Fred Klein 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005
I have made a stab at compiling what I know or can easily find out about N scale passenger car prototypes. I have added many new discoveries and photographs during the last 2 years. I am grateful to several on-line modelers for car identifications and information, and I have quoted them where appropriate. I hope others will respond to me with corrections and additions to this information.
This is a list of prototype railroad car types corresponding to commercially available N-scale passenger cars. I try to match car types regardless of paint scheme. I basically compared photographs with the models for similar appearance and window arrangement, but I do not count rivets or corrugations. I have found prototypes for most models, but am still searching for all the roads that ran a particular type of car. I give complete references the photographs I have found that match the models, though the books must be consulted for the original photographers. The full names of the reference books are at the end of part 1 of the article.
A goal of most modelers is to model specific train prototypes from off-the-shelf cars, prototypical car sides or kits, and by kitbashing. The simpler problem I address here is the reverse (but is very useful to our goal): to take commercially available cars and search for their prototypes.
I will add to this list as new facts are uncovered and are reported to me. Information could include car types made for several different railroads, or cars later sold to other railroads. Of course, many of the models available may look close enough to the prototype cars to be individually suitable for inclusion in consists. N scalers do not have many finished model types to choose from and must either accept a model to “represent” a prototype, rely on custom painted kits, or bash cars together from parts. Even prototypically accurate cars are often inaccurate for a given road in some detail, such as length of letterboards or presence of skirts. Personally, I find that when I know how a car should look from photographs, the less I can tolerate the worst of the inaccurate models of it.
Unfortunately, manufacturers are reluctant to supply
specific roadnames of the prototypes for their cars
because that might limit sales of the non-prototypical roadnames. At present, the prototype trains that can be
most closely modeled with a variety of stock passenger cars are the California
Zephyr (Kato CZ complete Budd train, Con-cor Budd),
Burlington Zephyrs (Kato corrugated), Union Pacific City and Overland trains
(Kato smoothside), Great Northern’s
Empire Builder (Con-cor smoothside),
some Pennsy cars (Rivarossi
smoothside), Amtrak superliners (Con-cor and Kato), and some C&O and B&O cars (old Rowa semi-corrugated cars).
Prototypes of modeled heavyweight cars appear to come from a variety of different railroads, but most, naturally, are Pullman Standard cars. The differences between heavyweight cars of different roads are often more subtle and less visible, and it is a bit easier to letter a heavyweight car for different roads to make a realistic consist.
Steve Sandifer’s web site http://www.trainweb.org/jssand/ is
an excellent source comparing HO scale models and
Brass, acrylic and plastic car sides can model a great many more prototypical cars than are available fully molded. Companies like M&R models (email@example.com) with many sides available (http://www.nscalesupply.com/MRS/MRS.html), Brass Car Sides (http://www.brasscarsides.com/), American Model Builders (http://www.laserkit.com/), Wheels of Time (http://www.wheelsotime.com/), Des Plaines Hobbies (http://www.desplaineshobbies.com/), Eastern Seaboard Models (http://www.esmc.com/An/An000905.html), East Wind Manufacturing (http://www.e-rpo.net/ewm/ewm_main/ewm_product_index.htm), and JnJ trains (http://users.dwx.com/~jnjtrains/). More prototype cars are now available fully assembled from companies like Intermountain (http://www.intermountain-railway.com/) and Kato (http://www.katousa.com/). Most of these companies do an excellent job of listing the prototypes of their sides and models, and they do not need not to be repeated here. I include a few of the prototypes for some of the less-well documented JnJ brass sides I have found. Several prototypical resin cast car bodies become available from time to time from small producers, but are not listed here because availability and knowledge is so limited.
At present, the mid-late19th century Overton cars from Roundhouse are widely available, but I am no expert on this era and have very little reference material. Photographs and drawings of cars from this era, that are detailed enough to be recognizable, are rare. The best I can do now is to present photographs I have found that are approximations of the model cars. I believe these 30’ cars was rare, especially toward the end of the 19th century.
Charlie Vlk provides a hot lead about these cars: “The "Overton" label applies to the shorty 30 foot cars previously released by MDC/Roundhouse. These are the cars based on the Sierra Railroad's shorty cars (made famous especially by the combine which has been filmed in many, many movies including the Petticoat Junction TV series).”
Baggage. What can I say – short baggage cars only have one door per side and ideally a window.
Overton baggage car decorated for
baggage car converted in 1862 to a RPO.
Combine. Not an air-conditioned streamliner but still better than a stagecoach. Charlie Vlk identified the Overton cars as based on Sierra Railroad prototypes.
Overton combine car decorated for
to the left is Sierra Railroad’s shortie combine #5
built by W.L. Holman of San Francisco in 1902 for use on the Angels
Branch. The coach to the right is Sierra
Railroad’s shortie coach #6, also built by W.L.
