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Last year I purchased a couple of used K-Line passenger cars for their parts.  Since I don’t have extra storage space inside my train room I began wondering... what I could build with the extra parts on these cars?

  Washington View Penngolden parts 4

My first thought was to build a coach/chair car for my Union Pacific City of Los Angeles train.  Looking at the existing window arrangement of the Golden State parts car it would be possible to make a 44 seat coach similar to the Union Pacific's 5401~5449 series cars originally built by Pullman.  But it meant modifying the windows in the Golden State’s aluminum shell.  Also, after finishing my other more detailed interiors a chair car seemed simple and a little dull as it goes by on the track.   Building a chair car interior would involve just gluing in 11 rows of seats and making a couple of walls for the bathrooms.  Well, if I was going to modify the windows on this Golden State aluminum shell what other Union Pacific car could I build that would be more interesting for my visitors to look at?

I dug deep into the book "The Union Pacific Streamliners" by Ranks and Kratville and looked at all the plans and window arrangements used in the Union Pacific's City of Los Angeles Streamliner fleet.  Then I found a 1937 dormitory-club lounge car called "The Little Nugget".   I like challenging myself in each new passenger car interior but recreating The Little Nugget was going to be like nothing I have tried before.

The Little Nugget

Before I get into the How-To part of this write up, here's some background information about The Little Nugget.

In 1937 The Little Nugget was built as a dormitory-lounge car "LA-701" for Union Pacific's 7th train City of Los Angeles (CoLA).  What made this lounge car different was the interior was designed by the famous artist Walter Kuhn.  Its interior styling was a complete contrast to the Art Deco used in the rest of the CoLA train.  Its been described as an 1880's old west dance hall, prosperous hostelry of the bonanza days, gay 1890's saloon and a Victorian dream of red velvet.  Kuhn gave The Little Nugget a large pink cabbage rose pattern on the carpet, silver star-studded cerulean blue ceiling, red custom built rococo chairs, love seats and sofas, black marble table tops, twenty ivory painted winged cherubs holding up ten sets of triple brass gaslight fixtures, white embroidered lace curtains, red velvet drapes and a yellow mechanical canary in a gilded cage.  The semi circular bar with had upper and lower brass rails, winged cherubs on the front of either side, gilded ornamentation in between and beveled mirrors on the walls behind.  The woman’s bathroom had a damask style wallpaper print with history of the corset frieze across the top wall and mounted to the floor was a gilded toilet bowl, gilded seat with a rose painted on its lid (yep... you read that right, this car had a golden toilet).  Over the delicate rose vine wallpaper in the main lounge Kuhn put 125 paintings, drawings and photographs of vaudeville performers, dancers, jockeys and clowns.  Although The Little Nugget was replaced with more modern 9000 series dome observation lounge cars in 1955 nothing could replace its incredibly memorable over-the-top interior.   

It's interesting to note that in September 1936 the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing gave Union Pacific a life expectancy of 12.5 years for these lightweight aluminum passenger cars.   By February 1939 Pullman increased the life expectancy to 15 years 8 months for new Streamline passenger cars.  From these life expectancy estimates you can see why the other Union Pacific lounge cars built build before 1945 were scrapped one by one in the 1950's.   The Little Nugget was retired by Union Pacific in July 1956 and donated to City of Los Angeles for display at Travel Town, Griffith Park.  To this day, Union Pacific still calls The Little Nugget its most elaborate lounge car ever used.

How to make The Little Nugget interior:

On your semi scale K-Line donor car start by removing the 2 black screws on each end that hold on the end caps.  Pull each end cap away from the shell and unplug the wires going to the overhead lights.  Slide the black metal frame with stock K-Line interior out of the aluminum shell.  Next, remove the small screws that hold the old plastic floor onto black metal frame.  Once the old plastic interior is gone, tack down 1/16" wooden strips with CA glue to elevate your new floor above the incoming power wires. Tack down a sheet of 1/32" basswood floor with CA glue to the wooden strips.   Mark where the windows are to be located on the basswood floor.

The nugget floor

I thought I was working with an K-Line 18" aluminum passenger car shell.  But I found out at this point the Golden State aluminum shell is only 17.5" long because it came from an observation car.   I did not want to scale down the lounge area because this was the most important part of the build to me.  Behind the lounge/club section was the dormitory rooms for the Union Pacific employees like the bartender, chefs, stewards and the mechanical road supervisor.  While putting up the walls I kept the plans printed on 11" x 17" paper close by and decided to compress the dormitory section of this car to fit the 17.5” shell.

