R33 World's Fair (New York City Subway car)

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R33 World's Fair
Train of Many Colors 4 8 08 at 40 Lowery.jpg
R33WF 9306, in its original colors, leads the Train of Many Colors through 40 St – Lowery St on a <7> express run to Mets – Willets Point.
MTA NYC Subway R33WF 9306 interior.jpg
Interior of R33WF 9306
In service 1963-2001
Manufacturer St. Louis Car Company
Built at St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Constructed 1963
Entered service 1963
Refurbishment 1985
Scrapped 2001 (9321)
2010 (9339)
2013 (several cars)
Number built 40
Number in service (24 in work service)
Number preserved 4
Number scrapped 10
Fleet numbers 9306–9345
Capacity 44 (seated)
Operator(s) New York City Subway
Car body construction LAHT (Low Alloy High Tensile) steel
Car length 51.04 feet (15.56 m)
Width 8.75 feet (2,667 mm)
Height 11.86 feet (3,615 mm)
Doors 6
Weight 75,122 lb (34,075 kg)
Traction system Westinghouse XCA248E with Westinghouse (WH) 1447C
Auxiliaries Motor-generator and battery set (WH YX304E)
Electric system(s) 600 V DC Third rail
Current collection method Contact shoe
Braking system(s) WABCO, "SMEE" (electrodynamic)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The R33 World's Fair (R33 WF) was a New York City Subway car that was built in late 1963 by St Louis Car Company for the "A" Division before the 1964 New York World's Fair.


The R33 World's Fair cars were numbered 9306–9345. The cars were very similar to the R33s, save for differently shaped side windows (three-piece curved windows on the R33 World's Fair cars as opposed to three-sectioned rectangular windows on the R33s), and the fact that the R33 World's Fair cars were single cars with a cab at both ends. The cars were built as single cars to make 11-car trains with the R36 WF cars, which were built as two-car sets (pairs).[1]

Although the R33/36 World's Fair cars were later referred to as Redbirds, the cars were originally painted in a light turquoise blue and white upon delivery. This "Bluebird" paint color scheme was used until the mid-1970s when they were painted in the silver/blue MTA livery. Then they were painted a full white (roof, bonnets, sides were all painted white) from 1981 to 1982 to combat graffiti; since the white paint was a Teflon-based paint, the graffiti did not stick to it very well. The look was abandoned for the famous Redbird style. The Redbirds were painted between 1984 and 1989 to a deep maroon red body, black front bonnets and anti-climbers, and a silver roof.


The first R33 World's Fair cars were placed in service on the 7 train on September 26, 1963. The cars were solely assigned to the 7 (IRT Flushing Line) and were based out of Corona Yard.

The R33 World's Fair cars were rebuilt in-house in 1985 by the Coney Island Shop. However, they were not retrofitted with air conditioning system and instead retained their original Axiflow ceiling fans. For this reason, they were not used during the summer months due to poor air circulation or air flow and high humidity.


R33 WF 9309 at Corona Yard

In 1998, New York City Transit announced that it would phase out its Redbird cars - R26, R28, R29, R33 and R36 - with modern R142 and R142A cars. While the Redbirds on the IRT Main Line were beginning to be retired starting in early 2001, the 7 service was provided by R36WFs and R33WFs. In January 2002, a set of R62As arrived from the IRT mainline. As more R142s and R142As were delivered, R62As were gradually transferred from the 3 and 6 to the 7, in turn replacing the R36WFs. There were still many R36WFs the vast majority of Subway cars on the 7 in 2002, since delivery of the R142s and R142As was slow that year. However, by mid-2003 R33WF/R36WF trains were dwindling on the 7 service. Only a few sets were running by fall. The last car, 9309, made its final trip on November 3, 2003 on the 7 service with ten R36WF cars, marking the end of the Redbirds.

Four cars, 9306, which has been part of the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn since 1976 (the only R33 WF car to not be rebuilt, and still with the blue and white paint scheme), 9307, which is also part of the New York Transit Museum and was restored in 2017 for excursion service (and painted into the same scheme as 9306), 9310, which is also part of the transit museum and also restored in 2017 (and has retained its Redbird scheme since after its overhaul), and 9327, which is at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, have been preserved. All cars are in operational condition and run periodically.

Most other R33 World's Fair cars were converted to work motors in the early 2000s, and handle such tasks as providing traction for B-Division rail adhesion cars and refuse trains. The cars that were not converted were 9306 and 9327, which are preserved as heritage cars, and 9321, which was retired and reefed in 2001.

The number "1" was placed before the former number (i.e. car 9345 became 19345) of some cars. The work cars are based out of various yards around the system and handle such tasks as providing traction for A-Division rail adhesion cars and refuse trains, and hauling cars during car moves between different subway yards.

Recently, the remaining R33 World's Fair cars have been decommissioned as they experience structural or mechanical issues. Retirement started with the reefing of 9339 in 2010 after it suffered fire damage, then with the scrapping of a handful of cars in 2013 for parts to keep other IRT SMEE cars running, and most recently the sidelining of four cars in 2017, two of which were then preserved.

A detailed list of the statuses of the 40 R33 World's Fair cars is below, where bolded numbers indicate an active car (in work service):

See also[edit]


External links[edit]