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After posting pictures of an RPO I recently modified, it raised the following questions:


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Weekend Photo Fun Thanksgiving 2022 Edition

Reply by CBQ_Bill

@Rob Leese

I love your streamlined RPO model of Burlington Route FW&D Silver Messenger.

Please tell us more about this beauty !!!

Manufacturer ?

2-Rail or 3-Rail ?

Pre-built, kitbash, or scratch built ?

15”, 18”, or 21” ?

Aluminum or Plastic ?

Silver painted or chrome plated ?

Thanks in advance !!!

CB&Q Bill

So far, I have modified six different cars and posted the results on about five different threads.  To alleviate CBQ_Bill from hours worth of searching (as if he wanted to 😜) I will recap my work here.


Silver Peak is an Atlas CZ baggage car redone for the 1940 Texas Zephyr.  The CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR letterboard had to be removed and replaced with thin styrene.  The decals come from K4 which are of excellent quality and include a list of names and owners (FW&D or C&S) for the various types of cars in the consists.  It should be noted here how this car should be lettered BURLINGTON instead of TEXAS ZEPHYR.  The only TZ cars lettered as such were the two ex-Denver Zephyr semi-articulated trainsets which came to replace the original TZ cars in 1957.  Since ultra-precise accuracy is not important to me, I took some liberties in the making of these cars.


Silver Chariot was formerly an Empire State Express coach by GGD.  All letterboards had to be removed and replaced, along with the placement of small boards indicating road ownership.  At this point I will mention how this type of GGD car is very similar to an aluminum K-Line ESE coach.  The major differences being:  1. GGD cars have individual plastic windows while the K-Line will have a continuous clear plastic strip.  2. The GGD car has flicker-free lighting while the K-Line has incandescent lights (which I replaced with Henning's Trains superb light kits).  3.  With the removal of four screws, a K-Line floor will slide right out of the car body.  A GGD car will not do so unless the trucks are dismounted...the brake cylinders on the trucks were too large to get past the skirting. Ugh.  I say all this before mentioning that I reworked two K-Line coaches to go with the GGD coach.


Silver Mine and Silver Bow (not shown) got window treatments in addition to the usual rework.  The venetian blinds decals are from Circus City Decals.  All three cars came with paltry excuses for diaphragms and have been replaced with nice looking Lionel parts.


The RPO is a GGD ESE car with all-new letterboards and decals (and yes, diaphragms).   Question: how can GGD do such fine work and then "crash and burn" on this one small detail?  But I digress.      If I had chosen to blank out two of the four windows in the RPO section, this car would have turned out almost 100% accurate.   I might note here how this car is heavily weathered with grime.  Everything I rework gets weathered, but the headend cars get the most.  This RPO and the next car have truly pleased me...then again, I'm not much of a rivet counter.



Silver Tray was the obs used on the 1940 TZ until it was replaced in 1957.  Then it got its old job back when it was decided to permanently retire the old DZ equipment and utilize un-articulated cars.  The tail sign replicates the original 1940 design.  I had to make this sign on MS Publisher and print it on plain paper.  Q people will remember how the ex-DZ equipment had red neon tail signs.  And actually, the sister car to this obs, Silver Bowl (C&S), did get a neon tail sign, but Silver Tray never did.

This is a Lionel 21" ESE car which came with flicker-free lighting and adequate name boards.  The changes made to this car was the addition of small ownership boards, the blanking out of several windows on the right side where the galley area is located, and the addition of Budd style roof vents over the galley.  Part of the rooftop antenna had to be removed in the area above the galley.  Inside, people and window shades were added.  I have another Lionel obs to remake into Silver Streak from the ex-DZ trainset, and it will feature the neon tail sign.  I would love to do a makeover on a GGD ESE obs, but I haven't found one yet.

Sorry for the length of this post.

For any Burlington fans reading this post, please take time to read this: A case for an alternate CB&Q paint scheme | O Gauge Railroading On Line Forum (


Images (14)
  • Peak1
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  • Chariot1
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  • Mine1
  • Mine2
  • RPO2
  • RPO10
  • Tray1
  • Tray2
  • Tray3
  • Tray4
  • Tray1
Last edited by Rob Leese
Original Post

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@Rob Leese

WOW !!!

Thanks for sharing your customized TZ cars !!!

Are the GGD ESE cars made of ABS plastic or extruded aluminum ?

What paint brand & color did you use for the train name boards & RR ownership boards ?

Did you scratch build  your roof vents or are these commercially available ?

What are the part numbers for the Lionel diaphragms ?

I am also not a river counter.  Your models catch the spirit & feel of the TZ (even if some details are off, which I wouldn’t have noticed without you pointing them out).

My Zephyr fleet is mostly 15” (60’ Scale) plated aluminum cars from Lionel, K-Line, MTH, Williams, & Weaver.  I plan to add details so that they all have RR owner boards, tinted windows, diaphragms, silver trucks, & (for Vista Dome cars) Dome interiors.

I also have MTH CZ plated aluminum 18” (70’ Scale ) cars.  

I want to change the Silver names on some of the cars for variety to other prototypical Burlington Zephyr & CZ Car Names.

I have acquired the K4 BR Zephyr & CZ decals for these future projects.

I am currently finishing my basement for my modular layout.  

Thanks again !!!

In ZEPHYRUS we trust !!!

CB&Q Bill

Last edited by CBQ_Bill

Questions answered:

this is the paint I use for letterboards, or to overspray an entire car if it is too glossy.
Some aluminum cars have an unrealistic high gloss finish…especially the plastic ends on a K-Line car.
These roof vents are a good solution for Budd cars. They will need a bit of sanding to get rid of mold joints, and I clipped the mounting stud shorter as to not interfere with interior lighting strips.
Re: better diaphragms. The web pages feature a variety of diaphragms. Another extensive project I am working on is a Frisco METEOR passenger train, and the TEXAS SPECIAL aluminum cars being redone for the project have full width diaphragms. Full width was not what I wanted so I bought TS complete car ends from Lionel support as replacements and diassembled the full width ends and saved the parts…then repainted them silver. This involved a bit of dremel work to make the striker plates correct.
Hope this helps.


Images (2)
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