The nugget floor 2

Add the pink cabbage rose carpet in the lounge area and put a primer/base coat of paint on the walls in the dormitory section.  Unfortunately, the original cabbage rose carpet was changed around October 1940 about the same time the mechanical canary in the gilded cage was removed.  For this interior build I was going to stick with how The Little Nugget looked brand new in December of 1937.   To make more head room inside this passenger car I'm planning on  changing out the stock K-Line incandescent bulbs and going with LED strip lights.  I left some room up front for a Henning's 21000 Passenger Car LED lighting kit's small LED circuit board in the hallway between the men's and women's bathrooms.  With that finished, the easy part of this build was done.

The nugget floor 6

The hard part is going to be getting the historically correct interior while matching window spacing in the Golden State aluminum shell.   While I have been to Travel Town in Griffith Park a few times as a kid, I had never stepped foot inside The Little Nugget.  Searching the internet I found The Smithsonian Institution had a public collection of Walt Kuhn papers and photographs.  Digging through this black and white photo collection I found the images needed to correctly make the original 1937 furniture.  I laid the floor plans next to a strip of 3/8" x 3/16" basswood and started making tables and chairs.

seat 1

The build sequence for making the 2 sofas, 3 love seats and 23 chairs and went like this:

seat 1 2 3

Kuhn added flowing green vines with brightly colored roses and golden ribbons accents on every piece of velvet covered furniture.  The miniature red Victorian/Rococo furniture looked like this when painted.  I left the legs off the furniture so my passengers would fit better and could see out the windows.

chairs 2

Kuhn put two stacks of colorful glassware in front of the beveled glass mirrors that were mounted behind the bar.  The bartender was given a crawl/access door underneath the bar on the back wall to get in and out of the bar section.  Some of the photos found in the The Smithsonian collection had writing on the back describing who was in the photo.  The two waiters names were Goldie and Scott and they wore white trousers with red pinstripes, emerald green double breasted jackets, white shirts with narrow black string ties.  The back of another photo said John T. Ruh was the bartender on The Little Nugget.   The bartender was dressed in period correct clothing and wore a fancy vest, red ascot tie with diamond horseshoe pin.  During an internet search for more information about the bartender I found a very similar name "John M. Ruh".   Curious, I sent John M. Ruh an email and waited for an answer.  Success!  A few days later he politely responded and confirmed he was the grandson of John T. Ruh.  He told me a few stories of his grandfather working as a bartender for the Union Pacific.  During his grandfathers time as bartender he had collected several signed photos from the big celebrities of the day that traveled on City of Los Angeles.  Here's a family photo John M. Ruh emailed to me of his grandfather working on The Little Nugget.

Nugget Bar John T Ruh3

Well, that did it.  If I was going to recreate a historically correct interior of this lounge car it was going to have a John T. Ruh as bartender!


Modifying and painting the aluminum shell:

Toward the end of 1941 the City of Los Angeles paint scheme of Amour Yellow, Leaf Brown with Gold lettering was changed to the modern Armour Yellow, Harbor Mist Gray with bright red lettering and stripes.  The full length anodized aluminum batten strips above the window were also added in 1941 but in later years these batten strips (that cover the rivet construction) were painted Armour yellow to match the car.   During its life on the rails Union Pacific repainted the outside of the car Amour Yellow at least 4 times and each shade of yellow underneath was slightly lighter than the shades on top (probably due to weathering).  Also, The Little Nugget shows it was re-lettered 4 different times as the Amour Yellow paint changed.   I picked its 1950's Union Pacific paint-lettering scheme so this car would better match my other K-Line streamline passenger cars.

Painting the shell was going to be an undertaking because I needed to buy an air brush.  And then, I needed to learn how to use an air brush.  I had already owned Amour Yellow and Harbor Mist Gray latex paint from another project.  Following the advice in posts from forum members about how to use latex paint in an air brush I went to work.  Even though my existing latex paint was a great color match to my other K-Line passenger cars I could not thin it down enough to flow out of the brush correctly.  First I tried to water it down 50/50, then 40/60 and finally 30/70 using both distilled water and Windex as recommended.  The final result worked but... I would not recommend using latex paint on a passenger shell to anybody, especially a first time user.  If I ever use this air brush again I will purchase air brush ready paints like Scale Coat II or Tru-Color.

The first step was to sand off the old red & silver paint.  Then, spray with gray primer.  Next, air brush on the latex paint colors (4 coats of yellow paint and 2 coats of gray).  Then, spray with Krylon glossy (3 coats).  Then, apply Microscale decals.  The final step was to spray with Krylon flat (3 coats)

Right side shell modifications.

