Friday, July 8, 2016

SP 1050 Coach (Part1) - Modeling SP HW Coach & Chair Cars

In this post I want to start talking about SP's vast fleet of chair and coach type passenger cars.  I will be covering many of the cars covered in the general historical overview in more detail as I work on modeling those classes of cars.

History of SP Coach & Chair cars

SP 2312, a 64-seat 72-C-2 as it appeared after conversion to a Chair Car in the 1930s with Ice Air-Conditioning

When most of us model railroaders and modelers here the phrase "Southern Pacific" combined with "Coach" or "Chair Car" we immediately think of the arch-roof 60ft "Harriman" cars of 1909 and the 72ft cars of 1924-1926.  They then assume that because those visually unique cars are associated so heavily with SP and UP that the railroads didn't buy and acquire other clerestory cars by 1930.

Let's have a look at the options for modeling an easy and common SP clerestory coach and chair car.  First a quick description of what a coach is and what makes a chair car different.

Coaches were often built as economy seating passenger cars.  Think 737 sardine commuter jet!  In a 70ft car (SP never counted the vestibules) they were seating 80 people and still had the corners of the car for toilets and wash stands.  Each of these small rooms was usually about the size of a phone booth!  The washrooms had frosted glass windows, which makes them easy to spot from the outside of a car.

Chair cars were built with more leg room and fewer seats.  Usually the seats were also nicer and more comfortable.  Often, in later years, the improved "Deluxe" Chair cars had better women's and men's dressing rooms with the "annex" (toilet compartment) off of the dressing room.  The women's dressing room usually had mirrors and chairs for fixing makeup, etc.

The Prototype Cars

The SP's early common standard coaches and chair cars were clerestory wooden cars.  This model was kitbashed from an MDC "Palace" car.

SPMW 490, an ex-wood coach from the 1890s

The first steel passenger car the SP had was the 1806, built conveniently in 1906!  With the coming of all-steel passenger cars the standard design of the Harriman road cars shifted to having their unique arch-roof.

SP 2810, ex-SP 1806, built from KenKidder model with 3D Printed vents

The SP 1806 was the only car in 60-C-1 class, followed by the SP 1845 as the only car in 60-C-2.

SP 10512, rebuilt into an ADL from SP 1838, a 60-C-4 class coach

The SP and UP then ordered several hundred cars in 60-C-3 and 60-C-4 classes following the basic design of SP 1845.

SP 2701, a 60-CC-1 chair car from Model Power 67ft coach

The SP and UP also ordered 52 new Chair Cars with fewer seats for premier assignments.  These cars were modified in various ways over the years for other assignments.  Some remained unmodified, such as SP 2701.  I cover modeling in the SP 2701 (Part 1) & (Part 2).  The following 60-CC-2 and -3 Chair Car classes followed the 60-C-5 window style below.

SP 1005, 60-C-5 refitted as a chair car in 1943 for the war.

After the 60-C-3 and -4 class coaches, the Harriman Associated lines then ordered a change in the windows for the following classes (60-C-5 thru -10) to have paired windows with a small column between each pair.  I cover a 60-C-5 class coach covered in SP 1005 (Part 1) & TNO 777 (Part 2).

Clerestory Coaches

The SP's oldest steel clerestory cars came with the purchase of the El Paso Southwestern in November 1924.  I will only mention the cars that lasted past 1940 and into my modeling era of 1952.  Several of the 70ft cars were transfered and rebuilt as business cars, and a few 60ft cars as well, but that's another discussion entirely!

SP 1050, an Ex-EPSW 70ft partitioned coach

The seven 70ft ex-EPSW coaches of particular interest are SP 1048, 1049, 1050, 1051, 1055 and 1056.  All of these cars had 80 seats, all four corner rooms contained toilets or wash stands.  All of the cars had high-set bathroom windows.  SP 1048-1951 had full-height windows while the 1055 and 1056 had the remains of their transom windows, which lowered the tops of the windows above the seating section.  The cars with the full-height windows are easier to model, so we'll focus on the 1048-1051 here.  1048-1051 also had the taller doors where the letter board ended at the door frame and did not continue over the vestibule doorway.

The Basic Model

Out-of-box Walthers Paired Window Coach painted for CNW

Over the years there are varying levels of stand-in models for these cars.  Right now I think the best option (besides brass) is Walthers Paired Window Coach.  The model has the correct number of paired windows, 80 seats, washrooms, etc.

