Empire Belt RR ALcos

Empire Belt RR ALcos
Custom Painted FA / FB Units

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Amtrak RPO 9988 Joins the Fleet

Greetings Blog Followers,

A large purchase of used trains from different eras was made New York Central Train Layout Management several weeks ago. This purchase has resulted in several cars, including the Center Beam Flats, G.B.W. Thrall All Door Boxcar, A.T.S.F. 50' Boxcar being added to the fleet. The next car from the box to be put into service is Amtrak RPO (Railway Post Office) #9988. The model is an Athearn Blue Box offering with the pointless arrow paint scheme. This model joins Amtrak RPO # 9987 in the Amtrak fleet.

The Model: As received the car had several issues. First was the common problem on BB kits, heavy rust on the weights, coupler box lids and axles. Cosmetically the car had several scratches, a severe scrape on it's side, a missing brake wheel and the wrong color trucks for this model.

 The Prototype: A search of various internet data bases did not reveal an Amtrak RPO similar to this specific car which is about 63' in scale length. RPO service ended for most railroads in the 1960s but continued on the Northeast Corridor up to 1977 via the Penn Central and Conrail. For additional information check this web discussion with links   http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=61159&p=666259

The RPO car has returned from the paint shop. The weights were wire bushed and spray painted flat black to inhibit further rust. The coupler box lids were wire bushed and sanded. Lids and trucks are painted in gray primer. The car has had it's roof and the large scrape left below arrow) repainted in silver. The entire car was then dull coated with Testor's Dullcote. 

 Note the trucks were painted with the old wheels and coupler lids in place. This keeps the pockets clean. These wheel sets will be discarded in favor of metal wheels.

The other side of the RPO car

The RPO has been reassembled using the original "glass" with teh addition of Kadee #5s and Proto 2000 36" metal wheels

"B" end shot showing new brake wheel.

"A" end

 Severe scrape is barely visible with repaint and roof top scratches are no more

The undercarriage showing the newly installed Proto 2000 36" wheel sets and Kadee #5 couplers. Note the wood shims on both sides on the car above the coupler pockets. The couplers were too high when compared to the Coupler Height Gauge. The shims put the coupler height dead on. An additional bonus with the shim is that this type of car with a Talgo mounted coupler is prone to have the coupler box tongue raise up when under the stress of a heavy train. The shim eliminates that problem as well. The shim is made from a thin wood stirrer. Styrene could be used as well but I have been using this method for 20 years and the thickness of the stirrer is usually right on the money for what is needed..

Since it was April 1st Conrail SW1500 #9513 was assigned to switch the car into the next outbound passenger train.


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