Re: N6B - origin of Mae West name

Rick Tipton

Bruce Smith wrote:


Third, subclasses matter. There was no N6 class on the PRR. There were however both the N6A and the N6B The N6A was the "original" design, having been rebuilt from ND "bobber" cabin cars, and possessing a tall, squared off cupola, slightly wider than the car body. The N6B was a subsequent modification of the N6A, with a rounded profile cupola to allow better clearances, especially in tunnels.

Bruce and all,

Not to pick nits, but as research on the N6 classes goes forward, I suspect the above statement needs to be modified:

  1. Most of us recognize no N6 class cabin car, but apparently when the Vandalia Lines were finally merged with PRR Lines West about the beginning of the 20th Century, the Vandalia standard cabin car (which as you’d expect looks much like a lot of western cupola cabooses) was assigned class N6.  Naturally, none of these were ever seen in the East, or for that matter in my old stomping grounds in Ohio.
  2. When Lines West began to convert 4-wheel-bobbers to two truck, steel underframe cars in 1914, the “tall, squared-off cupola, slightly wider than the carbody” was in use on the Fort Wayne – I’m not sure this was limited to ND class cars.  So those rebuilds resulted in class N6A.
  3. On what became the Panhandle Division after 1920, the already-old tunnels between Pittsburgh and Dennison had longer mandated a narrower cupola for clearance – and so starting in 1914 those bobbers were rebuilt into N6b class.  And because of the curved upward bulge of these cupolas, they were sometimes referred to as “Mae West”.

As I say, research on this subject continues, both for an upcoming Keystone article and farther out for the PRRT&HS cabin car book.




Rick Tipton -- Louisville Kentucky

Member, Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society

A Fan of the Pennsylvania Railroad and especially its Lines West of Pittsburgh

HO Modeler of the late 1960's Pennsy in Ohio


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