Monday, December 25, 2017

SP 3503 (Part 1) - Baggage-Dormitory

About 2013 or so, as I was getting more into modeling a Consist of the Owl (Nos.57/58) as closely as possibly for the 1950-1954 era with as few brass cars as possible.  One of the cars, the Baggage-Dormitory was going to be a bit of a bear because the Owl's regular Dormitories were ex-14 Single Bedroom cars Night Fern and Night Mantle, rebuilt to become SP 3500 and 3501 in 1953.  Both of these cars resemble a 6-3 in general layout, in that all of the isle windows are on the same side, while all the room windows are on the other.  The normal starting point for most models on the market would be some form of car with section sleeping in the middle of the car, as found on the 12-1s, 14-Section, 10-1-2s, and 8-1-2s.  After flipping through the SP Passenger Car Vol.2, Sleepers and Dormitory Cars (from the SPH&TS), I came across an easier car to model, and while not exactly correct for 1953, but instead 1954.  I decided it wouldn't be a bad place to build a stand-in model.

Several years earlier, when a LHS went under, I was able to acquire a group of Walthers HW 12-1 sleepers to replace my old fleet of Rivarossi HW 12-1s from about 20 years ago.  This led me to repaint some of the old cars as Tourist Sleepers, but a couple of the extra cars I made other plans for.

The Converting the Prototype and the Model

SP 3503 riding ahead of the chair cars on a very late Owl, No.57, east of Bakersfield.

The SP 3503, I decided was closer to my starting point floor plan arrangement and my desire to use a set of Walthers 242 trucks I had available.  I started this conversion when it was very hard to get Walthers 6-wheel passenger trucks separately.  Originally the Pullman-Standard Company's HW 12-1 sleeper Sunburst Rose was built in September 1925, it was acquired by the SP on January 1st, 1949, with the breakup of the Pullman Pool and assigned an SP number which was never applied to it before being rebuilt in 1954 into SP 3503.  The 3503 continued in Baggage-Dorm service into at least 1959 painted Dark Olive Green (based on a photo in SP Passenger Cars Vol.2, page 511) and eventually painted into the Two-Tone Gray (TTG) scheme, though it would seem more likely that the car would have been painted into TTG closer to the 1954 switch to TTG for general service cars.  It might have lasted longer due to the freshly painted car coming out of the shops in 1954, probably just before the change was implemented.

Left side of Rivarossi body with window blanks cut from sheet styrene and glued in place.

The conversion to SP 3503 for the prototype consisted of blanking all the windows from the center of the car forward, except the toilet window near the forward vestibule, which would be retained for the Train Baggage Man's (TBM) use.  The Vestibules on the front left and rear right corners of the car were blanked out and plated over with plain sheet steel.  The step wells were removed from those vestibules as well, and standard baggage car type corner stirrup steps were installed.  A baggage door was cut into the carside towards the car center from the TBM's toil compartment.

Right side of Rivarossi body with window blanks cut from sheet styrene and glued in place.

The rest of the interior of the car was stripped out and 'fish rack' style flooring and wall-mounted folding express racks were installed in the front half of the car, save where the toilet was retained.  Modern Ply-Metal baggage doors were installed.

The Drawing Room end of the interior was kept and a partition installed in the center of the car, forming the rear of the baggage area.

In the rear half of the car, six sections were retained for the crew's dormitory, and the drawing room was also retained.  All of the windows were replaced with frosted glass, to obstruct vision into the sleeping and changing areas of the car.  As out-shopped as a Baggage-Dormitory the car was painted the car in standard SP Dark Olive Green with Delux Gold (fake) lettering.

My earliest conversion photos show the car body already cut up and with the patch plates in place.  The baggage door came a bit later.

Roof Modifications

The roof already had New England Rail Service A/C ducting in place from the car's previous life as a Pullman Sleeper, just like the prototype SP 3503's past.  I happened to have several roofs to choose from, and I selected the one that had the roof vents closest to what the prototype SP 3503 had.

