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Special recognition to Eric Levin, then shop manager at the Pavonia Diesel Terminal, and now Superintendent, Motive Power for Conrail Shared Assets Territory, whose good offices facilitated our acquisition of the X-54 car, along with the  H34a Covered Hopper.
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, a world class museum of railroad history in Strasburg, PA.

PRR X-54 Boxcar... A Survivor Restored

In the Museum Yard, Click for larger view.
From This
X54 completed.
To This
1961 Pennsylvania Railroad No. 19103, Samuel Rea Shops, class X-54
History. After the Pennsylvania Railroad completed its major dieselization program, in early 1959 it focused on upgrading its fleet of freight equipment. As part of this effort, four-hundred X-54 and one-hundred X-54a box cars were ordered.
The X-54 class box cars were built the following year at the Samual Rea Car Shops in Hollidaysburg, PA (Fischer). A date stenciled on No. 19103 indicates that it was completed in January, 1960. At only 40' in length, the diminutive X-54 class was the last boxcar of its size built by the PRR and they were some of the last PRR equipment to feature a shadowed keystone logo.
Lifted, getting trucks ready.
Being Lifted off Flatbed
By the mid-1980s, the entire fleet of X-54's had been retired and all Conrail box cars were at least fifty feet in length.
Lowering on to trucks.
Being Lowered onto Its Trucks
Little is known about how Car 19103 survived the transition from the PRR to Penn Central to Conrail, but it wound up in Conrail's Midvale Yard in Philadelphia, PA. It was discovered there and photographed by the representatives of the Railroad Museum in the summer of 1998. The museum was interested in the car due to its uniqueness, solid condition and original PRR paint.

Conrail agreed to donate it, along with an H34a Hopper, to the Railroad Museum in the Spring of 1999, shortly before it merged into Norfolk Southern and CSX. Delivery was delayed because of physical location factors. The car arrived at the museum on Friday, December 19, 2003, after being unloaded two days earlier on the Strasburg Rail Road.

Features. The X-54 cars were equipped with Evans "quick loader" features, were insulated and equipped to allow use of heaters They were equipped with 8' 2" wide plug doors - slightly larger than the more typical 8'. It is currently stored in the Museum's Restoration Yard, not far from other survivors of the "Standard Railroad of the World."

Restoration. Following extensive body work and painting in the Museum's Restoration Shop, the car emerged in its original appearance, joining many other historic cars. While locomotives often draw more attention, box cars carried much of the freight that made railroads a success.

For more key restoration achievements, go here.

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