Shell 1 2 3

Left side shell modifications.

Shell 1 2 34

In the above progression of photos I used a flat sheet of Styrene (2.0mm thick) to blank off window & door openings in the Golden State shell.  New openings were carefully cut in to the shell using a Dremel tool.  Then finishing the new opening with a flat file to get a crisp straight edge.  Since this was a 17 1/2" semi scale shell I could not include all 5 window openings on the hallway side of the dormitory rooms.  Other details were added like the rooftop radio antenna, hand rails, full length moldings above & below the windows, foot steps and rooftop vents.  O-Scale Microscale decal sheet #48-114 was used for the red stripes, sheet #48-113 for the large Union Pacific name in the center and sheets #48-136 & #48-198 was used to create car number LA-701.  Also, following the advice of other forum members I used Micro Set under the decals and Micro Sol over the top of the decals and finally covering them with flat clear coats.

shell 3

Finishing the interior and making contact with Travel Town:

Recreating the 1937 interior colors would not have been possible without the knowledge and advice of Greg Gneier, President of Travel Town.  Over email he informed me the main dorm hallway was light pink with stenciled roses and the original floor was brown linoleum.  The pull down privacy shades were pinkish beige on the inside and silver on the outside.  The dorm room walls were a dull aluminum color with blue carpet on the floor.  Greg is the historian for The Little Nugget and gave me a great lead about a January 3rd 1938 LIFE magazine article that included a photo of the 1937 "History of the Corset" frieze and the Victorian damask style wall paper used inside the Woman’s restroom.   There are no known photos of the original men’s restroom but Greg confirmed the wall paper was the same as the women's restroom.  In a June 1948 Walt Kuhn letter to the Union Pacific the only mention that men’s restroom had a frieze of framed rooster fights.  


While passing through LA Union Station a few years ago I noticed Travel Town set up a display to help raise money for The Little Nugget's restoration.  At this fund raiser Travel Town volunteers brought in several original items from the cars lounge section.  I snapped a few photos (shown below) of the furniture but this was the closest I have been to being inside The Little Nugget's lounge.  Items like a red Victorian chair, small drink table and cerulean blue cast iron ashtray with two cherubs in the middle that holds a packet of cigarettes.  In my option, displaying the golden toilet from the woman restroom would have been a complete show stopper at LA's Union Station but unfortunately that item was changed out by Union Pacific some point before The Little Nugget was donated to Travel Town.   Here's a link to see the most current restoration information about The Little Nugget .

Union Station Display LA

As with my other builds I repainted the K-Line figures and turned their heads slightly.   I do this because don't like having all my passengers staring straight ahead at blank walls like zombies.  Even though these walls have the original looking paintings and nice wallpaper.  Also, I recommend trimming the bottoms on your K-Line 1/45th scale figures to make them fit in the seats better of a 1/48th semi scale car.  The toilets and sinks were from ScaleCityDesign.


The Little Nuggets first paid service date was Dec 27th 1937 and it's still around today after 83 years.  83 years is pretty good for a lounge car that was only estimated to last 12.5 years.  Kuhn also created custom lounge interiors for the City of Denver's two Frontier Shack's and the Hollywood lounge car for CoLA.  None of these other lounge cars made it past the 1950's.  One day I would like to make it back out to Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park for a tour inside of The Little Nugget.   I'm curious on how far the volunteers made it with restoring the interior back to its original condition.   But for now, at least I can enjoy my miniature O-gauge version as it travels down the rails with the rest of my City of Los Angeles passenger cars.



Attached below are the patterns I used for this build for anyone that wants recreate this historic and unique lounge car for your train layout.   Thank you to all the OGR forum members for the positive feedback on these interior builds over the last year.  And thank you for following this series.

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:


Last edited by T.Albers
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Thank you @Quarter Gauger 48   I admit, I didn’t know much about this lounge car in the beginning, just that it was saved by Travel Town because it was unique.  During the build I kept learning more & more about the interior details.    I would discover something new in a photo and say to myself, well I can’t leave out that important detail. 😊   It really is hard to believe this was a real passenger car Union Pacific had built just following the Great Depression .  It must have been quite the site to see for the first time traveler. 

Last edited by T.Albers

Well, you've managed to do 13 cars in a space of time where I have only managed 2.75. But my cars are bigger than yours - haha!

Your version of the Golden Nugget is of course unique and a masterpiece. I have the Streamliners book you mention but never took much notice of the references to this car. As you have found, books and web resources with blueprints and photos don't reveal what you get from museum and university library records about vital details on interiors, furnishings and sometimes even the car staff. Knowing who they were and being able to include a representation of one as in your case is truly special.