Left Side of the modified roof piece
The Rivarossi models have the windows included in the plastic roof piece.  Because of the new door location and the fact the clear door panel needed to go all the way to the car floor, I removed the roof-mounted window section of injection molded material.

Right Side of the modified roof piece.

I had used sheet styrene about 20 years ago to make 'window shades' before I learned that they should be painted! - So I was able to chip off the ones in the worst locations, thankfully on this roof most of the ones I couldn't remove were in the baggage section anyway!  The Dormitory windows and toilet windows were covered over with non-clear M3 brand "Scotch Tape" to create a frosted look to the glass.

New Baggage Doors

I spent some time cleaning up the new baggage door corner posts, blanking out the window that was cut off right in the middle of the new door.

The new doors were fabricated out of 0.02" clear styrene sheet.  I masked off the flush mounted 'thermo-pane' window (common on SP cars rebuilt during and after 1954), and painted the rest of the door when I painted the car with the StarBrand SP Dark Olive Green paint.

Oops - Don't Forget the Isle!

Just before I painted the car I was giving the car a once over, it had been probably 6 months since I'd last looked at the project.  I looked at the photos and realized I'd overlooked one of the changes that Pullman made to the 2410 plan cars over the years they're building them.  The Pullman-Standard company added a third window to the non-Drawing room end of the car's isle!  The Rivarossi model only has two windows.

New three window arrangement on the right side of this photo, along the isle.

So I cut out the offending window and replaced them with two from New England Rail Service.  The car was then painted with SP Dark Olive Green from StarBrand, and decalled with ThinFilm 160 Southern Pacific Delux Gold lettering.  Don't forget to include the "Baggage" and "Dormitory" words at the ends of the car in the letterboard just inboard from the vestibule doors.


Basic Rivarossi underframe detailing for the SP 3503 remains for now.

At this point, I'm not going to worry about rebuilding the whole underframe equipment details.  I can do that later after I acquire more passenger underbody details in my parts bin.


Front right corner of the SP 3503 "Baggage" end.

I installed my standard 'go to' diaphragm these days, which are Hi-Tech Details Western Short style diaphragms without the torsion rods.  Installation of these can be seen in more detail in my SP 5199 (Part 4) build.

Things Still "To Do" & Closing Thoughts

I still need to install the stirrup steps under the blanked out doors on the two corners of the car.  I'm planning to add separate grabs for the new baggage door, but probably not replace the existing ones at the vestibules.

Rear left corner of SP 3503 "Dormitory" end.

 The back-set windows from Rivarossi should probably be replaced with better, closer to flush sitting ones, but I'm not going to worry too much about it for now.  The center dividers in the doors was removed to match the Sunburst Rose.  Oh, and I just noticed I need to put a new brake wheel onto that end of the car!  Details, details!

Right side of nearly finished SP 3503 Baggage-Dorm

Left side of nearly finished SP 3503 Baggage-Dorm

While the SP 3503 isn't done, and also isn't the best starting point for a "Super Accurate" Baggage-Dormitory, also being a year after I want to cut off modeling the Owl, I'm happy to settle for a 'stand-in' level of detailing for now on this model.

If someone wanted to do a better and more accurate model, probably starting with the Branchline-Atlas or Walthers 12-1 would be a better starting point... but if I was to do that, I'd probably build myself the proper SP 3500 or 3501, as rebuilt from the 'Night'-series cars.... or maybe I'd just back date another year or two and model the 'Night'-series car before they turned them into Dorm cars!

Jason Hill

Related Links and Articles:

Modeling Index for SP Heavyweight Passenger Cars

Modeling the Southern Pacific's Owl Nos.57/58 (Part 1) - WWII to Korea

Modeling Clerestory SP Chair Cars (Part 1) - SP 1050 - Using a Walthers Paired Window Coach

Modeling SP 2701 60-CC-1 Chair Car from Model Power 67ft Coach (Part 1)

Kitbashing an SP RPO-Baggage from MDC-Roundhouse Parts - SP 6102 - Express-Baggage Car

Mistakes in Modeling - Part Oops!

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