Custom Painted P-2000 units

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Here Come The Pullmans!

Greetings All,

Here Come The Pullmans! Several Pullman cars have arrived on the layout this past month. Let's take a look and see what models were purchased, how they'll fit into my passenger operations and some prototype information.

For those new to model railroading and prototype railroading George Mortimer Pullman, born in upstate New York in 1831 started the Pullman, Kinsey and Randolph Sleeping Car Company in 1866 to counter control of the sleeping car service in the South by the Southern Transportation Company. Well after George Pullman's death the company continued to flourish and prosper. The Pullman Company and later Pullman Standard through shrewd business dealing and maneuvers established a monopoly in the sleeping car business. Over 100 years later, in 1947, under court order the Pullman Company was sold to fifty nine railroads. An amazing story in it's own right. For more info click here

A Pullman car in NYC colors

Here is a Pullman Standard Troop Sleeper. During World War II a unique series of troop sleepers and kitchen cars based on a 50' boxcar design were rushed into service in 1943. With the end of the war in 1945 and the resulting demobilization the cars were soon declared surplus and offered for sale. Affordably priced, they required only minor modification for use as 50' boxcars. Since they were equipped for high speed passenger service they could easily be converted to other roles. Many were remodeled with plated over windows and vents, new side doors and fresh paint. In service they handled baggage, stored mail and express shipments. Many led long lives well into the late 1960s.

Here is converted Troop Sleeper, now New York Central Express Car 9503, being shoved into Empire City Station's Track 1 under the watchful eyes of Empire City's leading rail fans. The model is from the Walthers Proto line.

Next is a Pullman 8-1-2 Sleeper. In response to the public demand for more privacy Pullman unveiled the 8-1-2 Sleeper in 1927. Budget minded travelers could choose an upper or lower berth among the eight sections. For those willing to spend more, two enclosed compartments were available with upper and lower beds and their own sink and toilet. For maximum space ( and cost) a passenger could reserve the drawing room, which included all the furnishings of a compartment and a sofa. The three rooms were side by side; small doors could be opened between them to provide a suite if desired.

During the Depression many of these cars were upgraded with air conditioning to attract riders back to the rails. While lightweight stream liners caught the public's eye after World War II, production delays, declining ridership and increasing costs led many roads to repaint and remodel heavyweights to match the newer cars. Many soldiered on through t the end of passenger service and were rebuilt into M.O.W. sleepers.

This Walthers model is based on the 242 cars built to Pullman plan #3979-A between 1928 and 1930. The model represents cars modernized in the 1930s with mechanical air conditioning, some of which remained in service into the early 1960s. The model comes with a decal sheet of appropriate car names that can be added by the modeler.

Pullman 8-1-2 Sleeper car at Empire City Station.  

Pullman 10-1-2 Sleeper. During the 1920 the popularity of the compartments and drawing rooms was increasing with rail passengers. Pullman and most railroads still favored open section cars which carried more passengers and generated more revenue per trip. As a result the 10-1-2 became one of Pullman's most common heavy weight cars, equipped with 10 sections, 2 compartments and a single drawing room.

Pullman 10-1-2 Sleeper at EC station. The Walthers model is based on Pullman plan #3585, Lot #4728. This car is typical of a car upgraded with A/C. Some these cars lasted into the 1960s.

The backbone of the Pullman fleet was the 12-1 Sleeper. Carrying 27 passenger for maximum profit these cars also offered the most affordable accommodations with upper and lower berths in each section. This car is based on Pullman plan 3410-A and represents a typical car updated with A/C. With other minor improvements cars of this type remained in service into the 1960s.

Pullman 12-1 Sleeper at Empire City Station.

The new Pullman Heavyweights roll into Empire City Station behind an E8A and some lightweight coaches.
Note the New York Central lightweight Pullman 4-4-2 Sleeper bringing up the markers.

Many of the Pullman heavyweights in the New York Central pool scheme were sold to the NYC in 1948 and leased back to Pullman until 1956 thru 58. At this time many of these cars appear to have been sold back to Pullman. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ertle Gondolas upgraded

Greeting All,

Last blog entry we looked at an old Roundhouse shake the box kit CB&Q 50' exterior braced double door auto boxcar. We covered the build and some easy upgrades. One of the things that was discussed was the relative sturdiness of the cars of this era. Yes the details were molded on but to me the cars looked great, ran well and withstood handling.

