Friday, September 2, 2016

Modeling SP 2701, a 60-CC-1, from a Model Power coach (Part 1)

Model Power many years ago produced a "Harriman" 67ft Coach with arch-roof.  These cars are still a good stand-in for several classes of cars.  I'll be covering the options of how to use the MP Coach as a stand-in for both the SP's 60-CC-1 Chairs and 60-C-3/4 Coach class cars.

SP 2701, 60-CC-1, modeled as it appeared in Oakland during March 1953 with a stand-in Model Power 67ft coach.

The cars were 60 feet long over the "Endsills" which were the inside of the doors.  The vestibules, doors, steps, and end sheets of the cars were never counted in SP and UP Common Standard Designs. Only the usable floor space inside the car was counted and used for the Common Standard class.  This is why the Model Power car shows a length of 67 feet, is they're counting the length to the end-sheets of the model, over the doors.

Here's a cheap Ebay grab for more MDC kitbashing fodder!  I usually cut them up for other projects.

Model Die Casting (MDC/Athearn) 60 foot coaches are not correct in that they're measuring over the 60ft body length, not frame length, so these models are 7 feet too short!

Prototype Car History

SP's first two 60ft steel coaches, SP 1806 and SP 1845 were built in July 1906 and July 1909 and assigned to class 60-C-1 and 60-C-2 respectfully.  These cars continued the SP's wooden coach design of a single 29.25" window at the "West" end of the car, then eight 4'3.5" windows in the middle of the car, followed by two 29.25" windows on the "East" end of the car.

SP 2810, ex-1806, the first steel passenger car on the SP.  Also the only 60-C-1, became 2810 in 1953 for express service.

The next two classes of Common Standard coaches (60-C-3 and 60-C-4) were built to the same standards as the 60-C-2.  These car orders totalled 219 cars for the Pacific Lines and 35 (60-C-4) for the Texas Lines.

SP 2310, an example of the later 60-C-5 through -10 class cars.

Following 60-C-series Coaches for the SP were of paired window design and will be covered later.

The 60-CC-1 Chair Cars were built in 5 lots of cars starting in 1909 for the IC and UP.  The SP's 52 cars were in the fourth lot, Lot 3840, delivered between November 1911 and April 1912.  These were in two number series on the SP roster.  SP 2500-2530 (31-cars) and CP 2700-2720 (21-cars).

The 60-CC-1s had 9 large windows with 12.25" columns between them and only single smaller windows at the ends of the car.  SP's following classes of 60-CC's were of paired-window style construction, not the picture-window style of the 60-CC-1s, and will not be covered here.

Model Power 67ft Coach part way through rebuilding as a 'stand-in' 60-CC-1 as SP 2701.

The MP car is actually a couple of feet longer than the KenKidder (SP 2810) or Soho (SP 2310) cars shown above.  This is one reason I try to number my odd-ball "stand-in" cars as other than 'general service' cars where you'd be seeing them next to more correct models.  I'll cover modeling the SP 2810, ex-1806, in another post in more detail.

Getting Started

The main issue with both the MP and MDC models is that the manufactures basically mixed the dimensions of the windows and columns between the 60-C and 60-CC class cars.  This results in the MP car having no room for the second single window at the East end of the car if it was to be a 60-C-3/4 and only 8 large windows if it was to be a 60-CC-1.

Because the look of the car appears to be more of a 60-CC-1 without the second East end window, I've elected to number my stand-in model as one of these, ignoring the missing 9th large window.

Starting with the Model Power car out of the box, I disassemble the whole car into its basic parts.  A very long screw-boss extends from the center roof of the car through the interior, weight, and underframe to hold the car together.  It also is visible in the interior of the car, through the windows.  I don't care for this 'feature' at all.  So one of the first things I do is cut that out.  This leaves a hole in the center of the floor.  There are also several other holes in the floor, just inboard of where the trucks bolsters will mount.  Again, I'm not too worried about those at this time.  Later interior and underframe construction will cover those.

The window glass comes out and the trucks pop out of the rudimentary underframe, leaving the body and roof.  Model power cars are what I consider a "budget" model.  These should be able to be found on Ebay for maybe $10 at a good price.  Swapmeets are the other good place to get them.  Perhaps estate sales at your local hobby shop.


Once the car is stripped down to basic components, I tried to strip the "US ARMY" lettering off the model, this has some success, but I was also trying to avoid getting into the poor quality plastic carbody.  Old Rivarossi HW cars, such as their 12-1s and ATSF Diners and Cafe-Observations have this problem too.  The old Model Power paint hopefully will help protect it somewhat from the lacquer StarBrand Dark Olive paint.