Interior view of stock Paired Window Coach

One problem is that the models have "wide" roof clerestories.  I am not going to rebuilt the model with the earlier "narrow"style ones, because trying to get the a narrow roof (not made by Walthers) to snap easily into the Walthers body "core" isn't an easy task.  In side view most people aren't going to notice this.

Walthers stock SP/UP Two-Tone Gray painted car with lettering removed.

Walthers has sold these models painted in Southern Pacific two-tone gray (TTG), however this color scheme was not common before the SP ordered it to be the standard scheme for all HW cars in 1954.  Even for many years after 1954 most of these cars were not repainted.  As I'm modeling between 1948 and 1952/53 I will not be wanting a TTG coach/chair car.

So for me I will get whatever paint scheme I can get these models in.  In 2014/2015 these cars became very hard to find.  I snatched up as many as I could find when I did.  This should lead to several articles using these cars as a starting point.  Currently (July 2016) they're shown on Walther's website as expected back in-stock Sept 30, 2016, so hopefully more will be available soon!

SP 1051, 70-C, Ex-EPSW - A first attempt

My first try at an Ex-EPSW coach, SP 5051 from about 2006

My model of SP 1051 started as a Walthers TTG 'Overland' pool UP coach in around 2006/07.  From what data was available to me at the time I decalled it as the SP 1051, which as far as I knew was a good number according to my SPH&TS 1933 passenger car drawing and roster.  

My only passenger reference book from 1996 until 2009 for HW SP Passenger cars

I should mention that the drawings in the book gave a roughly copied side and floor plan view of many classes of car.  I was able to tell that these cars should be clerestory and have roughly the right layout of floor plan.  That's all we had at the time.
Back then I was still painting my HW cars with Floquin Pullman Green, which I know many of you are right now flinching as you know that is not the right color!  I also used MicroScale decals which had a un-extended style of lettering for "SOUTHERN PACIFIC" for the letter board.  I put the "CHAIR" decals next to the vestibule doors on the ends of the letter board and I was happy.
Then I took the "finished" car down to the La Mesa Club and realized there was a problem...

SP 2906 in original Floquil "Pullman Green" (bottom) and SP 5130 in StarBrand "SP Dark Olive Green" (top)

All of the club's fleet of SP HW cars was painted with a custom mix that was VERY close to the SP's Dark Olive Green.  I tried to hide the fact that the cars painted with Floquil were not the right color with weathering, but coaches and "nicer" cars that regularly saw the wash racks would likely not accumulate much repeated trip weathering, so I couldn't do much with the weathering.  The SP 1051 remained in service for over 10 years in the original Floquil colors.

SP 1051 coach as I originally finished it with weathering to "fade" the look of the Floquil's wrong color.

StarBrand makes a VERY good SP Dark Olive Green, which looks much more like an "warmer" brown Olive Drab military paint than Floquil's much lighter "cooler" green color on their "Pullman Green".  I go into more detail on my blog page about the SP's Dark Olive Green.

(Sigh)...  So what to do?  At that time I didn't know StarBrand made their accurate paint.  I had a good supply of MS decals, but couldn't afford the accurate ThinFilm Decal. I gave the car some weathering and did my best, hoping no one would notice. The powers that be at the club were nice enough not to complain about it too much. I still knew it was wrong and it looked weird every time I saw it next to the rest of the fleet.

This paint matching issue was a constant problem from the time I joined the club in 1996 until about 2011/12 when I really started getting into getting the correct color and lettering on my passenger car fleet... but we'll get to that part of the story soon enough. The club operations needed the car. It became the regular rider coach for Nos.55 & 56, the Tehachapi Mail, until a better car came along so I could repaint the 1051... and get it right this time!

The SP Historical & Technical Society comes to the rescue! - Sort of...

In 2012 I was able to get a set of the SPH&TS books on the SP Passenger Cars.  The first volume in the series is specifically on Coaches and Chair cars.  The book goes into exquisite detail about the history and service life of most of the SP's passenger cars.  Definitely THE definitive books on the topic.  However currently it is out of print and not available on the SPHTS website here.

The definitive book on SP's Coaches and Chair Cars

Looking more closely at the records of SP 1051, it was rebuilt with Ice A/C in April 1936, remaining an 80-seat coach.  The upgrades were for planned assignment to the HW Apache.  Well, that's more information that I had from the 1933 roster!  Flipping through the book and finding on page 201 a 1937 floor plan shows it had an interior divider three window pairs west of the east wall of the seating area wall.  This would have been for segregated service in the southern states.