I have done that with an MKT car. But my Holy Grail in terms of a lounge car, which I may try to model some day, was not in the UP fleet but this tavern car in the SP Daylight fleet:



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  • Daylight_Tavern
Last edited by Hancock52

Very cool, very unique "little nugget".

Not very important, but the cigarette pack shelf in the ashtray. On the stands I'm familiar with, it is for matchboxes, or on some leaning a pipe. Later ones, the shelf is often just a slot or two, for matchbooks. Size might be the key, hard to tell how large it is. Simple, redundant stuff really, but with purpose, it falls into the "cool gadget" catagory for me.

Hahaha!  Thank you @Hancock52  I respect you guys with those 21" scale cars.  The only way I would be able to run full size cars like that would be to run a loop around the kitchen tile floor and back across the living room carpet.  And my wife would not be happy when she learned I fastened down the track with screws for more realistic operation.

I must say those leather booth seats in your tavern lounge look very comfortable for the SP Daylight passengers.  Is that the Cascade lounge car?   How do you plan on building those booths, Styrene or 3D printer?

@T.Albers posted:

Hahaha!  Thank you @Hancock52  I respect you guys with those 21" scale cars.  The only way I would be able to run full size cars like that would be to run a loop around the kitchen tile floor and back across the living room carpet.  And my wife would not be happy when she learned I fastened down the track with screws for more realistic operation.

I must say those leather booth seats in your tavern lounge look very comfortable for the SP Daylight passengers.  Is that the Cascade lounge car?   How do you plan on building those booths, Styrene or 3D printer?

And you would not be happy if your wife accidentally kicked one of your prize scale cars, as has happened in my household because I have an around-the-main-room carpet layout when actually running scale trains (which is all too seldom). 

A long time ago, when I was researching the tavern photo, I ran the history to ground and it came out like this (showing that the photo is of a "Timberline" lounge/tavern, the Cascade series being later):

"SP 10316 (83-T-1), Timberline Tavern lounge car, inspired by the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood east of Portland, built by Pullman-Standard in May 1949 (lot 6805, plan 7575). This car and twin SP 10317 were used in the heavyweight Cascade for a few weeks until delivery of the Cascade Club cars, after which they entered service on the new Shasta Daylight. They were replaced in mid-1955 by dome-lounge cars."

As an aside, K-Line and Lionel used the basic Cascade interior design for many of their cars, including some boat-tail observation cars. With one exception none of these were very prototypical. The exception is the fine Lionel 18" aluminum Shasta Daylight set made about 10 years ago, which has a great observation car but no tavern car.

OTOH, what is prototypical is this c. 2008 GGD Tavern car that I have, numbered SP 10314, which I think makes it a Coast Daylight model. In the second photo you will see that the interior is a representation of the prototypical Tavern booth seats:


The booth seats and tables are actually available from a 3rd party supplier, from memory it might be Precision Scale, and I have them as well as those in the car as supplied. But they are true O scale size so quite big in what is actually a sub-scale interior (as most 3rail passenger cars actually have). Anyway they would not have to be scratchbuilt, which to me is a great relief. They would have to be re-painted and other features, including the ubiquitous ashtrays and smoking stands, sourced or built from stock metal or plastic. This I have done before.

But I have not tried building out the interior of this car to match the Timberline photo because, as you can see from the top photo, the body panels on both sides of the bar area are solid and you couldn't actually see the bar from the outside - except by peering at an angle through other windows. In the GGD model that area is blanked out with no fittings and has no lights. However, in about 50 years' time when I have finished my two current projects (Texas Special and UP Excursion, both having at least 7 cars with full interiors), I will revert to this one!

As a postscript, I think I have posted this before but this is the fantasy bar (and poker) section in my TX Special observation car, built about 3 years ago:

1_TXSp_Bar_Car copy

And this is the representation I made from a contemporary photo of the train's bar and dining staff, which takes the place of the city skyline mural that probably would have been at the end of food/beverage service cars:

15Partition_Rear copy


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  • IMG_0672
  • IMG_0674
  • 1_TXSp_Bar_Car copy
  • 15Partition_Rear copy
Last edited by Hancock52

This is one of the most impressive things I've seen today!  Totally awesome!!!  I did over a set of cars for a friend to make a transition-era version of the Lehigh-Valley's John Wilkes when they were shifting from the fancy striped paint scheme to all-red cars.  I did detailed interiors on all of the cars, and even made a fancy diner-lounge and an observation that's similar to this, but nowhere as awesome as this car.  If you want, I can send some pics I took when I did it.  

