Thursday, July 13, 2017

Modeling the Starlight (Nos. 94&95) - A Pike Size Train (Part 5)

This is the fifth passenger train consist I would like to talk about.  Previous blog posts include: Modeling the Shasta - a PikeSize Train, Modeling the Owl (Part 1), Modeling SP-SD&AE Passenger Trains (Part1) and Modeling the Tehacahapi Mail (Nos. 55 & 56).

The Starlight is a true accommodation train, and one of the last as well, serving the needs of its passengers along the route.  I feel this train would be an interesting 6-12 car train, which could be made to fit on most model railroads that can handle full-length passenger cars or slightly abbreviated ones.

Journey to Starlight

In July 1937, the new $2 million Daylight train-sets received very high riderships and second sections of Nos. 98 and 99 were being run regularly with whatever extra equipment the SP could dig up.  Almost immediately SP ordered two more Coffee Shop dining cars and they were delivered in 1938, this caused the Coffee Shop-Tavern cars to become available for the food service cars in the second sections.  New chair cars arrived in late 1938 and were quickly put into service upgrading the Daylight.

In March 1940 the original 1937 and 1938 Daylight cars were refurbished and returned to service as the new Noon Daylight (Nos. 96 & 97) to absorb the overflow from the overfilled 1937 Daylight (Nos.98 & 99).  The original Daylight was rechristened the Morning Daylight and received the newest cars.

This lasted until the breakout of war, when in 1942 the Noon Daylight was discontinued "for the duration" to free up the extra passenger equipment for the war effort.  The Noon Daylight was reinstated in April 1946.

However, this only lasted until 1949 when the Noon Daylight was discontinued in favor of the new Starlight, replacing the heavyweight coach and Pullman Coaster (Nos.71 & 72), as an all-chair night running complement to the premier all-Pullman Lark (Nos. 75 & 76).  While the Starlights were shown on the public timetables as an all-chair train.  However it usually had several sleepers reserved for use by military personnel moving along the Coast Line between Los Angeles and San Fransisco.  When the 12-5 sleeper were in the consist, overflow Lark passengers could be shifted to space on that car.


Here we see No.96, the Noon Daylight with a Daylight GS and streamlined 70-B behind the tender. Eddie Sims Collection.

There aren't many photos of the Starlight except in the first few or last few miles of her run, so I'm using this photo from the Eddie Sims Collection to show what the head-end of the Starlight looked like.  Also many of these same chair cars were reassigned to the Starlight after the Noon Daylight was discontinued.

NOTE: This data mostly came from a few internet sources, which are somewhat scrambled.  Thanks to Jim Lancaster, I have some corrected data which I will use to correct the consist info below.  As of August 1, I have fixed the consist info for Oct'49 thru June'51.  I will make corrections to the 1952-1953 consists when I can. 

Oct 1949-June 1950 Consist

As you can probably already see above, the Starlight's consist was made up of some interesting cars as I'll show below.  Loading numbers (Ld#) were used to identify a car in that position in the consist.  The cars were also 'carded' in small loading indicators in windows near the doors to help porters and passengers outside the train find their car.

Usually a GS-series engine, a Mt-series could be used
SP 70ft "LW" Baggage Express **
SP 70ft HW Baggage -Storage Mail *Note 1*
SP 70ft Baggage-Express - (various cars from the pool)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (various, see notes) Ld# 940 & 941*Note 2A & 4*
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily) Ld# 942 & 943
SP Coffee-Shop - (SP 10400 & 10401 Regularly Assigned)
SP Tavern-Lounge - (SP 10312 & 10313 Regularly Assigned)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily) Ld# 944 & 945
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily) Ld# 946 & 947
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (various, see notes) Ld# 948 & 949 *Note 2B & 3*
SP 77-PR (PRO) - Ld# SL-1 *Note 2C* (SP 3000 Parlor or 2951 Parlor-Obs were assigned)

Note 1: Daily except Sunday
Note 2 Effective Oct 31, 1949: A. Discontinue reserving car 940 for women and children.  B. Cars 948 & 949 added to consist to operate Fri-Sat-Sun only. C. Car SL-1 permanently discont'd.
Note 3 Effective Feb 27, 1950: Cars 948 & 949 dropped from consist until summer season.
Note 4 Effective March 31, 1950: Cars 940 & 941 revised to only operate Fri-Sat-Sun only, until summer season.

