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The stainless steel Budd-built "Pioneer Zephyr".

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The Budd Company
The 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.

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.

Edward G Budd developed the first all-steel automobile bodies. His first big supporters were the Dodge brothers. Following discussions which began in 1913, the brothers purchased from Budd 70,000 all-steel open touring bodies in 1916. They were soon followed by an all-steel Dodge sedan. Budd Company jointly founded and from 1926 to 1936 held an interest in The Pressed Steel Company of Great Britain Limited (Cowley, England), which built bodies for Morris Motors and others, and Ambi-Budd (Germany), which supplied Adler, Audi, BMW, NAG and Wanderer; and earned royalties from Bliss (who built bodies for Citroën and Ford of Britain). The Budd Company also created the first "safety" two-piece truck wheel, used extensively in World War II, and also built truck cargo bodies for the U.S. military.

Following the entry into production of the "unibody" Citroën Traction Avant in 1934 using Budd technology, Budd worked in 1940 with Nash Motors on the development and production of North America's first mass-produced unibody passenger vehicle, the Nash 600. In the mid-1980s, Budd's Plastics Division introduced sheet moulding compound, a reinforced plastic in sheet form, suitable for stamping out body panels in much the same way, and as quickly, as sheet metal equivalents are made.

Passenger cars
From the 1930s until 1987, the Budd Company was a leading manufacturer of stainless steel streamlined passenger rolling stock for a number of railroads.

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 USA 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 a given train, and the Burlington wanted to avoid such charges. Because of the line's satisfaction with Budd's products they approached Budd seeking to find 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% more than previous commuter cars. To address the issue of the conductor collecting tickets without having to climb a set of stairs, the upper level was designed in such a way that its center portion was 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 for the increase in seating capacity. The unique design of the upper level's open center section led to the cars being called "Gallery" cars. With the design approved by the Burlington an order was submitted for 30 cars. These cars, built as Budd lot 9679-041, were delivered to the line 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 equipped 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 that approached Budd to design of 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. The two coaches 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 Hi-Level lounge cars are the only Hi-Level cars that remain in use by Amtrak.)

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 - 537), 25 72-seat Hi-Level coaches (delivered between January and April 1956 numbered 700 - 724), 6 60-seat bar - lounge - news stand which also had a 26-seat lounge in the lower level (delivered between May and June 1956) and 6 80-seat dining cars (delivered between June and August 1956 numbered 650 - 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 having some of the Hi-Level coaches being assigned to the Chicago - Galveston, Texas Texas Chief. An additional 12 step-down coaches, numbered 538 - 549, and 12 convertible coaches, numbered 725 - 736, which were ordered in November 1962 and delivered between December 1963 and April 1964.

Later Years
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 6 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 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. 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.

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 "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 USA, 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 & 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 by the PRR and the Department of Commerce's "Office of High-Speed Ground Transportation" to build the original Metroliner multiple unit coaches for luxury high-speed service on the Northeast Corridor. The 50 original Metroliners were delivered in 1968-69. An additional 11 Metroliner coaches were built for SEPTA, but were not put into service until the advent of 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, but ran at up to 100 mph when the PRR used them for Philadelphia-Harrisburg service. The Metroliner EMU cars operated at 110 to 125 mph but every car was tested up to at least 160 mph, although breakdowns in the system led Amtrak to derate them to 90 mph. 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.

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").

Transportation innovations
In 1930, the company made its first foray into the aviation industry by signing contracts to manufacture aircraft wheels and stainless steel wing ribs. Enea Bossi joined the company as the head of stainless steel research to supervise the design and construction of the 4-seat biplane amphibian aircraft Budd BB-1 Pioneer. It was the first aircraft with a structure built out of stainless steel. This was the first aircraft for the Budd Company, and it made its first flight in 1931. Built under Restricted License NR749, its design utilized concepts developed for the Savoia-Marchetti S-31 and was powered by a single 210 horsepower Kinner C-5 five-cylinder radial engine.

The stainless steel construction process for the BB-1 was patented in 1942. At the time, stainless steel was not considered practical; and only one BB-1 was built. It logged about 1,000 flying hours while touring the United States and Europe. In 1934, this plane was stripped of its fabric covering and its lower wing, and was mounted outside the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, where it remains to this day as the longest continuous display of any airplane. The plane has been memorialized in the children’s book Spirited Philadelphia Adventure by Deirdre Cimino.

During World War II, Budd designed and built the RB-1 Conestoga transport airplane for the United States Navy, using much stainless steel in place of aluminum. Only 25 were built but, after the war, 14 aircraft found their way to the fledgling Flying Tiger Line and provided a good start for that company.

In 1962, Budd produced a fully functional concept car, the XR-400, for evaluation by American Motors Corporation (AMC). It was designed to use AMC's existing chassis for the sporty-model market segment before the introduction of the Ford Mustang. The proposed car did not enter production.

An irony to the XR-400 story is that Budd tried to sell the idea to Ford first. In 1961, Budd combined a 1957 Ford Thunderbird body with a 1961 Ford Falcon chassis to produce a sporty convertible. When Ford turned them down, Budd shifted focus to AMC. Ford went on to base the Mustang on the Falcon chassis.

