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18” Sleeping Car Interior Upgrade, National Border

This will be my third Pullman that's getting a new interior.  The sleeping cars that have been updated are the K4690-30003 Western Star, K4690-31305 Ocean Sunset, and now the K4690-30002 National Border.  If you have been following this series you may have noticed that K-Line manufactured all their 18" Pullman sleeping cars in this Union Pacific set with windows in the exact same locations.  I read K-Line did this to help lower the manufacturing costs of their aluminum cars.  This made it an interesting challenge to upgrade three different interiors layouts when the window locations in the shell did not match any of the Union Pacific plans.  The first car in the photo below is the Western Star 4-12, then Ocean Sunset, 5-2-2 and finally the National Border 6-4-6.    In the photo below you can see the exact same windows locations with only different names painted on the side cars.

3 Pullman cars

I don't have the fourth 18" Pullman sleeping car in this K-Line Union Pacific series.  It's the 11 bedroom Placid Haven part number K4690-30001.  From the photos I have seen online the Placid Haven has the same exact windows in the shell as the above cars.

So far, I have met the challenge to build the correct amount of rooms in each sleeping car according to the Union Pacific plans by either stretching or shrinking the rooms to match the windows in the semi-scale aluminum shell.

Inside view all three cars

Here are the steps and research trail I followed to upgrade this K-Line K4690-30002, National Border Pullman sleeping car interior.

Step.1, Start by removing the stock K-line interior from the shell.  Then separating the benches and passengers from the plastic base.

Step 1

Step.2, Put down a new basswood floor and mark where the windows are located.  Be careful, sleeping cars have a lot of walls and the rooms can be very small.  On this car I marked the room numbers on the basswood floor per the P.S.C.M plans to keep everything in order.   National series passenger cars have six roomettes marked 1 ~ 6, four bedrooms marked A, B, C, D and then six compartment marked the 7 ~ 12.

national 1

Step.3, Glue the seats in the place so the people can see out the windows.  Then start putting up walls. The existing K-Line bench seats were not long enough to be used as convertible sofas in the bedrooms.  But with a little bit of modification I was able to extend these bench seats to the length of the room.  To do that, I used 1-1/2 bench seats per room.  This can be done by cutting one bench seat in half and attaching it to another full size seat.  To get the smaller seats for the roomettes and open sections I cut about 1/3 off some other K-Line bench seats I had laying around.

national 3

This is the third sleeping car interior I have built using Hennings 21000 Passenger Car LED lighting kit.  Since these LED's give more vertical area for the interior walls I took the walls almost to the top of the K-Line shell in this build.  I'm not sure how this will affect the light coverage compared to my other Pullman interiors with lower walls.  But the walls look real nice with the K-Line shell removed.


After all the walls were up I added a few Arttista people and repainted some of the K-Line figures that originally came out of this car.   I recommend trimming the bottoms on your figures to make them fit in the seats better.  The sinks and toilets where from ScaleCityDesign.


According to the book "The Union Pacific Streamliners" by Ranks and Kratville the National series sleepers didn't allow much area for the sleeping car attendant.  The only place I could find on the P.S.C.M. plans was a folding jump seat in the main hallway.  Also, you can see where I placed the circuit board for the LED kit below.  This circuit board fits nicely just in front of the roomettes.


Researching the real passenger cars and discovering the little details along the way.  There were a total of twelve National series Pullman sleeping cars owned by the Union Pacific.  All National series interiors were made with 6 roomettes, 4 bedrooms and 6 open sections and several of these sleeping cars are in museums today. The real National Border #1201 Pullman sleeping car is in private hands and its current location and condition are unknown.  But I still managed visit three other National series cars during my quest for more information.  While searching I took lots of photos to help make my new interior and exterior look correct.   I found the National Embassy car number 1205 in Fillmore, CA (see photo below).  It was donated to the Santa Clara River Valley Railroad Historical Society in 2000.  Unfortunately, I was unable to look inside this car but I hope the best towards their long term goal on restoring the National Embassy to its former glory.


Even thought I could not look inside the National Embassy I used the exterior photos taken that day to help recreate the small windows for the upper berths.  Union Pacific provided each of the 6 upper berths with 2 small windows so passengers could look outside during the night while in bed.  For my o-gauge reproduction I used a Cricut machine to create these tiny window openings with silver frames and black glass for the window.

open section upper windows

I stepped aboard the National Forum, car number 1207.  The National Forum has been owned by the Pacific Railroad Society since October 1971.  After only 15 years in UP service the National Forum was retired and has been saved for future generation with its original 1956 interior completely in tack.   The Pacific Railroad Society has done an amazing job keeping this 65-year old passenger car up-to-date with current safety standards.  This means they can still take the National Forum out on excursion runs at 90 mph behind Amtrak locomotives.  Besides running excursion trips aboard the National Forum the Pacific Railroad Society also has a museum in San Dimas, CA.  This museum is open several days a week to the public, admission is free and they gave me permission to use this photo below of the National Forum on the garden track at Los Angeles Union Station.

National Forum on Garden Track at Union Station LA

My favorite photo while aboard the National Forum was of their Pullman "Welcome to Travel Comfort" poster.  This 1950's era poster was meant to tell other passengers on the train all the benefits of riding in a Pullman car instead of traveling in coach.  The Pacific Railroad Society was the only museum I found that had this original poster still mounted in the hallway of a Pullman sleeping car.

National Forum_1644thumbnail_IMG_6068

I toured the National Scene, car number 1210 in Perris, CA.  It's at the Southern California Railway Museum and they have owned the National Scene since 1997.  The museum is open to the public daily and the National Scene still has its original interior.  On special occasions they even take the National Scene out for rides on the museum's track.

National Scene_1797

Interesting little details not seen on paper plans can be found when examining the real Pullman passenger cars.  Here’s my photo of the metal handrails from inside the National Forum.  Once I found out these handrails were supposed to be in the main hallway next to the four bedrooms I was able to include them inside my National Border car.

Hand rail

All the bathrooms doors inside the National Forum are locked so the public cannot get in and use them.  These bathrooms were dusty from many years of being locked but they unlocked them so I could take photos.  The National Forum had a single toilet on a black rubber floor, surrounded by a stainless steel kickboard in a room with a triangle shaped rear wall.  Here's my photo from the dusty bathroom inside the National Forum next to my National Border replica.

Before after toliet

Here's my photo of the open section area inside the National Forum.  The open section upholstery was green and these passengers sat facing each other during the day.  Next to it is my National Border replica with overhead berths and the women's restroom.

Open section before and after

Fully assembled with the K-Line ABA's in the lead my Union Pacific passenger train is now over 18 feet long.  Because of this very long length I normally run it as a Pullman only train and don't include my 7000 or 7009 coach cars.    I hope this write-up helps others who want to upgrade their Union Pacific National Border Pullman sleeping cars.  I will attach the original National Border plan view that's ready to print on 11" x 17" paper.


To look at the other interior builds in this series click on the links below. They are listed in the order I run them on my layout:


Images (18)
  • 3 Pullman cars
  • Placid Haven 2
  • Embassy
  • National Scene_1797
  • national 1
  • national 3
  • IMG_6024
  • National Forum on Garden Track at Union Station LA
  • Step 1
  • IMG_6091
  • Inside view all three cars
  • 11
  • Hand rail
  • Before after toliet
  • Open section before and after
  • National Forum_1644
  • open section upper windows
  • thumbnail_IMG_6068
Files (1)
Last edited by T.Albers
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