This week let's take a look at a not so well known very detailed freight car manufacturer / distributor Ertl Collectibles from the late 1990s. Ertl Collectibles introduced HO scale structures, vehicles, rolling stock and freight car loads starting around 1997. The freight cars were well detailed with separately applied grab irons, full brake rigging, knuckle couplers and weathering. Around this time I purchased two 40' low side gondolas. One in Virginian livery and the other in A.C.L livery. Out of the box the cars were beautiful. The only issue I had was I needed to trim back some of the brake linkage to accommodate the 18" radius curves I had on the first layout.

For more on Ertl read here:

Fast forward fifteen plus years, two new layouts, a long distance move and the Ertl gons (or goons if you follow the KP&W) were showing their age and a lot of wear and tear. Most of the stirrups had broken off and many of the grab irons were now missing. Another issue with the gons was that they rolled like sleds. So what's a modeler to do. Ignore the issues, put em back in the box or get them to the workbench for repair. With temps in the high 90s here some time in the cool basement with a repair project was the option I chose.

First up I fabricated replacement stirrups using some standard staplers and a needle nose pliers. I popped out the original broken pieces of the original plastic stirrups and using a #78 drill bit in a pin vise enlarged the holes slightly. The new metal stirrups were installed and secured with CA.

Next I replaced the grab irons using Tichy Train Group 18" drop style metal grab irons. These were also held in place with a touch of CA. Both the grab irons and stirrups were brush painted with the appropriate color acrylic paints.

Lastly I addressed the grungy wheels and rolling issues. First I thoroughly cleaned off the wheels using 91% rubbing alcohol. With the dirt build up now gone I placed the cars on a graded section of the layout. The car rolled about three feet. I went back to the work bench, removed the trucks and popped out the wheel sets. Noticing a lot of white plastic residue on the wheel face and axles I cleaned off the wheels and the axle holes in the trucks. Then I put a small drop of light oil into each axle hole on the trucks. The wheel sets were replaced and the car tested again. To my surprise there was absolutely no measurable improvement.

I had wanted to keep the original ribbed back wheels because I thought they looked good and that's why I devoted the time to getting them clean. My next plan was to ream out the trucks a bit to see if this would help as it has on many other models. However, prior to doing that I decided to test a car with a four axle set of Intermountain 33" metal wheels. So I replaced the trucks and placed the car back on the graded section. The car free rolled over twenty feet. A seventeen foot improvement! And it sounded good doing it. So off to the local hobby shop I went and the gons were upgraded with metal wheels. Unfortunately Intermountain does not make ribbed back wheel sets so I'll keep these wheels on the gons. I might try some P-2000 ribbed back metal wheel sets but in all honesty I have not been happy lately with the quality of this product. Kadee offers 33" ribbed back metal wheel sets so that may be an option going forward. Right now I am ecstatic on how well these cars look and roll.

The bottom of the Virginian gondola. Note the wheel crud on the left and the clean wheels on the right. The A.C.L. car in the rear of the photo has had it's couplers changed as evidenced by the 2-56 screw holding the cover plate in place.

Plastic residue abounds on the wheels and axles. The new stirrups and grab irons are in and have been brush painted with acrylic paint. 2-56 screws now hold the coupler cover plate in place. 

Intermountain metal wheel sets to the left, original ribbed back plastic wheels to the right. The huge rolling improvement of the Intermountain wheel sets has lead to the replacement of the origional plastic wheels. 

1/87th Scale Sir Neal Himself along with 1/87th scale PC Ralph and some other 1/87th scale rail fans have found a nice spot to watch the testing of the gons (or goons) while also keeping an eye on out for any mainline action. 

A NYC SW8 with the with the upgraded Ertl  gondolas waits for a clear signal on track 1. This track leads to the lower level of the peninsula portion of the layout. I also use it to test the free rolling capabilities of my rolling stock and pulling power of my motive power.

