Saturday, September 17, 2016

SP 2436, (Part1) an 77-C-3 - Upgrading an Athearn-Genesis Chair car

Marker Lights, Video, and Athearn-Genesis Chair Cars


Tonight we'll be looking at a fairly easy upgrade to an Athearn Genesis 77-C-3 streamlined chair car.  Athearn-Genesis has released this class of car in several runs over the last 7 or so years in multiple paint schemes.

OwlMtModels #10002 - Pyle Gyralite Marker installation video - Links below.

I will also be trying a new blog feature on the installation of the OwlMtModels lit Gyralite Tailgate Marker kit, which is I'll try filming the installation on this car.  I also filmed the process of installing the window shades.

I'm interested in feedback about the video.  I know it's the first time I've done a video of model building.  I need to get a small tripod and I'm sure all the serious video and audio people will be complaining.  Most of my blogs will stay text and photos, but I might do short video clips again to show certain techniques or assembly steps that photos don't show the process well.

Class History

SP 2436 with window shades and Gyralite Marker installed.

In 1937, Southern Pacific ordered an immediate follow-on class to the first batch of single-unit chair cars for the Daylight (77-C-1) and the Sunbeam/Huster (77-C-2), which was the 15 cars of class 77-C-3.  I am not going to extensive depth on all of the swapping around of each of these cars between 1937 and 1950, needless to say, SP always was short on LW chair cars and kept them hopping.

The 77-C-3 cars were ordered to start upgrading the Challenger and the Californian with "Lightweight" streamlined cars.  These cars were painted in SP's Dark Olive Green, which was the SP's standard 'General Service' Color until late 1949-1950, when it was changed so these cars could also protect the 'Daylight Pool'.

The Challenger-assigned cars also received the "Challenger" script logo on the plaque at the car center.  The Californian-assigned cars had a smaller plaque than the Daylight cars and only had the car's reporting marks.

SP 2438 was the first car wrecked only a year old in 1938 at the head-on wreck at Tortuga, the SP 2427 went to the T&NO in 1942, so the we'll be following the 13 remaining cars.

Paint Modifications to the SP 2436

Here you can see the missing A/C cover - will be reattached later

I was asked to do some upgrades on a Dark Olive Green 77-C-3 for a customer.  The model from Athearn comes with pre-1946 "Southern Pacific Lines" lettering.  The customer wants it modeled as one of the few cars that survived the war and into the June 1946 scheme, still in green paint with the new lettering scheme.  This is the first change to be done on the SP 2436.

I masked off the windows and reshot the carbody with StarBrand Dark Olive Green.  New decals are ThinFilm 160.  I chose the SP 2436, because it was - as far as I can tell - one of the last SP General Service Green cars.  SP 2433 was another.

Interior Modifications


The customer also wanted one of the OwlMtModels #10002 Gyralite Marker Tailgates installed for end-of-train service.  SP's standard practice was to run the last car of a train with the vestibule to the rear, this was true even if the car was built to normally operate vestibule forward. (SP 2492 and 2493 were built vestibule-rear for service on the San Joaquin Daylight as rear cars.)  On the SP 2436, this means that I need to change the seating for the car to operate in the other direction.  On the Athearn models this is pretty easy.

End plate of car and side interface - SP 2436, Athearn Genesis 77-C-3

Open the car by gently prying the ends of the car away from the frame where they tab-lock in.  Then again, carefully pry the sides and the skirts over the underframe.  The Green and Daylight cars are harder to do this with, because they have full skirting.  Also the SP 2436 has very fine etchings covering some of the A/C gear under the car, these are not well mounted to the car and popped of regularly with this model.  -  In the final assembly stages of this model, I plan to try some other adhesives to solve this issue.

