Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mt Nebo (Part1) 10-Section-Obs-Lounge

Don't overlook that "old" or "cheap" passenger car model!

That's the lesson I learned from building the Mt. Nebo.

Pullman's Mt. Nebo, right side, as completed before lighting
Pullman's Mt. Nebo, left side, as completed before lighting.

About two years ago a friend sent me a photo of a model he was looking at in a hobby shop.  I pretty quickly identified the model as a 10-Section Observation Lounge, which I'd been keeping an eye out for modeling the Owl and West Coast, as well as the SP 120, San Joaquin business car.  After confirming that the La Mesa Model Railroad Club would have use for such a car, he bought it and sent it to me to be upgraded to club mechanical and detailing standards.

New in-box of what the Mt.Nebo started life as

It turns out the model was a late production old metal Walthers passenger car kit.  These models had stamped metal sides, wood floor and underbody details, and the late production models had an injection molded roof.

Parts in-box, notice the stamped metal sides.

I didn't get any good photos of the car before I started working on it.  Recently another old metal 10-Section-Observation Walthers kit has come into my possession, so I am including the photos of it here to show what the construction of the Mt. Nebo looks like if I'd been the one to build it up from the kit.

Here's the parts spread out for what will become the 10-Section Observation "Mt.Breckenridge".

This new kit that I have, I plan to eventually build into a model of the "Mt. Breckenridge", which was a historically accurate 10-Section-Lounge-Obs used on the Owl when it derailed at Lerdo in 1947 (Link to my Modeling the Owl - Part1).

Repainting and Researching the Mt. Nebo

The built-up model was painted in Pennsy Tuscan with Pullman lettering.  The paint wasn't holding up too well and the decaling work wasn't anything to write home about.  So the car was obviously going to need to get a new coat of paint before being put back into service.

I did some poking around and already knew that the La Mesa Club could use a 10-Section Lounge Observation car.  The Superintendent of the San Joaquin Division had his car, the San Joaquin (SP 120), kept in the Pullman Shed at Bakersfield.  The SP 120 was converted from a 10-Section Lounge Observation, however further research showed that the SP 120 was heavily modified and would be a major project to convert this stamped metal sided model to represent.

A bit of research into the cars retained by the Pullman Pool after 1948, showed that the prototype series of 10-Section Observations (Plan 3521) were of some interest.  Many of the cars in this lot were never sold off, and stayed in the Pullman Pool until the early 1960s.  I like choosing long lived prototypes, so that if someone wanted to run a late 1950s train, it would still be plausible that the car could still be around in the earlier Green scheme.  Many extra Pool cars were kept in Government storage until they're release from the Pool and sold for scrap in the 1960s.  One car name in the Mount-series stuck out to me in particular, the "Mt.Nebo".

The Mt. Nebo was a Plan 3521A 10-Sections and Lounge Observation built in Lot 4998 of 30 cars in November and December 1926.  The Mt. Nebo specifically was retained by the Pullman Pool in 1948, and was sold for scrap in June 1961.  One advantage of staying with a Pullman Pool car is that in modeling the car in the 1948-1954 era the we can use the car for a Korean War troop train (MAIN Train) on either ATSF or SP, extra passenger service on either the SP or the ATSF, or we could use the car for a 1947 Owl consist.

I also had another reason to choose this car name, the La Mesa Club's original layout was built in La Mesa California a building called Nebo Hall, I decided it would be a good name for the rebuilt car.

Work on the body of the car was started by repainting it with a mix of SP Dark Olive Green and Engine Black paint by StarBrand.  This mix is a close match to Pullman's Green, which is not the same as SP's color.  The "Mt. Nebo" was decaled with pieces from the various other car names in the UP Tourist Pullman decal set (87-????) from Microscale.  I used the same set's "PULLMAN" for the letterboard.  While the set has car names and Tourist Car numbers for cars that were historically run or assigned to the UP, the set is really good for making 6-8 HW tourist sleepers for troop trains and other trains needing Tourist Cars.

Mt Nebo after repainting and with A/C ducts installed. - Notice the old Pullman 1910-trucks under the car.

Starting at the Top

Work on the roof of the "Mt. Nebo" started with taking it off.  The roof is held on by a very long screw (about 4-40 thread) through from the bottom center of the underframe.

Unmodified roof from the kit that will become the "Mt.Breckenridge"
The roof was of the clerestory type and did not include A/C ducting, which most cars of this type had after the mid-1930s.  New England Rail Service A/C ducks would be fitted and the roof painted a custom mix of my "off-black" which has a bit of gray to represent sun light faded roof paint.

