What was it like to travel in a Heritage Sleeper?

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cpotisch

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Hello all! I was just wondering how many of you have ever taken a Heritage 10-6 sleeper. Do you remember it fondly? Were they noisy? Did they ride poorly? Was it just generally comfortable? I started traveling Amtrak well after that era, and just wanted to know what it was like.

To my knowledge, this is the last one left more or less in its original form:

#10020 'Pacific Grove'



Thank you for your info and answers!
 

Maglev

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I rode in a Heritage bedroom on The Broadway Limited from Chicago to Greensburg, PA in 1994. I don't specifically remember anything about ride quality or noise, but I do recall that the upholstery was badly stained and my wife thought the room was disgusting.
 

cpotisch

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I rode in a Heritage bedroom on The Broadway Limited from Chicago to Greensburg, PA in 1994. I don't specifically remember anything about ride quality or noise, but I do recall that the upholstery was badly stained and my wife thought the room was disgusting.
Hmmmm. Sounds nice.
 

Bob Dylan

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It depended on the Railroad, Sleepers involved and how old the equipment was.

Riding on Deluxe Trains like the Super Chief,20th Century,Broadway Ltd.etc was the Height of Luxury.

Some of the old Heavyweight Pullmans were in poor shape by the time I started riding. ( rode hard and put up wet)and of course,once the Class Is started Trains,Off and their "Run ' em off" Campaigns (hello Espee!), things really got dicey on some of the routes but Santa Fe and Southern still tried to run good trains right up to the time they threw in the towel and joined Amtrak.

I especially enjoyed the Amtrak SlumberCoaches I rode in often on the Crescent Route, but some of the 10-6 Sleepers were in poor shape by the time Amtrak took them over..

I must say that the great Majority of the old time OBS still took pride in their jobs, especially the Sleeping Car attendants and the Diner Crews and treated their passengers in a First Class Manner!

As with all things Passenger Rail, YMMV!
 

John Bobinyec

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The one interesting thing for me was the roomettes. They only had a lower bed, which was all one piece. It folded up into the wall on one side. When it was down in the sleeping position, it

  • covered the toilet
  • filled up the room so much that you couldn't stand on the floor between the bed and the door.
[ed. Actually, you could stand on the floor between the bed and the door, but in order to put the bed up, you had to get out of the way.]

So, if you had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, here was the process:

  1. Secure the curtains on the inside of the door
  2. Open the door
  3. Step down off of the bed onto the floor with your feet partially in the hallway, but you were still covered by the curtain
  4. Fold the bed up into the wall.
  5. Step into the room and close the door.
  6. After business was take care of, reverse the process to put the bed back down.
jb
 
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GBNorman

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From one here who took many many a ride in a "Heritage" Sleeper (first I recall was during 1959; ride on Admin's PRR 60, The Pittsburger, was Dec 1960), the most favorable difference was how much more comfortable the bed was. There was also storage space under the seat and major luggage manufacturers all had lines called Pullman suitcases with those very dimensions in mind. Additionally, Pullman Co had no issues with passengers raising or lowering the "Murphy" bed themselves.

But there were negatives, first of which was you had to step into the hall to raise or lower the bed, be it to go to bed or a "midnite potty break".

Second and final; no shower, which exceeded only by a reservation and ticketing system that works, is the greatest innovation Amtrak has brought about.
 

jis

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10020 was originally a 10-6. It was converted to a Crew Dorm and served Amtrak in that role before retirement from regular service in 2005. So it has not been in its original 10-6 furnishing in its entirety internally for over two decades now. Its original name "Pacific Bend" has been restored according to the OTOL Amtrak Roster. Originally it was 2504. For a while it carried the name "Pacific Command" after retirement from regular service.

Its sister car, originally 2521 is also around as car 10021 "Pacific Cape". For a while this was named "Pacific Patrol"
 

zephyr17

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First, you can get the experience of riding classic streamlined Budd sleepers on Via's Canadian. While they are not 10-6s (the Manors are 4-5-1-4s, 4 roomettes, 5 double bedrooms, 1 compartment, 4 (now 3) sections), they are that era cars. Amtrak only did the Heritage conversion on 10-6s, so the wide variety of sleeping car layouts that the railroads had were reduced to the 10-6s for standardization. BTW, technically the "Heritage" fleet were the HEP converted cars.