A close up of the gondolas. I am glad to have them back to being good looking cars and very happy with the wheel upgrades.

The gondolas free roll test

For all intents and purposes this project is now completed. Some deck weathering is likely going forward. I'll keep my eyes open for ribbed back metal wheel sets but it's not a priority at the moment. The cars roll better than they ever had in the past. The original Ertl ribbed back wheels may end up as a gondola or flat car load in the future or find their way onto a car of the appropriate era.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

CB&Q 50' Double Door Auto Boxcar #46662

Greetings Everyone,

Last week I was at my local hobby shop, Trainmaster Models in Buford, Georgia for my annual supply run. It seems I run low on HO scale parts like Kadee 209 and 210 washers, couplers, replacement metal wheel sets etc about this time every year. So while filling my carry basket I perused the vast selection of available models. Looking for an inexpensive kit that I could build in the cool of the basement on a another hot August day I came across an old Roundhouse Products kit  #7868, a CB&Q 50' Exterior Post Double Door Auto Boxcar for the cost of $7.00. Perfect! Seeing I have some 50' steel double door auto boxcars already in the fleet I thought this would be a nice addition.

Some prototype info; Before the big enclosed auto racks that we see today and the open auto racks of the more recent past railroads hauled automobiles in boxcars well into the 1950's. Starting with a 40' double door design in the 1930's many of these cars featured Evans racks that folded up so the cars could be used for purposes other than automobiles. The railroads graduated to the 50' double door design with an auto loading door at one end. These doors made it easier to load autos on one end but were a mixed blessing. Since the car had the auto loader door on only one end a lot of switching was required to orient it correctly. (good or bad for model railroad operations?). The door apparently became a maintenance headache and many of them were just welded shut. Many of these specialized cars had the words AUTOMOBILE stenciled in white on their right side doors.

Here is a link to a CB&Q 46000 series single sheathed double door boxcar photographed in 1968.

A 1916 NYC 40' double door boxcar

A steel NYC 64000 series car

Here is the kit with the Kadee #5s and Intermountain metal wheel sets that I plan to use. The car is a 50' double door exterior braced car with wood sides purportedly built 8/1937. This will fit in nicely with my Proto 2000 50' auto boxcar fleet. 

The parts bag has been opened and the contents of the box are spread out here. The Roundhouse kits offered a perfect coupler box with a screw on lid. The weight shows no rust. The parts list and instructions are present which is always good. Note the Auto doors on the end of the boxcar. 

The parts bag with trucks, wheel sets, brake parts, screws and the old horn hook couplers that came with almost every HO scale model of this period.

Unfortunately the fish belly detail, part 21005 was not present anywhere in the box. The instruction sheet recommends contacting the factory for any missing or replacement parts. That's going to be hard to do as they are no longer in business having been bought out by Athearn. So I'll just make a simple fish belly detail using two wood craft strips with a thin strip of styrene sandwiched in between. The whole thing fits snugly in the slots in the under frame and is secured with CA. The fish belly could not be omitted as it provides needed structural stability to the floor.  

The brake components have been installed along with the new fish belly detail. The steel weight is attached with silicone adhesive. Everything has been painted rattle can flat black. The Kadee #5s were then installed along with the metal wheels sets. The trucks have been dry brushed with burn umber.

Several coats of Testor's Dullcote later CB&Q 46662 is now ready for service.With the addition of the metal wheels sets and fish belly detail the car weighs in at 4.5 oz. Perfect according to NMRA recommended practices for a 50' car. 

 The brake wheel was painted rattle can brown. 
Not a perfect match but close enough and better than the black.

The auto loading doors. 
With the metal wheel sets the car achieved a 19' free roll on grade at left.

A close up of CB&Q 46662. Note the fish belly detail cannot be readily seen. The Intermountain metal wheel sets have been brush painted with burnt umber acrylic paint. 

Fellow modeler and Model Railroad Miscellany blogger John Bruce posted an Accurail vs Walthers 40' AAR Boxcars blog entry on August 13, 2015 which is excellent and does a nice cost comparison between the two. The Accurail car being a kit much like this Roundhouse kit and the Walthers car being a ready to run model. In addition John showcases some of his own upgrades to both cars.

