TIPS & TECHNIQUES

 

    The romance of the passenger train!!   Something that is almost gone in today's modern railroad era.  Many of us have fond memories of riding the trains and the names like Hiawatha, 20th Century Limited, Panama Limited, The Chief, and the Orange Blossom Special, bring back a desire for times that are long past.  We, as modelers, have in many cases tried to reproduce in miniature what the real railroads used to be.  In our scale, passenger operation is indeed possible, and the manufacturers have produced rolling stock in many scales just for this purpose. It doesn't matter whether you are modeling 19th Century or 21st Century, there are passenger cars that you can use on your railroad.  Compromises will have to be made, since many passenger cars were custom built and were unique for a specific railroad, and there is no way that a manufacturer can duplicate these car types with accuracy.
    Passenger cars with open vestibules can be seen in many westerns and were quire common throughout the 19th Century.  Aristo makes what they call "Sierra" cars which are loosely modeled after D&RGW rolling stock.  They are 1:24 scale and come with full interiors and lights. They come in assorted road names, but many modelers re-paint and re-letter them, as they do come in some unrealistic paint schemes. They are made to match up with the C-16 locomotive which also comes in a variety of paint schemes.  USA makes some cars that they call "Overton" cars. They too have a full interior and lights. No scale is specified for these cars but they look like 1:24, and will probably also require a re-paint and re-lettering.  LGB makes some cars that they call "Old Time".  No scale specified, but they have full interior and lights. Bachmann makes some cars called "Jackson Sharp" cars which are 1:20.3 scale. They have full interior and lights, and are very well done.  They fit well with Bachman's stable of 1:20.3 locomotives, and will look at home behind any of the 1:20.3 locomotives on the market. Accucraft makes some beautiful D&RGW "San Juan " cars. These cars were manufactured to compliment their line of 1:20.3 D&RGW steam locomotives, and really look nice. They come in coach green, or D&RGW "Bumble Bee" paint.  All these manufacturers seem to produce these cars in a variety of car types in this vintage.
    The only manufacturer that does make standard gauge "Heavyweight" cars is Aristo.  They claim them to be 1:29 scale, but are a tad short, possibly to work on narrower curves.  They come in four wheel or six wheel truck versions depending on the car and the version.  The original cars had six wheel trucks, which did not run well on less than 10 foot diameter curves.  The truck has been re-designed and it now does well on 8 foot diameter curves.  The detail on these cars is good.  They all have full interiors and lighting.  Some walls have been placed so they block end doors, and as I have mentioned before, they have installed the toilets backwards. (So much for Chinese craftsmanship). To fit passengers in the seats, some leg surgery is required.  The same holds for adding any standing passengers or train crew.  Many of these cars come with truss rods, which were eliminated by law in the late 1930's. They are easy to remove, and will eliminate a detail that is often broken in handling.  The cars are based on the original Central of New Jersey "Blue Comet" cars, and come in many paint schemes which may or may not reflect the prototype, as the real roads usually had these cars painted Pullman Green or Coach Olive.  A nice feature is the dining car which has individual table lamps that light with LED's at each table. Diaphrams are hard plastic, but rubber ones can be added by the modeler. An arch roof is available for these cars from Shawmutt Car Shops, if you desire a different look than the original clerestory type. Car types include, RPO, Baggage, Combine, Coach, Pullman, Diner and Observation with lighted markers and drumhead. Kadee couplers can be fitted to these cars.  In an earlier article I described how this is done, and also how to shorten the coupling distance between cars.
    Streamline cars are made by many manufacturers.  Aristo makes fluted aluminum cars in 1:29 that are shortened for narrow (8 foot diameter) curves.  These cars are actually made from extruded aluminum, have no interior, are lighted, and have green window inserts.  They have been around for some time and are going to be re-released with interiors in the near future. The observation comes with lighted markers and warning light which can be converted to a MARS light with parts from RAM Products.  The lenses on these lights is clear, but can be colored to the proper red with Tamaiya clear red paint. Selected lighted drumheads can be purchased from Tomar and added to the observation for more realism.  Aristo also made some smooth side passenger cars out of aluminum which are close to protypical length.  They are also planning on re-releasing a full line of these cars.  The cars are lighted and have the same green window inserts as the fluted cars have.  The same modification as to MARS light and drumhead applied to these cars also. Kadee couplers can be added to these cars, and the distance between cars can be shortened for a more prototypical look. 
    USA has made some very realistic 1:29 aluminum streamline cars.  They have fully lighted interiors, seated passengers, and many details not included on any other brand.  Rubber diaphragms are standard, and drop steps are included, just like the prototype.  They are scale length (about 33 inches), and the observation comes with lighted markers and drumhead sign.  Some of the paint schemes are obscure, such as the ACL scheme, but they really look nice on a large layout.  They are "power hogs" with all the lighting, and need more than one locomotive to pull a full set, but so did the real railroads.
    LGB has made several different versions of streamline cars in plastic over the years.  As usual, the scale is questionable on these older cars, and is probably 1:26.  They have several "flavors" of these cars, including a set that is unlighted and has no interiors.  The latest versions are painted in several road names and are lighted with full interiors.  The LGB AMFLEET cars are very nicely done, and are close to 1:29 scale.  They capture the look of these AMTRAK cars quite well, and would look good behind the LGB "Genesis" locomotive. They are more to scale when compared to the original LGB smooth side streamline passenger cars.  LGB is coming out with models of the AMTRAK Superliner cars.  These are the high cars that you see on modern AMTRAK trains today all over the country.  They are 1:29 scale and really are made to be linked to the new Genesis locomotives.  When released, they will be a definite hit with modern passenger train operators.
    MTH makes streamline passenger cars, but in 1:32 scale.  They are good looking cars, and come with clean, crisp paint and lettering for many railroads. They are lighted and have interiors.  They are presently being slowly released, and a full set should be out by next year.  I never realized the difference between 1:29 and 1:32 until I saw a side-by-side comparison at the show in Perry, Georgia.  The MTH cars looked like Lionel sized cars, and one could have easily fit inside a USA streamlined coach. They will of course look best with MTH motive power, and will not fit with any other manufacturere's locomotives.
    The biggest problem with passenger train operations is the length of your train. You will have to adjust the number of cars in your train to your layout size.  Shorter trains will always look better on most layouts.  Only a few will have the long straights and broad curves to pull off a really prototypical streamline passenger train.  The other problem is car storage. I myself find it difficult to find storage space for 33 inch passenger cars, and have not purchased a large number of them.  They do however, add a WOW factor to your layout and railroad operation, and should not be overlooked.
   

PASSENGER CARS
ARISTO
HEAVYWEIGHT
USA OVERTON
USA STREAMLINER