S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com PRR Boxcabs Page keywords = " boxcab prr pennsy pennsylvania oil electric diesel engine locomotive rail road museum shovelnose "

Updated:   16 May 2020; 14:35  ET
[Page converted 17 Dec 2010; Page created 30 May 2003;
    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
Update info on the top on ALL pages for your convenience.

URL:  http://sbiii.com/boxcbprr.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/boxcbprr.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I am scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

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S. Berliner, III's


(Pennsylvania Railroad)
Boxcabs Page


I-R 60-ton Demo

A new type of locomotive!
Ingersoll-Rand 1925 Demonstrator #9681
(later CNJ #1000)
(ALCo builders photo S-1484 - source uncertain;
possibly from 1980s AAR flyer)




Oil-Electric ("Diesel") Locomotives

(American Locomotive Company - General Electric - Ingersoll-Rand)

INDEX to Boxcabs Pages:

note-rt.gif   The primary Boxcabs Index has been moved to a separate page, together with links and credits.

Boxcab Help - A service for boxcab afficionados,
posting reasonable questions (at my sole discretion).

There are now more than ninety-five (95) BOXCAB pages;
see the full INDEX, now on a separate page.

[A new "bugaboo" has reared its ugly head - complexity of organization -
see COMPLEXITY on my main index page.]

  The Boxcabs Index Page,


Oil-Electric ("Diesel")
and Gas-Electric Locomotives


This is an unindexed browsing page, except for these -

  PRR Boxcabs.
    PRR 1917 FF1 Electric Boxcab #3931, "Big Liz".   link-add (18 Jan 2018)
    Class A6/A6B (first PRR I.C. Boxcab Loco).
  Pennsy Shovelnose.

Surviving Pennsy Boxcabs on their own pages:

  PRR Class P5 #4700 (1931, Altoona).
  PRR Class DD1 #3936-3937 (Juniata, 1911).
  Class B1 #5690 (Altoona, 1934).

PRR Early Diesel {and Gasoline} Boxcab {and Other} Concepts.

I have extracted much of the PRR boxcab info. from other boxcab pages and collected it here; more will follow.

There were (and even are) jillions and zillions of other boxcab electrics; so much boxcab info was added that I had to move them to a new page just for electrics (et seq.)!


The Pennsy specialized in boxcab electrics and the Great Northern, Milwaukee Road, New Haven, and Virginian weren't far behind.  Nothing will ever top the Pennsy's FF1 "Big Liz" #3931 of 1917, a jack-shaft, side-rodded, 1-C+C-1 (2-6-6-2), single-unit monster weighing in at 516,000 pounds and stretching a full 76½' long!  She put out 7,640HP and yanked 87,200 pounds TE (140,000 starting)!  Only problem was she also yanked out drawbars all over the place and was scrapped out:

PRR #3931 Big Liz

PRR #3931 Big Liz
(photos from TRAIN SHED CYCLOPEDIA #15)
{restored 21 Mar 07}
[Thumbnail images; click on picture for even larger images!]

Actually, the Pennsy bought seven (7) giant Class Y1 2-C+C-2 electric boxcabs (plus a Y-1a) from GN's Cascade Mountain service for only $220,000, reclassifying them as FF2 and using them for drag-speed pusher service (they had friction bearings and the Y-1a was a hangar queen for spares).  These were reputedly the only Pennsy electrics with both pans up at the same time (oh, yeah? - look at the upper photo of Big Liz, above!):

GN #5013 (PRR FF2)
(photo from TRAIN SHED CYCLOPEDIA #15)
{restored 21 Mar 07}

[Thumbnail image; click on picture for an even larger image!]
[Doesn't it figure? - big GNs usually ran with both pans up and
this GN shot shows #5013 with only ONE pan up!]

Speaking of Pennsy boxcab electrics, it all began with three experimental electrics to test out the concept for the electrification of the Main Line from Philadelphia to New York and under the rivers to Penn Station in Manhattan and Sunnyside Yard on Long Island.  Class AA-1 was that first-ever PRR electric experimental boxcab engine, "Phoebe", #10001, with four direct-geared 350HP DC motors, one on each axle, that proved out the concept of third-rail electrification for Penn Station and then worked the car floats under Long Island Rail Road letterboards as LIRR #323 from May 1916 until sent for scrap in July 1937.  She wasn't the first on Long Island, though.  From October through December in 1908, PRR experimental boxcab electric #10003, with two 375HP motors and gearless quill-drive, ran 5.1 miles from Hempstead Crossing in Garden City under purpose-rigged catenary and over third rail, so the trip of #10003 13½ miles from Manhattan Transfer to Sunnyside in 1908 must rank as the first operation of a boxcab (or any) electric on the LIRR.  #10003 was the progenitor of the jack-shafted, side-rodded DD1.  Mention thus should also be made of the somewhat-less-than-successful B-B #10002, the second of Class AA-1, a weird combination of two 320HP main-journal-mounted gearless motors on one truck and two 300HP frame-mounted motors on the other.  #10001 and #10002 appear to have had identical bodies but #10003 looked almost exactly like a low-drivered DD1 without siderods.  All three ended up as switchers but #10003 vanished early on:

    #10001 Class AA-1 B-B built 1905 by PRR's Juniata Shops (EZN-8),
        later renumbered PRR #3950 and then LIRR #323.

