Thursday, August 18, 2016

Golden Gate Depot's New "Harriman" Cars - Thoughts on the prototype cars

Golden Gate Depot

Recently, Sunset Models' affiliate Golden Gate Depot announced that they're taking reservations for a selection of "Harriman" arch roof to be imported and made in injection molded plastic.  This is great news for those of us that have been wanting to expand our SP fleets of passenger cars without going into budget brass or working with resin kits.  Not that I'm saying either of those two options are bad, but I know many people will like the ease of R-T-R plastic passenger cars!

I am not affiliated with Golden Gate Depot (GGD), but there's certainly been a big buzz about this project lately.  I've been asked repeatedly by various people what the prototype cars for the planned models were, where they're used, what they're painted like in various eras, etc.  I'm going to try to answer some of these questions...  I will put this disclaimer here, that I only know of what they're planning to do from their posts and a few emails.

So I'll assume based on the photos of the cars what classes they're planning to make, and then comment on those prototypes.  So, until we actually get the GGD models in our hot little hands this will have to do.

Paint Schemes


First a quick comment about paint schemes... GGD is taking reservations for a whole host of railroads to have these cars painted for.  I did some poking, at at least as far as I can tell UP didn't have any 70-Bs instead going with 69-Bs.  I also don't think they had any RPOs exactly like the 70-BP-30, although I don't have a lot of materials on the UP.  So let's look at the SP paint schemes that are offered.

One thing to remember is that general painting of SP heavyweight cars into TTG didn't start until 1954. - So basically any headend cars until 1954 (unless for special assignment) should be SP Dark Olive Green.  Some head-end cars did stay with "SOUTHERN PACIFIC LINES" on the letterboard until about 1951-1952.  The RPOs and other first class cars were repainted within about a year or two after the 1946 change to "SOUTHERN PACIFIC".

The coaches seem to have lasted longer in the pre-1946 scheme than almost any other type of car.  There are some pictures of a few cars in 1951-1952 still with SPL on the letterboard.  My guess is the cars freshly repainted just after WW2 in the SPL Scheme and then in late 1946 the new SP letterboard scheme was only applied to cars that hadn't been repainted yet.  This left those cars in the SPL scheme that had not been repainted to SP, started being repainted in 1954 to the TTG.  Also a good number of the non-A/C'd coaches that were mechanically shot were downgraded out of passenger service before the TTG scheme was introduced.  Many Dark Olive SP coaches and chair cars lasted until 1960 or so before being repainted into TTG or retired.

Remember that a good number of the coaches have lived on at various tourist railroads around the country.  I know of at least two people that are considering buying a few of these cars for their modern layout's tourist operations!  Some cars were also sold to various Mexican railroads over the years as well.

Let's look at what they're offering... (I will also be subbing in photos of models I've taken as examples of the classes of car I'm talking about.)


"Baggage 70 ft - Harriman" 70-B-series


SP 6444, a 70-B-1/9 from a Soho model

These look like the standard SP 70-B-1/9 series of cars.  There have been models made by Soho and several other brass manufactures of these cars, and also the beautiful resin model kits from Southern Car & Foundry, which you can see under construction on my blog pages here.

SP rostered a total of 75 70ft arch roof baggage cars in the 70-B-series.  The SP had 20 additional cars of similar design with Autodoors at the A-end of the car.  The T&NO rostered an additional 42 70-B-series cars and one 70-BA-class Baggage-Auto car.  This gives a combined total of 138 cars intermixed in the SP 6000-6500-series and the T&NO 100 & 600-series.  Many T&NO cars eventually made their way to the SP numbering system eventually.

Six 70-B-series cars were modified with streamlining, moved truck centers, changed roof profiles, etc for use on premier trains.  Two of these were painted for the San Joaquin Daylight in the early years, but quickly were moved to the Noon Daylight and then the Starlight.  The other two were for the Lark and then two more converted when the Cascade was started in 1950.  -  I would personally start with a SC&F baggage to do these cars, the same way I'm building the SP 5069 (RPO car) as I don't feel as bad cutting up an undecorated kit, rather than a R-T-R model with all the finished details to not destory.

