Southern Pacific Passenger Car Models

Cars built in HO scale by Bruce Petty

1960s Passenger Cars

I model the Southern Pacific passenger trains of the 1960s, because these are the trains I rode and remember. At that time the paint scheme was Silver with a Red letter board, this had became the standard in 1959 until Amtrak took over in 1971. You could still see other SP passenger cars in trains that had not been re painted, such as the Daylight Red & Orange, Lark-Cascade Two Tone Gray, City of San Francisco Yellow & Gray.

I used a number of kits and older brass import cars to build up my two favorite passenger train consist, these being the San Joaquin Daylight (No. 51-52), and the Owl (No. 57-58). The diesel power used for my passenger trains are; SP Gray, Proto 2000 Alco PA & B, (as seen on the layout page) and their EMD E-9 with an E-7 B unit.

Building the Baggage and RPO Cars

The new Baggage and Postal Cars ordered by SP in the early 1960s were painted Dark Lark Gray.

This cheap plastic streamlined baggage car is model was manufactured by ConCor, it was modified by filling in the top of the baggage door with a plastic strip to match the prototypes letter board and door windows. Changes were also along the bottom edge of the car. Scalecoat, SP Dark Lark Gray paint and Microscale Decals finished the model.

This Railway Post Office car is a MHP (Model Hobby Products) Kit manufactured about 40 years ago by Richard K. Wright. These kits were made with plated steel sides and ends that the modeler has to solder together, the kit includes a wood roof and floor. The 12 steps at the ends and doors were made of soldered together flat brass stock, then soldered to the car sides. The kits are a lot of work to build, detail and paint, but they make a great model when finished.

Building the Passenger Cars

Coach Cars

Shown here is a MHP Kit, SP Coach with the soldering finished and ready for detail work on the roof and underbody. The kits come with full metal skirts, I cut these off to show all the underbody details. The trucks are cheap Athearns, but will be replaced someday when I find a good deal on the proper set. You may find that your model railroad friends will never notice the trucks, but if your diesel is missing one little detail part, you will be told all about it.

MODELING NOTES: I ran out of the green card stock used for window shades, but another modeler came up with a great idea. He suggested using paper paint chip samples found in a hardware store. So off to the hardware paint chip rack to find a similar color to match a photograph of a prototype cars window shades. Two chip samples will provide enough shades all of the windows for one car, most shades seen on prototype cars cover only a third or less of the window. These color samples usually have four or five colors per sample chip, and by using two of these closely matching colors (A &B), the lighter color (B) can simulate faded shades as seen on the prototype.

This is the same car as the above now finished. I numbered it SP 2492 like its prototype had silver underbody and trucks, it ran on the Golden State or Sunset train. See the finished the paint chip window shades using two closely matching colors.

This car the rider coach on my Sunset Line, Mail Train. No. 39-40.

MODELING NOTES: This is the same type MHP coach as the above, finished. Takes about four coats of sanding sealer on the roof to prepare for painting. I made the roof vents from styrene, the underbody detail parts are from Century Foundry and Cal-Scale. Scalecoat paint and Microscale decals were used to finish. New paint chip shades have been installed in this car too.

MHP cars have metal ends with a punched out opening, the IHC HO Passenger Car Diaphragms, #6060, has tabs that hold on the edges of that opening, so no glue is needed. I also added a red light on the tail gate following prototype practice. A 1 1/2 volt battery inside and a on/off micro switch was placed under the floor.

This is a large window Shasta Coach, an older brass model from Coach Yard.

Articulated Coach

Here is a thirty year old Articulated Coach imported brass model by Soho, it sold for about thirty dollars back in the 1970s. Todays imports cost 500 bucks, that's a little over 16 times of the Soho Car. For some strange reason, I'm not making 16 times the money that I was in the 1970s, go figure!

MODELING NOTE: I removed the skirts and added underbody detail parts, also opened up the top half of the vestibule door on each side of the car. I made a new top door from styrene and have it open against the bulkhead. In later years the SP disconnected the linkage from the trap that pulled the steps up, doing this left the steps in a permanent down position. I modeled the steps using a narrowed down styrene staircase and adding new sides having the correct curves. This is what I remember best about SP passenger trains, riding at an open vestibule.

The Daylight Trucks used are manufactured by D & G Models, they are made of styrene with springs that really work under load. So check out Jim Gerstley's new webpage for SP Daylight and other variations used for other railroads.

Automat Cafe

The Automat Cafe was Southern Pacific's way to get Dining Cars off trains. It took about 16 men to operate a diner and this was not profitable by the 1960s. The railroad wanted to cut down on the dining car crew but the union would not hear of it, so SP came up with the Automat Cafe. Put your nickels in the machine and you get your coffee and sandwich. I've spent plenty of time riding in this car, still remember the coffee machine paper cup dropping after the coffee poured. This was really state of the art fast food.

MODELING NOTE: This is a Coach Yard Car and was NOT CHEAP, but nowhere near the high priced as their cars sold nowadays. Just had to have it, re painted it, and it is correct.

6-6-4 Sleeper

For the Owl consist, I run this Sleeper at the rear of the train or in front of a Parlor Observation Car. This was a make it yourself kit with Pullman sides from the Brass Car Sides Company, soldered on to MHP metal ends, and with a wood roof and floor. The trucks are form GSB Company. You will notice the Red Letter Board is a bit lower than on the other SP cars. . . YES. . . This is correct, because these cars were assigned to run with the Budd equipment on the Sunset, No.1 and 2. The Budd Company built their cars with lower letter boards

Parlor Observation

Of all the MHP car kits, this is the one I like the best. The part of the kit was building the light box for the Red Mars Light at the back end. Shown below is a drawing of what the box should look like.

MODELING NOTE: I formed the box from curving the wood roof end, this was slow work, but well worth the time spent. I drilled a hole through Mars light casting and the wood roof underside for a red bulb to work with a flasher unit. That little detail makes the train come to life when running on the club layout.


Cars Painted for Friends

This is a Soho SP Dome car that is painted up in the City of San Francisco colors and number, SP 3601. The green plastic uned in the dome was cut from a paper pattern so to fit without glue. The prototype glass was not this dark but this shade of green saved from detailing the interior of the car.

This is the Union Pacific lounge car Hollywood, that ran on the City of Los Angeles. One thing I can say about painting yellow on cars is paint White first, then the UP Yellow. If UP Yellow was painted over Harbor Mist Gray, the Yellow will go off color.


NEW PAGE Other railroads passenger equipment used in SP passenger trains.


For Consist and Photos of the San Joaquin Daylight.

Check out the Prototype Passenger Cars of the 1960s.