Holman in 1902. These two coaches are
prototypes for two of the Overton cars. Photo from the Railtown 1897
Coach. Charlie Vlk identified the Overton cars as based on Sierra Railroad prototypes.
Roundhouse 30’ Overton wood truss rod coach decorated for AT&SF. The prototype for this car is the Sierra Railroad shortie coach #6 (photo above).
Parlor / sleeper car. Can anyone find a drawing or photo of a prototype car?
Roundhouse 30’ Overton wood parlor / sleeper car decorated for AT&SF.
The Roundhouse Overland cars represent late 19th century and early 20th century wood truss-rod cars. They are typical of the few photographs I have seen. I am no expert on this era, but there seems to be little standardization of cars and many small car builders making cars individually for each railroad. This makes exact prototype matching difficult. The best I can do now is to present photographs I have found that are approximations of the model cars. The model cars do not have the smokestacks typical of cars from this era, which need to be added to exhaust the wood stoves used to keep passengers warm.
Overland combine car decorated for
This car dates from 1870. It is similar to the Roundhouse model but has a different roof, door and number of windows. I have lost my notes on its history and the source of the photo.
This is a standard gauge combine built by the Carter Bothers about 1882 for the Los Angeles County Railroad. While the car has a more highly curved roof, the sides and body style are similar to the Roundhouse car. From page 78 of South Pacific Coast by Bruce MacGregor, Howell North Books, 1968.
Coach. The UP coach is a very close match to the Roundhouse Overland coach, but the UP prototype has two more windows per side.
50’ Overland coach decorated for
UP wood truss-rod coach of the 1890’s. Photo from page 11 of Patrick Dorin’s Coach Trains and Travel. What could be a better “overland” car than one owned by the UP or CP?
A CP day coach of the early 1870s. A Pullman Standard builder’s photo. The car is on 4-wheel trucks, about 50’ long. From page 126 of Mr. Pullman’s elegant palace car, Lucius Beebe, Doubleday, 1961.
car. I found two
close matches to the Roundhouse sleeping car.
The window arrangement gives these cars away as
50’ Overland “sleeping car” decorated for
through-coach built by
Another car matching the external
appearance of the Roundhouse model. This is the
Parlor car. I did not find any photos of “parlor cars”, but a few pictures of similar business cars. In terms of the photographic record, all the goodies seem to have gone to the executives rather than the traveling public. This sounds like the current situation with massive grabs an perks by corporate executives stealing from stockholders.
50’ Overland “parlor car” decorated for
car built by
Claus Schlund identified prototypes for these cars. He found the line-art drawings in Walthers Passenger Car Plans (revised Second Edition, Wm. K. Walthers, 1973). This book has drawings of hundreds of cars stating that they are prototypes, and is designed as a guide for kit-bashers to use Walthers kits and parts to make new cars. Both the coach and the combine seem like very good matches to the CNW drawings. I would still like to gather more information on these cars. If you have a photograph or book, please send a scan to me. They look like 1920s era steel riveted cars.
John W. Perkowski reports “the
Bachman heavyweight 60 foot combine is similar to UP combines 2700 and 2749,
shown in Schmitz (Schmitz, Lou, Editor. UP Color Guide to freight and Passenger Equipment, Volume 2.
Charlie Vlk reports “The Rapido Old Timers are also fading into memory.....they are about the same prototype as the Bachmann Old Timers (which are notable for having correct 5 foot wheelbase wood beam trucks)....while the Rapidos have standard European passenger car trucks.”
Combine. The prototype is a 60’ utility combine of Chicago & Northwestern series 7427-7439.
The scan is from page 25 of Walthers Passenger Car Plans. The drawing indicates a riveted side and a fishbelly center sill (not truss rods as it may appear in the scan).
65’ steel combine decorated for
Coach. The prototype is a 60’ utility coach of Chicago & Northwestern series 3211-3257, also a Soo Line 900 series smoking car.
The coaches in this photo sent by Claus Schlund (from Dubin's Some Classic Trains) appear to be the Bachmann model prototype.
The scan is from page 27 of Walthers Passenger Car Plans.
Bachmann 65’ steel coach decorated for
Observation. The observation car appears to be just a coach modified with an observation deck instead of a vestibule.
Bachmann 65’ steel observation decorated for Great Northern in Empire Builder colors. EB colors were still decades in the future when cars of this type were built.