This is a very SP signature car, and welcome.  Pairing a few of these with some MDC/Athearn 60ft Baggage cars would be a great start at an SP mail train from almost any Division of the SP.

"RPO 70ft - Harriman" 70-BP-30 (rebuilt)


SP 5148, a Soho 70-BP-30

The photos on GGD's announcement show a car in the 5145-5154-series, which were rebuild from 70-BP-15-3s between 1946 and 1951 to class 70-BP-30.  They're unique from the SP's other series of nearly identical 70-BP-30-3 class cars in that the 70-BP-30 cars had the closest windows on each side to the RPO door blanked out when converted to 30ft RPO Apartment cars.  This I don't believe would be an easy thing to change back.

The rest of the 70-BP-15-3s were being converted to Baggage-Express cars, and having the RPO apartment removed between 1941 and 1954.  Often this just meant the RPO lettering was painted over.

SP 5130, a 70-BP-30-1, along with other cars kept it's 4th RPO window into the 1960s.

The nearly identical class of SP 70-BP-30-1 SP 5129-5138 and 5161-5163 kept their 4th RPO window.

This isn't a bad RPO to choose, as each signature group of SP 70-BP-30-series cars were a little different, and there were never more than about 10 or so cars in any one group.  This class is a fairly good choice as it was used on many secondary passenger trains (Owl, etc) during the 1950s.

"Coaches 60ft - Harriman" (60-C-5, and later classes)

A Soho 60-C-5, SP 1005, as refitted in 1943 as a chair car with transom windows and end windows intact

According to the reply from Golden Gate Depot that I received last week, they said these will be 60-C-5 class cars.  This is good because about 40% of the SP's 60ft coaches were of this body style.  These cars had paired windows, originally under a transom window - but later painted over or plated over after WW2.  Check your photo collections and you'll see a few transom-window cars lasted until about 1952 with them intact or only painted over.  These were probably the "crumbiest" of all the 60-Cs that the SP didn't think were worth rebuilding and probably ended up in MW, caboose, or express rider pool within a few short years.  Follow my build of the SP 1005 (Part 1) here.

I've not seen any photos of cars with transom windows after about 1954 at the very latest.  I would say that any transom window car after about 1950 would be very rare.  Most by 1950 would look the like the 2178 shown below.

A Soho 60-C-9, SP 2178, with plated over windows and June 1946 lettering applied.

The following classes of 60-C-6, -7,-8,-9, & -10s had various changes to the roof, mainly changes in the type, location, and number of vents.  The first ten cars of class 60-C-6 had square "utlity" vents and the 60-C-7 cars returned to using "Globe" vents.  The later cars of class 60-C-6s and 60-C-8/9/10 had square vents.

Some 60-C-5s were down graded and renumbered into the 2800-series for use as express rider cars, some were also assigned to various Overnight LCL trains.  There's one nice photo of one marked for the Arizona Overnight out of LA.

Caboose SP 998 started as a MDC 60ft coach, which can stand-in for either a downgraded 60-C-3/4 or 60-CC-1.

Lastly, you could of course use them as the next lower rating of non-passenger service as a "CABOOSE".  About 20-30 cars were downgraded and patched as cabooses.  Some were fully repainted into Freight Car Red (FCR).

Here's a very weather beaten model of SP 973, a stand-in model using a modified MDC as a 60-C-5 used in local service.

The ultimate fall from grace were the 60-C-series cars that were downgraded to MOW service.  These were often repainted in the standard MW paint scheme of the era, either FCR (pre-1958), or light gray (post-1958).

Good models of SP 60-C-5 will be a nice addition to the selection of available models!  T&NO and NWP had a number of these cars as well.  Even if you're not modeling the San Fransisco Commute pool, these cars made up the backbone of SP's third rate mail train rider cars, any remaining branch line passenger service (Mexico! SPdeM, etc), they would also see use as express train messenger cars and Banana Messanger cars. - I will cover some of those trains in more detail at some point soon.

The 1910-1930s era modelers would be hard pressed if these cars do have plated over transoms.  Most SP modelers between 1940 and 1960 could probably find a use for this car somewhere on their layout if they have plated over transoms.  Modern modelers after 1960 could probably justify 1-4 of these in their tourist trap train behind some old diesel switcher, steam engine or GP.