Athearn-Genesis 77-C-3 Interior, Vestibule to the right in this view

The interior of the car is very well done with anti-mascara headrests, and a very nice lighting system that's not too bright.  The inside of the windows and isle windows are missing several things.  I find that models that have window shades, even in their up position, make the car look many times better.  Also the small extra detail of the isle window safety bars also make the interior of the car "pop".   The window shades for these "modern" chair cars should be of the reflectorized material.  The interior side was matched to the decor of the car's interior, but the outside was always silver.

Making the new window shade's is not hard.  I use either 3x5 card stock or paper, spray painted silver/aluminum.  For this car I used Tamiya Gloss Aluminum spray paint.  Cut the material in a saw tooth shape with the ends of each horizontal section falling at the window columns of the car side.

I mount these window shades with small pieces of Tamiya masking tape, this also allows easy changing of the shades later if desired and doesn't cause any fogging of the window glass.

The seats were easy enough to pop out of their mounting pegs and reverse.  On the real cars, this was just as easy because each pair of seats was mounted on a pivot, which could be unlocked and allow the pair of seats to rotate so the passengers could look out the windows, or all the way around to face the other direction.

Installing the Marker Light - Video Instructions and Rambling


In Part 1 - Assembly (about 16 minutes), I show how to put the Pyle Gyralite together on the tailgate with the LED, soldering the dropping resistor on and some basic discussions of what should be done before installation


In Part 2 - Installation in Athearn-Genesis 77-C-3 Chair Car (About 17.5 minutes) I go though a step-by-step on how to mount the tailgate marker assembly in the chair car and hook up to the Athearn car's existing lighting system

Additional Information on Markers

Owl Mountain Models makes a detailing kit with a standard scissor safety gate on which the SP and several other railroads would hang a Pyle Gyralite housing and plug into the car's electrical system.  These lights would be used in addition or instead of the old Adlake Marker Lanterns that would be mounted on the corner-post brackets.  MSRP for the OwlMtModels 10002 kit is $9.95 for a pair of markers, enough for two cars.  The pickups from the track on this kit is left to the modeler to work out as there are so many ways manufacturers build their cars.

These Markers began replacing the standard side-mount Adlake Lanterns, possibly as early as 1950-1951, with the changing of the SP Rulebooks over the years to provide for "Electric Markers" and also "Built-In Electric Markers" on the streamlined observation cars from as early as 1937.

One of the main reasons why I use them, even on cars slightly earlier than the photographs show, is that they can be put on any car in a passenger car consist, including cars that I might wish to operate mid-train.  The light from the LED marker will be between the diaphragms, not running into anything, and hidden from all normal viewing angles.  Lighting-Only decoders can also be installed in the cars if I desire to have the Gyralite strobing "Signal Light" effect working, or I could turn the marker off.

Extinguishing the electric markers was required in the rules if the marker could not be turned to display 'Green' to the rear for other trains when not on the main track.  So in short, if you go into a siding, you should turn the marker light off.

OwlMtModels Gyralite and Tailgate castings painted. LEDs and 1k Ohm Dropping Resistors not shown.

The kit has a pair of injection molded sprues with the Gyralite housing and the scissor gates, two red mini-LEDs, and a pair of 1k Ohm dropping resistors for operation on 12-14V DCC/DC track power.  If the modeler desires the "Gyralite" effects of the light in full operation (which was optional on the real lights) a lighting only decoder or DC lighting module can easily be added.  On this car, I am only doing the light as "on".

Here's a full-size 1:1 scale Pyle Gyralite, obviously one off an SP engine in post-1958 Scarlet Red

First, I use my sprue cutters to separate the Gyralite housings half of the sprue from the tailgate section of the sprue for painting.  The Gyralites will be silver on this model.  I have heard from various SP employees that they were also Daylight Red (Daylight trains) or Armor Yellow (Overland route) for specific train assignments.  I believe they also had Scarlett Red on them after 1958, if the particular housing was stolen from a diesel and not repainted.


