Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Modeling SP passenger cars, Part 8: more baggage cars

In this post I want to continue with my comments on the cars needed for a Southern Pacific mail train, specifically the “Coast Mail,” which ran in daylight hours on the main line portrayed on my layout. My first post in this series (see it at: ) described the operation of this train. In this post, I describe additional baggage cars.
     The main source of my 60-foot baggage cars is the old Ken Kidder brass models. Some of these have inaccurate roof vent arrangements, and I have either modified the cars that are wrong, or have chosen to live with them. I introduced the topic of these cars in a previous post in this series (which can be seen at this link: ). I went into more detail about the Kidder roof arrangements in a post about modeling one of SP’s 60-foot arch roof coaches (read it at: ).
     The most common Kidder baggage car has 5 unevenly space Globe vents on the roof center line, then three more Globe vents spaced along both sides of the center line, 11 vents in all. This is closest to the early Harriman-era steel baggage cars, such as Class 60-B-1. But photos of these 60-foot cars over the years show that roof vents were often rearranged when roof work was done, especially the removal of electrical conduits along the roof, and in many cases Utility vents were installed in place of Globe vents. These kinds of changes are amply illustrated in the “bible” of this topic, published by the SP Historical & Technical Society, Volume 3 in the series Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, and subtitled “Head-end Equipment” (SPH&TS, Pasadena, CA, 2007).
     The photo below shows the stock roof of a Kidder baggage car of the kind just described. I have largely chosen to leave these as they are, rather than rearrange vents or replace Globe with Utility vents, though those would be very appropriate modeling changes.

I will have to admit to feeling that these cars, because they will operate only in passing trains on my layout’s main line, don’t need to meet the same criteria as my best models. To repeat the way I classify my freight cars, either they are suitable for all service (including switching, where operators have a chance to peruse their details), or they are classified as “mainline” cars, meaning cars which are less well detailed or have other stand-in qualities, and enjoy mainline operation only. These Kidder baggage cars are definitely mainline models. This is SP 6048.

     To go the other extreme from mainline cars, I also included in a previous post some remarks about the imported brass head-end cars, then forthcoming from The Coach Yard (those remaraks can be found at: ). Those cars were from the consist of the “Coast Mail,” and as I mentioned, I had made a purchase reservation.
     Unfortunately, though, my reservation got lost at The Original Whistle Stop, and the cars all were quickly sold out, so I didn’t get one that way. I share some of the blame for the problem, because instead of checking up on progress and making sure I was in the queue, I trusted in the system. Lesson learned, I suppose. But eventually I did find one of the cars from that train, the handsome baggage-horse car, Class 70-BH-1, for sale elsewhere. I promptly purchased it, so now I can add that car to my train. Here is a photo of this fine Coach Yard model.

The only real need here before the car operates is to paint wheel faces grimy gray. Otherwise this paint scheme, a relatively new “pool” scheme in my modeling year of 1953, can be operated in a pristine condition.
     A brief word on paint schemes (for much more detail and excellent illustrations, strongly oriented to modelers’ needs, see the SPH&TS book by Jeff Cauthen and John Signor, Southern Pacific Painting and Lettering Guide, Locomotives and Passenger Cars,  SPH&TS, Upland, CA, 2013). It was during 1954 that SP decided to eliminate the Dark Olive Green paint scheme used for much passenger equipment for decades, and instead use a Two-Tone Gray scheme, much like the Lark and (former) Overland schemes.
     But prior to this time, there had been a practice of painting “pool” equipment in one of the passenger schemes, but without train logo. For example, a relief lounge car for service in one of the Daylight trains (Coast, San Joaquin or Shasta) would be painted in Daylight Red and Orange, but without train logo. That is essentially what the photo above, of SP 7216, represents for my 1953 era, though of course it’s a pool version of Two-Tone Gray, not Daylight.
     Getting more of my rolling stock in place to operate a “Coast Mail” on my SP main line on the layout is progressing nicely, and I will likely report in a future post how the train turns out.
Tony Thompson


  1. Hey Tony, glad to see your putting good use to that beautiful CY baggage car you bought from me. :)

    Ryan Dora

  2. Indeed I am, and thanks again. I was really pleased to find it for sale!
    Tony Thompson