Budd Company

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The Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company, or Budd Company was a 20th-century metal fabricator, a major supplier of body components to the automobile industry and a manufacturer of stainless steel passenger rail cars, airframes, missile and space vehicles, and various defense products.

Budd was founded in 1912 in Philadelphia by Edward G. Budd, whose fame came from his development of the first all-steel automobile bodies in 1913 and, in the 1930s, his company's invention of the "shotweld" technique for joining pieces of stainless steel without damaging its anti-corrosion properties.

Budd Company became part of Budd Thyssen in 1978 and in 1999 a part of ThyssenKrupp Budd. Body and chassis operations were sold to Martinrea International in 2006. No longer an operating company, Budd filed for bankruptcy in 2014. It currently exists to provide benefits to its retirees.


Early years

After briefly dabbling with French Michelin rubber-tired technology ("Michelines" and the Silver Slipper), they built the Pioneer Zephyr for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1934, and thousands of streamlined lightweight stainless steel passenger cars for new trains in the US in the 1930s and 1980s.

In 1949, Budd built ten prototype stainless steel R11 subway cars for the New York Board of Transportation; these were intended for the Second Avenue Subway.

In the late 1940s, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad was seeking a way to increase capacity on commuter trains serving Chicago, Illinois, without having to add more cars to handle the increasing number of commuters. The problem faced by the Burlington Route was that its main terminal in Chicago, Chicago Union Station, charged the railroads serving it by the length of each train, and the Burlington wanted to avoid such charges. Because of the line's satisfaction with Budd's products, they approached Budd seeking a solution. Budd proposed to build coaches that were taller than the typical lightweight passenger car while keeping the streamline car's length of 85 feet, with the cars having a capacity 50% greater than previous commuter cars. To address the issue of the conductor collecting tickets without having to climb stairs, the upper level was designed with its center portion open so that the conductor could reach the tickets from upper-level passengers. Two rows of individual seats, one on each side of the car, provided the increase in seating capacity. The unique design of the upper level's open center section led to the cars being called "Gallery" cars. Burlington approved the design and ordered 30 cars. These cars, built as Budd lot 9679-041, were delivered between August 1950 and January 1951 and not only marked a change in how the commuters were handled but also were the first cars in commuter service to have air conditioning. The Burlington retrofitted its earlier cars with air conditioning as well, once the new cars had entered service.

With the first of the new commuter cars in service on the Burlington, the next railroad to approach Budd to design a new type of car with a greater seating capacity while also improving the accommodations for coach passengers was the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The Santa Fe was searching for a better design for its long-distance passenger trains and, with the design of the Burlington coaches in mind, Budd set out to create a similar passenger car design to meet the Santa Fe's needs. In September 1952, the Santa Fe placed an order for two two-level prototypes, Budd's Lot 9679-129. These, carrying the numbers 526 and 527, were delivered in July 1954, at which time both were placed into service for evaluation. These two prototypes had seating on the both levels, stairs on one end to provide access to single-level cars, a stairway at the center of the car for access to toilets on the lower level, as well as the door in the side of the car for embarking and departing passengers. This lower floor also contained various mechanical and pneumatic equipment that otherwise would be mounted below the floors of single-level cars.

With the two Hi-Level prototypes in service and proving to not only meet the needs of line but also being popular with passengers who were afforded a much better view of the scenery from the upper level, the Santa Fe again approached Budd with the idea of building additional two-level cars, this time in five different configurations: Step-down coaches like the two prototype cars, convertible coaches which could have one end of the car converted from the high level on both ends to a step-down car as needed, coaches with both ends of the car having the end door at the upper level's height to provide access to adjoining passenger cars, dining cars and lounge cars (with kitchens on the lower level) which featured a partial glassed-in roof similar to the Big Dome lounge cars that were also built by Budd and delivered around the time the prototype Hi-Level cars were built.

The order for additional cars was placed in March 1955 for 10 68-seat step-down coaches (delivered between December 1955 and January 1956 and numbered 528 to 537), 25 72-seat Hi-Level coaches (delivered between January and April 1956 numbered 700 to 724), six 60-seat bar – lounge – news stand which also had a 26-seat lounge in the lower level (delivered between May and June 1956) and six 80-seat dining cars (delivered between June and August 1956 numbered 650 to 655). With these cars delivered the Santa Fe re-equipped the El Capitan, the only coach train operated between Chicago and Los Angeles and also had some of the Hi-Level coaches being assigned to the Chicago–Galveston, Texas Texas Chief. An additional 12 step-down coaches, numbered 538 to 549, and 12 convertible coaches, numbered 725 to 736, which were ordered in November 1962 and delivered between December 1963 and April 1964. Later years The Budd company logo on the builder's plate in a Metro-North Railroad M3 railcar. The Budd company license plate in a Tokyu Car Corporation railcar.

Budd continued to build gallery passenger cars for Chicago-area commuter service on the Burlington Route (and Burlington Northern after the merger), Rock Island, and Milwaukee Road lines during the 1960s and 1970s; most of these cars are still in service on today's Metra routes. What is more, the Santa Fe Hi-level cars were the inspiration for the Amtrak Superliner and Superliner II which ply the rails of Amtrak on many different routes even today, though they were not a product of Budd.

