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Budd Company: Wikis


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

The Budd Company (now ThyssenKrupp Budd) is a metal fabricator and major supplier of body components to the automobile industry. The company's headquarters are in Troy, Michigan. It was founded in 1912 by Edward G. Budd, whose fame came from his company's invention of the 'shotweld' technique for joining pieces of stainless steel without damaging its anti-corrosion properties.


An automotive pioneer

In 1916, Budd built one of the first steel car bodies, for Dodge.[1] They held an interest in Pressed Steel Company (Cowley, England), which built bodies for Morris Motors, 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, Dagenham, England).[2] 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.

In 1940, Budd developed the now-ubiquitous "unibody" method of assembling vehicles, first used by Nash Motors. 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.

In 1978, as Budd began to phase out its railcar business to concentrate on the automotive industry, it was acquired by Thyssen AG,[3] becoming its automotive division, Thyssen Automotive in Europe and Budd Thyssen Company in North America.[4] 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.[5]

A railroad legend

The first Budd passenger railcar, the Lafayette, in 1932.

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 or high-level cars for the Santa Fe's El Capitan and Super Chief passenger trains, which became the prototypes for the Amtrak Superliner cars of the 1980s. 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, 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 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.

Train in one car

A Budd M1 train on the Long Island Rail Road.

In 1949, Budd introduced the Rail Diesel Car or 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 and Australia and Saudi Arabia. In the 1960s, Budd built the Pioneer III electric m.u. coach for intercity travel. Six were bought by the former Pennsylvania Railroad, but in 1966, these were replaced with 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 m.u. coaches for service on the Northeast Corridor, but these have been either retired or de-powered and used as cab cars. The "Silverliner II" cars, now slated to be retired starting in 2010 with the new ROTEM-built "Silverliner V" models, have 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 m.u. cars operated at 110 to 125 mph (201 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 m.u. coaches as cab-coaches on various services.

Almond Joys

In the center is Amtrak Amfleet traincar 20138, built by Budd Company.

In 1960, Budd manufactured the first stainless steel production subway cars for Philadelphia's Market-Frankford Line. Two hundred and seventy M-3 cars were jointly owned by the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Transportation Company (now Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). These cars were nicknamed "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 in 1997-99 and some cars were transferred to the Norristown High Speed Line. 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.[8] This was the first aircraft for the Budd Company, and it made its first flight in 1931.[9]. Built under Restricted License NR749,[10] 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.[11]

The stainless steel construction process for the BB-1 was patented in 1942.[12] 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.[10] The plane has been memorialized in the children’s book Spirited Philadelphia Adventure by Deirdre Cimino.[13][14]

During World War II, Budd designed and built the RB-1 transport airplane for the U.S. 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.

There is an irony to the XR-400 story. 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 1966, Budd designed and manufactured a front disc brake system for Chrysler and Imperial automobiles, used for the 1967 and 1968 model years.

Final years

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

Budd built two series of "L" cars for the Chicago Transit Authority, the 2200s (1969–1970). and the 2600s (1981–1987). Budd also built SEPTA Silverliner II (1963), New York City Subway R32 (1964–1965), the first PATCO Speedline cars (1968), Long Island Rail Road/Metro-North Railroad M-1/M-3 (1968–1973,1984–1986) and M-2 (1972–1977), NJ Transit Arrow II (1974–1975), and NJ Transit Arrow III (1977–1978). The Baltimore Metro and Miami Metrorail cars (1983) were also built by Budd.

Amtrak's 492 Amfleet I and 150 Amfleet II cars were built by Budd in 1975–77 and 1981–83. The 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 the early 1980s, Budd reorganized its rail operations under the name TransitAmerica, 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 in April 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.


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, Pennsylvania: The 1937 observation car built for the Reading Company "Crusader", 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 Indiana Transportation Museum maintains a fleet of fourteen closed-window Budd coaches built originally for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Eight units are currently restored. These coaches 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.


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.


There are several Budd-built coaches, combines and buffet-diner cars running in the Buenos Aires-Mar del Plata corridor. These 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. These cars were originally purchased by the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad, but before they could be used in revenue service, they were sold. Currently, the train runs with one combine, three coaches and a buffet-diner car, pulled by either a 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.

See also


  1. ^ Georgano, G. N. 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.
  2. ^ Georgano.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ R-11 Datasheet
  7. ^ NY Times March 24, 2007
  8. ^ photo
  9. ^ Photo of airframe outside Franklin Institute
  10. ^ 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.  
  11. ^ "Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields - Pennsylvania". Paul Freeman. Retrieved 2007-12-07.  
  12. ^ "Patent 2,425,498 – “Airplane”". United States Patent Office. 1942-07-18. Retrieved 2008-02-18.  
  13. ^ Cimino, Deirdre (2000). Spirited Philadelphia Adventure. Junior League of Philadelphia. ISBN 0-9626-9591-2.  
  14. ^ Grosser, Morton (1981). Gossamer Odyssey: The Triumph of Human-Powered Flight. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-7603-2051-9.  
  • R-11 Datasheet
  • "A Museum Quality Car for a Subway Yet Unbuilt" NY Times March 24, 2007


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