@Adriatic posted:

Very cool, very unique "little nugget".

Not very important, but the cigarette pack shelf in the ashtray. On the stands I'm familiar with, it is for matchboxes, or on some leaning a pipe. Later ones, the shelf is often just a slot or two, for matchbooks. Size might be the key, hard to tell how large it is. Simple, redundant stuff really, but with purpose, it falls into the "cool gadget" catagory for me.

Hi @Adriatic, thank you for letting me know.  I dug back into the Smithsonian Institution's public photo collection this morning and found out you are completely correct! 

Below is a zoomed in image of that ashtray from a 1947 Union Pacific Black & White publicity photo.  I thought that was a pack of cigarettes being held up by the two cherubs but as you pointed out, that's really a box of matches.  The main clue I missed from this photo is only a matchbox would have a vertical strip going up the side for lighting a match.   Also, logically it did not make sense to me why the Union Pacific would be giving away free cigarettes (there expensive) but free matches makes a lot more sense.   Thank you for letting me know it's a unique little item that was included for the convince of the passengers and I like knowing the historical details are correct as possible. 

1938 The Little Nugget Ashtray2


As a side note: In this 1947 photo above check out the condition of that cast iron ashtray's outer ring.  Judging by the chipped paint its gotten lots of heavy use since Dec 1937 from people knocking the ashes out of their smoking pipes.


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  • 1947 close up photo of The Little Nuggets cherub ashtray
@tcripe posted:

Excellent work. While I have modified a number of passenger car exteriors, I've never tackled interiors. You did your homework and created an impressive result.


Thank you Terry.  I have read other forum member posts here and seen there great results creating custom exteriors.  But I admit, this was the first car exterior I have attempted.  The shell painting and full set of car decals were all brand new to me and I learned a lot along the way.  Even though K-Line's Union Pacific aluminum cars are excellent, K-Line didn't make a huge selection of different looking 18" cars.  I'm happy with the end result of this interior-exterior build and The Little Nugget blends in nicely with the other stock K-Line cars.



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  • 18" K-Line UP car colors
@PR&NJRR posted:

This is one of the most impressive things I've seen today!  Totally awesome!!!  I did over a set of cars for a friend to make a transition-era version of the Lehigh-Valley's John Wilkes when they were shifting from the fancy striped paint scheme to all-red cars.  I did detailed interiors on all of the cars, and even made a fancy diner-lounge and an observation that's similar to this, but nowhere as awesome as this car.  If you want, I can send some pics I took when I did it.  

Thank you @PR&NJRR I appreciate that!

Yes, please post photos of your Lehigh-Valley's custom interiors.  I'm still learning in this hobby and like seeing other car custom car interiors and seeing the creativity of other forum members. 

Hello T.Albers,

Fantastic Job!!!

I've been on this forum nearly since it first came online.  I have to say, that I've never seen anyone go through the detail you've done in your cars along with a complete how to list that is very well written.  Your velvet chairs are remarkable along with the amount of research you invested in to capture the look and feel of the original car.

Equally remarkable you found the grandson of one of the bartenders!!!  How fortunate was that?  He must have been thrilled to learn someone was researching his grandfather and that he was also trying to model him as well.   

It just goes to show what a little initiative will pan out if you keep at it.  

I must also admire your zeal to complete a complete interior build of 11 cars in as many months.  For some, including myself, it would represent years of work to complete that many along with the needed research.

Keep up the good work.

The editor should do an article on your interior builds for the magazine.  It think it would be an enjoyable read.

Thank you for the support @Allegheny  You are correct, I spoke to the grandson yesterday and his is thrilled that people can learn about The Little Nugget's history from this How-To post and he really hopes it will help get more visitors to Travel Town and help finish The Little Nuggets restoration effort.  

Researching and building these interiors makes railroad history come alive on my small layout and I'm glad I can share this history with the OGR forum.  When I built my first interior I only owned 4 of these K-Line Union Pacific cars.  I enjoyed researching and building these 4 interiors so I bought more UP cars along the way.  I admit, my builds are slowing down now because any new 18" passenger car I attempt (I'm not doing any car twice) will need full interior and then window modifications, paint and decals to the aluminum shell. 

Thank you for following this series and hopefully within a few months (if I can get paint to flow through that darn air brush correctly) I will have something new to share.  



