NYC Oddball Subway Cars

The MTA-NYCT has such a long history, that it is inevitable that there are some oddball cars that have operated on the system through the years.

R-27 Car 8217

The story of 8217 really begins in 1957, three years before the R-27's were delivered. R-16 car #6494 was two years old and got into a fight with a BMT standard. As heavy as the R-16's were, the standard was back in service in a few days, but poor 6494 was out of service, beyond repair. Jump ahead to the 1960's, the R-27's and R-30's were providing service to much of Coney Island. Car #8217 got into a fight with another BMT standard. The standard again survived, but 8217 was out of service.

Well the folks at Coney Island Shop got the two cars together (literally) by splicing the good end of 6494 to damaged #1 end of 8217. The splice was at the back of the motorman's cab. The round storm door window of the R-16's remained on 8217, however the cab door may have come from an R-10. 8217 remained in service until the whole fleet was replaced with the R-68 cars.

Car 1575

The car that is in the TA museum that is supposed to be an R-10 is an IMPOSTER! According to the roster, 1575 is an R-7A delivered in 1938 by Pullman Car Company. It was involved in a wreck 1946. The Board of Transportation was about to order new cars for the IND and BMT and sent 1575 to American Car and Foundry for a facelift.

The car was returned as the prototype of the R-10 cars that were delivered in 1948. It now sported modern fans, fluorescent lighting and a new seating arrangement. What didn't change were the motors, controls, and brakes. In the years that 1575 operated with the R-1/9 and the R-10 fleets, it drove many motorman crazy, since it looked like an R-10, but handled like an R-1/9. It may ave fooled some yardmasters too when they watched a train of R-1/9's leaving the yard with 1575 in the consist!

R-1 Car 100

As most subway fans know, car #100 (R-1) was the first car purchased for the IND subway in 1932. However, many may not realize that car #190 was posing as #100 for many years. Legend has it that an inspection barn chief was having trouble with car 100 (and probably some others). Rather than try to explain why the car is still in the shop, he swapped car numbers between 100 and 190 as well as some of the others.

For most of the other cars, it was of no significance, but for 100, would we lose a transit historical treasure because of a mechanical problem?

Let's jump ahead a few years (probably early 1960's). It seems that the car number swapping became a normal practice in the shops. Unknown to the shop bosses though, the folks selling the advertising car cards in the subway had a method to sell half coverage for advertisers. If a client wanted to only pay to advertise in only half of the cars, the marketing guys would designate 'odd' and 'even' advertisments.

Well, you may have guessed! An odd-even car swap was done, and an advertising guy was quoted 'What's that odd ad doing in an even car?' The 'cargate scandal' was found out. Fortunately, a list had been kept of the cars swaps. By the time 100 was retired to the museum, it was restored to its original number. So it's authentic (not like 1575).

I rode in both 190 and 100 while they were imitating each other. The job done inside the cars was pretty poor. You were able to see the original number decals under the new paint!

Another swap I know of was 191-119. I found this out when I got permission from the scrap dealer to remove the number plates from 191 after it had been cut in half. When I removed the plate, I found the original #119 painted under the plate. That half car was left in the scrap dealer's area of Coney Island Yard for years later. I think he was looking for 191, but could only find 119!

Cars 3946-3949 and 8686-8687 & 8804-8805

What's so special with the last four R-32's and a quartet of R-29's? Well, when they were delivered with lightweight trucks. The R-32's had Budd Pioneer III's and the R-29's had General Steel Industies G-70's. This was an attempt by the TA to try this technology that would save money by having lighter wieght cars (the trucks are about 40% of the total weight of the cars). I'm not sure about the IRT cars, but the R-32's were out of service from at least 1968 to the early 1980's. During that span the R-46's were ordered with lightweight trucks. That decision may have been based on the fact that the R-32's were not having trouble in service. Sure, they weren't running, so they never gave any trouble.