Read it here:

I'll follow up John's post with the cost of this project:
Roundhouse boxcar:   $7.00
Kadee #s                   $2.05                    
Metal wheels              $3.00
Total:                        $12.05

A current check for this exact car (CB&Q 46662) on ebay shows many available for purchase for about $11.00 plus $6.00 shipping cost. Using that cost the car would come out at a price of $22.05

All told it took about 90 minutes to get this car from box to layout. Not bad for a decent rugged car that will give a lifetime of fine performance. As John B pointed out in his blog post molded on detail is not a detriment to a good model and can be the preferred choice for those who operate their trains. Not having to worry about breaking all the finely detailed separately applied parts during handling is not a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New York Central System vs Pennsylvania Railroad Throw Down. Round 3

Greetings All,

This week we'll showcase the New York Central System's 20th Century Limited versus the Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited in round 3 of the NYC vs PRR Throw Down. A disclaimer before we begin. The amount of information available for both trains is staggering. Each has legions of die hard fans and each has been well examined, researched, documented, cataloged, photographed, painted etc. Both were subjects of major motion pictures. You get the picture. So I'll just present some factual tidbits and an overview of each. Links are available for further reading.

20th Century Limited
Inaugurated June 2, 1902
Discontinued December 3, 1967

Train # 25  All Pullman New York (Grand Central Terminal) to Chicago (LaSalle Street Station)
Train # 26  All Pullman Chicago (LaSalle Street) to New York (Grand Central Terminal)

For most rail fans the 1938 streamlining of the NYC 20th Century Limited and adversary Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited brought these two flagships to the pinnacles of their careers. Little known is that the project was a joint effort of the NYC, PRR, the Pullman Company and Pullman-Standard. The cars for both the 20th Century Ltd and Broadway Ltd were ordered as a group for cost saving reasons. NYC ordered a total of sixty two cars, enough for four Century train sets. The train often operated in multiple sections to accommodate demand. Interior designs of the cars varied greatly as both railroads hired different designers.

The Central once again hired Henry Dreyfuss who rendered this latest edition of the Century, stunning, sophisticated and stylish beyond anything that had been done to date on any railroad. The 1938 century was a train without peer, from it's rakish Dreyfuss streamlined Hudson to its mid train double diners (transformed after dinner into Cafe' Century, an elegant night club with piped in music) to it's city themed observation lounge cars.

A Dreyfuss 4-6-4 Hudson leads the 1938 20th Century Limited

The red carpet treatment at Grand Central Terminal

The 20th Century Limited at LaSalle Street Station with a pair of E7s

New York central Promotional Film from 1935

Press Releases from 1938

Additional Information

Modeling the 20th Century Limited in HO scale

In 1946 the A.T.S.F. and N.Y.C. offered run through coast to coast service so passengers would not have to change trains at Chicago. A.T.S.F. sleepers ran east bound on the 20th Century and N.Y.C. sleepers ran west bound on the Chief.

Pennsylvania Railroad
Broadway Limited

Inaugurated November 14, 1912
Discontinued September 10, 1995

Train #29 All Pullman New York (Pennsylvania Station) to Chicago (Union Station)
Train #28 All Pullman Chicago (Union Station) to New York (Pennsylvania Station)

The Broadway Limited started it's life originally called the Pennsylvania Special on June 2, 1902. It was renamed in November 1914 to avoid confusion with another PRR passenger train, the Pennsylvania Ltd. The name conferred to the broad way of the PRR's four track mains not the street in Manhattan, although it is spelled the same. In the heavyweight era the Broadway was an all sleeper car train with no coach service. It was the only PRR train to get new light weight sleeper cars prior to World War II. In 1949 the Broadway was once again re-equipped with new streamline equipment including a twin unit dining car, a mid train lounge car and squared off observation cars. 

The all Pullman sleeper Broadway Limited was the last of it's kind outlasting the 20th Century Ltd and Panama Ltd until it was merged with the Three Rivers in December 1967. The Broadway would last thru the Penn Central merger as train 48 and 49 and well into the Amtrak takeover. On September 10, 1995 the Broadway was discontinued due to significant funding problems.