Last edited by T.Albers

My hats are off to both of you T.Albers and Hancock! I have enjoyed following your posts about doing the interiors of your trains. Since you have both taken K-Line passenger cars apart I was hoping you could possible answer a question for me. I have the 21" UP and SP Daylight trains plus the matching 18" business cars. What I am wondering is if you think it would possible to take the rear platforms off the 18" cars and put them on a 21" car? I was lucky enough to take a tour of the UP business car "Cheyenne" back when I was in college and have always wanted an O scale model of that car. Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

Hi @Texas Eagle 77 .  Yes, technically it would be possible to put an 18” cars observation end on your 21” car but you would have to major cutting into the roof and back skirts of that 21” car.  Plus all the cuts you make on that car would be visible so it should be done by a professional with a mill or CNC machine.  And then you would need to match any paint chips if it gets scratched at the mill.

Honestly, I would recommend getting one of the new Union Pacific 21” business car that’s being put out by Lionel right now.  It’s fully done with the correct interior, correct windows and rear platform that you want.  There other posts in this forum by members like @John Rowlen and @Norton and @Hancock52 that can point you in the right direction about the 21” excursion cars like the Cheyenne.  Here is a link to a thread post:

@John4884 posted:

You can get O Scale "The Little Nugget" decals from Ebay... BTW I want this car so freaking bad. If it can be for sale, let me know...

Hi @John4884, that's a great lead on the Champ Decals.  It looks like Champ produced two different sets of there O-Gauge P-30 Streamliner "City of Los Angeles" decals.  One of those P-30 sets included "The Little Nugget" in arched red lettering and the other set of P-30's does not.   I clicked on your link and both sets of those decals with The Little Nugget red lettering were sold within minutes of you posting that link.  It looks like we are going to see a couple more O-Gauge Little Nuggets built by forum members very soon.    Thank you for the offer to purchase but I'm planing on keeping this one.  Yes, I live in California.     

Last edited by T.Albers

My hats are off to both of you T.Albers and Hancock! I have enjoyed following your posts about doing the interiors of your trains. Since you have both taken K-Line passenger cars apart I was hoping you could possible answer a question for me. I have the 21" UP and SP Daylight trains plus the matching 18" business cars. What I am wondering is if you think it would possible to take the rear platforms off the 18" cars and put them on a 21" car? I was lucky enough to take a tour of the UP business car "Cheyenne" back when I was in college and have always wanted an O scale model of that car. Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

While I think that the answer is basically what @T.Albers and @Norton have already said, there's likely to be a difference in dimensions between the 21" and 18" body shells (both width and height)  that would make mating up the platforms from the latter to the former pretty messy/difficult. That is the case although some (but by no means all) of the K-Line shells were really just shortened versions of their scale car shells. 

The simpler (although not exactly cheap) course is to get one of the UP Excursion business cars and re-letter it. I though I saw somewhere that the Kennefick car was now being offered as a single car but it's not in the new catalog as such and so you'd need to source the expansion pack that has the Lone Star car plus a dome.

I may have missed what Ricky was saying. If you have K-Line cars and want to add the platform off a Lionel car the dimensions are off in height and width. Lionel 18" cars are the same dimensions as their 21" cars though. 

K-Line on the left, Lionel right.


FYI UP made the buisness cars out of other cars without the platforms. It may actually be easier to do likewise.



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@t.albers, if you haven't done so already, kindly start a thread detailing how you added, altered, and filled in windows, as appropriate, to model the prototype.  I'm particularly interested how you drilled the aluminum shells without a drill press, and using Dremel bits and files.

I ask because I have several aluminum passenger car projects that would benefit greatly with similar mods.

Always enjoy your projects and your comprehensive threads detailing the builds.

Good Morning @Pingman .  Sure I would be glad too.  I left those photos out of this post above because I felt most people would skip that part of the build process.  But I’m glad to hear your are interested in modifying the windows in your aluminum shells.  
Give me a few days to find the photos that best show the process and I will put together a quick step by step.  Since I have only done all these steps you need on The Little Nugget’s shell I will add it to this thread and put the word update in the title.  

@t.albers, that's great news; your write-up will be a great aid.  My first candidate for changing windows configurations will be to model a Northern Pacific North Coast Limited "Traveller's Rest" lounge car.

These "Traveller's Rest" cars were heavily promoted by NP along with their vista dome cars  on the NCL.  And are a separate purchase car in GGD's forthcoming O scale, NP NCL passenger train set.

Looking forward to your photos and techniques.


Good Morning @@Pingman  You will have fun modeling the interior of that lounge car.  I remember seeing color photos of your Traveler's Rest lounge car in the books "Classic American Streamliners" and "The Art of the Streamliner".  The floor to ceiling mural of the Pacific Northwest map will be nice for your visitors to see and fun to recreate on the wall of that car. 