I painted the body pretty early in the rebuilding as there wasn't a lot to change on the body.  I decided on this stand-in model not to replace the grab irons.  The steps would be black, so I left those off until painting of the body was done.  The roof as well would have the vents repositioned and then painted off-black, so those would wait as well.

The body was painted StarBrand SP Dark Olive and then gloss coated for decalling.  I chose to model SP 2701 as an interesting car to model because of it keeping the "SOUTHERN PACIFIC LINES" lettering into the 1950s.  See page 58 of SP Passenger Cars Vol1., published by the SPH&TS, for a nice view of the SP 2701 in Oakland on March 16, 1952 by W.C. Whittaker.

The SP 2701 is also interesting in that it didn't get air-conditioning, and kept the lettering as "CHAIR" under the reporting marks into the 1952 photo.  Most SP Chair cars were upgraded to "Deluxe Chair" during the period between 1936 and 1941 for service on premier and higher rated secondary trains like the Owl and West Coast.  The seating in the 2701 still looks like it has the nicer seating with head-rests, so it would appear that the SP 2701 is still internally a non-A/C'd chair car.  Also it did not warrant get repainted after the June 1946 change in lettering until at least March 1952.

I plan to use this car in various assignments, anything from a rider car on a special Pullman movement to a rider on an SP Mail & Express train.  It could even show up on a regular mail train (Nos.55/56, the old "Tehachapi" Mail for example) in place of a standard non-A/C coach.  The non-A/C'd chair cars were defiantly in a weird place in terms of assignments after WW2.  I could also see them being assigned other 3rd rate passenger trains and locals, such as the Rogue River, Shasta, Suntan Specials, and other short haul trains that wouldn't rate getting nicer A/C'd coaches or chair cars.

Mechanical Changes

The partly rebuilt underbody showing the basic mechanical changes.  (Left to Right: weight, bolster & frame, steps)

I started with the mechanical changes to the car.  Once painted, I glued in the end steps from a cut up MDC coach.  These were cut off about 18" inside the endsill of the car, so it would 'key' into the sides of the car for a good joint.  ACC-gap filling glue was used for this, as the plastic wasn't a tight friction fit.  The joint at the endsheets to the end of the underframe sections was also glued at this time.  The floor of the car is pretty high, as the original Model Power underframe encased a steel weight above it.  I scrapped the steel weight.

After weighing the parts of the car with the Walthers (920-2124 - think that's the current number) Pullman 8ft 4-wheel trucks that will be used, I get a rough idea of how much the model will need to weigh.  I use the La Mesa Model Railroad - Car Weight Standards chart for this.  - "A 70ft car of non-metal construction should weigh 6.25 oz. if it rolls on a 1.5% grade."  Checking against the weight for the same car if metal construction shows it could be as high as 8 or 9oz.

This is worth checking because as a passenger car, it might be run with other 'heavy' brass cars.  The lighter car should be ok, however with diaphragms the cars are actually in sprung, physical contact with eachother.  Plastic cars in those situations I've found need to weigh a bit more than the standard "Non-Metal" car weight.  The 1.5% grade figure is pretty easy to get with the Walthers trucks and being sure to lightly dress the bearings with an axle reamer.

A new sheet lead weight is cut to bring the car up to a weight of 6.9 oz without the interior parts or underbody detailing.  This weight is 1/8" sheet lead, 1.3" wide (just fitting between the lower side sheets of the model), and 4.25" long.  In this configuration the weight fits cleanly between the wheelsets of the trucks.

Kadee 0.015" Washer and coupler box installed.  The car sits low, so I don't want the weight over the trucks.

The next step is to layout the centersill of the car.  I use 0.250"x0.150" styrene strip for this.  The strips extend from the inside edge of the MDC frame ends to the weights in the center of the car.  I stopped the frames on this car short of the large holes in the MP floor.  That will be easier to cover later if I don't have frame bits in the way.

Top view of Walthers (920-2124) Pullman 8ft 4-wheel truck with styrene block added for standard 2-56 bolster mounting

Bolster Center marks are scribed into the floor a scale 45' apart, or 1.625" in from the end of the car, over the door frame.  Standard center punch, drilling and tapping for 2-56 truck bolster screw is done and a Kadee 0.015" fiber washer is added to the bottom of the bolster to provide a good pivot and bearing surface away from the styrene strip frame.  The trucks are modifed with a 0.115" thick block of styrene to adapt it to using a 2-56 screw.

The wheels have also been regauged and axle reamed lightly to ensure they can roll easily.  ACC used to secure the wheels on the axles after regauging.

Bottom view of Walthers 8ft 4-wheel truck with styrene bolster block added.

I will go over more about that trucks when I get into the lighting and interior.

