Saturday, February 21, 2015

Modeling the Coast Mail — the rider coach, Pt. 2

Part 1 of this series described the rider coach which normally ended the “Coast Mail,” SP’s trains 71 and 72 in my modeling year of 1953 (you can read it at: ). There, I described preparing a Ken Kidder brass car body to model this coach. In the present post, I will describe how I made underbody details for the Kidder cars, and show the completed rider coach.
     This is relevant to anyone completing a Kidder brass passenger car body or a head-end car, because these cars were sold with a smooth, featureless wood floor. (I discussed the various 1960s Kidder bodies in my previous post, the link to which is provided above.) All these cars need at least the addition of underbody brake gear (I like the Cal-Scale “UC” set AB-300, but there are other makers of such parts too) and a battery box (I use Century Foundry). Many older SP passenger cars in later years also had generators to provide car electricity. All this can be added.
     The first step in planning underbody additions is to appreciate the locations of SP underbody equipment, as were shown in my second post about the Coast Mail, at: ). The battery box was centered on the right side, and the brake cylinder, when visible, was on the left, along with at least one air tank. Generators were on the left side, toward the B end of the car.
     I should emphasize that the above description of equipment locations is typical, but exceptions certainly existed. By all means consult photos, for example in the excellent SPH&TS volume on Coaches and Chair Cars, in the series Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, Volume 1 (Pasadena, 2003), particularly if you are modeling a particular car number. For head-end cars, you want to consult Volume 3 in the series.
     Although detailed prototype photos of Harriman-era underbody arrangements are rare, drawings do exist, and were the basis for the Southern Car & Foundry resin kits for Harriman baggage cars. Here is a SC&F 60-foot baggage car underframe. The two sets of diamond-patterned diagonal braces, though distinctive and very prominent from below, are all but invisible from the side of the car, so I omit them from most models.

The underframe shown above also includes a fairly complete piping arrangement, though again, on most of my Kidder cars, I would omit the bulk of this.
     I showed one Kidder brass baggage car for which I have made an underbody, SP 6114, in my second post in this series (the link is provided in the third paragraph of the present post); and here is a left side view to show what is visible on this model. The valve is at right, while the brake cylinder is hidden behind the tanks.

Incidentally, the color of this car is a deliberate effort to get a faded look, since many color photos of SP cars in Dark Olive Green in sunlight appear much lighter than the pure color. I mixed 2 parts Floquil Pullman Green and 1 part Coach Green for this car. In hindsight, the color is not olive enough, but this color does give some variation in passenger consists.
     I prepared an underframe arrangement much like that of baggage car SP 6114, above, for my rider coach, following photos from Volume 1 (Coaches and Chair Cars) of the SPH&TS  series Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, cited above. Here is an angled view from the right side, with just the underbody equipment added. The box on the far side has a detailed outer face. Styrene truck bolsters have yet to be installed, as have representations of the brake rodding, and a minimal center sill.

Note here that the car has been painted Dark Olive Green, not the faded color shown above in the photo of SP 6114. I used Tru-Color No. 135.
     I glued together rectangles of 1/16-inch styrene sheet to make 1/8-inch truck bolsters. The vital dimension here is the distance between the rail head and the bottom of the car floor, where the coupler box will be located. I have illustrated using the Kadee height gauge to ensure the correctness of this distance in a previous post on truck installation; you can see that post at: .
     With a shallow center sill and some brake rodding mocked up, and the entirety painted dark gray (battery box faces are Dark Olive Green), here is the underbody at this point. The view is from the same side as in the photo above. You can click on the image to enlarge it.

Truck screws are in place in the bolsters so the heads would get painted.
     In the first post in this series (link at the top of this post), I mentioned Robert Bowdidge’s similar Kidder car underbody modeling. If interested, see: .
     In the second photo above it may be possible to see that I chose a number from among SP’s Class 60-C-3 cars, and applied decals (ThinFilm set HO 160 SP) to make it into SP 1240. Here is a better view, with glazing, window shades, and a passenger or two remaining to be installed:

The trucks here have the correct eight-foot wheelbase, and are the currently available Athearn trucks, their part number 90393.
     For years, several of my Kidder cars have operated with Kadee #36 couplers, a compact but effective design which seems to work well on these cars. But what you see above on SP 1240 are entirely conventional #5 couplers. (Both the #5 and #36 heads have the large gathering range which is useful on longer cars.) I drilled and tapped the body 2-56 to attach the coupler boxes.
     The rider coach was a standard part of the consist of the “Coast Mail” in the transition era, always quite evident because of its location at the end of the train, so I am happy to add this model to my train.
Tony Thompson

No comments:

Post a Comment