Budd Company

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Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company
The Budd manufacturing facility in Philadelphia
Location 2450 W. Hunting Park Ave., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Area 70 acres (28 ha)
Built 1917
Architect Giffels & Vallet, Inc.; Albert Kahn & Associates
Architectural style 20th Century Industrial
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 07001328[1]
Added to NRHP December 27, 2007

The Budd Company was a metal fabricator and major supplier of body components to the automobile industry, and was formerly a manufacturer of stainless steel passenger rail cars during the 20th century.

It 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.


First all-steel sedan
by Edward G Budd Manufacturing Company of Philadelphia for John and Horace Dodge[2]

Edward G Budd developed the first all-steel automobile bodies, his first big supporters were the Dodge brothers. Following discussions between them 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.[2][3] 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).[4] 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.[5]


Passenger cars[edit]

Pioneer Zephyr

From the 1930s until 1987, the Budd Company was a leading manufacturer of stainless steel streamlined passenger rolling stock for a number of railroads. After briefly dabbling with French Michelin rubber-tired technology, they built the Pioneer Zephyr for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1934, and hundreds of streamlined lightweight stainless steel passenger cars for new trains in the USA in the 1930s and 1940s.

In 1949, Budd built ten prototype stainless steel R11 subway cars for the New York Board of Transportation;[6] these were intended for the Second Avenue Subway.[7]

In the 1950s Budd built a set of two-story Hi-Level cars for the Santa Fe's El Capitan passenger train, which became the prototypes for the Amtrak Superliner cars first built in 1978. Budd also built two-story gallery passenger cars for Chicago-area commuter service on the Milwaukee Road, Burlington Route, and Rock Island lines during the 1960s and 1970s; most of these cars are still in service on today's Metra routes.

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.

The Budd company logo on the builder's plate in a Metro North M-3 railcar.

Budd-patented processes and designs were also used in 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.

Budd also issued a licence to Commonwealth Engineering (Comeng) in Sydney Australia where Budds stainless steel technology was used between the late 50's and 1988 to build a variety of projects including the famous Monocoque self steer Gosford Double Decker Interurban 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. A complete history of Budd's influence in Australia is detailed in John Dunn's set of books entitled A History of Commonwealth Engineering, available in year groupings from 1921.

Rail Diesel Car[edit]

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, and Saudi Arabia.

Electric Multiple-Unit Cars[edit]

A Budd M1 train on the Long Island Rail Road.

In the 1960s, Budd built the Pioneer III electric multiple unit (EMU) coach for intercity travel. Six were bought by the former Pennsylvania Railroad, but in 1963 they were supplanted by the Silverliner II cars, which used an improved Pioneer III body for Philadelphia-area commuter rail service on the PRR and Reading Company lines. Budd was contracted to build the original Metroliner multiple unit coaches for service on the Northeast Corridor, but these 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 (140 km/h), but ran at up to 100 mph (160 km/h) when the PRR used them for Philadelphia-Harrisburg service. The Metroliner EMU cars operated at 110 to 125 mph (201 km/h) but can run at up to 150 mph (240 km/h), although breakdowns in the system led Amtrak to derate them to 90 mph (140 km/h), despite the advertised speed of 150 mph (240 km/h) achieved by Amtrak's TGV-based Acela service. Since their retirement from regular service, Amtrak has used the Metroliner EMU coaches as cab-coaches on various services.[8]

Subway cars[edit]

Budd M-3 "Almond Joys" on the Market-Frankford Line in 1978.

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").[9]

Transportation innovations[edit]


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.[10] This was the first aircraft for the Budd Company, and it made its first flight in 1931.[11] Built under Restricted License NR749,[12] its design utilized concepts developed for the Savoia-Marchetti S-31 and was powered by a single 210 horsepower (160 kW) Kinner C-5 five-cylinder radial engine.[13]

The stainless steel construction process for the BB-1 was patented in 1942.[14] 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.[12] The plane has been memorialized in the children’s book Spirited Philadelphia Adventure by Deirdre Cimino.[15][16]

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.[citation needed]

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[edit]

A Budd-built Baltimore Metro Subway train
A Budd train built by Mafersa in São Paulo Metro

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) 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 licence 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 SPV2000, a modernized diesel passenger car which was very problematic, saw only three buyers (Amtrak, Metro-North and Connecticut Department of Transportation), and saw premature retirements within 15 years. The fallout from the SPV2000 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,[17] becoming its automotive division, Thyssen Automotive in Europe and Budd Thyssen Company in North America.[18] 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[edit]

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.[19] 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).[20]


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.[21]


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. [22]


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 remodelled 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[edit]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ a b page 106, George A Oliver, A History of Coachbuilding, Cassell, London, 1962
  3. ^ G.N. Georgano Cars: Early and Vintage, 1886-1930. (London: Grange-Universal, 1985). Often credited as "first", others such as BSA were doing the same in this period.
  4. ^ G.N. Georgano.
  5. ^ "Budd Company History". squarebirds.org. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  6. ^ R-11 Datasheet
  7. ^ NY Times March 24, 2007
  8. ^ "Introduction". budd-rdc.org. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Budd Company". mauspfeil.net. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  10. ^ http://www.airfields-freeman.com/PA/Budd_Pioneer_50s.jpg photo
  11. ^ Photo of airframe outside Franklin Institute
  12. ^ a b Peter M. Bowers (1999-10-01). "Italian amphib: "Savoia-Marchetti S-56 was tough plane to manage on the water"". General Aviation News. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  13. ^ "Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Pennsylvania - Northeastern Philadelphia area". Paul Freeman. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  14. ^ "Patent 2,425,498 – "Airplane"". United States Patent Office. 1942-07-18. Retrieved 2008-02-18. 
  15. ^ Cimino, Deirdre (2000). Spirited Philadelphia Adventure. Junior League of Philadelphia. ISBN 0-9626959-1-2. 
  16. ^ Grosser, Morton (1981). Gossamer Odyssey: The Triumph of Human-Powered Flight. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-7603-2051-9. 
  17. ^ http://www.thyssenkrupp.com/en/konzern/geschichte_chronik_t1978.html
  18. ^ http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/The-Budd-Company-Company-History.html
  19. ^ http://www.americanmachinist.com/304/News/Article/False/38615/
  20. ^ http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Budd+to+Build+New+$50+Million+Automotive+Chassis+Component+Plant-a019193900
  21. ^ "who used Budd bodies?". jalopyjournal.com. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society. "Rolling Stock". Retrieved 9 October 2013. 


  • R-11 Datasheet
  • "A Museum Quality Car for a Subway Yet Unbuilt" NY Times, March 24, 2007

External links[edit]