Mt Nebo with the roof off showing window glazing being installed.
By this photo I had already reinstalled the glazing after the car was repainted.  At first I was a bit concerned that the stamped metal sides wouldn't hold up against scrutiny with higher level brass and injection molded HW passenger cars.  Most of those concerns were unfounded after the car was repainted in Pullman Green there's not much light that will actually bounce off the details of even the nicest models.  The challenge of gluing the glazing in with canopy cement will probably be better on the future kits like this that I build up from kit form.  I plan to include a interior superstructure of styrene inside the metal sides to which the glazing can be mounted.

Underframe and Mechanicals

For a time I thought about completely rebuilding the underframe of the car with my standard plastic version, however the original builder of the car did a VERY good job attaching the stamped metal parts to the wooden core.  Even after 30-40 years it was still holding strong.  The car sides near the front vestibule were slanted in slightly, but this wasn't worth trying to fix, and the stampings did flex somewhat.

Original trucks removed and new centersill and bolster for use with modern Walthers Trucks installed.

The original metal trucks that do not meet the LMRC's mechanical standards were removed and a new section of centersill was fabricated from strip styrene to mount the Walthers Pullman 242 trucks.  The old coupler boxes which were mounted too far out for use with the new diaphragms were also removed to be remounted.  The original floor was kept and for the moment the wooden underbody details are also retained.

Forward end of the Mt.Nebo's underframe rebuild mostly done.

Completed rear end of the Mt.Nebo's underframe rebuild, ready for installation of the trucks.

The bolster screw locations were worked backwards off the size of the trucks and the offset mounting holes that I drilled in them to clear the vestibule steps and underbody detailing.

The car weight is plenty with the wood and metal construction and the additional interior and Walthers 242 metal trucks that will be installed.

I did my usual rebuild on the Walthers trucks to get them to roll really well and also regauge the wheelsets slightly wider in gauge.

Here's the Walthers 242 Trucks completely disassembled and ready for upgrading.

The axle bearings in the sideframes are usually painted over by Walthers and are also a bit too narrow on gauge, especially when I regauge the wheelsets, which makes the tip-to-tip of the axles about 0.015" longer than stock.  Usually I need to ream about 0.010" out of each sideframe to get the wheelsets to roll properly in the trucks (and much better I will add).

Reamed bearings in sideframes ready to be reassembly
Even if the bearings don't need to be made wider, I usually would take a pass on them on metal trucks to make sure there isn't anything in the end of the bearing or paint on the pickup surfaces of the bearings.

I almost **Never** have to do this work on plastic trucks of freight equipment, because the engineering plastic truck sideframes with metal wheelsets is an ideal bearing already.  Only ream engineering plastic truck bearings if there is flashing inside the bearing from the injection molding process, and then keep it to a minimum.

Center marking and drilling new bolster hole for 2-56 screw.

With the trucks reassembled, I can now mark the new bolster screw location on the truck for a 2-56 machine screw.  The trucks are painted with the same mix of "off-black" that I use for the roof and underframe, this includes the wheel faces.  The painting is then followed up with a small Q-tip dipped in thinner to remove the paint from the treads and flanges of the wheels.

Note: Many manufacturers don't clean the cutting oils from their wheelsets any more.  This "dirty" oil doesn't help the pickup of the models or the layout on which they are run.  Make sure to clean the wheels of your new cars before running them!  This can be as simple as dropping the wheelsets out and washing them in dish soap for 10 minutes or running them through an ultrasonic cleaner before painting.


The interior sheet styrene floor marked for the various partitions and 

The majority of the work on the "Mt. Nebo" was spent on the interior and rebuilding the truck and coupler mountings on the wooden underframe.  The interior is made on a sheet of 0.015" styrene from Evergreen.  The lounge seats are Palace Car Co. and partitions, mirrors, and men and woman's salon/lounge were salvaged parts from an Athearn-Genesis 77-C-3 that unfortunately melted in a car for about 2 days in the heat.

The melted Athearn-Genesis 77-C-3 frame and interior next to the new scratch built Mt.Nebo interior

Looks like the Athearn bathrooms and men's and woman's lounges will transplant nicely!

I decided to salvage as much of the wrecked 77-C-3 interior as I could.  The men's lounge walls were pretty badly warped and as the 10-Section-Obs car's men's lounge was a bit smaller and different configuration, I decided to scratch build those walls.

Some of the salvaged parts from the Athearn car.
I started on the new interior with the forward vestibule wall and womans toilet. The sinks, walls, chairs, and curtain from the woman's lounge that I removed from the 77-C-3 frame were going to be reused on the new car.

Woman's lounge and toilet, the vestibule wall is to the left, and the 10-sections to the right.
I fabricated sheet styrene walls for the sections that the salvaged walls wouldn't work for.  Marks on the floor of the interior showed where the walls were to be glued.