The model is similar to the gas-electric cars produced by
Electro-Motive Corp. in the mid to late 1920’s (for example see photo of CGW
M-300 on page 348 of Dubin’s Some Classic Trains,
or the rebuilt M-109 of Santa Fe). Marty
McGuirk (Model Railroader, August 1998, page 24)
states “…the N scale model is not a model of a specific prototype, but with its
boxy construction and flat nose resembles many of the more than 400 cars built
in the 1920s and ‘30s by Electro-Motive Corp.
No two doodlebugs were exactly alike. In fact, EMC didn’t even build the bodies, as
it contracted out the coachwork to firms such as
Combine RPO-Baggage-Coach. Claus Schlund reports, “This car is a PRR class MPB70/MPB70a combine. Unlike the coach, the supplied 3CP1 trucks are correct for this car. Roof diamond pattern is not quite correct – should be no diamonds above baggage area. PRR owned 30 MPB70 cars and a further 30 MPB70a cars - they were indistinguishable externally.” The Model Railroader article of August 1963 page 36 supplies drawings of both the Model Power combine and coach, and may have inspired these models.
Model Power heavyweight combine decorated (incorrectly) as a Santa Fe RPO.
The Pennsylvania MPB70/MPB70a combine (coach-baggage-RPO). Drawing from page 36 of Model Railroader, August 1963.
Coach. This is clearly the PRR P70 steel coach built
by American Car & Foundry starting about 1914. An earlier version was built in the
Claus Schlund reports, “This car
is a model of an early-production PRR class P70 coach, used by the following
roads: PRR, Pennsylvania Lines, Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines, LIRR. PRR
and its subsidiaries owned thousands (really!).
The car shell and roof represents a pre-air conditioning era car, thus
is correct as is for the 1908-1930's era, possibly as late as 1945. Shell is quite correct, roof is correct,
trucks are NOT correct (the supplied trucks are six-wheeled PRR class 3CP1
design, and should be one of PRR's distinctive four-wheel designs). A company called NHD makes/made a round roof
to convert the roof outline to that of an upgraded air-conditioned car, thus
making this car useful to modelers of the 1950-1970 era.
Detailed drawings [and photographs] of the prototype are found in MR [Model
Railroader magazine] 1963 Aug page 36. I
have found the
heavyweight coach decorated for a
The P70 coach built by American Car
and Foundry in 1914 for the
Observation. This is an all-lounge or parlor car because
of the regular window spacing along the whole car. In addition to the lavatory windows at the
end, it has 20 windows in the seating section with alternate narrow and medium
width supports between windows. The car
is identical to the Model Power coach except for the substitution of an open
platform at the end instead of a vestibule (note the improbable lavatory window
at the observation end; compare with the coach picture above). The car could be based on an existing mold
rather than a prototype. An approximate
prototype match is the Pullman parlor-observation of the late 1920’s used on
Model Power heavyweight lounge-observation car, undecorated. The roof is not the one sold with this car.
A Pullman sun-parlor-lounge car on the
The Rivarossi heavyweight cars
Full baggage-express, 85’. A baggage car this long is not common among railroads generally. Russell Straw reports “The Rivarossi heavyweight baggage car is an exact model of the ATSF 1849. This car was converted by ATSF from their Baggage-Buffet-Library car the "San Vincente" #1348 in 1943.” Dr. Bradley Scherer also kindly alerted me to the prototype for this car, which is “one-of-a-kind”. Note that Rivarossi also models the rebuilt "San Vincente" as a combine car originally built in 1923 and later remodeled (see below).
The Rivarossi baggage car is
lettered exactly the same as the prototype, whose photo appears on page 96 of
Ellington and Shine’s Head end cars,
baggage car decorated for
Great Northern baggage-express car was rebuilt from a passenger car (note the blocked vestibule door). Photo from page 149 of Great Northern pictorial Vol. 4 by Strauss.
Combine baggage-coach. This style car is rare and apparently is
unique to the
The car is the second version of the buffet-library-baggage
car “San Vicente” #1348, originally built for
The model is also of the
“rider” combine decorated by Atlas for
Coach. This car is very similar to the Pullman
Standard 84-seat chair car of 1924 built for the Alton Limited (Some Classic
Trains page 154). This prototype has
one more window than the model. The
Southern Pacific coach from American Car & Foundry (1929) is also similar
but has 2 more windows than the model (photo on page 96 of The
best of Mainline Modeler’s passenger cars vol. 1). The Rivarossi model
may also be a variation of AC&F’s P70 coach as used on the
Claus Schlund reports “This car
seems strongly to resemble C&O and B&O coaches I have seen. In addition, the car is correct for several
John Perkowski reports “The Rivarossi heavyweight coach, if converted from a monitor to
a Harriman roof, is essentially identical to UP chair cars 402-421 (
Rivarossi heavyweight coach decorated for the
Gulf Mobile and
The Pullman Standard 84-seat chair car of 1924 built for the Alton Limited (Some Classic Trains page 154).