R-46 Trucks

The 754 R-46's developed cracks in the trucks in 1977, that ultimately required replacing all 1400+ trucks with more conventional trucks. The logistics of keeping as many as possible in service safely was a Transit triumph and nightmare! Under the safety guidelines developed jointly with the manufacturer, the TA and the Federal UMTA, every truck had to be inspected twice a week. If the cracking pattern became worse between inspections, the truck was to be pulled from the car. The truck was to be welded and returned to service under a different car. Luckily there were a number of spare trucks purchased with the fleet to keep the cars running.

This was no easy task, as the cars with bad trucks could be anywhere in the train they had to be jockeyed around to set up trains with good trucks for service and bad trucks for repair. If the air temperature was to dip below 30°, then the inspections were to be done three times a week.

After a few months, the decision to replace the trucks with conventional ones was made. Since the R-44's were similar in size to the R-46's, the R-44 trucks were tried. They worked, but required modification to the R-46 car bodies.

While all of this was going on, the spare trucks were cracking too. The TA had no more to swap and had to pull cars from service. The cars were stored in Pitkin Yard. At the height of the trouble over 100 cars were in storage! Those that were in service had mileage restrictions on them.

Those of you who have followed the TA, remember how poorly the R-44 cars performed. The decision was then made to pull the R-44 cars from service, put them on cracked R-46 trucks and place the R-46's in service on the R-44 trucks immediately. When the last of the new trucks were delivered, the TA began to overhaul the R-44 cars to make them more reliable.

Rockwell International, the company that provided the orginal trucks, was sued by the TA. The TA was awarded $72 million in damages in 1980. All of the trucks were replaced by 1983.

R-32 car 3348

Check the R-32 roster here. The lowest numberd R-32 is 3350, so what is this photo from Robert Marrero showing us?

Car 3348 is clearly an R-32. I had heard rumors of such a thing, but here is the proof.

Armed with the car number, I was able to track it down. It used to be 3659, it was given a sex change. It's mate 3658 was involved in a wreck and scrapped. Likewise 3548 was wrecked. Both of these even cars had batteries and their odd mates had the air compressor. So they converted 3659 to a battery car, renumbered it 3348 and mated it to 3549.

In 2007 I happened to catch the car on a R train.

The number being out of the R-32 sequence is for one of two reasons:

There is supposed to be another sex change R-32. I don't know the number.

R-10 3192

As part of the decisionmaking process to either buy new cars or rebuild older cars, the TA placed an R-42 end onto R-10 car #3192. It stayed inside the Coney Island Shops for about five years until the fall of 1980, when it was scrapped outside. The R-42 front end was then removed to show the car's actual front end, R-10 style. The cost of redoing that one car at that time, would have been more than buying one new R-46 car.

The State Cars from the 1964 World's Fair

Five of the R-36 cars ordered for the Flushing line for the 1964 World's Fair were nambe for states:

State of Missouri was done in baked enamal, so it wouldn't come off. Remember the cars were built by the St. Louis Car Company. The others were done with tape and decals and were later done in paint too.

The Carpeted R-44 Cars

As part of their car improvement process the TA tried carpeting in some R-44 cars.

The cars were: 328, 329, 331, 330; 332, 333, 335, 334. All of the subway R-44s were renumbered in 1971 and removed from service in 2010.
Here's a photo from New York Subways Resources (click image to view enlarge):

The Odd-Even R-46 Pair (6206-6207)

The R-44 and R-46 fleets were each delivered as single units with the even cars having cabs at the #1 end and blind ends at the #2 end. The B cars had no cabs on either end and an extra set of seats on the #1 end. The R-44 cars reqiured a flagman at the blind ends to move cars and the B cars could not move on their own. The R-46 fleet had hostler controls to make moves from the blind ends, however B cars could no move on their own.

In 1994-5 the TA unitized both fleets into four car units with drawbars and renumnbered them. What ever cars happened to be together were renumbered, reulting in no particular order. Ten R-44 and two R-46 cars were scrapped before the renumbering. Twelve R-44 GE controled cars were transfered to Staten Island in 1986.