3M Scotch Tape used for the etched glazing on the toilet windows.

I didn't bother with installing the toilets because the windows to those rooms would be covered with 3M "foggy" Scotch Tape and not be visible anyway.

Women's Lounge and forward isleway complete with fabricated walls.

I then moved to the men's lounge and toilet area of the interior.  One section of the wall I was able to salvage had a nice little radius section to it, so I reused it.  I also shortened the wall section as shown in the photo below.

Starting the men's bathroom section.  The main Observation Lounge is to the right in this photo.

Here's the completed men's restroom-lounge

The sofa from the Athearn car's men's restroom was also reused and a new rear wall was fabricated to adjoin the main lounge area.

In this view the partitions are all in place, but the seats have not been installed.

I had a set of 30 Lounge Seats from Palace Car Co. #5004-30 which I picked up several years ago.  I've been using them on various projects over the years.  The Mt. Nebo floor plans call for 12 Lounge Seats in the Observation section of the car.

Lounge seats from Palace Car Co. - Only 12 needed in this project.

In this view not much is left from the 77-C-3 salvaged car, what remains will go to a deluxe chair car someday.
I flipped through some of my reference materials of what HW Observation Lounges looked like and settled on Sea Foam (light green) for the interior walls of the bathrooms and isle ways, tan for the sleeping section of the car, and in the lounge a deep red with brown, gray, and seafoam green lounge seats.  I painted the walls of the Observation section a light tan color as well.

Here's the completed main lounge area, with writing desk and stationary.
Just before painting the interior I read the note that stated that the partitions in the lounge were not full height and cross checking some other photos showed that the walls stopped just above the backs of the lounge chairs.  Correspondingly I cut down the partitions and prepped the interior for paint.

Window Treatment

At the time I didn't have any extra section seats in the middle of the car, so lowered the window shades to hide that fact.  Also with open sections, the screw holding the roof on would be completely exposed with no good way to hide that.

Window Shades for the sleeping sections marked and ready to be cut out.

A ruler and pencil is used to lay out the size and heights for the window shades.  I usually then use a metal rule and No.11 Xacto blade to cut out the shapes.  I try to keep the pencil lines on the inside of the car to keep from being visible on the exterior of the car.

Windows in the sleeping sections installed with Tamiya Painting Tape

The window shades are made from manila file folder stock cut into approprate sized pieces and taped in place with Tamiya brand masking tape.  The lighting I install is pretty dim compared to many HO Scale lighting kits.  I find that the use of the thicker file folder material is enough to absorb most of the light when the car is lit, so that even the light colored shades will not be translucent.

Window shades in place - Left Side

Window Shades in place - Right Side

The final window treatment is fabricating the two sections of safety bars that keep people from being slammed into the windows along the isle ways of the car while traveling on rough track.

Safety bars installed on the isle way windows.
I bent some 0.015 phosphor-bronze wire for the safety handrails that were standard appliance on all isle way windows in passenger cars.  The railing was glued in place with Testors Canopy Cement.

Detailed view of the finished parts on the Mt. Nebo, including the Walthers Pullman 242 Trucks installed.


The Mt. Nebo is almost done at this point, but the car needs to have a diaphragm installed on the front end of the car.  My standard now is made by Hi-Tech Details.  As I have a couple of HW observations to finish, I am not worried about "breaking up a set" of diaphragms and only using one.

Hi-Tech Details #9003, used for the Mt Nebo's front diaphragm.

I have covered the use of these kits in the past on several other car builds, I'll show a few photos I took of the installation on the Mt. Nebo here.

Here's the coupler and the front end of the Mt Nebo after the old paper Walthers Diaphragm was removed.

Hi-Tech Diaphragm about to be installed

After the Diaphram's installed, I then marked the crosslines for the center for the coupler box.

Mounting the coupler after the diaphragm installation is better because then I can mount it at exactly the right position compared to the diaphragm striker plate.

Here is the Diaphragm and couplere installed on the front end of the Mt. Nebo.

Conclusion of Part 1

That pretty much covered the major rebuilding of the Mt. Nebo and preparing it for service.  I will cover lighting of the car, marker lights, and possibly adding more details to the underframe in Mt. Nebo (Part 2).

Right Side of completed Mt.Nebo
Left Side of completed Mt.Nebo
Mt. Nebo sitting in the Pullman Shed at Bakersfield, California Dec 24th, 1952.

Jason Hill

Links to other related pages:
Mt. Nebo (Part 2) - Lighting
Kitbashing SP 6102 from MDC/Athearn Parts (also rehabbing a 18 year old model).
Modeling Index for HW Pullman Cars
Kitbashing Pullman 16-Section Tourist Sleeper 4242
Modeling Indec for HW SP Cars