** SP 6083 or SP 6085 70-B-8 Stream-styled Harriman Baggage painted in Daylight colors regularly assigned.

10/2/49 - 10/31/49: 14 cars Mon-Sat; 13 cars Sunday.
10/31/49 - 2/27/50: 13 cars Mon-Thurs; 15 cars Fri & Sat, 14 cars Sunday.
2/27/50 - 3/31/50: 13 cars Mon-Sat; 12 cars Sunday.
3/31/50 - 6/8/50: 11 cars Mon-Thurs; 13 cars Fri & Sat; 12 cars Sunday.

Various HW Pullmans may have been routed on the Starlight as the Coaster was discontinued.

June 1950-June 1951 Consist

Usually a GS-series engine, a Mt-series could be used
SP 70ft "LW" Baggage Express **
SP 70ft HW Baggage -Storage Mail *Note 1*
SP 70ft Baggage-Express - (various cars from the pool)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (June 15-Sep 16 - Seasonal)  Ld# 940 & 941
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily) Ld# 942 & 943
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily) Ld# 944 & 945
SP Coffee-Shop - (SP 10400 & 10401 Regularly Assigned)
SP Tavern-Lounge - (SP 10312 & 10313 Regularly Assigned)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily) Ld# 946 & 947
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily) Ld# 948 & 949
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 Ld# 950 & 951 *Note 2*
HW 12 Section-1 DR Ld# 101/201 *Note 4A*
HW 8 Section-5 DBR Ld# 101/201 *Note 4B & 5D*

Note 1: Daily except Sunday
Note 2. Effective July 17, 1950: Cars 950 & 951 discontinued. Restore only when traffic warrants.
Note 3: Effective Sept 18, 1950: A. car 940 discont'd for winter season. Car 941 now operates as single unit.  B. Cars 948 & 949 discont'd for winter.
Note 4. A. Operated 6/9/50 - 9/23/50 only. B. Eff 9/23/50: replaced the 12-1 car. Pullman line number 3475.
Note 5. Effective Oct 10, 1950: A. Car 941 revised to operate Fri-Sat-Sun only, as traffic warrants, for winter season, as single unit car.  B. Car 942 revised to operate Fri-Sat-Sun only for winter as single unit, or as artic pair with car 943.  C. Car 943 revised to operate as single unit Mon-Thurs. May operate Fri-Sat as single unit or as artic pair with car 942.  D. Car 101/201 revised to operate daily except Saturday.

6/9/50 - 7/17/50: 18 cars Mon-Sat, 17 cars Sunday.
7/17/50 - 9/18/50: 16 cars Mon-Sat, 15 cars Sunday.
9/18/50 - 10/10/50: 13 cars Mon-Sat, 12 cars Sunday.
10/10/50 - 6/14/51: 11 cars Mon-Thurs, 12-13 cars Fri, 11-12 Sat & Sun.

  1. However during the Korea war and for some years after, a lot military moved to/from Ft. Ord and Camp San Luis Obispo. So the 12-5 would operate daily except Saturday, along with a heavyweight 8 section 5 Bedroom car. If all the space was not needed for Military, the 12-5 would be opened up for public sale. 
  2. Jim Pattison                                            ,496260

These comments are interesting in that they suggest that some MAIN (railroad code for US military movements) cars might have been combined with the Starlight before Sept 1950.  Most likely these would have been Pullman 'Tourist' or Pool 12-1, 13-section (ex-12-1s), 14-section, or 16-section sleepers.

June 1952 Consist

For now this is mostly right, but the June'52 & March'53 dates and exact sleeper and baggage cars are still taken from various internet sources and are not 100% correct.  I will be changing this part of the page as I have time.

Usually a GS-series engine, a Mt-series could be used

SP 70ft Baggage-Express - (various cars from the pool)
SP 70-B-8 Baggage Express - (SP 6083 or SP 6085 70-B-8 Stream-styled Harriman Baggage painted in Daylight colors regularly assigned)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (June 15-Sep 16 - Seasonal)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Fri-Sun)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily)
SP Coffee-Shop - (SP 10400 & 10401 Regularly Assigned)
SP Tavern-Lounge - (SP 10312 & 10313 Regularly Assigned)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (June 15-Sep 16 - Seasonal)
SP STD LW 12-5 (for Military Personnel - ex-Sat)
SP STD HW 12-1 (for Military Personnel - ex-Sat - various types assigned)

The Pullman space was never publicly listed for the Starlight.  However, if the sleeping space was not fully used by military personnel, space in the STD 12-5 would be sold to the chair passengers on the train as an upgrade or sold out of the terminals for overflow Lark passengers.