    #10002 Class AA-1 B-B built 1905 by PRR's Juniata Shops (EZN-9),
        later renumbered PRR #3951.

    #10003 Class AA-1 2-B (4-4-0) built 1907 by Baldwin, later renumbered LIRR #323.

Between when #10003 ran and successor (and successful) #10001-cum-323 came on the property, the LIRR's Morris Park shop cobbered up a wonderful, miniscule boxcab A (0-4-0) from an MP-54 truck surmounted by a wooden cab with windows all around (looking somewhat akin to a German "Glaskasten" engine) as their Yard Goat (shop switcher); she actually was given a steel cab in 1927, just before she passed away.  Then came two miniscule Baldwin honorary boxcabs (you know, with battery boxes at each end), #320 and #322, which we old locals know well, they having done their stint until 1958 when a pair of GE 25-ton Class GS-1 mini-hoods, #398 and #399, arrived (and which, last I knew, were still cranking along - there even was a GS-4 44-tonner #400, now on the Connecticut Valley RR in Essex).

Class A6/A6B

Excluding the many PRR electric boxcabs, covered on my Electric Boxcabs page, et seq., and herein, my "beloved" Pennsy didn't even get on board until 1926, with an order for three tiny Class A-6 2-axle boxcabs they built at their own Altoona* shops (of course).  #3905 was built in 1928 and #3906 in 1929 with 400hp Winton 148 gas engines; #3907 had a 535hp Brill diesel engine.  #3907 was re-engined in 1947 with a Hamilton diesel and reclassified A-6b, lasting until 1962 (1966 per Marre 1995) (from Yanosey, Vol. 1, and Marre 1995, page 431).

There is a 30 Jun 46 photo of PRR boxcab, "oil-electric switcher" A6B #3907 on page 26 of the Summer 1996 issue of The Keystone, captioned to confirm the ratings above, stating that it was built by the Juniata Shops* in May 1930 and that #3905 and #3906 were later converted to Class A6B.  #3905 is pictured as-built and #3907 later on page 212 of Staufer's Pennsy Power II; their ratings are shown as:

    NO.     DRIVERS    T. E.    RATIO  SPEED  T. E.  SPEED
    3905/6  130,000    32,500   76:16  20     7,500  16
    3907    130,000    32,500   76:16  20     8,500  16.5

#3905 was retired before 1959 and #3907 was re-engined with a Hamilton 68SA diesel in 1947 and retired in 1962 (from Staufer).

* - Juniata is wrong; it was definitely Altoona, as shown by the builder's plate in photos in "Pennsy Diesels 1924 - 1968 - The complete history of Pennsy diesels from A-6 to EF-36" by Kenneth L. Douglas and Peter C. Weiglin (see PRR Bibliography, Motive Power) [my thanks to PRRT&HS Pres. Al Buchan for pointing out this discrepancy].

John F. Campbell, great guru of boxcabs, sent this more specific information {edited only for form}:

"Pennsy built their own first Box Cab Diesel-electric at their Altoona Works.

#3905 {was} the first (and - - - was eventually completed 5/22/1928).  It was equipped with an 8-cylinder solid injection 500 HP Diesel engine (4-cycle) purchased from Bessemer Gas Engine Co of Grove City, PA., {and} a Westinghouse model 476 generator and 355 traction motors.  Testing in the Altoona yards proved that the Bessemer Diesel engine couldn't handle the intended tasks so {it} was replaced with a Winton model 148 gasoline engine rated at 400 HP, as was {done to} their second unit (#3906).

These units were 4-wheeled affairs (0-B-0) and 26' 10" long over the couplers.

#3906 was completed a year later during May 1929 and both were 65 ton Pennsy Class A6.

#3905 was assigned Altoona Works b/n 4193 and EMC b/n #C24.
#3906 was assigned Altoona Works b/n 4206 and EMC b/n #C25.

Altoona Works built another internal combustion locomotive in 1930 (#3907 Class A6b); {it} differed from the first two units by using a Brill-Westinghouse gasoline engine ({which} was replaced with a GMC Hamilton Model 88SA Diesel engine in 1947)."

