Monday, July 8, 2024

Operating an SP business car, Part 2

In the previous post, I described my attempt to use the Rivarossi heavyweight observation car as a stand-in for the actual Southern Pacific business car assigned to the Coast Division superintendent for the time I model, 1953. (That post: . )

In that previous post, I showed a Mac Gaddis photo at San Luis Obispo, of SP 119 arriving on Train 72, showing the left side of the car. Mac later photographed SP 119 in its usual visiting location, a stub track near the freight house, and this shows the right side (fall 1953).

As Mac told me in an interview, the car visited this part of Coast Division often because its assigned user, Coast Division Superintendent J.J. Jordan, liked the cooler summer weather along the coast, and liked to dine on fish and shellfish, fresh from the coast. In fact Jordan (known in the third person as “Jimmy” but not to his face) loved the Coast so much that he declined promotion to other places on the SP and remained as Coast Superintendent from 1931 to 1956.

Often seen with a cigar in his face, and famed for his desk-thumping “old-time railroading” style, Jimmy Jordan was a fixture up and down Coast Division. Here is a photo of him from the SP Bulletin.

I mentioned in the previous post that my Rivarossi observation car, standing in for the Coast Division official car, remained “out of service” once I discovered that it wasn’t numbered correctly and had several differences from the prototype.

But recently I was going through the SPH&TS official car book (briefly reviewed in the previous post, link in the first paragraph at the top of this post), and found the series of SP photos of the car after it was upgraded at Sacramento General Shops in the summer of 1953 with new mechanical equipment, and air-conditioned. One of these photos, taken from the book, is shown below.

This photo emphasizes another difference of SP 119 from the Rivarossi model: its rear end wall is at the outer end of the car sides, not inset to make a bigger platform, as is true of the Rivarossi model.

Still, I decided to see what changes I could conveniently make to the Rivarossi model to bring it closer to the prototype SP 119. I could move the rear wall outwards, and I could add the very evident truss rods using heavy brass wire. I had already removed the somewhat overblown awning under the platform canopy on the original model (internet photo):

I began with the rear wall. By repeated slicing with a hobby knife around the periphery of the wall, I was able to remove it intact, as shown below. You can see the previous location by the change in floor colors. Here the removed wall is at lower left, and the molded Rivarossi interior is at right. All colors shown can remain, as I move that wall rearward.

In a future post, I will show the completion of work on that rear wall, along with addition of truss rods to the body, and addition of some weight to the car. The model will still differ from the prototype in some ways, but I believe I am on the way to an acceptable stand-in for SP 119.

Tony Thompson

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