Friday, September 8, 2017

SP Pullman (Part1) HW 12-1 Sleepers

Those of you regularly following this blog, I've been rather busy during August 2017, so haven't had much time to work on any noticeable modeling progress.  In this n this post I'll cover a bit of work I decided to do reworking three of the Walthers 12-1 sleepers.  I'm working these cars for use in my models of various secondary SP passenger trains, primarily the Owl (Nos 57/58) in this case.   Warning - There is going to be a LOT of green painted cars in this post!


Pullman 'Coronado' 12-1 sleeper, circa 1948-1949 before repainting. - Walthers model

SP's 'Los Angeles' after repainting in 1949 for SP with Dark Olive Green paint. Walthers model

The Southern Pacific acquired a large number of Pullman sleepers on January 1, 1949, when the term had come due from the Supreme Court ruling on the anti-trust suit against Pullman Standard.  In the arrangement the Pullman Standard Company sold off all of their sleepers to the various railroads in a ratio as of the assignments in 1945.  Some shuffling and negotiating took place, some cars had special railroad fittings such as air conditioning units that made the cars more suitable for use on those railroads.  Santa Fe's use of steam-injector A/C systems for example.  Remaining unassigned cars from 1945 went to the new Pullman "Pool" (operating) Company, which was owned by the railroads contributing cars to the pool. - This is were many of the Pullman Company (PC reporting marks) pool cars for the Korean troop trains came from in addition to the RR's cars which were painted for them, but were leased into the Pullman Pool after 1949 as newer streamlined cars were bought by the RR's.

Acquiring Models

Available Model Choices


Many years ago I started my more serious passenger train modeling with a growing flock of Rivarossi 12-1 sleepers.

One of my original Rivarossi 12-1s, repainted in 2016-17, but still needs some detail upgrades and interior work.

Even though they had some issues with prototype proportions on the lower carsides, during the mid-1990s there wasn't much else out there in plastic.  New England Rail Service (NERS) was making conversion kits to turn a Rivarossi 12-1 into almost any other version of a Pullman HW sleeper, lounge, observation, solarium, cafe, tavern, club car or practically whatever you wanted to make.


In 2000's both Branchline (now Atlas) and Walthers tooled very accurate models of several versions of Pullman HW sleepers.  I picked up a couple of Pullman pool cars, but my main SP assigned and painted core cars were still Rivarossi until about 2011-2012.

Walthers out-of-box SP TTG Pullman sleeper.

Walthers has sold a RTR model in TTG, however for most SP Pullman sleepers were not painted in this color until the 1954 change to the General Service TTG paint scheme.  Even after 1954, many of the SP's HW sleepers stayed in the 1949 Dark Olive Green scheme until they're retired, even into the early 1960s in government storage.   Unfortunately Walthers has the idea that they should do all the HW SP cars in TTG, and all their LW cars in 1958 General Service silver and red so that trainsets will all match and look pretty.  Real life is much messier than that of course, so accurately modeling that takes some repainting of the models.


Recently in mid-2017 a friend handed me several Branchline SP and Pullman owned models to work on and use.  Here's a few photos them. - These cars have yet to be assigned a 'Shopping Schedule' as yet.

SP 'McVean' - Branchline decorated model, with some flaws in the paint that I need to fix.

SP 'Calafia' - Branchline decorated model, I'll probably be changing the car name as I know this name's taken already.

While the following car's wandering a bit off topic, it's a model of the Pullman 14-Section sleeper 'Overcot', which I cover briefly in the Modeling the Owl (Part1), as it was in the Owl's consist when the train derailed at Lerdo in 1947.  So not a bad car to have a model of if you're modeling the Owl!

Branchline decorated model of the Pullman 'Overcot'

Upgrading Models - (Round 1) - Circa 2011-2012

A few years ago, sometime around 2012 or so when I started rebuilding and refinishing my passenger car fleet, mostly to get rid of the Floquil Pullman Green and incorrect lettering font from the MicroScale SP HW decal sets.  I decided during that time to totally upgrade my SP fleet of Pullmans using StarBrand (1-STR-29) SP Dark Olive Green and Thinfilm HO-160 SP Passenger Deluxe Gold (Yellow) lettering decals.  I generally use the MicroScale 87- UP Assigned Tourist Sleepers for doing my Rivarossi conversions to Tourist cars, which I'll cover another time.  For modelers wanting to know more about my search for the right color for SP passenger cars, you can see it on my What Color is SP Dark Olive? blog page.