The Winton 148 engine order dates were 5/28 and 5/29 and they were apparently bought through Electro-Motive Corp. as EMC listed the sales with its conversion order number {per Brian Norden of the Orange Empire RR Museum).

I am essaying a powered model of #3905 in Z-scale (1:220 - it's about the size of the end-joint on my pinkie!).

John C. La Rue, Jr., has a collection of some 1,500 PRR photos in his collection of nearly 30,000 RR photos and, with his specific permission to reproduce it, here is a photo (Neg. No. 25446) attributed to A. P. Rynearson ca. 1937, "prob. at Morris Park, LI, NY"*, of A6 #3905:

PRR 3906 A6 La Rue
(photo courtesy of J. C. La Rue, Jr. )
[Thumbnailed image, click on photo for much larger image]

* - I do not agree that this may have been at the LIRR's Morris Park shops in Queens; my understanding is that #3905 only visited Morris Park for service and repairs; this photo shows her apparently in switching service and so is far more likely to have been shot somewhere at the Pennsy's North 4th Street yard in Brooklyn.  No, NOT likely - see the elevated highway lurking at left rear and then see the 3906 photos immediately following (no such elevated structure at No. 4th St.).

John La Rue can be reached at 27491 Duvernay Drive, Bonita Springs, Florida  34135-6029.
Tel.:  239-992-8802
E-mail: MOFWCABOOSE@aol.com.

Here are four photos from the collection of Bob's Photo which Bob graciously allowed me to post; they are of #3905 at unspecified locations and times and #3906 in New York City on 14 Nov 1936 (it might be inferred that the second shot was taken at the same place - Manhattan, under the West Side Highway?) at about the same time.

PRR 3905 Bob's 1 PRR 3905 Bob's 2
(photos courtesy of and © Bob's Photos - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnailed photos for much larger images]

PRR 3906 Bob's 1 PRR 3906 Bob's 2
(photos courtesy of and © Bob's Photos - all rights reserved)
[click on thumbnailed photos for much larger images]

These images may not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission of Bob's Photo.  They have been cropped to their limits to save memory; all are available as high-quality 8" x 10" glossy prints from Bob's Photo, P. O. Box 209, Farmers, KY  40319, 606-780-9905, e-mail: <bobsphoto.train@yahoo.com>.

William D. (Bill) Volkmer was a PRR Junior Engineer (mechanical, not driver/motorman) whose assignments, system-wide passes, and pocket C3 35mm camera combined to give him incredible photo opportunities and us, with his gracious permission, these five gems from the Philadelphia Engine Terminal:

[Bill's original photos were beautifully framed and at very high resolution - I have taken the great liberty of cropping then tightly and reducing their size drastically to save memory (this is, after all, a technical exposition, not an art venue).]

[W. D. Volkmer's photos may not be reproduced in any form
without prior written permission of the photographer/owner.]

PRR Class A6B #3907 in Philadelphia in 1958.
(photo courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)

PRR3907WDV2" PRR3907WDV3"
PRR Class A6B #3907 on the Dead Line at the Philadelphia Engine Terminal
on 29 Sep 1960 (left) and 16 Oct 1960 (right).
(photos courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)

PRR3907WDV1" PRR3907WDV4"
PRR Class A6B #3907 on the Dead Line at the Philadelphia Engine Terminal
on 17 Jun 1961 (left) and 30 Dec 1961 (right). (photos courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)

You can trace the deterioration with time, cannibalization (if any), and vandalism.

Bill also provided this shot of the speed limit sign fastened inside the cab of an ex-GN FF2 motor (now his desk paperweight):

PRR Class FF2 Speed Limit Plate.
(photo courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)

They had waste-packed plain journals!

He also sent along, at my request, these 1932 and 1935 P5A builder's plates (as shown in "Keystone Chronicles", Issue No. 7, Spring 2008, pp. 5 and 21):

P5BldrsPltGE P5BldrsPltWest
PRR Class P5A #4778 (GE, Modified) and #4712 (Westinghouse, Boxcab)
Builder's Plates, respectively {left and right}.
(photos courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)

Bill included this plate from 1932 GE P5A (Modified) #4768, as well:

PRR Class P5A (Modified) #4768 GE Builder's Plate
(photo courtesy of W. D. Volkmer - all rights reserved)

[W. D. Volkmer's photos may not be reproduced in any form
without prior written permission of the photographer/owner.]

Note how the mounting holes on the one GE plate are rectangular while those on the Westinghouse plate and the other GE plate are round.  One might logically assume that the rigid discipline of the Pennsy meant that there were engineering drawings that applied to the plates and thus wonder at the difference - STANDARD RR of the WORLD?