R-44 renumbering
R-46 renumbering

As the R-46 cars ABBA sets were converted and renumbered into four car units, cars 1226 & 1227 were left. They were renumbered to 6206-6207 as an A-B Unit. Car 6207 retianed its hostler control for easy move from the blind end. The remaining A cars, all even were made into A-A sets 6208-6258 not in order . At various times they were used to make up six car trains with a four car unit.

Cars 6206-6207 in service on the G during a general order extending the G to Coney Island at West 8th St. Note the blind end of 6207 coupled to an A car.

Other Oddities from Jerry Gross and others



8971 (R33) Equipped with a "static state" battery charger (they probably meant "solid state")
8502 (R30) Equipped with a "chopper" propulsion system from 3/66 until the test was completed sometime in 1968. This used a solid state controller instead of the conventional cam control. The chopper circuit chopped the 600VDC into bursts to accelerate the car. When full speed was reached the chopper stopped chopping.
R11 (all 10 of them) The cars had many experiments
R44 test cars: 368-379 Air springs & NYAB brake systems
R44 test cars: 380-387 ABEX hydraulic brakes
R44 test cars: 392-399 York air conditioning with "A.C." motors using inverters - these were removed about 1974 and Safety Systems (A/C company) with D.C. motors put on.
4460 and 4665 An R40M and R42 mated. They are each the result of accidents in which their original mates were damaged.
4461 A straight end R-40 was almost converted to 4260, slant end R-40 odd to even. It would have been mated with 4261. However the conversion was never complete and it reverted to its original number. It is now located at the Randall's Island Firefighter school.
7509, 7513, and 7516 R-22 cars were automated for the Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle. They were road tested on the express track of the Sea Beach line. On April 21, 1964, the cars were destroyed by an electrical fire at Grand Central. Only car 7509 survived and was converted to a clearance car.
3700-3701 R-32 cars 3700-3701 were equipped with Garrett flywheels, an experiment to save energy in 1974. During dynamic braking, the energy generated is dissipated as heat through the same grid resistors used in acceleration. In theory, the power generated by the dynamic braking would be used to spin the flywheel. That energy, in turn, would be used the next time the train accelerates.

Three page article from the Feb 1974 issue of Popular Science via Google-Books:

Garrett Flywheel R-32 Cars

Some notes from William Zucker

IRT pre WWII Cars




Gibbs 3407, 3419, 3421, 3425, 3427, 3429, 3435, 3447 Tested with a side door arrangement of four per side, a pair at each end. In 1909, changed to three per side arrangement as the rest of the fleet.
Lo-V 5032 and 5130 Distinctive interiors, with hand stanchions instead of straps and a lower headlining
Hi - V 3662 Painted Gold outside for the 50th anniversary parade commemorating the opening of the NYC Subway.

BMT pre WWII Cars

AB 2000, 2001, 2010, 2021, 2042, 2050, 2051, 2054, 2060, 2071 Were equipped with trolley poles to move the other cars delivered around the 39th St. Shops, which was not yet equipped with third rail.
2148 Tested with cab signals.
2222-3-4 Equipped with a fixture at each end that indicated "Bridge" or "Tunnel" service. Remained to the end, but was inoperative.
2369 Tested with PA systems, as the pilot car for the installation
Sent to ACF in 1959 to ACF to obtain an estimate for the possible rebuilding of these cars, which was eventually done in-house.

IND pre WWII Cars (R-1 to 9 Series)

R-1 103 Equipped with axiflow fans, with false headlining
R-4 484
Equipped with bull's eye light fixtures, PA system,
744 later removed. similar, but completely converted to standard fixtures
R-1 & R-4 263, 293, 414 In same accident as 1575, repaired and equipped with R-7/9 style storm doors.
261, 395, 476, 829. Cobra brake shoe test

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- The JoeKorNer