LIRR P54  Ping Pong Cars
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P54 "Ping Pong" Coach diagram  Courtesy: Art Single
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LIRR  #1 Oyster Bay in "Tichy scheme" 07/22/1956 George E. Votava photo, Dave Keller archive


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LIRR #1 Ronkonkoma in “Goodfellow” (charcoal) gray 02/1970 
Dave Keller photo and archive
See the crewmen in the car hanging out ready to either dead head into Jamaica or ride into the station and start work?
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LIRR #10 Ronkonkoma 09/1965
Dave Keller archive  

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LIRR #33 Ronkonkoma 09/1971
Dave Keller archive  

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LIRR #38 Photo: Jersey City NJ - 01/73 - Karl Geffchen

Weight: 74,000 lbs.

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LIRR #7111 LI City 02/1970
Dave Keller archive  

“M” designating the unit to be a “motor” or powered control cab and the “P” meaning “passenger”, while the “54” was the length of the car, bulkhead to bulkhead. As an aside, an MU baggage car was an “MPB54” because it was powered, it carried passengers AND it carried baggage. However, the electrics were MP54  or T54 units (“T” meaning trailer; non-powered).  And some of the OLDER, original purchase MP54 units had clerestory roofs and not the famous arched roofs.   Information: Dave Keller

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Ping Pong P-54 #7433 from The Oyster Bay RR Museum: Press Release 12/8/08

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According to Ed Kohler, Jr.'s LIRR steel car rosters (2), #7433 has an interesting history!

1.  Built by American Car and Foundry between May and June, 1923 as a class P54E steam car.
2.  Converted to an MU trailer between March and May, 1925, with no change in car # but a change in class to T54B
3.  Modernized in March, 1958 and converted BACK to a steam car, renumbered #7433 and re-classed P54D

And . . . as the #433 was converted to MU service in 1925, and G5s #35 was built in 1928 and retired in 1955, and #433 was converted BACK to a steam car in 1958, it's "bittersweet" that this specific car will soon be in the possession of the OBRM with plans to run #35, but it NEVER RAN behind #35 in its lifetime of service on the LIRR!  Info: Dave Keller

P-54-Ping-Pong_Coach-Interior_4-24-1950_Newsday.jpg (109797 bytes) To the average commuter on the LIRR during the middle of the twentieth century there is probably nothing that symbolized their hours spent riding the rails more than the inside of a Ping-Pong coach. The P-54 coach as it was classified was designed as a lightweight coach to replace the wooden fleet. The light weight and truck design also resulted in the rough ride that earned the cars their nickname. An interesting feature of the cars is that they were made to be converted from steam hauled to electric with relative ease. They served the LIRR faithfully for an impressive 60 years!

When the last were retired in 1974 many found homes on tourist railroads. Subsequently, none were saved by any preservation group on Long Island, leaving a major gap in telling of the story of the LIRR. In the recent past a few opportunities have come up to rectify this. Such opportunities included the car on the Long Island Expressway and the batch of cars in Boonton, NJ. Unfortunately the cars that were available had been gutted or significantly altered and all suffered badly from corrosion thus making their salvage and restoration cost prohibitive.

Recently the Knox & Kane tourist railroad in western Pennsylvania closed its doors for good and sold off its equipment. A scrap metal dealer bought a good portion of the rolling stock, including three Pings. Thanks to our friends from Island Rail LLC we were put in contact with the scrapper and arrangements were made to inspect the cars. For cars that are notorious for rotting out, these are remarkably solid, a testament to the care and maintenance given by the Knox and Kane. One car in particular, P-54 #7433, is in remarkably good shape and still retains its original seat frames and classic round windows. 

While we are very picky when it comes to adding rolling stock to our collection, this car was simply too good to pass up and the odds of finding another car in as good of shape are very slim. After an inspection trip by the OBRM we have purchased it for inclusion into the museum. This car is a very important acquisition and in reality, we had planned for such an acquisition in our long range plans in the hopes that such an opportunity might arise. The cost of purchasing, transporting and restoring the coach are considerable but we feel that the collection would not be complete without it. As it stands now the car should be delivered to Oyster Bay in March/April of 2009. 

Naturally, we are seeking donations toward this cause. For all those impassioned lovers of the ping-pong and those wishing to ensure the continued preservation of the LIRR's rich history, here is your chance to make a difference. Please consider sending a tax-deductible donation to us and mark your check's memo box "PING PONG". Donations may be sent to: OBRM, P O Box 335, Oyster Bay, New York 11771.

We want to give big thanks to Island Rail LLC for all of their support and for being a corporate sponsor of the project. We will keep you updated as things come together. Meanwhile, feel free to forward your questions to us at Oyster Bay RR Museum

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LIRR MP54C "Ping Pong" diagram Archive: Richard Makse