Here’s a brief how-to guide on filling in the windows openings on an O Gauge aluminum shell.  Tomorrow I will post a second how-to guide on cutting in new window opening on an aluminum shell.  Disclaimers for anyone trying this: Start with a practice shells.  Besides the obvious risk of personal injury, cutting new window openings into an aluminum shell with a high speed Dremel can go terribly wrong if the tool gets away from you.  The following steps listed below are helpful but not the only methods available to passenger car modelers.  There are other options and techniques available and these how-to steps below may not be correct for your exact application.  That being said, here are the steps I used to modifying the aluminum shell when building The Little Nugget passenger car.  Proceed with caution, go very slow and be careful.


How-to fill in the windows on an aluminum shell. 

The easy part.  This might not be the fastest way to do this job but it is easy to master.   Get a micrometer (you can find them for about $10.00 online) and measure the thickness of your aluminum shell.  On this K-Line shell it measures 2.0mm thick.  Always check the thickness before proceeding because I have also seen 1.5mm thick K-Line shells.


Purchase 2.00mm Styrene sheets at your local hobby store or online.


Then, pick-up an ultra-fine 0.05 tip Staedtler pen.


Trace an outline of the window you want to fill onto the sheet of Styrene. Always use a cloth towel or foam under your shell to protect it from scratches.


Move the shell and your traced outline should look like this. The pens ink stays wet for a long time and will smear if touched.


Cut your new window blank out of the Styrene sheet.  Then sand/file down your window blank to the outside of your marked lines.  Test fit several times and sand/file down as needed.  If you don’t like how it looks or fits in the shell at this point, you can always start over and cut a brand new window blank out of Styrene.


Make sure the window blank is perfectly flush with the outside surface of your shell and then use CA glue to secure in place.


If you have small openings around the new window blank fill in these tiny gaps with HobbyLite micro filler (or similar model airplane mirco filler) and let it dry.  After the filler dries, sand away any excess with fine grit sand paper.  Be careful not to scratch the shell.


Here a look inside The Little Nugget’s shell.  You can see the 3 center windows I blanked off using 2.0mm Styrene.


Primer the outside of your shell and look for any imperfections from the blanked off window sections.  If you find any, sand down or fill the imperfection and primer again.  Repeat this process until the area is perfectly smooth.


You can now finish painting the outside of your shell and putting on decals.  Here’s a before and after look at the Golden State shell.  To better match The Little Nugget plans I shorted some windows, blanked other windows and a blanked off a vestibule door on this side of the car.

Shell before and after


Tomorrow I will post the more difficult task of how to cut in new window opening on an aluminum shell.  


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Last edited by T.Albers

@T.Albers, Wonderful photos and details, especially the photos of the products used.

Question:  How did you eliminate the vestibule doors?  I ask because the Traveller's Rest had vestibule doors removed at some point in its operation and I'd like the option of modeling the vestibule-less iteration.

Also, what product did you use to sand the filler material to avoid scratching the aluminum?

Again, thanks for the comprehensive update.

Last edited by Pingman

Good Morning @Pingman I completely removed the K-Line end cap with vestibule doors from that side of the car then blanked off the side openings with cut outs from the 2.00mm sheet of Styrene.  Once that side was finished and painted I used a regular type K-Line end cap (without doors) on that end of the car.   To sand down the micro filler I used 600 ~ 800 grit sandpaper, just be careful to sand only the filler away and not the aluminum. 

Here’s the second part of the posting from yesterday on how I cut in new windows for The Little Nugget.  I my case I could not find an 18” shell with windows and doors in the correct location for this car.  That’s why I choose to make my own openings.  Modelers that own 21” passenger car shells do have more options then people with 18" cars.  They can go to the UnionStationProducts website and ask them create an exact replica car sides with all the correct details, windows and doors.  Also, I have heard if Union Station doesn’t already have the cars sides they are able to create the sides you want by if giving them the exact Pullman plan number.   You are in luck if you are modeling a 21” car because they already have the correct sides for that Northern Pacific’s Travelers Rest lounge for about $40.99 plus freight, part#7511-R PS NP.  But if you are working with only an 18” car like me… here’s the write up you asked for.


How-to cut in new windows on an aluminum shell

This is the more difficult and risky part.  Please read the disclaimer(s).  Your results may vary depending on the sharpness of the drill/bits used and different experience levels.  Each new window opening in the shell took me at least 1-hour to complete.  Do not rush the steps below.  Test your skills on a practice shell first and always wear protective eye glasses.  If you don’t have a practice shell buy a 2mm sheet of aluminum flat stock at your local hobby store or online.  For best results only cut in new windows openings on an unpainted aluminum shell that you were planning on fully painting anyways.