The PRR Technical & Historical Society's PRR Discussion Web has/had an exchange about an alleged PRR 1928 I-R oil-electric boxcab, citing Eric Hirsimaki's "Black Gold - Black Diamonds" (see the Boxcabs Bibliography for 1997); John Campbell, who had a record of EVERY I-R boxcab, disputed Hirsimaki's claim.  The claim is based on the April 1996 issue of Railway Age, in which Robert G. Lewis states: "The PRR had nearly 4,000 active steam engines, some electrics, and one 'oil-electric', an Ingersoll-Rand switcher that my peers told me the PRR didn't want to buy, but did because I.R. was a big shipper.  It was relegated to oblivion early on, switching cars at Norristown, Pa.  My 'professors' told me that the PRR would hold fast to steam so long as the coal industry remained its biggest shipper."

This is very much at variance with what John knew and I know; I'll try to get the book and the cited magazine and see what unfolds.  If anyone has solid info. on this, please get in touch.

It occurred to me that this may refer to the successful test of a borrowed GE 37-ton unit {WHAT 37-ton unit?} at Manhattan's West 37th Street yard and Brooklyn's North 4th Street yard from 10 Jul through 09 Aug 1924 {ref.: "Pennsy Diesels 1924 - 1968", Douglas & Weiglin}; the only catch being that the unit had to be able to pull the Brooklyn float bridge at tidal extremes and a 50-ton unit was deemed necessary for that.

Pennsy also had some really weird and wonderful center-cabs, ranging from the monster 1950 Lima-built (the LAST one!) C-C LS-25 transfer unit with one Hamilton T89S5A (tweaked to 1,250hp) under each end, and the 23 Class BS-24 Baldwin C-C RT624s, to the diminutive and lovable GE 44-tonners, plus numerous electric center-cabs.  But nothing can top their incredible 2-axled rubber-tired street tractors, starting with 1913 battery-powered (later gas-electric) Class 3/8000 #446 and sisters, built by Altoona in 1912 for service in the streets of Baltimore's Fells Point and Jersey City, with giant spoked wheels and a ship's wheel for steering! (Page 92, "The Pennsylvania Railroad - 1940s-1950s", Don Ball); these were altered in 1953 to diesel-electric with balloon tires and survived at least until 02 Sept 1964 (the driver was titled "chauffeur"!).  Later, the PRR bought a LeTourneau-Westinghouse Switchmobile and Grove tractors for street service (Pages 14-17, "Pennsy Diesel Years", Volume 3, Robert J. Yanosey).


The question was raised elsewhere (paraphrased), "Are shovelnose engines boxcabs?"  GE made them for export and ALCo- powered versions worked in Argentina and Uruguay and other versions were the famous White Pass & Yukon units and the Philippine National Railways engines.  It's a fair question, especially since I include the Alton shovelnoses and such and even the EMD E6 boxcab versions; but this is MY site and I choose not to cover them; they are standard, late-model, diesels and belong elsewhere.  Well - - - , mostly so.  Just because they were made later on and are a cross between a boxcab and a standard cowl diesel, I can still throw a little memory their way.

I put coverage of Shovelnoses on my GE Boxcabs page and that of the the Chiriqui Land Co's. "mini-boxcabs", as well.

The Pennsy had a shovelnose oil-electric, #4663, frequently used on the Logansport - South Bend, Indiana, branch, but it was a Westinghouse 73' rail car (combine), NOT a locomotive, and it was not shovel-nosed as of 1930 and it's sister, #4664, always was a straight boxcab:

PRR 4663 1930
(Cropped from TRAIN SHED CYCLOPEDIA #43, Page 9, Image)

Surviving Pennsy Boxcabs on their own pages

These PRR boxcabs, all juice jacks, have been preserved and are covered more fully on separate survivor pages:

  PRR Class P5 #4700 (2-C-2, Altoona, 1931)
    at the Museum of Transportation (formerly the National Museum of Transport), St. Louis.

PRR P5 4700 at Mus of Transp
(photo courtesy of the Museum of Transportation)

  PRR Class DD1 #3936-3937 (2-B+B-2, Juniata, 1911)
    at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg.

  Class B1 #5690 (B, Altoona, 1934)
    at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.

There are now more than ninety-five (95) BOXCAB pages;
see the full INDEX, now on a separate page.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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To tour the Boxcabs pages in sequence, the arrows take you from the Boxcabs index page to this first Boxcabs page, to continuation pages 3 and up, then 100-tonner LIRR #401 and her sisters, survivor boxcabs (with map) and survivor notes, survivor CNJ #1000 (the very first), Ingersoll-Rand boxcabs (with instruction manual), other (non-ALCo/GE/I-R) boxcabs, Baldwin-Westinghouse boxcabs, odd boxcabs, and finally model boxcabs.

© Copyright S. Berliner, III - 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2018, 2020  - all rights reserved.

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