PRR's iconic S1 6-4-4-6 locomotive leads the Broadway Limited
An older advertisement for the Broadway Limited

An A-B-A trio of E7s leads the Broadway Limited.

Additional Information

                            20th Century Limited                      Broadway Limited
Schedule Times;                                       16 hours                                     16 hours
Longevity                                                 65 years                                     83 years  
Profitability                                            Often sold out                          Often lightly patronized
                                                         Second sections needed          Faced discontinuance before WWII

The Judges Scoring
Both trains catered to the wealthy and elite. But I think the 20th Century Limited was the train of choice for most of the wealthy and elite as evidenced by the need for advance sections of the train. The 20th Century Limited reached iconic status. The Broadway looks to be seen as a worthy competitor but not really in the same class. Maybe this was due to marketing. Maybe it was the "Water Level Route" but the 20th Century Limited is known as a world class train. Perhaps one of the finest in the world ever. That is tough to beat. So for this round I give the nod to the 20th Century Limited. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Freight Car Additions

Greetings Blog Followers,

The latest modeling projects to report on are two new freight car additions. Both were part of a three boxcar purchase from fellow modeler Booby G from as he finished up his HO scale divestiture in his changing to O scale.

First up is New Haven 40 boxcar #36761. A Branchline kit in the catchy black body with orange door paint scheme. This makes five of the these cars on the roster and all are from different manufacturers. Bobby had already built the car so all that was left for me was to brush off some dust and repair the doors which came loose during shipping. Anyone who's built these kits knows that attaching the door to these cars is no easy feat. I also removed the press pin coupler box lids and press pins used to secure the trucks to the bolsters. I drilled out the holes and substituted 2-56 screws. After confirming the coupler heights were correct with my Kadee coupler height gauge the 36761 was ready for assignment.

NH#36761 leads his four brothers and some cousins towards North Side Yard. Power is a pair of old Athearn BB NH F7As that I refurbished a few years back. Putting the new car in this position is a good way to test it for reliability. Oh and the NH never had any F7s. The only F units they rostered were FL9s.    

I removed and resprayed the doors with orange rattle can spray paint. I made this fastening device from a left over sprue and some styrene. Everything was attached with Plastruct Bondene. This method eliminated any chance of glue smears on the outer shell and doors.   

Next up is an Accurail undecorated 40' double door boxcar. This car came molded in black plastic. I soaked it overnight in 91% alcohol and then gave it a good rinse with cool water. I then let it air dry for a day or two. During this time I mulled over what color to paint it and / or what road name I should letter it. NYC was a definite maybe. Have two already on roster, one brown one mercury green. Penn Central? Maybe. APRR? Hmm. Since I was in a New Haven state of mind I figured I could spray the car orange and add a black roof so it would look at home with the rest of my NH rolling stock. Hmm. The paint scheme would be a homage to the cars original owner Bobby G and 1-1 Sir Neal Himself is a New Haven fan so I'm sure he would certainly like this as well. So that's the story on how this car came to life.
Accurail 40' Double Door Boxcar painted in rattle can orange

The body has been masked off and the roof is ready for spraying

The colors have been applied. Now it's time to letter

AP 82794 is now on the roster and in revenue service. The decals are courtesy of 1-1 Scale Sir Neal and were made by Rail Graphics. The N.Y.C.T.L. Paint Shop  is a duly licensed and authorized painter for the Atlantic Pacific Rail Road. 2-56 screws were used to secure the coupler box covers and trucks to the bolsters on this car as well. For more on that phase of the project check out this link

The three car purchase from  Bobby G.

AP 82794 sits between two New Haven boxcars and blends in quite nicely. Note the circular lettering on the 50' NH boxcar to the right. PS HYDRO FRAME. The car to the right of the 50 footer is a NH track cleaning car from Walthers. The NYC 40' double door boxcar behind AP 82794 is one of the Accurail cars mentioned earlier.  

Bringing up the markers is the pride of my New Haven Caboose Fleet NH C691. This caboose was a surprise Christmas gift to me from Bobby G who gift wrapped it and sent it with some other items I purchased from him last December. It's an Athearn RTR model and it is sweet! Thanks again Bobby!