The scissor gates were painted the same color as the interior of the vestibule or the end color of the car, if it was on the blind-end of the car.  Because the SP 2436 will be running "backwards" with the vestibule on the rear, I should paint it the vestibule interior color... On the Athearn model this is problematic, because the floor is the Seafoam Green of the interior of the car, but the Vestibule wall is Dark Olive Green.... I had the Dark Olive Green paint out at that time, so painted it that color.

The Gyralite housing was reamed quickly with a No.50 drill to clear any flashing from the LED hole.  The LED's contacts were bent back to the rear of the LED.  Then the LED was slipped into the housing.  I keep the small silver Cathode mark on the back of the LED on the right side of the housing, when looking at the back.  I do this just so I can easily tell which way the polarity needs to be for DC operation if I want to set a car up for that.  In DCC, it doesn't really matter.

The LED protrudes slightly from the back of the tailgate and there is a pocket on the tailgate to accept the back of the LED.  The contacts on the back of the LED slide through the tailgate and either into the carbody or into the vestibule on a car, depending which end of the car the marker is being mounted.

With the tailgate assembled, the resistor and LED were tinned and the resistor is soldered to one of the LED contacts.  Again, the LED only works with the polarity one way, and as a diode it blocks electric current from flowing backwards through the LED.  In my experience with these LEDs, there is not enough potential across the LED to cause it to fail because of the back current.  In other words, it's safe without using a diode bridge to rectify the DCC (AC) current.

Very Important - Always use a "dropping" resistor of at least 600 Ohms to limit the voltage and amps across the LED.  I would suggest if using a lighting-only decoder on DCC to possibly go as low as 600 Ohms for a more intense "Pop" at the high cycle of the Gyralite effect.  For normal "Only On" operation, the provided 1k Ohm dropping resistors are fine.  I have tested the LEDs with as high as 5-6k Ohm resistors, and they still light with a dull red glow.  The 1k Ohm seems to be a very happy medium and looks good in layout operation as well.

Interior of the 77-C-3, stock Athearn-Genesis painted - the power pickup wipers can be seen at the far light green bulkhead.

I removed the car end (easily done, as it's press-fit only), so that I can more easily work on installing the tailgate and marker.  I soldered some TCS #1219 32-gage wire to the resistor and the other LED contact to connect to the Athearn-Genesis roof lighting strip.  The truck power comes up through two metal contact wipers at each end of the car.  Actually the inboard interior wall of the men's and women's "dressing rooms" right to the ends of the main seating area's light strip.  I removed the lighting strip by unscrewing two Phillip head screws, so that I could more easily solder everything together.

The vertical side strips of the gate were modified to fit the Athearn Genesis 77-C-3 and were removed to narrow the gate.  Once the gate can fit into the opening at the end of the car, I glued it in place with Tamiya liquid plastic glue.

As the roof lighting strip contacts will be full track Voltage, I soldered into the light strip at that point, keeping the wiring up in the roof.  I reinstalled the car end and the lighting strip with the two mounting screws and pressed the car end back in place on the body shell.

Clip-leading to my power supply, simulating track power, I tested the LED marker to be sure it was working.

Closing Thoughts on V-Blogging


OwlMtModels Marker kit installed on a Cascade TTG 77-C-3, by Athearn Genesis
I'm going to wrap up SP 2436, Part 1, here.

Comment what you think about the videos, if they're helpful, etc.  I know I didn't use the best camera or have the greatest setup either.  I'm not sure how much, if any, more video footage I will use on this blog in the future.  The uploading and editing these two less-than 20 minute videos took over two days.  I might consider it for special projects, where still photos don't really get across what I'm doing.

I do have some footage of the window shades going into the SP 2436 for a Part 3 video, if there's interest in the community.  That will be in SP 2436 (Part 2) when it's ready.

Jason Hill

1 comment:

  1. Well done Jason. It's always easier to learn how to do something when you can visually watch it being done. Keep up the excellent modeling.

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