Between 1951 and 1952 the Starlight sometimes showed up to 3 HW Pullmans and the LW 12-5 Pullman.  Some of these heavy days two STD 8-5s might be used.

March 1953 Consist

Usually a GS-series engine, a Mt-series could be used

SP 70ft Baggage-Express - (various cars from the pool)
SP 70-B-8 Baggage Express - (SP 6083 or SP 6085 70-B-8 Stream-styled Harriman Baggage painted in Daylight colors regularly assigned)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (June 15-Sep 16 - Seasonal)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Fri-Sun)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily)
SP Coffee-Shop - (SP 10400 & 10401 Regularly Assigned)
SP Tavern-Lounge - (SP 10312 & 10313 Regularly Assigned)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (Daily)
SP 64-ACM/ACW-1/3 (June 15-Sep 16 - Seasonal)
SP STD LW 12-5 (ex-Sat - SP 9250 & 9251, for Military Personnel)
SP STD HW 12-1 (ex-Sat - for Military Personnel)

In the April 1953 premier train assignment roster the Pacific Lines had ten pairs of the 1937 cars: seven pairs were painted in Daylight colors, one pair in Two-Tone Gray, and two pairs in Dark Olive Green.  The SP 2489 & SP 2490 were also assigned to the Starlight during this time painted in TTG, note that these 79-C-2s didn't have baggage elevators.

From Equipment Circular 14, issued June 14, 1954.

The Feb 1954 the STD 12-5s were transferred to the West Coast, and came back in August '54 and stayed into August 1955.  In January 1955 the Starlight was officially dieselized.  Also in 1955 the 1938-built Taverns (SP 10312 & 10313) were removed and replaced with 1939-built Taverns (SP 10314 & 10315).

In 1957 the Starlight was discontinued when the Lark dropped its all-Pullman status by adding chair cars to the consist.  The Taverns were then assigned to the West Coast (Nos. 59 & 60).

Details of Cars Assigned to the Starlight

Baggage & Headend Cars

Semi-Streamlined Noon Daylight Baggage Cars (SP 6083 & 6085)

This is a model that I started on about 20 years ago.  It's a kitbashed Rivarossi LW (1930s) Baggage car.

The Starlight usually had two or three head end cars, both baggage cars.  One was usually either the SP 6083 or the SP 6085 which were 70ft baggages streamlined for the Noon Daylights in 1940 and followed the rest of the Noon Daylight's consist moving over to the Starlights.

The Starlight's streamlined baggage cars started as SP's 70-B-8s with skirts, full-width diaphragms, & modified roof ends.

Today, I would consider using one of the Southern Car & Foundry 70ft Harriman Baggages as a starting point and streamlining the car the same way the SP did.

Streamlined 70ft Baggage car with Full-Width Diaphragms

The Old Option for Streamlined 70-B Model

The photo above shows the majority of the kitbash I am doing to make the semi-streamlined Harriman RPO cars SP 5069.  The same method could easily be used on a suitable Harriman 70ft Baggage car.

My old kitbash stand-in attempt.

My existing stand-in kitbash that I started about 1999 using a classic Rivarossi 1930's LW baggage car stalled mid-way through the kitbash.  I pulled it out to take some photos.  Looking at it today there are a number of issues I would have restarting it.

First is that the roof profile is still that of the LW Rivarossi roof, while this was good practice for my future (current) models of SP 5069 using SC&F kit above, I really should replace the whole roof section that should be full height 'Harriman' profile with some section of MDC roofing, with new slope sheets blending to the FWD ends.

Next is that the sides are slightly too long.  The model's 72ft over the square corners of the sides, where as the modified 70-B-series prototype car should be about 71ft after the ends were squared off for streamlining.  Tied in with this is that the baggage doors, while being the right size are too far apart by about 2-3ft... so that sort of messes up the whole side proportions.