Diner. This is a Santa Fe Pullman diner of the
mid-late 1920s and was used on trains such as the California Limited. Russell Straw reports “The diners, numbers
1400-1411, were built by
Steve Sandifer’s web page http://www.trainweb.org/jssand/Protot/RivHDinPg.htm reports that the cars 1456-1463 were built by Pullman in 1922 to Plan 3391, Lot 4637. The third photo below is from that site and matches the Rivarossi model. The site states “To make your Rivarossi car match [the later reworked version of this car], you will need to remove the louvered vents on the sides at the dining room end and totally rework the roof and undercarriage to match your air conditioned or original version. The kitchen windows on the model have vertical dividers, which should be removed. At some time around 1950 the upper portion of the large windows was plated over, as in the Whittaker photo.”
Rivarossi diner decorated for
Pullman sleeper. This is clearly the 12-section /1-drawing
room sleeper built in the thousands by
Claus Schlund reports “This is a
model of a
Steve Sandifer reports, regarding
Tom Madden reports [from Steve Sandifer’s
web site]: "In 1935 the
John Perkowski reports “[The] Rivarossi Pullman is identical to UP Cars Multnomah and
12-1 PS sleeper decorated for
Heavyweight 12 section
/1 drawing-room sleeper “Pepin” built and operated by
Observation lounge. Russell Straw reports: “The Cafe-Lounge cars
were built by PS in 1930 [for
Rivarossi observation-lounge decorated for
Santa Fe Café-Lounge #1513 (
Rivarossi observation-lounge, opposite side.
Santa Fe Café-Observation #1514 (
sleeper. To ease the passenger car shortage for troop
movement during World War II, the U.S. Office of Defense Transportation
Microtrains troop sleeper model.
Pullman-built troop sleeper of 1943 (photo from Model Railroader magazine, Kalmbach publications, Dec. 2001, page 89).
Troop kitchen car
Microtrains troop kitchen car model.
Microtrains troop kitchen car model, opposite side.
Troop kitchen car built by ACF 1943 (photo from Model Railroader magazine, Kalmbach publications, Feb. 2002, page 81).
Anonymous, The best of Mainline Modeler’s passenger cars vol. 1, Phoenix Publishing, 1991.
Armitage, Merle, The Railroads of
Dorin, Patrick, Amtrak Trains and Travel,
Dorin, Patrick, Coach Trains and Travel,
Dorin, Patrick, The Domeliners, a pictorial history of the penthouse trains, Superior Publishing, 1973.
Dubin, Arthur, Some Classic Trains, Kalmbach, 1964.
Dubin, Arthur, More Classic Trains, Kalmbach, 1974.
Ellington, Frank L. and Joe W. Shine, Head end cars,
Frailey, Fred, A quarter
Hickhox, David, GN color guide to freight and passenger equipment, Morning Sun, 1995.
Millard, James K., Chesapeake & Ohio Streamliners, Second to None: volume 1, the Cars, Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, 1994.
Model Railroader magazine, Troop Sleepers, Kalmbach publications, Dec. 2001, page 88.
Model Railroader magazine, Troop Kitchen Cars, Kalmbach publications, Feb. 2002, page 80.
Randall, David, From Zephyr to Amtrak, Prototype Publications, 1972.
Randall, W. David and W. G. Anderson, The
Official Pullman Standard Library vol. 8:
Randall, W. David and W. G. Anderson, The
Randall, W. David, The Passenger Car Library vol. 1 – CB&Q, RPC Publications, 1999.
Ranks, Harold, and William Kratville, The Union Pacific Streamliners, Kratville Publications, 1974.
Ryan and J. W. Shine, Southern Pacific passenger trains volume 1: Night trains of the coast route, Four Ways West, 1986.
Schafer, Mike, Classic American Streamliners, Motorbooks International, 1997.
Schmitz, Lou, UP color guide to freight and passenger equipment volume 2, Morning Sun, 1996.
Spoor, Michael, CBQ color guide to freight and passenger equipment, Morning Sun, 1995.
Stagner, Lloyd, and Yanosey, UP color guide to freight and passenger equipment, Morning Sun, 1993.
Stagner, Lloyd, ATSF color guide to freight and passenger equipment, Morning Sun, 1995.
Strauss, John, Great Northern Pictorial volume 3, Four Ways West, 1993.
Strauss, John, Great Northern Pictorial volume 4, Four Ways West, 1994.
Wyder, Patrick, and Edwin Hawkins, Railway prototype cyclopedia vol. 1, RPCYC Publications, 1997.
Zimmerman, Karl, The story of the
Zimmerman, Karl, Domeliners, Yesterday’s Trains of Tomorrow, Kalmbach, 1998.