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Equipment > Diner 741

Diner 741

Erie Lackawanna Diner 741The jewel of the ELDCPS collection is Diner 741, the first car acquired by the organization. Purchased from the Everett Railroad in 2001, the car is currently located in Scranton, PA.

Diner 741 underwent an extensive exterior renovation while in Kansas City, MO between 2003 and 2012. The car was repainted into Erie Lackawanna colors in November 2007, which is the first time the car has worn its grey, maroon and yellow since the early 1970s.

Diner 741 still needs a complete interior renovation. Work will commence on Diner 741 once Diner 469 is returned to service.

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Updated through November 2007

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Diner 741 throughout the years

Diner 741 Diagram

Technical diagram of 741 from the EL Passenger Equipment Diagram Book

History of Diner 741

Erie Lackawanna Diner 741 was constructed by the Pullman Car Company at Pullman, Ill., in 1925 to Lot #4916, floor plan 3952. Lot 4916 consisted of an order for 14 83-foot, heavyweight diners. Five of the cars were assigned to the Illinois Central, and the remaining nine cars were assigned by Pullman to the Atlantic Coast Line. On the ACL, future EL 741 carried the number 7, which was painted on the lower stretch of the car over the truck centers. "Atlantic Coast Line" was painted on the letterboard, with "Dining Car" painted in the lower stretch in the center.

In August of 1927, the Erie acquired the first four of the ACL assigned diners from Pullman. They were assigned Erie numbers, 944, 945, 946 and 947. Two of the new cars were assigned to trains 1 and 2 between Jersey City and Buffalo, and two in trains 3 and 4 between Jersey City and Chicago. The other five cars, including 741 (Erie 941), were acquired by 1930, and placed in general service by the Erie. Seating capacity was 36 persons.

All nine cars saw service throughout the Erie system until early 1940, when the Erie began the first modification and refurbishment of the cars. At this time, the cars were modified into lounge/diners. The interior of the cars were updated and modernized from their original appearance. Most noteworthy was the change to the clerestory ceiling, which was now hidden behind a dropped ceiling. The original Pullman ceiling lights were utilized. Attractive murals and new carpeting were installed.

By the mid-1940s, the Erie employed 150 cooks and waiters to staff the cars, as well as employees manning the Commissaries in Chicago and Jersey City. Headquarters for the department was located about 1 mile from the Erie's station in Jersey City. Anywhere between six and 11 men were assigned to each car. About 10% of the glassware was broken every trip, and about the same for crockery. Tablecloths survived about 20 trips to the laundry, and the same for the napkins.

In early 1947, the Erie began the last major rebuilding of their diners in series 939-947. The cars received work at Susquehanna shop which included a streamlined turtle-back roof, new wide windows in both the dining and lounge areas, as well as the kitchen and hallway. Cast steel, top equalized six-wheel trucks were purchased surplus from the C&O, equipped with roller bearings, and installed. The kitchens were redone in stainless steel, and the air conditioning was updated. New carpeting from Mohawk was installed, and new chairs in the lounge. Erie also introduced new silverware in the "Grecian" pattern from International Silver, as well as all new linens and waiters uniforms. Diner 940 was the first one out of the shop, and the other cars would soon follow. The exterior color was Pullman Green, with all lettering in Dulux gold. With the delivery of the E-8s in the new two-tone green paint scheme, most Erie through-line passenger equipment soon received this look.

Throughout the years, Erie and EL won many awards from the U.S. Health, Education, and Welfare Department for a near perfect rating for sanitation on its dining cars, with an average rating of 98%.

With the Erie moving to Hoboken in October of 1956, it was decided to consolidate the Erie and the DL&W's dining car departments. Russ Lloyd, who headed the department for Lackawanna, was appointed Superintendent; John Collins, the Erie dining car department Superintendent, was appointed manager for the combined operation. The Commissary in Jersey City was closed, and all dining car crews reported for work at the Hoboken station. For the time being, the laundry located in Jersey City remained in service.

Shortly after the merger with the DL&W in October of 1960, the Erie diners were repainted in EL colors of gray, maroon and yellow. The EL renumbered all by dropping the "9", and replacing it with a "7." The first carto be retired was 739, which was stricken from the roster in the early EL years due to damage. The other eight cars continued to soldier on through the EL years, with 741, 746, and 747 as the three surviving Erie cars in service until the end of operations in 1970.

Diner 741 was "white lined" in January 1970, and in early spring was sent to Port Jervis along with other cars from EL's through-service for disposition. Diner 746 was sold to an individual in South Carolina where it remains today, many miles away from the nearest live track. Car 747 was also sold, and survives as an office in Ohio. EL eventually decided to use 741 on the wreck train in Binghamton. The car was renumbered 473511, painted olive green, and placed in service there—where it remained well into the Conrail years (CR 45914). With the demise of the railroad wreck trains, Conrail then placed 741 in camp car service, until it was considered surplus and sold to the Everett Railroad in the mid-1990s. As part of its new assignement, the car was modified both inside and out, including full-height doorways on both sides of the car.

The Everett purchased the car with the intention of turning it into a lounge for their excursion service, or failing that, using the trucks on one of their other cars. When the Everett determined that they would not fulfill their plans for the car, it was sold to the newly-formed Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society in 2001, which began restoring the car.

Sources: Erie Magazine issues October 1927, May 1940, September 1945, June 1947, September 1956, October 1956, November 1956. Detail sheets and specification drawings, the Pullman Company, courtesy Illinois Railroad Museum Pullman Archive; Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment, by Larry De Young and Mike Del Vecchio, Morning Sun Books, 2001, p. 11.