The final detailing issue is mainly that the model has no rivets on the sides at all.  The prototype car is a standard SP 70ft HW riveted baggage car, so it will take a LOT of Archer Rivets today to fix this.  One final note is that the cars as-streamlined were fitted with skirts at the ends and the center, while later the center sections were removed, they retained the end skirting out-board of the trucks.  This would have to be fabricated in styrene.  This car is one of the few I still own with American Limited FWDs... which are two pieces of rigid plastic that telescope.  I'm not as favorable to this design anymore as they tend to catch and bind up causing derailments.

Ex-EPSW 70ft Baggage (SP 6510-6519)

For the second baggage car I might suggest using a Walthers AC&F 70ft clerestory baggage car.

SP 6515, ex-EPSW baggage car

In the SPH&TS Passenger Cars Vol.3 Head End Cars book there is a photo showing the Starlight with one of the Ex-EPSW baggage cars in addition to the streamlined baggage.

SP 70ft Harriman Baggage

SP 70ft Harriman Baggage Car

The second baggage car could also be one of the 70ft baggage Harriman car.  The SP had about 120 of these cars and they were by far the most common 70ft baggage on the SP.

The new plastic division of Sunset Models, Golden Gate Depot is planning to bring in an all new plastic 70ft Harriman Baggage car in 2017.  I look forward to seeing these models when they arrive.  I've posted a blog about My Thoughts About the GGD Harriman Car Announcement.

An Alternative Shorter Baggage Car 

Athearn/MDC/Roundhouse 60ft Harriman Baggage car

If shorter cars for the consist is desired, I would suggest using the Athearn R-T-R (ex-MDC/Roundhouse) 60ft Harriman Baggage cars.  The Southern Pacific had about 250 of these baggage cars,  The Roundhouse's model is correct for two of the classes, totaling 35 cars.

Chair Cars

Weekday nights the Starlight used two pair of Artic-Chair cars, over the weekends up to five pairs would be used.  Assignment of night trains on the coast, with its cooler temperatures, would not usually rate the newer 1939 and 1941 66-ACM/ACW cars, but instead usually used the 1937-built 64-ACM/ACW's or 77-C-3s.

In the April 1953 premier train assignment roster the Pacific Lines had ten pairs of the 1937 cars: seven pairs were painted in Daylight colors, one pair in Two-Tone Gray (TTG), and two pairs in Dark Olive Green.   The equipment assignment roster also shows two single unit chairs, SP 2489 and 2490, painted in TTG and assigned specifically to the Starlight.  These two cars were identical to the rest of the 79-C-2 class cars except that they lacked baggage elevators.

After 1950, SP standardized that any general service pool LW chair cars would be painted in the Daylight colors.  The rest of the Articulated 66-ACM/ACW cars were simply listed as "Daylight,"  which indicates that the rest of the cars were pooled for the Coast Daylight, the San Joaquin Daylight and protecting the Shasta Daylight.  Only four 77-C-3 cars were painted for the Daylight pool, while the rest of the 77-C-3s were painted for specific assignments as follows; four in TTG for the Cascade, four in yellow for the Overland, and two in Red & Silver for the Golden State.


"130ft Artic-Chair", plated Brass Soho model.

"130ft Artic-Chair", plated Brass Soho model.

Models of the 1937-built articulated cars is best done with brass models, Soho has produced the 64-ACM/ACW cars.  Challenger Imports and The Coach Yard have also produced these models.


1939-built, SP 2448, MTH models.

1939-built, SP 2447, MTH models.

The most easily found models in 2016 are the MTH and BLI models of the SP's last two groups of Articulated Chair cars built in 1939 and 1941.  I review the MTH Daylight cars on my blog as well.

79-C-2s SP 2489 & 2490

SP 2439, a stock MTH Daylight 79-C-1 with new letterboard decals. - A starting point for SP 2490 & 2491.

In the 1953 car roster of Passenger Cars Assigned to Premier Trains the SP 2489 & 2490 are shown painted in TTG and assigned to the Starlight.  I plan to model at least one of these cars.  Starting from an MTH 79-C-1 and kitbashing from there.  The main challenge beside the paint scheme change will be removing the baggage elevator and changing the trucks over to GSC Walthers trucks like I've done on the SP 2424 (Part 1).

Food & Lounge Service

Left side of unpainted Soho model of 77-D-11 class Coffee Shops, SP 10400 & 10401.

The 1938-built Coffee Shops (SP 10400 and 10401) were used for food service on the Starlights.  Soho makes both of these early Daylight food service cars.