They ride fine, of course that depends on how well the trucks and wheels are maintained. The beds are MUCH more comfortable than the beds in a Superliner roomette. They had real mattresses and are wider than those in a Superliner roomette, about as wide as a twin (at least at the head, some sleeper designs had cut outs at the bottom of the bed for the washstand, for those cars where the sink did not fold into the wall). For the roomettes, in addition to the "combolet" that is underneath the bed at night, unlike the Viewliner Is, there was also a "public" restroom if you did not want to fool with the bed at night.

One great thing about the classic sleepers is the bed is exactly the same level as the bottom of the window. In roomettes you didn't have to prop yourself up to see out at night, all you need do is turn your head.

All in all, I would say they were much better designed and comfortable than a Superliner.
 
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Lonestar648

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I rode Heritage Sleepers on The Broadway, The Capital Limited, and the LSL. The equipment was already worn out when Amtrak inherited the cars, there were much better pre-Amtrak. I remember some cars worse than others, in how much you got tossed around. The beds were comfortable and wider than today. In the roomette, the night procedure for using the toilet was inconvenient. The bedrooms were comfortable. There were no showering facilities hut no one minded not having something they never had.
 

RPC

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I rode the Broadway Limited many times (late 80s/early 90s) and the Capitol and LSL occasionally. I remember the Heritage sleepers as shabby but comfortable. The ride was generally smooth and the beds were a step up from anything on Amtrak today - real mattresses with springs! The dim incandescent lighting made for a friendly atmosphere. That said, I generally rode the Slumbercoach if the train had one - it was much cheaper! (The Slumbercoaches had outside swing hangar trucks which made for an even better ride than the First Class sleepers, but tended to have more squeaks and rattles inside.)
 

chakk

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They weren't shabby at all when I rode them in 1969 and 1970 (pre-Amtrak) on B&O, NYC, CN, SP, UP, ATSF, N&W, WP, DRGW, and CB&Q
 

Seaboard92

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I've ridden and slept on plenty of ex heritage cars. It all depends on the trucks for the ride quality. And the owner for the bedding. My personal favorite is the A room in a VIA Park car before the prestige rebuild.
 

cpotisch

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I rode the Broadway Limited many times (late 80s/early 90s) and the Capitol and LSL occasionally. I remember the Heritage sleepers as shabby but comfortable. The ride was generally smooth and the beds were a step up from anything on Amtrak today - real mattresses with springs! The dim incandescent lighting made for a friendly atmosphere. That said, I generally rode the Slumbercoach if the train had one - it was much cheaper! (The Slumbercoaches had outside swing hangar trucks which made for an even better ride than the First Class sleepers, but tended to have more squeaks and rattles inside.)
I guess if the whole bed folds up and out of the way, you don't need a flexible mattress that you can stow. Still it somewhat shocks me that an Amtrak room would have anything like an actual spring mattress, considering today we get a 3 inch thick foam sheet.
 
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Palmland

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As has been said, the best things about the heritage sleepers were the thick and wide mattresses as well as a real blanket. The later model sleepers had a cut a way bed so if you needed tor raise it to use the toilet you could keep the door closed. The other best feature was the consistency of good service provided by the Pullman porter (so sorry if the term is not PC). Amtrak would do well to follow the Pullman Co. manual for sleeping car service and provide appropriate supervisory oversight to insure consistency. But, as Gil Norman says, Amtrak gets an attaboy for the civilized introduction of showers.
 

zephyr17

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I rode the Broadway Limited many times (late 80s/early 90s) and the Capitol and LSL occasionally. I remember the Heritage sleepers as shabby but comfortable. The ride was generally smooth and the beds were a step up from anything on Amtrak today - real mattresses with springs! The dim incandescent lighting made for a friendly atmosphere. That said, I generally rode the Slumbercoach if the train had one - it was much cheaper! (The Slumbercoaches had outside swing hangar trucks which made for an even better ride than the First Class sleepers, but tended to have more squeaks and rattles inside.)
I guess if the whole bed folds up and out of the way, you don't need a flexible mattress that you can stow. Still it somewhat shocks me that an Amtrak room would have anything like an actual spring mattress, considering today we get a 3 inch thick foam sheet.
Because they weren't "Amtrak" rooms. Amtrak took over equipment that was designed by the likes of Pullman-Standard and Budd for railroads that were catering to the expense account business traveler (the main source of sleeper patronage). Think airline international Business and First Class offerings like United's Polaris when thinking about why they were offering comfort and convienence (for a price).

As far as Amtrak goes, that equipment was designed for mattresses, and as long as they were in use, mattresses were what was used.