Using your existing windows as a reference for the top and bottom of the new window, draw horizontal lines across the shell with a ruler and ultra-fine 0.05 tip Staedtler pen.  Remember the ink stays wet for a little while and will wipe away with alcohol if dried.  Next, get the vertical support dimensions (the columns in between your window openings) with the micrometer and mark that on the shell at this time using the ruler.  Then use your micrometer to double and triple check your lines for the new window.  I have heard the saying measure twice and cut once.  But I’m sure I measured way more times than that.  The next part I call the point of no return. 

Start with a brand new drill bit and make a ¼” pilot hole in the center of your soon-to-be window opening. Then enlarge the opening with a 3/8” drill bit as shown below.  Your drill bits must be new and sharp or they will dance across the side of your aluminum shell.  Wear protective eye glasses for the aluminum debris.  Use a cloth towel for protection from scratches under your aluminum shell.


Once you have the opening in the shell.  Use a Dremel with a sharp cutting bit too slowly enlarge the space.  Use a small cutting bit on your Dremel at first.   Then switch to a larger bit if needed.  You will have the better results use the name brand “Dremel High Speed Cutter” cutting bits.  You shouldn’t have to force the tool through the aluminum shell.  A sharp blade will do all the work for you.   Important: Do not go all the way to your drawing line.  Just slowly remove aluminum inside your drawn window at this point.  Take your time on this step, aluminum is soft and this is where a 10,000 RPM Dremel with a high speed cutter can really mess up your shell, mess up your new window opening and mess up your eyes.



After the Dremel step is finished the window opening in your shell should look like the photo below.    


Put your shell on a work bench and place a cloth towel on the bottom to protect your shell.  Next is the slow part.  Continue on to the marked line with a flat file. Do not go past your marked line.  Keep your file strokes horizontal to the shell so your window comes out square.  I used a flat file with medium grove teeth/mill ******* cut.    


Important:  As you get closer to the marked line try not to file only in one spot.   You will risk filing too much away in that single area.   Once you are near the marked line go across your whole window opening with a long filing stroke.  This will produce a straight window line.   Going slow, continue using this method to file down to your drawn line.  Keep re-measuring your opening with the micrometer so you don’t go too far.


You should end up with sharp crisp lines and square corners.  Any extra ink from the pen will wipe away.


In closing, I do not recommend cutting in windows on a painted shell like shown in my photos above.  Because if you did, you will now be on new quest to find matching paint to cover those shiny window openings.  At this time I’m still working on a solution for making more rounded corners for those new windows.  Remember the above write up is only suggestions based on the hand tools I currently have at my disposal.  If I had a mill or small CNC machine inside my garage I would have used those tools instead.  


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@grfd59 posted:

Why couldn't you use an appropriate sized drill in each of the 4 corners to get the correct radius of the curve?  You would want to make sure the shell cannot move at all.

Gene Anstine

Based on my own experience of drilling into these shells, you'd really need a drill press for the purpose you describe and it would have to be dead on accurate in terms of where the four rounded corners are to be placed. Securing the shell in place while you are trying to do that is no easy task and you have to bear in mind that some long shells have a certain amount of give or flex in their sides that can result in a hole that is not truly straight. You can support the side you are working on by putting a wooden block inside it but with my drill press (a Micro Mark model) it's slow going to prevent the vibration from moving the shell out of place.

There is not the same problem with drilling into the roof of one of these aluminum cars but then most of them are curved towards the sides. But added to everything else is the need for a very sharp as well as small bit to duplicate the quarter section of the circle that is the corner.

I've learned that it's simply not possible to be as accurate as machine-made products are, especially with hand tools. For me, T.Albers has certainly captured the essence of the bodywork of this car; and as 3rail O scale passenger cars are mostly no more than a representation of the real thing, that's fine by me.

@T.Albers, thanks for the descriptions and photos.  

I've ordered the pen you referenced previously; however, I've had zero luck on line trying to find the HobbyLite Filler--well, I actually found one vendor who wanted $6.99 to ship the 8 oz., $4.99 item.   I struggle with some of the shipping charges.

As Hancock52 mentioned the use of a wood block to support the backside of the work side of the car, have you tried this?  I ask because I would be concerned with the aluminum tending to flex under the pressure of the pilot hole and/or Dremel cutting tools.

Last edited by Pingman

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