In 1965, Budd designed and manufactured a front disc brake system for Chrysler, Imperial and full-size Plymouth and Dodge automobiles, used (optionally) for the 1966-68 model years.

Final years of vehicle production
Budd built two series of "L" cars for the Chicago Transit Authority, the 2200 series (1969–1970). and the 2600 series (1981–1987). They also built the New York City Subway R32 (1964–1965), the first PATCO Speedline cars (1968-1969) and the Long Island Rail Road/Metro-North Railroad M-1/M-3 (1968–1973,1984–1986). The Baltimore Metro and Miami Metrorail cars (1983) were also built by Budd. Stainless steel rail cars were also built in Portugal by Sorefame, under license from Budd.

Amtrak's 492 Amfleet I and 150 Amfleet II cars were built by Budd from 1975 to 1978 and 1981 to 1983. The Metroliner-based Amfleet body was recycled for usage in the SPV-2000, a modernized diesel passenger car which was very problematic, saw only four buyers (Amtrak, ONCF, Metro-North and Connecticut Department of Transportation), and saw premature retirements within 15 years. The fallout from the SPV-2000 furthered the company's decline.

In 1978, as Budd began to phase out its railcar business to concentrate on the automotive industry, it was acquired by Thyssen AG, becoming its automotive division, Thyssen Automotive in Europe and Budd Thyssen Company in North America. The CTA 2600 series cars were finished in 1987, and were the last railcars to be built by Budd before its railcar business was shut down altogether that year.

In the mid-1980s, Budd reorganized its rail operations under the name Transit America, this name appearing on the builderplates of the Baltimore/Miami cars and Chicago's later order of 2600-series cars (but not the LIRR/MNCR M-3s). The new name did not save the company, and on April 3, 1987, Budd ended all railcar production at its Red Lion plant in Northeast Philadelphia and sold its rail designs to Bombardier Transportation. Many of its engineers joined the staff of the Philadelphia office of Louis T. Klauder and Associates, a local railway vehicles and systems engineering consulting firm.

Modern role in auto industry
When Thyssen merged with Krupp in 1999, Budd Thyssen became ThyssenKrupp Budd Co. in North America and ThyssenKrupp Automotive Systems GmbH in Europe. Late in 2006, its body and chassis operations were sold to Martinrea International Inc. The remaining portion of the original Budd company is now based in Troy, Michigan, and serves as a metal fabricator and major supplier of body components such as doors, fenders, roofs, hoods, and decklids in sheet metal as well as in sheet molded composite (SMC).

Numerous Budd-built railcars are preserved, either by museums or private owners, many of whom run them in charter service. Their quality of construction and elegant design have made them highly prized.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania has a number of Budd-built cars in its collection in Strasburg: The 1937 observation car built for the Reading Company "Crusader", a Lehigh Valley Railroad rail diesel car of 1951, a pair of 1958 "Pioneer III" cars for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and Pennsylvania Railroad 860, a Metroliner cafe-coach built in 1968.

The Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society in Bellefonte has two operational RDCs in its collection: #5718, built in 1953 for the New Haven Railroad, and #7001, built in 1961 for the Reading Railroad.

New York
A 1949 R11 (8013) and a 1964 R32 pair (3352-53) are in the New York Transit Museum fleet.

The Indiana Transportation Museum maintains a fleet of fourteen closed-window Budd coaches built for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Eight units are currently restored and are used in excursion service, including the Indiana State Fair Train. ITMZ also operates the Silver Salon as a head- end power car.

The Illinois Railway Museum is home to the Nebraska Zephyr articulated train, along with several Budd-built passenger cars. Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry has housed the Pioneer Zephyr since its retirement from service in 1960.

The Western Pacific Railroad Museum at Portola, California features several Budd-built cars from the California Zephyr, including dome lounge car "Silver Hostel" and diner "Silver Plate", as well as a Southern Pacific Budd sleeping car.

The St. Louis Museum of Transportation now owns former Zephyr diner "Silver Spoon" as well as the Budd-designed locomotive Silver Charger from the General Pershing Zephyr.

The National Railroad Museum at Entroncamento, Portugal features a pair of Budd cars built in 1940.

There are several Budd-built coaches, combines and buffet-diner cars running in the Buenos Aires-Mar del Plata corridor. They are run as a luxury service between the two cities during summer, when demand is highest. The coaches and combine are in their original condition, while the buffet-diner car had to be partially remodeled after a fire. They were originally purchased by the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad, but were sold before they could be used in revenue service. Currently, the train runs with one combine, three coaches and a buffet-diner car, pulled by either an EMD GT22 or an English Electric locomotive.

Wind power
In 1939, the Budd company designed and fabricated the stainless-steel skin for the blades of the Smith-Putnam wind turbine, the largest wind turbine in the world for forty years.

Industrial facilities
Budd, Co. operated from multiple industrial facilities in the Philadelphia, PA area. The company had a brick factory in Nicetown. An automobile parts factory on Hunting Park Avenue closed in 2002. The company moved its headquarters from Philadelphia to Troy, Michigan in 1972. By 2002, the company still operates 39 factories ~12,000 employees in North America.

See also:


Rail Passenger Cars

The stainless steel Budd-built Pioneer Zephyr.
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