"Go Pullman and Arrive Refreshed!"
 

railiner

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The one interesting thing for me was the roomettes. They only had a lower bed, which was all one piece. It folded up into the wall on one side. When it was down in the sleeping position, it

  • covered the toilet
  • filled up the room so much that you couldn't stand on the floor between the bed and the door.
[ed. Actually, you could stand on the floor between the bed and the door, but in order to put the bed up, you had to get out of the way.]

So, if you had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, here was the process:

  1. Secure the curtains on the inside of the door
  2. Open the door
  3. Step down off of the bed onto the floor with your feet partially in the hallway, but you were still covered by the curtain
  4. Fold the bed up into the wall.
  5. Step into the room and close the door.
  6. After business was take care of, reverse the process to put the bed back down.
jb
Just a minor correction...the zippered curtains were on the outside of the roomette doors (the aisle side)....
 

cpotisch

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The one interesting thing for me was the roomettes. They only had a lower bed, which was all one piece. It folded up into the wall on one side. When it was down in the sleeping position, it

  • covered the toilet
  • filled up the room so much that you couldn't stand on the floor between the bed and the door.
[ed. Actually, you could stand on the floor between the bed and the door, but in order to put the bed up, you had to get out of the way.]

So, if you had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, here was the process:

  1. Secure the curtains on the inside of the door
  2. Open the door
  3. Step down off of the bed onto the floor with your feet partially in the hallway, but you were still covered by the curtain
  4. Fold the bed up into the wall.
  5. Step into the room and close the door.
  6. After business was take care of, reverse the process to put the bed back down.
jb
Just a minor correction...the zippered curtains were on the outside of the roomette doors (the aisle side)....
Why would they stick curtains on the aisle side? That totally compromises privacy.
 

railiner

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Second and final; no shower, which exceeded only by a reservation and ticketing system that works, is the greatest innovation Amtrak has brought about.
Generally true, but there were actually a handful of Pullman's with "Master Rooms" that contained a private shower....The Broadway Limited was one of the trains that had them.

The Southern Crescent, prior to Amtrak takeover, was the last to offer them.
 

railiner

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The one interesting thing for me was the roomettes. They only had a lower bed, which was all one piece. It folded up into the wall on one side. When it was down in the sleeping position, it

  • covered the toilet
  • filled up the room so much that you couldn't stand on the floor between the bed and the door.
[ed. Actually, you could stand on the floor between the bed and the door, but in order to put the bed up, you had to get out of the way.]

So, if you had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, here was the process:

  1. Secure the curtains on the inside of the door
  2. Open the door
  3. Step down off of the bed onto the floor with your feet partially in the hallway, but you were still covered by the curtain
  4. Fold the bed up into the wall.
  5. Step into the room and close the door.
  6. After business was take care of, reverse the process to put the bed back down.
jb
Just a minor correction...the zippered curtains were on the outside of the roomette doors (the aisle side)....
Why would they stick curtains on the aisle side? That totally compromises privacy.
The outside curtains, were to offer privacy when you had to open your door at night to back into the aisle to lower the bed to use the toilet...

You could also keep them zippered during the day, if you wanted to ride with your door slid open, for 'ventilation' or whatever reason...
 
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zephyr17

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The one interesting thing for me was the roomettes. They only had a lower bed, which was all one piece. It folded up into the wall on one side. When it was down in the sleeping position, it

  • covered the toilet
  • filled up the room so much that you couldn't stand on the floor between the bed and the door.
[ed. Actually, you could stand on the floor between the bed and the door, but in order to put the bed up, you had to get out of the way.]

So, if you had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, here was the process:

  1. Secure the curtains on the inside of the door
  2. Open the door
  3. Step down off of the bed onto the floor with your feet partially in the hallway, but you were still covered by the curtain
  4. Fold the bed up into the wall.
  5. Step into the room and close the door.
  6. After business was take care of, reverse the process to put the bed back down.
jb
Just a minor correction...the zippered curtains were on the outside of the roomette doors (the aisle side)....
Why would they stick curtains on the aisle side? That totally compromises privacy.
The curtains were fully secured to the walls on the sides, no compromise to privacy. The only thing that opened was the zipper in the middle
 

railiner

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Having the curtains outside your door had the added benefit of sound insulation from foot traffic during the night....they were very heavily constructed, nothing like the flimsy curtains of today....more like the curtains that gave privacy to the old open section berth's....
 

cpotisch

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The one interesting thing for me was the roomettes. They only had a lower bed, which was all one piece. It folded up into the wall on one side. When it was down in the sleeping position, it

  • covered the toilet
  • filled up the room so much that you couldn't stand on the floor between the bed and the door.
[ed. Actually, you could stand on the floor between the bed and the door, but in order to put the bed up, you had to get out of the way.]

