SEABOARD AIR LINE COACH 831
Seaboard Airline Railroad ordered coach 831 from Pullman in 1937 as an order of the prototype lightweight "American Flyer" PB LW (lightweight) coaches along with 5 others, 830-835. These cars were made famous by Lionel Lines and their "American Flyer Set", where they gained the nickname. Though the PB LWs were built in 1937, the actual production batch didn't get underway until the 1940s, once wartime metal restrictions were removed. The 831 was built by Pullman-Standard for usage on the Seaboard Air Line's newly streamlined trains into Florida, designed to evoke a feeling of speed, and capable of high speed running in an era when Florida (and beyond that Havanna) were premiere travel destinations. The car operated into the 1960s when the SAL and Atlantic Coast Line merged to form Seaboard Coast Line. By the 1960s passenger numbers were dropping dropping and being an older prototype, the 831 was rendered obsolete. The Railroad Historical Center's founders purchased it for display as the representative of a coach, and locally signifigant as the Seaboard travelled right through Greenwood, and still does today as CSX along Maxwell and Seaboard Avenues.
These type of "lightweight" coaches (not specifically PB LWs, of which there are only 2 left) are extremely common. The coach was the industry standard and hundreds of different variations exist, from the heavyweight era to the modern Amfleet lightweights used by Amtrak. Some had chair car seats, clerestory roofs, arch roofs, commuter seats, washrooms, Jim Crow Segregation, or mechanical air conditioning (as 831 did). Hundreds of these vehicles exist today, and still serve as the backbone of the tourist and excursion railroad industry. As the preservation movement first started in the 1960s it was mainly heavyweights like 2102, but these days most tourist lines operate air conditioned lightweights similar to 831, but being production models as only 2 prototypes survive, 831, and 833 in Florida, both of which are static displays. These are perfect because they are air conditioned, have large windows, and seating for 74 passengers.
The Railroad Historical Center restored 831 in 2016 and she sits proudly wearing Seaboard Green with a 1950s "Tropical Blue" interior. Being built in 1937, when the production series started the prototypes were internally remodelled to match 1940s and later 1950s styling. The streamlining over the wheels was removed by the 1950s as that fad died away, showing the main reminder of her prototype construction, the wheels and bogies, both of a distinctly heavyweight 1900s-1930s design. Below 831 can be seen restored (left) and before (right) as well as below as the 3rd piece of equipment in our railroad display.
A Few Facts:
- 831 is one of the oldest "lightweight cars" surviving, dating from 1937. Most survivors
today are post-war examples from 1942-1950.
- 831 is a "Jim Crow" Coach, with a central division wall. It is one of few to retain the wall
intact. The end closest to the 2102 would have been the "colored end", whilst the end
closest to the dining car, 746, would have been for white passengers, and has a larger
- Coaches such as 831 are the preferred type on tourist railways and similar to modern
^ Before Restoration ^ ^ After a Complete Restoration ^
^ Restored in Seaboard Green, No 831 sits Ready for You ^