Diaphragms & Couplers

End detailing was mostly limited to installing the Hi-Tech Diaphragms - ideally use Common Standard or Western Short diaphragms.  The diaphragms were a bit too tall to fit solely on the car end, so I went with a styrene extension to the end of the car.  This was a 0.550" long piece of 0.135"x 0.030" strip styrene (Evergreen) ACC'd above the end of the car to catch the upper leaf spring of the diaphragm.

Diaphragm installed with upper support of styrene to "catch" the upper leaf spring.

The couplers were mounted next in my standard method of finding the right coupled length.  This is done by mounting the coupler after the diaphragm and using the inside of the pulling face of coupler to set the distance back from the end of the car.  Then drilling and mounting the coupler box with a 2-56 screw.

Slightly more of a side view of the Diaphragms and coupler.

I usually mount the Hi-Tech diaphragms with the leaf springs "legs" or body mounting side a bit (about 0.03 or 0.04") closer together than the instructions call for.  This creates more arch in the leafs and pushes the striker plate (moving part) of the diaphragms out farther, giving more flexibility to the diaphragms while tracking around curves and coupling to cars with tighter diaphragms.  Some models don't have enough flexibility in the diaphragms.  If they "Go solid" this will cause many derailments and other problems.

Couplers and Diaphragms when viewed from below

The couplers are standard Kadee Whisker Coupler versions of the old No.5 with the new No.242 boxes.

Roof Modifications

Because this car does not have air-conditioning, it is both easier and harder to model.  It's easier in that I don't have to deal with all the extra A/C equipment under the floor of the car.  However, this does mean that I need to work on the roof vents.

Original positions of Model Power centerline roof vents, before remounting them.

The default Model Power car comes with a line of vents down the centerline of the roof.  Some of SP's 60ft cars did have this, but not the 60-CC-1s such as the 2701.  These roof vents were removed with a pair of flush cutters, so most of the original holes were plugged with the remnant of the centerline vents.  Some light filing and sanding was required to get the plugs even with the contour of the roof.  On two holes the flush cutters tended to pull the vents out, leaving a hole.  A bit of styrene and putty works to fill these and then re-sand and file to shape.

I measured off of an MDC roof where the offset roof vent lines should be.  They look about right to my eye.  Then scribed a line lightly between the pairs of rivet rows from the side of the roof 0.480" to 0.485" up onto the roof with my calipers.  I in fact, tried to keep these scribes very short to hide under the roof vents when mounted.  These vents were only fitted between the pairs of large windows on the side, centered on the columns.  Because the MP car is one window shorter than the prototype car, there will only be 7 pairs of vents offset from the car centerline.  There were also vents over the end-isles, just inboard of the endsill wall to the vestibule.

Filled and sanded Centerline Vents and new SC&F vents installed.

I chose to use my supply of extra SC&F resin Globe vents on this car.  MDC/Athearn has a nice selection of Globe vents included with their cars.  As I've built a fairly large number of models, I have a fair supply of vents from swapping them between different projects.  My next vent rebuilds will have to use the MDC ones.  Other Globe type vents are available in brass.

Crosshair scribes were made centered between the rivet rows over the window columns with my carbide scribing tool and then at the crossing point,  I used the scribe to press in a center mark for drilling out the holes.  A No.50 drill bit works nicely to make the holes for the SC&F vents.

New Roof Vents mounted

The vents were glued in place with ACC.  Keep an eye on the angle of the vents to the roof and also take care to keep them in a good straight line.  If the holes were a little bigger than the part, that helps to adjust one or two of them to keep them in line.  I also had one or two holes that wandered... so again, use a No.11 Xacto blade to move the hole over slightly to line up that vent.


I plan to do subtle lighting in this car, so I made a reflector of 0.005" white sheet styrene to bounce the light back into the interior of the car.

Using another piece of 0.100"x 0.250" styrene strip to make the "spine" for my home-built LED lighting system.  I then ACC the sections of LED Lighting Strip to the spine, which is then glued into the endsill walls at the end of the car's main seating area.

Night shot of a car I equipped with the same type of LED lighting as SP 2701 will have.

That does it for the SP 2701 for now... Next time I'll work on adding the rest of the interior parts, such as bulkheads for the restrooms, longitudinal seating benches, and main chair seats.  The underframe detailing will be addressed, as the battery box, electrical generator, and brake rigging will need to be added.  Also, I'll be installing the pickups to bring track power up to the lighting strips and an OwlMtModels #10002 "Tailgate Gyralite Marker kit for operating the car at the end of the train.

That does it for now.... Enjoy this picture of the real SP 1919 at Niles Canyon from 2009!
Follow this link to Modeling SP 2701 (Part 2).

Jason Hill

Follow this link to my SP 1005, 60-C-5 (Part 1) build blog.

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