RDG Co. Multiple Unit (MU) Power Car, #863

#863 at Leesport yard, April 2003. (photo courtesy Mike Shirk)

Reading’s original fleet of 100 electric-powered cars were purchased in 1929 and '30 for service on the busy commuter lines radiating from Philadelphia. These cars, which were truly state of the art for their time, offered numerous advantages for commuters. Their flexibility to be operated either as single cars or as multiple-unit trains allowed the Reading to easily cope with varying numbers of commuters based on time of day, day of week, and season of the year. The cars also offered increased comfort to passengers, through electric heating, faster acceleration (meaning faster train times), and reduced noise and smoke.

The fleet averaged 36,000 revenue mile each week as basic 30-minute headway was provided on all branches. The motor cars were of steel and aluminum construction, while 27 trailers converted by the Reading shop forces from loco-hauled coaches were heavier all-steel. The fleet was maintained at Wayne Junction electric car shop, which was especially built built for this purpose (Reading shops did all heavy repairs). All cars were so arranged with their pantographs facing Reading Terminal. The bus connecting system that supplied power between the cars allowed only two raised pantographs on trains up to seven cars and four pans up to 12 cars.*

In 1964, 38 cars of the original fleet of 100 olive green electric MU cars (#863), underwent a rebuilding. Along with mechanical improvements, they came out of the rebuilding (#9111) with a new paint scheme of blue and white, and modernized interiors featuring new seat cushions, fluorescent lighting, lowered ceilings, and better ventilation.

#863 has been slowly undergoing restoration as time and funds permit. Your donation of time or money would certainly be much appreciated and help us complete the needed repairs and restoration to both Nos. 853 and 9111.

Archival Photos

2-car train, Philadelphia, PA, June 1959. (photo courtesy Gary Stuebben Collection)

*(info courtesy “Reading Company in Color,” by Bert Pennypacker, Morning Sun Books) (last updated: 4/03)