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Nigel's Workbench June 16 2014 - On Members Workbenches. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Tue Jun 17th, 2014 05:48 am
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BCDR
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Great Northern Railway Pullman Palace Cars


I’m having a break from UK 4mm scale modeling and spending some time on my other interest, the Great Northern Railway (GN),late steam to early diesel era (1940’s-1950’s) and turn-of-the century steam (1910-1930). Not to be confused with the other Great Northern railways, this one ran from St. Paul, Minnesota to the North West of the USA and Canada (Vancouver, BC). Unlike John (Brossard) I succumbed to HO some years ago, most things are dimensionally correct and well finished. The GN was unusual in North America that most of its steam locomotives had Belpaire boilers. Take away the domes, air pumps and chimneys and they look a lot like contemporary GWR locomotives (not surprising as the GWR borrowed many features from North American railroads at the turn of the 20th century).

I am modeling the Oriental Limited around 1910 and 1926 (St. Paul to Seattle, steam), and the Cascadian in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s (Spokane to Seattle, steam and early diesel). In addition, a branchline local up the Okanagan river valley to Oroville in the 1920’s will give me an excuse to model a Mogul with some open-ended passenger cars, and a gas-electric “doodlebug” that I am slowly working on. Wenatchee, WA will be the station modeled, with the main line running through east to west and the branchline to Oroville heading off north.

I had the good fortune to come across four old MDC Roundhouse kits of Pullman Palace passenger car (sleeper, diner, combine, and observation) at a bargain price of $9.00 each. These represent the wooden-bodied mainline luxury passenger cars that Pullman (as well as Barney & Smith) was supplying up until the 1920’s. I’m building a representation of the Oriental  Limited as it ran in 1910, and will need another 2 passenger cars (tourist sleeper and day car) and 2 head-end cars (railway post office  and baggage). The combine is not prototypical for the Oriental Limited, and I will probably replace it with a smoking car. Nothing is commercially available in HO for any of these, so the alternatives will be scratch building, getting some more Roundhouse Pullman passenger cars and kit-bashing them, or going the LaBelle wood kit route. At nearly $40.00 each (and with the cost of wheels and trucks well over $60.00) plus the time, kit bashing looks probable.

The Roundhouse kits are basic, plastic wheels, old-style hook couplers attached to the trucks, no interiors, and no end doors, but they do have some underframe details such as queen posts, air tanks, and battery/tool boxes. Calling them a “kit” is a bit of a misnomer, as all that is required is to glue on the underframe details, “wire” the trusses with the supplied nylon cord, and add the roof ventilators. No details of the build (it was just follow the instructions) but some details on what I have been doing to them afterwards.

1.       Roof. The cars have clerestory roofs. I added some roofing panel joints using adhesive lining tape from Comet Models. The cars were spray-painted with white primer. I use Tamiya metal/plastic white primer, as car primer is too thick and fills in molding details.

2.      Weight. The cars are very light, so some lead sheet was added to bring them up to 5.5 oz. The NMRA recommendation is 6.5 oz. for an 11.5” car, the interior detailing will bring it close to this The lead sheet was cut to size (and weight) and fixed in place with silicone adhesive (transparent, flexible type). This weight will be covered with the styrene floor when the interior is modeled.

3.      Wheels. The plastic wheels were discarded. I replaced them with new metal ones from Reboxx. These are RP25 semi fine-scale, with one wheel insulated. I’ll provide electrical pick-up for lighting later.

4.      Diaphragms (gangways). I looked at the commercial offerings, $6.95 for two, almost as much as what I paid for the car. Way too expensive. I’ve tried folded paper with the slit method where 2 pieces slide into each other, but the top is open. After a bit of research I came across another method described on the Elgin Model railway Club web site (elginmodelrailwayclub.co.uk) that results in covered tops and is a lot easier to put together. Instead of black paper, dark grey paper seemed to be more appropriate (S-Line 5 Bogan graphite). Why grey? Most photo’s of diaphragms (gangways) show them to be various shades of grey (the effect of track dust and sunlight), and drawing lines (and especially printing them) on black paper is problematic. The width of one of the components was reduced to allow for correct folding. Templates were drawn-up in CorelDraw that match the door size of the Pullman Palace car and printed onto the paper. The ends are black paper cut to shape and glued in place with CAA. The end that goes against the next diaphragm was given two coats of gloss black acrylic paint (Apple Barrel).