My fleet upgrades came about in 2011-2012 came about with the acquisition of a number of Walthers R-T-R (but mechanically upgraded) models at about 50% off from certain LHS's succumbing to the ravages of the 2008 depression.  I was able to get about a dozen 12-1s, 14-section, and various other cars at a good price.  I knew I needed only about three 12-1s painted for Southern Pacific.  I also knew that most of the SP's 12-1s didn't get TTG until after my modeling era of 1949-1953, which I wanted to finish these cars for, so the actual paint scheme didn't matter much.

Reassigning the Older Models

My six or so older Rivarossi models, which were a mix of TTG and a couple more in various incorrect shades of green were all going to be repainted and decalled for Pullman 13-section Tourist sleepers.

Pullman Tourist Car 1148 (PC TC1148) ex-12-1 sleeper repainted from a Rivarossi model

Many older 12-1s were reassigned as Tourist cars during WWII and into Korea.  As my modeling era would cover most of Korea, I certainly would be able to find a use for a bunch of 12-1s converted to 13-section cars and some 14 and 16-section cars made from the new Walthers models.  I will cover the rebuilding and upgrading of the Rivarossi 12-1s, and Walthers 14-Section sleepers in another post.

Upgrading the Walthers cars

Pullman 'Coronado' in Pool Scheme colors and lettering.

The new Walthers 12-1s received a new coat of StarBrand (1-STR-29) SP Dark Olive Green paint.  The Pullman lettered cars were relettered as the SP had time and painted in the standard Dark Olive Green, which is slightly 'warmer' and more brownish than the Pullman Green, which is darker and 'cooler' in color. First to be repainted obviously were cars for premier trains like the Lark, Golden State, and Overland/CoSF pool cars.  Regularly used heavyweight cars, like the 12-1s seem to have been repainted over about a year, so by 1950-51 the SP owned cars would have been repainted.  In recent years I've picked up a spare Walthers 12-1 with Pullman lettering for Pool service, so that one will be one of the 'floating' cars that hasn't been repainted.

'Los Angeles' before 2017 upgrades.

'Juana' before 2017 upgrades.

'Serra' before 2017 upgrades.

The three car names I chose for the SP 12-1s are 'Los Angeles', 'Serra', and 'Juana'.  I liked these names because they're not offered by Branchline and are not already modeled at any of the model railroad clubs I operate at.  Photos of the 'Los Angeles' in April 1956 show it still painted in Dark Olive Green (page 191, SPH&TS Passenger Cars Vol.2), along with the 'Juana' (page 193) in November 1961 and 'Serra' (page 192) in February 1956.  This was another reason to redecal all my old Rivarossi models.  Most of their names were already used in the circles I run in.  The Pullman lettered car is the 'Coronado'.

Upgrading Models -  (Round 2) - Circa 2017 

In the first round of decalling after painting in 2012, I didn't have enough of the 'good' decal sets to do these sleepers.  Now finally in 2017 I have a couple of sets I can use to redecal the models again.  This comes back around to my post last year on correcting mistakes, or generally upgrading the quality of our models when we know we can do better and are annoyed enough looking at the problems with the first, or second tries.

Here's SP 'Juana' with the incorrect MicroScale font decals before the 2017 upgrades.

Here we see SP 'Serra' without the letterboard decals.

Here's SP 'Los Angeles' looking MUCH better with the new Thinfilm letterboard decals applied.

New decals are applied.  I once heard a trick for getting the light colored decals to show better on dark car bodies, using doubled up the decals for the lettering.  I noticed that the original name decals seemed too dark and didn't really 'pop' enough to my eye.  I have many extra names and reporting mark numbers from doing many customer's cars, so these three cars have double decals for their names.  It was surprisingly easy to align the decals over the top of the older ones.  Although. careful application of MicroSol was needed not to bump and misalign the second layer of decals!

The next step in decalling is to add the small 'PULLMAN' lettering next to each door on the letterboard.  All three of these cars have that lettering in the reference photos.