Stainless steel Budd cars originally built for the Canadian Pacific Railway's 1955 train The Canadian are still in service with Via Rail Canada. Since 1951 two formations of six Budd cars operated by Ferrobaires have run a weekly service called "El Marplatense" from Buenos Aires to the ocean-side city of Mar del Plata in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina; the cars were originally built for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.

Budd-patented processes and designs were also used in Brazil (by Mafersa), France and Belgium after World War II to construct SNCF electric-powered multiple-unit cars, push-pull suburban trainsets, Wagons-Lits [CIWL] sleeping cars and even SNCF Class CC 40100 a small class of SNCF and SNCB four-current six-axle high speed electric locomotives for Trans Europ Express service between Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and SNCB class 56 EMU. In Japan Tokyu Car Corporation became the licensee of the Budd process and made the Stainless steel commuter cars like Series 7000 of Tokyu line. Mafersa continued to manufacture cars based on Budd designs with 38 cars being built for Virginia Rail Express between 1990 and 1992, some now at Shore Line East. Canadian Vickers and Avco built cars and incomplete kit shells (for GE) under Budd license, including the 1980 PATCO Series II cars, Metro-North M-2 Cosmopolitan and the Arrow II/III/Silverliner IV MUs.

Budd also issued a licence to Australian manufacturer Commonwealth Engineering in Sydney where Budd's stainless steel technology was used between the late 1950s and 1989 to build a variety of projects including the Monocoque self steer V set double-decker interurban electric multiple units considered by many to be one of the worlds most advanced double decker design. Budd's extensive research into the use of Stainless steel in rail carriage design and construction methodology carries on today in consulting businesses like Bay Rail.

Rail diesel car

In 1949, Budd introduced the "Budd Rail Diesel Car" (RDC), a stainless steel self-propelled "train in one car" which expanded rail service on lightly populated railway lines and provided an adaptable car for suburban commuter service. More than 300 RDCs were built, and some are still in service in Canada, the United States, Australia, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, with similar but shorter cars also being built under license by Mafersa in Brazil, which used the Budd Pioneer construction methods that the company designed and implemented in 1956 on some of the later commuter cars, such as the Milwaukee Road gallery cars that operated out of Chicago as well as electric multiple unit (EMU) high speed cars that operated between Washington, D.C. and New York City. The final few RDC cars were built by Canadian Car and Foundry under licensed from Budd.

Electric multiple units

In the late 1950s, Budd built the prototype Pioneer III. When re-designed and outfitted with electrical propulsion and end cabs as EMU coaches, six were purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad who originally intended them for medium-distance use in PRR's electrified territory. In 1963 they became known as "Silverliner I" cars when their use was supplemented by the new Silverliner II cars, which used an improved Pioneer III body, and which were placed into Philadelphia-area commuter rail service on the PRR and Reading Company lines. Budd was contracted in 1966 by the PRR and the U.S. Department of Commerce's "Office of High-Speed Ground Transportation" (prior to the establishment of USDOT) to build the original Metroliner multiple unit cars for luxury high-speed service on the Northeast Corridor. The 50 original Metroliners were delivered in 1967–69. An additional 11 Metroliner coaches were built for SEPTA, but were not accepted for service until 1972 under Amtrak. The Metroliners have been either retired, rebuilt into coaches without the cabs, or de-powered and used as cab cars. The Silverliner II cars had a top speed of 90 mph (140 km/h), but ran at up to 100 mph (160 km/h) when the PRR used them for Philadelphia-Harrisburg service. The Metroliner EMU cars operated at 110 to 125 mph (201 km/h) but every car was tested up to at least 160 mph (260 km/h), although breakdowns in the system led Amtrak to derate them to 90 mph (140 km/h). Since their retirement from regular service, Amtrak has used the Metroliner EMU coaches as cab-coaches on various services. Subway cars

In 1960, Budd manufactured the first stainless steel production subway cars for Philadelphia's Market-Frankford Line. 270 M-3 cars were jointly owned by the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Transportation Company (now Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). Some rail enthusiasts nicknamed the cars "Almond Joys" because the four hump-shaped ventilators on the roof evoked the Almond Joy candy bar.

There were 46 single units and 112 "married" pairs. The pairs were a "mixed marriage" because the odd-numbered car came with General Electric motors and equipment and was permanently coupled to the even-numbered car, which had Westinghouse motors and equipment. Two cars in this fleet were air conditioned.

These cars were replaced with more modern, air-conditioned M-4 units from 1997 to 1999. Some cars were transferred to the Norristown High Speed Line in the early 1990s. The cars had to be re-trucked, because the Norristown line is standard gauge (4' 8½") while the Market-Frankford line is broad gauge (5' 2½").

Industrial historian Jonathan Feldman has concluded that Budd, along with other "old-line suppliers" of subway cars, "lacked advanced systems-integration know-how and the skills required to manage complex electrical systems and electronics. Each of these firms had built railroad and subway cars, but modern subway cars became increasingly complicated. Like aircraft and automobiles, they became platforms for electronics."

Further reading