5.     Couplers. I used Kadee short fine-scale couplers with the draft boxes fixed under the ends of the cars. I drilled and tapped holes through the floor for 2-56 bolts to secure them.

Test running on the club layout through several successive S-curves was successful, with the diaphragms working as they should. That is it for the moment. Interior detailing is up next, including some stained glass windows for the curved window tops and clerestory lights (homemade decals on clear styrene), then painting (olive green body, black roofs and underframe) and some commercial “Great Northern” decals for the names and numbers. And, of course, some engines – a 2-6-0 Mogul for the branch line, a 4-6-0 Pacific for the main line and a 4-8-2 Mountain for the Cascadian (as well as a GP-7 diesel). No choice here for any of the types, they will have to be brass models. More on the motive power and the later, all metal heavyweight passenger cars for the 1926 Oriental Limited consist in later articles.

Pictures below.


Nigel



Pullman Palace combine




Pullman Palace observation



Pullman Palace observation - end detail. Steps scratch built and added.




Pullman Palace diner




Pullman Palace sleeper




Pullman Palace underbody detail




Diaphragm (gangway)




Fine scale Kadee (which does not work with a regular Kadee!).



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 Posted: Tue Jun 17th, 2014 07:00 am
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Brossard
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Glad to hear from you Nigel.  Those cars look great, esp for the price.  The balcony would benefit from an etched brass upgrade.  Those diaphragms look good too.  I like that you've closed over the top - any more detail on that?


You'll know I'm using scale head Kadees on my EM stuff.  I'll disagree and say that standard and scale Kadees do work together.


John



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 Posted: Tue Jun 17th, 2014 07:24 pm
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BCDR
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Hi John,

Thanks, been away for a few months.

At the price I paid for them (and they are usually on offer for around $15-$20+ on eebygum, which is silly money given the additional cost of postage) it's a trade-off between authenticity and cost. Buying these cars lettered and numbered for the GN is around $32.50 each (still with plastic wheels and no interior). I'm budgeting $25.00 with metal wheels, Kadee couplers, paint and decals, given the cost of the locomotives (triple ouch! Most of my budget for the year). Plus my time is free. Bethlehem Car Works do a really nice railing etch (CB&Q), but at $9.95 plus postage it's pushing the actual cost of the car well into the $30 range, which is Branchlines Blueprint heavyweight kit territory. They're not that true to prototype, more generic (how many times have we seen that?), and Roundhouse sold sets of 4 (sleeper, diner, observation and combine) in every railroad name they could think of, plus unlettered, unpainted singles for freelancing. GN had head-end equipment to match (matchboard sides) but rebuilt in their own shops from old stock and 60' long. Pullman Palace cars were around 80' long (you can see where Churchward got the idea for the GWR Dreadnaughts!), so an extensive kit bash with some cut and shutting of the Roundhouse models will be involved. Either that or scratch building using Evergreen styrene (or North East Lumber wood). Labelle sell various window styles, so that will help. I may give one of their kits a try just for the experience. Some of the photographs I have of the Oriental Limited pre-1920's show a rectangular windowed car in the middle of cars with curved Palace windows, presumably an extra day car from the stock pool. That would definitely require a kit bash.

The aim is to have an express reefer, followed by a baggage car, a railway postal office car, and then 6-7 passenger cars.

Kadee fine scale couplers function fine with regular Kadee couplers when coupled, the issue is that automatic coupling and decoupling normally doesn't work. They have to be dropped onto the regular coupler. Kadee even warn about this. Plus the height has to be spot on, and any track irregularity (dips/humps) will uncouple them if the height is not correct. Look nice though, especially without the magnetic pin, and I do prefer the whisker spring. I'm gradually replacing all my regular Kadees with the fine scale ones.

I'll post the procedure with photo's for the diaphragms/gangways next week when I get back from the UK.

Nigel



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 Posted: Tue Jun 17th, 2014 08:02 pm
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Brossard
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It's always good to have a change of pace, Nigel.  Best of luck with these.
I have to admit I haven't done much in the way of evaluating standard and scale Kadee performance - I haven't any mixed stock in EM, it's all scale and I shall to keep to that.  I've bought a load of scale couplings of late so should have enough to be getting on with.
So much to do, so little time (even if I am retired).


John



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