Interior Upgrades

Here's the SP 2337 Chair car with the new safety handrails upgrade installed.

The interiors of these cars receive my standard modifications of brass safety handrail inside the isle windows and window shades will improve the look of these cars.  About 3 months ago a friend mentioned that I was using the incorrect color window shades... so I'll be again upgrading the fleet with more correct color (darker gray-green) window shades.


Here's SP 'Serra' on the rear of an eastbound train at Bakersfield with the OwlMtModels Marker installed.

The 12-1s often were used on the rear of the Owl, so at least two of these cars have OwlMtModels 10002 Pyle Gyralite Markers and Tailgates installed with the provided red LEDs for rear end service.  These markers were installed in the cars when I put them into service originally in 2012.  During the 2017 upgrades I'll be checking over the pickups, possibly upgrading them with OwlMtModels' new pickup system for Walthers trucked cars (soon to be released) and making sure the marker lights are still working properly.

Another Project... 

SP 'Prior Lake' (10-1-1) sleeper as it sits in early Sept, 2017.  SP only had two of this type, both assigned to the Owl.

The same upgrades are also being done at this time on SP 'Prior Lake', which is a Walthers kitbash of a 10-1-1 HW Pullman sleeper, which I'll probably cover some in its own post separately. - Of course, like all things, I'm just finishing this car and Atlas announces they're planning to release the Branchline 10-1-1 models.  I'll still finish this model as it's already 90% done.

or Two...

Walthers 'stand-in' model for SP's 'Mission Dolores' 8-BDR-Lounge (Solarium) used on the Owl.

One other car that will get some similar upgrades at some point soon is this stand-in model for the SP 'Mission Dolores'.  The SP owned two of these 'Mission'-series cars (the other being the 'Mission Santa Ynez', which were assigned to the Owl for many years.  The model right now is a stock Walthers Solarium-Observation (with Microscale decals and an extra ThinFilm decal name applied) which is the correct car type, but the details of the sleeping rooms isn't right some of the isle windows are wrong, the lounge is a bit too long, and also the vestibule doors were modified and one was closed over by the era I model, so all of that should be addressed as well.  The car needs the upgraded decals as well, which I am not willing to do until the 'surgery' for the car side modifications is out of the way.

Edit: BTW, yes, Kevin Bunler's correct.  I know 'Delores' is the wrong way to spell the car name... The ThinFilm decal set had it that way on the sheet! and I didn't catch it before decalling the car.  (oops!)  Yet another thing to fix when I rebuilt the car and repaint it.... Again.  --- Although, who knows... maybe the Walthers model is correct for "SP's Mission Delores" - a proto-freelance car! <grin>

This car will be it's own build-upgrade blog at some point in the future.

In Closing

This pretty well sums where these cars are at in early September 2017, I'll take more pictures as progress continues.  Hopefully this will again encourage those of you out there that have cars that you want to upgrade because you know aren't right and your newer skills or access to better modeling supplies.  I hope this will show that it's not too hard to take an older model and rework it again.

Jason Hill

Related Links:
Modeling Index SP Heavyweight Passenger Cars

SP 3503 - Baggage-Dorm (Part 1) from Rivarossi HW 12-1 Sleeper to a unique prototypical car


  1. Sweet developments and data, J. One niggling detail -- it's "Dolores" -- not Delores. ;0)

    1. Yup Kevin, I forgot to mention that the name is mis-spelled on the decal sheet! It's one of the other things I'll be fixing on the Mission Dolores when I rebuild her correctly... who knows, maybe the model is right for the 'Mission Delores'! :P

  2. A friend of mine who made several Branchline cars told me that there were several underbody details near the car ends, possibly coupler and brake system details, were best installed near the end of the build and not in their original sequence. Did you run across something like that?

    (I also heard a guy say La Maride instead of La Mirada several times on radio advertising today.)

    1. I've not personally tried building a BL kit yet. That said, there's about 15 in my backlog of projects from people to 'fix' for them and now these three that were given to me to 'do something with'... I'll probably go to using my standard technique building/rebuilding the bolsters to accept modified Walthers 6-wheel trucks, appropriate for the model.


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