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40th Anniversary

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The Budd Fund

As the steward of the most significant collection of Budd RDC equipment in New England, the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum has launched a 40th Anniversary fundraising campaign - the Budd Fund. This campaign will allow for the operation and preservation of this unique and significant collection of mid-century Rail Diesel Cars built by the Budd Company in the 1950s.

The Budd Rail Diesel Car

The Rail Diesel Car (RDC) concept was pioneered by the Edward G. Budd manufacturing company in Philadelphia. During the post-WWII era, railroads faced severe competition for passenger traffic from automobiles and airlines. Looking for a modern and efficient rail car to attract riders, the self-propelled, air-conditioned passenger car concept was a revolution during the 1950s and kept rail passenger service alive in many areas of the country, including the densely settled northeast. In the Berkshires, all three railroads serving the region operated the RDC. The New York Central ran RDCs to North Adams, Springfield, Pittsfield and Albany; the New Haven between Danbury, CT and Pittsfield and the Boston & Maine to North Adams from Boston's North Station. 
 
The Budd Company specialized in the fabrication of stainless steel components for the automotive business among other industries. It was extraordinarily successful in applying its unique and durable "shot-weld" process to railcar building. In addition to Budd's durable, stainless steel body, the Detroit Diesel Division of General Motors was the second reason the RDC concept was a success. Developed near the end of WWII for heavy equipment, marine, and power generation applications, GM adapted a propulsion system that consisted of a 6-cylinder diesel engine paired with a hydraulic transmission. For rail application, the power team was mated to a Dana-Spicer drive gear driven by a drive shaft. The RDC is equipped with two GM Detroit Diesel Model 6-110 engines and Allison "Hydra-Matic" Transmissions. With progressive concepts such as redundant propulsion & heating systems, fluorescent lighting, and air-conditioning, the RDC was a tremendous success and popular with both passengers and railroad management alike.

The RDC was flexible in that it had engineer controls at either end of the car for quick turnarounds at end terminals. The RDC was also capable of multiple unit operation (MU) - depending on demand, RDCs could operate alone or as a train with several RDCs coupled together but operated by one engineer. This design provided railroads with significant reductions in operational costs.

The Budd Collection

The Seven RDCs in Berkshires are owned either by the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum or the Budd RDC Foundation, founded by Jim Gagliardi.

New Haven 41

NH 41, An RDC-1, built in 1953 for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. The New Haven owned the second largest fleet of RDC’s and was one of the first carriers to purchase the new, revolutionary rail car.  The RDC was flexible in that there were engineer controls at either end of the car for quick turnarounds at end terminals. The RDC was also capable of multiple unit operation (MU) - depending on demand, RDCs could operate alone or as a train with several RDCs coupled together but operated by one engineer. This design provided railroads with significant reductions in operational costs. In fact, the New Haven added passenger trains to various branch lines due to the low cost of operating the RDC’s. This car ran in Berkshire County for the New Haven and is sister to RDC #42, which Berkshire Scenic also has in its collection. RDC #41 has been carefully preserved and restored by the Budd RDC Foundation over the past several decades.

New Haven 42

New Haven RDC-1 #42 holds a unique place in railroad history as it is only one of two Budd RDC’s ever specially named. Originally, NH RDC #26 was named "Firestone" after the Firestone tire plant in Fall River, MA which was one of the railroad's large freight customers.  Sometime prior to 1956, the Firestone nameplate was placed on number 42 after NH 26 was wrecked. By April 1970, 42 was owned by New Haven's successor, Penn Central (PC), and was repainted into PC's New York Central style RDC livery.

 

At some point that year, the Firestone nameplate was removed from the car. 42 was transferred to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in 1976 and retired in 1989. The 42 was sold to the Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum in Fall River, MA. In 2017, the Old Colony & Fall River RR Museum transferred ownership of 42 to the BSRM. 42 safely made its way to our Lenox Yard in October of 2018 after $10,000 was invested to completely rebuild its air brake system prior to movement. BSRM is midway through a fundraising campaign which will be included in the Budd Fund to help restore 42 to full, operational conditional.

Baltimore & Ohio 1960

Boston & Maine 6126