So, if you had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, here was the process:

  1. Secure the curtains on the inside of the door
  2. Open the door
  3. Step down off of the bed onto the floor with your feet partially in the hallway, but you were still covered by the curtain
  4. Fold the bed up into the wall.
  5. Step into the room and close the door.
  6. After business was take care of, reverse the process to put the bed back down.
jb
Just a minor correction...the zippered curtains were on the outside of the roomette doors (the aisle side)....
Why would they stick curtains on the aisle side? That totally compromises privacy.
The curtains were fully secured to the walls on the sides, no compromise to privacy. The only thing that opened was the zipper in the middle
Right, but (and not to get hung up on this) couldn't someone outside just unzip it and see the occupant 'using the facilities'?
 

trainman74

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Right, but (and not to get hung up on this) couldn't someone outside just unzip it and see the occupant 'using the facilities'?
Yes, that was theoretically possible, but at best, it would result in some angry words from both the roomette passenger and the sleeping car attendant.

I rode in a Heritage 10-6 sleeper on the southbound City of New Orleans in the summer of 1990. The air conditioning went out in the evening, was fixed by the Chief of On-Board Services at a station stop, fortunately kept working all night, but then went out again after lunch and couldn't be fixed. (They let passengers sit at the dining car tables.)
 

Big Iron

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The one interesting thing for me was the roomettes. They only had a lower bed, which was all one piece. It folded up into the wall on one side. When it was down in the sleeping position, it

  • covered the toilet
  • filled up the room so much that you couldn't stand on the floor between the bed and the door.
[ed. Actually, you could stand on the floor between the bed and the door, but in order to put the bed up, you had to get out of the way.]

So, if you had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, here was the process:

  1. Secure the curtains on the inside of the door
  2. Open the door
  3. Step down off of the bed onto the floor with your feet partially in the hallway, but you were still covered by the curtain
  4. Fold the bed up into the wall.
  5. Step into the room and close the door.
  6. After business was take care of, reverse the process to put the bed back down.
jb
Just a minor correction...the zippered curtains were on the outside of the roomette doors (the aisle side)....
Why would they stick curtains on the aisle side? That totally compromises privacy.
The curtains were fully secured to the walls on the sides, no compromise to privacy. The only thing that opened was the zipper in the middle
Right, but (and not to get hung up on this) couldn't someone outside just unzip it and see the occupant 'using the facilities'?
The zipper pull faced inwards so would be difficult for someone outside to open. Up until Amtrak stopped smoking on trains, one could smoke in their sleeping accommodation so they always smelled like smoke. I prefer the 10-6 roomette over Superliner and dearly miss the Slumbercoach.
 

zephyr17

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The one interesting thing for me was the roomettes. They only had a lower bed, which was all one piece. It folded up into the wall on one side. When it was down in the sleeping position, it

  • covered the toilet
  • filled up the room so much that you couldn't stand on the floor between the bed and the door.
[ed. Actually, you could stand on the floor between the bed and the door, but in order to put the bed up, you had to get out of the way.]

So, if you had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, here was the process:

  1. Secure the curtains on the inside of the door
  2. Open the door
  3. Step down off of the bed onto the floor with your feet partially in the hallway, but you were still covered by the curtain
  4. Fold the bed up into the wall.
  5. Step into the room and close the door.
  6. After business was take care of, reverse the process to put the bed back down.
jb
Just a minor correction...the zippered curtains were on the outside of the roomette doors (the aisle side)....
Why would they stick curtains on the aisle side? That totally compromises privacy.
The curtains were fully secured to the walls on the sides, no compromise to privacy. The only thing that opened was the zipper in the middle
Right, but (and not to get hung up on this) couldn't someone outside just unzip it and see the occupant 'using the facilities'?
One thing to note was that the door on the Heritage 10-6s was SOLID. There was no window in it. The reason for the curtain was to allow the occupant a bit more room to step out when raising and lowering the bed. It was not to cover a window in the door as there was not one.

So, for that matter, if someone has the curtain on a Superliner roomette closed but the door open (say, for air flow), there is nothing stopping someone from reaching around and and un-velcro-ing it. I think there is a large difference between the possibility of an inadvertent opening of a poorly secured curtain, and a deliberate attempt to open it. In case of the later, I think that would be cause for immediate complaint to the conductor and removal of the opener into the arms of law enforcement at a convienent grade crossing.

I repeat my opinion that the old RR sleepers were better designed.
 
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