Further reading about the 1051 showed that it was interior was reconfigured to a 64-seat chair car configuration.  A drawing from 1956 shows this arrangement, but reading mentions that the SP 1051 specifically was rebuilt as a chair car in 1953.  Well this is just towards the end of my modeling era.  I'd prefer a car that I can slide the era forward and back within my era time frame, so let's look at another car in the same series.

Because of the upgrades that SP did in the 1930s, most of my coach/chair cars that are over 70 feet long have to be chair cars.  I would kind of like at least one of these 70 foot cars to be a coach.  Having a bit of variety in my fleet of cars will allow me to do lots of different train consists, as I will talk about in future posts. (Edit: Consists like the SD&AE 262/263 connection to the Argonaut and Californian which used the ex-EPSW coaches.)

A New Deal?

Well, so while 1051 would be perfectly acceptable and I'm rather torn about changing the number, I believe I will.  Additional reading in the same paragraph the book says that the 1049, 1050, and 1056 were reconfigured as chair cars in 1956 and the 1055 in 1954.  I have not firmly decided as of July 2016 which car I will do, but I'm heavily leaning towards the 1050, so we'll call it that from now on in this post.

For those of you starting a new project, this is where you want to start reading!  First I disassembled the car, removing the roof, trucks, and underframe.  I plan to keep the black roof and underframe the way they are, but the paint on the carsides and ends has to go.  Also the decals on the model could cause the new paint to wrinkle, which would be horrible.  I removed the windows from the model so they won't be attacked by any of the laquer paint that's going to be getting stripped off.

I start stripping the Floquil and clear coats with Testor's Easy Lift Off (ELO).  After about 10-20 minutes I start scrubbing with an old tooth brush at the paint and decals.  The paint comes off well, but the decals are being more of a pain.  About 3 more cycles were needed to get the Microsetted decals to come off.  I will mention here that a factory painted car's lettering should come off easier as it's pad-printed on.

Ex-SP 1051 ready for new paint!

After the old paint was removed, I washed the car throughly and ran in about 20 minutes in an ultrasonic cleaning bath with water and some light dish soap, then a good rinse in the sink with regular water.  Be sure if you have hard water that you don't get any scale on the models or you'll have some unexpected "salt weathering" on your model!

Ex-SP 1051 cleaned and prepped for repainting

I put some paper towels rolled up inside the carbody so the airbrushing doesn't get on the interior walls of the car.  The paint I prefer using these days is StarBrand Dark Olive Green, which is a laquer and is best airbrushed on to the model.  Thinning is about 50% with thinner and depending how hot and dry it is up here in the Nevada desert I may put a few drops of retarder in.  If you're painting, you'll need to learn how to get your paint to work in the atmospheric conditions you have.
The Interior Wall

Since I had the interior of the car out, I marked on the floor of the interior where the new dividing wall would need to be.  I have an extra vestibule bulkhead for Walthers HW cars due to another incident which will be the focus of another post at some point.  I trimmed off the bottom part, accounting for the thickness of the interior floor height.

Overall top view of SP 1050 with partition added

The seats on each side of where the wall needs to go were removed.  These seats will need to be remounted as "ridged" seats with their backs against the new wall.  I glued in the wall with ACC superglue and then using Tamiya liquid plastic glue remounted the seats in their new configuration.

Detailed view of new partition installed in SP 1050

One of the seat rows I had to rearrange was notched to fit around some of the "finger clips" that Walthers designed to hold the carsides to the core of the car.  The seats were fitted around the notch in the floor so everything would fit again after reassembly.

What's Still To Do?

SP 1050 after repainting with StarBrand SP Dark Olive Green, July 2016

The SP 1050 is painted and decalled with the windows still removed.  Once the model is sealed with clear coating the windows will be reinstalled.

SP 1050 after application of ThinFilm Decals, August 2016.

The interior still needs to be finished with window shades and lighting and so I will leave that for SP 1050 (Part 2).  The prototype car had exterior A/C ducting with conical tapered ends stopping over the bolsters of the car.  These are going to have to be scratch built, which will be a little awkward... errr.. challenging to do.  So that will be in SP 1050 (Part 3).  

In the next part of Modeling SP Clerestory Coach & Chair Cars,  I will be showing some of the other, more involved, classes of cars that can be kitbashed from Walthers Paired Window Coaches.

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