Left side of  SP 10315, 79-T-1 class Tavern.  The model is an out-of-box MTH car.

The 1939-built Taverns (SP 10312-10313) were used on the Starlight, regularly assigned to it in 1949.  Models of these cars are available from both MTH and BLI.  During these cars could also be protected by the SP 10310 and 10311 if one one of the regular cars was in the shop.

Sleeping Cars

The Pullman sleepers regularly ran on the Starlight at various times for military personnel to the various Coast Line bases were HW 12-1s and HW 8-5s.  As these assignments varied with the military's needs, so did the cars used on a day to day basis.  In addition the Pullmans were not run on the Starlight on Sunday nights.

STD 8-5 Heavyweight Sleeping Car

Most people will say that the 8-section, 5-double bedroom Pullmans were a uncommon car, however they did seem to show up on a number of Southern Pacific passenger trains after they were rebuilt from other floor plan cars.  Over the years many were used on the heavyweight Cascade, Coaster, Owl, and West Coast.  It seems only natural then that the SP's purchase of 16 STD 8-5s in 1949, would lead to them continue to find assignments around the system.  When the Cascade was streamlined, the older heavyweight equipment was reassigned.  The Starlight often had one or two 8-5s during 1950 and 1951.

STD 12-5 Lightweight Sleeping Car

In late 1952 through mid 1956 the two ex-City of San Fransisco "duplex" 12-5 Pullmans (SP 9250-9251) were assigned to the Starlight.  In early 1953 the two cars were repainted from the Yellow and Gray Overland/CoSF-pool scheme into Two-Tone Gray "General Service" scheme.

This model of a 12-5 is made from the old Rivarossi model, which is actually pretty close to the two SP 12-5s that were built for the City of San Fransisco in 1937.

STD 12-1 Heavyweight Sleeping Car

Walthers HW 12-1 Pullman SP "Los Angeles" painted in SP Dark Olive Green

Walthers and Branchline (now Atlas) have made very good models of the Pullman STD 12-1.

Modeling the Starlight Consist.

While the full train consist can easily be 10-18 cars, to keep in the spirit of the "pike size" nature of this article, I would probably model a week day version of the train or one that is not using the peak loading of 5 pairs of articulated chair cars.

The resulting train would be fairly reasonable to model as follows:

SP GS-4 in Daylight colors as road engine - these engines in full Daylight colors were common on the Coast Line until about 1953-54.

1. SP Stream-styled baggage car (if available) or use a 70ft standard Harriman Baggage
2. SP 60 or 70 ft Harriman baggage or 70ft Walthers ACF baggage
3-4. SP Articulated Chair Car (preferably a 64-ACM/ACW)
5. SP 77-D-11 Coffee Shop (SP 10400 or 10401, this would be one of the tricky cars to get, as Soho's would be about the best model to use.)
6. SP 79-T-1 Tavern (SP 10312 or 10313, MTH or BLI model fits this perfectly.  Until a Soho Coffee Shop could be found, a compressed model of this train could work with only the Tavern.)
7. SP 77-C-3 chair car (Almost any color car could be used, not just Daylight)
8. SP 79-C-2 chair car (Possibly repainted MTH or BLI model as SP 2489 or 2490 in TTG)
9. SP STD 12-1 HW Sleeper (Any Walthers or Branchline 12-1 painted for SP will fit the bill.)
10. SP STD 12-5 LW "Duplex" sleeper SP 9250 or 9251 (Rivarossi LW duplex sleeper painted either in UP yellow or TTG with letterboard redecalled as SP car)

If the modeled consist needs to be shorter, a train of 7-8 cars could be easily made by dropping the Coffee Shop and additional chair cars.  A six car consist could be made by also dropping one of the two sleepers.

This is certainly one of those consists that can start small and grow as the passenger fleet collection grows and more models are finished.

I'll probably do update blogs for each car individually as I complete my models for them and update some of the picture in this blog.  I've delayed posting this long enough, hopefully you've enjoyed a look at the options to model the Starlight in 2017!

Jason Hill

Related Links:
Modeling & Mechanical SP 60ft Baggages with MDC/Athearn kit/RTR cars
Converting SP 77-C-3 for CoSF service (Part 1) - 1955
Golden Gate Depot Harriman Cars - Preview of Prototypes
Mistakes in Modeling - Part Oops!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this information. I will look for more of your post like this.