"Lunch Car 60ft - Harriman" 60-C-3 & -4 ADL


Ken Kidder 60-C-3/4, showing what the ADL's were converted from.

The ADL's started life as 60-C-3 and -4s, such as this model of SP 1190.

Non-Kitchen side of 60-C-3/4 ADL coach - This is not changed from the standard 60-C-3/4s.

Kitchen side of 60-C-3/4 ADL coach.  Notice the far left window is modified with the standard diner kitchen window.

The photograph of the Golden Gate Depot CAD model on their advertisement suggests one of the 60-C-3/4 that was rebuild for All-Day-Lunch (ADL) service for coach passengers in certain trains.   The 60-C-3/4s differ from the 60-C-5s in that they have the longer "picture" windows, with one small window at one end and a pair of single windows at the other.  I am not clear on if they're doing the SP 10517 and SP 10518 that received A/C and were regularly assigned to the Suntan Specials in the San Fransisco-San Jose-Santa Cruz service - or if they're doing some of the non-A/C coach-ADLs that worked around the SP in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Many ex-ADL cars were converted back to coaches in the years between 1935 and 1937, some would keep a the ADL space and become News Agent Coaches.  Most of these without air conditioning.  There are some consist sheets calling out a News Agent Coach on the 1946 Pacific Limited between Ogden and Oakland, I don't know if those were air conditioned cars.  There were also a good number of A/D'd 60-CC-1s that were converted to News Agent cars during 1944 as well.

By the post-war (1947-1949) time frame, SP was upgrading the rest of their secondary trains on the main routes to full "CHAIR" cars with A/C and the more spacious seating.  The Owl (Nos. 57/58) consists show the coaches from the 1947 consists replaced by chair cars in the 1950 consist lists.  Usually this meant 44, 48, or a max of 64 seats per car, where as a coach of the same size would seat between 64-80 people with much less legroom!  News Agent Chair cars were regularly assigned to these secondary trains, which had A/C and Chair configurations.

This means that the coach ADLs were downgraded to News Agent/Coaches by this time, still basically serving cold sandwiches and soda drinks and coffee to coach-class passengers.  The question then becomes - "Where did the extra News Agent Coaches get assigned?"  I'm still looking into this, but it would appear that the non-Suntan assigned cars were back in the regular coach pool, perhaps in the Commute Pool around San Fransisco?

I am going to get one or two of these and see if I can back-convert it into a non-ADL 60-C-3/4.  Basically I think this will involved rebuilding one window where the SP installed a "Diner Kitchen" style high window, back to a standard coach-type window.  I'm not at all sure how this will go... I sense another blog about that in the future!

I would say these would so up after 1960 about the same way the 60-C-5 Coaches would, for your local tourist railroad behind steam and early diesel.  After all you got to have that on-board snack and memorabilia car selling stuff!

"Business Observation 60ft - Harriman" 60-O-1


SP "Redwood" NWP's Superintendent's car.  (model and photo by John Ruehle 2016, used with permission)

These would be 60-O-1s primarily build for the T&NO and rebuilt as Business cars for the Superintendents of certain divisions along the SP.  After rebuild these cars had a "home" and would usually not wander too far from that assignment.

The classic 60-O-1 that everyone thinks of is the Business Car "Redwood" assigned to the Northwestern Pacific.  This photo above is John Ruehle's lovely kitbashed and super detailed Soho model, photo used with permission.

In Closing


The second to the left most window is the higher "Kitchen" window, not completed in this photo is the mid-window bar.

I think it will be very interesting to see the GGD passenger cars, and I'm looking forward to seeing them in person!  I hope they'll fill a very much needed vacancy in many modeler's rosters.

As always, for more information on these cars I highly recommend looking into the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society's series of books on SP Passenger Cars, Vol.1-6.  Specifically for these cars Vol.1 Coaches, Vol.3 Head End, and Vol.6 Business cars.  I believe they've been sold out of Vol.1 for several years now.

I'll probably start referencing these cars in my consist posts for various trains.  Pairing these with Walthers HW Pullmans and MDC or SC&F 60ft baggages would be the foundations for some good lookin SP Heavyweight trains!

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