Cars #10280, 10281, 10282
Triple Unit Diner
A former Southern
Pacific Cascade triple unit diner was procured and partially outfitted for use on the American Freedom Train.
The car was originally part of the overnight Cascade (Oakland-Portland) train and was configured as a Tavern-Dining Room-Kitchen/Dorm.
By the early 1970s, the diner was owned by the Herb Reichhold and had been stored on the Sierra RR.
Mr. Reichhold got the contract to convert several NYC baggage cars into AFT display cars at an old Liberty Ship factory in Richmond, CA near San Francisco. He brought the diner (and a matching SP sleeper that became AFT #201) to Richmond.
The idea was to use the diner to replace "The Preambles" (the four older cars that had been used on the Preamble Express to scout the route of the AFT in 1974).
Workers pulled all the equipment off the undersides of the triple-unit diner cars so the cars could be set up for HEP. The dorm end was cleared of its original configuration and was set to be the Press Car (AFT #205 eventually took that role).
The opposite end of the car (the tavern end) was going to be cut open to create an open-end platform, but this work was never begun.
The car was painted white, with the silver roof & black running gear of the AFT. It only lacked the red & blue stripes and lettering.
At some point, the conversion stopped because it was decided The Preambles would be used after all -- the diner, at 203 feet long, was going to present too big a challenge when moving the train into odd and restrictive display sites.
When the display cars were finished and moved out, the Triple Unit was returned to the Sierra RR and later leased to the Golden Gate Railroad Museum for display. When the GGRM moved their collection from Hunters Point, the car was sold to the Pacific Locomotive Association.
AFT veteran SR Bush caught sight of the car in the early 1980s, with trucks still stenciled "AFTX".
It would have made a fine addition to the train.
Today the car resides at the Niles Canyon Railway, where it is being restored.
Please email if you have additional information.
Top two images: Dennis Lipsett, courtesy of SR Bush
Bottom image: What could have been... Although the car was never given red and blue stripes or lettering, this is what the AFT triple-unit would have looked like. Image from the collection of the PLA/Niles Canyon Railway.
Research: Mike Mangini, SR Bush, Steve Milward, J. Bunger, John Lewis, Harry Wong, Mike Pechner of the PLA, and Ross Rowland.