This military veteran wore Army green as a Hospital Unit car, Air Force blue as a Special Purpose car on Bomb Score trains, and Navy white as a Storage car, and now has a new “civilian” career!
Built by American Car & Foundry Co., St.Charles, MO; about June 1945
This steel car has six-wheel trucks, Hyatt bearings, Miner brakes, tight-lock couplers, one vestibule, a side door, a linoleum floor, and nine 60″ x 33″ window openings per side. It’s 84’6″ long, 10′ wide, 13’6″ high, and weighs approximately 164,000 lbs. (82 tons).
One of 100 Hospital Unit cars in ACF Lot #2792 built for the Army Medical Department for $49,600 each to transfer casualties from hospital ships to Army medical centers at the end of World War II, USA #89429 carried 36 patients and attendants in three-tier racks; had two small roomettes for an officer and a nurse; a tub/shower; kitchen with coal-fired range (the coalbox filled from outside and refrigerator iced via a rooftop hatch); ice-type air-conditioning; and receiving room with desk, sterilizer, and side doors for litter cases. It was painted Pullman green (including trucks), and later Olive drab, with black battery boxes and roof; white lettering and Medical Corps caduceus insignia on its sides; red crosses in white squares on sides and roof; and cream, beige, and light brown interior.
USA #89429 was rebuilt in 1962 for the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command as a Special Purpose car, with living quarters for 18 men in partitioned cubicles, with lavatory and laundry facilities. Its side doors were deleted, and new air-conditioning, sealed windows, 220-volt electric system, accoustic ceiling, fire alarms, and other items installed. It was painted Air Force blue, with silver roof and black underframe, and lettered DAFX #89429 in white, with the S.A.C. shield insignia on its sides. It housed crews of Bomb Score trains, used to radar-score the accuracy of B-52 bombers, until it was retired in 1970 and stored at Williams AFB near Chandler, AZ.
In 1972 DAFX #89429 was one of 11 such cars acquired by the Naval Weapons Station at Seal Beach, CA, and was sent to the NWS Annex at Fallbrook, CA. It was stripped, had a loading door cut on one side, was painted white (retaining its silver roof, black underframe, and blue vestibule), not numbered, and used for storage. Declared surplus in 1980, it was donated to the PSRMA on March 27, 1981 for $100 in administrative charges. Stored at the Annex, it was appraised at $12,500 on February 6, 1984, and moved in 1985 to Stuart Mesa on the adjacent Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, where it was vandalized until moved to a more secure industrial warehouse area. Brought to San Diego by Santa Fe February 28, 1987, it missed “Great Freight II” by a few hours. The SD&IV took it to Matanuca, 12 miles into Mexico, and it came to Campo on “Great Freight II 1/2” in March.
DAFX #89429 has been converted into an open-window Sightseeing, Refreshment, and Restroom car (it has holding tanks), for use on the museum’s SD&A excursion trains. It has been re-numbered #350. The glass has been removed and safety bars installed in its windowframes.
1992 Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association. W. Schneider