the Transit Museum when not out for excursions.
Of all the cars described of the trip, the R-11 subway car is available as an O-scale 4- car powered set and 2-car non-powered set manufactured by MTH and sold by TrainWorld.Com
4-car set: 20-20694-1
2-car non-powered: 20-20694-3